The weirdest kid I ever met sat next to me in Mr. Grey's sixth grade classroom at Gaston Elementary School. He kept a lot to himself, but it's difficult to know whether he was a loner because he was weird or if the other kids' exclusivity pushed him to the fringe.
His behavior was nerdy. He spoke fondly of the minute details of Star Trek and obsessed over obscure heavy metal bands. He favored AC/DC because their name was derived from electrical units. He didn't like pizza and he'd never learned to ski, true markers of grammar school coolness.
I met Jason* in the 4th grade, and we were just a few alphabetical letters apart from each other on the stage at our high school graduation. During those nine years of tracking each other through elementary classrooms, jr. high, and high school courses, he remained anti-social, despite my several attempts to befriend him. I felt sorry for Jason, and I didn't like the way the other kids excluded him.
He was a lot like weird homeschoolers.
I'm not sure why we selectively forget about the weird kids in public school or private school when we say "Homeschoolers are so weird". If, like me, you went to school in an institutionalized setting, were there not oddballs amongst your classmates? What about in your workplace? Is everyone as cool as you, or do you know a few adults who aren't into the same things you are?
In fact, I wasn't homeschooled, either, and I'm pretty sure my interests brand me as weird. Knitting (seriously). Opera. Blogging. British literature. Grand Slam tennis.
A classroom in a brick and mortar school doesn't guarantee social acceptance or adeptness. Andy Warhol was weird. So is Lady Gaga. We think of actors and celebrities as the ultimate in cool, but every year we lose a few to drug overdoses, and we've watched not a few too many very cool teenage actors go entirely off the rails. I wouldn't exactly call that positively socialized.
Maybe it's just better to realize that many homeschooled kids tend to be able to eschew the social confines of a peer group that marginalizes anyone with any interests it arbitrarily deems strange. In other words, homeschooled kids have the freedom to be who they were created to be, to pursue the things they really like, and to have mostly cheerleaders instead of mostly jerks surrounding them.
Weird people are everywhere. Aren't you glad? Without them, there would likely be no quantum physics, waltzes in 3/4 time, basketball, or Disneyland. That last guy - Walt Disney - was told he was a fool to think his little mouse was a viable career path. Clear thousands of swamp acreage to build a park with a mouse as its theme? Weird. Laughable! Bet he would have been kept off the recess cool kids' baseball team if he had admitted his dream.
Homeschooling doesn't make a kid weird. It allows them to be who they are. If that seems weird or threatening, maybe it's time to assess the value of a mainstream classroom environment that kills our tolerance for the odd.
*By the way, I've changed the names of people and places because for all I know, Jason turned out perfectly normal. Whatever that is.