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.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

168


I have mixed feelings about today.

We had plans to go with Joy and Samuel to the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, but it turns out that Samuel is probably coming down with the chicken pox.  Now, Joy and Samuel hang out with many of the same kids that we hang out with, so there is a chance that my boys have already been exposed to the varicella virus. But when Joy said she'd still be up for a playdate at her house if I was comfortable with it, well, I had to give it a think.

So I checked in with the CDC and the Mayo Clinic, both of which fall heavily on the side of vaccination. The chicken pox vaccination was never even on the table for us, with a 40% failure rate and an incomplete lifelong immunity, so I started focusing my research on the risks and benefits of contracting chicken pox as a child versus an adult. There's some interesting stuff there.

There is a very, very slight chance of contracting secondary infections from chicken pox, including encephalitis and strep. With 4 million cases of chicken pox per year, 50 to 100 people die from related diseases. Small though those numbers are, they are scary. Still, hospitalization and death rate from chicken pox is significantly higher for adults than for children; over half of the chicken-pox related deaths each year are adults, even though they only account for 5% of those infected.

My boys are in terrific health right now. The weather outside is beautiful--sunny and warm. There aren't other colds or illnesses going around in our group of friends. And our calender is not severely taxed in the coming months. With homeschooled kids being exposed to far fewer pathogens than their schooled peers just by number of bodies encountered in a day, I wondered if there would be a better time than now for them to contract the virus. I came up with...not really. But it's an uncomfortable call, statistics versus intuition. Everything in my heart says protect from harm, and in my brain, the numbers support the case for introducing a bit of harm now to spare my children from greater harm later on. But how active a role to take in inviting chicken pox into our lives?

It felt really, really weird to do it, I bought some lollipops and juice boxes to take over to Samuel's house to share.

On the way over, I told Woody about the idea, and he was unsure. He first said he didn't think he was hungry for lollipops, and then wandered around in the land of excuses for a while before finally answering my question with, "Yes, I do feel a little bit uncomfortable."

Well, that made two of us.

So, I did not press it. We went over. We played. There was some sneezing and coughing and sharing of food. I'm calling that due diligence and will wait and see what develops or not over the next two weeks.