At least twice a week I cry about how quickly my kids are growing up. I think I cried twice yesterday alone. I mean my first baby is 16! SIXTEEN!! Sixteen years ago today, he had seizures and a stroke. That's when we really became parents. The first three days were just practice, that day was the real thing. Before that day my standard goal in life was to make a difference in the lives of children in the world. That day I realized it was in raising my own child (and subsequent children) that I was going to channel my difference making. We've definitely done things differently along the way, although at some point a lot of the "different" became normal. Many mothers in our country have to first let go at 6 weeks when they go back to work and the baby goes to day care. Many more have to let go at 5 for kindergarten. Here I am hanging on for dear life to my 16 year old. I'm so not ready to let go. And yet, I've been letting go gradually for the last 16 years. No matter how this sounds I'm really not codependent. I'm not a helicopter parent either. As I type this my 8 year old is out playing in the street with some kids I don't even know, I hold my breath when I hear a car coming, but I let him go. I give my kids a pretty good about of space and opportunity to make their own decisions. They're doing pretty well. If we don't trust our kids, how will they ever become trustworthy? (that's from Footloose and my kids are allowed to watch that). Without responsibility how will they ever become responsible? (I made that one up myself). Even though we homeschool, the kids (especially the bigger two) are responsible for their own work. If Jonathan weren't responsible, the theatre would be dark much of the time. If Madi weren't responsible, a lot of local parents would be missing out on a lot of date nights. She babysat, spur of the moment, last Friday until midnight for a young family who had never had a babysitter before. When I say young family, I mean the parents were much closer to Madi's age than they were to my own...talk about growing old!! Last night we had a father of four here who was STARTING high school the year Jonathan was born!! Seriously!! When did I get so old?! Where is the time going? Which brings me right back to crying about how fast time is flying. How fast the kids are growing! I'm really making a point to appreciate every little thing because little things become big things way too quickly!
I got off on a tangent, I was actually going to talk about schooly stuff here. I'm not sure if it has to do with being in my forties, or if it's because I've actually been homeschooling for over 10 years, but I'm much more vocal about my opinions than I used to be. Hang around me for a while and you're bound to hear it. When we started homeschooling all we were doing was continuing early childhood at home. Well, more like at the park, at the library, and on business trips with Daddy. I knew even then that education didn't need to look like school at home. (Guess what even in high school it doesn't look like school) We took on the labels of unschoolers or child led learners or delayed academics people. Those labels conjure up different things in people's minds. Often people think it means not doing enough. Once, long ago, a friend "defended" what I did to another friend by saying "Julie does a lot more with her kids then she lets on". Basically in these people's minds unschooling meant doing nothing. She was right in the sense that we've never done nothing! Someday I hope to do nothing at least for a little while, but I've never come close to that. I just wasn't doing what some people would call school. Maybe we're still not. Even yesterday I used my standard, "We're always doing school or we never do school" it just depends on how you look at it. Are we always learning? Absolutely! Anyway, this is my round about way about getting to my latest opinion. You wouldn't believe the number of times people talk to me about grade levels of things. For some reason people think if something is written at a fourth grade level, it can't be educational to anyone older than fourth grade. This way of thinking is crazy to me! I encounter it all the time though. Why people think something has to be full of challenging words to be noteworthy I'll never understand. I had a big rant yesterday about a popular history series that I love being educational to even the smartest people even though it is written at an easy reading level. Guess what else... your kid can still learn things even if they listen to a book on CD, they don't have to physically READ it for it to sink in. I was getting so worked up about this that I even started saying things I hate to hear like "I graduated cum laude from a prestigious university and I still learn a lot from reading these books" (and even JUST listening to them on CD). UGH! The moral here is don't get me started on this! The thing is no one really knows what goes on in other people's homes and homeschools. I'll fill you in on something though, around here we talk all! the! time!! So we might read the simplest thing, but we might have a college worthy discussion about it. We might have even done that back in the day when people called us unschoolers and thought we weren't doing enough.