Life, Unschooling

The Library

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Strewsday rolls around again and this week my unintentional but habitual strewing was the library.

In this case, the State Reference Library and a free exhibition on the life and works of author Patrick White. Image

You just can’t beat hanging out at the library for easy, budget friendly all-types-not-just-textual strewing…for all ages.

As Nora Ephron wrote , she the screenwriter of my most loved films Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, Julie and Julia, “I’ve just surfaced from spending several days in a state of rapture: I was reading a book. I loved this book. I loved every second of it. I was transported into its world. I felt alive and engaged and positively brilliant, bursting with ideas, brimming with memories of other books I’ve loved.”

That’s the kind of strewing we discover in libraries. The life changing best kind.

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Unschooling

Of pirates and picture books (Strewsday)

The regular weekly Strewsday post reminder, from our Unschooling Catholics email list.

And today we are strewing PIRATES.

It is talk like a pirate day. So, for home and for the kids at work, I donned my best pirate scarf and hoop (read: pirate) earrings and we read “The Man Whose Mother Was A Pirate” by Margaret Mahy. One of our favourite picture pirate books, now displayed as part of our dining table centrepiece.

The five to twelve year olds at work lapped up the story.

Our dining table strewing today.

And the teenage and university aged sons at home enjoyed our trip down childhood memory lane.

Picture books with older kids? You bet it!

To quote David Wiesner, a popular picture book author,

“I’ve written picture books before and they seem to have a very wide age appeal. It’s nice to hear particularly even from middle school and high school teachers who have used the books in class. It’s unfortunate that after a certain age, some people think that we don’t need pictures anymore. I don’t believe that for any reason.”

Neither do I. We enjoy text, we enjoy flow, we enjoy characters, we enjoy plot, we enjoy art and language and feel emotions and gain knowledge…with picture books as part of our reading diet.

And now we are off to a pirate lunch…fish ‘n chips or Oriental food from a faraway land? Either way, we  must be sure to eat hearty pirate portions!

Life, Unschooling

You don’t need a recipe

Closing eyes and imagining me the way I want to look. Scratching my hair and my right eye. Thinking about what to cook for dinner. Bringing back my thoughts to my perfect life,  to my childhood. And now thinking about printing a Picasso picture for the kids at work  and about homeschooling and mothering. Oh, is it going to rain? Should I bring in laundry? No, Leonie, be mindful. What are you thinking and feeling?

Bored.

And so goes my attempt at mindful thinking, being in the moment, all those things that the self help gurus tell me wil make my life better, make me like myself and lose weight.

You know, a little bit of introspection is good.

But a lot of introspection can drive you crazy.

Self help books, spiritual help books, how to parent/live/be mindful.. These books have been my little secret addiction since my teen years.

Well, that started in my childhood really, when I would read the Dear Martha agony aunt columns in my mother’s women’s magazines.

I learned that there are recipes and rules in life and if I just followed them I would be normal and my life would be normal.

Part of the reason I became a teacher and a homeschooling  mother was to create those normal happy lives for children, that normal happy life I craved as a child.

But those self help warm fuzzy books are just not me.  They often ask me to suspend my intellect. They ask me to be who I am not and there is always an implication that I am not alright as I am.

But maybe I don’t need these self help gurus.

Maybe I can just be me. Maybe being Leonie and looking like Leonie and acting like Leonie is okay.

Maybe, in creating memories and spaces for my homeschooler sons and for  the children at work , I can  also show them the power of being who you are. Without gurus.

So how does this help other mothers, especially homeschooling mothers?

Remember, you don’t need a recipe. You can take an idea from this book and a concept from that. You can adapt a space you see in another homeschooler’s home. You can discard what doesn’t work for you. You can remember that you are unique and your children are unique and your family and its current situation is unique.

You can be you, and bring yourself to your home and your children. Not the latest homeschooling expert or have-it-all together mum but you, your  interests, passions, personality, foibles.

You can be your own homeschool guru.

Life, Unschooling

When they mother us

You never quite know, when you kiss that soft baby, or hug that elusive, giggling toddler, or sneak a kiss from the independent ten year old, or oh-so-casually pat the arm of that teen as you walk by…you never know then that the time will come when that child, your child, your children, will return the favour.

Will mother you, even in a glimpse, as you mothered them. As you still mother them.

A mother is strong. She is strong for her kids, for her family.

But every now and then even mothers crumple. Just a little. And need a bit of mothering themselves.

Perhaps it is as a result of  years of homeschooling, I don’t know, but there are times when the people with whom you can be the most real are…your kids.

And in being real, you share. Even unknowingly. Good and bad. And those kids, whom you kissed and hugged and teased and patted,  whom you nurtured, now nurture you.

Our children learn from us and, trite but true, we learn from them. It comes full circle.

As John Holt wrote: “Children tend to be, among other things, healthy, energetic, quick, vital, vivacious, enthusiastic, resourceful, intelligent, intense, passionate, hopeful, trustful, and forgiving – they get very angry but do not, like us, bear grudges for long. Above all, they have a great capacity for delight, joy, and sorrow. But we should not think of these qualities or virtues as “childish,” the exclusive property of children. They are human qualities. We are wise to value them in people of all ages. When we think of these qualities as childish, belonging only to children, we invalidate them, make them seem things we should “outgrow” as we grow older. Thus we excuse ourselves for carelessly losing what we should have done our best to keep. Worse yet, we teach the children this lesson; most of the bright and successful ten-year-olds I have known, though they still kept the curiosity of their younger years, had learned to be ashamed of it and hide it. Only “little kids” went around all the time asking silly questions. To be grown-up was to be cool, impassive, unconcerned, untouched, invulnerable. ” On seeing children as cute

Except we are not invulnerable and our kids, they who spend day in and day out with us as we homeschool, know this. And this is a good thing. For sometimes, to love is to be vulnerable.

The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children. Elaine Heffner