Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Starting Over Again..

(This blog post was written in the middle of February, but I'm only now getting a chance to post it. Make sure you read the edit at the end! :)) 

It was bound to happen eventually. A square peg just doesn't fit into a round hole. I've been trying for the past 4 years to make it fit and it's been an uphill battle. Who is the peg? Myself, my husband, my daughters, my son.
A group shot facing the sun. The first real spring day

If you look back through the archives of this blog you'll see that back when Ivy was a baby my intention was 100% unschooling. I bought books. I researched. I planned (to not plan) and I had so many hopes and dreams as a family.

What happened to those? I've been lying to myself, holding onto hope that the peg will fit. I'm not sure why, but I do know that I was afraid to rock the boat too much.We're already Eclectic Pagans, I had natural childbirths, I co-slept, I practiced child led weaning and extended breast feeding. I wore my babies in a sling and held them until they were asleep. I didn't do formula or jarred baby food. I don't go to church. I didn't have an epidural.

What do we do? We sing. We do arts and crafts. We cook and garden. We read books and go to the library. We go swimming at the YMCA and go to Spiralscouts. We go on nature walks and explore. We write poetry and make up stories. We make clay and sculptures. We grow herbs and dry them. We watch the science channel and the discovery channel, and even the history channel. We watch Spongebob too. Lots of Spongebob lately. We play computer games and research on Google. We blog.

Except those things all went to the back burner when school started. Now we try to squeeze in activities but there isn't much time. And im always anxious about making sure they have clean clothes and perfect hair before they leave. When they come home they are a mess of emotions. They're tired and don't want to do anything with me. Vacations are the only times that i can see them learning at home and loving it. They relax enough and that desire and passion returns.
We went puddle jumping and jelly fishing ;)

The turning point for me, was finding out that the school has been forcing Ivy to wear a pressure vest against her will at school for the entire day. This has been going on for months and I had no idea. I was appalled and shocked. They took something that was a positive tool that she loved and even asked for, and they forced her to wear it. They took her power away and created a battleground instead. No wonder why she didn't want to wear the vest at home! No wonder she was always jumpy and agitated. The slightest mention that she was a bit energetic and she would get so angry and defensive. And now, I know why.

I'm heartbroken that the school allowed their teachers and aides to do that to a child. Appalled that even after I told them, you may NEVER force my child to wear it if she doesn't want to, they called her to the OT and they tried to coerce her to wear it and promise them she would. She was told, "you have the choice, but you HAVE to make the RIGHT choice to wear the vest. There is only ONE choice that is

I made the decision to pull her out of school and we are now legally homeschoolers. Though whole life learner, delight driven learning or unschooling is where we fit into the best. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to write about our learning on this blog or a new one or even if we can separate it because it's just how we are. Learning happens all the time, it's almost impossible to make it fit into a neat box and call it learning time. What I suspect is, my life will be more full and happy as we have more time to spend with each other. I can't count the number of times I've said,"maybe this weekend we'll have time" and I hear all the kids start to cry. And personally there are so many bonus's I can't even list them all. I have autism. I don't fit in with other parents and I've felt guilty and sad because Piper expects me to do what the other moms do. I'm filled with so much shame because I haven't yet volunteered in her classroom. I'm stopped with fear when I think about doing it. So much sadness and shame, guilt and tears. I don't want to force myself to do what I've been doing. I'm burning out from the social connections I've been forced to keep. Less energy I've had for the kids, lost because of another IEP or another email from the teacher. The daily notebook filled with negativity.

Ivy is so much happier at home
I will probably always regret not following my passion and keeping my kids close to me. They grow up so fast, hold on. Love them, learn with them, explore with them, grow with them, and trust that they will learn what they want to learn when they need to learn it. Trust.. So much is about trust..
*Edit: Its now the middle of March 2012 (St. Patrick's Day to be exact) and things are going very well for us. Ivy's mood is so much happier and I'm more relaxed. We are officially homeschoolers, and I plan to keep the rest of our clan out of school as well. This, is truly a new beginning for us all. We are finally pursuing our real dream. Our original goals. Our life. Hopefully I'll still find time to blog about it because I really want to share this journey with everyone. I am still a disabled mom (though I hate the term) and I struggle with my autism and anxiety daily. Our children all have unique special needs, and my husband still has his own adhd and bipolar issues. We are a family that is robust, loud, and chaotic.. but we're finding a happier rhythm since we've taken back part of our lives that school took away. The calm is visible even to outsiders. This change has been so positive for us and I'm looking forward to blogging more about it!

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