This morning, something happened to me that made me realize just how completely out of touch I am with what the majority of people consider "normal."
Mondays are the highlight of the week for my kids. It's park day. We meet up with a fairly large group of local home schoolers at a park for the afternoon. Sometimes, people bring crafts or something do be done as a group. Other times, we bring along our own projects and share our knowledge and skills with each other. It's a pot luck sort of thing and we often get opportunities to try new and different foods that we normally wouldn't, with a strong exposure to alternatives for those people who need to be gluten free or dairy free, and so on. Sometimes, someone brings games. Sometimes, the kids just head outside with a ball and have an impromptu game. My eldest likes to get together with some friends we don't get to see any other time because of travel/time constraints, and they are usually to be found sitting in a certain tree talking, or just wandering around. My youngest happily drifts in and out, quick to find friends among all ages. They have a blast every time. It's become such an important event in our lives that I've had myself listed at work as unavailable on mondays, just to make sure we always make it out.
Because of how far we have to travel using public transit, we leave earlier and tend to be the first ones there. Part of our routine has become leaving even earlier so we can swing by the grocery store where I work and picking up something special to have for lunch at the park, as well as something to share. This morning, after we'd chosen what we needed, I stood in line to pay while my kids waited at a nearby table. Since I work there, the cashier and I started chatting. That's when she asked me "the question."
"Do your kids come home for lunch?"
Home? Home from where? I thought I mis-heard the question (I do that frequently when there's lots of distracting noises), so I asked her to repeat the question. "Do your kids come home for lunch," she repeated. "I thought I saw them." I pointed out that, yes, those were my kids right there, but...
...then I suddenly caught on to what she was really asking me, which was "do your kids come home for lunch *from school?*" It had never occurred to me. I forgot completely that for most people, it's strange to see kids outside of school during the day. The reaction usually comes out in the form of "what, no school today?" so I missed the reference completely. In fact, I actually forgot that most people even send their kids to school at all. It's just so completely outside our lives right now.
That's when I realized that I am totally and completely out of touch with "normal." I've become so used to being around people who live alternate lifestyles, that I've forgotten that there even *is* such a thing as "normal." If I meet someone and they tell me they've got their cows living at one friend's acreage, their goats at another's, and their horses still somewhere else because they've just moved and haven't found the acreage they need - and by the way, would you like to try some of this gouda? We made it ourselves... I find that normal. When I talk to a teen age boy who tells me about the exotic breeds of chickens he raised - while living in one of the few cities that allows for it - I find that normal. If someone tells me that they spent several years living in a bus, then in what used to be two chicken coops that were shoved together and converted to living quarters, all while building their own house themselves, I find that normal. So is talking to a guy (a former naval officer who never went to any sort of school until the day he entered military college) about his sister's home birth on the house boat she lived in, and how she's left her career as a nurse to become a midwife, I find that normal.
I've forgotten. To the majority of people, I'm the one that's strange. I'm the one with the "alternative" lifestyle. I'm the crazy nut who gave birth at home, breastfed her babies for 3 years (each), had a family bed (as I slept with my own parents as a child) and now home schools. We're the unusual family.
I've forgotten. The people we see at the family gatherings that talk about tv shows we've never seen, daycares, teachers, schools and classroom sizes, homework, after school lessons, careers, etc. - those are the "normal" people.
I'd forgotten what it was like. I'm completely out of touch with "normal." Dispite the fact that I know so many others that are as outside the mainstream as we are (or more), we are most definately in the minority. The lives we lead are so outside the experience of the majority, that they are confused by it, just as I was as thoroughly confused by such a simple question about my kids.
And you know what?
I like it that way.