Friday, February 01, 2008

My new favorite restaurant; Gillen thriving despite our blundering

A few mornings ago, Gillen asked Jesse and I if he could make us breakfast. I was still only sleeping a few hours a night (finally getting better now) so responded with a hugely appreciative, high pitched, "yes!" What a great surprise. And he didn't just throw together some toast. Half an hour after his offer, he called for us to enter "In the Garden", his new restaurant, where:

we were welcomed by our host:

We were given a menu (actually this is a picture of the next day's menu - yes, In the Garden has stayed open for the last three breakfasts!):That first morning, we both chose the pancakes (gluten-free) and grapefruit. Both were delicious. The next day's eggs with toast:Our cook was also the waiter, the bus boy,
and even the dishwasher!

So now that I've shown you proof of how awesome my kid is, I'll confess to how Nicolas and I lost sight of our unschooling trusting path and shot him down last night. And then you can give me the beating I deserve.

Periodically (around every five to six months), Nicolas or I, or both of us, get frustrated by Gillen's ability to throw himself, sloth-like, guilt-free and with a certain bored teenager look on his young face, onto the floor, the coach and his bed, for large periods of time. He did this yesterday, a lot. I suggested all kinds of possible activities. I offered rides to cool places. I asked him to just talk to me (always the worst invitation) and he just got more grunty and slug-like, until his friend Aaron got out of school. At this point, every day this week, he has been filled with energy to go ride bikes, make traps, build a fort and whatever else they do when they are off and running in our neighborhood.

When he came home for dinner, Nicolas and I told him that he had to finish some of the projects he has started or to start new ones if he would rather move on, but that he can't just keep throwing his body on furniture all day in a desperately bored manner.

Looking back, and after a great conversation with wise unschooling mother Mindy, I realize how negative and wrong we were in our approach. Gillen does well when he can choose what to do, when to do it, how long to do it and whether or not we are involved in it. We set ourselves up in some kind of competition with his 10 year old friend and were insuring that we weren't going to win.

Gillen didn't take our requests too seriously. We haven't damaged him and can revisit the conversation again tonight. But I would love to never get in this bungling old-school parenting, expectation place again. In several months, when I wake up thinking about Shakespeare and about how my kids may never be inspired by him if I don't strew him in the right way, I hope I'll breathe a bit, strew brilliantly :) but also shut my mouth with duct tape long enough to take in what this person has in store for me already. He is starting his own blog today where we can all read about him, in his own voice. I'll post it in my links when his first entry is finished.


Bhu said...

Wow. I'm consistently moved by your commitment to the truth as a mother. I cannot wait to read Gillen's blog. I'm totally excited.

Naomi said...

I can't wait to dine at Gillen's restaurant. I hope it's still in operation at Christmas time. Love, Naomi

Madeline said...

Naomi, Gillen says that "In the Garden" will be open at Christmas. He loved getting your comment on his blog and has written two more posts, is writing as I type! He is so excited about blogging.

Thank you Bhu. : ) The truth was less clear while jet-lagged.

Gillen said...

I love that you are putting my food on the blog.

Blogging Molly said...

Oh, I can so relate to all of this. Avery (7) would rather do nothing all day until her neighbor friends get home from school, and it drives me crazy! And yes, I worry that she is doing "nothing" - which is far from nothing. She is doing experiments, reading magazines, sewing, playing. "Trust" is the first word that came to my mind when I started worrying about academics. Trust doesn't always come easy, even though I'm trying my darndest to channel Holt. But it's moments like yesterday when Avery was baking and figuring out 1/8's and 1/4's of teaspoons. Looking forward to more of Gillen!

Danielle said...

Gillen wants to hang out and do stuff with someone else who's passionate about the same stuff he is. So, he waits around until that person is home and then goes and does all kinds of active stuff he loves to do. That's wonderful!

I'm glad you used the story of his restaurant to help you shift your perspective. Knowing how wonderful his pancakes are, I also know you're a very lucky mama!

Danielle said...

Hey! Speaking of which, I'd love to have that recipe when you have the time.

Madeline said...

Exactly Danielle! Thanks for stating it clearly.

While I was writing the list of what he does with Aaron, in this post, I realized. Of course he can't do this stuff during the day, with me. So far. Maybe I'll take up archery.

Once I realized that, I kept writing and hit publish because i have confession compulsion.

The pancakes that he makes are a mix (Pamela's brand -really good). I use a sourdough spelt recipe that I soak overnight. I'll send it to you.

Tamar Orvell said...

sloth is good. why move all the time? like cooking: a little of this, a little of that. too much of a good thing and the meal is ruined.

he's perfect and so are you!

xoxo from sunny, hip tel aviv!

mindy said...

I love Tamar's comment...I, too love a little sloth time in my life. Just as I was helped tremendously by your words not so long ago, I do think that getting those fears out can help us to find clarity. It is so much harder to share our more unsuccessful parenting moments, but by sharing them we can gain insight. Love to you all!

diana(hahamommy) said...

big hugs to you, you human being, you!
I do a lot of internal processing. I'm writing two talks, my autobiography, a novel or two, my dissertation and several commentary-style essays, all at the same time, mostly in my head, mostly all the ding-dang time.
I bet I seem slack and bored to others... I'm not, I'm just a 10,000 projects going at the same time kinda gal :D (they just *might* get done, even) and lots of them are inside, where they live on faith. Good thing I got lots of that! :D Here's some extra coming your way ♥ ♥

Ren said...

I'm learning that there are just different energy levels to people.:)
I had this extremely high energy little boy that has turned into a VERY low energy 18 year old. He's so mellow and calm and low-energy, nothing like when he was a wee man.

His mind is a most interesting place to visit though. He thinks deeply about things and has such clarity for his age. There are good things about moving time to digest life.

I love Gillen's restaurant. Very cool!