Bizarre, Unsettling, and Amusing

In CategoryHome Schooling

Over the weekend while I was out running errands, I decided to pop into the only bookstore in town that has home school supplies.

The last time I was there, I browsed around for a long time, unrushed and unbothered by the owner. I was quite looking forward to another visit. This time she met me at the door, cheerily asking how she could help. I said I had come in to look at some school supplies. I answered all the typical questions – telling her I’m a home schooler, my kids are almost 6 and 4, and that I was looking for a poster of the days of the week and months of the year. 

She told me my son was too young for that. I was a little taken aback, but said that he’s been asking about the days of the week lately and I wanted to get something he could look at whenever he wanted. She said, “Oh, well if he’s asking, then that’s okay.” Oh, goody. She said home school moms are always coming into her store and trying to buy things that are way too advanced, because they all think their kids are just so smart.  

That seemed like kind of a weird thing to say to a customer who JUST TOLD YOU she’s a home schooler, but whatever. And anyway, my kids ARE smart, so neener-neener. 

She followed me around the store the entire time I was there, pointing out things I should buy and telling me repeatedly that she had been a teacher for thirty-five years. She would pause after this announcement and blink expectantly. I got the impression I was supposed to be asking her for advice.

She made pointed comments about the simple things home schooled kids miss out on learning – how to work with others, how to sit still, or how to recite a nursery rhyme. Nursery rhymes, for those of you not In The Know, are of paramount importance. Why, she saw he fell down and broke his crown referred to in a $500 Math book just last week! I was thinking that if I spent that kind of money on a math book, I’d want more than Humpty-Dumpty, but instead said brightly, “that’s so interesting!” 

In an effort to change the subject, I mentioned that I was looking for an alphabet to put up that matched the handwriting program we use, Getty-Dubay. 

Her: “That’s a terrible program.” 

Me, feeling my eyebrows twitch a little: “Oh?”

Her: “It’s not a program that they recognize.”

Me: “Who’s They?” 

Her: “The public school system and administration.” 

Me: “I don’t care what the public school system does.” 

Her, not missing a beat: “Or parochial schools.” 

Me: “I don’t care about that either.” 

Her: “You never know what might happen, things might change. We have some wonderful private schools in town.” 

Me, edging away: “Well, I am committed to home schooling.” 

Her: “They offer scholarships.” 

Me, twitch, twitch: “Both my husband and I are very committed to home schooling. Money doesn’t have anything to do with it.” 

Her: “Well, you never know what might happen. Things might change.” 

And then she told me this story about how she had been in a horrible car accident last year, broken 30 bones in her body, and had only survived because there was an off duty trauma nurse walking by.  “So, you never know what might happen.” She stopped just short of saying, “…it could happen to you!” but I’m pretty sure she was thinking it. She was so……. oddly gleeful at the prospect. It was a little unsettling. 

I made sympathetic mouth noises, but by now my brows had crawled so far up into my hairline, I vaguely wondered if I’d ever see them again. She pounded the message home, telling me “to make sure and have a Plan B, because you never know what could happen, you might get a fantastic job offer! An offer that you wouldn’t be able to turn down, a job you would kill for!” 

“I already have that job.” 

“Oh, really? Where?” 

I just looked at her. “Oh, right,” she said, “Being a mommy.” 

Jim asked me why I didn’t walk out. I think it was because I’ve never had a total stranger talk to me like that before and was morbidly curious to see what she’d say next.


19 Responses to “Bizarre, Unsettling, and Amusing”

  1. hi kooky Says:

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. Nutcake! I have to admit, I totally relate to “…and was morbidly curious to see what she’d say next.” Some bad interactions become science experiments, I say.
    hi kooky´s last blog post ..a little treat

  2. jenn mcgrath Says:

    (if you go to my website…be aware that i just started. i have 2 posts…don’t be disappointed!)

    wow. the nerve of people still leaves me curious. in the industry i’m in: i’ve seen it all…until that next person makes my eyes widen, brows raise, mouth open in the “o”. as in omg, what did you say. what will you say. how much can you say???

    i am also one of those “morbidly curious” souls…somehow i never stop them. i just wait.

  3. Daisy Says:

    Unbelievable. Does the lady actually want to sell anything or not? CRAZY old bat.
    Daisy´s last blog post ..Typical At-Home Day of School

  4. Sara Says:

    Wow, I can’t believe the owner of a business would be that clueless on how to properly interact with potential customers. I wonder how many people she causes to runs for the hills. Yikes! That would have drove me nuts trying to bite my tongue. I’m impressed that you were still calmly talking to her. I definitely would have been getting snarky by the end of the conversation. I totally get the morbid curiosity thing though. I probably would have done the same thing.
    Sara´s last blog post ..Weekly Report Sept 24- 2010

  5. Michelle Says:

    Please tell me you didn’t buy anything from her.

