Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Where Are We Now?

So, I've been avoiding the computer for the last couple of weeks, deciding what to do about how to move forward with the blog and facebook. It has been really nice. I've accomplished many things around the house- made some new dresses, preserved some food, cleaned out the house and minimized clutter. I'm feeling the pull of the computer less and less, which is nice. But I don't want to give it up completely. I still want to document our journey as it is far from complete.

I had been posting daily snippets and thoughts. I'd like to move away from that and compose more thought out posts. As much as the kids and my being a single mom during the week will allow, at least. I'm aiming for once a week. We'll see how that goes.

It has been quite a while since I wrote about our weekly goings on. I intended to first write about how we spent our summer, but I decided to get ahead of myself and write about where we are in our journey now instead. I'll come back to summer later. 

It has been over a year since we started down this path. We are experiencing our second "not back to school" season. I reread everything I've posted, and while we have come so far from where we started, it seems we took two steps forward and one step back. Our resolve seemed so strong back in those first posts, but putting our new values into action and CREATING NEW HABITS is not easy. I notice my relationship with Josh (8y) slipping back into a power struggle lately. I notice myself falling back into the habit of negativity, especially with some things I say. Maybe the heat has something to do with that too.

Bug (2y) has really gotten the hang of making trades and taking turns, which is wonderful. On the other hand, he doesn't rush for anything and my patience wears thin every time we get into the car. I know it's coming, every time- the 10 minutes of him climbing into his seat, sitting backwards, and insisting on buckling himself in. Yet I keep holding out hope that *this time* he'll get in quickly and we can leave on time.

It is tough remembering that my own unreasonable expectations are the cause of my frustrations, not the kids' actions. While I am not the mother I was 15 months ago, I am still not the mother I wish to be. While I have a more clear understanding of who I want to be than I did then, I still don't have all the answers of how to become that person. And that's okay. That's the point of life, right? To keep searching and growing. The realization that we'll never have it all figured out, but to try anyway.

I'm planning to reread some of the books that were so integral to our decision to parent in this fashion, most notably Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting, in hopes of taking another two steps forward on the path to parenting from (and living in) a place of unconditional love.   

But enough about me, let's talk about the kids. A common question I see regarding unschooling is "How do you know they're learning?" My answer is simply, I see them growing as people by living and interacting with them. As far as traditional academics are concerned, Bug's vocabulary has grown by leaps and bounds. From nothing more than casual conversation and play he has learned shapes, colors, how to count to 30 with only minor hiccups in the teens, and names letters correctly most of the time. He talks about his senses and has nearly mastered showing us numbers with his fingers. I have no worry whatsoever that he is "behind" other children his age who attend preschool, not that it matters anyway.

Josh's vocabulary has grown as well. He has become more able to reason and negotiate. Conversations with him have become deeper and more meaningful. He is becoming more responsible with his things, keeping his room very tidy, folding and putting away his own laundry, and making his bed each morning- without any request from me. He has been working on new projects, most recently stop frame animation. When we go out to museums or demonstrations, he tends to fixate on what interests him and absorb it all rather than run around seemingly aimlessly like he did when he was younger. This makes having a membership to our favorite places invaluable, as he typically stays at one display for the duration of each visit. I see more and more that he is a very unique person, and operates in his own unique way. He would not be thriving in a school environment, and I am so glad we made the decision to withdraw him sooner rather than later.

Our first year unschooling, we didn't do much. We hung out around the house and played with very little structure. We've been able to figure out what really matters to us, what works for us and what doesn't. I feel like we've relaxed sufficiently, effectively deschooled, and really examined our older thoughts of what "needs" to be done and what doesn't.

Now that school is back in session and the world around us seems to be settling back into a routine after the freedom of summer, I also feel our family settling into more of a routine. This coming year, or period of time really, we plan to get out more, have a little more structure (like getting out to museums, visiting friends, etc on a more regular basis) and develop family traditions (many of our past traditions will be changing after re-examining our values). The equinox and Josh's 9th birthday are coming up this weekend. It truly feels like a time of balance and growth. 

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