Sunday, March 30, 2014

Wanting school

I read a great story today about a homeschool mom whose kids asked to go to school. She took the time to find out what they felt they were missing and let them try it out. She made sure her kids got to feel like they had a choice in what happened to them. What a great mom.

That was not my experience. When I was twelve or thirteen year old homeschooled kid, I told my mom I wanted to go to boarding school.

It seems likely that my inspiration came from British fiction, but also boarding school seemed like the only option because my parents always talked about how the local public school wasn't academically challenging. Come to think of it, most of the things I wasn't allowed to have were described as "not good enough," including friends. And we lived an hour away from any reasonable private school.

My mom was immediately angry and responded that "Boarding school is where people send kids that they don't want."

And I just stared at her and wondered how not being wanted felt any different from my experience of being ignored and isolated and dismissed every day, until she walked off in a huff. And we never talked about it again.

There was no curiosity about what I might be feeling (insane loneliness for one thing), no concept that I had any stake in my education and daily experience, no discussion of why they made this choice, just angry silence.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday is the day I play Dungeons and Dragons!

Sunday is no longer the day I go to church. Sunday is the day I play Dungeons and Dragons!

My first exposure to RPGs was in an Adventures in Odyssey radio show designed to scare good Christian kids into avoiding them, presenting the games as gateways to Satanic Worship. It sounds fringe, but the radio show, produced by James Dobson, was syndicated to a bunch of Christian radio stations. All my friends growing up listened to it.  (Did you?)

You can actually listen to a recording of the two-episode segment here. It even has a special introduction from James Dobson warning parents that the content may be too scary for children, but explaining that the dangers of seductive RPGs are so pressing that it's worth frightening little kids. The show doesn't depict a realistic game of D&D, because how boring would it be to listen to a group of young adults having slow-paced, harmless, nerdy fun?  So of course they make up a sinister plot with eerie supernatural tones, imply that the gaming leads to a nefarious end for a family pet, a candlelit ceremony that is straight out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and all in all it is a very silly exercise in attacking a straw man.

Here are the REAL reasons that my corner of Christianity* was not open to D&D: