It's late. Brittany, as the "con mom," needs foodstuffs to feed everyone in the morning. The egg salad sandwiches are her domain. That and helping people figure out how to make their costumes a reality. No, this isn't a homeschool convention -- though, perhaps, equally niche. This is cosplay. My wife scrubs off her Totoro whiskers and we make the snowy drive to the local natural grocery store down the street. It closes in 40 minutes.
The mini-cart, piled with string cheese, salted sunflower seeds from the bulk section, and over-priced organic juice packs, rattles quietly toward the checkout lane the young lady pointed me toward. "You work the late shift often?" I ask, trying to make friendly conversation in the quiet store while Brittany searches for an item she's just remembered to get.
"About once a week, but my schedule changes all the time. It's hard to keep track."
As a routine guy, that would drive me crazy. I tell her.
"Yeah," she chuckles. "But do it long enough and you get used to it, I guess." She scans the box of juice. "What do you do?"
I tell her.
"People still homeschool?" she asks, not surprised, but in a way that gives me the impression she thought homeschooling had died off long ago, like the dodo or the question of the color of that dress.
"Actually, with the rise of tax-payer funded options like K12 and the backlash against Common Core, more and more people homeschool."
I swipe my credit card. In the moment the computer takes to think before spitting out the receipt, she asks, "Would you homeschool your children?"
The one other guy in the store, an older gentleman, has queued behind us, so there isn't much time. "Absolutely," I tell her. "I was homeschooled myself."
"You were?" she asks, again, more bewildered than surprised. She hands me the receipt. "Well, have a great evening."
We carry the bags into the cold, dark night, and I start giggling as we cross the parking lot.
"What?" Brittany asks.
I look down at my rubber-bottomed moccasins and comfy pants. We homeschoolers are a strange and sometimes confident group. Then again, my wife was going to be dressed as the website Pinterest in a few hours. The general populace may be unaware of us and find our choices bewildering, but this homeschooling thing is fantastic. ...a bit like cosplay: Fringe, but freeing; creative and compassionate; a chance to "be yourself" while also aspiring to be more.
Keep up the great work you are doing.
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad