Friday, June 26

Let the Healing Start?

To be nobody but myself -- in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting. -E.E. Cummings, Poet (1894-1962)

It's good that tears can't be seen in the dark. It's also good that tired children aren't as perceptive in the dark when they're sleepy and thinking of other things... happy things.

Storm (who is eerily close to 5 years old, now) has amazed us with his physical abilities since... gosh, very early on. At least as far back as starting to walk, but probably further. His ability to know his body and its limits, to jump from so high with no fear and only get stinging feet... To throw a ball a surprising distance for his age (from very early on and continuing) and the accuracy he throws with.... The uncanny balance he's surprised us all with... His strength-that often rivals and sometimes overpowers Wyl, who is 5 1/2 years his senior...

His joy right now is gymnastic-type things. Jumping of all sorts; hanging, climbing and flipping over and under bars (or anything close enough to a bar to suit his need), that sort of stuff. He's been taking homeschool gymnastics classes for about a year and a half, now, at a local gym that Wyl took gymnastics at for a while. He had quit gymnastics before Storm was walking much (if at all) and was interested in trying again, but quickly lost interest. Storm loved it so much from the start that we went from one 45 minute class a week to two. And still he asked for more. When illness and travel had us missing several classes and to make them up, we ended up with *three* 45 minute classes a week, still, he asked for more. Every day he asked when he could go to gymnastics again. Sometimes, he wanted to go right back as soon as we got home. I wished I had the money to fulfill his need, but we did add some things at home (trampoline, loft bed-never would have considered *that* a climbing apparatus, but Storm saw it for that right away) that helped a wee bit.

This year, when the "school year" that the gymnastics schedule follows was over, his favorite coach, Steve, and I talked about where Storm might be placed for summer. There seems to be a big difference in class activity, skill level and length of class under 5 years and 5 years and up. Steve thought Storm could easily go to the 5 year old class, and maybe even into the 6 year olds-the big question was "listening" in the "paying attention" kind of way. I considered that he *may* be slightly bored and even that being in with older kids might help him focus better. We decided to give it a try for the summer. Private lessons were even suggested. *That* seemed like an interesting prospect, but I thought I remembered hearing they cost around $30/hour. Yikes.

With Wyl wanting to try gymnastics again, and 2 kids doing 2 classes a week, the owner gave me a break on the private lessons and kicked it down to a half hour, saving me a bit more. Storm was kind of excited about the extra time to work on more stuff that he was interested in.

Well, today was his first private lesson. There were a couple instances where his attention wandered (but really, he *is* 4! :~) ) and a few moments here and there that he fell into "play mode", but again, he amazed me with his strength. I didn't hear anything about it all day, so I asked at the end of the day as we were getting settled down for him to fall asleep.

I tried to keep it neutral, asking if he liked classes with the kids or by himself the same or if he liked one better than the other, but boy! "I like being by myself with Jake! I want to do gymnastics like that ALL the time!" :~) Oh, gosh, how I would love to do that for him, but the wallet says otherwise. I talked a bit about how Jake was trying to tell him how to hold his hands, but Storm was distracted and it was like the dawning of a Great Idea, "Ooooohhhh! Okay!!" he giggled. I suggested that he might learn more if he listened a bit closer to Jake instead of rolling around silly on the floor. He was quite excited about that and giggled again.

I started thinking about my love of singing and music and said, "Storm... Whenever you like something, I would love if you would tell me so I can help you do it as much as you want." He asked (at some point tonight) why he got those classes (or something to that effect). I told him I knew how much he liked gymnastics and that I thought he would like extra time and working on those skills he loves so much and that we'd talked about him learning more skills and being able to do more "big guy" kind of gymnastics (like we saw on the Olympics) and he *threw* himself on me and gave me a huge hug while he giggled with glee and said, "Mama I *love* you. I love you *sooooo* much!!!"

And I found out that I'm just not as big a person as all those Unschoolers I read who talk about healing by doing for their kids what they didn't get as kids. My very small self/mind/whatever immediately went to that little girl who wanted guitar lessons, piano lessons (asked for and denied, then my younger brother-who wasn't at *all* interested-got them instead), singing lessons, an electric guitar and was not only not facilitated, not supported, not helped, not given the opportunity to expand her joy, but was indeed *ridiculed* instead. And tears trickled down my face into my hair.

