It’s Monday again – and, around here, that means it’s time for Coffee and Conversation.
When I was six, my family was driving on an interstate highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living their lives, lives as important to them as mine was to me.
I wanted to see what those lives were, and to share my own…
Here, each Monday, I strive to reach that understanding through offering ideas and tidbits from my life. Settle in for a while, and share something of yours.
Have you ever looked at your child and seen past, present, and future, interwoven?
Jeremiah is twelve, today. “ It’s my birthday. In one more year, I’ll be a teenager, Mom.” Those are the first words he said to me, after midnight, when he hugged me. He’s a charmer. Always was.
He has also been focused, self-determining, innately aware of physics, generous, and intensely curious about how things work since he was a baby.
Today, nearly five years into our lives as an unschooling family, in a home where passions and nature are primary focuses, I support Jeremiah. I meet him where he is – and that takes a good deal of attention and intention on my part, since he is at an age where he can easily be simultaneously very grown, and very young, in the same breath. When his research, in a single day, might cover Bronycon, the legal driving age in our state, and anything in between.
For the seven years before that shift, I was, a mother who often said “No!”, slapped little hands, punished, or spoke unkindly to this small person who was so engaged in his own becoming.
I acted as though I who got to decide which parts of his nature were acceptable, and which not, and as though I could change the parts that didn’t suit me,or pick and choose the parts of his nature he would express, and when and how he would express them.
I mentioned up there that he was self-determining, right? My efforts to force Jeremiah never swayed him, even when he was a baby. He went for that yellow can of fish food hundreds (maybe thousands!) of times. He stood up 126 times in his crib after I laid him down (yes, I counted, and I was mad, and now I shake my head and wonder why I didn’t just pick him up instead, while he was still small enough to do that.
Parts of him grew into who he is today.
As a toddler, he stacked nineteen cans of cat food in a tower, intently focused.
At three, he strung “sticky tape” from point to point in the dining room, silent and fully engaged for nearly an hour, never tangling it.
At seven, he was fascinated with Crayon Physics.
- As a toddler, he was furious I would not let him play with tools and small fasteners.
- As a preschooler, he did “exhiriments” at the kitchen table with coins, rocks, and water.
- At six, he perfected bubble mix and lemonade.
- At nine, he was building vending machines, time machines, and teleporters.
- At ten, he began building with snap circuits.
- At twelve, he is an accomplished Minecrafter, a seasoned researcher, and often organizes group experiments, “Can we move around in a circle fast enough to make a whirlpool?”
And one more:
- As a toddler, Jeremiah shared toys, cookies, snuggles, and laughter freely.
- As a preschooler, he was quick to learn to share our time, energy, and affection with a baby sister.
- Once he had an allowance, he often used it to benefit others, and loved to donate change.
- Now, he often mentors others in technology, writes reviews, and shares his talents freely.
It’s taken twelve years for this collection of bits and pieces to coalesce to this point. In the coming years, it’s likely that these details will change, and change again, as he continues to grow and learn, deepening some passions, adapting others, leaving others behind.
What will he be? Himself. Beyond that, I can’t say for sure, and I don’t think he can, either, at this point. He’s twelve, and there is still so much to learn in order to become a man – and long after.
What I can say is that who he is, and who he will be, are extensions of that baby who loved vacuums, who got right up and started interacting with the world, who has always wanted to make things, and understand things, and share things. Every time I honored those things in him, I fed his nature, and his becoming. And, every time I didn’t honor them, I placed an unneeded obstacle in the path of that nature, and hobbled his becoming.
Today, as I celebrate this strong and capable boy, as he comes nearer to manhood, that’s what I want to remember – that,in honoring who he is and what he loves right now, I am helping him to embrace all the unique things that make him who he is, and who he will be…the man who grew from the baby I first met, twelve years ago today.
Have you ever had this feeling, with your child? Can you see the child you were in who you are today? I’ll sip and listen while you share!
- Saturday’s Share: Jeremiah, Straddling the Divide… (shanjeniah.com)
- Coffee and Conversation: On Shaming Children (shanjeniah.com)
- Quietly Celebrating Twelve: ROW80 Update, September 1, 2013 (shanjeniah.com)
- Unschoolery: My New Blog on Unschooling (zenhabits.net)
- A Fish Tale (happyradiantlife.wordpress.com)