Thursday, May 30, 2013

What I Want to be When I Grow Up

I have wanted to be many things and I've succeeded in many of them.   I always wanted a whole slew of children: nineteen, if I recall.  I have four so far.  Being a mother was my life's ambition.  I also wanted to be a writer.  I wanted to be a life guard.  I wanted to be a speaker.  I wanted to be a teacher and I want to become a lactation consultant.  

Heck, at the age of 37, I'd like to be a grown-up.  Grown-ups see something they want to do or have and find ways to make that happen.  Children can do that too, but they aren't usually given that power. I am good at seeing my goal but I want to just miraculously end up living that goal.  I think I must be a grown-up now because I'm finally admitting if I want to achieve goals, I need to do something about them. I need to make my dreams and my reality meet up a little better.

I dreamed about homeschooling before I even had my first child.  I envisioned a delighted child exploring interests with me by his side, delving deeply into topics and creating amazing projects, learning like a sponge.  

But I was worried.  My biggest fault, even officially articulated on my Individualized Education Progam (IEP) for giftedness, was that I needed to develop follow-through.  I now know that the truth is that most educators just don't know what to do with gifted students and since they require IEPs (in my state), they must therefore identify goals, which I interpreted as deficits.

I don't know why, but I've adopted that somewhat appropriate and timely goal to define myself ever since:  I am Holly.  I lack follow-through, which must mean I am lazy. 

 What if I don't lack follow-through? I gave birth three times, adopted a child through foster care, earned a college degree and have been married nearly eighteen years.  I think I might have a little bit of what I've been telling myself I've been missing.

Perhaps, there are other reasons I don't always complete projects or attain goals.  Perhaps, my child has outgrown the pants I began crocheting and the goal is no-longer relevant.  Perhaps, I've lost interest in the goal.  Perhaps, I've needed to reprioritize.  I realized this evening, one reason is that I sometimes don't know how to proceed.   

Maybe my failure is not a character flaw, a lack of perseverance.  Maybe it's simply an indication some problem solving is necessary.  I was a member of a creative problem solving team (geek alert) in high school.  One of the required steps was to identify potential problems and select one underlying problem.  I think the key to achieving my goals may be in identifying what is holding me back.  

So now, I'll apply this to my homeschooling.  I've been trying to record keep or devise some system that works for me and my children for years out of a fear that I wouldn't have the follow-through to be competent.  While my heart has desired unschooling, my brain has said I am too lacking in sticktoitiveness to pull it off.  I've put restrictions on myself and purchased curricula and told myself I'd teach the core academics more traditionally and let joy lead the learning in all other areas.  I hedged my bets.  I robbed my energy with the opposite of my true goal.  I had no desire to help them experiment in the kitchen or play in the woods or find out the answer to some random question. I shot my dream in the foot.  

This summer, I'm planning to make my days more like my dreams.  I plan to listen to my children for questions and help them navigate to their answers even though it's a lot more convenient to have them answer my questions.  I want to facilitate.  I want to inspire.  I want my children to learn to solve their problems without convincing themselves they aren't up to the task.  I don't want to lose my energy meeting some self-imposed requirement before I allow my children to do what my heart believes is really learning.  

My plan as of now:

Pray more.  Read the Word.  Be inspired and encouraged.

Read inspiring unschooling stories, blogs, articles.

Persue more of my own goals instead of distracting myself with meaningless tasks.  That means the meaningful ones will need to be more organized.

Listen and respond to my children.  Stop the unnessesary "maybe laters".   Be present with my whole self.  

Drop the half-hearted attempt to get in the core academics.

Share more of our story here.  This will help me to become more aware and evaluate whether I'm progressing or listening to a lie that is holding me back.

Make more fairy crowns and roll down some hills.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Remember I'm your kid?

Cote is having a wonderful time in her imagination, as she frequently does.  A few minutes ago she asked to borrow a real pan for her play kitchen and made me some soup.  She took my order, served me and offered a blanket to keep my baby warm.  She also complimented me on how cute he was and asked his name, smiling sweetly as I told her, with the socially appropriate, "Aw.  That's a nice name."

After a while, she spied the bean bag and a wrap and suggested we go to sleep.  She covered herself and told me to rest well.  Then she paused as she did the last time I was invited into her world, "You remember I'm your kid?"

"Yes, I remember," I giggled

That was enough, apparently.  A little touching base with reality?  

She tucked herself in and pretended to snooze.  She roared, told me there was a ghost and announced she would have to go fight as she was a power ranger (wanjaire) and she had a sword.  

In her purple, fluffy Easter dress she danced toward the front door, looked at me with a wink and said, "But first I hafta pick my wedgie."

Cue epic one-person battle on my front porch.  

Later she came in telling me something in an affected English accent about a tea party.  She also told me how she died out there and I should cry.  But she only died one day, not two days.  Then she wondered aloud, also with an accent, if I had any raisins and if she could get them by herself since she was a big "sisser".  I agreed, thinking we'd bridged back to reality for a moment but apparently not, because she put her stuffed bunny in the stroller and is going for a walk.

Yep, I definitely remember this little mighty ball of awesomeness is my kid.