Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Art and Science of Transplanting Children

I've taken a fair number of Gordon Neufeld courses over the past several years.  I also listened to the early version of a course he created several years ago called "The Art and Science of Transplanting Children," but have never taken this course with other people.  Until now.  Today I'm starting this 7-week course with seven or eight other parents, and I'm quite excited to take it.

"The Art and Science of Transplanting Children" is designed for adoptive, foster, step, and other parents who are caring for and parenting children not born to them.  One doesn't need to have taken other Neufeld courses to take this one, as it provides some of his introductory work as part of this course.  There are three basic aspects of the course:  Online material to watch each week, which consists of a session of Neufeld teaching the material, as well as supplementary materials that are provided; a 1.5 - 2 hour meeting each week with the other folks in the course to discuss the material and pose issues for discussion; and participation in an online forum designed specifically for our group, where our facilitator poses questions for us and where we participants engage in written discussion between meetings.

I've just watched the first online hour of Neufeld teaching the course in preparation for today's group session.  The first dvd session was largely intro work:  Attachment-related material which would be quite familiar to those who have taken Neufeld courses before.  In this hour, Neufeld distills the six levels of attachment (as it looks when conditions are when a child is born to you), which I'm fairly familiar with already; but then he also began already to talk about the disruption of attachment as it concerns children not born to us.  It was great.

One of the questions our group facilitator asked us online this week was about how we as parents invite our children into our presence.  Simple question, but so important in the context of attachment, particularly as it relates to transplanted children.  One of the things I've worked actively at over the past several years is inviting my kids to be in my presence...not just with my words (though they, too, are important) but through my body language.  When one of my kids walks into the room, it's important to me that I put down whatever I happen to be doing, and that the look in my eyes and the warmth of my voice let my child know that I want them to be with me...that they are free and welcome to exist in my presence.  This is (much) harder to do when behaviours have been challenging, but it could hardly be more important when those behaviours have been challenging; we all want to find a place where we have freedom to be who we are, even or especially when our behaviour sucks.

This invitation to our children can be particularly challenging when those children aren't born to us, and our facilitator asked another question about why inviting a child into our presence can be particularly challenging for our transplanted children.  This resonated with me because of the efforts I've been so deliberate about making to invite my kids.  Here's how I answered that question on the online forum:

Deliberately inviting a child into my presence is something I actively work at...and occasionally utterly fail at!  I think it's huge because our kids need to know that their presence in our lives is a blessing...that they are worthy of being welcomed into our hearts regardless of their behaviour and regardless of whether or not they feel the same way towards us as parents.   
I've had to grow in this area...there have been times (particularly in the first two years that my Ethiopian-born kids were with us) when it was faaaar easier to invite my bio child into my existence than it was my two who joined us through adoption.  Our kids #2 & #3 came to us at almost ages 6 & 4...their personalities, inclinations, preferences, opinions, values, beliefs, biases, etc etc, were all fully formed.  It's a shocking thing when one has no relationship with these two children, and then suddenly, on a particular day, you are their parent and they are your children and from henceforth they are yours to love and raise forever more amen.  Suddenly those little faces are looking to you to be their everything and our preparation to be adoptive parents, our experience of being a parent to our bio child...nothing really prepared us for the day of custody of two older children.  The shock was huge.  I didn't always like them, and my heart wasn't always warmly inclined to them.  It was very hard in that first while to manufacture a smile and inject a smile into my eyes when they entered the room when instead I sometimes felt instead like...well, let's just say that I didn't always FEEL welcoming of them.  But it's amazing how adding a note of (even manufactured) warmth to one's voice and forcing a smile into one's eyes ('cause just the mouth doesn't cut it) lands on a child who so desperately needs to find his/her place in your life and heart.   
Over time, thankfully, that invitation from me became more and more real and today we have utterly changed relationships.  And I think it all starts with the invitation.

