I've rarely been quick with an answer. I'm the person who more usually decides on a comeback far too many minutes late for it to be appropriately served, and I am still dwelling on a comment/insult/unexpected question hours later, determined to come up with an answer, even though it no longer matters, so that I'll be better prepared next time.
When my son was little, he was once quizzed by a new-to-our-family physician.
"What color are my pants?" the doctor asked.
Kaman stood for a minute, looking thoughtfully at the man's knee.
"They're black," the doctor answered for him, apparently deciding my son wasn't up to that particular age-appropriate task.
"Actually," Kaman said, "They are blackish with gray and a little stripey white bit in them.."
The doctor actually bent over, examining his pants a little closer, eventually determining that my son was corrrect.
At this same exam, the doctor asked Kaman what color an apple was. Kaman immediately answered that apples were green.
"Red," the doctor corrected.
"Unless you live in our house," I said, "where Granny Smith is the prefered apple."
"Ah," the doctor said. He didn't seem at all convinced. Perhaps, he thought, I was failing my child by not providing the "normal" color of apple for eating.
Sometimes I want to blame this idea that there is "one right answer" on public schooling, but I don't think that's entirely fair. I am a product of public school myself, you see, and I feel as if I've spent most of my life insisting that there were many answers, many ways to do things.
It might be more accurate to say that many people simply glance at the surface of things and make their assumptions quickly. Then there are those who are hard wired to exam issues more closely, to note the bits of stripey white hidden among the grey. I think there are merits to both ways of seeing things.
In fact, I sometimes envy the person who is able to so confidently declare that the pants are black and that apples are red. I can usually see it many ways. And I'm not saying I'm wishy-washey. I prefer to say that the pants are striped, but I can also see the reason behind calling them black and calling them grey.
Sometimes people can't seem to understand why my children have not gone to school, and I can often see the reason behind their arguments. But what I can also see is the many ways those very same arguments support the decision I made not to send my children to public school. When the kids were older, I began to say that I opted to keep them out of public school and at some point, they decided themselves to continue not going. That made answering the question easier for me, but confused the people I was having the conversation with even more.
I don't despise teachers, or even schools for that matter. To the contrary, there are several teachers among the people I most admire in this world. I simply don't send my kids to school to interact with them. They'll find other ways, other places, and those people will be as much a part of my children's worlds as any other individual might be.