Ennui

“‘vagina’ originates from a word meaning sheath for a sword. Ain’t got no vagina.”

Big news. Or if not, it should be. In the latest on the WAR ON WOMEN, Rep Lisa Brown (D Michigan) asks, “If I can’t say the word ‘vagina’, why are we legislating vaginas??” Good question. P.S. if you missed #VaginaMovieLines I feel sorry for you.

Some thoughts on Public School on your Own Terms, from Sandra Dodd’s site

Fun with stock footage, a search authored by my brother’s lady J.

Pictures of a ridiculously cute baby elephant enjoying time at the beach

In more, Kelly-Hogaboom-likes-to-talk-for-her-own-benefit, I wrote a movie review on a classic. If you’ve seen the film recently, I’d love your feedback.

A good video on weight bigotry.

J Smooth & Gwyneth:

 
 
And finally, in light of the abovementioned VAGINA HIJINX, (or #VAGININX as I shall forever hashtag) a favorite scene from a much-enjoyed film:

 
 
A cartoon sent me, from my sister:

bodhi / bakery

Today, Phoenix walks into my arms after swimming.

“I reached Enlightenment. Like the Buddha.”

Then a second later she says:

“You’d better watch out.”

!!!

In celebration of Phee’s spiritual milestone I bought her a dozen cupcakes from Bonjour Cupcake in Olympia. Pretty special stuff.

Bonjour Cupcakes

***

So, I’m expanding my horizons a bit. Typically un-shy about unschooling here at this site, and on a Twitter account or two, in real life I keep it mellow. Actually, docile and resigned. But, but, but before you call me a milquetoast, I have my reasons. I swear! The thing is, around here most people hear “unschooling” and it’s their first exposure. And they have opinions and assumptions immediately. I am talking from the SECOND they hear the word. And even those who’ve heard the term or have seen a segment on TV or read an article (ahem), well, they have already made up their mind and diagnosed quite a bit about anything unschooling-related. And usually, when it comes to my family, incorrect or just plain bizarre diagnoses. The point is, I say “unschooling”, the other person starts talking. Blah blah opinion opinion. I’ve responded by shutting down because A. I’ve considered myself un-asked and B. it has been a bit exhausting to hear the same stuff from so many. I have been responding with conversational null and voids like, “Yeah, a lot of people have that concern.”

I thought I was being gentle and kind and open – but I realize, despite positive intentions, I’ve been a bit passive.

Over the last few days I’ve been mulling a few things over (unusual for me, as I usually jump to my own KrazyBrain conclusions pretty quick!). At the Life is Good Unschooling Conference Ralph and I had the pleasure – amongst many pleasures – of listening into to Jeff Sabo’s talk, “In Defense of Unschooling”. The presentation was, essentially, one hour discussing common responses we get from people when we say the “U” word (and yeah, every response?  I was familiar with it), and suggestions for how to deal with these responses, depending on our mood and the situation. I’ve been thinking over Jeff’s suggestions quite a bit.

So, long story short, I’ve decided to be more assertive. More active in the conversation and more “out” as an unschooling family. If someone asks why my kids aren’t in school, I now say “we unschool” (instead of ” we homeschool”). If someone asks what unschooling is, I’ve stopped saying, “Oh, it’s a type of homeschooling.” The reasons I said these things were, mostly, it framed things nicely for the other party. Then I got to listen, or not, to the ‘splaining headed my way.

These days, when asked, I tell them a bit more.

“Unschooling means different things to different people. For us, it’s a parenting practice based on the indisputable truth kids are learning all the time, and the belief they shouldn’t be segregated from normal life. Our kids have better opportunities than sitting most of the day, memorizing and then regurgitating facts for tests. We’re also not interested in forcing them into the many social problems in institutional school environments.”

Or some such.

So based on the kinds of things I do say now, I had a lovely interaction with a homeschooling mom today at the YMCA, while our kids swam. Nothing went tits up and I felt more a part of, and less a lady that sits on the bench and texts and smiles at people and is “polite”. And in case you’re wondering, after I got my little “pitch” up there out of the way, we spent most the conversation talking about her experience and her concerns. She told me she receives a lot of criticism for homeschooling. And I listened to some of that criticism and offered up – what I hope was – supportive feedback.

