Thursday, October 11, 2012

Intentions, responsibility, cause and effect.

I’ve been reading religious writing. That always makes me think. Part of the reason faith makes me think is that I do not believe and yet these world views coexist with mine. How? I do not believe there is a benevolent god. I’ve missed that boat this lifetime. That’s ok.

Instead what I get are these periods of great clarity where I can see how I cause my own problems. I can see where my word choices inflame people. I can see how I antagonize situations. I can see how things are the natural result of my actions. It tends to make me vacillate between inaction and action. I have to act. Even my inaction will cause things to happen. What things do I want to have happen and how do I make them happen?

Things happen for reasons. I don’t have to like the reasons, but they are there if I care to look. Like the marathon. I trained with the idea that I would be slow. I god damn lived up to that. Ha. I think it is funny how I am already minimizing it in my head. “Seven minutes until I wouldn’t be a “finisher” can I even call it “running a marathon”?” Because I’m slick like that.

I feel like the aftermath of the marathon has yet to hit me. I have been kind of brain dead for a few days and yesterday was ridiculously frustrating. Both kids just had one of those days. It happens. Then my dental hygienist went off on me again. I am not brushing my teeth for her. She’s hoping that if she harps at me enough by the time I am retired I will take up tooth brushing s a hobby. I asked her to stop. Then I got up and left the room because I was so angry I wanted to punch her in the face and I know that isn’t an appropriate response. I know I wouldn’t like the consequences of that action.

I think a lot about how I am going to teach my kids. What am I going to teach them? I have an obligation to produce two highly educated adults in another decade and a half. What does that mean to me?

I was asked about curriculums. I don’t have any knowledge about homeschooling curriculum. Frankly I don’t know a lot about the prepackaged ones handed out to high school teachers either. I didn’t use them. My students never picked up the textbook from the bookroom. I don’t like them. I think they are pointless lies. In order to give any opinion about them I would have to spend hours, possibly hundreds of hours reading about the different options. I really don’t want to do that given that I believe the textbook publishing industry is hopelessly flawed and I can do better.

But doing better is a fuckton of work. All day every day for years and years and years. Oh god. Do I really want to do that? Yes. I do. I start with the California Standards of education because ostensibly that is the yardstick my kids will be measured against. Once I look up the standards how do I implement them? Depends on the standard. Depends on my kids ages. There will be thousands of different answers. There isn’t one answer. It tailors over and over and over.

Having three kids would have been harder. Paying attention to two levels of development is already stretching my ability to hold concepts in my head and work with them. I can do differentiated instruction to a bunch of people “in the same grade” a lot more easily than I can completely come up with different things. Shanna and Calli are simply not experiencing the same things in life. I have to work with that. That’s why I do constant developmental reading. I know that I don’t have all of the necessary information in my brain. Putting it in my brain is work.

I put approximately three hours a day of ongoing work into the process of educating my children. I don’t mean I work with them three hours a day. I mean I have about three hours a day where I independently read or sit and think and plan specific approaches to educational concepts. I work with my children far far far more than that. At this point in my experience I can do a lot of this work in my head but I also take pages and pages of notes. I should probably start consolidating them and putting them in files. Then I will be able to just hand them to someone else who is asking me for advice.

I can’t easily summarize what I know. Honestly I am too complex in my thinking for it to be easy to explain. It makes me feel like an asshole to say that but it is true. I have to be thinking about my kids development across a variety of levels: language, social, physical, emotional, and lets not forget actual “education”. I am already setting the tracks in my brain for monitoring PE, science, maths, language arts (we actively work on learning English, ASL, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian—not because I think we will become fluent but because the more language pathways you open early on the better), social studies, and health. I was formally educated in how to educate.

But I plan to primarily unschool my kids. How the fuck does that work? Quite frankly I wouldn’t have the courage to unschool if I didn’t know that I have this web in my brain ensuring that my kids development was being tracked in a variety of ways. I seek outside verification and assessment constantly—of me and of my kids.