As I write this, I'm sitting in my little library and it's around 6:30am on Saturday morning.  Moments ago, while I was writing here, Seth wandered sleepily downstairs to use the bathroom, and when he passed by me on the way back up to bed, I gestured through the french doors of the library that he should come in for a moment.  As he pushed open the glass doors into the room, I held out my arms and put a big smile in my easy to do today with this boy I love so.

I whispered something like, "Before you head back up, my arms have a big hug in them for my boy."  He came to my chair and melted onto my lap, and put his head on my shoulder.  Warm.  Sleepy.  Soft and melty.  Morning breath on my neck.  Love.

We stayed like that in silence for about a minute and then, before sending him back up to bed, I whispered into his ear how much I loved him and how glad I was that he was mine.  He grunted, then staggered back up the stairs with a sleepy smile on his face.  I am pretty sure that when he comes downstairs again in a little while to start the day, it's going to be a good start for him...after all, we already started it with a point of warmth and connection...he's been invited to exist in my presence.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Brother Buddies

Two weeks, we had another great little Seth moment.  The kids and I were relaxing at the kitchen table, having a snack.  Somehow, the topic of love came up and I might have noted, very very casually, to Seth that maybe the time had come where he would be able to tell Matthew that he loved him.

Side note:  About 18-20 months ago, in our dramatic weekend of Seth telling us that he loved us for the first time, Seth did tell Matthew that he loved him.  But not since then.  Matthew tells Seth every day that he loves him with his whole heart, and Seth typically answers with either "yup" or "thank you."

It was a bit risky on my part, to suggest that the time had come for a verbal declaration, but the boys have been getting closer and closer over the past few months and it's become very clear to me that Seth adores Matthew in that stoic, unspoken, loyal way he has towards those he holds in his tight inner circle...they generally just get along really well, and understand each other incredibly well!

Demonstrating how far he's come these last number of months, Seth's response to my suggestion was to look at me and panicking, no horror...just laughter.  Then his eyes began to twinkle with his developing sense of humour and he deflected my suggestion by stating that he didn't think that it would be possible for Matthew to tell Lizzie that he loved her.  (Matt and Lizzie have been going through a rough patch.)

Challenge on.

I could see the war raging in Matthew's eyes!  He really, really did not want to tell Lizzie that he loved her at this season in their relationship; but the possibility that Seth would verbalize his feelings towards him was just too great an opportunity to be missed.  I could see Matthew reach a decision and, sure enough, he turned to Lizzie and, to her great joy, said loudly and clearly, "Lizzie, I love you!"

Matthew and I both turned to look back at Seth.  No panic, just a sense of fun on his face.  Game on.

Seth, a huge smile on his face, suddenly burst out, in a yell, "I love you Matthew!!!!"  Then he fell to the floor in embarrassment, big guffaws of laughter coming from under the table where he hid.

I thought it was a pretty awesome thing.  His heart defendedness didn't prevent the words this time.  The walls keep tumbling down, is what I thought.

A short time later, I pulled Seth into the office and hugged him and told him how proud I was of him for being able to say the words to Matthew.  He and I have been talking more recently about how we  really don't need to resort to words of love in order for people to know that they are loved, but that it's also true that we sometimes all like to hear the words anyway.  I know he's been stewing on this in relation to Matthew.  Seth hugged me back and told me that it was easier to tell me that he loved me.  Then he looked up at me with a twinkle in his eye and asked if I had some kind of reward for him, for having told Matthew that he loved him.

In the heartbeat before I answered Seth, what went through my head was that we virtually never use rewards or bribes in our home...what next went through my head was that Seth is a boy who truly needs to hear himself saying certain things over and over just to become comfortable with the sound and feel of the words. After he overcame the initial (massive) hurdle of telling me that he loved me, for example, the floodgates opened and he was immediately and entirely at ease about using the words with me.  But for Matthew, this hadn't yet happened and I want, desperately, for Seth to feel the shape of those three magical words on his tongue as directed towards Matthew, for him to grow accustomed to the walls not crashing in on him if he uttered the words in relation to his brother.