Tangentially, much later in the evening a friend told me, “I was surprised when I heard that you ‘unschooled’ your kids… because when I got in the car the first time I met them they were using words I hadn’t learned until I was seventeen”. I love hearing stuff like that. And tonight I was thinking, Why? Why do I love hearing that kind of thing?

Yes, part of it is: it’s nice to know your children are thriving in some way. But I no longer need my kids to sound smart for my own vicarious virtue (since first-off “smart” is overrated, and second what other people think of my kids is none of my business). I also no longer need to be constantly self-soothing I’m doing the Best Right Perfect Thing at all times – because today I know I’m flexible and can change strategy if I need to. No, when it comes down to it, I guess hearing my friend’s mind being blown (or at least opening a bit) is pretty cool. Maybe one of the cooler interactions that happen between people, on whatever end of the conversation you find yourself.

And I guess I feel a lot of gratitude and a lot of gladness that my family and I have had such a full and rich life. My kids haven’t had to go through the kind of drudgery I had to. They aren’t learning to be praise-addicted as I did. They are more active participants and authors in their own lives. My children aren’t alien to me, or problems to be managed, or irritations to be herded, or products for me to inject my own hopes and dreams into. They don’t have to waste their time doing what other people want. They can waste their time or spend it wisely as they see fit, unencumbered. They are free to learn. I am truly grateful.

And like, when a friend sees this going down for our family, and sees that it works? He’s all the more free to make that choice for his own children, should the opportunity arise.

Yeah. That’s worth speaking up a bit.

“Let’s pretend we’re a mama and baby jellyfish, cuddling. Jellyfish can’t sting one another.”

Phoenix, Sketch

(one of Phoenie’s latest)

Phoenix, don’t think I can’t hear you glaring at your little brother!

Yes, I actually said this. And yes, I was right (of course!), as the sudden cessation of movement and whispers from the kitchen confirmed. The kids are putting away dishes and doing laundry while Ralph and I work on a few projects we believe we need to finish before we head to the Unschooling Conference. Our children have already packed. They are super-excited.

It’s all good, but I’m teetering on being overworked. Our houseguest/housesitter/CATsitter had to cancel last-minute. I’m worried about money (but thanks to much support here and there I think we’re going to be okay). Both Phoenix and I are teaching wee classes at the conference, and we aren’t quite prepared. I got my times mixed up and I missed an appointment for the kids and I was super-bummed for a few minutes. I’m not as organized as I’d hoped to be for our trip. I’d like to deep-clean the house a bit more before we leave, but I also have the day-to-day I get to do.

However, I’m handling things about… oh, a thousand percent better than I used to. I am genuinely grateful for all the goodness in life and the challenges, well I know things will come if I take it easy. I like my life today. I have more room for other people and their concerns, in my heart.

Today, before swimming. A cupcake date, and Nels in his latest mama-sewn togs (shirt fabric from Gray’s General Store).

Delicious

Lemon Drop! Then:

Preppy Stripe & Acid Wash

Just for reference. Here is Nels in some other Homesewn, exactly two years ago.

Askance

I die a little inside when I realize how fast my kids are growing. Yes, I have realized the solution to this pain. More kids, adopted kids, some other dude’s kids, whatever. The husband isn’t going for any of it. ENNUI>>>

Sewing: I’m really proud of the garments I’ve been making and (some of them) designing. In the case of today’s offering at Homesewn, I’m offering three garment sets. But besides the fun of making these clothes, mostly I had a good time travelling down 80s lane and  may do some again shortly, any recommendations and inspirations are welcome. (Speaking of, check out my friend Dave’s new bike! Radsauce!). Oh and I was pretty proud of my little Google form to help clients out.

Things are good. I can’t wait to blog our trip for y’all. I’ll go there this year, and maybe next year more of you will join me. xxx ooo

this friday night / do it all again

FRIDAY LINKS! AW YEAH (if you’re new, please read my Comment Policy before posting)

The definitive response, or at least an incredibly good one, to the TIME magazine assery.

