Kids These Days!

The other day we were stopped in an intersection when the lights turned green because a group of four teens were crossing the street against the red. They leisurely walked and waved to everyone looking pretty darn ridiculous. At first I started to get angry. These kids! What wrong with them?! Then I realized, nothing. They are doing exactly what is expected of them.

These kids have no control over anything in their lives. From what they do all day, what they learn, how they talk, who they socialize with, where they work, and how they spend their money, it is all controlled. How can any human of any age live like that? They do it by taking control by force. It looks hideous to adults and we worry for the future of the human race, like every generation before. But what would happen if we gave kids control of most things? What would happen if we became their helper, their support, and their friend instead of their master and controller? What would happen if we treated kids like humans instead of mentally incapable slaves? Would they still rebel against us in their teens, abandon us when we no longer legally control them at 18, and not invite us into their lives until they are nearly 30 and are well into their own lives? I don’t think so because I know lots of families that have raised their children with respect and equal rights, almost all of them have wonderful relationships and are beautiful people. My own teenage sons included.

Funny that it was my teenage sons that pointed out that those kids walking in the crosswalk against the red light were only reveling in the control they were experiencing over the people around them. I laughed out loud at the realization of the scene, proud to watch them take control (even if it was in a negative way), and cried for the work they have ahead of them.

Notes on “Giant” by Edna Ferber (1952)

I haven’t seen the movie in a long time but my memory tells me it was about oil in Texas and people and James Dean was kind of a bad guy but not really. That’s all I can remember about the plot but I also remember scenes which were fun to find in the book.

The book didn’t seem to be about oil at all. It seemed to focus more on the Mexican migrant workers and the Mexican-Americans in Texas, Texas stereotypes, and on one big ranching family. Marrying a man you just met must be pretty strange but then being whisked off to Texas from Virginia in the 20’s would be a pretty big culture shock. That’s what the book was about to me. And then I read a bit about the author. It turns out she had never been married, never had any kids, and never lived in Texas. That made me a bit sad. I’d much rather read books written by people in the time and place they are writing about than someone years later that researched it. This was closer since the author did live through that time and had been there but it felt like she was trying to get a point across about how badly the Mexican’s were treated, comparing them to slaves in the South.

Towards the end, the oil came into play, society was changing and many of the Texas ranchers were not happy about that as much as the people before the ranchers were not happy about them coming in and changing things. The Mexican-Americans and temporary Mexican farm labor had small towns around the farms they worked. They were dirty and unkempt and the main character wanted to help them better their towns. She worked to get them more pay and better living conditions. Later, when oil came, workers came as well and they built towns around where they were working on the oil wells and then banded together to use the force of government to get money for hospitals and schools. My question is this. Why would they stay there working for the oil company’s if they weren’t getting what they needed to survive? Why wouldn’t they go somewhere else for work? Why not ask for more pay or leave? If I were an oil company then, I’d look around and see that the other companies weren’t offering a nice place to live, healthcare, and schools for their children and I’d build that to attract better workers. Do people not realize that when some guy or group come in and say, “You know, I can force that company/person to give you what you want.”, there is a price for it? They aren’t doing it out of the kindness of their hearts.

The end felt hopeful but I didn’t get that feeling through the whole book. We do see our children as the change in the world. Each generation does things a little differently and (hopefully) better. And some families don’t see it that way. They see their children as an extension of themselves. They want those kids to take what they’ve done and continue that work off into the future. We harm our children when we put our lives on them instead of encouraging them to do what makes them better people.

Now I’m off to read more about Edna Ferber and maybe some of her earlier novels. I very much enjoyed this one!

What’s next?!

I find it strange that so many things in my life are pointing me to a path of taking a good look at myself.

Yesterday, as I was making dinner for my family, I started thinking again. I had been trying to catch up a bit on some things I had been working on for my homeschool group and feeling less than adequate. I feel like I’ve been trying to “make something of myself”, something more than Mom and Wife. I found myself complaining to my husband that I’m “only good at cooking and cleaning and taking care of my family.” What?! Did I not just complain about hearing someone else express something similar? What’s so wrong about staying right where I am at the moment and being really good at being a wife and mother? Why am I putting aside the laundry and getting my sons to their practices more often because I’m busy building something else that had nothing to do with them? I’ll have time for that later! Even if I died the year after my sons left home and I never did anything else, doesn’t it mean something that I did that very well? I think it does.

