I don't generally buy or subscribe to women's magazines because they seem to recycle the same stories and frankly I've read it all before. I can't cut $200 from my grocery bill with your tips because I already do those things- probably because I read about it in your magazine a few years ago. However, when Kya was still going to public school they had a fundraiser and the cheapest thing I could find was a two year subscription to Woman's Day. It's an okay magazine and once in a while I find a good recipe and it gives me something to flip through while Spongebob is on for the thirtieth time. You're probably wondering what in the world this has to with unschooling at this point but trust me, I'm getting there.
I got my new copy in the mail yesterday, which happened to be my birthday and Robbie had taken the kids for the day leaving me with a quiet house to just relax and be a bum all day. I snuggled down with my magazine and started to flip through when I came across an article entitled "Are you a Summer Mom or a Back-to-school Mom?" Wow. That was my first reaction to this article, just WOW. The author says early on that she spends the summer waiting for life to resume it's natural order (emphasis mine). "Everybody up, everybody out, every day." Carting your kids away is now the natural order.
At first I was appalled, I continued to be appalled as she on went on to tell how she starts the countdown for back to school at the beginning of July and that she can't wait to get these slugs off of the couch and back in the classroom. She complained about the whines of "I'm bored," the comatose state they would fall into in front of the TV, and that none of them ever wanted to do any of the outings she suggested. Contradicting this she also talked about how over scheduled they were at other times because of camps, practices, etc. Confusing and appalling. However on further reflection I don't think I'm appalled by this mother as much as I am by the circumstances.
I remember summers being a little like this when the kids were in school (as was I, I taught public school so summer was my break as well). Usually around July I would start looking forward to going back to school but also be acutely aware that we hadn't done nearly as much over the summer as I'd originally hoped. We were all comatose on the couch for half of the break, none of us could muster the energy to go do fun things, yet we were all bored. This woman's story started to sound uncomfortably familiar.
So what's changed? Why am I appalled now when just a couple of years ago I was this woman? I realize now that this is the summer we have when we spend the other three seasons of a year locked away in a classroom without opportunity to relax, entertain ourselves, or use our imaginations- the brain and body shut down for a while in an attempt to recover. This is why many people think they could never homeschool, much less unschool- they think about these dreaded summer breaks and assume it would be like this all the time. But they don't understand that when you are home all the time it isn't like this.
Don't get me wrong, we still have our moments of comatose TV watching and the occasional whine of boredom but they are less frequent and more easily tolerated because they are a drop in the ocean of time we spend together. And when we have an ocean of time we can fill it doing things we actually enjoy. For us THAT is the natural order of things.