Friday, June 21, 2013

Unschooling

One thing I have always had a really difficult time with is debating. I absolutely hate even the possibility of hurting another person's feelings. But I have SO much information I have been learning lately that I am going to burst at the seems if I don't at least write it down to the possibility that just one person will read it (I don't even care if anyone does to be honest, I just need to say it).

I'm getting really excited about the concept of unschooling. Admittedly it's an off putting name. The concept of unschooling does not mean no education. It's the idea that learning is organic, authentic, and doesn't require force. It's the idea that you learn through life. Some examples that I have been reading (from author, advocate, radical unschooler Dayna Martin) are that you take your kids grocery shopping and give them a budget and they learn math, they learn to make good food choices, and they mature by having their own responsibilities. The idea is that you treat your children like partners and not apprentices. You treat them like they have value and don't make them your convenience (for example, Nate makes this clicking noise all the time and it drives me insane. Is the clicking noise hurting anyone? No. By forcing him to stop making it would be making it my convenience. I just ask him to do it in another room or I leave the room....it's a concept I'm working on).

The idea of unschooling makes so much sense to me and it's really giving me the permission and confidence to parent the way I have always wanted to parent. It doesn't really fit in the spectrum of parenting styles we learn about in psychology. It's really quite a new concept. It's not authoritarian, permissive, OR authoritative. It's a very active and engaging parenting style. You're not being permissive because it's not neglectful at all. You act as a facilitator. And it's not authoritarian or authoritative because you don't give them rules. They learn by your example. When you enter into a partnership with their kids, they do all of the things that authoritative parents want their kids to do. Dayna's kids help her clean because when she cleans she acts happy and grateful to do it. They all help each other collectively because they want their house to be clean. Not because she's making them do it. They make good food choices because she doesn't force them to eat something they don't want to.

It's such a beautiful thing. It's really motivating me to be the type of person I want my kids to be. Not to teach them to be the person I want them to be, but aren't myself! It would take me hours to explain everything and really get into it all. I've spent quite a bit of time studying this and reading about it. I've been listening to a lot of podcasts, and watching videos. She was on an episode of wife swap actually. It's the Avery-Lamb/Martin episode (and just a disclaimer, she does a few things differently than I plan to, but for the most part you can really see the love her family has for each other).

So this year we've been faced with the decision of whether or not to send Nate to kindergarten. With the high likelihood of an ADHD diagnosis, I was actually seriously considering it. Phil still wasn't up for it, but he just wants to do what's best for him too. But the more I have gotten into this idea of unschooling and being able to work with Nate myself in a caring loving way to help him the best I can (obviously if I can't help him the way he needs, I'm not opposed to getting outside help). So I got involved with a West Jordan homeschooling group and am floored!!! I can't even believe that there are two homeschooling moms within walking distance of my house! One lives two streets over and the other lives about 4 streets over. Both of them have kids my kids' age and one of them is bilingual. Three others live in my general area. One of them owns a farm (that's right by my neighborhood) and my kids will have a nice opportunity to learn about how meat is produced so they can make an educated choice about eating meat (we're not going to tell them they can't). None of them are "weird" at all like all these stupid preconceived ideas we have about homeschoolers. We get together twice a week and our kids play while we throw ideas around. It's amazing! I feel so blessed to be around all these great homeschooling families!

I want to be open about my choice, but there's too many people that think it's a bad idea and since I have such a difficult time debating, I find it easier to just ease into it. Slowly make it public after I get more and more confident about it's effectiveness. Mainly people worry about the socialization so I kind of am just wanting to see how this group works out. We all have the same goals so I can't imagine it won't. I'm just really excited and feeling really great about how it's all going. I don't think it's a coincidence that I came across all this information. I'm looking forward to the future!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dear 16 year old me

It kind of just dawned on me that it has been 10 years since I have been 16. Which is kind of crazy right?? Any age that I can remember vividly seems like it's not that long ago, but 10 years? Wow. Soon someone's going to tell me it has been 10 years since I met Phil. It's only been 7.5 so far phew! :D So if I could write a letter to my 16 year old self this is how it would go:

Dear 2003 Krista,

Guess what. Life just started. Woohoo right? School's out for the summer and life is good. What are you doing being so anti social right now? Actually, meh enjoy the silence. Don't worry about working at Dairy Queen/Orange Julius. It's almost over and it stresses you out more than it's worth. The next job you get is owned by a crazy lady that will form a strange disliking to you for no good reason merely because she is crazy. Don't take her seriously. You'll look back on that job and feel like what you learned was invaluable. Like how to decorate cakes and it will also give you a deep appreciation for the Fall which will come in handy when you have a Fall baby (hint: it's Gardner Village that's why). Have more confidence. Stop wishing you were skinnier or prettier. Just love who you are because that's actually all it takes for a guy to like you. Confidence. Simple.

