I can do it.
I'm ever so thankful for my existence in its current form. I am eternally grateful for our autonomy. I'm oh so very blessed to be able to merrily dance to our own tune, to hippity hop along randomly selecting our own choices. I'm loving our ability to make our own decisions regarding how we will spend our days.
Q. Is the sun shining?
A. Let's pack the picnic basket and head for the beach.
Q. Is it little breezier?
A. Let's hunt for the kites and head for the hills.
Q. Experiencing a stormy aftermath?
A. Let's go and look for washed up treasured at the shore.
Q. Feeling tired?
A. Let's stay home and bake cakes / read together / have a family game day / snuggle on the sofa to watch documentaries / have an arts and crafts day / plant seeds in the garden... you get the idea.
I'm forever indebted to the lifestyle that our home-education choice has presented us with. We don't have to march to another's tune, we don't have to tread another's timetable, or work on another's to-do list. We can sing our own song, and sing it we will - loudly and ever so proudly.
I look at my children and their happiness is there for all to see. They are well adjusted, well rounded, healthy children, each with their own unique personalities - just as they should be. They aren't going through some weird and not-so wonderful regime that is twisting them into what I - as the stereo-typical home-edding controlling mother (ha ha) - wants them to be. They have their own opinions, go through their own thought processes, enjoy their own interests (and very diverse interests they are!) They have been *allowed* to discover and become themselves, no pressure from peers or myself to dress or act a certain way. They don't feel the need to "fit in" with others - they don't have to feel part of a gang or "the in-crowd". They are just Chelsea, Joseph, Tiegan and Callum - and I love them for that. It seems to be a misconception by some that home-educators are trying to produce some sort of perfect clones, and that we choose to keep our children away from *ahem* normal society in order to shield them from the world. Another misconception is that we are scared to let go of our children, that we are trying to cling on to them for as long as possible, and we have them tied to our apron strings where they can be safe from harm and under our control and supervision at all times.
Not in my world. In my world I wish for my children to be whatever they want to be, not just follow a path that I or someone else chooses for them. I hope that they will be free-thinkers. I actively encourage freedom of choice. I want them to question (and argue) what is right and wrong, and speak out if they disagree with something - yes, even if they disagree with me...although obviously that doesn't happen very often as I am always right *grinning*.
My children are individuals. Even though they have all had the same upbringing, share the same mother and father, the same daily routine, etc etc - they are totally different from one another. I'm sorry to disappoint the home-educator critics out their, but my lot haven't been brainwashed in any form, and actually do know all about the not so good stuff that goes on in the world. I don't protect them from life.
Maybe now would be a good time to do a what are they like now update...
Chelsea. Now 15 years old. Very opinionated, very caring, and a read-a-holic. She can't be pigeon-holed to fit within a certain criteria - she wears goth style make-up but can often be seen wearing long flowing floral dresses. She wears 14 hole black skeleton Dr Marten's but buys large roses to wear in her hair. She loves to cook dinners and bake cakes, reads everything from vampirology and all things "dark side" to teenage slushy novels and maths text books, and we have a great relationship - as friends as well as mother and daughter. Yes she has strops. Yes she slams doors when things aren't going right for her. Yes she has moody moments, and I have been the recipient of rolling eyes and dirty looks on many occasions - but that's ok. I would worry if she didn't. She wears a fixed brace and has done for almost 3 years. It's never caused her distress or problem and I'm proud of her for not allowing it to affect her self-confidence. The brace is due to be removed in July of this year, I'm sure it will be a day of celebration - I'll be buying toffee.
Chelsea listens to non-chart music, loves all things Lolita and Japanese (including learning the language), finds using a computer scarily easy, is thoroughly independent, and has no idea of what she wishes to concentrate on for a future career. But I'm fine with that. I wasn't. A short while ago, the fact that she lacked clear direction and focus scared me. But then I slapped myself. So what if Chelsea doesn't know what she wants to be. She is 15 years old. How many of us really knew - I mean REALLY knew - what we wanted to be when we were that age. How many people re-train in their 20's, 30's, 40's plus, because the course and qualification choices they made at 14-16/17 were wrong. There is no rush or hurry. I know Chelsea will follow her heart one day, and I'm right by her side should she need me.
