Wednesday, February 20

Amazing Trip

"Life's like a movie.

Write your own ending
keep believing, keep pretending."-- Jim Henson (1936-1990)

Wow, I am still floating! We spent 11 days traveling and visiting unschoolers!! Well... that makes it sound like there were many unschooling homes we visited, but it was 2. And it was awesome!! I would highly recommend to ANYONE that if you can swing it, DO it!!

It was such bliss being "surrounded" by (as much as a family can surround another!) experienced, whole-life unschoolers. I was at my most content. Frankly, I just wanted to sit all day and absorb the atmosphere (and that was almost all I did! LOL). It really is wonderful to sit and talk without having to censor yourself or explain every little thing. The boys enjoyed themselves immensely and were somewhat subdued, comparatively!! (Wonder what is missing at our house??) Coming from NE Ohio (where the temps took their inevitable February dip below zero), the weather was tropical-in the 60's! The food was awesome, the company grand and I got reprimanded for trying to help clean up!! Okay, besides the "advertisement" (LOL), what the heck did I decide to post for? Hmmm....

Really, though, the experience was so lovely, Dave and I wished we had the money to be able to do that indefinitely. With him off work at the moment we have plenty of time, but referring to the previous, definitely not the cash. The boys didn't get on each other's nerves, they ate fabulously, and there was pretty much peace and harmony the whole week. Everyone slept soundly and well, we just had the best time. Amazing what getting out of the routine can do.

My head was so full of things to put in my blog last Saturday as we were on our trip home, but most of it seems to have evaporated at the moment. I guess I'll just come back and edit in stuff as/if it comes back to me.


I remember some! Over the last few weeks of travel, I've been amazed at the completely organic development of swimming in Storm's exploration. From the Ohio campout last August/September, where he was so tentative... He took almost an hour to get all the way *into* the pool. He'd get his feet wet and get out (and *man*, was it HOT-in the mid-high 90s, if I recall...), get his feet wet and get out, get his shins wet and retreat, etc. By the time we got out of the pool, he was jumping in from the side into my arms and running around the perimeter of the pool like he was going to jump into the deep end. Wyl also honed his swimming skills. Sadly, we started swim lessons with him before we found unschooling and that has effected Wyl's water confidence. He could move from one side of the pool to the other without a floatation device of any sort in water over his head and he did this several times. At one point, he was surprised to find himself in water over his head and panicked a bit, went under a moment or two, splashed a *lot* and when we got him to the side, he declared that he couldn't swim!! All my reassurances didn't help-he swam with a floaty the rest of our time there.

We started swimming with our homeschool group at the end of last year. Storm spent most of his time around the zero-entry area, playing on the slide and with the water sprayers/drippers. Once or twice, he got in too deep, but Dave or I was there to grab him before it got scary (for him). He'd asked to be carried in the deeper water occasionally, but mainly just stayed in the shallow end. We never really considered swim lessons for Storm for so many reasons, one of which being all the "unschool swimming" stories I'd read and read aloud to Dave. Then we went to Kalahari. I never noticed any real change in his relationship with water, there. There were "little kid" areas he loved, with very shallow (ankle-deep?) water, and the wave pool. The latter area we stayed close (I'm confident in my swimming ability in still water, but have huge difficulties in waves) to him, there were giant, sit-in floaties, flotation vests available but Storm wanted to stay in the shallow area when the waves were going. When they weren't, he liked to wade out to chest-height and then be carried into the deeper water. Oh, and we went on one of the family raft/floaty tube slides (very exciting IMO!!) and floated on the lazy river ride once. The next time we were at our local swim, things were business as usual, but the time after that...! Wow, I just couldn't believe how interested he was in the deep water!! Wanting to go out until he was tiptoe-bobbing, nose held high and then reach for me-but he didn't want picked up, he just wanted a hand or an arm to grab onto for leverage to get his head up into his comfort zone. He wanted to stay in the deepest water he could touch bottom in, hold onto me while I walked and he kicked, "I swim, mama, I swimin'!" He grabbed onto the edges and dunked himself under in those deep areas. We ventured back to the shallow area and I dove under and swam toward him (both boys love this "chase" game), blowing bubbles and "growling" and suddenly, *he* wanted to dunk his face and blow bubbles!! It was just an amazing day for me-watching all that develop and the complete lack of thought that anyone should be concerned about the possibility of harm or accident... It makes me glad again that Wyl and Storm are 5 1/2 years apart... I have no idea how I could divide my time between 2 learning-water-skills kids... I need to give 95% of my attention to Storm while he's exploring water and having fun-sometimes more than that! There have been 1 or 2 occasions in the past where he was between Dave and I (just out of reach of either of us) and got a little too deep or dunked under and we needed to take a couple steps to help. I don't know how folks with more than 1 little one do it...

Saturday, February 2

My Unschooling Experience

The dust of exploded beliefs may make a fine sunset. -Geoffrey Madan, writer (1895-1947)

Okay, I know its been a while and I'll address that. Later. I just had to get this out of my head and onto "paper"...

I think I've finally hit the nail on the head as to what "getting" unschooling feels like to me-at this point in the journey. Fumbling in the dark. Serious, mis-directed fumbling. You know what its like when you're walking through a dark room in your house? Pitch dark. No discernible shadows. Remember what it's like to have your sense of direction out of whack? THAT'S what it's like, right now, in this place of my journey.

