I hardly know where to begin, but I've been feeling a pull. This blog was an adult space for me for many years, the adult space, and now that I have other real-time adult spaces (maybe too many of them?), this has faded into the background. Back yard. Other side of town. But there have been moments in the past month or two where I've thought, huh, I should write about that. So I thought I'd give it a whirl.
How about I entertain you with the ephemeral aliens of southeastern Ohio's woods, while I ramble on a bit about homeschooling teenagers? An annual homage to spring, in one of the weirdest springs on record. To point, it was 80 degrees yesterday, maybe a bit more than that the day before, and they're suggesting it might snow tomorrow. Blargh. (update: it snowed, sleeted, and snowed some more)
A little like homeschooling teenagers, where you think you know the season, but it keeps throwing you curveballs. Some curveballs are good - like the timing of a trip to Spain that fits your child perfectly. E's learning world has been crafted almost entirely around planning and preparing for a six week trip with Unschool Adventures. We've had this organization on our radar for years, and the possibility of going always seemed years away until "Mom! MOM!! They have room in their trip to SPAIN!!!"
This was on the heels of retrieving her from Maine, where she had been for a month, living with her best friend and picking blueberries, and eating huge amounts of gelato. We pretty much immediately went into the soft no, like, yeah wouldn't that be cool, but ha ha...no.
That night I lay in bed thinking about everything I've read about these trips over the years, building confidence in young people, encouraging "self-directed exploration". If there was a kid who was ready for this stage of freedom, it is E. She wants what most of us want - to engage with her life in a meaningful way. So much of what we do as teens can feel like treading water, waiting, waiting, waiting...This is not what I want for her. I remember feeling like I was just waiting for my real life to start. Why do our kids need to wait?
|Rock House trail, Turtle Head cave. With Baby.|
So we started talking about how we could possibly make it happen. What we finally came up with was asking her to split the cost of the tuition with us, which she has and then some, through a job at a health food store, working as a transcriber for a friend of ours, doing odd jobs here at home, selling sets of original cards and crowdfunding. She dove into learning Spanish, online and working weekly with a university student. She's been hiking every week, breaking in her new boots, for the two weeks of hiking along the Camino del Norte. This girl is motivated and inspired and ready.
I've been referring to teenagers, plural, but actually, I only have one. Ani will turn thirteen next month, and I celebrate where she is, but she is not anxious to turn a year older. She loves childhood.
|There is a striped salamander in here somewhere.|
She is striving for independence though in her own way. She pushes for unschooling, and we are striking a compromise with most of our days. She reads, sculpts, listens to music, and we do Life of Fred stories, logic puzzles, and riddles for math, and study French. We talk a lot, when she isn't immersed in a book or memorizing lyrics to her favorite song from Hairspray, about deep ocean creatures and applying the Bechdel test to Shakespeare's comedies.
|blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides,)|
I tend to get hung up on the details. It can be difficult to maintain perspective when you spend so much time with your kids. I would like to feel better equipped to help A open doors where she is, to feel some flow with her that sparks some new fires (so many metaphors...). I'm having a harder time with the trusting and following for some reason, but when E asks what she was like at this age, I honestly have a hard time remembering because she was always older. Fifteen at thirteen. Understanding things about the world, somehow. So in some ways, this is our first cusp of thirteen.
|flying down the path|
I miss the days when all we did was run through the woods and read so many books and narrate endless stories. But I love the humor and the energy and the intelligence of this time. The compassion and the insights and the curiosity. It is really really wonderful.