My House is a Mess

Why?

 

Because it is so much more then a house.

It is an art studio prepared for messy adventures. And displaying both process and product.

It is a science lab fit for experimenting with anything from explosion to disection.

It is a jungle gym full of spots for flipping, hanging and softly landing.

It is a movie theatre, where you can bring in as much of your own food as is required to enjoy the show.

It is a dig site, where excavating treasures happens on a near daily basis.

It is a library of the noisy sort where pouring over, piling up and dog earing pages is encouraged.

It is a video arcade, with out the necessity of coins and the welcoming of drinks and food near the machines.

It is a gathering space, where all are welcomed just as they come and hooting, hollering, mentoring and celebrating is invited.

It is a infirmary where people, pets, stuffies and plants are found in varies stages of healing.

It is a coffee shop where beans are roasted, shots are pulled and friends are toasted.

It is a workshops where things are taken apart and not put back together. Where projects are started and not finished but always waiting to be revisited.

It is a hockey rink/soccer field/wrestling ring/golf course/tennis court where skills are tested and tried.

It is a dressing room with costumes and props fit for the making of imaginations finest films.

It is a super heros backyard with gidgets and gadgets poised for use and repurposing.

It is a chef’s kitchen where testing, inviting and preparing elaborate meals happens over and over and over again.

And it is many more things then I can remember to mention.

So if you stop by please look passed what appears to be mess and join in the magic.

I’m the problem

At the most recent Life Is Good Conference, I attended Laura Flynn Endres talk “The Kids are Fine: You’re The Problem!” She left me with plenty to think (and blog) about.

First off, I was reminded that the kids are just that they are okay. They are naturally driven to explore, create, inquire and learn. I simply need to get out of the way. And by that I do not mean go sit in a corner and let them be, in fact it is quite the opposite. I need to get out of the way by checking my baggage at the door and joining them in the moment to moment passion following that they are hard wired to participate in.

It is so easy as a parent to loose sight of what my role in my children’s life really is. There are plenty of outside influences that would tell me my role is to make sure they are prepared for the adult world. Really? Is childhood honestly a dress rehearsal for adult hood? If so the whole human existence seems, well less then appealing.  Other sources might insinuate my role is to make sure my kids grow up to be responsible, contributing members of society. Okay, but who defines what responsible and contributing means? That one is a bit too vague for me.   Others still might say my role is to keep them safe. Again, that is a bit vague and can over extend in to a place where I actually am getting in the way of my children pushing the edges of their own comfort zones in order to find new interests and skills.

I digress, back to my point, that it is so easy to loose sight of my role in my children’s life. So in order to check my own baggage at the door I  need to daily remind myself of what my intention is as my children’s mother. And simply put it is to be the mom they need me to be. Easy to say, less easy to actually pull off. It means being available beside my children to know them in the kind of way that allows me to provide just what they require to continue existing authentically. Tall order ? Hell Ya! Worth it ? Double Hell Ya!

So step one, remain grounded in my intent as a parent. Whatever that takes, notes around the house, meditation, deep breaths etc. (or all of the above).

Step two; deal with my own baggage on my own time. My children do not need to see (or hear) all about my process and how I am dealing with it. For several reasons, one it’s not their s***. Two, it’s really confusing. And three potentially the most important, they could get super confused about their role in all of it and try to “help” in ways that have nothing to do with their existence.

Phew. It is easy to say that part about dealing with my own baggage and again perhaps tougher to follow through with . The truth of the matter is, it’s totally worth it. The pay offs are huge.  Finding out how to deal with the baggage does really depend on the issues that arise in the various moments of living with my people. However, there are a few general ideas that often apply. Meditation to ground in the present moment. Deep breathing, to bring my awareness to the now. Journalling through tough spots. Reading the huge resource of unschooling blogs available to me. Biting my tongue, anything worth saying in the moment will be worth saying in three hours time!

And this could quite possibly be my favorite lesson/reminder that I walked away with. Life is tough. Everyone of us could sit down in any given moment and list  reasons why my life is tougher then yours. It’s time to get over it already. Don’t get me wrong there is a time and place for reaching out for support from those who have passed this spot before you. But if this is the tenth time you have asked the same question or looked for the same support, it might be time to move along. Let it go. The other side of this, hard to swallow, if you are waiting for the day when it all runs smoothly (day after day after day) you might be missing out on a whole lot of life. This is not meant to be a downer at all, it is meant to be the opposite an upper!  Life is full of challenge, just as it is full of joy. The brilliance is being able to have the two coexist in a way that the challenge doesn’t win out against the joy. Tough order? Yep! Worth? In my opinion it’s the only option.

