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.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


One of Theodore Seuss Giesel's private paintings, titled Free Bird, seen on today's adventure

The historians are all leaving town tomorrow, and so dries up our meal ticket. We ran into an old friend from Florida State University on the street, a historian also in town for the historian conference. He and Daddy Honey used to go to all the same shows that came through Tallahassee, including the White Stripes before the White Stripes' first big album hit. (Daddy Honey likes to brag on that one.)

For our last full day in town, we headed toward the Museum of Science and Industry. It took an hour and a half of botched bus advice for us to arrive, and when we did, it was exceedingly busy. It reminded me of Disney World with the long lines and crowd control with staggered start times for choice activities. It was a very different feel from our previous two days.

My right frontal lobe, just behind my eye, throbbed at the end of the day, and Woody pronounced his favorite moment as being able to stand up on the sardine-packed bus ride home, second only to the tour of the German U-Boat U505. Of course the sub tour alone, with the attendant interactive activities, would have made the trip worthwhile, so I'm looking at it as we got to do a handful of other things, too, for our trip to see the Axis war machine.

The museum actually built this five-stories-below-ground room just to accommodate this U-boat they acquired back in the '50s, making the floor and walls first, lowering the whole sub into it, then pouring the ceiling and filling in the hole, which is just under the front lawn of the museum.

We're leaving fairly early tomorrow morning, so maybe no post. But, we'll be crossing the river to pick up Highway 55 out of town, out of Illinois, and then heading south to our regularly scheduled life.

I think this trip may turn out to be a highlight of parenthood for me. I met a man a couple of weeks ago at a party who offered two very sweet and very true cliches to me as we both stood drinking milk punch in the corner of the kitchen:
  1. Raising children, the days are long but the years are short.
I've only been at it for 6 years, but Amen to that one.

And 2. When you raise kids, you get to relive childhood, but in a really great way.

This one's sad, because the caveat is, of course, necessary since most of us have huge chunks of our childhood we would prefer not to relive, and would certainly never design to be in the lives of our children. But the point is that all the fun and wonder of being a kid is available to us again in a very direct way. Our children want to learn and live with fun and wonder. If we plug into this, if we help make this so, then we can learn and live like that, too, with fun and wonder. It reminds me of yet a third cliché about kids, and that is that
    1. children are our best teachers.
If Daddy Honey and I were to have done Chicago together without kids, I would not have had nearly this good of a time. I know how I am. I would have let myself get cranky about things such as the expense and the crowds. I would have worried more over the ways and means of sightseeing. I would have made expectations for the days, and I would have been disappointed and discomfited if they went unrealized.

As it was, with the boys I found pleasure in nearly every new or unusual experience: watching pigeons strut and coo at each other, making breath-fog on huge windows, crunching dirty city snow underfoot, racing through plazas, jumping in and out of revolving doors, and standing up on a rocky bus bobbing and swaying down Lake Shore Drive. The purpose of the trip was around us all the time, with every activity that we chose or that landed in our laps. We were here to soak up some Chicago—museums, buildings, pigeons, buses, restaurants--all equal in the eyes of those eager to figure out what life has to offer and how to best be in it.

I hope this is a fond memory for Woody for his whole life. Maybe Fox, too, though I suspect he's a bit young. I've already filed it under the “great things we did when the kids were little” category, which gets its own big room in my brain for rainy days when I need to remember how glad I am to have made the choices I did.