Office holiday party time is upon us once again. Can you hear my excitement? I have never been really good at these kinds of gatherings. When my husband was in residency, everyone was talking about the latest interesting medical case they’d seen while I stood there awkwardly with overhead marker still on my arm from the day’s math lesson. Now that I don’t have a job outside the home, it seems my conversation options with these people I see maybe once a year are even more limited. It takes all of about ten seconds for them to ask if we have children and what I do and then it comes out: We homeschool. To make it a little more palatable for most people, my husband usually mentions that I used to be a classroom teacher, but it still kind of stands out. I don’t know of anyone else in the organization that does this, though surely we can’t be the only ones.
There are different reactions. Some people aren’t sure quite what to say. Some people are positive. Honestly, I’ve never had someone be openly negative to my face about it, though you can tell when someone isn’t entirely comfortable with it. This year one person mentioned me going back to the classroom at least twice in our very short conversation, which seemed a little odd since it was the first time we’d ever met. Another person was very positive about it. My reaction to both people was the same: Smile and nod.
You may have heard about passing the bean dip. Some people pass a lot of dip at this time of year. Really, I think it’s the best thing to do, summer or winter, rain or shine. This is your choice, not theirs. Whatever snarky comment someone makes or however far they raise their eyebrows at you, you shouldn’t feel bad about it. It’s also not your job to win them over and convince them to take their kids out of school tomorrow. Smile and nod and eventually they’ll move on. In the morning you’ll get up and teach your kids at home and they’ll get up and drive their kids to school and all will be right with the world—or as right as it can be.
So put on your lipstick, make sure you’ve gotten all the glue out of your arm hairs, bring a bag of chips to go with some dip, and try to enjoy yourself!