Saturday, October 17, 2009

learning not required

(S'pose I'll post this to both Happy and Free and OLM-- there are different readers.)

Sometimes it might take two minutes.
' might take me two days.
Might even take me a couple of weeks.
But eventually
it always comes down to

My children are entitled to Joy
and I Choose Joy
and learning should be had in Joy.
Personal philosophy.

Some might say narcissistic or hedonistic....
and maybe that's true...
prob'ly it is.
But for me it's imperative.
I believe in a God (Universe, All) that is abundant
never condemning
and constant in the loving.
I strive to be the same for my children.

So somewhere in here is where I find What Works For Us.
in here, too,
I also find
What Does Not.
It's sooooo easy when it's like today.
When the children (and the Mama - imagine that! rolls eyes at herself)
are so happy
-and dashing
and digging
and Inquisitive.
So easy.

Thank God I get these days, for these days and moments are what I live for.

The other ones--
blech. The other ones.
I've picked them apart enough to know that they feel nothing like today.
Those days are so heavy. Wearing armor.
They're full and full some more of Fear
and its companion, Ego
and I just wish they'd let me be.
As I long to let my children Be.
(To be fair to myself I should say that it's not always Days that are like this, sometimes it's just a Moment, and I can pretty easily dismiss it.)

The Experiment.

The difference around here in what is Working (learning in Freedom, Love, and Joy), and what is Not Working (worrying it's Not Good Enough, fearing the love of discovery has come to an exhausted end, letting a stranger's -or even a friend's- judgment stand in place of my own) is easiest for me to pinpoint in the How.

The What is not an issue. The What is what The Experiment was about. If I had my hands off, how would a day look? Turned out to look very familiar. Never mind that we didn't go to Chuck E Cheese or to see an irritating cartoon film at the dollar movie (I didn't think of them to offer to Trev)-- our days are peppered aplenty with that sort of thing.
I'm supposing that our days are pretty much what my children would choose for themselves even if I didn't ask "Want to?"

So... The How.
The How is where the joy lies.

There is "Here, let's get out this new kit, and do the first experiment, shall we?" and there is "Want to check this out with me and see what's in it?" and "Oooh... what does this do?" And skipping straight to the mystery sticky pink thing in Experiment #9.

There is "Woh! You gotta come see this!" and there's "It's time for an experiment..." (All of which I've said often enough. Some more than others, thank goodness.)

They might look the same.
Might even get roughly the same results.
But I'll tell you what...
They don't feel the same.

So I was talking about leading (there was something about a statement that said Unschoolers -er, rather unschooling Mama's- don't lead, which I say is Nonsense)... and I count all of the above scenarios as leading. Not leading to me would be no suggestions whatsoever. That would mean waiting until a friend called to say "Wanna play?" instead of ever offering "Shall we see if friends wanna play at the park today?" It would mean always having my children with me at the store to say "this looks interesting, can we get it?" instead of tossing an exotic fruit or science kit into my basket because it's something I like or am excited to share with them.

So, yes, I lead. And I follow. And sometimes I'm the coal tender.

And when it's right
it's so right.

And that's the way I want it.
I want it Right
and I want it natural
(nature flowing to and from our family as a soulful unit and as individuals)
and I want it in Joy.

Not fear.
Not ego.

Again and again and again
I choose Joy.
And I'm gonna do it like I wrote it, dammit.

Friday, October 16, 2009


This is what stuck with me the most.
At Crunchy Christian Mama's blog, she said that someone around her said she wasn't an Unschooler any longer. The reason given was that she led her children.
Which I smile at.

But of course it also raised lots of feelings and questions for me... at the top of the list was "Are we unschoolers?"
Not in a panicky, judging, let's-tear-this-apart way, gnash my teeth and get down to the bare bones sort of way, but in an objectional, "hmmmm.... let's stop for a minute, look around, and take notes" sort of way. I've exposed enough nuclei and quarks on this issue lately to be comfortable with the How we do things... but this time I wanted to examine the What.

So, I had the idea for the Experiment.
The first thing was to take the issue to Trev. We talked about homeschooling, and unschooling, and how that's different from school, and the way other people do things. We talked about the things he likes to do. We talked about having diversity in our days. We talked about finding lots of different things interesting. Even pilgrims.

I wondered if I was doing right by my children. I wondered if I was opening books on Early America in the name of exposure and diversity, or because I wanted to feel like A Good Homeschoool Mom. (Wretched title, for me, by the way. Feels like a minivan. No offense intended... just not my style.)

So I talked to Trevelyn. And gave the next day to him.

Admittedly, it was hard!

About an hour after he was given the reigns he didn't want them. I briefly considered giving up the idea, but I wanted really wanted to see the thing through.
He decided on the planetarium for a film. Under the Sea 3D. I asked if we could see Extreme Planets, too-- I really have been wanting to see it. He relented, I took it back, he said "no, it's okay, we can see it, too, Mom," I was still trying to decide if I was cheating or not, and in the end we were going to have to rush, and I decided not to.
See? Hard to stay out of it.

To the park, not to the park, Maddie demands "yes!!" to the park...
again... hard for us all to stay out of it.

I didn't really know how long this experiment would last.
The plan was 'Trev leads'.
Then 'Maddie leads'.
Would our days look totally different from our usual experiences?
Would we sit and watch Trev play his game all day?
Would we have tea parties?
Would books be banned? ;)

Not quite.
Turns out that it was pretty familiar.

I wondered at first if it was because Trev was disinterested. Or if he was feeling pressured, and couldn't think.
And as the day wore on, I wondered if I should have offered more ideas. If I shouldn't have just left it at "If you could do anything in the whole world, what would you do today?" (though I did offer some ideas.)
Maybe I should have mentioned Classic? (even though we went yesterday.)
Maybe I should have mentioned the dollar movie to see Ice Age Dawn of the Dinosaurs? (In my defense, I didn't think of it 'til later.)

But... ding. We do these kinds of things every day. I'm not opposed to a dollar movie. I'm not opposed to spending four or five hours at the park or skating rink. That's business-as-usual for us.

We Enjoy Lots Of Different Things.
Not only that, but We All Lead.
Moment to moment, day to day, we pack in things that are interesting to each of us. Some are boring to some of us. I about cried of boredom a couple of times during Little House In the Big Woods. But my babes liked it, so I kept going. I'm not as enthralled as Maddie with puzzles. But we play. Sometimes I'm led to the roller rink. I would never choose to go there by myself. I have a good time because my babes have a good time.

My point is not that "I suffer, therefore it won't hurt my children to be bored over something, either," but that there is an ebb and flow to our days and moments.
We lead, we follow.
We live together, we love, and we learn. We are inspired by lots of different things, and we are influenced by lots of different things.
Our lives are lead by other things sometimes... as free as we are, we are not free in every moment. There are appointments sometimes, there are children, phone calls... needs. Things that can be viewed as disruptions. None of us live independently of others.
We're influenced by weather, society, the calendar, seasons, events in our city, and the money that's in our pocket.

The joy in my life comes from many different things-- creating, exploring, discovering... space to live and breathe and just Be.
Toward this end I make offers to -and sometimes lead- my children.
And toward this end I follow.