What the world eats, a week’s worth of groceries. h/t Jen G. who reminded me of this article.

From the archives: “Craft pr0n and how it’s killing America” at Underbellie. This two-year old post was recently brought to my attention as a few of my tweeps were diggin’ on it. By the way, only a few months ago I finally found the “affordable and well-made, probably used” dining room table I write about here.

Sea and Land by J. W. Buel, 1889. Do you even know how much this is my thing? Or how much I want this book, and to embroider plates from it? A LOT. My favorite was probably the Japanese spider crab, which turns out has recently been fascinating my brother as well. Oh, and it’s very real.

The Japanese, or spider crab.

Obama blows it, big time:

And yes. I laughed so hard I cried.

Ashely Judd on her “puffy” face, at The Daily Beast. (Did I post this already? I don’t think so. Anyway. Here it is. She rocks!)

SCIENCE figures out what really causes ice cream headaches. In the comments, admit it if you’ve had one in the last half year even though you’re a grownup.

Literally the Best Thing Ever: Fictional Rich People of the 1980s at RookieMag.

Hey, I missed James Brown’s birthday! Here, have some dancing lessons. Just be careful on what life lessons you take from the man.

Girls Gone Wild: Female Sex Addiction and the Internet at The Fix.
Readers looking for titillation will instead find a thoughtful piece written by a sex addict (yes, that’s a real thing). I’m not a huge fan of The Fix being as its for-profit motives mean well, what you might think. But this was a good article.

“The greater your shame, the more you do the thing that gives you shame. You feel bad about yourself, you’re lonely, you feel low self-worth, you don’t have enough endorphins to make yourself feel good, so you go back to the addiction because it pleases you and punishes you at the same time.”

This awesome dad takes awesome pictures of his awesome daughters, plus with extra awesome.

“I’m not ashamed to dress ‘like a woman’ because I don’t think it’s shameful to be a woman.” – Iggy Pop

“Talking About Independent Learning” at Natural Life Magazine: a schooled and non-schooled young adult discuss the differences in their learning environments. What a beautiful interview. “Maybe self confidence is something that doesn’t need to be built as much as it needs to be protected.” I’d say the same for critical/”free” thinking, compassion, and work ethic… you know, those things people are often saying need to be drilled into kids.

My favorite tweet of the week.

“I’m sorry the information is so scanty but I’ll send you up more as I get it. Blake out.” First, he is acting the hell out of this cut-rate scene in a Z-grade film. Second, his looks and mannerisms are uncannily that of my brother! Third – SCANTY. The information is SO SCANTY.

Speaking of my brother! A picture of him from 2005. Adorable.

Forgiveness is possible; loving others in a way that works for us

All comments on this post will be moderated.

Welcome to the Spank Out Day 2012 Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the Second Annual Spank Out Day Carnival hosted by Zoie at TouchstoneZ. Spank Out Day was created by The Center for Effective Discipline to give attention to the need to end corporal punishment of children and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior. All parents, guardians, and caregivers are encouraged to refrain from hitting children on April 30th each year, and to seek alternative methods of discipline through programs available in community agencies, churches and schools. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

Mid-summer of last year I shakily drove my new (to me) car to a friend’s house. I’d made a desperate call just a few minutes prior and she could hear that I was in need of someone kind to talk to. I knocked on the door and was welcomed into the home of this friend and her partner, both women very dear to me. I sat on their comfortable couch in the soft summer light, ready to compose myself to tell them what was wrong – and instead burst into shuddering sobs.

I’d just come from a meeting in a self-help group. Over the past few months I’d been recovering from the shame and misery of my past – including, in my own words, “the worst shit I’d ever done”. The worst shit I’d ever done, what does that mean? Well, we all know deep in our Knowing Place what these things are, and my worst and your worst aren’t going to be the same. I have a share of immoral (by my own standards) acts in my past. But for me at the time, the “worst things” weighing on me were the things I’d done, or hadn’t done, for my children. I couldn’t shake the thought that while other adults could choose to play in my playground or leave me be, my children were hostage to my bad behaviors. This thought had haunted me to this very summer day.

