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.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

81

I spent a good portion of today in a state of mild distraction. I was here, stirring the oatmeal and putting on the small socks and shoes and helping to fix broken ax blades, but it was mostly on autopilot, with the boys having to ask for things twice or sometimes three times before I finally heard them. I was daydreaming, writing poems in my head.

This can be terrifying for a homeschooling parent. You look up at the clock at some point and realize that hours have passed somehow, and you can't exactly say what's been going on. Of course the shrieks and the lap-climbing requests for cuddles and the yells of "MAMA!" from the other room get immediate and full attention, but that's just biology. I have yet to meet a mother who has ever even half turned her brain away from her children when she is in the presence of her children. But when I wasn't immediately needed, well, time got a little soft around the edges, and this can come with a big ole sack of guilt.

There's a lot at stake parenting little people with big needs they can't yet meet fully on their own. The homeschooling parent is the full-time need-meeter, the feeling-namer, the boo-boo kisser, the fellow explorer, the question answerer, the sharer of jokes, the brusher of teeth, the fixer of lunch, the sock finder, the book reader, the movie pauser, the computer rebooter, the high-shelf reacher, the smile and breather, the broken-plate sweeper, the scissors-helper, and the defeated zombie ninja, to name a few roles. Falling down on some of those jobs has big consequences, but all of them are important.

Still, sometimes it's just hard to get one's shit together. The zombie ninja breaks character and starts doing the breakfast dishes, then gets distracted and misses the 2-year-old walking into the bathroom with the Sharpie marker, and before making chase puts the clean bowls away in the refrigerator instead of the cabinet.

On Facebook, my working friends post about it by saying how many more cups of coffee they will need before they are competent to answer the phone, or what project is languishing on their desks while they catch up on NPR's Little Desk Concerts online. But at home, you feel very keenly that you are the only one making this happen or not, and these are your kids, souls you invited to Earth to love and care for and help and guide and share with, so it's just really bad manners to mentally play hooky one day.

This is unexpected to me, and maybe it looks like I am trying to cover up some undiagnosed mental illness or at the very least shoddy parenting, but with all of my not paying close attention today, they were fine. I'd even say they had a good day. How could I tell? Because they were content. They were happy. I was free to sit on the couch, distracted, because I heard giggles from the bunk beds. I could drift in and out of dialog because Woody was doing a heck of a lot of explaining to himself, figuring things out as he went along, and I was mostly the smiling sounding board. I could debate in my mind because the boys spent ten minutes pretending they were lost in the jungle in the greenery section of the hobby store. I could write my poem because they were looking out of the car windows lost in their own thoughts. And really, it just made good sense for me to not put my broken brain on housework today anyway, in the interest of not catching things on fire.

So as today wraps up, I can't bring myself to pick up the sack of guilt. We didn't look like a Montessori classroom today. We weren't ablaze with single-minded motivation. We didn't explode with new ideas or innovations. But, we did have a lot of peace. We had a flow. We had time to call our own, for whatever bubbled up to get a voice. I wrote a poem about being a part of November and they were here with me, OK with the world and their place in it.