Saturday, February 28


The race of men, while sheep in credulity, are wolves for conformity. -Carl Van Doren, professor, writer, and critic (1885-1950)

I don't know why conflict between my boys seems so tough for me to deal with. Maybe I don't have enough practice. Maybe I don't have enough confidence. Maybe it's something else. I don't know.

Too many times, Storm or Wyl comes to me saying the other did something or hurt him. They *only* do this at home-not at McDonald's, friends' houses, grandparent's houses... (I'm sure there's one time someone will remind me of ;~) ) My first reaction wants to be, "You, (the complainee) stop that offense, *you* (the complainer) figure out a solution!". I don't react this way, of course. The main problem *I* see (which could be *nothing* like what my kids see or need!) is that they're often (I really, really want to say "always", but honestly, it's not "always", just "lots") coming straight to me to work things out between the two of them. Apparently, I'm not going about mediating very well. Sigh...

Today, they were playing Legos in Wyl's room. With Wyl, 95% of the time, this means lots of characters having conflict of some sort. (Hmmm... a thought just popped into my head-maybe I should see if I can play *with* them next time and act out problem-solving...) Today, Storm came complaining that Wyl "wouldn't let me change characters!"
Wyl's response, "He keeps saying, 'I wanna be this guy. No, I wanna be this guy. No, I wanna be *this* guy. No, I wanna be THIS guy. No, now I want to be this guy. I want to be *this* guy'! He just keeps changing!!"

So, I reminded Wyl that Storm was 4 years old and that he was learning a lot about what kind of guy he wanted to be by trying them all out. Wyl said he does it every time. I said that it takes more than one time, it happens over a long period, in Storm's "way" of doing it.

To Storm, I asked if he could tell Wyl at the beginning what few guys, say 3, that he was going to limit his "changing" to, since it really bothered Wyl's playing to have so much changing of "guys". I explained that Wyl had a storyline, a plan that he had worked out in his head and that every time Storm changed guys, it frustrated Wyl, because he had to re-work his story/plan. Storm *said* it was okay. Whether he really understood or not, or understood the "agreement" is another story. :~/

Maybe I offer too much. Maybe I do problem-solve for them too much. When I try to help them work through things together, it seems to involve even more conflict and much angst. If I don't throw in my "two cents worth", it often leads to extreme frustration on Wyl's part, and sometimes things get thrown or smashed. I understand that level of frustration, and that it *seems* best to avoid it at this point. So, I save my "helping them figure out how to work it out together" for smaller stuff, but that seems so few and far between that I am not very adept at it. And I tend to forget.

Add to that mix that I tend to grab up the mantle when there's conflict or hesitation or no one else grabbing it (is that a nicer way of saying I am a control freak? bossy?), and that just adds to the prevailing attitude of "Let mama fix it", I think. Maybe it *is* the right way to do things at this age, this stage, I don't know. I have a lot of self-doubt in that department, and I huge "I don't want to be my mother" reactionary kind of thing going on with the whole "control" issue. I guess the best I can do is just keep turning it over in my head, examining it from all angles and adding things I think might help to the mix. Oh, and *breathing*. I need to remember to breathe... I often forget when it comes to this kind of thing.

Then, too, they *do* some problem-solving without coming to me... sometimes. They play together *lots* very well. They love each other and they're often sweetly kind to each other....

Off to ponder and mull in private instead of public...

Monday, February 23


One does not advance the swimming abilities of ducks by throwing the eggs in the water. -Multatuli (pen name of Eduard Douwes Dekker), novelist (1820-1887)

It never fails to amaze me how much my children have grown. Here I am, beside them each day, all day long most days and yet, when I take a moment and look back... Wow.

Wyl stood up for a friend a few days ago. Neighbor boys from a couple houses away were over along with the gal next door. The neighbor boys were being rather rough with our stuff and throwing bricks around. Wyl told me and I had them stop throwing the bricks. A while later, he came in and said it was getting too cold outside, and I asked if everyone got home okay. He said only the gal next door had been playing and that the neighbor boys had gone earlier. I asked why. He got very animated and told me with no little amount of disgust that the boys were being mean to the girl and threatening her. He warned them to stop or they had to go home. They didn't stop. So my 9 year old son made them leave our yard and go home! I would never have done such a thing at his age... meanness made me afraid. Of course, I had lots of meanness around me, so not only was it "the norm", but it was done by stronger people to weaker ones, and I felt weak. I am indescribably happy that my kid(s) are so strong and certain of themselves and unswerving in their judgement of what is right that they *can* do the right thing! He didn't have to do it on his own-he knew he could come to me and I would do it, but he took it upon himself. Hmmm... it is only now that I am wondering why. Not a big deal, just curious.

Wyl is recently helping in little ways. Surprising ways. He loves to make the beds. Granted, they're not "hospitality ready", but it is more than I do! Well, for my own bed. I know he prefers his to be made, so when I think of it, I'll make his for him. He's been washing a few dishes, occasionally. He scrubbed the toilet the other day. Storm, of course, loves to clean. He has quite a fixation on cleaning the bathroom sink! :~) He's been asking to clean the toilet, too, but since he's only 4, I asked him if he could wait a few days-that way I could pre-clean it and get the germs under control (at least in *my* mind, they'd be under control...) Wyl does little things here and there... organizing the cereal boxes, lining up the coffee mugs, straightening the medicine cabinet. All are so surprising that it is like a little gift every time I see one-I should tell him that!

Both my boys have been snugglier than "usual" this year... Is it because they feel like they need more of me or just because they're happy and want to express it? Should I delve into that or am I just trying to make trouble for myself? :~) Putting in little troubles where there are none?

I got to visit my great aunt last week, who is my last connection to her sister, my grandma. She lost her husband at the beginning of December and is quite sad and lost without him-they'd been married for 60 years... She was a shell of her former self, gray and fragile when I got there. Once the boys warmed up to her and she felt they were comfortable enough, she played with them and laughed with them and her color started coming back and she seemed more her old self. It was lovely to see. She talked about going back to teaching little kids like she used to, years ago, and I can't help but think it would be so good for her. I hope she finds reason to keep going, because she still has so much to share and I'm not ready to let her go!

It has been a week of surprises, reflections and interesting things and people. Life is pretty darn good.

Saturday, February 7


The soul is healed by being with children. -Fyodor Dostoyevsky, novelist (1821-1881)

I'm freshly home from Unschooler's Winter Waterpark Gathering and still basking in that unschooling vibe. I love hanging out with unschoolers... easy-going, peaceful, kid-loving, accepting, joyful, fun people. Coming home from it helps me appreciate the great little group of unschoolers we have in my area. THANK YOU, Akron Tribe for being my center, my boost, my ear, my shoulder, my hug. I love you guys!! (Ask Dave-today I must have said it 20 times, "I love my Tribe!")