Tonight I ran into an acquaintance at the library. I wasn't in the mood to chitchat with a near-stranger (we've only met once) but didn't want to be rude so engaged in a little small talk with her. Conversation got around to school starting. She knows I homeschool, and she asked one of the more popular questions: "What program do you use?" I hate that question because I don't use one program and it's hard to explain adequately before people's eyes start to glaze over. But she didn't let me say much anyway before asking if I used one of the cyber-charter schools. These are public schools in which the student participates at home. I said I had not used a cyber-charter. She responded, "Yes, I've heard that those programs are very demanding. People say the work is hard and very advanced.."
What is the proper response to that? I haven't avoided the cyber-charters because they are demanding. I don't even know that they are particularly demanding. I've avoided them because they are public school and I don't want to do public school. (Even if they give me a laptop to do it.) I know she didn't mean to imply that my kids aren't up to demanding work, or that I would avoid demanding work for any reason. But it was awkward to hear and try to respond to.
Fortunately her kids came up with some questions about movies they wanted so she got distracted and I was able to exit gracefully.
It would be easy to be offended but she wasn't trying to offend. Still, those are the times I wish I was a quicker thinker and could come up with a snappy response. Not to say snarky, or rude, but something to make the person think about what she is saying. Because it is just mindless, thoughtless talk. Sometimes it's hard to remember that.