Merry Christmas and After The Rain 3

Merry Christmas! I hope everybody has a lovely time and spend time with loved ones, get some time to rewind and relax.

We are celebrating at a very very low pace and it is becoming us well – Christmas eve we were just the 4 of us here, eating good food and opening a few presents, finishing the evening playing a board game with the kids. Christmas day we were with friends, celebrating an English christmas, crackers included.

This past year we have talked a lot about Christmas, because last year Marcus was stressed about all the things he “had” to do to make Christmas special for the kids – but by virtue of him being stressed it turned out less “hyggeligt” than he imagined, which was the opposite of what he wanted… So we talked about not doing anything this year, except presents, and going out on Christmas eve, and not making homemade cookies etc. etc. But we decided against it, because we actually love all those things – including the big Christmas dinner.

We didn’t really decide to cut anything, but to take it slow. We bought the Christmas tree the second week of December and decorated it the next day – it has been standing there in our living room all beautiful and spreading happiness all month – and will be there until January 7th. Cookies were still baked, but a little at a time, and Marcus decided that he was under no pressure to make any specific number, just to do what he felt like – the kids and he have had a lovely time baking together, and there has been no stress. The kids and I went to see the lights in Malaga with friends,  a lovely evening. We have had a traditional Danish Christmas lunch with friends – another lovely evening, and the same day we went to the Danish Christmas market in Fuengirola. So we have been celebrating a lot. But none of it has been stressful, and if any of us have been overwhelmed, we were ready to cancel. Actually we have had more activity out of the house this year than the past 3 years, and we have had more days of Christmas preperation and hygge at home than usual, but it hasn’t felt stressful at all – it is all about the mindset.

Yesterday we were supposed to go to a birthday party with friends in Antequerra, but Marcus and the kids had a cold, and I was coming down from a cold… so we decided to stay home and relax. Miriam and I have been lying in bed watching girly movies, Marcus has spent some time drawing with Lucas (he got an electronic pen from my mother for Christmas), and the rest of the day he was watching some history lectures on YouTube.

Today I have spent most of the day outside – finishing the swale on our terrace where the water is now flowing from the river. The water has slowed down enough for it to sit on the terrace and filter in which gave me a great opportunity to dig the swale while I could see what my efforts meant for the water flow. I’ve included a small video of what I have done here – it is very raw and unedited, but if I am going to make any videos that is how it needs to be!

In the coming year I want to post a lot more on here, including videos – and I want to spend a lot more time in the garden. I would love if we could become almost self-sufficient with meat in 2017. I want to figure out a way to manage my Facebook time! I don’t want to leave Facebook entirely – since I have met so many wonderful people through it – some of whom are coming to help us with our projects January, February and March. But Facebook really fuels my anger, and it is anger at things I have no influence over, so it is really a waste of time. I need to think about how I can find a healthy balance.

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Food freedom and screen time

These two subjects are at the hart of Radical Unschooling – not because radical unschoolers necessarily find freedom in these areas more important than any other, but because we have been brought up to believe that kids cannot possibly handle freedom in these areas.

I have thought the same – that has actually been the main reason I did not consider myself a radical unschooler. But then a year or so ago my husband and I discovered the non-agression principle – and the more we thought of it, the more we realized that we could not enforce any rules on our kids for their own sake. I’ll come back to discussing the non-agression principle, as it applies to unschooling. It will suffice to say, that I can enforce rules, for my sake – that we are not allowed to encroach on each others freedom in this house – but I cannot, without feeling very immoral enforce encroach on the freedom of my kids.

That is one part of it – but there is also another. I don’t want to force my kids to eg. play outside – not even force them through bordom. I don’t want to force my kids to eat healthy food – not even force them through hunger. I want my kids to do things that feels good for them, and I want them to discover how wonderful it is to use their bodies – without coercion. I want them to discover that healthy foods are yummy and feels good. That swimming is fun and using your body and learning new things feels great. Not because mommy says so, but because they want to.

Well then – how did it go this freedom? Not so good…

Actually we tried it before we left for Spain – both with food and with TV – but mainly because I believed that some how my son would “self regulate” on both. And he didn’t – he ate more and more crap food, and watched more and more TV. Not just that – he wasn’t thriving. And we weren’t thriving. I was increasingly hard to get him anywhere, it was increasingly hard to engage in a conversation. It was just.not.working. So I stopped, pulled the strings and called the shots. I.was.the.mommy.person.

When we moved to Spain we had a period of time, where we were really busy and stressed, and the kids were watching a lot of TV again, and again – Lucas was not thriving. We had conflict upon conflict, he was miserable and shouting and angry. I blamed the TV. Pulled the strings and called the shots. Peace found it’s way to our home… almost…

Because we still had conflicts about the TV – daily conflicts – and then came the time when we discovered the non-agression prinicple and we realised that a ban on TV was like … a ban on cannabis or coke – something we imposed on him for his own sake, just like government imposes the other bans on us for our own sake… it felt immoral, wrong. But how could we deal with it? At first we made “agreements” – and he fought against them every inch of the way – because really, the agreements were me calling the shots.

