Friday, September 12, 2008

It's Been A Long Five Weeks

A lot has happened. Most importantly, the major brain zapping side effect of going off the lexapro seems to have dissipated. Maybe in the same category of importance, is the fact that I now have to take care of myself better. The 5-HTP tends to work better, (ah-hem, can you say understatement?) if I eat enough protein. There also seems to be a threshold to how many hours I can be awake before I have to take more of it. So, I'm going to bed earlier. Taking magnesium and evening primrose oil were very beneficial to helping me cope with the brain zapping. I figured since it was mostly gone, I didn't need those particular supplements anymore. Teehee. Wrong. I have suddenly remembered that my problem was one much more of anxiety than depression to begin with. Magnesium is necessary, as is whatever calming agent happens to be in evening primrose oil. So, for this child-absorbed Mama, it is really awesome to have absolutely no excuses for not taking care of me. If I don't, there will be emotional and physical consequences. Take that all you voices in my head that say the kids are more important than me!! :)
In other news, I am finally taking the full plunge into child-led learning. It's been a rough ride. I have done everything else on the cues of my children...let them be born on their own time, (sorry philip, you're always the guinea pig in this family!) nurse on cue, wean when they were ready, potty-learn as they showed signs of readiness. None of them ate solid food until they were asking for it at 8 months old. I didn't follow the trends, I followed my gut. And the advice of like-minded friends and other "experts" in the field of babies and young children. So, why should it be different now that they are school aged? I have struggled with homeschooling *methods* and ideas, curricula and schedules, etc. since we began. Philip has struggled with me. I thought it was par for the course. I am finally accepting that it doesn't have to be this way. He has recently begun to really fight me on sitting down (or even standing up!) and "doing school." I tried "buckling down." I tried a schedule. He is a people pleaser. So, at first he acquiesced. Then, he bucked. It became a power struggle. As everything that is forced on a child eventually will turn into. He lost a very huge bit of his spark. He said out loud for the first time ever that he wanted to go live somewhere else. (and remember, all this is occurring during me weaning from lexapro. hehehahah. I wanted to go live somewhere else too! LOL) So, I told him I quit. I am no longer in charge of your schooling. At first, it was a manipulative ploy to get him to do what I wanted. I know that sounds terrible, but I'm just being honest. I tend to get manipulative with them when I feel out of control and think what I think is right or best. The thing that I have learned through these experiences is that I was never in control. Responsible to my children, yes. The one "in charge" of their health and safety, yes. I thought that extended to, I was raised to believe, that I was also responsible for making them learn whatever the standards are for each school grade. Whether that meant putting them in school, or making sure I taught it myself. The thing that has jumped up and almost slapped me in the face is this: My control over them is only an illusion. As is yours over your children. Even if they are perfect little angels that do everything you say, they are not doing it because they WANT to. They are doing it either to please you, or Buddha or God, or out of fear of punishment. Perhaps there are a few out there who find joy in everything being decided for them. My children are not part of that percentage of the world. :) Imagine that! Raised by me and not wanting to conform. Perhaps you are creative enough to make learning a wondrous adventure that is too exciting to buck (hi hannah!) I don't have that in me. Or perhaps I do somewhere, but it is way exhausting! So, I was just about to put them in public school. Let someone else do the forcing and I could just blame any unrest on "the system." Against every thought and instinct in my body, I threatened to do so. And then, the same instinct that always kicks in at just the right moment, kicked in again. Wait a minute, I thought. I actually
can quit "schooling" them. I can put them in charge of themselves. They want to be anyway. All I was turning out to be was someone to fight against. And I had promised myself from a very young age that I would never be that person to my kids. So, I made it official. They are in charge of their own learning. The only condition, until I get over my imaginary sense of control, is that I need to see that they are interested in something and doing what they can to learn about it. So, we have all the discovery and science channels programmed into our remote now. More often than not, Philip is absorbed in Discovery Planet Earth. He has plans to design a web page to make people more aware of endangered species. Miraculously, at the same time he decided this was a main interest, an e-mail came to me about a 4-H program called Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program. Kids from 8-19 get together and learn all about the Southeastern endangered species and how to manage habitat in order to protect them. Philip has been to this class once and loves it and it totally satisfies my urge to have him "sit and do school." He's also been building a workbench with his Dad, and they plan to eventually get a green house built. Philip's been planning a garden. He's also checked some cook books out of the library and has a list going of things he'd like to try to make. These are all things of his own choosing. In the past when I asked him what he was interested in learning, he simply said "i don't know." As soon as I put it in his hands, he chose all this cool stuff and is actively interested. The change in him is amazing to see and the spark is back! And strangely enough, I am quite happy to be out of the driver's seat and only there as my guidance and direction are needed. Of course, this is uncharted territory for us and I do tend to overstep my new boundaries quite a few times a day. I am working on it. We are all a work in progress, aren't we? The funniest realization I've had through it all is, that because of how determined Tyler has always been to do things his way, he has been leading his own learning all along. He figured out counting by 10's and other math concepts by playing Pokemon and other games. He learned to write at a young age because he wanted to write letters to friends all the time. He dictated, I spelled, he wrote. Now he is learning to read, and it seems it's almost by accident. He'll say, oh that says "buy" or "play," and those words are mostly from the computer games he plays all the time. It's just sight words now, but isn't that what we read most of on a daily basis? The rest will come, I'm sure.


Hannah said...

Whoa, WAIT A MINUTE! Thanks for the shout-out, but I thought *I* was the one always admiring other moms for their creativity and joyful learning adventures! I've been wondering if I should stop posting our weekly reports, in case any of it sounds like bragging (it's really not meant to, I think we're highly ordinary!)

I am SO GLAD you found something that is working so well for you guys! That's neat to hear about all of Philip's projects. Hurray for the love of learning, however it is cultivated. :-)

Jenny said...

Glad the zaps are behind you and you're finding success with natural options.

Bramble said...

I'm so proud of you on all counts :-) Hope it continues to work out.

Julia said...

I have a big old smile reading about this. I've said before unschooling isn't my thing, but I like the attitude behind it, and I incorporate some of that into my "methods". That's so cool that your kids are getting involved in all this stuff on their own.

Anonymous said...

Yay for unschool!

Now keep on learning and posting so I can learn from you how to do it when my kids get older. :)

Hannah said...

DUDE, I seriously considered nominating you for that certain award but you hadn't posted for a VERY long time, LOL!
So bring on the Charmin, I guess. ;-)