3 kids at our house tonight, Ari(7), Mina(3), and our friend Damek(7). All with the freedom to do pretty much what they like. What do they choose? They started the evening with some flashlight game Ari invented. Then decided to walk around the house using only the flashlight for lighting. Ever so brave I heard Ari tell Damek, "Okay, boys first." when going into an unlit room. :)
Then they scootered around the kitchen and living room area. Of course, this was only after Ari said,"Mom can you stay downstairs." After they created "soup" (I am using the term VERY loosely here) Then they went to the garage for more scootering. I happened upon Ari and Damek in the garage using the punching bag, "I am training him", Ari says with a big grin. Previously, she showed off her newly acquired jump rope skills as well.
Then in to Ari and Mina's room for a little bit of Pokemon watching. Next, Ari and Damek could be found laying on the beds opposite each other telling jokes before they moved on to drawing things. Now? Mina and John are crashed on the couch and I am watching trashy reality television(I love that junk). Ari and Damek? Well they were still drawing when I left but they are being really quiet so who knows what they might be up to now.
It seems like many people have many different interpretations of what unschooling is and what one does when they unschool. There are also many do not's that seem to be attached. Honestly, I don't really care anymore if I am doing it right, if I am following the rules, or if some unschoolers would not approach a situation in a certain way. To me what we are doing here in our home is about loving our kids. My husband and I have both noticed the sparkle in Ari's eyes that has come out of just loving her and trusting her. We have noticed the creativity and the world opening up to her as it never has before. We are noticing the trust she has in us, the ability we have to give her information while not bossing her around. Every person feels the pull toward freedom, some feel it pulling harder than others. Some people feel the pull so distinctly that they free those around them in their thirst for freedom. I honestly believe that Ari has led our family to it's best life. A place where people are respected for who they are not what they do and a place where freedom means caring about other people enough to use your freedom to help them have happy lives too.
So every time I turn around Miss Mina has drawn on something else in our house. As I was typing my last post she got a hold of a pen and did some lovely drawings on the couch. When I saw what she was doing I redirected her and gave her some paper. I happened to be chatting online with my husband and I told him about it and I told him I felt a little frustrated that she was ruining the couch. His take on it, "that's our kid couch more than likely we will need a new one when they are bigger anyway and we can't limit them to keep things nice that are not that important to us." Then he said, "let's get her some really big notebooks" and I added "Well we could also cover the bottom half of the walls with paper so she can draw away and we just replace the paper when it is all filled up." kjujjjkjkjkkkkjkjkkjkj (Mina is helping me) Yep, he rocks!!
I have a ton on my mind today. Everything from providing sensory input to a 3 year old who needs a lot of it to how to set workable boundaries with my mother. And then add to that Christmas cards and my upcoming trip to New York and Thanksgiving that I need to make a menu for. Plus, the sleep habits of a vampirical 7 year old and the lack of sleep today from staying up with said 7 year old only to have the previously mentioned 3 year old uncharacteristically up at 8. then there is the Christmas list for friends and loved ones and I know it is a major no no but I am also starting my holiday decorations. Since I am going to be gone 4 days in December, I want to get stuff up before I leave. And lastly, vision boards and goal setting for the next fabulous year of our lives.
I have a phone call with my mentor on Friday and I am really excited to get back in touch with her. I also have been thinking a lot about a vision boarding session with friends. There is something about cutting up magazines, pasting, and such that screams "call all the mama's" Maybe I will be able to hold off on this project until I can set up a time to get all my gal's together and maybe not.
Earlier this year when Ari busted us on Santa my husband and I had a little chat. We decided that seeing as we were not religious and Ari no longer believed in Santa we would just do things our own way.
When I was in college, my roommate was a Jehovah's Witness. I am not keen on organized religion but what I liked about her religion was their outlook on gift giving. Since they did not celebrate holidays they would give gifts whenever they felt like it. My roommate would come home on any given day and give me a present. I liked that not only was it a pleasant surprise but that also it seemed to reduce the anxiety involved in gift giving a great deal.
With agreement by Ari we have taken this idea and implemented it in our lives. I personally love it. The girls got some new things right around Halloween, a marble run, some Pink Panther movies, and such. Then last night Ari asked if she could have a Playmobil Egyptian Pyramid. Ari has been in to Egypt for as long as I can remember. I took a look at our budget and we had the money. I talked to John about it and he agreed that we would just go pick it up today.
I really had not expected the amount of pieces it would come in. Of course, there is no way a large pyramid could have fit in the box I bought but I kind of tuned that part out until I got it home and we opened it up. Another thing I was not expecting was the gusto with which Ari set about building it. I never figured that part in to the whole value of buying it in the first place. She pulled out the parts and the instructions and went for it. Eventually, she got sidetracked by the little people that came with it and asked me to finish but not before completing about a third of it by herself.
I am not sure what has changed whether it be my heart or maybe my mind. I cannot be certain it happened over time or just catalyzed in one major event. Somehow, for some reason, a huge part of me gets unschooling in a way that I did not before. I know that these huge changes have come about partially because of joyless, loveless, and unwanted decisions made by other people over the course of the last 6 months. Decisions that somehow set me free in a way I could have never planned or believed until I am now seeing it for myself.
I am noticing thoughts that were not there before, thoughts I have no control over. Things like, "Wow, look at that beautiful mess." and "I think I want to clean up the girls' room because they might need the space to play in." Surprising notions like, "Look at how they just used those straws and all the pantry supplies. I am so lucky to have such creative kids." And, the craziest thing about it is I am not controlling my tone. Not forcing myself to be positive about finding 500 straws on the floor. Not looking at the bright side when I realize that I can't find the livingroom floor for the Little People's that are playing with gourds and Polly Pockets and My Little Pony's. It is not fake it till you make it. The philosophy is starting to sink in. The idea that life is mess and work on joy and love and creativity is starting to take root on some fundamental cellular level.
Today, I am grateful for the folks who unknowingly set me free. Who pushed the last button and tried to pull the last string. You may never understand the gift you have given me.
Today we went to Toys R Us to get our free Pokemon Arceus. As we walked in the door a man walked in at the same time, coming to do the same thing. We went to the gaming area together and he walked us through getting our Pokemon. Then Ari struck up a conversation with him. This is the part of the conversation I understood:
Ari: "Hey Dude, do you have Uxie?" Man: "Yah" Ari: "Do you have the blue plates?" Man: "Yah, I totally put them on, that was so cool."
Then they totally lost me. I have no idea who Uxie is or what the blue plates do but apparently Ari does and can have an intelligent conversation about it. I love those times when I recognize that I am the most ignorant person in earshot about a topic, it reminds me "educated" is a relative term.
Ari: "Mom, I like your new shirt. It kind of looks like an angel." Me: (jokingly) "That is because I am an angel." Ari: (very thoughtfully) "No mom, you are more like a demon." Me: (laughing) "Hey thanks Ari, I think I would rather be that anyway." Ari: (smile and walks away)