Thursday, December 31, 2009

One Last Dispatch from the Aughts

A lot of us transition-y types have a foot in two worlds.  We might have jobs where we have to comply with one set of expectations, and non-job hours where we're free to let our freak flags fly.

For Dragonstar and I, our two worlds are comprised of Planet Unschooling, on the one hand, and pretty much everything else on the other.

For much of the time, the orbits of these two worlds are reasonably synchronous, and we can maintain our balance and sense of peace.  But sometimes, sometimes...

* * * * *

We went to visit unschooler friends in mid-December, and stayed with them in their home.  I cannot tell you what a gift -- and a revelation -- this was for us.

We are very aware, Dragonstar and I, that we live differently from pretty much everyone in our immediate proximity.  It's made obvious to us every time we spend time among conventionally-parenting, conventionally-schooling families.  We can get along, but we have a hard time finding meaningful common ground.  We feel weird and discordant.  Out of sync.

So we stay home a lot, or do things together, just she and me.  Because it's hard to maintain your balance -- your peace-ability -- when you feel different and out of sync.

We're all about the peace-ability.

Which is why we love going to unschooler gatherings.  Crowds of different!  Orbits in sync!  But gatherings are gatherings.  They're events.  They're not daily life.

Our recent visit gave us a chance to enjoy a brief span of daily life with another unschooling family.  It's the first such visit we've ever had. Which tells you a lot about how isolated we've been.

We are so grateful not to be isolated anymore.

* * * * *

At the home of these new friends we experienced a whole new level of tension-free living.  Of relaxed relationships between kids and parents.  Of the kind of ease and mutual support most families I know would love to bring into their lives, if only it didn't meant giving up a lot of deeply held beliefs about how things are supposed to be.

Here's my bumpersticker summation: Peace isn't compliance. It's concordance.

It's one thing to live this way ourselves, as an army of one (small) family.  To see something resembling our own daily life unfolding in someone else's home is another thing altogether.  It's like taking a leap of faith and landing foursquare on the other side of the chasm.

Unschooling keeps giving us gifts.

 * * * * *

Those gifts help me to maintain my sanity in my other world, when issues like toddler tantrums and willful one-year-olds come up among my conventionally-parenting acquaintances, some of whom believe it's good parenting to bite your child when your child bites you, just to show how much it hurts to be bitten.


People who bite (or hit) their kids tend to defend their right to do so with great vehemence.  What's up with that? Substitute "spouse" or "employee" into the usual "how will they learn to mind?" rationale and it's obvious (to me, anyway) that the justifications for hitting or biting one's own kids are as specious as they are self-serving.

We have strange, painful ideas of "ownership" in this culture.

And strange, painful ideas about kids.

It doesn't have to be that way.

Ask any unschooler.

* * * * *

Anyway, it's the end of another year.  And, reader, it's been the best year ever.  Try that phrase on for size. Now go have yourself another one.  Counting down in three... two... one.


  1. I so understand that feeling of isolation... Only unlike you, I've never had the pleasure of spending daily life with another unschooler (yet)... We'll see what the new year brings. ;-)

    I wish you the very best this coming year! :-)


  2. isn't it wonderful to spend a day in the life with people who get what you get!! we love spending time with them too.

    you gotta come here next!!!


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