Adventures in Unschooling

Archive for the ‘Me’ Category

… who the frack cares!

Doesn’t matter what you think love is. What matters is how you show it. What benefit does anyone gain from being loved more than earth and heaven combined if they are neglected and treated like shit?

In the most famous love passage (1 Corinthians 3:4-7) Paul describes love. He doesn’t say, “Love is feeling butterflies in your stomach” or “feeling sexually attracted to someone.” He says:

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Have you noticed that those are all actions?

So let us consider this as we go into the world (our families and workplaces, out with our friends etc.). Let us start being love not just feeling it and desiring it.

Let us be happy for others and not be petty. Let’s not lash out at those who don’t deserve it. Let’s be patient and kind.

I want to be the embodiment of love to my family. I don’t want to JUST be hugs and kisses and then yell at them when I am frustrated. I want to treat them like I love to them.

‘Cause frankly, if I bitch at them all of their lives (or spank them or punish them or over protect them) they will remember my actions. Not my intentions.

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I spend so much time reading books on every kind of topic. I used to mostly focus on parenting and nutrition. I have learned to eat really healthy but I also indulge in mint and chocolate chip ice cream. I know that I shouldn’t punish my kids but when I am at the end of my rope I do.

The truth is that my parents left me a little screwed up but so did your parents. And you and I will all leave our kids a little screwed up. I am positive that that is true. 

One kid will say, my parents didn’t care enough to set boundaries for me and the other will say my parents cared too much and put up too many boundaries for me to be able to grow and develop independence. Striking the perfect balance is impossible I am convinced. I do like the books because they help me understand the logic between the parenting styles. 

We are quite liberated. We let our kids dress like superheroes to the grocery store and they can paint on themselves if they want. They pick out their own clothes, no matter where we are going and they even pick out their own footwear (to buy and to wear). Someday it’s rubber boots with swimming trunks and long sleeved dress shirts. That’s just how we roll. 

I frequently encourage my kids to do things for themselves. If they want a free cookie from the grocery store they have to ask for it themselves. I tell them, “I don’t want one. If you want one, you need to go ask.” 

So Trey will run to the cookie counter and say, “Three cookies please. One for my brother and one for my sister and one for me.” Then he brings me the one he had received for Anna and gives it to her unscathed. 

I find that they are very generous with each other as well. They share their food quite willingly. And will think of each other when they have items. One day Joel found a bunch of change on the ground (nickels and pennies etc.) and he took half of them, put them in his pocket and then gave the rest of them to Trey. We try to not force them to share their toys. If I get something and Kevin asks for it. I will gladly share…when I am ready. When I start a book or something I expect to be able to finish it before I pass it one to someone else. I respect that my kids have similar needs. They shouldn’t have to share if they are using something. I do encourage bartering then. When Trey wants something Joel has and he starts crying, I tell him that Joel wants that right now. If he wants to find a more appealing toy for Joel then Joel might be willing to trade his toy for a different one. This often works. And if it doesn’t then tough cookies. He has to wait his turn. 

But I have a problem with some of the kids shouldn’t have responsibilities and kids shouldn’t be forced to be part of the family. In my house we care for each other. I just paid an exorbitant amount of money for 3D IMAX tickets to Toy Story 3 for this weekend. Do I care to go? Not really. But my boys have been psyched for this for months. And I couldn’t get cheaper seats…so $65 later we are going to be watching ONE movie for about TWO hours! What a waste of cash. But they want it and it’s not always about me. 

I make them food they like often. And I seldom get my yummy mint/chocolate chip ice cream because I am the only one that likes it. We are a co-op and we love each other and we help each other. So, they must tidy up the common area when they are done. And they have unrestricted access to the craft cabinet. BUT, they have to clean up after themselves. They often play on my table and I use that for eating and working etc. So they are expected to pick up their pieces of Play Doh. I know some other unschooling moms don’t agree with that. They follow behind their children, clean up the mess and get everything ready for the next creative session. But the fact is that I don’t want to decide to make pie and have to clean up paint, sidewalk chalk, Play Doh and all that stuff first. I think it teaches mutual respect. 