One thing that Chels recently took part in was a Zoo Vet experience at Paignton Zoo. There were around 14 others, aged 11 - 15 years, and it seemed like an incredible day. Started at 10am, topics covered included :
- Animal training (specifically working with an Elephant).
- Measuring and administrating medicine (Great bit of maths work, working out body mass and ratios).
- Blowdarting animals for tranquillising purposes.
- The use of Crush Cages for examinations.
- Identifying X-Rays.
- Identifying hair.
- Preparing a slide for use under a microscope.
- Dissecting a Locust.
- A tour of the vet centre - equipment and uses.
- Keeping accurate animal records.
- Observing and recording animal behaviour.
Chelsea was absolutely buzzing when she returned home, as you can imagine. I think it certainly gave her food for thought regarding possible career choices - not just on the vet side of things, but also in the form of animal carers, rescue centres, overseas work etc. It was a very worthwhile and fruitful day.
Joseph. What can I say about Joe? 13 years old now and taller than me (which isn't very tall I admit, but it's still odd looking up to your son). He makes me laugh every day. Seriously, every day without fail. His sense of humour is fantastic, he can laugh at himself, and has the most wonderful kind and caring side to him that makes him special. He has survived so much ridicule and difficulty. Having to wear an eye patch at school and being almost blind, his glasses getting broken by "bullies" on more than a dozen occasions, verbal insults and threats on a daily basis. Add speech dyspraxia to the mix, meaning few people can understand him talking with ease, and well, self-confidence has been an issue. But what has this done to him? Has he transformed into Mr quiet and unassuming wanting to hide unnoticed Joe Bloggs? No. Joe has a mohican style hairstyle and a punk type look to his fashion sense. He listens to punk bands (many of whom I have no comprehension of what they are saying), and is happy to stand out from the crowd. Sadly he still battles with "bullies". Only recently he ran home whilst taking the dog for a walk in our quiet village as a group of boys started following him and shouting unpleasant abuse - but he is ok. He is comfortable in his own skin and I find that quite amazing. We have a great relationship. He doesn't seem to struggle so much with the mood swings and door-slamming moments, not at the present time anyway. Instead Joe chooses to laugh, do something daft, or make a fool of himself to lighten the tone. Joseph has a passion for history - particularly that of World Wars 1 and 2, and the Tudor era. Once interested in something he will go to great lengths to find out information and engross himself for days (sometimes weeks, occasionally months) within that topic. Joe has just started joining the girls in going to book club at the library every month - a great leap in self confidence.
Then we have Tiegan. My beautiful 9 year old girly girl - frilly dresses, bows in hair, type of girly girl. Often caught climbing the apple tree with slugs and worms on her palms. She is such an eclectic mix. Shy, eager to please, painfully quiet and frustratingly indecisive at times - but can be bossy, loud, and opinionated. Tiegan seeks perfection and sometimes looks crushed if it's not attained. She has high expectations - sometimes admitting to defeat without trying instead of risking failure. I sometimes think self-confidence is an issue (I strongly see some of myself in her at times), but then she will go and surprise and amaze me by performing some hugely confident act. She recently participated in her first *proper* sleepover at a friends house without issue. Tiegan is following in Chelsea's read-a-holic footsteps, devouring anything that tickles her fancy at the time. Neither fiction nor non-fiction are safe from her veracious appetite for reading material, both are enjoyed equally. She is fascinated by the human body and how it works, and has a deep love of Spiders. Her latest passion is art and sketching, and she has a firm commitment to improving her handwriting, making lists and putting pen to paper at every opportunity.
Then on to dear Callum. At almost 6 years old, we secretly refer to him as our little wild child. He is rarely seen clean. Despite almost daily baths and starting off with clean clothes each morning, within an hour he is often unrecognisable. Sometimes digging in the garden, often witnessed with hand drawn tattoos, occasionally he just appears to assume the role of dirt magnet for no apparent rhyme or reason. Just as I am typing this, he has appeared around the door...apparently he has washed his hair. I think a hose pipe was involved.
