Monday, November 19, 2007

Gratitude, Day Two - Unschooling

I am so grateful to John Holt (who planted the seed with his books when I was pregnant) and even more so to Sandra Dodd, Pam Sarooshian and the others who wrote on the Unschooling yahoo group list back in the years 2002-05. Their directness, and their commitment to hang in there while we new people resisted letting go of our beliefs about controls, helped to shift my views about parenting. My realizations continued through lurking on the AlwaysUnschooled list for a while, gleaning wisdom from other moms of young unschoolers - in particular from Danielle, who has great intuition about how to embody this type of learning. I'm grateful to have found this path. It was the right fit for our family.

This morning, as well as so many others, could have been so ugly without the learning I did on those lists (and through Rue Kream's book, Kelly Lovejoy's Live and Learn conferences, not to mention a recent visit from unschoolers :)

In a week, Nicolas' father and his father's wife are visiting us for five days. They are French and Belgian and have recently moved to Holland from Aix en Provence. They are worldly, elegant and used to a very full life that includes biking every day, yoga, fabulous food and coffee houses. We are so looking forward to seeing them, but are both thinking ahead - me to where the nearest, good coffee house might be and Nicolas to how the kids are going to behave at the table. Table manners always become a priority of his as their visits approach; as does a heightened awareness of our strewed learning materials, or what some would call clutter.

So this morning, we talked about all of this for a while and then Jesse agreed to help tackle the lego/playmobil area upstairs, just rearranging them a bit so that we could make a path and then even vacuum the rug. Gillen wanted nothing to do with this endeavor. This was a big role reversal on their part. But he did follow Jesse and I upstairs, glowering from beneath his nose-length bangs, where he rediscovered his farm playmobil and mechanical legos and decided he wanted to play. Without unschooling, there would have been a major power struggle. Not that we never have power struggles. But when I keep the learning I have done in the foreground, as I did this morning, chances are better to have a scene like the one below, rather than an unphotogenic one with yelling and/or legos being thrown at me, at Jesse or down the stairs.

While free to play, Gillen created a fun way to carry the legos and playmobil to baskets and to the sides of the space - with quickly assembled lego moving vans and his battery operated mechanical lego crane. It was very cool to watch and he felt huge satisfaction from the new space that he got to organize. Even if the space had remained a lego mosh pit I would have been so glad that he had gotten the chance to play with his crane's pulley and see just how much weight it could hold. More importantly, to me, I didn't make the state of the space more important than our relationship.

We went on to have a great afternoon at the park with friends. Gillen played equally well and enthusiastically with Aaron (his friend who goes to school and is out for Thanksgiving) as he did with his three-year-old good friend Jared. Earlier today, he brought a book on CD from the library to our 90-year-old neighbor and then talked about birds with her for a while. That's one of my favorite things about homeschooling - the lack of age segregation.

I'm grateful to you, if you have made it this far. Gratitude seems to make me go on a bit... I hope a more visual, less talkative moment of gratitude will hit me tomorrow.


littlepurplecow said...

You are such a great mother and teacher. I envy your ability to live a life less structured. You embed creativity in each day. I love that about you.

Madeline said...

Thank you Stephanie. I would like to embed creativity in each day. What a wonderful goal. I haven't done that every day, but will set out to do so.

Alecto said...

Great job with the internal conflict, that's pretty awesome. I really like that room at the top of the stairs and I love that it's covered in legos.

Deanne said...

I'm loving your gratitude posts and looking forward to the rest! I, too, am so grateful for our unschooling life, and all who help(ed) achieve it. And I'm grateful that through unschooling I've gotten to know wonderful people like you! ;) Have a peaceful, joy-filled Thanksgiving. :)

whimsigal said...

You're so much better than me...I wish I had been able to retain my calm and had reacted the way you did when confronted with a mess in the boys' playroom recently. I admire the way you handled that very much, friend. I'm grateful for this post!


Angie said...

Thanks so much for posting this! We all need to be reminded that what we are doing is awesome. It's so easy to get caught up in all that we think is important.

Congrats on your great day and your reminder of what's important!

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Blogging Molly said...

I wish you could download all your knowledge straight into my head. I have a lot to learn and a lot to let go, but it looks like the journey is well worth the effort. That room upstairs looks so inviting; I could sit there and play legos for hours.

Tamar Orvell said...

you'll have all that FLOR all over the FLOOR to feel good about when your elegant family company arrives.