Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lifestyles of the modest and unknown

A friend of the kids came over to play this afternoon and as we walked in the door I pointed out the feed trough with chicks that we'd just moved into the basement family room from Steve's office, where it was producing too much dust. Our friend asked if she could hold one, so I got our redhead out for her.

Then we headed upstairs and through the dining room, where the table was strewn with clay and painting crafts and flowering bulbs that I don't have enough windowspace for,

 to the upper room, which has our two basement futon mattresses on the floor, where we've been sleeping since the kids wanted to camp out during the almost-great-freeze of February '11 (we were predicted to get 20 below one night this past week, but it only got down to about 16 below. pffft. But the kids still want to camp out upstairs and it is fun to lay awake under the skylights and watch the stars through the bay window.)

I was loading up the fireplace with more wood, when she said to me,  "I really like your lifestyle. I like how you live your life," and I almost laughed aloud, because to me, our lifestyle looks like the aftermath of a trainwreck most of the time. But I stopped for a second and looked at it through an 11-year-old's eyes, and I was grateful for that perspective shift.

It's a lifestyle of saying yes. Saying yes to the kids when they want chicks, knowing they won't stay involved in their care, because I can find where I want them too, and I'm willing to do the work without holding a grudge. Saying yes to the crafts at 11 p.m. at night, because that's when my kids are moved to activity and creativity, after a long day playing computer games or researching things on the Internet, and because I can remind myself that that is what I signed up for with this whole unschooling lifestyle. Saying yes to camping in the living room, because, really, it is quite pleasant to fall asleep to the crackle and flicker of the woodstove's flames, even if it means lugging heavy futons up a flight and a half of stairs and having a trainwreck for a living room for a few days.

This lovely blog post covers the nittier, grittier side of unschooling and it was a good reminder for me this week that the trainwrecked house is a sign of a well-lived-in home and life.

 I told our friend (as I tell every child who says something like this to me) that I understand how she feels because I didn't live this lifestyle growing up either, but that she should remember how she feels and what she wants life to be like and when she grows up and has kids (or doesn't) she can create this for herself (and for her children). And that it seems almost as fun to live it on the grownup end, though it's definitely more work!

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