Wednesday, March 5

Reading, writing & politics

I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent. -Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)

Does anyone else talk to the screen while reading at the unschooling groups? I'm not taking a poll, it's pretty much rhetorical....

What is that motion called? The one where you make a fist below shoulder level, palm up, pulling it back sharply into your waist while saying, "Yessss!"? Anyhow, there was one of *those* for unschooling today. I had recently read somewhere (probably a local homeschool board) about homeschoolers putting together a "mock election" for kids of a certain age (I believe they were calling for kids older than 8-Wyl's age) so they could learn about the "democratic process". For a moment, my "need to be active" corner of my homeschooling parent brain thought, "Hey, that sounds interesting!" but only a brief moment. Then my unschooler brain kicked in and said, "How pointless..." So, fast forward a couple weeks...

While we were driving in the car, Wyl said, "What does that mean? The donkeys with the stars on them? The donkeys and the elephants with stars on them." He was referring to the "elect me" yard signs all over the area. I took the simple tack, saying they were mascots for the Democrats and Republicans. He asked more questions. I answered simply and basically. He asked more questions. I started getting jazzed about this happenstance and really into the discussion. Wyl was getting into it, too, and getting excited... then Storm, beside Wyl in the backseat, shushed us. Asked for quiet. Wanted us to stop talking! Arrgggghhhh!!! I hate it when conflicts like that come up!! So, since we were less than 5 minutes from our destination, I decided to put the conversation on hold until we got there, then Storm could get out and Wyl and I could continue in the car. Only problem was, when we got there, Wyl was too excited to be at our destination. His interest in the political process discussion morphed into excitement for the thing at hand. :~/ I was so bummed!! I'm sure it will come up again, and we'll get to continue where we left off or head off into a new direction, but for now, I'm still dealing with my disappointment. I know its an expectation thing and not a big deal. Probably rooted in whatever small crumb I have in the back of my brain for "proof unschooling works"...

Storm is getting more interested in reading. We used to read to him fairly frequently, but it kind of fizzled out for a while... Six months? A year? Not sure, time doesn't have a deep seat in my brain. He's been bringing me a book at least once each day and asking me to read it-for about 10 days, now... since our several-hour stint in Border's. I'm very happy. I love books, I love to read, and I love to read *to* folks. I read to Dave (whenever he'd let me) for years before Wyl came along. I *hope* that my kids have the same wondrous relationship with books that I do, but I don't expect it. Dave likes to read, but he doesn't become immersed in books the way I do. Not that that's a bad thing, it just isn't a wondrous thing-an experience. Similar to how I experience music. But that's another post for another day ;~) But, speaking of reading....

Connections happened :~D One thing lead to another and I ended up finding my favorite poet and after a little more digging, my favorite poem. (Rod Mckuen, "Morning Three" - if it matters) In the process, on his website, I found out that what my perception of him and his work was quite off. Long story ahead. I'll asterisk it and you can skip it if you like:

***When I was in my "dark teen" period (okay, not all of it, because it was long... maybe the beginning-ish part?), for some reason, I got it in my head that I needed to read poetry. Maybe it was because I was trying to write poetry, maybe it was because I'd found J.D. Salinger, maybe it was because someone I thought I needed to be more like was big into poetry or I thought it was something "everyone does" (most likely scenario-really. I was quite a follower between 13 and 17). At any rate, I marched down to my small-town library (I was there quite often, anyway, but this was a specific trip-I was on a mission) and went into the poetry room (do libraries *do* this anymore? Did they ever? Was it just my little town library?) and spent at least an hour and a half trying to decide from the outside of the books and the sounds of the authors which one(s) I should try. That was how I picked my fiction, that and reading the overview on the back or inside cover. Didn't work with poetry. So, finally, after a long while, I settled on Rod Mckuen. I had leafed through a book or two and found a couple more that merited taking home. So I did.

