Into the Real World: Ellen Cook’s Story
Ellen Cook is 18 years old and from California.
I feel like my parents were easily swayed into ideas they may not have agreed with. They made the decision to homeschool us when we were driving around our new neighborhood located in the Kern River Valley. They were so convinced because a couple young teens were riding horses with their mother, and they had mentioned what homeschooling was for them. We must have sat in our van on that dirt road for an hour or two. But this conversation resulted in my older sister’s journey into boys and teenage-hood. My 12 year old sister entered into 6 years of homeschool chaos, while me being 8 got to watch and wish that I had a life. My parents thought we could travel around and see historical and educational places in our area — get some hands on learning.
That rarely happened.
I am very lucky though; I was not homeschooled through high school (thank you Jesus). My sister has hated me, in a sense, since the day my parents said they wanted to enroll me in high school.
Something I always noticed in one of my sets of curriculum was little comics. The characters had weird names, like “Happy,” and they implied good morals and obeying God — which is good, I guess. But the one that will always stick out to me is one of a boy, “Pudgy,” earning money and giving it all to the offering in church. It struck me as very strange at 9 or 10 because all I wanted to spend my money on was candy. But now that I know what those homeschool companies are trying to do, it’s very unfair. Sure, giving to the church is not bad. But the money isn’t going directly to God, as implied when I read it.
I see now that the indoctrination is very strong with these Christian homeschool families, but maybe not mine. I know many homeschool parents that raised sin-committing rebels from their pure and Godly homes. Homeschooling did not work for most of the kids I knew. I realized this when they became 18 and had their first girlfriend or boyfriend. Our friends that are boys would come over to swim in our pool, and all the kids would have to cover up their swimsuits as to not attract sexual attention. We were Tweens! My sister and I didn’t know what a penis was!
What exposed me to the world was my best friend, a girl that moved in next door about a year or two after we moved there. She introduced me to Punk Rock, Tiger Beat, MTV (we didn’t have cable), hair dying, cursing, and everything else that makes me who I am today. I am so lucky to have met her, or else I would have been the weird homeschool girl in high school. I would have not survived. We even took her to our home school prom and she almost got us kicked out for sucking the helium out of balloons. All the home school moms freaked out and did not know what to do. It’s on Youtube! We were some rebels back then…
Now that I am older and have experienced more public school than just 3rd grade. I look back at my homeschooling years and I can see it was a manic decision by my parents, and it screwed up one of their children. My dad is bipolar and depressive, so our education was in his indecisive hands and it did not turn out pretty. But really, I am thankful for my short 5 years of homeschooling because I’ve learned that particular society may not be what I want to participate in, and that the Republican Party may not be the best just because they are the Christian party. I’ve learned more than enough about the Civil War, and got to run around outside when it snowed.
But yes, that’s a bit of my story. All I can say for other homeschool kids is find out things for yourself, listen to music besides Worship or Christian, and watch the news — get out of the Christian bubble! I am Catholic now, and I appreciate church now more than ever because I don’t feel judged or like a sinning teenager. I finally feel like going to church isn’t a joke, or mandatory to please my parents. And that is a blessing. But homeschooling never hurt my relationship with God — it was too safe. Getting out into the real world tested my relationship with God, and made it stronger.