When they lose the pieces to a game, we don’t get angry. We simply use the pieces we can or throw it out if it’s no longer useable. But we don’t buy a replacement one. They’ll ask if they can have more LEGO and I’ll say no. They each have a bucket that is full to the brim in LEGO. All they want are the LEGO men. Which they insist on toting with them to the farm, the library, the grocery store, etc. Then they promptly lose them or pieces of them. LEGO is expensive and we have had to draw a line in the sand. When he gets money (for his birthday or whatever) he chooses to spend it on LEGO. That is his choice. 

He’ll even tell me sometimes, “Mom, I am taking my toy with me when we go shopping. And if I lose it that’s my problem OK?” I just laugh and say, “OK.” 

I am amazed at how strong and independent they are. They make their own choices and respect my opinion (sometimes). They will ask if it safe for them to run to the car or they’ll tell me that they are bringing this toy outside. The other day I realized that before the boys went to bed they had brought some sidewalk chalk into their room. Joel had drawn all over his dark sheets with these pretty pastel chalks. Can you think of a better canvas for chalk than a dark sheet? The contrast was beautiful. I didn’t get mad. All it took was a tumble in the wash to get it clean again. No harm done. He got to be creative at no one’s expense. Good for him! 

I will post a picture when I get my computer back from the “shop.” 

I guess what I am getting at with all of this rambling is that I don’t care what the books say. I am going to try to treasure their individuality and try to respect them. And we’ll forget about the details. You take it one day at a time and stop feeling guilty that you aren’t living up to someone else’s expectations. 

And speaking about choices and respect for others, I took my kids to a Gay Pride Parade last Saturday. It was colourful, full of techno music and by far the most vibrant and fun parade I have ever been to. And it was the most beautiful day we have had in two weeks. There was no raining on this parade. LOL. 

The kids tried to understand what the parade was about but I wasn’t able to explain it very clearly. I did my best but those are hard concepts to get when you are five years old and you don’t even fully grasp that there are different family units from your own. No matter though, they got candy, stickers, necklaces and had a great time.  Trey kept saying, “Mom, this is like New Years!” I don’t know where that came from because we never go to any parties at New Years! LOL. 

The most amazing part was the types of people in the parade. There was representation from everything from gay nightclubs, to political parties, to banks, to grocery stores, to United Churches, to lobby groups. So many people came out to show support for personal choice and human justice (in the form of equal rights). 

I always used to think, what difference does it mean if they are “married” or not but it turns out lots. They don’t get penalized on their taxes for example. And picture this scenario, you and your lover have been together for 12 years. Your family is religious and upset about the person you chose to be your life partner. So you don’t talk to them. But the person whom you share your life with knows everything about you. One day you get in a violent car accident and end up in the hospital. You mother gets called in to make the life or death decisions for you. You partner is excluded from the emergency room, funeral arrangements. Instead of being cremated and tossed from a mountain top as you had instructed your lover to do, you are buried in a ghastly blue dress your estranged mother chose. The truth is that without marriage the life partner can not be considered equal to a spouse in decisions like this. It is important that they get to choose who should represent them in their finances, their child rearing and their deaths. 

But won’t that open up the door to other types of marriages? You mean like polygamy or child marriages? NO! Get over it you cry babies. Gay marriage is a marriage of mutual consent between ADULTS. It won’t open up the door for child rape etc. And to top it off, a study has come out recently saying that the children of lesbians are better adjusted than the normal population. They have lower incidences of substance abuse and have lower incidences of mental disturbances. 

Seriously, two mommies? How can this not be a win, win? Even my husband said so. It’s usually the fathers being cold and distant that causes these behavioural problems. Two warm, comfy mommies? Right on! 

 

I don’t get to post as much as I’d like these days. I guess I am just too busy working and living to document it all on here.

And we have been busy.

We have been:

1. Working: I am working full-time and even the hubby is pulling quite a bit of hours. But with all that we still manage to always have one of us home with the kids.

2. Cleaning: With our place on the market and us hoping for a quick sale we have been cleaning a lot. The yard, the shed, the floors, the dogs…even the kids seem to get dirty 30 minutes after you clean them.

