Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another Update on Life Since the Conference and Parenting

Eddie was in Chicago last week, from last Saturday to this Saturday, and so while Thomas still hasn't slept in his bed since we returned from Live and Learn, he and Emily did take turns sleeping in my king-sized bed with me. When Emily was in my bed, Thomas slept on the floor in the living room next to the dog, or on the couch, with the dog's beg pulled next to it. And vice versa for when Thomas slept in my bed. I think it's kind of funny that he has no interest in sleeping in his own bed. Is this what freedom means to him? Does it symbolize something in his mind? Last night, since Eddie was back, they both watched a movie in the living room, and one ended up sleeping on the couch and the other on the floor, and the dog's bed was there, too, of course.

Thomas had about 6 days of intense interest in World of Warcraft when we returned, and since then he's still played it every day, but for much less time than before. Same for Emily, although she never got into it like Thomas did. I just introduced them to an online game called Runescape. We all tried it out today. I like it better than WoW--maybe because the characters are human, plus there's a free version. The kids both seem to like it, and there are quests and skills to learn, probably somewhat similar to WoW (I never played enough to figure any of it out on that game!).

When Emily asked me a few days ago if she could get a hair appointment to cut 3 inches of her hair off (a big deal in and of itself; she made me promise not to put pictures on the blog, but I do have before and after shots for posterity), Thomas decided he wanted to cut his hair, too. We had arrived at the salon, and he just asked if he could get it cut. It's been growing for a year without a cut, and his hair was almost covering his eyes. He'd recently started parting it in the middle with his fingers so he could see. :) So I said sure. He didn't get a buzz cut, but it is rather short. And I'd been bugging him about his long hair a bit, just asking if he wanted to get it trimmed (because he also was resistant to showering), and he didn't. So now he decided on his own it was time for a change. It was his choice.

I think we're all on a learning curve with the consensual living ideas, but I have to say that it's a bit of a relief for me to not have to feel completely responsible for everything my kids decide to do. Whether I could influence them or not before, I still felt like I had to be aware of everything they did, and have an opinion on it. Now, I trust that they're eating well (-enough), and I try to keep a variety of food on hand as always, so they have plenty of choices. I'm trusting them to go to bed when they're ready. I'm trusting them to decide what computer games to play, what shows to watch, and how much of both they need. I try to explain my choices and involve them a lot more in the decisions we've needed to make since the conference. They usually don't have an opinion on things unless it will directly affect them. I also give Thomas more choice on whether to go with me when I take Emily to a lesson (she's taking guitar, Irish dance, and practicing for a holiday musical), or to stay home with big brother Nick.

I think Thomas is responding to these changes more quickly than Emily is. Maybe because he's younger, maybe it's just personality. But Emily has been speaking up more about dinner plans. :) She asks me if we can go shop for X so we can make whatever meal she has in mind, and most of the time, we do go shop and come back and cook together. Her chocolate chip cookies are awesome, so I don't want to slow her down!

I know that these changes we've made are just part of the radical unschooling, or consensual living, lifestyle, and since I don't have a "guide" to show me how to change, I try to question myself about what I'm saying to the kids--is this something I'm trying to get them to do, or am I saying they have a choice? Am I asking for their thoughts, or just making assumptions? If I ask for help with something, or for one of them to do me a favor (take something upstairs for me, for example), I usually tell them they can say no if they want to, that I'm simply asking and they have a choice. If they don't want to, that's fine, and I'll take care of whatever it was.

I'm also getting a lot better about responding right away when they need help with something. If I hope they will be willing to help me out with things, I ought to be showing them that I'm just as willing to do the same for them. To do otherwise, by delaying or telling them to figure it out for themselves, would be hypocritical. And it's working out just fine--I'm probably getting more exercise from going up and down the stairs so much!

This probably sounds crazy to most people! But if you read the Consensual Living essay, and Parenting a Free Child (and Unconditional Parenting and even Non-Violent Communication), it will (hopefully) make more sense. I didn't "get it" till I saw it "live" at the conference. I didn't see the potential for joyful living, and now I've seen it, and I want it for us, too.

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Laura said...

Love reading about your unschooling evolution... and I am with you, often catching myself and taking the time to ask how I can move toward more joy and peace. Just had a little "duh" moment that other day that I plan to blog about at some point.

Happy peaceful parenting!

kelli said...

Hi there! I found your blog from the L & L conference list. I'm glad you gained some wonderful vibes from the conference. We always leave from the conference feeling so reassured in what we are doing. We're tired, *g* but still energized in a wonderful way.

Keep trusting your children and it will all go well.

Silvia said...

Thanks both of you for reading and being supportive!