Saturday, November 28, 2009

a wee bit of daisy smashing (part one)

Awhile back, the keynote speaker at a homeschooling conference I attended said one of the most important things you can do when homeschooling is have a written down list of goals. And by goals, she did not mean "what I want my kids to academically acquire this year". She was referring to something a little more like how I hope my children and family grow and gain from this experience.

So I attacked the assignment like the dutiful student. I will share with you what I wrote down awhile back as long as we have two agreements.

A) You will remember this was written when I was still furiously fighting for the daisy chain.
B) You won't laugh at me.

MamaTea's Goals For Homeschooling

1. I hope that my family grows to understand that we are free to express ourselves and truly be who we are.

That my friends, is the beauty of life all wrapped up into one little happy smiley dreadlockish phrase...right? Free to express yourself and be who you are. I should tattoo that one right across my forehead.

However. Even though the intention was positive…the reality of it only worked on paper. You see, free to express ourselves was wildly misinterpreted by two youngish boys named Iggy and Ooky. Those two boys weaved themselves through that goal and found it to mean running the length of great grandma's house screaming, because they felt like singing (and they were expressing themselves). Or falling down on the floor and having a two year old fit because I said you've had enough eggnog...and they were angry...and expressing themselves. Another favorite for freedom of expression was freaking out uncontrollably at bedtime because they were uncomfortable with the lack of light. Ah...self expression.

Did I mention that one or both of my children have been referred to (in the absence of their company, of course) as The Negotiator and/or The Manipulator?

Goal numero uno, as lovely and pretty as it was, needed to be rewritten. And so...MamaTea rewrites goal number one as: We value self expression and true-to-self living BUT will also live in a way that grants respect to the boundaries of others.

In simpler terms, darlings, there is a time and place for everything. When its time to be goofy, go at it. But when its time to chill, its probably a good idea that you take it down a notch. Or three. Or a hundred. Or you should probably just stop all together.

Freedom of expression, indeed. Whose crazy idea was that? ;-)

And by the way Manipulator and Negotiator...I know that you know what the time to chill is. If you don't, the intense glare I am shooting you with should be clue enough.

Gee. Sometimes i feel like I'm just a big daisy smasher. Don't you?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

the reality of it is...

What I want to do:
I want to wake up and start "school" whenever everyone is ready. Whenever that ends up being. You know, no big hairy deal. School in our jammies? Costumes? Bathing suits? Sure. Whatever. Show up when you're ready. Sometime today.

Actually, what I’d really like to do is just exist and experience life and take whatever learning we get from it as The Truth. I'd like to open the front door for my kids every morning and say “Run free, little children of the wind. Run free, explore and learn!” and be amazed at the tidbits of truth they find around every corner.

I would love to spend all day happy and free, working as much on my own self and what I want to learn as my children are happily exploring their world in whatever way they see fit.

I've read people's blogs and websites and books about this great and happy and free life. And I wanted it completely and totally for myself.

The reality of it is...

It's not working.

And the deeper reality of that is...

It doesn't necessarily matter what I want in this educational choice called homeschooling. What matters is that it is working for my kids. You know, the kids who were the whole reason we chose homeschooling in the first place?

The reality is...

The happy daisy chain freedom that I've sucked out of blogs/websites/books/people is great for who it works for, but I've come to realize there are actually children who cannot function in happy daisy chain freedom. And I'm not meaning any disrespect with "happy daisy chain freedom" because I would very much like to have that. Its just not where we are. And I think its ok.

The reality is...

I have Iggy. And Ooky. And when plopping them in the middle of happy daisy chain just plain isn’t working. I tried to ignore it, and then I tried to fight it. (Really hard.)But not liking the facts doesn’t change the facts. Right now, in this season of life, my kids need more structure and guidance than that. And my priority needs to be what works for them, not what sounds like a dreamy happy parenting theory to their mom.

In this season of life, my kids knowing that school is planned out and will last from 9 am to noon is security. In this season of life, my kids knowing that bedtime is 9 pm and that before that we always take baths, read from a chapter book, and brush our teeth is a good thing. In this season of life, it is important that my kids know when-you-do-this, this-is-going-to-happen (whether that thing be a good or bad thing). In this season of life, my kids knowing that they have some choices but also a lot of responsibilities is a good thing.

I have kids (like many people)who will, when given an inch, take a trip around the globe. Twice. In happy daisy chain world, those kids take over the house.

I have kids who, when not given enough boundaries, resort to freak out panic attacks and all sorts of insane "have you ever thought about taking him to a counselor" types of behavior. In happy daisy chain world, those kids take over the house.

The reality of it is...

I'm frustrated. Because after reading blogs/websites/people, I was left to feel if a more loose and free way of education wasn't working for me, there must be something I was doing wrong. In other words, I'd gone and screwed up "free".

But the reality of it is...

The only right way to homeschool is the way that works for you. And that's all that matters. There are so many options out there your head might just explode. And nothing works for every kid or every family. And nothing works forever. You find center, and then it moves. You move with it. Life goes on.

So if right now, in this season, it works for me to plan out lessons and research and "do school" in a way using methods I hadn't quite planned on...if its working, why should I worry? Why should I feel guilt? Why should I feel like I have to explain myself?

The freedom we are given in choosing to homeschool does not necessarily translate for every family to mean happy daisy chain freedom.

The reality of it is...

the freedom we are given is the freedom to do whatever works for us.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm working on somethin'

I am in the process of working on a kinda sorta series for this blog...but because of real life things (one spelled I-G-G-Y and the other spelled O-O-K-Y), its taking much longer than I had planned. But that's ok...such is life. For now, I'll leave you with pictures of that life and what we've been up to. Keep your eye open for the series to come soon...

"Mom, if we lay under the birdfeeder, I bet we can get the birds to land on us..."

Gotta love an autumn day.

Iggy playing "football" with Nelly

Ooky and Grandma getting ready for the Packers/Vikings game

A little Halloween fun

Dad-Son time caught at just the right moment

Special Halloween treats Ooky made (Mummy Cups)

Never a dull moment, I tell ya. :)