Pssssst.... You out there? *cough cough*
It's dusty in here.
I forgot about this place. Well, I didn't entirely forget, because I've recently gotten several requests that I blog again. I even received an extremely poignant compliment from my grouchy-and-cynical cousin who said he enjoyed my blog because he never gets to read good writing and he appreciates it when he sees it. Picture me, humbled and speechless.
Ask my Facebook friends, I don't do speechless.
And then my friend Kristin and her new Professional Writers Group had to go and woo me into doing seven hours of events at their book fair yesterday, including reading some of my own original poetry (who knew?) and I had several people approach me afterwards with kind words and feedback about my writing.
I love to write. But writing is time-consuming. I found that the more I wrote about our lives and our unschooling, the less I was living my life and unschooling. Something had to give.
And yet you gotta scratch the itch.
Emotions are a'tumble today as I sit here, missing my son who moved out 6 weeks ago - the one who was supposed to COME HOME AND VISIT HIS MAMA this weekend but didn't - and listening to the heart-breaking anniversary coverage of 9-11.
Brady's departure was sudden and quite unexpected. He had plans to travel this fall, to Oregon, to Vermont, and back again. He had plane tickets in hand, and itineraries mapped out with friends. And then we got an email about a job in film. He sent his resume (after first writing it in a frenzy), got a callback, interviewed, got the job, and moved out - all within the span of about 5 days. And just like that, my oldest child was launched.
The job is going well (so well he DIDN'T COME HOME TO SEE HIS MAMA THIS WEEKEND) and it promises opportunities in faraway lands like Los Angeles and beyond, if only his parents in the cornfields can wrap their heads around it enough to help him get there.
Brady called a few days ago to talk about finding an apartment in LA. Right after I puked up a little bit in my mouth, I peppered him with questions. I asked about the seriousness of this job option, if this was the track he was sure he wanted to take. I explained what a 'sublet' is, and then told him to quit this nonsense and come back home right this minute and sit in his room for 13 hours a day playing World of Warcraft.
It wasn't all that long ago that Brady had a mini-meltdown in our kitchen. He claimed he wasn't an extrovert like me, that he didn't know how to talk to people like I do, that breaking into groups was uncomfortable for him and there were opportunities he'd missed because he was shy.
My first question, haven't you been watching me all this time? Dude, I can talk the pants off a rock. (If rocks wore pants.) Some things you learn by exposure. But in this case, he needed more explicit advice, so I gave him some pointers.
A few months later he got a job in the filmmaking industry because, among other things, "he was comfortable" with the interviewers and they liked him. This, about my boy who doesn't know how to talk to people.
Sometimes all it takes is the right motivation.
Because we don't subscribe to the one-size-fits-all model of school, there is little pressure to learn, grow and evolve on a timeline set by someone else. Just as he didn't have to learn to long-divide in 2002 because he turned 9 years old, he isn't pressured to do other things because he crossed some invisible, arbitrarily-set age line. He started community college at age 15 (because he wanted to) but doesn't have plans to start university until age 20, maybe, possibly, and even that is simply one option on an ever-expanding list of possibilities. And this job tosses all previous plans out the window.
Usually, when my boys transition, it's practically overnight. Often, stages seem to last longer than they might if they were in school (where you MUST transition when they say so), and it can sometimes seem like "he'll never get past this" but then suddenly..... he does. Just like that. I'm still continually amazed in these unschooling moments by how things evolve when we are able to honor our own timelines. It's not always convenient, for sure - it would've been far better if he'd felt this confidence earlier, to help him with other situations that caused him angst - but in this case it happened when it needed to. And it was as if someone lifted the old Brady and replaced him with the new, more confident version.
School imprisons children by severely restricting their movement and ability to make choices for themselves. So much so that if you ask most high school graduates what their plans are, what they want to do, most don't know. And how could they? They've had no time to dabble, to try things on to see what fits, discover what they like, what they don't like. Most insulting, during high school, the years when they ought to be transitioning toward more and more independence, they're still treated as children: told what to do and when, told just how many pages their essays should be, and given only "controlled choice." And if they rebel? Troublemakers.
With unschooling, the transitions are all natural. Restrictions that are imposed occur authentically - a resume that must be turned in by the end of the day, registration that ends on Wednesday at 5pm, a bus that leaves with or without you. We don't see the need to create arbitrary rules and restrictions. Life provides plenty of those.
And Brady, who not so long ago "couldn't talk to people," evolved overnight into a young man who could not only talk to people, but talk his way into his dream job.
Rob and I are feeling a bit afloat during this kids-moving-out transition. Jonathan is only 15, but Brady's sudden departure showed us that things can change in a heartbeat. As we sat at side-by-side laptops, largely ignoring each other, Rob said "we'll need to be more interesting."
But all is as it should be. The 9-11 anniversary coverage reminds me that not all transitions are happy ones; many aren't chosen but thrust upon us. I'm feeling grateful this morning, that even though some transitions are more painful than others, we are free to explore this life on our own terms.
I can't think of a better preparation for "real life" than living in the real world all along.