As mentioned in my previous post, last week was abnormally busy because of this homeschool drama camp E and G participated in. It was a great experience in so many ways! G, who has always been my shy kid; who used to refuse to even stand in front of people; who one time was asked to give a prayer in his primary class at church, but when I whispered the first words in his ear, punched me and disappeared under the podium–G, got up on that stage in front of all those people and (although he didn’t have any lines) performed his little heart out! He danced, he sang, he pointed his pirate gun at passengers…it was glorious to behold! E, who was nervous about failing at everything; whose nerves translated into yelling and moaning at me over the weeks that she didn’t really want to do a play, and that she hated singing–was more confident on her lines than half the kids there, day one. She also had many run-ins with children in authority positions, and so learned about dealing with others, submitting to authority when it’s called for, and choosing battles wisely. Plus it was an unparalleled opportunity for me to get face time with the other moms, which is not only fun, but practically useful I have found, for planning things in the future. I think the better sense a person has of you, the more likely they are to say, “yes” when you propose doing things.
The week was also an educational glimpse into some of what the schooling lifestyle holds. I was exhausted by the schedule, but obviously there were some aspects that were much more difficult than the day of a typical schooling mom–because I wasn’t just dropping them off and picking up six hours later. I offered to take the headshots, and I had costume pieces to get, and photos to print, glue, and tack. Plus this was a busy week for Brad, so while doing all those things I had to tag a five year old, two year old, and five month old along.
However, the afternoon routine was similar to life with schooled children, and that was exhausting too. First of all, the kids were worn out from their day. Luckily for my children that meant they spent the couple hours before supper chilling with video games. I suppose if they were in school they might have a bit of homework to deal with first! Second, everything felt like a rush! Wake up; eat; dress; make lunch; run out the door. Get home; snack; clean up; make supper; eat; bedtime; sleep. Repeat. Where’s the time to enjoy being a family? Where’s the time to be creative? To be bored? To read for pleasure? It was fine, obviously, for a single week. Long term? Well…
Plus E is such a picky eater (like father like daughter! Is it something in their taste buds?) that packing her lunch every day was in no way a pleasure. And no matter how hard I tried, there was always waste at the end of the day (which I neurotically abhor). How much nicer when she chooses her meals for herself; nothing is wasted, and she actually eats. For breakfast I require them to eat something, I don’t care what. For second breakfast I cook eggs around 10 (not for E though, she only likes eggs in omelette form). For lunch all I require is that it contains at least one fruit/veg, one grain, and one meat/dairy. Those busy days necessitated I not only choose for them, but that I did it for them. I’ve seen the millions of “school lunch” hacks out there–I know there are other ways. But GEE! The planning required to pull that off! It’s not a deal breaker, but how I am grateful for our ability to do it differently most days.
I have to remember weeks like this when the myriad of opportunities present themselves. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of classes and scheduling. Especially when trying to balance how much is too much, and how much is not enough. But a major tenet of the unschooling philosophy is ample unstructured time–daydream time. It’s a huge reason to keep them out of six-hour-a-day school. I read this post by a fellow Albertan unschooler a couple days ago and it drew me back to my basic goals. Living in Alberta has been an interesting exercise, with the default funding. So far the oversight that comes with it is unobtrusive enough to not be a problem, but the fact of having that extra money makes all those classes all too tempting. It’s a constant juggling act balancing opportunity with quality of life (and quality of time).
Last week was worth it though, particularly in our community where this is considered a seminal event for fostering friendships with other homeschoolers. We’ll do it again!