Adventures in Unschooling

Archive for the ‘parenting’ 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 am reading an article in the Huffington Post about worrying right now. My scholarly friend sends these to me since she worries about my worrying. 🙂

The article was all about management for adult worrying but it had a good little nugget about how kids are conditioned to think the world is a scary place (which it can be). This occurs due to our insistence that they not talk to strangers and not step out of our sight, that they not walk alone etc.

And absolutely, we need to keep our kids safe from predators and from harm in general. I would never let my kids be in a situation where they could be picked up by a stranger.

But there is also a point where you have to let it be. 

For example, someone I know was all upset because their kid was balancing on a beam of lumber in my back yard. “Be careful. Please get down. You’ll fall off!”

He was about a foot off the ground and the ground was grass. Worst case scenario? He falls off and cries for a minute. Please someone…alert the police of child neglect!

On Canada Day we went to the Legislature. We were sitting on some steps to eat a snack and this little guy was running all over the steps. And his dad was all upset that he was running on, GASP!, concrete.

“If you fall it’ll be big owies.”

The kid weighs 20 lbs tops and is about 6″ off of the ground but I am sure that he will need to be hospitalized is he trips and falls. Give me a break!

Anna has been scaling furniture since she was nine months old. She climbed onto my kitchen counters before she knew how to walk. But I didn’t worry about it much. She will stop when she feels unstable. And if she falls (which does happen from time to time) then she cries and gets back up to play again. I wouldn’t let her stand on the ledge of a window but really, I can’t protect her ALL of the time and if I don’t let her discover her boundaries she won’t develop the self-confidence she needs to try new things.

All I am saying is that you should consider the risk of over-protecting your child. These kids can grow up to be worriers that are incapacitated by fear of, well, everything. 

There are times when caution is warranted but other times? Just let them play already.

Here is the article (which again, is not child related) if you are interested: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-ferry/are-you-addicted-to-worry_b_638682.html

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 am not talking about a formal education here but rather an informal one. My kids have been a major driver in the topics that I have chosen to learn about in the last five years.

When I became pregnant with my first child I started reading about pregnancy and child birth. I was interested in natural birth but I didn’t know where to find midwives etc. And like many people who lack information I was also a little bit scared of birthing away from an hospital that had “professionals” on hand. So I went with a hospital birth.

I won’t go into it right now but my experience was not pleasant and I started searching for alternatives when I became pregnant with baby #2 (who was born at home in the water).  FYI: Baby #3 was born in a birth centre with a midwife. We did this simply because it was free and it was an equally  wonderful water birth. I heart my midwives. 🙂

My midwife with baby #2 was very holistic and encouraged me to look at more natural way of doing things.  I spent many, many months reading about everything from the safety of  natural childbirth and home birth, to the unhealthiness of processed foods and meat, to the merit of natural medicines.

This research branched off in many areas and resulted in our adopting many different philosophies in parenting and eating. We became vegetarians (who are mostly raw vegan now) who wore our babies in slings and co-slept. Even now, my baby is 15 months old and I am still nursing her. I have no immediate plans to stop.

Then when Trey started to grow older and started to become a lot more challenging I started pouring through dozens and dozens of parenting books. We desperately tried to undo the damage we had done by following Dobsonian (LOL! Dr. James Dobson) parenting methods. We followed his advice for a while but that seemed to only make our kids rebel more. Time outs, punishments, yelling and in our desperation, spanking, only made Trey angrier and less cooperative. I have now learned that a hug can be much more effective at encouraging good behaviour than a time out!

It was through this learning that we learned to practise attachment parenting with our children and not just our babies. I am constantly falling off of the wagon but I try again and again because the happiness, security and self esteem of my children is important. In our parenting we strive to show our kids that we love them even when they act in ways that are difficult for us to accept. And that is hard for us to do too.

I have also looked into many different topics relating to their health. I have read extensively about vaccination, vegan diets, antibiotic use in children and treating childhood diseases at home.

When our eldest was about three and a half we started thinking about schooling. I had always known that I wanted to homeschool but as we started looking at all of the different philosophies of parenting we became aware of one called unschooling. We fell in love with it and have been thoroughly enjoying practising it in our home.

