The School Team
When a homeschooler decides that school is better, we all say, "You made the right decision. We support you." Even if, last week, we were all talking about how school is fundamentally flawed, essentially wrong for learning, how homeschooling is wonderful, blissful, how happy we are about our kids. This isn't about being a homeschooler or not, it's about being a good friend, who isn't going to demand that you explain yourself, and isn't going to crabbily judge you or whatever.
It's easy to let other people's decisions threaten yours. Especially when that person is an active advocate of homeschooling -- not a fence-sitter at all. I would almost have said, to continue the inappropriate war metaphor, that she was a lieutenant, if not a general. It's like having a PETA activist pick up a hamburger and say, "It's delicious." You can't just brush it off and say, well, she was never committed, or she hasn't really thought about this. She was and she has, and she chose to put her kids in school. So now what? I recognize that I feel defensive of my choice in the face of her choice. Does that mean I'm uncertain? Does that mean I'm a little envious? If I say, "You did the right thing," does that mean I'm not as committed as I thought I was?
The reasonable answer is, of course, that everyone's kids are different, and even at different times in their lives they need different things, and what works for X might not work for Y, etc. We can all respect each other, blah blah blah. But I wonder if some of my unconditional support for my "schooling" friends comes from a place of doubt. Maybe I'm saying "Good job, you did the right thing" to her, because if I choose to put my own kids in school next year, completely violating everything I've been blithely firing off about school and homeschool, I wouldn't want to be judged either. If I ever get my "Homeskool 4-Evah!" tattoo removed from my arm, and join the ranks of the droppers off and pickers up, I don't want anyone bringing up my rants about the poor little children that live by the bell and play in fifteen minute intervals and learn about trees from pictures of trees.
The Homeschool Team
When a group of people doing something that's marginalized in our culture, like homeschooling or breastfeeding or vegetarianism or... whatever... and they lose one of their number to the mainstream, I guess it would be weird if there were cheering. We do what we do because we believe in it, and it's okay to not feel total unflinching joy when someone changes her mind. But I'd be the last person to stand up and argue with someone who's making different choices. It's impossible to know what will happen, and I know that it could be me "turning coat" in a few years, for equally solid reasons all my own.