Sunday, April 10, 2011

in the fullness of being

Except for the youngest, the kids are, by and large and for all intents and purposes, grown. They are their own people, and while that's been true since they were born, it is true in a different way now. And it is always possible that some big intervention of some sort would be needed, but not likely at this point given who they are.

It was very easy to be a natural, attachment parenting parent when the kids were really little and the biggest question was whether or not to vaccinate. There was no way I was going to ever let them cry it out. Ever. Or not let them nurse on demand. But when my nipple started dissolving in one's saliva, I did say to the child, I can't do this -- and she did cry -- and that, people, is why it takes two parents (ideally one of whom has boobs and one of whom does not). So yeah, if warranted I would get their attention in a parental, introductory-guide-to-this-life, manner.

As they grew, they ate what and how much they wanted to, within the fact that we have three meals a day and that comes first. So, if your snacking interfered with meals, the snacking stopped. If you didn't like something, we made sure that there was something that you did like but mostly expected a bite of whatever it is that was for supper . . . most of the time. But when one doesn't like cheese grits for breakfast, a small pot of oatmeal is prepared. That is no sweat off anyone's nose, and not nutritionally compromising either. There was one child who just didn't, for the longest, like any veggies cooked -- he always had them raw. He also didn't like things touching. Or mixed together.

But anyway, even with all the nuances, the things that are reasonable requirements (eating, brushing teeth) tempered with compassionate self-direction, attachment parenting and unschooling were easy choices early on. Then came the middle years, and late reading, and odd interests, and sometimes defiance, or moodiness, or somewhat persistent fantasy worlds, or whatever. It was somewhat harder then but only in the sense of questioning "Am I ruining their lives?" But all it took was one look around at the "normally parented" kids to decide, nope, we're fine thanks. Likewise, I look at kids who've had no direction and can plainly see that kids do indeed need parents, not reliving-their-childhood abdicators. Time and again, we shuffled through the choices and came to the same conclusions -- whoever they are on their own, with our love and guardrails, is better than anyone we can make them into. Heck, one look at us proves that it doesn't work out that you are who you "get raised" to be anyway . . . and not engaging in that sort of power trip is, we hope, far less fraught with useless baggage for the kids to carry.

And now, for the most part, here they are, emerging into another fullness. They have a solidity, a groundedness, and yet an ability to fly, take off, dream. They know stuff, a lot of stuff, but what I value most is their knowledge of themselves, and their inability to be swayed, their unwillingness to doubt that knowledge. They haven't been raised in boxes that can be replaced with other boxes. They don't need people's stares in order to feel better about themselves, nor do they wear masks or costumes. They aren't performing their lives, they are living them.

I don't know. I never feel like I have words enough for the family, for unschooling, for our adventures whole. It is easy to explain how we planted this or that, or how to make a loaf of bread, but a lifetime relationship with family that is full and growing and reciprocal -- you can't explain that.

The girls and I very often have nighttime giggle sessions. I go to bed and somehow, they end up on the bed with me and we talk about anything and everything and I can usually be counted on to say something that makes one of them say, "You are not the typical Mother."

And I laugh and get that fire in my eyes, and say, "No, I am not bwahahahaha!" or, if I'm feeling more tame, "Thank your lucky stars honey."

And each night the youngest tells a goodnight story of his own invention to his dad. And the older three have their own business ventures and we all have chores and work together in the garden and, well, just so many things.

I am comfortable that they do know stuff. And that starts with how to read, how to find stuff out, how to grow stuff, how to eat, how to stay warm, how to figure out what they don't know about any of that stuff. And I think they will be able to find their own place in the world, their own place, their own way, with a superego that is their own voice, not Eisenhower's, or even the Capt'n Crunch Kids. I believe we have worked out relationships that can always be worked out, developed; relationships that are rich and fertile. Everyone is a resource for everyone else, so that it truly is, one for all, all for one.


Madcap said...


CG said...

the other day the girls went with their cousin, their aunts and their grandmother hiking/exploring some overgrown ancestral land. At some point all the adults wondered if they were lost (because it is so grown up it is often impossible to tell quite where you are until you come out somewhere that you do recognize). My girls made a joke about the Donner party. Their cousin didn't know the reference.

In some ways, that's not her fault. She's just conventionally schooled. And in some ways, it is accidental that my kids do know that tidbit (and it is likely through that awful computer game Oregon Trail that we never actually played all the way through because it was so stupid and schoolish). But my kids are curious.

Of course, we as their parents are curious. And so few people are.

barefoot gardener said...

Super Cool. You. Your kids. Just... supercool.

Alcyone said...

what barefoot said. and so are you.

CG said...

aww. lovelovelove. and yeah, my kids are supercool.