I kept thinking about the "healing" I've read folks talking about and I tried to turn my deep sadness into healing, but I failed. I kept thinking of what I might have done had I been supported, even who I might have been... I figure it is highly unlikely that I would be the person I am today, and I rather like who I am... but *still*... niggling doubts...

One of the most intensely "me" part of who I am is singing. I love to sing. I sing all the time. I sang to Wyl when he was a baby, a toddler, even older. I used to sing to Storm when he was a baby, but as he got into toddler-hood, he would tell me, "Stop singing, Mama." :~) I was not offended. :~) Just 2 weeks ago, he asked me to again sing, "That song about night.... with the shiny star?" And after I sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, he asked me to sing it again. And then, one more time. I was thrilled! And then,
"Don't sing it again, Mama." :~)
"Okay." :~)
And yet, as huge of a chunk of me as singing *is*, singing solo for people outside my immediate family (Dave, Wyl and Storm) is my biggest personal fear. Sometimes, I even fear singing where Dave can hear me. It is such a tug-of-war... this desire to share my love with everyone, and being terrified to. Terrified of rejection, of laughter, of judgement, of humiliation. Of *laughter*. Where did I ever get that idea? I can't *recall* ever having my singing laughed over. Me, yes, many times. I don't ever remember singing solo where anyone could hear me, actually. In choir, in an ensemble, yes, but of course, in group settings, one isn't singled out.

Okay. Maybe *this* is the healing part. My kids (hopefully!) will not feel that tearing of desire and fear tug-of-war. They will choose their interests based on what brings them satisfaction and happiness. Things will fall by the wayside by lack of further interest or another something that edges it out-*not* because they've been ridiculed or embarrassed into it.

Maybe. My heart *does* feel a wee less heavy. (pause, smile) Maybe I'll go sing some cheer into it. Too bad it's so late, or I could crank up the Cha-Cha Slide and dance *and* sing my heart into feather-lightness! Tomorrow, maybe... with my super-wonderful boys....

Sunday, June 7

Unschooling Math!

To be nobody but myself -- in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting. -E.E. Cummings, poet (1904-1962).

Have I mentioned I love Unschooling? Some days just are such an example, I kind of wish I had someone I needed to convince, since I now have "proof".
The boys and I were at my parents' house today, having eaten then run about the yard then played with the giant frisbees with Grandaddy, they settled down a bit to more detailed activity. We were gathered on their back porch, my mother working on finishing details of the shorts she had sewn the boys, my dad and I were talking. Wyl found some small and medium boxes Grandma had sitting around for disposal and immediately set about gathering scissors, cellophane & duct tape, marker and other odds and ends from Grandma, and set about making some furniture

(disclaimer: I am obligated to tell you that this is not finished, yet!)
.................................... ........................ (vv television on side wall vv and...

and dwelling areas for his Snorlax Pokemon. Gee... I wish I'd have gotten a

picture in the afternoon sun! After the handle broke off the big pair of scissors Wyl was using, Grandma got out her small knife (Exacto knife? Stanley knife? not sure what is "common" vernacular...)

and Snorlax at fireplace following-note tiny
bit of chimney at top of picture, please vv)

(vv Displaying stairs, here vv ............ and ^^ here ^^)

and took direction from him, cutting out parts from a giant oatmeal cardboard "canister" and various boxes.

