My son Woody turned six in November of 2011. That would have been the kindergarten year for most kids, 180 days that mark the beginning of the school career. But Woody did his learning in the big, wide, beautiful world, without school being a part of it.

I'm Teresa Honey, and I kept this blog to document this time in my son's life, to share pictures and stories with far-away friends and relatives, and to add ours to the many stories of families living rich, engaging, loving lives with learning happening all the time and in many forms, totally inseparable from every other part of being human.

Here you'll find 180 or so learning moments recorded from August, 2011 to April, 2012 in the life of a 5-turned-6-year-old radically unschooled kid.

Friday, September 16, 2011

15



My friend Sharon tells about how she used to go "urban hiking" with her dad in downtown Arlington, Virginia in the '50s (or maybe '60s?) when she was a kid. She said they'd follow the railroad tracks and wind around town seeing what there was to see. She's mostly a woods-hiker now, but she still hits the roads of Tallahassee every now and again.

I remembered this, and I also remembered that there are thirty-some miles worth of connected trails wandering around Fayetteville that we had not explored yet. Just shy of a week before the wheel turns to autumn, we got a real dose of fall weather. The boys and I were tickled to put on our pullovers when Daddy Honey got home last night. Daddy Honey, he of the boiling blood, toughed it out in a white tee.

We parked at the library and walked down the hill to where the connector trail meets the main trail. It was crazy amazing, something I only thought existed in the mind of environmentalist city-kids' utopia. A wide, clean, well-marked trail winding all through the whole city! There are even cross-walks that trip automatic stop lights for passing cars when the bicyclists and pedestrians get near the intersection. Some houses along the trail don't have road access--only bike and foot! We passed bars and restaurants, apartment buildings and tea houses, neighborhoods, railroad tracks and bridges, banks, bike shops, and dorms.

We had races, naturally--on the trail, on the stone walls lining the trail, up hill and down. We saw swallows flying overhead, and I mistook them for bats, and Joshua and Woody talked about how you could tell the difference by which way their wings pointed. We practiced traffic safety--car, bicycle, and pedestrian. We saw a place where half the trail had eroded down the bank to the railroad track cut-through below, and since that was fascinating and terrifying, we talked a great deal about that.

***

For a long time, I had a hard time when Daddy Honey first came home. The frustrations and worry over the  huge responsibility and personal challenge of shepherding two little boys through the day broke open when he opened the door. I was short-tempered and surly, and felt overwhelmed with weariness and feelings of resentment that he'd had erudite grown-up conversations and edifying research opportunities all day while I kept the boys from squabbling and changed diapers and cleaned up the trash that the dog had tipped over and took the call from the bank about the bounced check and answered the door when the neighbor wanted to fuss about the barking.

It can be tough, being the stay-home parent, especially when it's new. It's tough being the at-work, supporting-the-family parent, too. But I was unintentionally tainting Joshua's first opportunity of the day to re-connect with the boys with my own dark energy. I didn't like doing that. I started thinking it would be really great if Joshua coming home was, like, the Event of the Evening! So I started psyching myself up for it. "Daddy Honey's about to be home! More hands! More stories! More laughter! More help!" We started greeting him big. We shared big. We made big plans (for after he changed clothes and got something to eat), even if those big plans amounted to playing spaceship in the backyard.

This has been one of the most powerful shifts in our homeschooling life, and in my life as a parenting-partner. I still have days, or series of moments, that are, shall we say, not great. But, I don't have to dump them. I'm a big girl with lots of resources, and my partner deserves more. In fact, that's my buzzword: More. More trust. More good feelings. More love. More connections. We're doing this as a family, and more of the good stuff is good time for all of us.

More walks in the twilight, please. And more gratitude to help light the way.