I found this “post” I wrote on Unschooling Canada back in February 2008, when I was at the very beginning of our unschooling journey. I think it’s worth re-sharing. It was written in response to a post by a mother who was also beginning the journey—maybe was even newer to it than I was—and was planning to leave the support group she found because everyone on it seemed to have older children and more experience, and so she couldn’t relate…
I think this was one of the biggest “breakthroughs” in my parenting journey to date–realizing that I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I ran into something new, that others had walked this path before me, and if I wanted their help, all I had to do was ask… well, once I found them, anyway. Finding them took a while at the outset!
I very much understand where Nessa is coming from, though–on the first leg of the journey, I was searching for people who were exactly–not even more or less, but exactly–in the same spot I was.
First-time mothers. Better yet, first-time mothers with boys. First-time mothers with boys exactly the same age as mine. I’ve never thought about it before, but that may well have been an extension of the traditional schooling mindset. Be with thy peers, child, be with thy peers. That’s the safe, normal place to be.
I’m not quite sure when and how the change came–it was gradual (aided, in no small part, by the fact that my son actively preferred the company of children much older or younger than himself to that of his immediate age peers).
I still view parents who are in the same phase as I am (and who share, to a certain extent, a similar parenting/life philosophy… but not precisely the same one, because who has that? And if we were all the same, how boring would that be?) as an invaluable support group–they’re there right now, not looking at my current challenges or issues through that kinda annoying “this too shall pass” lense.
They’re the people we spend most of our playtime with.
But I also go out of my way to get to know and to learn from people further along on the path. They give me perspective. They give me reassurance, hope when things are rough.
And sometimes, absolutely, they drive me crazy, because they seem to suffer from “early childhood” amnesia 🙂 but now I have perspective too… and now, when a mama of slightly younger children comes to me for advice, every so often all I can tell her is “This too shall pass” because a year or two later, that’s all I remember about that particular struggle or milestone–it came, it went, life moved on.
My children are 5.5 and 3, and I came to unschooling very slowly and at times reluctantly, so on this list I fill the (for me, unusual) role of being (most of the time) an observer. I don’t read everything,
I don’t relate to everything.
I don’t understand everything.
But I do learn from everything I do read, even if I don’t realize it at the time. Even when it kind of annoys me when I read it at the time…
whose 5.5 (the half is very important these days) y o was explaining how ice bergs are formed to the 3 y o, at the end of which discussion the two of them argued about the geographic positions of Greenland and Antarctica. For the record, the 5.5 year old gets N and S (and loves the concepts of top of the world, bottom of the world, and how if you flip the globe or map upside down, they reverse–it’s all perception, he loves) while the 3 y o thinks all cold, ice berg-creating places should be right next to each other, because that just makes sense
2012 PS …and now that my children are 10.5, almost 8 and 3+… I find the perspective of “that” me slightly annoying at times. Isn’t life grand?
Last week on Nothing By The Book: The naked truth about working from home, the teaser • Quote This: “Do I Have a Booger In My Nose?” • You’re the adult, Daddy • Surviving 3.5 and 5.5: A Cheat Sheat • Most popular: What children mean when they say “I’m bored”