Seated around our table with five of her friends, Mouse celebrated her eleventh birthday.
- One is two years younger than she. One is three years older. The other three are her age.
- All five are Christian. Only three attend our church.
- Three are homeschooled. Two attend public school.
- One lives down the street. Four live thirty minutes or more away.
- One is Hispanic. One has enough Native American in her that you can tell. The other three are white.
And this in an area that is 91.4% white.
And I wonder, for all the concern about how homeschooled children will learn to appreciate diversity when raised in the bubble we have supposedly manufactured for them, how many children truly select friends who are so diverse?
We note how many opportunities homeschooled children have to play with others. We note that children do not learn to value others by sitting quietly next to them. We note that the playground is little more than a miniature stage for all our social ills.
We don’t like to talk so much about the challenges of giving our children the opportunity to develop friendships. Real, close, lasting friendships as opposed to numerous polite interactions with other children in an ever-rotating cycle of activities. Maybe that is because it isn’t a problem for many, but a number of homeschoolers I have talked to have sympathized readily with the need to be intentional in this area.
As I passed out scones, I thought that maybe that isn’t all bad. In school, you are surrounded by children. You have the option of forming bonds with others like you and building distinct barriers to keep those who are different away. With scarcity, however, comes a willingness to set aside superficial barriers such as race, income, location, etc., in favor of fulfilling the social needs every human being has.
When your class is 90% white, you notice the one Hispanic girl. Outside of that context, however, when you just want someone to play with, you are much more likely to notice that she is nice.