So in my self-help group I had named some of my mistakes aloud. I briefly related that I regretted yelling at and hitting my children (in an commitment to truthfulness and yet a simultaneous masochistic act of self-criticism, I’d refused to give myself an “out” by calling my behaviors “spanking”, “swatting”, or “paddling”, etc). I started to talk about my freedom from this guilt and shame, and the help the group had brought me in this regard.

But before I had finished speaking, another woman turned to me in disbelief. “For spanking your kids?” She asked in astonished contempt. I paused, surprised at an interruption – rare to unheard of in this group – and went on talking.

As soon as I finished speaking – on a larger point than my parenting, or so I thought – this woman immediately launched into her own narrative. In a most articulate fashion she listed every justifiable reason to hit one’s children and make sure they know who is boss, and why. The world is a hard place. They’re going to learn on the streets if they don’t learn at home. Your kids will blame you later if you don’t discipline them. Anyone who criticizes can fuck off. “CPS can show up and I’ll beat their ass.” Et cetera.

I sat on the sofa and listened. The oddest feelings crept up on me. As she went on – seemingly for ages! – I knew I was feeling – something. I knew I was unhappy, but I didn’t know what else I was going through.

At the end of the meeting we closed and said farewell. I was still confused, but I smiled with a genuine shining love for this woman, the love I feel for all members of the human race today. I knew even though she was addressing me, she was telling me about herself. I knew she had a heart and mind and love for the children she was raising. Perhaps she’d heard what I had to relate and would reflect on it later. I knew she was stressed. I knew I had nothing to give her in this moment but love and compassion.

A few minutes later, I got in the car. I drove a little ways before bursting into tears. Minutes later I’d made my phone call and sat weeping on my friends’ couch. After I had a good cry, the cry I needed to have, my friends and I talked it out. And when I tried to explain how this woman’s words had hurt, but my own words failed me, my friend said firmly and kindly, “She told you to do things that don’t work for you.”

***

I was spanked growing up, but I don’t cite those experiences as particularly painful. The physical aspect of my childhood punishments weren’t as humiliating and confusing, for me, as the emotional and spiritual dysfunction. Besides spanking, I remember only a few other humiliating episodes involving physicality, such as my father throwing a glass of water in my face when I was a teen, and my mother slapping me across the face about that same era. Neither of my parents ever apologized to me for these actions, and I have no idea how deeply, if at all, my parents felt regret, remorse, or shame for these actions on their part.

I have forgiven them, and that forgiveness has been a gift to myself.

I’ve maintained for some time that there is little difference in our “punishments” or “discipline” of our children, as long as we are trying to manipulate them out of our own fear (however deeply our own fears are hidden from us). Last year for my post for the Great Spank-Out I wrote,

“[I]n my opinion there is little to no concrete differences between the following: hitting (also called “spanking”, “swatting”, “smacking”, or “beating”, depending on your culture/family), yelling at, scolding/lecturing, grounding, removing toys/items as a lesson, “natural and logical” consequences (applied at the discretion of the parent/carer in order to groom for desired behavior or eliminate undesired behavior). On the flip side of the coin, praise and rewards are perfectly complimentary to this type of punitive/manipulative parenting schema – and those “carrot” (as opposed to “stick”) systems are relatively common too.”

Although I believe there are more similarities than differences in the above-listed strategies, I also believe every child (and adult!) has the right to relate to themselves and others which strategies hurt, and why. In other words, what was painful for you might not have been as painful for me, and vice versa. What matters, as parents or carers, is we honor our responsibility to our children, instead of deciding our will for them be made manifest. What matters is we forgive ourselves and change. What will make a great difference is if we can forgive those in our past who hurt us. It may make all the difference in the world.

Imagine my intense gratitude when five months after I wrote this post I heard a talk on this topic from Harshada Wagner, a yoga meditation instructor I respect and admire. In his guided meditation, “Living Wisdom: Releasing Shame” (August 29, 2011, at yogaglo.com), Wagner said the following:

“The good news and the bad news about shame is this:
 
“The good news is it’s not our fault. We can blame our parents for a lot of our shame.
 