    Seriously, even if you WERE concerned about “what if,” I have never been at a school who questioned new kids coming from homeschooling what freaking handwriting program they used. They don’t recognize it . . . what a load of crap!

    Still, I would have stuck around to see what came next too. AND I probably would have set her up for some crazy quotes. I am nothing if not an instigator. 🙂
    Michelle´s last blog post ..Our First Big Field Trip

  6. Tressa Says:

    Oh. My. Gosh. And I thought that I have had some weird encounters, but yours takes first prize.
    Tressa´s last blog post ..Can’t take him to the commissary

  7. alice Says:

    Holy Canoli! I’m not sure what I would do with someone like that but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t buy one thing from them. Or ever go into that store again.
    alice´s last blog post ..The Mad Scientist

  8. Says:

    What is truly scarey is she does not have a clue how to interact with other human beings and she was a school teacher for thirty something years! Aren’t you glad you have the best job on earth. I’m sure your children are. 🙂 joyce´s last blog post ..6 Lessons Children Learn from Cooking

  9. Mrs. C Says:

    Deb, emailed you. So… did you buy that $500 math book, or were you interested in a new handwriting curriculum? 🙂
    Mrs. C´s last blog post ..Miss Pretty Pretty Fashion Show!

  10. Marcie Says:

    Holy cow. I am so super sorry this had to happen. But I think you handled it in champion style.
    Marcie´s last blog post ..Kitchen I almost forgot

  11. Melanie Says:


    Lather, rinse, repeat.
    Melanie´s last blog post ..You study Latin and Greek Why

  12. Helena Says:

    Deb, I love that you said you have the best job in the world. We do, all us mums, homeschooling or not. But saying we love what we do, especially when doing it full time (and especially when doing it into the school years), seems to be the new uncool. Kinda silly, really, seeing as it’s not only the best, but also the MOST Important Job in the World!!!

    (And imagine the last word reverbs, so it goes a bit like this: world! world! world world world…)

    Loved your eyebrows going up and up and up… and that you stayed and listened until…what happened, I wonder? Did you just end up backing s-l-o-w-l-y away? 🙂
    Helena´s last blog post ..a lazy day…

  13. Deb Says:

    After that, she went on to interrogate me about which foreign language I was teaching them. That really cracked me up because she thought they were too young for the days of the week, but were already behind in languages.

    I started to tell another homeschool friend of mine about this, and the minute I said, “so I went to the bookstore on Saturday,” she goes “did she try to talk you out of homeschooling?”

    I kind of want to get one of those pen-like voice recorders and go back….

  14. Best Says:

    I think Ms. Shop Owner might need a Plan C for her life. If she keeps insulting her customers, I don’t see much hope for a thriving business. She sounds like a very self-absorbed, self-important woman!

  15. Tracey - JustAnotherMommyBlog Says:

    Good lord. I haven’t encountered that (yet). I think I need to be prepared with come backs just in case…
    Tracey – JustAnotherMommyBlog´s last blog post ..Because I seriously need to mop

  16. Connie Weiss Says:

    I’m pissed after reading this.

    Please tell me that you will NEVER shop there again.
    Connie Weiss´s last blog post ..What I Learned This Week- Octoberfest Edition

  17. Kendra/The Queen of Brussels Sprouts Says:

    1st- I am so happy you found my blog, and I in trun found yours. Fun stuff!

    2nd- I have had similar feeling conversations like this before. My response isn’t usually as kind.

    3rd- GO homeschoolers! I may have to lurk on your blog and follow some links today. I need some encouragement, and it looks like you have lots of homeschool friends.
    Kendra/The Queen of Brussels Sprouts´s last blog post ..Lentil Stew

  18. Angie @ Many Little Blessings Says:

    Oh my gosh! This is just crazy. I’m just not sure what else to say about it. Crazy.
    Angie @ Many Little Blessings´s last blog post ..Many Little Blessings- September 2010 Recap

  19. Angie Says:

    Let’s not be such nay sayers.
    This lady could have a point.
    Deb, you could wake up one day and say, “Enough of this crap. I want to get up every day at 5:30 to have some alone time, get the kids up at 6 and throw some sugary chemicals masqueraded as cereal and milk at them, put them on a bus, go to a J O B (as opposed to career or ‘lifestyle’ type job), pay someone to raise my kids after school, pick up the kids, go home, pull dinner out of a box, tell kids to bathe, go to bed, and repeat the next day. I’ll bet you a nickel to a dollar that when THIS scenario happens, you will be thankful that you picked the proper handwriting manuals. Yeah, that will be at the forefront of your mind!!

    Love the neener neener. Love your blog. Homeschoolers rock. If only I could convince my husband of this . . . 🙁