Seth never felt me falter.  That heartbeat of contemplation passed and my inner struggle was put to rest and I enthusiastically replied that "of course" I had a reward for him and that I'd been wondering when the appropriate time might be to feed him a delicious and special chocolate cookie that I'd been hanging on to for him.

I went to get the cookie and then hand fed it to Seth in little bits, which he loved.

Smart little dude that he is, Seth approached me later in the day with sparkling eyes to ask if there might be another reward in it for him if he told Matthew the words again.

"Yes," I replied, "I've been thinking the same thing...that the next time you say the words might be the perfect time to enjoy another little treat."

Immediately Seth called Matthew over and told him that he loved him - and even armed with the incentive of an impending reward, it was obvious that this time was easier than the first time.  There was no falling to the floor or covering of the eyes.  No screech of embarrassment.  Nothing.  He just said it.  Straight up, with a direct look into Matthew's astonished eyes.  As soon as the moment passed, I suggested that this might be the perfect time for the boys to watch a little tv together - Seth winked at me, and I winked back.

A few minutes later, as the boys settled on the floor in front of the tv, I heard Matthew telling Seth that he loved him.  "I know," said Seth.  "I love you, too."  Then they turned the channel and watched their show.  As if something very ordinary had just occurred.

Seth continues to astonish me.  Every time I think he's maxed out on his development, another wall seems to come crashing down around his heart and he shocks me again.  He is a happy, vibrant, loving, and pretty contended boy these days...quite a long distance from the rage- and grief- filled little boy who rocked our world just a few short years ago.  Not that long ago, we experienced the freedom and joy of his singing and the greater ability to express the deepest parts of his heart towards his brother.

It's so great to see the love that has grown between these two crazy boys of mine.  They love to do things together and there is little competitiveness between them:  Matthew readily and proudly talks about how Seth is such an amazing runner and so great at sports, and even better than himself; and Seth readily compliments Matthew on amazing art work or his ability to play games, or whatever.  Matthew seems intuitively to know when Seth's language has frustrated his ability to understand something and he quietly jumps in to explain something to Seth; and Seth has begun to initiate activities or ideas or other togetherness-related things with Matthew, which is something that, until not that long ago, was a vulnerability too much for him to bear.

It's very much the kind of relationship I'd always dreamed of for my boys and it's just continuing to grow.  They get restless without each other and wonder grumpily, if they're separated for more than a few minutes, what the other is doing and when he'll be back.  If one receives something that the other has not, the receiver holds back a portion for his brother or makes sure that something's coming also for his brother.  They giggle in their beds at night time and keep each other awake far too long for my comfort.  They build lego projects side by side together, when they're in the mood, and have snowball fights or ping pong matches when they're in different kinds of mood.  They're happy for each other when something goes well, and when something doesn't work out for one, the other says "I hope you feel better soon."  And now, it seems, they are more able than ever before to reciprocate those deep and attachment-entrenched words of love and affection.

What more could a mother want for her boys?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Matthew-ism

Matthew, just now, complaining that his desktop light is broken and about the inconvenience of that for his artistic purposes:

"Mom, seriously, when are we going to get me a new light?  Without that light, I'm just a guy with a pencil."

I don't know why that tickled my funny bone so!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

An Interesting Article

A really well written blog post written by another adoptive mom...both the post and the link are below. I'm sure most adoptive and foster parents can relate well to her words!