“The bad news is that our parents aren’t here, and our parents aren’t going to be able to take away whatever it is that we have taken on. We’re going to have to do that ourselves.
 
“Of course, I’m kidding. It’s really Good News, and Good News.
 
“It’s good news that it’s not our fault. Everyone has a certain degree of shame that we carry around that keeps us from really shining. And it’s actually good news that the sources of the shame, if they were on the outside, aren’t the ones that can take it away. Because it puts that responsibility, but it also gives us the ability and the privilege and the freedom to work out what we need to work out.”
 
[…]  
“Almost every child is punished with emotional pain. It sounds very harsh, but let me just spell it out. When a child makes a mistake, when a child has done something that the parent doesn’t approve of and the parent wants to get the child to do what they want them to do, they will withdraw some kind of privilege until the child does what they want them to do.
 
“Why is that? What is the parent drying to create there?
 
“You parents watching this, please don’t take offense.
 
“When we do that, we’re trying to create emotional pain in the child. ‘You can’t go outside until you do your homework.’ ‘You can’t eat your dessert until you eat your vegetables.’ These are very benign sort of punishments. ‘Go to your room!’ … And then it gets harsher and harsher, all the way up to, some of us were actually slapped, or screamed at.
 
“But whatever the punishment was, was made to make us feel bad, as a way to learn a lesson. Even if our parents didn’t want to hit us physically, they wouldn’t feel like we had really gotten the message, unless we were sad. Our favorite toy was taken away. Our video games were denied to us.
 
“A really smart little kid, you know if they said, ‘Jimmy, you’re only five years old, you shouldn’t be playing with matches,’ and little Jimmy was really sharp and said ‘You know what, you’re right. I’m only five, what do I know about playing with matches. I could burn down the house down. You’re so right. I’m too young to play with matches and it’s dangerous. Thank you, mom and dad for the feedback. I really appreciate it. I’m going to take this on, and really make sure that I don’t play with matches any more. Thank you so much.’
 
“No, it wouldn’t go like that. If a child was that bright, was so smart, most parents would still not be satisfied until they grounded him or smacked the matches out of his hand, or yelled at him and frightened him in some way.”

Wagner’s entire meditation, which I have since earnestly recommended to so many, resounded with me deeply last September, and continues to today. All parents, even the best parents, attempt to apply emotional pain to their child to get their child to do what they want. We may do it reflexively or we may do it deliberately with some thought ahead of time – or, as is most likely, we do both. We may do it for noble reasons or for selfish ones – again, we likely do both. Some of us can know we are doing this to our children and desire not to – yet we still do it, to whatever degree we do. A lifetime of training, and our own fears and resentments and anxieties, have created a habit energy hard to dissolve. Progress can be made, but I’m unsure if perfection can be achieved.

I also know the child has a right to her own experience, and tuning into her experiences is as important, if not more so, than time and energy spent building and defending and tearing down and rebuliding and obsessing over our strategies, or those of other people.

The woman in my self-help group who told me I should beat my children had what seemed like the absolute noblest of intentions in advising me such. Briefly: she is the matriarch in a black family, raising her own nieces out of familial necessity while living in an urban, drug-riddled and economically-depressed environs. She is battling her own disease of alcoholism and she has an unsupportive larger family. If you can see deeply at all, you can have compassion and understand where she might be coming from.

As I heard in group the other day from an older man: “I had to come here to this group to learn things. I had to learn to stop hitting people. You hit people when you’re afraid.”

You hit people when you are afraid.

And the parents, carers, or those without children who attempt to put themselves in a false position of separateness and superiority with regards to the topic of disciplining children are also acting out of fear. Compassion, kindness, and gentleness are needed – not more recrimination and words spoken in anger.

This upsetting conversation last summer, and the discussion with friends afterwards, were very helpful. I was brave to be honest and vulnerable in a public way – about my worst shit. And after I spoke, someone directly challenged me with every possible good argument to punitively parent my children – even as she spoke and I felt sad, the amusing image of a little cartoon devil on my shoulder popped into my mind. But the truth is this: I could not parent my children this way and be okay with myself. I had never had this ability. So, I part ways in strategy with this woman. I can speak my mind and relate, from the heart, my experience as child, then parent – but I am not in a position to play God and I cannot follow her home and force her to see things any particular way.

