Bemidji volunteers

Today I drove to Bemidji to speak to volunteers at the hospital. Some volunteers were affiliated with the nursing home, others with hospice, and the rest with the hospital.

The hospital was beautiful. I didn't expect such an impressive building. The meeting room was comfy and new, the sound system was good, and it was a nice crowd of people.

There was no piano, although they did have one of those little keyboards. They are impossible, so I couldn't start with music, which makes things a little tough at the beginning. You have to win over the skeptics. But it went well in the end, I think.

One younger woman related a Honeycrisp apple story: In her home, her kids are allowed only one Honeycrisp per day because they are so expensive. If they whine, she tells them to have a cookie instead. The kids still whine for a Honeycrisp. Now that's a good apple!

I didn't like apples until college because all I knew in childhood was the awful Red Delicious.

In the audience was a woman I instantly recognized as a former neighbor. They are a Mennonite family who used to live about five miles away. Three of their children worked at the nursery. Then they moved eastward.

Well, the mother brought two of the younger children, Gabriel and Simon, in fourth and sixth grades. What delightful kids. And they are volunteers at the nursing home, although Gabriel and Simon have to go through the criminal background check before they can officially start.

Once again, however, here were these wonderful kids who could converse with an adult in a mature manner, look you in the eye, not fidget or get bored, and of all things, sit through a 50 minute talk and pay attention the whole time. Whenever I see this in children, I know for sure: They are home schooled.

I have written here a dozen times if I have written it once: Although I am ideologically in favor of the public schools, there is something that happens there that creates children who are restless and can't look adults in the eye. I can tell when children of customers are home schooled. They enjoy coming to the nursery. They ask mature questions. They don't fidget and go hog wild. They are polite to each other and to their parents.

I know this is not always the case. Sometimes home schooling fails. And of course, there are kids in the public schools who are polite. But still: I can pick out home schooled kids after meeting them for five minutes and truth be told, I find them absolutely delightful, open to life, open to the world, eager to learn, still innocent, and not always naive.

I think the "socialization" which people think is so valuable in the public school system is highly overrated. In most cases it amounts to mere subjection to mob rule.

After my talk, Simon very politely asked if I would come visit their home. I couldn't today--I was a little worried about the weather, a worry which later proved justified--but I hope to next week.