3. Exercising: I have been working out very hard and I have been losing weight. I have hit a roadblock though and the last five to ten pounds are proving to be very difficult to burn off. Here are some pictures of the kids doing yoga with me:

4. Painting: We have been painting, making necklaces, colouring, crafting in general. The kids also really like play doh and moon sand. Here are some pictures of their play table (yesterday’s painting project):

5. Frolicking: Playing at the park, playing tennis, playing board games, wrestling on the couch, signing and dancing to Raffi and just generally enjoy the sunshine (when we get it) and fresh air.

6. Enjoying the little miracles: The Universe has been pretty good to us. My husband’s police recruitment is going well and we are nearing the end of it all. Through all the downs the ups come back around. And the ups are much more special. Also my computer seems to have miraculously healed itself. I had a very invasive virus on my computer that made it virtually impossible for me to even check my email much less blog and today my computer is clean, clear and back to its original speed. My anti-virus finally decided to do its job I guess??? And my washing machine broke on Sunday night but a friend who is moving and currently needing to unload one has been able to offer one to us at a VERY reasonable price. Thanks so much L!

7. Learning: We are all learning. I am trying to learn to be more patient with life and to be a better mother. I am far from the ideal mother and that frustrates me because I like to excel at everything I do. Mothering, though, has been the hardest task I have ever undertaken and I have much learning yet to do.

In general, I am happy with life. I can’t wait for our life to really get going though. We have been living in limbo for quite a while and I can’t wait to get some financial stability and to be back home again.

I have been off the radar these days. I have been really busy working, parenting, working out and occasionally socializing. I am ten pounds away from my ideal weight and I am looking great already! I am down another pant size and am starting to get some nice ab definition. My progress has been mostly documented on my other blog: www.theworldismysoyster.wordpress.com

But even though this blog space has been relatively inactive we have not. We have done Easter egg hunts. We have played t-ball and both of the boys are signed up for t-ball this year.

We have played tennis and played at the park. We have gone for walks and observed a robin in the back yard. We have shopped, played at the library and built Lego structures.

We have played with buttons: 

And played with markers and loved our “baby.”

And painted:

And actually, we’ve done oh so much more. We levelled the back yard and are reseeding it. When that all comes in we have many plans to be out there for meals and for play.

I don’t really want to get into it but my husband’s job didn’t pan out and we got strapped for cash and I got the better offer on the job front. I am not happy about. Neither is my husband and neither are my children.

I am not that happy with my work environment. I am working in an office butt up against a shop and so my office environment constantly smell like dirt and dust and it is constantly dirty.

I am also the only female even remotely close to my age (that I have seen anyway) so I have no one to share my lunch with. I had lunch with a woman who was probably 40 years my senior but we shared interests in cooking etc. I don’t feel a connection at all with anyone there.

I don’t enjoy the work either.

 Boo hoo. So sad. Whatever.

It pays what I need to pay my bills and it is an early shift which means I get home early and have more of my evening to myself. I also miss the worst part of rush hour traffic too. Which I am happy about. I still really wish I could have worked closer to home and avoid the horrifying traffic altogether but none of this arrangement is really what I wanted.

I am trying to stay positive. I am trying to put good vibes out and focus on what I want. Which in this case is for us to get our place on the market and sold ASAP and then for my husband to get into his training soon.

The real bad news though is that being away from home means I am not getting to focus on my weight loss like I did and I have been gaining weight again.

This makes me so mad because I spent two months working hard and I lost 15 lbs and now it is all creeping back on.

There is stuff I can do. For example. I can make an effort to exercise at night. I am often busy with everyone else’s needs during that time but I could schedule an hour in there for me.

I could walk around during my lunch. I haven’t been because it’s an industrial area and there are no sidewalks. And it’s been chillier lately too.

My job keeps me at my desk pretty constantly. I don’t even get up for faxes or photocopying.

So I make an hourly trip to the bathroom and use that as an excuse to get up and stretch. I could do yoga in my cubicle but there is a massive window facing the shop entrance in front of my cubicle. So I’d be doing warrior two and some guys would walk by. Classy.

I am actually feeling a little bit better about the job now. I was very miserable for the first half of the week. I have come to grips with my reality now. But I do need to come up with a good strategy to avoid gaining all of my weight back.

I am thinking new running shorts (mine are too big now) and some new running shoes.

My husband has also been bugging me to start hittin’ the tennis court once again. That could be a start. I just worry it’ll be too cold for the kidlets who won’t be running around quite as much we will be.

