Diary of an Unschooling Family, Day 1
Today was not a great day on the home front.
The kids have been fighting, a lot. They just can’t seem to leave each other alone. There’s a lot of pestering and word-slinging and one-up-man-ship.
I have largely been avoiding dealing with it by playing the “I’m busy with DIY” card and leaving Ron to it. So, I got home from the hardware store to find hell breaking loose, the Apple TV and the iPad hidden, and one inconsolable eight-year-old.
I suggested to Ron that he do something to sort himself – and he decided to go for a run. The kids and I made a smoothie – banana and blueberry – and Louis and I screwed in the final six screws of my first ever, brand new, super-duper shelf, while Joss entertained herself with the play dough (still going strong).
Ron got back and I ducked out of domesticity again to do DIY-stuff, and Louis came outside to help me, still struggling with the injustice of not being allowed to watch TV. I listened to him, reflected back to him, and helped him sink his mind into something other than screens.
Then, it was lunch time, so we rustled up some pasta puttanesca, the builder (who’s also an old friend of mine) showed up so we shared it with him, and we had about an hour of calm, where no-one bopped anyone else on the head, or pulled their nostril, or twisted their finger. But, after lunch is when the kids would normally watch some kind of screen, so Louis was really distraught. He couldn’t find his groove for a very long time.
At about 3pm, Louis came into the office, stood beside me and said “I’m having a tough day.” He was. He was really struggling. He takes these things straight to heart, and says things like, “I am NOT feeling the love”, which is 100% true, I get it. In his book Between Parent and Child, Dr Haim Ginott states that there is not room for punishment in a loving relationship. And, really, there’s not. When my children are punished, they are often consumed by the feelings of un-love, and spare no thought for the potential change of behaviour in the future. It is really pointless. It is mostly done through anger, frustration, and impatience. When I punish them, it is invariably in one of those states-of-mind, and it sucks. It’s on those nights that I go and look at them sleeping.
Then Louis finally managed to sink himself into something, and Ron and he put together some shelves I had bought at the hardware store. Just after that, my mum came and took the kids out for an hour, and Ron and I tried to tackle the fucking disaster area that is our laundry, and come up with some solution for hiding the hot water cylinder, which we didn’t do.
The kids got home, Louis and Ron took Isa for a walk around the block, and Joss and I started making pizza to very loud music. I was frustrated by my lack of solution for the water cylinder, and Joss tried to console me with understanding looks, gentle strokes of my shoulder, cushiony kisses to my cheek, and joining me in singing at the tops of our lungs.
And then the boys got back, and we were all in the kitchen, and no-one was bopping anyone on the head and I said, Quick!! Let’s take a photo!!
And now they’re all in bed, and I’m going to join them.