Thursday, February 25, 2010

What do you mean " I have to"?

Medication for pinkeye sucks, at best. An ointment you apply in a "ribbon" across their eyeball? Come on.

I've been creative (and very very patient) as I'm sliming this crud into both Iggy and Ooky's eyes.

* Creative in telling them the medication is Will Turner and Jack Sparrow Good Goop, fighting the Davy Jones Bad Goop. And that the resulting sting and tears is just leftovers from the battle inside. I have also bribed them with Wii...and dark chocolate from my candy stash...and countless other things I have pulled out of my bag of tricks.

*Patient...well, because one (or both) of my children might have a tendency towards dramatic behavior...and a tube of medicine coming at your inflamed eye is just reason #475 to kick the dramatics into high gear.

Medication goobering is not necessarily the highlight of my day, but its getting better. Oddly enough, the whole thing got me thinking about how this relates to school. Or maybe...that much loved and hated label of unschooling.

Ooky has pink eye in both eyes. The medication is slightly more than annoying. He doesn't want to take it. The Idonwannas are in full swing when the tube of goop comes out.

This is not unlike his reaction to certain things that might be beneficial for him to learn, but are of absolutely no interest to him. You know, like anything having to do with math. Or reading. Or anything that isn't swordfighting.

Now there are a couple different ways to deal with this - medicine, or school. I can #1: scream and yell and threaten and freak out until we are both angry or sobbing or both. (Operating under the "because we absolutely have to do this this way and right now"!) Or #2...we can work around it. I can acknowledge that medicine or certain subjects just aren't a bucket of fun. I can do whatever is in my power to make medicine or certain subjects more fun, interesting, creative, off the wall...whatever works.

What isn't an option, however, with certain subjects or medicine, is not doing it.

Now, anyone who knows me or has read this blog for any amount of time knows that I'm not referring to duct taping my kids to a desk and having them write out worksheet after worksheet after dry and ridiculous worksheet on subjects that are outright insane and unnecessary. But I do think there are things kids need to know. Real life things that help them get along in the world. Iggy and Ooky have a lot of freedom in what they learn and how they learn it, but I'm not going to blindly assume that by me opening the door and letting them run in the backyard, they are going to learn everything they will ever need to know. Is it creative, freeing, and inspiring? Yes. But is it the complete answer? No.

If you want to read a great post on the difference between unschooling and unparenting, check out On Bradstreet. Really, I couldn't have said it any better or differently myself. So much of my frustration with parts of the unschooling community is there are parents out there who have taken themselves out of the game in the name of granting their children complete freedom. There are no longer expectations, responsibilities, etc...because they are somehow evil and crushing to a child. The middle ground, which I believe most of us lie in, has apparently been erased. You're either a "tyrant" of a parent who expects your child to work from dusk til dawn with unreasonable expectations, or you're a "freak" freethinking gypsy imposing no rules, no responsibilities and no worries upon your children. My gosh, we can't have middle ground, can we?

There are members of the unschooling community who would think it terrible I have expectations of my kids. Iggy and Ooky have responsibilities around the house, and consequences when their behavior is ass-hat like. I have occasionally heard that if my dear child has no interest in anything resembling math, why would I try to sneak it in? Just let them be, girl. It will be a.o.k.

So my question is, while I'm gooping more gloppy gunk into Ooky's eyes...what happens when your kid has to take medicine they don't want to take?

Do you say "Its ok, you don't have to take it."
Do you say "That's fine honey. Eventually you will feel sick/bad enough you will decide to take it"...after infecting everyone in the house.
Do you rationalize with your child and whole-heartedly believe they will absolutely agree with you?

A lot of people talk about how what goes on in public school isn't "real life" and they enjoy that by homeschooling, their children can experience Real Life. I'm just not so sure how it is that being respectful to people, helping out around the house, or learning the best way to spend your allowance became a bad thing to learn. Aren't those important parts of Real Life? I agree that respectful kind behavior needs to be modeled for children, but I am also a firm believer that as fantastic as the Golden Rule is, its not infallible. There are plenty of people who know what right choices should be made, and just don't do it (for whatever reason). Don't expectations come into play...somewhere?

As much as I'd like to continue on this one-sided discussion, I have to go. Because right now there's a pink eyed child staring at me knowing its just about Goopy Ointment Time. He doesn't want to do it. And I get it, because I'd rather not be shoving a tube of goop in his eye either.

