Life without school is a bit different than what people traditionally think of as “homeschooling.” It’s a lot like tending a field of wild flowers.
I’m enjoying this weekly repost idea quite a lot, my dear reader. It’s like reaching back into the past, pulling an event or idea forward, and looking at it again from a new perspective. It feels healthy.
Today I’m bringing back a homeschool post from June, 2016…nearly six years ago. At the time, my sons were 14 and 15 years old. We had been racing dirt bikes for a couple of years and loving it, but it took a lot of my time and energy as well as theirs. I didn’t have as much time left to connect with my friends or other homeschooling parents as I used to.
I was blogging about our journey and working on a website to help share our experience with others. Ultimately, that site failed. I have my suspicions but I’m not sure why I couldn’t make it work. Flooded market? Lack of patience on my part? I still contemplate putting my thoughts together in one place, creating a way to connect personally with parents considering homeschooling on their own, but I just don’t know. Maybe it’s another part of my past I need to let go of to move forward.
My kids are 20 and 21 years old now, and still living the wild lives they’ve cultivated for themselves. Just last night, at a neighbor’s party, a friend of ours with younger kids commented in a conversation that they envy ours. “They’re adventurous. They just DO things. Who does that?” In my mind I wanted to say, “People that are treated as individual human beings with rights to their own lives from birth. Ones that aren’t enslaved.”
Experience breeds confidence, maturity, and ability. Nothing else. Guide, advise, assist, but ultimately, it’s their life. They call the shots. Unconditional love and emotional support is a…pain.
Yeah, that’s me being dramatic again, but honestly, it’s how I feel. Maybe that’s why my home education advice falls of deaf ears.
June 10, 2016
Yesterday I had coffee with a friend while my younger son was at Crossfit.
I’m totally going to keep doing that. I feel like I’m “holding court”. I posted to my Facebook homeschool group that I would be there at a certain time and day every week, so anyone was welcome to join me and yesterday, a member of our group that I hadn’t seen in months came. We’ve only met once before, but it was great to sit and talk and get to know each other.
My only regret is that I talk SO STINKIN’ MUCH! I swear I’m trying to turn it down. Work in progress, you know.
I had an epiphany while I was explaining my sons’ passion for motocross racing. The truth is that I’m not a fan of the sport. That’s not quite right either. I’m not a fan of THEM doing it. If I had my way, they’d be musicians and rocket scientists! But that’s what my big thought was about.
A lot of people think they can find a way to educate and raise their kids that will make them into the people they want them to be. They want to mold and shape their kids into their version of a good person. One of the biggest problems I see people have with the concept of unschooling is when they ask the question, “How do I get my kids to…?” or “How do I stop by kids from…?” while using unschooling principles. The answer is that you can’t. That’s the whole point. You aren’t there to make them into “good people” or “educated people”. You are there to support them and help them grow into the people they were born to be. That might be something entirely different than what you had planned.
Kids aren’t like a cultivated garden. You don’t plant a row of these here and a row of these there and then train them up into what you want. It’s a lot more like a wildflower patch. Yes, they will grow on their own but if you tend it a bit, water it here, throw some mulch there, and watch what comes up, you’ll have a beautiful natural place for birds and bugs to live. You’re supporting what’s already growing. That’s what unschooling is like.
I may not have made the choices my kids are making. I may be able to see the path that those choices will lead down from my perspective. But that would be through my experience, my eyes, my life, not theirs. Their experience with the same world might be totally different for them because they are different people. And who am I to tell them or hold them to what my version of the world is? I’m here to support them, maybe not with all my money and time, but at least with all my heart and mind. I may not like their choices. I may think it would be better for them to do something entirely different. And if there was a way to get them to do what I think is best, they may never find what it is they were meant to be. I don’t want to be that wall in their way.
Unfortunately, I never met another homeschool parent for a coffee like that. I have met a few others over the years, people that called me through my old website, a listing on a homeschool page, or through a social group. They were mostly wonderful talks and I felt great being able to pass on my confidence that homeschooling their kids could be done and be an amazing, life-changing adventure.
This morning, re-reading that post and then sitting with a cup of coffee and a couple cookies, I realized something and wrote it down in my journal.
“I, myself, am simply another flower in that wild garden.”
No one is cultivating me; pruning, tying off, or walling me for protection. I’m out in the field, struggling to survive, wild. Sometimes it really sucks. And then I remembered that I’m not totally wild. I have family and friends, not to mention books and readers, that send help every day. They support me with kind words of encouragement, a hug or a drink, and a chance to talk things out and laugh at myself.
Things are changing, I’m growing again, and I’m not sure what will happen next. I do know one important thing, though. I’m not alone. I hope I instilled that in my kids as they grew into the men they are now. We may be wild and free, but we aren’t alone.