Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. –H.L. Mencken
After a 10 hour ride to Ohio with 3 children, 2 days at a homeschooling convention, and one more 10 hour drive home, my wife and I were nearing the fine line between insanity and what passes as ‘normal’ in our home. Yes, survive we did, while developing the best possible plan you can have when entering an unknown situation: rely on pure luck. However, with one convention under my belt, I am clearly qualified to guide you through five essential steps to ‘win’ your homeschooling convention.
Step One: Bring the grandparents.
Some conventions include grandparents when you buy a family pass. Instead of taking advantage of this, saddle the grandparents with the grandchildren. When you get back to the hotel at the end of a long day at the convention, put your kids to bed and hang out in your parents room until midnight. This will get them so exhausted they will not be able to protest when you give them the kids again in the morning. After all, a homeschooling convention is no place for children or extended family.
Step Two: Find the quiet spot.
A cup of coffee and the hidden alcove are your two best friends. When your session is full and you have stared blankly at the hundreds of vendor booths without a single thought for an extended period of time, a few minutes in a side hall with your spouse is a sure way to become more anxious, stressed-out, and over-wrought. If you think you are finally starting to get used to things, he will be sure to suggest a completely different curriculum than you were planning to use. Because whenever you want to just stop and enjoy the moment, it is time to start running in the opposite direction.
Step Three: Feel free to skip some of the lectures.
These people clearly have nothing important to say. It is not like you wanted to know about Common Core standards, Socratic dialogues, or helping your distractible student succeed. That guy who spoke on the importance of Poetics is clearly a nutjob. What’s that? Oh, that’s right, he wrote the curriculum your husband suggested when you shared a few moments alone…
Whatever you do in the convention hall, DO NOT pause in front of a vendor unless you want to talk to them. Remember, these people want to sell you something. In fact, when you ask about a science curriculum, they will try to sell it to you and push a ‘guided reading’ program at the same time. Yes, that curriculum looks neat, but you can observe it from afar before you decide to investigate further. Choose your observation point wisely, or you may get run down by a harried homeschooler dragging one of these:
Step Five: It is okay to not fit in.
It was actually a great relief to find people from all walks of life represented at the convention. Never fear, curmudgeons.net t-shirts still stand out in the crowd.