Stop worrying about the people in your high school. Just stop. None of them matter. The ones that do will stay in your life and will bring a positive energy, but for the most part it just doesn't matter. You'll go to college and realize this so I just want to give you a head start. This reminds me, definitely keep on the college path. That will be the best decision of your life. But it's important to realize that you don't have to take as many credits in college as you were in high school. Take it slow and pay close attention. It's not as easy and you have to actually work to pay for your life so keep that in mind. Enjoy college while it lasts. Because it's going to be some of the best time of your life. It feels like a lot of responsibility, but it's actually not as much as you think. Really enjoy it!

DO NOT JUDGE!!! I know you try really hard to be loving and accepting, but you're not near where you need to be. I really need you to stop judging people right now. STOP IT! Especially parents. Yes you can look at your siblings examples and learn what not to do, but stop thinking that you have it figured out, stop thinking you're not going to make the same mistakes, and stop thinking you will make all the best choices. Every single thing you have ever judged someone for you end up doing. And then you think, "I shouldn't have judged them for that...I get it". Parenting is really hard. Especially because you'll find out that your oldest is not like most children and you, nor anyone around you, will know he's not and and you will spend years trying to figure out why doing what everyone else is doing doesn't work. Then you'll feel really stupid like you're a really bad mom. Until you realize that he is different. And that it's ok. Just hang in there.

Start looking into attachment parenting now. It is the parenting style that fits your personality. It will feel right to you and when you listen to society and not yourself, you feel guilty. Follow what is in your heart. Make sure you cosleep with your oldest. Don't listen to other people. Don't do it. You'll regret it. You'll realize when you have your second baby that having them there with you all night is the most wonderful thing you have ever done. Their lives go by slower and the bond is stronger. It's absolutely beautiful and you will love it! Do what makes YOU happy! You know the only reason you put that baby in the other room is because other people tell you to do it. And it sucks. Ignore them.

You'll get a house sooner than you think. Don't stress about it and know when the time is right it will happen. Don't listen to your sister tell you how to live her way and that you should be buying a house before you're ready. It will happen and you will be happy. Ignore her. Actually, in general, don't worry about anything she ever says. You'll find out how judgmental she is and be really sad you ever cared about her opinion. Also, when you move into that house, don't give your neighbors Christmas cards. They don't care about them anyway and you'll end up with a broken pinky.

Lastly, I know it sounds crazy and hippie and right now you have no desire or understanding of this concept, but find out what a doula is NOW. Don't wait to find out about it until your pregnant with your first. Once you find out what a doula is, it will start your journey to home birth and it will be another one of those things you wish you would have done with your first. It's amazing!

Look, I know you're going to end up on a good path that makes you happy, but just try to make the decisions that will lead you there faster ok? Happiness is always a good thing! :D

Love 2013 Krista

Thursday, June 6, 2013

That moment you realize you have to throw all parenting advice you've ever received out the window and start over.

One of the hardest things I've ever had to do as a mother is to let go of all my pride and finally admit that Nate really is different. But I know it's going to be ok, I just have a lot of learning to do. After all, it looks like Nate may have a neurological disorder....that sounds so much better than ADHD. There's such a stigma around ADHD because it's been so over-diagnosed, over-medicated, and used as an excuse for so many. So here are the facts:

-He is impulsive. 
-He forgets a LOT.
-He is really hard to discipline because he doesn't understand consequences.
-He may be receiving 40% less blood flow to his prefrontal cortex than the average person.
-We will do everything in our power to not medicate him. 
-We are going to focus a lot on retraining his brain to hopefully allow it to fix itself.
-It is not an excuse. It's an explanation. 
-He is too young for an official diagnosis.

Though he has not been officially diagnosed and there is ALWAYS a chance that it is not officially ADHD, he does have many of the symptoms which means that many of the treatments (non-medicinal) will help him. The best way I have heard how to explain it is that a normal child will look around and then grab the cookie. A child with ADD grabs the cookie then looks around. The biggest issue with being so impulsive is that he doesn't think through consequences. He just acts. So what would take a normal child a couple time outs (I'm not in favor of time-outs anyway), it would take 50 time outs to see any improvement in Nate's behavior. It took me several weeks to teach him not to walk out the front door. It takes SO MUCH repetition to get something through to him. Sometimes I have to make certain dangerous situations seem REALLY extreme so he will remember. Like "don't stick your body through these poles or else you will die!" Or else he'd do it when I turn my head and get injured. 

I think that the worst part is how everyone thinks that the reason Nate acts the way he does because I'm not trying hard enough or not disciplining well enough or not following through. The thing people don't understand is that most of the time Nate does understand why he shouldn't do something. He will agree with me and stop. But the important thing to understand is that he forgets. Constantly forgets. There comes a point in parenting an impulsive child where you start to realize that discipline does. not. work. And you don't know what to do because nothing at all works. There is so much frustration and fear that it will never get better. And then everyone around you says you're just not trying hard enough? If only they realized how much work I have been doing on that behavior. 

It's hard to realize that you have to start over from scratch and figure it all out again. I feel a lot of relief just knowing that I do have an answer and there is a solution. I just know it's going to be a long road.