Then my mother in law got sick and frankly the constant fighting was just too much for me. So I let go – again. But this time was different: Because this time I made sure to spend time with my son – even if he choose to watch TV all day every day. And magic happened: He did not become grumpy, aggressive and distant. He still watched a lot of TV. But the negative reaction that I had earlier ascribed to TV, simply was not there.

But frankly – watching TV bores me – I hardly even watch it with my husband (and when I do he will tell you that I fall a sleep like 90% of the time – the other 10% is because I end up picking up my phone and browse Facebook). So if watching TV is the only way I can engage in my sons life – I’d go bonkers. So I have to find a way to engage him without TV. So I make a list – if I ask him “would you like to go to the pool?” 90% of the time he will turn of the TV and get his bathing trunks before I can get dressed. Same with playing LEGO, or board games, or computer games, drawing, playing with play dough and doing logic puzzles, going to the zoo and playing with friends. And if we do “stuff” toghether every day – the negative effects of TV are not there? And on days where I am too tired to do stuff – I could opt for cuddling on the sofa and watch TV, because as long as he has that time to connect with me – the negative effects are not there.

The same goes with candy and junk food acutally – he would eat and eat and eat – and have stomach aches, but keep eating. But then I noticed something – if I do my best to make sure that we have food in our house that he likes, like really yummy healthy stuff, and I serve that – for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus as a snack – then he will eat it. He will eat it and not even ask for candy. But I have to be pre-emptive. I have to be interested in what he likes, what he eats. And he is not different from many other kids his age: He likes raw vegetables – the fresher the better, he doesn’t like foods that are too mixed (with a few favorite examples), he likes rice and pasta, and ketchup – but he doesn’t mind if the ketchup is home made, or the rice is boiled in home made chicken stock. He loves green things – he could eat two kilos of fresh peas a day when in season.

But aren’t you just catering to his every whim? Aren’t you just spoinling him? I don’t think so. I think that I am showing him the same respect I would show my husband. Yes – but kids are so picky sometimes! Yes – and so are some adults, my self included. We respect it with adults – I have just decided the extend that respect to my kids as well.

Why has my daughter not been mentioned in this? Because she has had most of these freedoms most of her life – and she has never had a problem with it.

Battle Cry of the Lion Mom

Lion mom and cub
I have borrowed this off of the internet http://twicsy.com/i/89L9jd

A few years ago the book by Amy Chua “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom” came out. And caused great debate – because to most of us westerners that way of raising children seemed abusive to say the least. I have recently thought a great deal about this book (even thought I haven’t read it, only the excerpts which have been published in mainstream media). First of all because I stumbled upon this radio-blog by Stefan Molyneux ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’ – Aggressive Parenting and the Cult of Excellence . Secondly because there has been intense debate in Danish media about the future of the school system. This includes a TV-show where Danish school children compete against Chinese ditto and fail in every discipline, including the more creative ones – which we have told ourselves we excel at… I haven’t seen the TV show, but I have seen the comments on how embarrassing it is to the Danish school system yada yada yada. Last but not least I have discussed the tendency with some friends about what seems to be a trend in the European educational system, to expand the obligatory schooling. In Denmark – which I know best – the Educational Duty has recently been expanded with one year, the kindergartens now have obligatory educational plans, and teenagers are now required to have an education plan from 16-18 if their parents want to receive child benefits (some of which used to be a tax deduction). Children not in kindergarten are exposed to obligatory language testing, and if they fail, they will be pressured into attending kindergarten at least 3 days per week (you can choose to do language stimulation at home, but most parents don’t know that and are not informed about this option), some politicians are considering making kindergarten obligatory. In Spain and France they are considering expanding compulsory schooling to 3-18 years, where it is now 6-16 years. All of this because our children need to be able to compete in “today’s global society”.

So – as I see it, Amy Chua is just a caricature of everything that is wrong with our society today. Deep down, most parents in the west genuinely agree with her basic premise: That our children should be able compete with these Chinese children. Because that is what we need right? To be able to keep growing our GDP, and if we don’t grow our GDP – we loose the competition (and then you may start to ask yourself why it is, that we have to keep this GDP pr. capita growing for ever….)

Well, my kids are not future GDP. Their lives are not measured in GDP pr. capita. Their worth is not measured in net tax-income to any state. Neither is my worth by the way – I am not wasted because I stay at home to take care of the education of my children. I will not sit idle a accept that we as peoples of Europe are turned into cattle for some bureaucrats in Brussels, and I will not accept that my children are sold to the first bankster who comes along.

My children belong to themselves and nobody else. And the politicians may have sold their future tax-production to some banker somewhere – but don’t go counting on me to turn them in to good little worker bees, because I will not do it. I will teach them that they are enough, that they are special, like we all are – and that their happiness is far more important than anything else anybody might tell them.

And that is the reason we unschool 🙂

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