Please Don't Say All Kids Do That To Adoptive and Foster Families

Please don’t say “all kids do that” to adoptive and foster families…

thegirlsToday’s blog post is fromShannon Dingle. Shannon serves as co-director of the Special Needs Ministry at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC alongside her husband (Lee). Shannon also serves as a church consultant for Key Ministry. Here’s Shannon…
Children cry. Children have meltdowns. Children sometimes push or shove or hit. Kids act out from time to time. Some kids shut down when disciplined or even simply when an adult talks directly to them at all.
I could go on, but you get the picture. Many behaviors or responses are common for kids.
But behavior is always a form of communication. Who we are, where we’ve been, and what we want others to know all direct our responses. While all children act out or shut down or lose tempers or cry from time to time, what each one is communicating with that behavior might be different.
While all children display certain behaviors, not all children have lost their parents to death or abandonment or addiction or disease. Not all children have been uprooted from the home or country or familiar voices in the womb to live out the rest of their days in a different home and maybe a different country and with a different mother. Not all children have witnessed or experienced abuse or neglect or malnutrition. Not all kids have permanent structural changes to their brains due to early childhood trauma. Not all kids have learned that adults aren’t always trustworthy, home isn’t always safe, and family isn’t always forever.
Some of my kids have, though. And some other kids who have been adopted or are in foster care have too.
I have two daughters turning 8 soon and two sons who’ll be 6 in March. For each pairing, one arrived via birth from my womb and one joined our family by adoption after years of life experience before us (almost 7 years for our daughter and 4.5 years for our son). Sometimes our kids act out in similar ways, but I know their behavioral responses aren’t coming from the same place.
shutterstock_173700593For example, my friends recently adopted a preschooler. They already had another son less than a year older than their new addition, so they’ve parented a two year old boy before. They’re familiar with those things that all kids do. But like any good parents, they know their kids. They know that when one son is clingy at Sunday school drop-off, it’s just age-appropriate separation anxiety that will resolve not long after they’re out of sight. Likewise, they know that when their other son does the same, he’s acting from a genuine fear based on a history in which other caregivers left and never came back. It looks the same, but it’s not the same.
I get the temptation to say “all kids do that.” Truly, I do. But when foster or adoptive parents like me hear that, it feels dismissive to the real grief, pain, and trauma our kids have experienced and how that history still influences their actions today. Usually when someone tells another parent “all kids do that,” the words are meant to be helpful, to soothe our nerves or encourage us in the midst of a hard parenting moment. But that’s not what your words do. Instead those words invalidate what we know to be true and minimize the extra layer of thinking that parenting kids from hard places requires.
Finally, every adoptive and foster parent has different ground rules about how much we can or will share about the children in our homes. You might not know our children’s trauma or circumstances, because you don’t need to. You don’t need to know the details of their personal pain to understand that when our kids cry or yell or fight or melt down, they might be acting out of deep losses and hurts.
So, please, don’t say “all kids do that” because even if behaviors look the same, that doesn’t mean they are the same for our kids from hard places

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy New Year

Yes, I'm still here, and with best wishes for a wonderful new year!

We've been away again this Christmas/New Year's season...just back during the wee hours of Sunday, two days ago. I'll talk more about our trip yet, but that might take a little more time than I have at the moment.  Life has quickly jumped back into the usual routine and I've accelerated from 0 to 100 in the past couple of days as we have resumed more normal schedules.  I've still only unpacked two of our five suitcases...and I'm still tired and recovering from the late night of travel home on Sunday morning.  

Sunday evening, despite being tired and a little out of sorts from our arrival home that morning, I was out until late as well, enjoying an extended visit with a dear friend who is living in New York City this year and who was home for the holidays...there was no way on earth I was going to miss an opportunity to catch up with her.  She's my oldest friend and we've spent a lot of time apart over the years, but she's one of those lifer kinds of friends who take no time at all to feel re-connected with.  It was a lovely evening and well worth the extra bit of tiredness Monday morning!

Monday was filled with taking down Christmas decorations, piano lessons, doing a little unpacking and a lot of laundry, and generally tidying throughout the house - we had a contractor here until the day we left on vacation, fixing many of the things that needed fixing after our summer of water damage issues, and the house was (and mostly still is, despite Monday's cleaning efforts) a dusty mess of rooms and things all out of order and moved all around to accommodate painting and re-drywalling and fixing of baseboards and carpets, etc etc etc.  

