Untangling.

It’s so easy to get tangled up in this world, whatever your age. Wondering who you are and how you fit in, adapting to change, navigating relationships and friendships, exploring the world in the way that feels true to you.

Sometimes it’s important to find a little corner of peace, a place to untangle yourself. A spot where, whether for ten minutes or ten hours, you find a way to give yourself time and space. Doesn’t matter if you then distract yourself, burrow in, create something, whatever.

When you find that little oasis, take it for what it is. And when you are lucky enough to be with someone else when they find it, keep quiet and let them be. The most complex and confusing relationship any of us have, and the one that has the potential to yield a lot of growth and contentment, is the one we have with ourselves.

Getting there. 

A little less than a year ago, S picked up a Dr Suess book and…just read it. Yes, she needed a bit of help, but she read all sixty pages of Hop on Pop like a mofo. Was I relieved? That was the understatement of the century.

Sure, all the unschoolers who came before me said to just relax and trust things. But, you know, literacy is a bit more complicated than potty learning. I was relaxed about that, I did no ‘training.’ (Though I had potties everywhere, explained what they were for, and made myself available if needed. Much like books and reading!) At age 2, S decided one day she was through with nappies. Three weeks later, M followed suit. I think each had one accident in the two days following getting rid of nappies, and never again. They were ready.

So I clutched our urine free carpet memories to my chest, I held tight to the words of those with older children and teenagers. I read the blogs of adults that had been unschooled. And I held tight.

What does unschooling look like when you are learning to read? We’ve never done lessons or anything formal. And that, my friend, takes courage.

Did I go nuts and order like four different sets of beginning books? Sure. Did I download Teach Your Monster to Read (WHICH IS AWESOME!)? Of course. But did I ever make the kids do any of those things? No.

S learning to read was a quiet event, right before my birthday bonfire. She read a book; we went outside and made s’mores. I wasn’t too surprised as she’d been writing for ages, had begun to sound out searches for youtube videos, etc. But still. Relief.

She’s read signs and various things over the past year with this sort of prideful glee, but not cared too much about books. But in the last three weeks? She’s bringing books to read in the car. I’m finding her in various corners of the house, reading. She’s showing me books for older children in bookstores and double checking she’s reading the sentences right. BOOM.

So we were 50% there. I relaxed quite a bit – now I had proof I could see and touch, it was easier to believe. But M is very different to S. He doesn’t do a lot of fine motor things, he doesn’t care about writing things down, he rarely draws. We recently read The Neverending Story to the kids and it totally captured his imagination. He’s always liked advanced books; his bedtime book for a good few weeks was a history of WWII book written for adults.

So how was he to ever match his intellectual brightness with the stupidity of most beginning reading schemes? I kind of thought he’d be one of those unschooling kids who doesn’t read until ten, but then is suddenly reading Ulysses in a single gulp.

Then I heard about another set of books recommended by another home edder. And because I hoard books and love getting stuff in the mail, I ordered them. He picked up the first one AND HE JUST READ IT.

What?!

What the actual?!

No stumbling, no hesitation. Then he read the next one.

Today in the car, S offered him one of her books. And he read that puppy, too!

MY GOD I CAN FINALLY EXHALE. Thank you, gods and goddesses of literacy, thank you books illustrated with stick figures sitting on each other while a freaky deaky sun looks on in horror.

It’s easy to retrospectively trust in the process, now that we are there. But getting there? I’m here to say it’s okay to worry, it’s normal to doubt – but my god, is it worth it to hang on. Because it’ll happen. And when it does, it’s truly at the right time for your child. They can do it.

But you know, YOU CAN TOO. Stay strong. *love to you all*

Now I’m off – probably to worry about when they’ll start reading more and more and more…at higher levels…with greater ease…It’s not easy to step of the merry go round of parental worry and guilt, but each little joy and success makes it easier.

Storing up belief for the times when your immediate source momentarily dries up!

While rereading the post I wrote about the process of finding lost toys, my thoughts became more clear about one thing: remembering the successes of the past can really help us get through the uncertainties of the present.

When M lost his Lego piece and I almost lost my mind, remembering all the times I did get so angry about missing Angry Birds in the past calmed me down. I remembered that we (usually) did find what was missing. I realised that as his collection of something grows, the whole (usually) becomes more important than its parts, so one missing piece isn’t such a catastrophe.

I remembered that we got through these small multiple crises in the past, and I knew we would manage it today.

It’s like that with a lot of things.

I remember worrying that the kids would be in nappies forever. You see, I was that crazy parent who didn’t bother with ‘potty training.’ I held the belief that kids do things when they are ready. But no matter how strongly we hold a belief, even when it is borne out by our own personal past experience and that of our friends/family, it is normal and natural to have wobbles.

We had potties scattered around the house. The kids knew what they were for. There was no pressure, no agenda. Just lots of f’ing potties littering our scenic vistas.

And one day, it happened. S said, ‘No more nappies! I’ll use the potty from now on.’ Even at two, she sounded very sure of herself. And she was right to trust herself. That very first day she had one or two accidents on the floor, until she managed to figure out about timing things right.

Three weeks later, he did the same thing.

Neither one ever had an accident beyond the first day, we never had months of fighting and bribes over bodily functions, they learned to trust their own bodies in their own time. I was the one who had to catch up, carrying spare under garments everywhere we went for months, despite the fact that I never needed them.

Now when I worry about things like reading, thinking, will it ever happen? I remember those two smaller versions of themselves, who even when so young managed to figure out something so complex. They waited until they were exactly ready, and then it just happened. No muss, no fuss.

So much of their learning has happened like this. When they have a need, when they are truly ready, when they are joyfully at play, it just happens. Using scissors like a pro, tracing, writing a name.

I store up each little victory like a squirrel storing nuts for harder, colder times. A sort of protection, a fallback, a way to bolster myself when I wonder and wobble and wonder some more.

My collections of acorns is growing.