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, February 23, 2012

137

I was close to the hair-pulling place today with my parenting. Fox, after getting his first real doozy of a sunburn on Saturday, started peeling today. He is horrified by this. Totally freaked out. He's been shrieking on and off all day, as he looks down and notices the frayed little bits of damaged skin on his arms. He comes running at me like a banshee screaming for lotion, comforted, briefly, by the fact that lotion makes his skin look whole again. But it starts again a little while later.

Woody and I tried our best to explain to him about how skin heals itself, how it's not weird or gross for it to peel, but to no avail. We struggled, all of us.

You know in what form the rescue came? Cousin time. 



I have come to believe--and it took some work, as this was not my experience as a child--that in any child's life, wide-open time spent with other (kind) children is a source of great happiness, learning, and skill-building. Parents don't play with kids the way kids play with kids. Kids don't learn from parents the way they learn from other kids. Even granting that the differences between two individuals of any age is greater than the similarities between two young people of the same age, and that generalizations are only sometimes helpful, I am going to go out on that limb and say that it's really, really important for kids to have little buddies, and to have lots of time and lots of different opportunities to engage with them. 

So today, from the moment we picked up my niece Aila from school, Woody's day got much better. My day got much better. Even Fox's. They played an afternoon-long pretend scenario about a pet shop. They jumped on the trampoline. They played video games on my mom's Kindle. They read books. They ate spaghetti and salad. They pulled the younger cousins around in the little pink push car. They poked gentle silly fun at the Backyardigans and made up their own words to the songs.

It's a little surreal, to parent so intensely most of the time and then to realize that you are so utterly unnecessary to your children's happiness and fulfillment when there is another child around whom they like and connect with. You get to watch your child be his or her social self, the self that watches for social cues and stretches right to the edge of a comfort zone to keep up and makes inside jokes. Inside jokes! One of the very best most wonderful things about having a friend! 

I was grateful for the little break from my role as scream-mitigator. I was grateful that Fox was having so much fun he mostly forgot why he wanted to scream. I was grateful that Woody and Aila had so much to offer one another as friends and playmates. And  I was grateful for a couple of hours of getting to hold the baby, the boys' newest cousin Emma Marie, whose recent arrival inspired this visit to begin with.