I have not seen this woman in a while, but I hope she holds me in love and kindness the way I hold her. I know that this is possible, even in the most controversial and personal of topics. It is possible when we practice love and compassion – for all beings.

***

Spank Out Day 2012 Carnival hosted by TouchstoneZ

On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the handy #SpankOutCar hashtag. You can also subscribe to the Spank Out Day Carnival Twitter List and Spank Out Day Carnival Participant Feed.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

“You have your ubulus muscle… that connects to the upper dorsinus.”

So anyway today I got some real giggles. I was cited and quoted, briefly, in an article on Salon (“Home-schooled and illiterate”, by Kristin Rawls). And in the article I look like a real dick. Like picture me in a Camaro racing down the highway and airily tossing plastic litter out the window directly into a woodland creature’s eye. So anyhoo, this afternoon – for clarity especially as any home-ed’ers might want to know more about my involvement with this article – I posted the entirety of my exchange with the author on Underbellie.

It was kinda weird because only an hour before I was alerted to this piece, I was sitting on the bleachers at the Y and knitting while listening to kids play and parents talk. Today the kids and I began revisiting Homeschool Sports which we hadn’t been a part of for almost two years (OK, this is my funniest post about our previous tenure). And I was instantly re-reminded of how curriculum-oriented religious home educators are. No, I wasn’t annoyed, or judging – just noticing. And of course I was noticing how wonderfully and exuberantly these homeschooled children play together (none of my readers will be surprised Phoenix was instantly the leader of the gang, and on her first day!). It was really odd to come home and find myself implicated in this sorta sinister plot of religious home educators doing things that, well, were the exact opposite things of what I see religious home educators doing. P.S. I was also giggling to myself because there was this really cute be-flannel’d hipster-looking dad (looking a lot younger than I, sad times, I’m getting to be an olde harpy) and I was all ready to sidle up just for idle chat with him but he got talking about a Bible class in this way I remember from my old church days and I thought I’d give it a miss.

I’m not going to comment further on the Salon article at this time and in this space, although of course I have a handful of opinions. “lt’s boring, but it’s part of my life.” My opinions.

***

Last night I went to bed with a headache and this morning I woke with that sort of spiky ear-to-throat feeling on the left side. Today I opted to sleep in a bit while an electrician banged around in my upstairs. Uh, that’s not a euphemism. Anyway my children took care of me for a couple hours and they handled the electrician business as well; during my attempts to rest my mother had the kids over to her place and fed them steak and yogurt smoothie for breakfast (yeah – I know!). After I rose I cleaned up, then spent the rest of the day consuming tea and spicy food, running a few errands, playing with the children, and buying up some t-shirts to cut into great kiddo-wear.

Speaking of: tomorrow Gray’s General Store opens only three blocks from my locale. Um, people, we are talking about a place with fabric and zippers and heavy-duty thread and old sewing machines! Those of you who know me and my little wee town know I am peeing-my-pants-levels-excited. This store and I are gonna be like PEAS AND CARROTS, do you even know how long I’ve waited for some crafty goodness such as this? * dances a wee jig *

And, I’ve been asked to teach there. I am pondering what to teach. No tote bags, pillow cases. Nuh-uh. Will have to keep thinking about it.

Tomorrow: homeschool skate. Last time I went I think I still had my green hair. I’m going to get up on some wheels too. And a big giant-ass coat because that skating rink is like a meat locker.

You, Monster

This evening I headed out in the snow for an Emergency Baby acquisition. Well… the Emergency wasn’t that I needed a baby exactly, but it sure felt that way by the time I had him strapped in, in the warm car! On my way home I slid about in the snow a bit and listened to Ralph’s new upcoming EP, which is shaping up slowly, but lovely.

At home we fed the baby lots and lots of food and I carried him and got to give him a bath which was kind of excellent. Other kids ran in and out from the snow, endlessly finding it fun even though I found it dismayingly soggy, including hidden slushy puddles a foot deep that challenged the limits of my waterproof boots.