True Remorse

I over sorry on a very regular basis. This got me to thinking what am I truly apologizing for? Or am I truly apologizing?

As a parent I have never required my children to apologize. I have trusted they would figure out those situations where they truly felt regret or remorse and apply the accurate apology.  I notice however, my oldest is indeed sorry using a lot.

My thoughts on this ? First up he clearly learned if from someone he loves (namely me). And that saying such things are “you don’t need to be sorry for that, ” or ” please stop using that word so much” weren’t really moving anything forward.

Deeper thought clearly required on my part.  I realized most of my sorry sentences could be switched around to say “sorry for taking up space,” ” sorry for rocking the boat,” “sorry for being in your space with a conflicting opinion,”

Aha, this is why I am agitated and requesting my son stop sorrying so much, I don’t want him to be sorry for the things I am modeling one can end up apologizing for. Deep breath in deep breath out.

Good information to have. And the moving forward stage ?

Probably a good idea to reclaim the word. And use sorry only when I feel like it could complete the sentence, “I regret …. ”  or “I feel remorseful for … ”  Challenging? Yes!  I am up for it and I have decided on a step further, to ditch the word sorry all together. I am going to take the path that requires I insert the afore mentioned sentence starters in place of a simple sorry. If I can’t complete the sentence I will sit and bite my tongue until the urge to say sorry passes.

Only time will tell if I can really pull it off. But truthfully the value is in the place where I noticed and wrapped my brain around the whole idea.

Be Interested

Somewhere along the way I picked up the idea that to succeed as an unschooling parent I needed to be a super interesting human being. I can not even trace back the origin of this idea however it is there late at night when sleep eludes to taunt me. From there I often appease myself by creating a super long list of goals or things that I am going to take up to make myself more interesting. One might at this point wisely note that none of this is coming from a place of interests or passions and that a whole lot of it is wrapped up in fear of failure (as defined by someone outside of myself). And then one day it hit me and I changed the words the slightest bit to uncover just what I was already up to. I did not need to be an interesting person, which is really up to personal discretion, I simply needed to continue to be interested.

 

Be interested in the things that capture the attention of my children. This runs deeper then simply sitting beside them to hum ha and question what they are up to. It means truly be interested in the subject matter. the story lines and the characters. To engage in the materials right there alongside my children in order to uncover just what pulls them in. So very often it is easy to walk away and say things such as “I don’t like video games” or “that show is for kids.” It takes a lot more effort to really see what is being presented and uncover the points of interest. Not only does that open me up to new thought patterns and information it translates to my children that their passion are valued. They are worthy. And they are fascinating. All of this from a place of true authenticity that can only come when I am truly (not faking it) interested in what they are up to.

 

And this idea to be interested extends to how I exist  in the world. By this I mean taking a genuine interest in the world around me. Whether that be engaging in a conversation with a person in the parking lot who has an unusual vehicle or noticing the bug moving across my path way.  It shows up as an awareness of ones surroundings and a willingness to engage in those tiny moments that spark new ideas. I think it also translates in to the power of learning in whole life fully engaged kind of way. We bumped in to a lady in the parking lot once driving a 1968 mustang. After commenting on the car she shared with us some special functions of the engine. Now we know about mustangs and  their engines. The info stuck cause we heard it from someone real who genuinely was passionate about mustangs.

 

I am even bold enough to strike out a step further to showcase how this applies to relationships. In order to remain connected to my children I need to be interested in our relationship. This means paying it the same attention I pay the world around me.  In showing up with interest to attend to our relationship, I say it’s important to me. And I also watch it with interest and notice when it needs tending to. More then just noticing our relationship needs tending, I receive clues on just how to do this in a most effective way.

I also think it is worth mentioning that as a parent it is true and of value that I be interested in those things that spark my interest. Be it romance novels or physics, when I am free to be interested in my own passions I model just how that creates a pathway to happiness and joy (the kind the spreads from one family member to another).

Lessons through the eyes of my children 1

Lately so much that I learn about the world around me is prompted by the way my children see their world. Whether it be their questions or their comments I often find myself seeing something a little bit differently. So I am going try and make this a weekly installment !

This weeks lessons come from Mitchel, who is eight.