Anyway,

I will be posting some more positive news soon.

I’ve been a little busier these days so I haven’t posted in a a couple of days.

The first thing I want to talk about is the Olympics. Unlike L, I don’t care for it much. I am just not into it I guess. But I never thought the day would come where the Olympics would be an inconvenience for me. Ha ha ha.

OK, it’s not a big deal. But the husband’s polygraph, which could have been done this month, has been postponed until the Olympics are done because all of the RCMP polygraphers are in Vancouver working the Olympics. Ha ha ha.

That puts his recruitment back a bit. I hope they make up the time somehow because that will put him at about three months worth of delays, all out of his control. And we are just dying for him to get in and then out onto the field. We have been putting our life on hold for over a year trying to get everything aligned to do this and it starts to wear you down. I would love to be settled in to our new house before next Christmas. Oh well, we’ll figure it all out.

The other disappointment is that his current contract MAY not last as long was we were hoping. That, coupled with the delay with his application, is making me worried that if he can’t find another job quickly enough afterwards, I may end up back at work until we sell our home or until he goes to Regina.

We have to list our place for sale in February and hope for a really quick sale. Then we can move out to my husband’s parent’s farm and stay there until he graduates and gets posted.

Anyway, two days ago I went to a friend’s house and we let our kids have a play date. It was a nice break from the norm and the kids sure had a great time. I was really grateful.

And yesterday I took the kids to the park in the neighbourhood here. They had fun but Joel fell in the snow, and got cold, and cried, so that ended pretty quickly. It was still nice to get some fresh air though.

And Anna, my little 14 month old who won’t-walk-but-can-climb-anything-in-sight climbed up on my kitchen table and did a number on my bowl of nuts. She really enjoyed plunging her hands in the dish. And when she emptied the dish out she would stick her face in it and listen to the echo as she “ahhhh”ed into it.

She is absolutely adorable.

Last night I went to the mall. The husband had martial arts and I wanted some time out.

Anyway, when we were at Chapters we picked up some clearance books.

They boys each wanted the same 3D Human Body book. Here are the boys looking through it this morning.

I have been reading The Unprocessed Child: Living Without Schoolingby Valerie Fitzenreinter. It’s not the best book I have ever read on the topic of unschooling but it is genuine and impactful. It’s a good book on respecting children.

About a third of the way into it there is a chapter called “Independence.” And it really hit home for me. It’s short and full of common sense but there is something that really connected for me.

It encourages us to really let kids make their own choices. That kids learn when the environment allows them to succeed and fail without fear. So we are eliminating bedtimes. And so far, when Trey has gotten tired he tells us and we go and put  him to bed. He also sleeps in later that way and we surely like that. I have put them to bed when they seem in need of it (crying a lot, rubbing their eyes and exhibiting other symptoms of exhaustion) but I am feeling rewarded by their judgement in when they need to go to bed. This has also eliminated bedtime tantrums.

When I started reading the chapter on “Discipline” I had a flashback to high school when we were forced to read Lord of the Flies. It’s a good example of the distrust that adults have for children. It feels like it was pure indoctrination. When I think of civility in grown up circles I am often surprised at the pettiness, backstabbing, imaturity, and sheer violence of adults. We point to peer raising peers (a bad idea by the way) and say that deep inside children are little savages, but I see many war-mongering men who are big savages too. I don’t think that schools teach us civility and respect at all.

In fact, I think the best way for children to learn to be generous, respectful people is or a) for them to be around people of all races, ages and backgrounds and b) to have those attributes shown to them.

We tell our children what to do and then wonder why they can’t make good choices for themselves. We yell at them and neglect them when they really need us (when they are screaming and angry) and then wonder why they aren’t compassionate. We demand compliance from them and then wonder why they can’t stand up to their peers. Shameful! We should treat them as we’d like to be treated and how we wish we had been treated when we were alone, crying in our bedrooms without supper.

I have found that you can cut a lot of bad behaviour off at the pass with a big hug and a nice chat. Everyone feels good this way. When I banish them to their bedrooms because I don’t want to deal with the behaviour we all end up angry and we all have a bad day.

Most of all, I hope I can learn to be this way. I want to be a good, attached mom. It’s so hard when they are learning to assert themselves.

No one said that parenting was easy. Sigh…