I swear I know this "room" of RU. I was certain I had mapped it out in my brain in the clear daylight of the postboards/yahoogroups of "what if" and "when", but then, I find myself, alone in the dark, full of confidence that I know what's where, what to avoid and where I'm truly headed. Stretching my hands up at shoulder-height for that shelf I know that's there, stepping rather quickly (for the dark) and confidently, then *whack*, I get a low chest in the shin. {damn!} Okay, I wasn't headed *exactly* the direction I thought... regroup... adjust slightly. Now, a bit slower, but still confident, splaying my fingers out at hip level for that dresser *thwap!* there's that shelf, giving me a goose-egg on my forehead! {gob damnit!} I thought I had adjusted the right way... maybe I overcompensated-or is it that I didn't compensate enough?? Okay, full stop. Think it through, chest, shelf, rubbing my head.... Alright, I think I see where I messed up. Slowly, now, carefully.... *this* direction. Hand out in front of my face (just in case) and toes feeling along the floor, carefully... making progress... *scraaatch* {son of a biscuit!} How the heck did I get the corner of the nightstand in the hip??!! That's nowhere *near* where I was headed!! Alright, there's only one way left to go. Inching ever so slowly, eyes open beyond wide-hoping for even the teeniest hint of shadow... is that a blob over there? Hands now scanning back and forth, up and down to avoid any possible contact with anything... tense... hoping for the best, yet fearing more failure and pain... *POW* the doorknob hits me in the BACK?!?! {now jumping up and down, swearing like a sailor, yelling in pain} That wasn't even the direction I was heading-and I was walking *forward*, I know I was!! How the hell did I get it in the back from the doorway I came IN through?!?! Then my anger turns to disgust, disappointment and self-loathing as I sink to the cold floor in the middle of the dark, weeping hopelessly...

And that's how the jumps and starts of my unschooling journey go. Nothing like I picture: no smooth transitions, no gradual progress, no stunning sudden leaps of unschooling mana... Yet, sometimes when I look back, it *seems* like I've come a long way... Ugh. In a way, I hope I'm not the only one that fails so regularly and miserably, yet in a bigger way, I hope that no one else has to go through the extremes that I seem to.

So, the reason its been a while... I quit unschooling. Well, I quit the respectful parenting, radical part. I had one of those "sink to the cold floor in the dark" moments and instead of falling into despair, I got pissed and decided I was done on this "one way street", so to speak. That I was going back to being a mainstream parent, the boss, the punishing meany. Anyone gasping in horror, yet? How about disappointment? Guess what? Respectful parenting seems to be a one-way street. I found that once on this street, I couldn't turn around. I couldn't bring myself to go back to disrespecting these wonderful people in my family. I'd gone too far down the street and not only couldn't go the other direction, I couldn't even find a place to turn around. Go figure.

Since that decision and subsequent discovery, I think I've come to the conclusion that I'm having peri-menopause related PMS and mood ... swings? Nah, they're not mood swings. Swings sway gently back and forth, up and down in a gentle, rhythmic pattern. Swings are fun and predictable and comforting. I guess I have mood... jolts? That's just not *enough*... Mood collisions? Closer... Maybe mood-natural-disasters. Mood tsunamis. Yes, huge, unexpected, crashing waves of destruction that leave folks drowning in bafflement and disaster. That's what they are: mood tsunamis.

At any rate, I have a direction to go now that I have a PMS thing and methods to use to resolve it. That still doesn't have anything to do with my lack of clear direction and losing my path on the RU journey. Maybe it will come if I keep working at it. Is it *me*, or does it seem like the mentoring voices on the unschooling groups had a much simpler, shorter, easier journey?

Does anyone else picture them the way I do? Ever-gentle voices of patience and peace. Sitting cross-legged on their "mount" of a kitchen chair with a hot cup of tea steaming on the table beside them. Doling out wise advice and perfect stories of their own families with ease and kind patience to all that file through their virtual, online kitchens. Never a hair out of place, goddess-like halo of flowers on their heads, smiling warmly in acceptance as each parent begs for help at her knee... Okay, maybe its a bit whimsical and over the top, but you get the idea. And me with that whole "dirty urchin", cinder girl feeling... Its true. I've always been hard on myself. It goes easier when you're hard on yourself first-then when others are hard on you, it doesn't hurt so much. But then again, too, I'm the only mama my boys have and I want to do it RIGHT!! I don't want to get it right by the time their 18, I want to do it right-now. I kick myself 50 times over for every wrong and I fear to revel in the good stuff-even for a moment-for fear that I will get complacent in my place on the journey. Gee. I sound like a screwed-up whack-job, don't I?? LOL

I guess I need to have occasional anxt-y moments... jeeze, I wish I could find that awesome saying from Legend... the only thing I can remember is, "without dark, there can be no light"... Wonder if google can save me... Gee, I thought it was longer than this:

There can be no good without evil...
No love without hate...
No innocence without lust...
No heaven without hell...
No light without darkness.

But all I can find reference to is a "voice over", but what I remember are the words scrolling up the screen... Someday we'll have the DVD and I'll get it down right for posterity. But back to my point. Maybe I need the back slides to make progress, the negativity to help me find the positive.

And now I'm too hungry to think and type properly so I'll go and munch and ponder...

To find a person who will love you for no reason, and to shower that person with reasons, that is the ultimate happiness. -Robert Brault, software developer, writer (1938- )