He loves his "surfer dude" hairstyle and refuses to have it cut - which I'm secretly pleased about because I can't imagine him having it any other way. He is full of character, with a vivid imagination and a kind heart. He has recently been waking and saying "I'm in a helpful mood today..." meaning he will jump up and assist in any job that needs doing - which of course I like immensely. Callum is full to the brim with confidence, and fiercely independent. I imagine that we, as parents, have got better with our raising children skills with 3 others for practice, and I know that I have been more aware with how I have dealt with things with Callum - often giving him more freedom to learn from his own errors instead of presuming I already know the outcome. This has meant Callum has felt trusted and now oozes with self belief - but still seems to know his own limitations. He has certainly taught me a lot as his mother.
Callum is very close to Tiegan. They play together daily - be it out in the garden, with dolls, or building towers with bricks or lego. This is a scene from today's play....
Mr Dyson has a lot to answer for.
Of course, I have another member of my tribe to talk about. At almost 6 months old there is Taisia. What can I say about Taisia? Already she thinks (quite rightly at the moment) that the world revolves around her. She wants to be watched and noticed, ensuring admiring glances are met with a big toothless grin to gain further attention. Everything around her is obviously fair game and must be for grabbing or tasting. Nothing is safe - the dog, mums very expensive camera, long hair, glasses, you get the idea. Computer wires are a current (frustrating) favourite, often ending up between toes or sticky fingers . She is now a very proud wobbly sitter upper, and is making firm progress on the crawling stakes. Taisia loves the sound of her own voice, and loud frustrated Ma-ma-ma-ma cries can often be heard when she's not in my arms - changing to more pleasant murmurings as soon as she knows she has my attention. We are struggling a little with erratic mood swings at the moment, as the tips of a couple of teeth are just bubbling under the surface of her gums - but we are still being showered with smiles and giggles which make up for the tears.
Now me - what have I been up to? Well, I've been learning how to sew - or at least how to use a sewing machine. I recycled an old t-shirt of Tiegan's into a new hair band for Taisia. Wanna see?
I was quite pleased for a first attempt and a "oh how can it be to make it up as I go along..." idea.
I then came up with the (maybe stupid) idea of making a present for a birthday girl. Having never made anything before remotely similar, I should pick something easy right? Maybe a cushion, or hanging scented heart or something. Well, I decided to sew a mermaid. This was my prototype - my first attempt to see if I could do it...
Tiegan now has it and loves it :)
I was quite pleased with how it turned out so went to make the real thing for the birthday gift as planned. I made it much bigger though and it became this...
I am happy to report that it has gone to a home where it is much loved :)
I'm glad that I'm finding the sewing machine relatively easy to use as it gives me another option for making things for the June craft table.
In other news, did you notice my new picture? Have you seen the 'new me'? I get bored with my image quite often - my purple hair was the longest I had stuck to one particular style. I thought I would go short again, for ease of care, to stop Taisia from grabbing fistfuls, and just because I wanted to. Last time I went short, I changed from long blonde hair to short red hair - think Annie Lennox and that pretty much describes my look. This time I reversed it - from long purple/black hair to short blonde.
I like it, and am totally loving being able to get up in the morning and not having to worry about dealing with my hairy mass or hiding it under a hat. BIG difference though eh?
Let's take a leap to the present.
What have we been up to today? Obviously it is Easter Sunday. A big Happy Easter everyone, many blessings to you all. Our day started when the children discovered that the Easter Bunny had paid us a visit.
He was so good to us this year, setting up a clue finding treasure hunt, providing little baskets for holding the goodies, writing us a lovely letter and providing a very cute poem.
Some of us started off the day in a lazy way...
Whilst others were kept busy doing all the work, hunting high and low for the treasure, even in pyjamas!
A lot of fun was had by all, and of course, once discovered, much chocolate was devoured.
Being a bit too much of a small person for chocolate this year, Taisia had to satisfy herself in other ways. After all, who needs the brown stuff when this will obviously suffice....
Yum Yum Tasty!