Today Idzie posted a guest post of mine. Please don’t click over unless you want to read about me bitching, just a little bit, promise, but still.

I’m tired today; time to retire a bit early and take some me-time.

when shit gets real

Why Do I Not Have A Subscription To This?!
This post is dedicated to the wonderful & talented Idzie, also Maine Coons magazine.

***

Today I’m lying on a table getting myofascial massage for my  head and neck pain. The bodywork feels amazing and strange and all of a sudden the pain and lack of movement in my neck are drastically reduced. I am not only given incredible massage and manipulated but shown the weirdest fracking exercise I’ve ever come across, like seriously I’m embarassed to have to do it in a room with two people watching my technique, and no I’m fully clothed and mostly lying down, it’s just an incredibly weird series of movements.

The practitioner and her assistant find out I homeschool, because they ask about my “workday”. Four minutes later they’ve forgotten already as they ask in the kid in the lobby is with the Hoquiam school district. “My kids are homeschooled,” I remind them.

What follows is the very typical, OH SO TYPICAL I could write it out verbatim, series of questions and statements (this happens a lot when I’m a “captive” audience, dentist etc). Including, “Homeschooling works, but only if the parents are educated” and horror stories of totally messed-up kids that are a direct result of homeschooling (no totally messed-up kids are ever credited as the direct result of public schooling, just so you know). I know I should be long past this, but I am always surprised when people who did not or do not homeschool and display profound ignorance about those worlds (including not knowing state requirements or legalities of home education nor, even more importantly, having delved into the autodidactic tradition with even one toe), proceed to tell ME with authority tons of Truthy realities, I mean just go on and on. And then, comically, end the often one-sided conversation (one-sided as far as openmindedness, assuredly) with a version of, here’s today’s: “Well, I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other.” Pro-tip, Yes You Do.

Today I have a life lived in gratitude and I can tell you, no matter how cheeky I sound here, I am in full acceptance of these varieties of limitation and I don’t hold a grudge (I mean come on… I have my limitations too, like everyone). Maybe I feel a twinge of sadness. I find it’s pretty easy to have a conversation with consideration to person going on, and with a good deal of kindness. “Yes, reading and math are frequently issues of controversy when it comes to home education.” That is a statement of fact and I can say it. The fact I get queried, very rarely, what I believe or how we do things, lends me to further consider that yes, People Do Have Opinions, and they aren’t availing themselves of mine, and that’s cool. This is made all the more comical given how many parents, adults, and teachers have taken me aside to ask me How Did I Get My Kids To Read So Early or, Wait, Kids Can DO That? It’s like I get the recognition something is working, but a constant stream of opinions as to how it Can’t or Won’t.

Since our family is in quite the minority in America by not only “homeschooling” but also not following school-at-home edicts nor centering our parenting in an authoritarian/authoritative fashion, we’re regularly asked to not only defend our very lives but give a treatise or exposition on how Stuff Works, like college. And the law. And free-range kids. In conversations I try to be kindest to the adult in question while being entirely honest (many people who don’t school stay in the closet, so to speak – and there are many compelling reasons to do so). This keeps me relaxed and enjoying the conversation. No, really. But I really do get the vibe that when my children display epic talents or literacy or math skills or social skills I’m looked at as an exceptionally “good mom” (I’ve already written on this), whereas, in the case of questioning and commentary on the lines I received today (Ignorant to Semi-Hostile, with Socially Polite Overtones), I can feel the beady eye on my kids and any, at all, “backwards” or squirellyness or even unusual sartorial expression is received with an arch eyebrow. Whatever.

Anyway, today my son had kids at the door all day long begging him to come out and run the neighborhood. My daughter (after putting finishing touches on her new blog) in her evening frock attended the hospital with me to visit a newborn and new mom, speaking directly and considerately to mom, friend, and hospital staff. Earlier she and her brother cooked and did dishes and laundry with me entirely peaceably, took care of pets, and socialized and assisted at an evening party of my mother’s. It’s not like I’m writing about Performance, I’m just saying, it’s really weird to be considered default=Batshit by so many for doing things that are Entirely Normal and work out really, really well.