And when our kids show interest in a topic now we find that we begin to learn about it too. For example we started learning quite a bit about nature on our nature walks. We now have all kinds of field guides that help us to identify plants, clouds, animals and bugs.

And lately our kids have sparked an interest in space in my husband. My husband has been avidly reading about the different planets and I have been inspired by his interest and have been immersing myself in the articles and photos from the Hubble Telescope site as well as from my own guides at home and from Wikipedia. 

I have learned things about space that have been blowing my mind.

For example. I have learned that the sun is actually a star. And that there are many, many stars that are much, much, MUCH bigger than ours (see illustation below). I have also learned that some of these other stars have solar systems of their own.

Which means there is potential for life in other areas of our very vast universe. I have also learned a lot about telescopes (how they are built and which ones are good for which conditions etc.) and Kevin has been teaching me all about planets.

I am also up to date on the current theory of star birth and am getting to be pretty well versed in the terminology. Words like nebula used to mean nothing to me but I can tell you what it is and what the difference between an asteroid, a meteor and a comet is. LOL.

All this just because my son got interested in planets. 🙂

The image below came from this blog post: http://tomsastroblog.com/?p=5198  You can click on the image to see it zoomed in. It helps with reading the names etc.

First thing this morning I decided to show the boys how to make fossils. They are fascinated (at least Trey is) about bones and fossils and dinosaurs and I thought that making a fossil would be a great way to talk about how dinosaur fossils were made. So here is our fossil:

I’ll post more pics when it is dry.

Then they wanted to do more crafts so we did some stamping.

Here is a stamp pad I made with a piece of foam and an ice cream pail lid:

The kids liked the stamping and then they used their hands. It was Anna’s first craft as well! She sure loved being involved and she liked getting her hands dirty. She couldn’t keep her hands out of the clay when we did the fossil activity either. Ha ha ha.

And now the kids are watching the Shallow Seas episode of Planet Earth and that makes me very happy. Today is starting out to be pretty productive. Let’s hope for it to carry on.

As I was writing this the boys got into a huge fight and started hitting each other. I had to get Trey calm. He kicked and screamed for at least 10 minutes but when he calmed down we had a long cuddle and I think he is feeling much more cooperative now. 

I can see how so much of my strife with the kids is actually my doing. I really need to give them cuddles and talk to them in a way that makes them feel loved. It’s no wonder they have been so hostile lately.

There are many practises and trains of thoughts on this one issue alone. Not as many as there are on birth but still plenty!

And we are finding ourselves drifting to the “dark side.”

After many, many, many nights of being regularly awakened between one to six times a night by our little Anna we have started to think about CIO. Otherwise known as Cry It Out.

People can get pretty desperate when they are tired.

So, today I was talking to a friend about my temptation to try CIO with Anna. Now, this is a friend who understands. Her baby (exact same age as Anna) has been struggling longer than I have with a baby that has an even more distorted sleeping (or non-sleeping) nighttime pattern.

I don’t even know how she has survived. I would have cracked and been hauled off to the giggling academy a long time ago.

And this friend did me an enormous favour. While supporting me in whatever decision we arrived at she also offered a link to a very interesting blog post about CIO: http://womanuncensored.blogspot.com/2009/12/just-let-her-cry.html

This was so encouraging. It reflected all of the reasons why we have NOT let her CIO before and it was nice to have a refresher. Check it out. Please.

Dr. Sears doesn’t encourage sleep training. Instead he uses the term “nighttime parenting.” I think a paradigm shift is required here. Why should we all of sudden stop responding to the needs of the child just because it is dark outside. Just silly!

And as a aside. Here is a post on circumcision:

http://womanuncensored.blogspot.com/2010/01/aids-circumcision-fallacy.html

I am always against male genital mutilation. If your primary reason for circumcising your son is so that he looks like his dad or because of cultural reasons, then please, tell the child’s father for me, “GROW SOME BALLS YOU INSECURE PUSSY!!!”

And if you are responding to all of that bad science about HIV transmission being reduced by genital mutilation then you should watch the video.

And it’s pretty common knowledge that sensitivity is reduced in circumcised penises. I don’t think parents should make decisions like this for little ones.

I won’t even pierce my little ones ears because I don’t want to hurt her and break that trust. When she can understand the reason for the pain, she can get her ears pierced if she should CHOOSE to. It all comes down to respect!