I’m tired all the time. I’m stressed. The more I build up outside my house, the more my family lacks my presence and, believe it or not, my teenage boys and my husband do want me around. We actually enjoy each others company.

It all started because I can see my journey as a homeschool mom coming to a close. I started to scramble for what’s next like leaving my perfect dinner to run to the grocery store for supplies for the next meal! It ends now. It’s reevaluation time and I know just where to start!

Notes on “Travelling to Infinity” by Jane Hawking

This is a grumpy one, so if you’re not in the mood for some negativity, just skip it!

I’m not going to write out all my notes here this time. I’m only going to go over a couple of the things that stood out to me most.

Here’s the biggest one. I don’t understand why she would be so shocked that people didn’t realize the extent of Stephen Hawking’s illness and what it meant for their family. I would think that she would have known going into the relationship that she would be caring for someone that eventually would not be able to care for himself at all. He cannot move, speak, eat, or anything without help. It bothers me, as a mother that she would have three children with him knowing that he would not be able to help with the care of those children and then be angry that she did not have help. I find it strange that she would think the State should be responsible for caring for her husband even though, apparently, he was capable of going through school, procuring a position at a university, getting married, and making babies. In my world view, you are ultimately responsible for yourself and your own family. If it had just been him and he couldn’t care for himself or find work to make money to buy that care, then I would see the State having some responsibility to offer help.

I also was irritated by her constant drumming on the drudgery and “mind-numbing” work of wife and mother. If she so longed for being a university student and writing intellectual papers, why did she date and marry a man that she knew she would be caring for full-time in a few years? And why would you have three children if being a mother was just such a boring job? I’m lost by her reasoning. The diagnosis for him was that he would only live a couple years. Was she counting on him dying and then he didn’t? Babies don’t come by accident. You knew you were having sex with him…more than once.

The whole book seems to go on about how difficult her life was with him, and I’d agree it probably was, very much so! But he wasn’t a kind, sweet, loving person when she met him. He was already self-absorbed and full of his own importance the day they met. And then she knew he was diagnosed with a debilitating disease when they met. She married him anyway, knowing this and that his goals were to be a university professor which pays very little. Then they had kids, three times. So…why am I supposed to feel for her?

Change things. Stop letting things happen to you and then complaining how terrible everyone is to you. Stop blaming the world around you for the choices you make. Sheesh! Sorry. I’m in a mood and I really didn’t like the book. Wait. I did like reading it, but I felt like she just complained the whole time as if everything just happened to her and she had nothing to do with any of it.

What happend to “Tea Time”?

You know what it is? I really don’t like to write. I’d rather talk, and listen. I rather be in the presence of other people that like to talk and listen than to sit alone and write out my thoughts and what I’ve learned from a book or situation. The problem is there don’t seem to be a lot of people around that want to do the same thing. We’re all too busy to stop for lunch or coffee with a friend or acquaintance. I read these novels with women that visit over coffee or tea on a regular basis. It seems they are waiting to have someone over and anyone can drop by at any time. Why don’t we drop into other people’s homes anymore? I guess we have phones so we can call and when we do we always have an excuse about how we’re just too busy with XYZ to meet up and chat a while.

Maybe we should stop being so busy. Maybe it’s more important for our souls to stop at least once a week for lunch or tea with a friend, or several friends, to sit in the presence of other humans that we aren’t responsible for to talk and listen.

What To Write

I’m debating whether or not to write more about our lifestyle on my blog. Our lives are very different from most other people’s. When I talk to some people I feel like they cannot grasp what it is we do. Even closer family members reveal, in some small ways, that they really don’t “get” us. But should I post to try to bring to people our peaceful and happy way of life? I guess what I really want is for someone out there to see what we really are and there probably is no way of doing that besides living here. Or should I post about our lifestyle to give people a glimpse of another way of living an “American” life? Families are so different and really don’t think any one way has a monopoly on being right, but my children seem well adjusted and happy and it’s not because they are special minds, or that we were very strict and trained them up right. I’d really love my version of a happy family life to be out there for people to see.