1) I do have a choice in near everything in my life. This week I was having one of  those meltdown moments when I was sure that my entire family was depending on me to be in charge of all the cleaning. And that if a didn’t take on this super important responsibility we would all perish from the toxic build up.  Mid rant Mitchel looked at me and said, “you don’t have to do any of it mom, you have a choice you know.” I not ready to shift my outlook tried to convince him otherwise and he boldly replied, “mom no one is gonna die if you don’t clean up.” Hmpf out smarted by an eight year. I was able at this point to stop and seriously consider what he was offering up. It was true I was choosing to clean up (and to be all self righteous about it) and that no ones life was in any immediate danger.  He could see right through me. Really, I was mad that no one else’s need for cleanliness was on the same level as mine. And I was being stubborn in not asking for help.  I appreciate that my eight year old already knows he has choice in each of his actions and is willing to remind me when I forget.

2) People should only do a job they really love.  This lesson is pretty new and I am still fully cycling it in to my understanding. “Mom, no one should work just for money. People should work cause they wanna do what they are doing. Or else there just going to hate it and be grumpy.” This enlightenment came from the back seat on a trip home from the game stop. The folks there for all intents and purposes appear to enjoy what they are doing. They are super generous about sharing knowledge with us and generally include Mitchel in the conversation. I smiled and agreed that this very principle is what has landed us living here in California (so daddy can work his dream job). It was his conclusion that leaves me delving even deeper in to my own work, “no one should every do anything just for money.” Hmm.. Sure daddy is living this truth but am I really?  And if not what am I going to do about it? We strive to create a way for our boys to be in the world that values their interests and passions no matter what they are. But we all know actions speak louder then words and one person in our home has been working just for the money. Again, seeing the value of living a passionate life my eight year old jolts me to re-examine just what I am up to.

3) And lastly, not cause its the last lesson I have been exposed to this week but because it is all I am capable of processing at this particular stage. Happiness matters in an all consuming kind of way. I was discussing someone else’s (family member)  actions at one point this week (to my husband) and Mitchel over heard and every so innocently interjected with, “I bet there happy though and that’s really what matters.” In that single interaction he had hurled me back in to the very reality that my reaction to someone’s behavior always takes second place to their true happiness. Humbling yes. Eye opening yes.

So as humbled and reflective as I often end up by being fully present in the lives of my children, at the end of each day I am always drenched in gratitude for this journey and the endless opportunities it provides me.

And again with the video games

There is so much to see when we are fully present in the lives of our children. On the heals of my recent post about those violent video games I think I have been paying attention to how the games are used in my home a little differently. This weeks game of choice has been Fable 3 which is a quest type game set in a medieval time with a goal of becoming a King or Queen. There are a ton of moral dilemmas along the way where your personal choice impacts how the game progresses. My oldest son has been playing this game on line with his peers spanning both in ages and regions. And I dare say the creators of the game never envisioned how these unschoolers would come to use the game.

The group is using a whole lot of creative problem solving and often times are left a little lost if the others are not on line to toss ideas about with. Each has their own game running on their own console, however, they spend a lot of time joining each others games. They pool their knowledge to support each other in completing the individual quests. And this is the one that made me grin from ear to ear the other day, they discuss their choices before making them. They weigh the pros and cons of a moral decision such as “betraying your brother”. What these young people are bringing to the game is their personal knowledge and experience. This is an active task, much like imaginative play.

There is more dialogue I think than anything else. As each player brings to the table their thoughts and ideas. They are negotiating meaning together, questioning each others choices, offering advice and sticking to personal convictions. They are discussing topics like war, marriage, military, wealth and inequality all in the course of questing. In doing this the varying ages are bringing varying knowledge to the table and together they are informing one another. Not only in how they understand these big topics but also in how they know each other.  The friendship bonds tighten as they respectfully accept each others opinions. Sometimes they all agree, other times they agree to disagree.

I so appreciate as well, how they cooperate in navigating through each others games. Choosing to put aside their own quest to support a friend in their quest.  And showing compassion for a friend who’s choice as left them broke or in a mountain of debt.

And what I share here is only the tip of the iceberg. Cause when the games goes off and we snuggle up together the questions unfold for me, providing endless opportunities to fill in the blanks and expand the topics to an even deeper place.

So from last weeks frustrations with others views on the world of video games to this week feelings of immense gratitude for the opportunities they are presenting for my son to expand his world view and build truly meaningful connections.