It took Storm a bit more "energy expenditure" to settle down to something more finite. With my kids, they seem to have HUGE amounts of almost-volatile energy that cannot be contained. They have an almost endless supply of this energy. It takes a *lot* of large body movement (running, jumping, climbing, trampoline), loud voices and big body gesturing (kicking, punching, arm-waving) as well as creative thinking All At The Same Time to seemingly "convert" that energy into a more channeled, finer-dexterity, precise-creative-thinking mode. And it doesn't last for long. Apparently, it builds up while they're in a "smaller movement" mode and soon they're up and off again. Even after 10 years, it is still *amazing* to me how *much* energy there is contained in such a small-ish person. I can't even imagine that much energy in an Andre the Giant-sized person!!! It seems to be many people's worth of energy. It makes me think of the big bang theory, with the big release of pent-up energy before things whirled down to a more "organized energy" kind of existence.
At any rate, Storm is still very much a "large energy" kind of person. He may always be... So, it took him a little while longer and a lack of another "big energy" person along side to refocus in a more finite way. As he slowed, he saw a 30' tape measure Grandad had left lying near the back porch. He started to pull the tape out to play with it when I reminded him that he should probably ask the owner of something that didn't belong to him. My dad is very particular about his tools, so I was concerned Storm would need distracted into another interesting item, and I watched as he took it over to my dad and asked if he could play with it.
My dad asked him what he wanted to do with it. I figured he's 4, he didn't really have a plan, but he thinks quickly and he decided he wanted to measure himself. Grandad cajoled him out of the tape measure, telling him he "couldn't" measure himself, as the tape was above his eyes and he couldn't *see* it. It almost turned into an argument, but Storm seemed to decide that he'd rather have what time he could wrangle with the tape measure rather than risk Grandaddy taking it and putting it away because Storm wouldn't "cooperate".
Grandad measured him and told him he was 46". Storm wanted to see. Grandad held out the tape and showed him where the 46 was and Storm seemed pleased with that. He suddenly decided he wanted to count it. I've heard him count to 10 and heard him try to count through the teens. Those darn "11" "12" and "13" are just out of place! They don't sound like anything else (okay, maybe thirteen... but still... three = thirt-?") and they've given both my boys trouble. But, we've not pushed or quizzed on counting and so that was the scope of my knowledge.
He started out at the end and began, "One. Two. Three...." all the way through ten and as usual, skipped over 11, 12, 13. So, my schooled-logical mind has assumed that because he "can't" or isn't counting 1-20 by each number in its place, that he isn't yet able to count higher than 20. Durn school-thought.
As I said, he skips from 10 to 14 and goes on through to 20, where I didn't think he'd go beyond. What do you know? He didn't even *pause*, "Twenty-One. Twenty-Two. Twenty-Three..." my focus sharpened. What would happen when he got to 29? Well, duh, Mama. Next is, "Thirty." I had no idea. He kept going. He got a bit stuck on 50, not knowing how to pronounce it, but seeming to know that "Five - tee" was not right. I asked if he needed a little help. "Yes, Mama, please." I told him "Fifty" and he was off for some more. He needed a bit of help on 80, then I held my breath as he got to the end of the 90's. No pause, "Ninety-nine. One hundred. One hundred One. One hundred Two...."
I'm astounded and holding my breath!! He got up to 109 and needed help. Grandaddy held his finger over the first one and asked what he saw and he said, "Ten" and then Grandad took his finger away and he seemed to be puzzled and Grandad started to quiz him some more, but I just said, "One hundred ten." He half-heartedly tried to go up into the mid 120's, but I could see his concentration wasn't as intense and he was pretty much done. He moved on to pulling the tape and trotting off into the yard while Grandaddy held the base and then Storm would run the tape back up to the porch while it slid inside. (That never gets old, does it? :~) )
We hadn't found Unschooling when Wyl learned to count to 20 at 2, so there was a bit of prompting, and encouraging and some quizzing with number puzzles and magnets. Not a lot and not to the point of frustration (at least that I could tell or can remember), but it was not the Trust and Unschooling Storm has had. I didn't know he could count beyond 20 and it didn't even occur to me to wonder if he could or couldn't or if he "should" be able to. It just *Is*.
My kids surprise me a lot with stuff they know that I didn't know they know. It's fun and astounding to find out. "Wow, I didn't know you knew that! Where did you find that out?" Sometimes, Wyl even knows stuff I don't. When I first considered homeschooling, that concept horrified me-how could I teach someone stuff I don't know?? But now I think it is so cool! I can learn *more*! My kids, or at least *Wyl*, doesn't think it's weird or shocking that he knows something I don't-he just gives me information he has, just like Dave or I give him information we have. He doesn't have a second thought of asking questions of someone he thinks *might* have the information he seeks. I was often embarrassed or felt "little" to ask a parent and most certainly to ask a teacher in front of the whole class, something that *might* get me labeled "ignorant" for not knowing. Being laughed at for not knowing, for *having* to ask is pretty close to the (if not *the*) ultimate shame. I'm *so* glad my kids don't know what that feels like!!! They get to use *that* energy on creating Snorlax houses or counting the inches on a tape measure or bouncing on a trampoline or spinning in circles with their arms flung wide... Or saying for the 40th time that day, "I love you, Mama!" or "Unschooling is the BEST!" :~)