Fall 2011: "Bridging Differences" Middle School Winner Haley Coe

Read Haley's essay about friendship despite disagreement.
Sheppard Family.jpg

Thomas Sheppard in 1988 with Kate and her baby brother Alex. 

Haley Coe, a student of Leslie Daniels-Vanzo at Oak Meadow School, read and responded to the YES! Magazine article, "Why My Dad's Going Green," by Kate Sheppard. She is our middle school winner for the Fall 2011 writing competition.

Writing Prompt: Has anyone close to you—a friend or family member—chosen to distance themselves from you or sever the relationship because of what you believe? What was the issue? How did you feel? Were you able to resolve it? 


A Lesson on Life

“Why My Dad’s Going Green,” by Kate Sheppard is a wonderful article about how a daughter and father found common ground. I experienced a similar problem with my friend Lexi. We both had different opinions on homeschooling, but in the end, we realized that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and neither one is more right than the other.

Homeschooling is a big controversy; many support it, many don’t know about it, and many are against it. Lack of knowledge about it can lead to stereotypes and outcasts.  It takes a strong person to break through the negative comments and realize what a homeschooled student does, day to day.

Lexi and I were best friends forever. We met at Mommy and Me, and were inseparable from the start. Sleepovers and secrets bonded us to what we thought was a lifelong friendship.

Then something happened: kindergarten. Lexi was sent off to elementary school, and I stayed at home. Lexi was taught the alphabet by a stranger, while I was taught numbers from my mother. She was in a crowd of neighbors, while I sat alone with my parents and my dog.

There were no differences, yet. We were still best friends even though we saw each other a bit less. Gymnastic classes, dance lessons, and visiting each other on the weekends kept us together. Our friendship was still very strong.

By the time I reached fourth grade, and she had reached fifth, the issue of homeschool vs. public school had come into view. Unfortunately, Lexi started believing what her mother believed. Her ten-year-old mind was stubbornly convinced that homeschooling was the worst way to educate a child. This parochial view was resistant to my efforts. I tried to open her mind to the possibilities: maybe homeschooling really wasn’t that bad? But, no, she was attached to her beliefs and defended them firmly.

We started to grow apart. Her subtle hints on how much I was missing out on hurt our friendship. It wasn’t just her fault, though. I was also a victim of defending my point of view. Our hard-headedness would not allow us to agree to disagree.

I was sad that our friendship was fading. This argument wasn’t the only factor, though. As we grew up, our personalities changed and we matured. We tried solving the problem. I went to her school for a day, just to try it out.  I also gave her a long, nine-year-old lecture on how socialized I really was, but none of this helped. We were still friends, but not nearly as close as we once were.

We started hanging out with other friends. Lexi grew closer to Georgia, but it didn’t bother me because Penelope and I were now very close.

For four years, Lexi held her own in the debate. Because of our newfound maturity, we never got into heated discussions. Perhaps we both learned a lesson on life. She would still slip things into conversations, though. She strongly believed that homeschooling led to unsocialized children without any friends—this was a bit of an oxymoron since she was my friend. Throughout all of this, I knew from personal experience that I liked homeschooling better. There was less pressure, and I had a better relationship with my parents. I had plenty of friends from dance class and 4-H. And the best part is that most of the kids at 4-H were homeschooled, too!

We are now older; I am in eighth grade and Lexi is a freshman. I wouldn’t say the issue is exactly resolved, but for a year now, Lexi has said nothing negative about my education choices. I think she realizes that I’m just like everybody else! I’m a girl with chores, school, and friends. One of them being Lexi.

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