One of these winter camps, I found myself sitting next to a 6th grade girl in the early morning as we milked a goat named Mandy. She'd been to the camp in previous years and she chattered to me as if I were the same farmer she'd hung out with last year and the year before (and, in her defense, we were mostly all 20-something college student chicks with hairy legs and company t-shirts) and she said, "Here's an update. It's been an interesting year. I started playing trombone. I'm down one grandpa. But I'm up one puppy. Huzzah!"
She actually said, "Huzzah!"
The kid was homeschooled. Obviously. And I loved her.
Encountering a homeschooled kid in the wild was always, to me, very similar to encountering someone from Tennessee or Virginia now that I live in SoCal. No, we aren't from exactly from the same place, but there are certain environmental/socio-cultural touchstones that we both understand. And, because of that, I feel a certain kind of kinship with them.
The homeschool kids I met and befriended when I was younger were typically really bright, curious, highly-educated, compassionate people. They were also typically very open, tactless, and truthful. They were a lot like someone with Asperger's. They were a lot like me.
Obviously I can't speak for the wide swath of homeschooled folks out there but the kids I usually encountered (and this was pre-wide-spread internet usage) hadn't got caught up in the same social games I'd been trying to avoid. They didn't give a shit about side ponytails or light up shoes or who they were supposed to listen to on the radio. They liked what they liked (or what their parents or big sister) liked and they told you about it with zero hesitation or apology. Even when these kids were homeschooled for really intense religious reasons and they eerily spouted bible stories with the same sort of practical recitation they might lay down the state capitals in alphabetical order, I couldn't help liking them.
And I guess maybe that's why I can't help liking this awkward, gangly episode of The Next Generation. Because this girl right here:
The actresses who play Salia and Anya (Salia's over-protective matron/best friend/confidant) both do a fantastic job in this weird little Westley-centric, rompy episode.
Much like a homeschooler in bygone days, I don't know or care what other people think about this episode—though I can likely guess. I realize that focusing on a silly teenager and his silly teenage problems/innocence/mistakes/puberty was a mistake for TNG's early years. It wasn't Saved By The Bell (what possibly could be?) and it shouldn't have tried to be. Nevertheless, just like a girl I once befriended on a hiking trip who played five instruments, spoke three languages and had really strong opinions about the Franco Spanish Civi War but no clue who "Clarissa" was or why she was explaining it all, I have a soft spot in my heart for The Dauphin.
Oh, also, this one gets bonus points for this scene: