It’s the hot phrase these days, isn’t it? “Executive function”. What does that even MEAN, right? Literally it means “all of the skills needed to execute tasks to meet goals in life”. And guess what? My BigGuy doesn’t have any. Seriously…
The most recent teen independence adventure: catch the train, get off at the third stop and go to the $1 movie. Then walk to a nearby friend’s house and eat his packed lunch: 2 GFDF burritos and some salad greens with separate salad dressings–all of which he packed mostly himself but he did not plan. To be fair, he had no clue he needed a lunch until this morning.
I sent him with $3 more than he calculated needing. I knew he needed $1 more because he was underestimating the cost of movie snacks. His goal is to come home with $3 (he self imposed that goal. I don’t care if he comes back with nothing because it’s his money).
On his last jaunt he managed to overcome the overwhelming temptation to spend his return trip train ticket money.
THAT. WAS. BIG.
I’d love to think it meant that he knew I may not bail him out except that we both know I would have gone to get him. So that means he actually resisted an overwhelming impulse!!!
Let’s tie in the conversation we had the week prior when I went to the bank to get cash for him (from his own account). We went through the process of adding up what he needed and then tacked on what he WANTED and then he threw on a few dollars “just in case”. I had to enlighten him to the fact that allowances were on hold because of our family’s continuing underemployment. We talked about how much he had in his account for these little trips and how many of those trips he could do if he took X-number-of-dollars each time. Then we talked about how “that’s just trips to play Magic”… it didn’t even consider the many other cool things he liked to do.
His expression was bittersweet. He got very quiet with the reality of it all. On one hand, I was heartbroken FOR him. On the other hand, I was OVERJOYED that he really, truly understood how finite his money was. He started thinking about what he could (legitimately and realistically) do to make more money… walk dogs, mow lawns. I physically felt him grow up in that conversation.
All this time I ached for him to understand the gravity and reality of the world he walked through, and now that he had–I was sad for the loss of his childhood.
He took the train with one friend and they returned together later. He told me that he actually came home with more money than he planned. Apparently the friend bought a 10-trip pass at a discount and allowed the ticket-taker to punch the pass once for each of them. Immediately, I directed my son to pay his friend back the $2 train fee and later we talked about his friend being younger and the logistics of making sure we don’t take advantage. After all, he had the money he needed for the ticket.
I heard about how they opted out of the movie snacks and instead walked past the game store where they play Magic the Gathering–where they bought cheaper candy.
By the time they got back to the “base” house, it was almost time for them to turn around and get on the train. He called me using his Gizmo and posed this problem to me. He wanted to stay. The base-home mama was okay with that and the boy he took the train with was also okay–so they got another hour. My son asked me to set the alarm on his Gizmo again (he can’t do that) so that it would remind him to head to the train station on time.
They must have eaten and then the boys split into groups. One group went to the park and my son stayed behind with another boy to draw.
Eventually they made it back. I picked both boys up at the train station and drove his friend home (they had picked my son up on the way to the train earlier).
It’s becoming “normal” now… this riding the train two towns over to explore the downtown there and our own downtown… It’s becoming “not such a big deal” for him to be without adult supervision. The novelty of having money in his pocket. He told me today that he had a plan for funding his trips to the game shop by way of selling his most valuable card to the shop for store credit. It would buy him at least 8 entry fees to Magic the Gathering and that was worth it for him. That would free up his actual money for other things.
Again, I am treasuring every moment I can. I’m struggling under the enormous stress of our family situation and how it plays on my developmental trauma issues, but finding myself managing not to lash out as often as I might have because I am keenly aware of how limited our time is.
For that, I am thankful.
I got this great card not long ago. It was from a mother of another teen boy in our circle. She noted that she really enjoyed having our family involved with hers and she was glad to have other parents to share this journey with. She is awesome for creating events for the kids that are age appropriate and I adore her because I. am. worn. right now. Life’s undertow is catching me and my son is suffering less because of her efforts. And yesterday I realized that I have parenting partners above and beyond my husband…
Many families in my generation and the next generation down have turned their backs on the way we were raised–when children were to be seen and not heard. Parenting culture was different. Expectations were different. We began to respect these little people and recognize them as humans rather than property. We gave them more freedom to be children and develop at their own pace. We allowed them to have a voice.
But some of us didn’t do a stellar job at transitioning them into being respectful and compassionate young adults that could do what they were told WHEN they were told to do it and the WAY they were told to do it. We quite accidentally created very entitled kids…
Mamas… So help me homeschooling a 6yo has got to be the worst thing ever. There aren’t any cool classes available because all of the ones they could do last year were targeted to kids who were MAYBE taking the kindergarten year at home (and they were the upper end of the “age range” for the class. They’re not yet 7–when some classes open up for the “obviously being homeschooled”/age of compulsory education (in most states). Kids also go through a cognitive developmental milestone at 7 that changes their understanding of the world (and how they take in information).
But 6… Six just sucked. So what to do for kids who are 6 (and under)? Here are the MANY IMPORTANT THINGS you need to teach kids 7 and under (and over, too, if you need to make up for lost time). And no, it’s not “Don’t do anything! Just play!” I assure you–there are things kids need to learn…
Here is the thing: when you remove curriculum and school-y stuff, a lot of parents have no idea what to DO. It seems absolutely unfathomable that we should be doing NOTHING in relation to our child’s education.
To be fair, you’re not doing NOTHING. Here is how “nothing” happens in my house (and some things I need to get way better at)… Continue reading How to make unstructured learning successful
Easily 2-3 years ago, I wrote a blog entry on how ludicrous I thought it would be that I could meditate and where that little experiment landed me. I had studied the effects of various types of mediation on some pretty heavy-hitting health challenges; but I never really saw the purpose in using it as a daily practice for “the rest of us”.
Now I realize that focused meditation (the kind that uses a mantra) is a huge help for those with anxiety. It effectively teaches you how to control your thoughts so that they don’t run away with you–causing an anxiety or panic attack. I found focused meditation was also profoundly helpful to my clients that “couldn’t turn their brain off” at night–often falling asleep with the TV on so that they could distract their brain with nonsense to fall asleep.
My next little experiment is going to be on my BigGuy. I’ve wanted to do this before and even tried, but I’m Queen Inconsistency and never managed to get him on track for more than (literally) a day. Now, I have to do this for myself and I’m going to pull him along with me–hoping it will prove useful in him being able to control his thoughts and stay more focused. He’s been on board for this for a long time because HE doesn’t like being distracted, but he can’t control it. As a result, he also can’t manage to get on top of the practice on his own.
So I encourage you to consider this if you or your children have anxiety, distraction or even just a hard time falling asleep each night. Make sure you are focusing on a mantra during your practice. The link to my business blog entry above will give you great starting points (free ones!).
Do you already meditate? Do you use a mantra?
Nearly two years ago, I started this blog because my BigGuy requested things that put him on a more “schooly” path than I was willing to take and I needed a space to process. Y’all have watched me NOT get my sh*t together to help my kids for two years. You’ve watched me drag my feet and struggle to reconcile NOT schooling them with their requests.
Serious (and especially radical) unschoolers would argue that the use of coursework and curriculum is not unschooling. I feel like when a kid is doing what they want, when they want and the way they want to–that’s unschooling. That’s leaving behind the confines and the dictates of “school” and finding your own way. Some would say that my involvement in helping my guy find the resources means that what we do isn’t “legit” unschooling but there are other camps that disagree.
I seriously don’t care what anyone thinks. And I don’t care what anyone calls it. Call it what you want. Call it child-led learning (although I feel like that carries too much parental dictate of how and when and why).
But a huge part of my struggle to help my kids (for me) has clearly become the terminology and the ideology. I’ve wanted so badly not to be involved in their education and let them find their own way that I’m actually discouraging my youngest from learning. She can’t find her way for the things she wants to do.
With my oldest, he needs help organizing himself for the things he wants to remain involved in and he’s simply not “just figuring it out”. Do I let him struggle in the name of unschooling or do I help him learn how to do it?
So, I’m throwing it all out and just doing what feels right and I don’t really care who thinks it should be called what.
To that end, I’m realizing that a lot of what my kids need are just supplies. And I am seriously, SERIOUSLY not great about getting supplies together in a timely manner. Like, at all. I’m going to spend the next month or two preparing for the summer and the next “school year” of stuff that they want to do or at least what they currently claim they want to do for the next several months… which could change. I think that really got to me, too: why prep for something they might fall off the wagon with?
I have to just stop worrying about wasted time and whether or not I’m “too involved” in their learning. Seriously. This is homeschooling. It is what you make of it. We’re so used to following rules that even when I thought I’d broken free of those constructs, I found myself beholden to trying to follow the rules of an educational concept. WHAT?!?!? Geesh… I’ve been so worried about “doing it wrong” that I’m not doing anything right and nobody’s happy. So screw all of that stupid crap.
BigGuy wants to do math and science and he’s actually loving his history and literature co-op. He really enjoys writing with the group and the instructor said he could legit take on the essay class directed at the older kids as he’s writing better than some of the older kids (she’s not really his biggest fan AND has a class that would be at his age level and right up his alley–so I believe she’s fully genuine). But this means I really just need to get it together and gather the supplies, but then sit with him each week to help him organize his stuff.
Girly… oh, Girly. Thank GOD she is still on the birds thing because I’m all over it. She also wants to learn “math” but I’m not sure she really means it. We’ll go back to Life of Fred and see how it goes. She wants to learn all about baking and she wants to write stories.
Personally, I’m kind of torn about not imposing some stuff on my kids. Mainly world cultures and religions. I’d be torn about government, too, but my kids actually inquire about government more than they inquire about cultures and religions. This one’s a big sticking point for me because I feel like we live in a beige, undiverse abyss. I have to really mull that one over.
In the meantime, I’m gathering and preparing and thinking about how to be more of a facilitator than an actual preparer of their stuff…
October 11, 2012… it was a stunning day. Girly was a month away from being 4 and BigGuy was 8–on the cusp of 9. I was so discouraged–having lived in Illinois for 2 years and not feeling like I had “fit” anywhere really. I ran into someone I knew loosely and she invited me into a small circle of families that changed my life for a while in a way that has changed me forever. See that picture? That was the second time we were all together. Let me tell you what this group was like–what made them so incredible… Continue reading Waxing reminiscent of my dreams today