But the thing is, we have to. ;)


Amy Bradstreet said...

Thanks for the link back, MamaTea. I agree that there should be more acceptance for a middle ground (even if my middle ground might look different from your middle ground, that's okay, it's a big middle, lol.) I'm pretty okay with sending them outside and trusting they'll learn, for instance, but I'm less trusting that the tearing around the woods is going to teach them about good manners. I think the important part is paying attention, engage with them and take a proactive role in our parenting instead of assuming they'll find all the answers out there, as you have stated. Great post!

MamaTea said...

I agree. The key thing is being involved. And I think so many of the parents who call themselves unschoolers are really the complete opposite - not involved because they think somehow being involved takes away from their children's freedom.

Tearing around in the woods is the best and we spend a good chunk of time tearing around. I guess what I was getting at in saying I wasn't trusting that by opening the back door they would learn everything they need to know, was 1. you're right, you don't learn manners out screaming in the back 40, and 2. I have kids who if they can't figure out what coins to count out at a garage sale to buy a toy, get frustrated at ME because "Mom you're my teacher and YOU didn't teach me this." Rather than taking it as a learning experience and being calm and accepting it wasn't something they ever wanted to learn, they tend to freak out and blow up. So there are certain things I make sure we're weaving into Woods Running Time in order to stave off experiences like that. But that's just how it works here. :)

Yup, involvement is the key, and whatever that means for your family to ensure ALL PARTIES ARE HAPPY (and you touched on that in your post, Amy) is what needs to happen. Thanks for your reply!

Amanda said...

Fabulous post, MamaTea. :) For what it's worth, if I had a backwoods, I'd kick my kids out there all day and stop shopping for curriculum. ;)

I hope those cutiepies of yours lose the gross eye boogers soon. I think I'll go wash another batch of Legos...

Anonymous said...

We've been on both sides of this fence at various times. We've been completely structured all the way to completely unstructured and all kinds of variants in between. Looking back now that my boys are 13 and 15 I would say that what worked best was being a little more on the structured side while they were young. They got their daily "dose" of readin', ritin', and 'rithmetic and I felt good about that - - even when they didn't. But now that they've reached a stage where they basically know how to read and know how to write and know how to do arithmetic, I'm sort of backing off on daily "doses" and letting them use the skills they've attained to seek after their own interests. And when they see that they have missed a skill along the way that they really DO need to accomplish what they want to accomplish, then we simply go back and work on that one again. It's a fairly good system that's working for us. But no, putting the goop in their eyes when they were coming along was never completely enjoyable. But look where it has brought them! :)

MamaTea said...

Topsy, I think you touched on something that is also a big part of the equation - the age of kids in question. Being flexible and free means different things for a 5 year old than it means for a 15 year old...and you get different results! I often admired a local veteran homeschooling mom who talked about the last years she was doing it, right before her kids graduated, and the laid back free approach they had. She would tell her kids "I don't care what you're off doing this week, but sometime this week I was hoping you'd do xyz to get things in line for college applications" or to finish out your transcript or whatever else they were working on. And they got it done. :) Even to just say "I was hoping you'd finish this book in the next couple weeks and then we could talk about it. No pressure." or whatever it happens to be...and to know it will get done. But seriously, can you see saying that to a 5 year old? " and play all you want, but please lets work on legibly writing your name at least once before Friday." I would venture to guess it wouldn't happen. So I guess I'm with you Topsy. Setting some sort of foundation (whatever that happens to mean for us on any given day) will serve us well when they are older and we can be more laid back. Thanks for the reminder. :)

Sadie said...

I am all about the middle ground. That;s where we are anyway. I read an article once about how fighting over brushing teeth with your child had a negative effect on your relationship and it wasn't worth a few cavities. I didn't get it. Somethings you just have to least in my world. Brushing, seat belts, medicine (needed ones not tylenol or cold meds).

kellyi said...

I am glad you said this :)

When we are going through maths that I know they would rather not do, I some times feel totally disloyal to the whole home ed thing.

Nice to know I'm not alone in being a "meanie" (their words, not mine.)

Jessica Monte said...

Oh, what a bummer! I hope your little man is on the mend soon. In the meantime, I bet he'll love to just chill for a bit. I notice Annabelle sort of enjoys her "yucky" days . . . I let her curl up on the couch, take her lunch there, and watch cartoons.