I dug my heels in last night. I put my son in an impossible position. I seethed and punished, or rather, refused to help.
I felt it happening like a pick-ax in my side, striking, breaking, raising to fall again, hard, in the place made vulnerable.
It was late and I was tired and I went to bed. Later, maybe half an hour, maybe forty-five minutes, when blessed sleep had just fallen on me and I was drifting in my dreams, Daddy Honey brought a finally-tired Woody and Fox to bed. Woody whined that I was in his spot, Fox shrieked that he wanted to sleep next to me. I grumpily mumbled something ineffective about sleeping places not mattering and get in bed and be still and quiet because we're all tired and need sleep.
The whining escalated to crying. The shrieking continued, with added jostling and kicking to gain favorable position. I opened my eyes and barked more of the same: Bed! Still! Quiet! Need sleep!
No change, which, in situations like this, is bad.
Then, frustrated, past the point where I saw solutions, I opened my eyes wild and dropped the bomb:
"You know what? This is getting too hard. I am not getting the sleep I need like this. Tomorrow, we need to talk about you (Woody) sleeping in your own bed."
I swear I could actually see him falling from the edge of his place of comfort, the red handprint of my push an angry threat at his back.
The crying went from over-tired to deeply sad. I skulked over to the other side of the bed, where it's true I usually sleep, where I could have moved five minutes before. Woody fell asleep next to the wall crying.
Why do I have to learn these lessons over and over again at my children's expense? Me, so sensitive to the lash-out, pull it out of its holster when the smallest discomforts--sleepiness!--tinge my life. At so many points I could have helped, stopped, held back, chosen another time to engage, breathed. I didn't. I stayed angry and stuck that whole time, until sobs turned to snores and it was too late to do any good.
And then, this morning, I wanted to apologize. I moved over next to him and said, "I'd like to talk to you about last night." You know what he said?
"I want to say something to you first. I should have just slept where you said to sleep and not argued about it." (Pause, while I was speechless.) "I don't want my own bed yet."
I don't remember what I said then. Something rambling and trying-to-save-face and not very articulate. I was very sad and disappointed in myself, also moved by his apology and clarity. I did stop and breathe. And I told him I had spoken out of anger, that he didn't have to have his own bed, and that I was sorry. That was enough for him. Could he have a banana-peanut butter smoothie for breakfast, please?
Of course. We will mend the broken places and move on with our lives, blending fruit and giggling over farts and throwing sweetgum balls in the backyard like bombs and agreeing that the Arcade Fire channel on Pandora pulls up some pretty rockin' tunes.
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.