Final Notes on “Philosophy & The Young Child” by Gareth B. Matthews

Chapter 6 – Fantasy

Page 68-69 “I hope that it will shock my readers to learn that the five claims about the primitive are almost exactly the claims that Bettelheim makes about the child.” “I consider these generalizations both factually false and morally repugnant.” It expresses…”an attitude of superiority that is morally inappropriate to one’s dealings with other human beings.” This is the attitude that makes me crazy in how people treat children all around me. They would never treat other adults that way, anyone that does is dealt a great deal of contempt. To talk of another adult as if they are not there, to comment on their trials and errors as if the person has no feelings about the matter, and then when you try to point that out people get very defensive. How can anyone grow or improve if they are treated as though they are not quite human?

It’s sad to think that most people believe that to be “mature” is to lose your sense of creativity and wonder of this world and that this would be a good goal for any human. It closes off your mind to possibilities!

Even stories like “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” are philosophical in nature and teach children in ways they can very much relate to that adults have lost the ability to use. Why do we believe “losing something” as we grow older is something that will help us in the long run? I’d rather build on things I already have than to put aside a natural aspect of myself for a learned/unnatural one. These stores we tell children are thought experiments and invite you to imagine new concepts and cement our understanding of the world around us. Reading this makes me want to re-read some of my sons’ favorite bedtime stories, like Harold and the Purple Crayon!

Chapter 7 – Anxiety

To do philosophy with a child, or with anyone else for that matter, is simply to reflect on a perplexity or a conceptual problem of a certain sort to see if one can remove the perplexity or solve the problem. Sometimes one succeeds, often one doesn’t. Sometimes, getting clearer about one thing only makes it obvious that one is dreadfully unclear about something else.” Funny to think that children take this “unclearness” as a given and it’s something that terrifies adults. And then we put down children for thinking in this fashion and being scared by it at times.

Above all, one shouldn’t let the surmise that some great mind has already thought the thought that one is about to think spoil one’s own excitement in coming up with it.” And why would we put that on a child that comes to us with the amazed and excited feeling to tell you about his discovery about a bug he saw? We live our lives as if everything has been discovered and that we aren’t allowed to be excited about something that we have found because someone else found it before us.

Some adults are not prepared to face a child stripped of the automatic presumption of adults’ superiority in knowledge and experience.” And most adults are threatened by it because we’ve been trained to it. It’s a side effect of some kinds of homeschooling, children that believe they are equals with adults and that they both have something to add to a conversation.

Chapter 8 – Naivete

Philosophers seem to ask questions that no one wants to answer and to tell us what no one wants to know.” And so do children, which is why we feel the need to suppress them and put them in their place.

Chapter 9 – Dialogues

When you spend a lot of time with a child, as homeschoolers can only do, you begin to see that a sense of trust is the basis of a growing up well. Nothing good comes of our lives without it. We can build that trust with our children so that they start their lives off on a good footing, or we can send them off to spend time with a myriad of people, none of which they have enough time to build a real solid relationship with. Then we start our adult lives lacking in that trust which we spend the rest of our lives searching for, only to send our own children off to do the same because that’s just the way things are. But they don’t need to be!

So much of this book relates to how unschoolers have changed their lives to match a more natural and philosophical idea. And even though our children grow up to be wonderfully productive and happy people, we are charged at every step with coddling and spoiling them. Your ways are creating generation after generation of unhappy, mentally unstable people, yet you continue to add more fuel to that unhealthy fire. Why? It’s as if the world cannot see the same humans that I see. I cringe at the way I hear people, homeschoolers and mainstream parents, talk about and to their children and then wonder why those children grow up to be moody, aloof, and violent teenagers. I’ve raised my sons differently and all I’ve gotten in the past was questions about why my kids are allowed to be in the same room with adults and why I allow them to ask so many questions. Now that they are teenagers I’m complemented on how mature and kind they are, only to have people insist that I must have “raised them right” by continuing the practices they themselves are using but with more control and belittling. It’s insanity! What can be done?