Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Life Lessons

Because of Aidan’s medical condition, I find I have been more tired recently. Part of it is the uncertainty — wanting to get his surgery over with so we can move on. Part of it is that he is needing extra care — frequent bandage changes which he DOES not like, sympathy and hugs and walks in the stroller to comfort him.

Obviously it is more difficult for him than it is for me, so I’m not complaining (hopefully) — but I notice that when things like this are going on, I have a temptation to either withdraw from things (ie hang out on the computer, sleep) or else to start super-structuring or worrying because things seem to be sliding too much.

Knowing this is my reaction, I am trying to get past it. Today I asked on the Catholic Unschooling groupabout how unschoolers unschool when they are preoccupied. The replies I got were very helpful, things like:

Reading a book to the kids, or watching a movie with them, or playing a video game or board game, or exploring a website, or enjoying a family fun tradition, or just laughing and talking about family memories or fun times together.

The focus, as you can see, was on things that comfort and relax and allow the family to be together in a good way. One wise friend mentioned not to be afraid of the “ebb” times in the family life’s “ebb and flow”. Our children are learning from those times in our lives, too. Another mentioned the truth that by pausing and being a bit mindful, it is easier to steer between our first unreflective reaction — for me, it is withdrawal into my own little world — and then the counter-extreme — in this case, my impulse to start organizing and structuring and intervening.

While I was thinking about this, I went outside with Aidan so he could push his Tonka truck up and down on our street. Listening to him talk: “Mama, what did the guys put over there?” (he asks me this every time we walk past the broken gutter drain on our street and every time wants the same answer: “they put a board and some pine cones on the grate to keep the baseball from going in”); conversing with various other sons as they came up to communicate with me. I felt like I was in “idle” gear and looking across at my industrious neighbors, semi-retired with 3 grown sons, working on their house exterior, only increased my feeling.

But then I realized that this feeling is not a real one. Aidan is 7 years old. He has only been 7 for less than a week. There is a brand new 7 year old in the universe. How can I think it is not valuable to spend time being part of this unique historical event? That reminds me of the days when I was so busy getting through a grammar lesson that I would be impatient with some life interruption like an uncommon bird outside our window or some new thing the toddler had just done.

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