The Doubts and Successes
Like all parents I experience doubt.
As a home educator there are moments when I think – what the hell am I doing?
And there are those very odd moments when I want to cry, throw in the towel and hand it all off to the state education system, admittedly those moments are few and far between.
We unschool. In our house that probably means the children do too much art and spend too much time on the computer, playing Five Nights At Freddies or Minecraft or RoadBlocks. However, over the years I've learned to trust them. They do learn and progress. The first time I realised it was when I sat down to "teach" evolution only to have them teach me more than I knew courtesy of Pokemon, Phineas and Ferb, and YouTube. Then there was that moment when my daughter was watching a documentary about James Clerk Maxwell as she'd discovered him through learning about the colour spectrum.
My daughter's time watching TV and playing on the computer is now translating into a talent for art and a desire to make films and animations. She's actually rather good and incredibly knowledgeable.
But… then there are those moments when I want to just have a party, pronounced partae…
Gasbag is nine and he has a variety of issues. If he was at school I would be fighting for a diagnosis. Our only attempts to find out what his issues are have set him back. Instead of trying to help children why do local authorities blame the parents first? Gasbag is constantly moving forward and more importantly he doesn’t know he has an issue.
I was despairing that he would ever learn to read but over the last few weeks I’ve watched him grow physically and mentally.
Do other unschooling parents notice that their children learn much more when they are going through a growth spurt?
Of all my children Gasbag has the most beautiful handwriting. It’s elegant and legible. However, reading has been a fight and a struggle. It has been tiaras, tantrums and destruction at the dining table. As he approaches ten I was beginning to worry would this ever happen? Would I have to give in? We’d tried many methods.
Over the past two weeks he’s gone from not being able to read to sounding out and spelling out words and with help he’s writing well constructed sentences. The first day he wrote a story outline: The Legendary GodCats. With a little help from me he wrote out 964 words (I get into trouble from Gasbag if I say 1000 words) and this week he wrote a prologue.
His extended speech delay has given him an incredible vocabulary because he has had to think like a mini thesaurus to find the word he could say that would fit each situation. And he's become a talented young poet. I now know my gut to stop speech and language therapy was the right decision.
He wrote this about his reading frustration:
The Read Guy by G. Kimlin
Tales from the River Bank
Hide under the blanket
I don't want to
Up the pitch
You know what?
Give me that.
Now I want to.
Teach me the words I want to know
like Fazbear's Family Diner
Purple Guy and Golden Freddie.
Tiaras, tantrums and destruction have become smiles, satisfaction and high-fives.
Party at the Kimlin House right now. Gasbag is doing just grand! And I'm supermum - at least until I finish writing this and one of them brings me crashing down to Earth and takes away my current ability to fly.
Mr Kimlin and I were discussing my blog. Seriously, he's not worth what I pay him.
Me: I want to do an index for my kitchen sink type blog.
Him: Use the categories on the side.
Me: I've told you I can't work out how to do it.
Him: Yeah. (grunts and walks away)
Me: (shouting through) that was your reaction last time
Him: Type it into Google.
Him: Because that's the first port of call for any technical enquiries
Me: No it's not. You are.
Him: I'm just going to type it into Google anyway.
Me: Yeah but you'll actually understand what they're talking about.
I am bedbound today due to my Fibromyalgia. Hubby is in the process of pulling out our old bathroom so she can fit our new one. (Due to having Banana-Bug in a cast we can't really get a move on with it until August now but we can get the floor sanded and sealed). To the left is Kwaazi - he's a moggie we rescued from the SPCA. As a family we like to think he's really a Norwegian Forest Cat.
At my bedroom door is a laundry basket with a hula hoop propped up on it. A device of death as I'm not walking well.
Sausage: It's for the cat to jump through.
Me: Of course it is that's my first thought.
Sausage: And then we can applaud him.
He shoves the cat.
Sausage Come on cat, kitty, kitty, cat (his usual cat charming powers seem to be failing him)
Cat looks about as impressed as myself.
Seriously if I was one of our pets there would be far more biting and scratching of littlies.
And as I'm writing this the cat proves me wrong and neatly jumps through the hoop. We all cheer loudly. Even the misery guts that is Banana-Bug joins in.
Sausage: The cat's gone. I can't find him.
Banana-Bug broke her leg this week so a deep insightful blog was never going to happen. As usual, once the initial shock and pain had worn off, she proved indomitable and is even almost back to being good humoured.
I’ve been asked to put my recipes up on a blog for a long time so I thought today would be a good time to start. Food for my family is an adventure and a major source of stress only slightly exceeded by washing the dishes.
Amanda is diabetic.
Banana-Bug is vegetarian.
Gasbag is a carnivore.
Sausage is the pickiest kid on the planet.
And then there is me, Anya, and I am a vegan with multiple food allergies. Steering clear of a variety of food stuffs helps keep my Fibromyalgia on an even keel. Meat, dairy, caffeine, aubergines, yeast and lots of gluten are big nos. Lactose is my biggest problem as it makes my face and tongue swell. Providing a family meal for all the major food requirements has proved an uphill struggle but I now have a pattern.
Amanda is my husband she's in the process of deciding if she wants to be all woman. All I have to say about that is yes dear.
Banana Bug is my thirteen year old, stroppy, deep, existential and incredibly talented arty-farty teen. She doesn't like men -- well not in that way -- so any off the cuff advice from her love life will be all girl. OK what love life? She's deeply embarrassed I even mentioned it.
Gasbag is a nine-year-old pessimist who thinks deeply about how the world is rubbish. He resembles a catalogue model and thinks sleep is for wimps. Another arty-farty (but his smell worse) type, he tends to only draw Five Nights at Freddies characters and Sonic the Hedgehog. He's also a talented young poet. And last week I even managed to get him to draw a credible twite (that's a type of bird and not anything rude.)
To me my youngest is Sausage but he requested I call him Ironman. He's a funny little diva that can rock outfits that include both Sonic the Hedgehog and My Little Pony. Always performing, unlike the other two he has a sharp devious mind. If you tell him not to go over the line he'll bounce right on it.
Sat here at my desk, I try to work out how to introduce the Kimlins to the world. We have a profound message don't we? Surely under the superficiality of family life I can excavate profundity. So I asked the family:
Me: What do you have to say about life? What would you like to tell the world?
Amanda: Huh? (she has her headphones on and is playing Mech Warrior. I don't know if they're playing with him or her but I'm definitely looking at the one with chicken fillets and more make-up than I've worn in thirty years)
Banana Bug: Not much
Me: I give up on life.
At least until the next blog entry.
The Kimlin Family