I don’t go through life assuming I am doing things right. I go through life believing that I am building towards an unknown future. I don’t know that I am making the right decisions. That won’t be obvious until I get to the end of my life. You only know if you are right or not by whether or not you attain your goals. What are my goals? Happy, healthy people who can go do whatever they want. Maybe my kids will go to college and maybe not. I’m not particularly invested in them doing so. But I will make sure I have $100,000 to hand them either way. Well, I won’t just hand it to them. I will be a controlling asshole to the end. I will fund education (of whatever sort), part of a house at 25 if no education happens, travel, or something I haven’t imagined yet. I won’t fund partying. That you have to do on your own dime. I don’t care that your grandparents funded your father’s partying. They have more money to spare than me.

Now Shanna is up so this may end abruptly.

What are my goals? That my children are able to go do the things they want to do. That they do not make excuses for why they can’t do things. That matters to me. That they make emotionally healthy choices. If my daughters go through a string of abusive partners I’m going to bloody know that it is my fault. I want my daughters to value themselves and have people in their lives who also value them.

How in the hell does one go about having that? I don’t really know for sure. I don’t actually care if my kids are starving musicians. I just need them to be the kind of starving musician who understands that you also need a day job because no one owes you anything.

No one owes me anything. I have to figure out how to live within my emotional limits. For most of this year I have not been doing so. I consciously and deliberately chose to go do something that was clearly beyond my limits. But I did it. Barely. I think it is hilarious that people think I want to get better at marathons. Hell no. That sounds like a lot of work and I’m kind of busy.

I honestly find it bizarre that people would push me towards doing so given how much time and energy it takes. Haven’t you noticed how fucking psycho I have been all year? Don’t you think less stress is a good idea? How can more marathons lower my stress again? Crazy talk. You can only add intensive hobbies if you have spoon to spare.

I periodically feel guilty about co-opting the spoon metaphor. I understand that it is meant to clarify issues of physical limitation. I feel like my emotional issues function the same way though. I can only take so much stress or pressure. Then I cease to function. All of that breakdown comes down on the heads of my children and that is simply not fair. I can’t have hobbies that take that much from me. It’s not fair. Yes, yes life isn’t fair. If I choose to be that kind of selfish bitch I don’t get to absolve myself of guilt or responsibility for the results. If I don’t have the self-control to be a marathon runner and a nice person then I can’t be a marathon runner.

It is part of why we didn’t have a third child. We realized that we are already spread too thin. We are not meeting all of our needs and the needs of our current children. I am not ok with shafting my current kids because I want a baby. It’s a selfish thing to do. Noah said he wasn’t going to do it and had himself surgically altered. It was the right decision for us. I enjoyed the baby stage for the first three years. Now I have to move on and I am not able to do the baby stage and move on at the same time. It is simply too much work to be done in a day. I can’t do it. It’s too hard for me. I am the youngest child. I know what it is like when mom doesn’t have much left to give. I still have a lot to give Calli. But that will be all for me.

Everyone is different. Everyone has different things to offer the world. I feel like what I have to offer the world is of very little value. I have things of great value to offer Shanna and Calli. I have things of moderate value to offer to a few close friends. Past that I don’t know that I have anything. What does that mean?

I don’t know but Shanna won’t stop talking 4” from my ear about the book she is going to write so I need to sign off before my head explodes.


  1. I quit running about 20 years ago when it was no longer a job requirement. My joints thank me for that every single day.

  2. I will come back down there and smack you if you diminish this marathon finish one bit.

    We completed the course within the designated amount of time required to earn an official time and a medal. That was the goal, that was the achievement, despite a whole stack of things trying to get in our way. If i'd had my wits about me, we would have started in an earlier wave and not cut it so close. But WE DID IT. PTTTTTTTTHHHHHBBBBBTTTTT!!!