Thursday, November 19, 2015

In ? I Trust

Have you ever met those parents who proudly push their young children to sing the presidents or multiplication song? Did you look on with envy, or like me, privately think what's the point of knowledge without understanding? Is it to impress other people or make one feel as if he/she has done outstanding teaching? Knowledge is a wonderful thing, whether it's for pure enjoyment on the child's part or essential to completing an immediate task, it serves a purpose. Yes, it should be shared, but not necessarily as a circus act. One of my children from an early age detested songs that attempted to teach him facts in silly songs. He always felt it was trickery, as well as the long way around to filling his knowledge pail. Of course, he does not represent all children, and many children love learning this way. Schoolhouse Rock has a special place in my childhood. It's just funny how he and my youngest son, more so than their siblings, reject anything wrapped up in a pretty educational bow. One son said, "Adults can figure out a way to ruin anything," when describing a site using Minecraft to teach history. Left to their own devices, I believe children would naturally incorporate such information into their play. Although, I'm speaking across the board, I'm well aware not all children will do this. Even strewing has to be done very carefully around here. My children can sniff out manipulation a mile away. Whatever I do has to be for them, and not some underhanded way to sneak in what I think they need to know right now, right this minute. I trust my children to identify over time, with our guidance and example, the tools they require to accomplish their goals. If it turns out singing is required, I'll warm up the old vocal cords.

In the early years, I did not trust myself to identify what my children needed. With a background in educational psychology and work with children in school and daycare settings, I turned to the home school experts to lead the way. There's nothing wrong with learning from others, but it's almost a matter of whose material you read first. In my case, I became acquainted with classical home schooling first, so that's the method I initially followed. Over time I relaxed exponentially, until I realized I was making this way too hard. Unless you lived in a box, humans can't get away from learning. If our house is a place of knowledge and we're involved in the community we can't get away from learning. But, if my husband or my lives are dry and dull, then problems might arise. It's all about living rich, full lives. I'm a heavy reader, so are my children. My husband is loves computer technology and sports, so do my children. I love to cook, so do my children. We're musical, I can't comment on the quality, but still musical. Guess who are as well? We volunteer as a family. Go to church. These are not things we deliberately set out with a plan to teach, but are just parts of our lives we naturally share. I trust my husband's and my abilities to provide my children with what they need. 

Grandfather's 90th Birthday
We can't take all the credit. I look at them and see the talents our families display showing up in my children. Regardless of the job titles, I am thankful for the work ethic, knowledge, and skills they willingly share with us. My grandfather is the smartest man I have ever known, his value of education, math skills, ability to master/repair any piece of machinery, grow any vegetable, and love of the news is legendary. I love to hear about his youth, and how he excelled in school to the extent he skipped several grades, eventually being extended an offer for a teacher to send him to Tuskegee Institute. I guess that's a biggie, since they normally only went to eighth grade. He didn't get to attend, but he passed his values and skills to his children. He even returned from WWII with the ability to help his children with their French homework. Naturally, my mom was a woman in a class by herself. She never failed to give wisdom or have an answer for my many questions, even as an adult.  I trust in the legacy of learning established by our families.
DS 2013

In the early days, my hidden thoughts ran along the line of if they read early enough, conjugated Latin verbs in third grade, or  mastered this or that curriculum before everyone else, then I could protect them from all the -isms they will one day face. Their way would be easier by virtue of the education we provided. Yes, education opens doors, but I can't even guarantee what I'm teaching them today will be necessary tomorrow. Now, I can honestly admit, this is not why I home school. I mistakenly put my trust in curriculum. Since one of my super powers doesn't include foretelling the future, all we can show them is where to put their trust and how to gain the knowledge needed to live life fully and productively. Most importantly, I trust as Jewish author Harold Kushner describes in To Life! "that anything that should be one day will be-not always and not immediately, but ultimately things will turn out as they should."(p.175). I


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Growing Where You're Planted

I mentioned in an earlier post the need to build your own tribe when you don't quite fit in anywhere or feel comfortable. Well, I decided to put out feelers for other families looking for:  casual, consistent, non-academic get togethers. Bring on the LEGO, hikes, Dr. Who, Star Wars, and hanging out. Today, we're meeting a new family, maybe two, at the local swimming pool.

I'm not naive enough to think that just because we meet other home schoolers or unschoolers that there's an automatic connection. I suggested a neutral place, so that if the kids didn't hit it off or if the moms don't mesh everyone could go their merry way with no discomfort. I can see it now, all the kids in separate corners of the pool playing with their own siblings. Normally, as I've mentioned before, we meet our closest friends accidentally. Planned gatherings never really work like intended for us. At the very least, they'll get in some swim time and fun.

Right now, we're driving 45-60 minutes to meet with friends in another community. But, I'm trying to build ties locally. Since we've been here I've had the longing to go back home. My refrain has been this is not my home, I still own a house back home, my friends aren't here, my family aren't here, and this is only temporary. My life is in SC. But, at this point, we've been here 3 or 4 years, so I really need to get over it.

Actually, I was briefly excited. Our last lease ended October 31st, and we decided the children and I would go home. YAY! My husband would stay here until a transfer or other employment was arranged. That is until the storm hit SC, and our home flooded. Literally, we discussed returning on Friday, and early Sunday morning my husband's cousin called to let us know the situation. My plans dashed in one long, continuous rainstorm. I can't complain though, unlike many others still recovering, our home isn't our primary residence, and we didn't lose anything that's not easily replaceable. I don't take the flooding lightly at all. But, we still needed a place to go and quickly. It wasn't an option to stay in our last rental property. Long story short, we met with a real estate agent, viewed three houses, and picked the one I'm typing this blog from. Still in the same town.

Through all of this, I concluded that I needed to stop saying this isn't my home and grow where we've been planted. Honestly, I don't want to grow where I'm planted. I'd love to be transplanted. But, for my peace, I need to let this mentality go. I understand location doesn't determine home, but our being together. I can choose to commiserate all I think we've lost or build community here. For too long, I've been resentful and discontent over our move here. I haven't given my best and have probably been a bit of a killjoy. If we moved to this specific place, at this time, I do believe it has a purpose.

Truthfully, I've been feeling stifled, as if the world is passing by, and I'm viewing it from the outside in. Is it the people around me or my attitude towards the people around me? We volunteered this past year at an educational farm. We visit a local nursing home with my church monthly. My children are part of the teen advisory group at the library. Two of my boys will play on a rec league basketball team. My oldest just finished his first year of competitive football as quarterback. I'm learning activities can't replace community. These activities in and of themselves don't build friendships. Extending myself, moving outside of my comfort zone does. I finally admitted to myself that I have intentionally maintained a distance on the premise of why bother, I'm not going to be here long enough to make friends.

My husband and children have been total opposites, actually desiring to stay here, and wanting to establish ties to the community. They're teaching me a few things about accepting change and adjusting. I'm learning to take things as they come, enjoy the moment, and the people that enter and exit my life regardless of the time frame. Above all, I'm learning to be content in whatever situation I find myself.

With views like this, who can complain?