I spent a couple weeks with those books. Poetry didn't really speak to me, but I liked some of the stuff in these books and I liked the way he wrote. I saw that one of the books was published in 1964 and the other one was equally old. Something in what I read made me think of a guy who was lonely, older... made me think he wasn't a prolific poet or if he had been, he wasn't any more. I hand-copied my favorite poem and hid it in my room-probably under the mattress, since one of my chores was to make my own bed and my mother likely wouldn't snoop there. She wouldn't like the content. Not that it was graphic per se, but it intimated. It was vivid in its colorful, simile-like descriptives. ;~) When I returned the books to the library, I went back to the poetry room and looked through the rest of his works-or the ones our library had, anyway. I remember seeing *lots* of old stuff (published before my time or before I was in school) and very little newer, and nothing recent. So, this added to my perception that his work was dying or dead-or he was dead. I reveled in "having a favorite poet" for a few weeks (and rather smugly proud that it wasn't Emily Dickinson or some other poet EVERYBODY liked) and then, it fell by the wayside. It wasn't *my* interest, after all, it was a kind of "keep up with the Joneses" or "do what you're supposed to do" kind of thing. In the passing years, I'd run across that poem now and again... reread it and smile, have a warm, fuzzy memory-moment, tuck it away and tuck the memory back into the recesses of my brain. I think at one point, I actually threw the copy I wrote. It's been many years since I visited there.

So, a t.v. person mentioned someone named (single syllable first name) Mckuen (likely not spelled that way, but I heard it, not read it) and my head popped up from what I was working on at the keyboard and my head whipped around to the t.v. "I wonder if it is any relation to Rod Mckuen?" I wondered. Watched briefly for a moment, then went back to what I was doing. About 5 minutes later, the realization hit me that I was sitting in front of access to a world of information! So I googled.... Guess what? (Well, I was clueless. Lots of folks probably know!) Rod Mckuen is a prolific songwriter, composer, singer AND poet! Still alive, still churning out work!! Not only *that*, but his work is often required reading for students to study! LOL I thought I had found some obscure, relatively unknown poet that no one would have a clue about, and here he was smack in the middle of "what you should do"! :~D

After I dug a bit more, I found my favorite poem and printed it out. Re reading it was superb. An old friend come to sit by my side, and yet different... Just like a childhood friend has hints in their face of your childhood together, you can see the adult friend through a different frame of reference. I still like the way he writes. I no longer see him as solitary, lonely, distant. The poem doesn't strike the same chords it did for me 25-30 years ago. I may like it more. I definitely like it differently. So, as I read through it again for the 3rd time and set it aside, feeling content, cosy and reacquainted, a realization hits me. Without intention, somehow, over the years, my writing has been influenced by his. Amazing that something perused for such a short period of time and pretty much tossed away after that has such deep, long-lasting effects. Hmmm.... there's something to be said about unschooling in that... it will come to me later.***

So. Reading. Writing. Stories. Emotional ties to it all. What will this point lead to in my kids' lives in the future? In my life? Will Wyl's waxing and waning reading continue on that path? Will it solidify-and if so, on the waxing end or the waning end? Somewhere in the middle? Will his enjoyment of writing descriptives on his monster creations turn into something huge? Just be a blip on the screen? Merge into daily writing? Will Storm's love of naming/reading signs like Walmart, ToysRUs, Target prove to be the beginnings of his reading? Will his enjoyment of being read to grow? Will HE let me read Harry Potter to him some day?? Will Wyl EVER let me read Harry Potter to him? Will any of my kids ever have a symbiotic relationship to writing like their mama? Will the look upon writing as one of life's worst chores like their daddy? If it is in the spectrum inbetween, where in the spectrum will it fall?

Yes, my mind actually runs like this. Not just about reading and writing, about so many things. It's not a worry, a fretting, a concern, it's just wondering. Pondering. Peering through the blackness that separates the *now* from the *future*. Maybe if I squint strongly enough, I might catch a glimpse....! Or, will my trying so hard to see influence today's life and effect the future? I don't want to do that. I *do* in the exposure kind of way, but not in the "mama likes this and so maybe...." kind of way. I know sometimes I try to hard.... is peering, squinting for a peek at the future "trying"? Hopefully not. Or if so, hopefully, I will figure that out before "effecting" happens.

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