I have a list of possible things to blog about. It keeps getting longer. And yet I keep putting off the actual blogging. And what stops me? Several things I think, but mainly overthinking. The need to get it right, to be perfect from the off, to create something amazing – immediately.
But really – where’s the fun in that? I’ve tried to do it that way all my life, and it’s dull, it’s hard, it’s stressful, it leads to bucketloads of anxiety. So maybe now we’ll try it differently. And try for a while to not care whether I write crap or not. Literally! The effort it costs me to write the word ‘crap’ on a public platform!! The extra effort it will cost to actually press the Publish button ….
I’m sitting in Starbucks. My daughter is sitting next to me, reading Dan Browns ‘Digital Fortress’ . I’m replying to a comment on my Home School post, and hearing a couple of ladies next to me talk about home schooling, and it’s so exciting. Their children sound very young, and they’ve realised that they are already learning – with or without school. And that there are more ways of raising children than school, or home school that looks like school.
For us, it’s quiet. It’s not endless rounds of groups and people. It’s not sitting with books studying for hours. When my children first deregistered from school – we deschooled. We simply did what we wanted. We spent hours on Minecraft and even went to the Minecraft Convention in London. I played with them. I wanted to see and encourage what interested them. I didn’t impose any time limits. I’d tried that in the past. I didn’t impose bedtimes. I stopped making them eat things that they didn’t want. I stopped limiting. If they wanted chocolate and cake – they could have it. Can you imagine what this looks like? And how a lot of people would view it? But we talked. About eating, about food and health and nutrition, about choices. And it wasn’t and still isn’t all perfect, and idillic. It’s life. Done diffently. My son chose to do GCSEs. He got through them in less than a year, mostly by studying by himself. His own motivation, and then a lot of encouragement and help as the exams approached. He did well and is now studying A levels at college. He passed his driving test and he has a car. He’s looking at going to University next year. He’s quiet, capable, funny, kind, sociable, and has an opinion on everything. He grew out of his Minecraft phase. I didn’t need to limit and nag. He still plays. He plays many games. And sometimes they can engage him for days and weeks. It really isn’t a problem. I find the same thing can happen to me.
My daughter loves to bake. Both my children eat well. Not through force. Through choice. They’re not perfect. We enjoy chocolate, cake and sweets. But not all the time. If there are no limits to what you can have, why binge? Yes, sometimes we still do. Because we can. But not often.
Both children can cook and look after themselves. They keep their rooms clean and tidy. Teenagers! Clean and tidy! Again – not perfect. I didn’t learn to be tidy until my late 30s. And then it was gradual. I began to understand that I couldn’t expect my children to keep things tidy and put things away if I didn’t. And that we had far too much stuff in the house, which meant that we didn’t even have a home for everything. So I began decluttering. This began before the children stopped school. I talked to the children about decluttering and why I was doing it, and began to get them involved in sorting through their toys, games and books. Again, I didn’t force them to get rid of anything, but as they did make space in their rooms, it seemed to get easier for them to let go of things. They began to think about what they needed and wanted – what really wasn’t useful – what they were keeping because it was a gift, or they’d spent money on it, or whatever other reason made them believe that they couldn’t get rid of it. The charity shop, friends, local toddler groups did well from their sorting. And some of it they sold on ebay. And some I actually gave them money for getting rid of. Because I was learning – there are not as many rights and wrongs as we think there are. There is no one way of doing life.
Sometimes I just like to play.
Some days my life looks like …
And other days it looks like …
But most of the time … it’s a mix of both.
A million thoughts go on in my head daily, often it seems like they’re all at the same time. And what I have to remember is – they’re just thoughts. They aren’t reality. They come. They go. They change. They aren’t me. They don’t define me. My thoughts on a subject can be completely different than somebody else’s on the same subject. We know this. We see this. And yet we don’t really recognise it and accept it and what it means. Just because we believe something, it doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because someone else believes something, it doesn’t mean, or make it true. When I fail to recognise this, I can be harsh and judgemental. Our arguments can go round and round, with no outcome other than thinking that the other person is stupid for not being able to see things from our point of view. But, why should they be able to? No one else has the same point of view. No one else has the same life, the same thoughts, the same understandings. Trying to impress our way of thinking on people, without being able to hear what they have to say, causes disagreements and bad feelings. We’re all living different realities. We all see things differently. And understand them differently.
We know that we shouldn’t pay too much attention to our thoughts. One day I think I know everything, the next, that I know nothing. And neither are true, or helpful. I think that a certain person is a bully, until I learn something new about them that completely changes my perspective of them. It might not even be something true that I learn about them. Or I simply might be in a better mood. So many things affect how we view the world. There is no one way of understanding.
“You’re doing what?”
The standard response to the news that I was taking my children out of school. Although some people just laughed because they didn’t believe me. But that’s what we did. Because we could. Because I believe school is not the only way. Because I believe things can change but someone has to be prepared to do things differently. Thankfully many people have gone this way before me. I read a lot. I read blogs of people homeschooling. I looked into the law. I looked at my children, my family, myself, my friends. I read of pitfalls and terrifying homeschool ‘checkerup’ people. I read of people ‘under the radar’, I read of court appearances, accusations of negligence, wanting to create a register, unschooling. Life done differently. Children who wished they’d been to school, children who wished they’d been homeschooled. I read about travellers. I read about deregistering from school or not registering in the first place. I read about the things that we do that we think are compulsory and I saw a lot of wrong beliefs, understanding, wrong thinking. I’ve worked in a school. I’ve been to school. I’ve been well and truly schooled. I’ve helped in different classes while my children were in school. I’ve worked with ‘special needs’ pupils, and I’ve watched as so many have been let down by the school system. I’ve known truly inspirational teachers, I’ve known teachers so stressed by it all, that all they could do was take it out on the pupils. I’ve known children who’ve flourished in school, and those who have withered. So it’s not a matter of right or wrong but of choice.
Because, at the end of it all, life is so much more than compulsory education. My children are so much more than they realise. Whether they learn the things they believe that they need to learn, or do the things they believe they need to do, I hope they realise, that these things are really no where near as important as they think they are.
I love my home. And my garden. Today I have an unexpected pleasure, which might sound quite bad, but I have some time inthe house by myself. Everyone is out. This doesn’t happen much at all. Especially since my daughter is at home everyday. I have time to myself most days. I’m not always needed. But being in by myself and having that time is completely different. And so I’m sitting in my garden, on my swing, with my Chromebook, just enjoying the moment. And being grateful for so much.