Today, Tuesday, the day was spent preparing for and then being at our Learning Centre during the day; then, after a quick rush home to drop the kids off with Geoff (and make a quick snack for my evening meeting), I spent this evening with the other LC moms so that we could plan our Tuesdays through to the end of June.  Though tired after another long day, I feel very blessed to be part of this wonderful group of women; they have made me feel so at home with them these last several months.  It's a lot of fun to be part of a group of like-minded women who are all committed to providing a rich and varied life for their children.  We have planned for at least four events to be carried out every Tuesday (in addition to a heavy upcoming schedule of drama practice for the kids' April performances of Romeo and Juliet):  Hands-on science; a wonderful arts/crafts program (from moccasin making to Ukrainian easter eggs, from arm knitting to sewing, and more); a field trip every month; Current Affairs; Writing and Secret Writing Clubs; three different Book Clubs; French Language classes; Local-Food Cooking Classes; even Ukelele lessons!  What's not to love if you're a kid getting to attend this Learning Centre while at the same time hanging out with friends??

And now, suddenly, finally, it's late Tuesday evening and I'm home and and it's edging close to midnight, and the house is blessedly quiet, and it's the first moment since waking up this morning (to the jump-started sight and sound of Lizzie's face two inches from my face as she stood crouching over my bed, blowing air on my face so that I would wake up and open my eyes) that I've had to myself.  I can just sit and breathe for a few minutes before getting ready for bed.

I love this moment.  I'm going to relish it, and just think for a few moments, then brush my teeth, then fall into bed.  Tomorrow, and all of its excitements, will arrive very soon.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Style and Anniversary Dinners

Geoff and I are going out for dinner tonight to celebrate our anniversary, while the kids have dinner with my folks.

A few moments ago, when I was talking about it with the kids, Lizzie's first question was to ask what I was going to wear.  I said that I had no idea.

Lizzie's excited response:   "I wanna style you up, Mommy!"

Where does she get this stuff?

Though, actually, I could use the is much more Lizzie's forte than my own.

P.S.  Lizzie is plotting...sitting there and seriously plotting my look for tonight.  I don't understand people like her.  :)  She's mumbling to herself things like, "she needs to have makeup on...oh, and she needs to wear a dress...she never wears dresses...hmm...what to do...".  I'm not sure how to handle this situation.  I do plan to shower...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Nasty Experience, Maturation...and a Further Thought about Facebook

I'm in my late 40s and I am finally least I'd like to think so.

Last Saturday, Matthew and I were out for breakfast with one of his best buddies and one of my best buddies (who also happen to be mother and son).  According to the boys, it has become an annual pre-Christmas tradition for the four of us to breakfast out together - the boys sit at one table, while the two moms sit at a different table.

About a half hour before we left, the boys were starting to get a little restless, so they asked if they could go stand in the entrance to the restaurant, between the double doors exiting the restaurant.  We moms agreed and off they went, assuring us that they would check in with us once in a while.  Sure enough, they came back to see us two or three times during the next twenty minutes, and then asked if they could spend the remaining minutes talking outside on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.  No problem.

After my friend and I paid our bills we headed out the two sets of doors to where our boys were standing on the sidewalk.  As I walked out, calling Matthew over to me, I noticed an older man standing outside by the door.  He was glaring at me and my friend, and said something under his breath while waving his cane in our direction.  I stopped beside him and said "I'm sorry, but are you talking to me?"

He then proceeded to lambaste, at high volume, my friend and me for being such terrible parents as to let our two boys act in the manner that they had been acting; he yelled that he had paid good money to be able to enjoy his breakfast in peace.  On and on and on.  Yelling.

Shocked, and wondering what could possibly have predicated this outburst, I finally interrupted him and asked him if he could please clarify, as I didn't know what he was talking about.  He started to yell again, and said that they were going in and out of doors, in and out of doors, in and out of doors.  You get the idea.  He was utterly enraged.

My friend calmly suggested that he was being rather rude (an understatement) in his approach and I then noted that he'd obviously not had a great experience but that I still wasn't clear about what had been so problematic.  I wondered whether he could offer any other observations about the boys that might concern him.  "Was it the going in and out of the doors between the restaurant and the outside," I wondered out loud, "or was there some other behaviour that was troubling for you?"

I never got more information, and I am pretty sure it was just the going in and out of doors that had been bothering him.  Now, you need to understand that between the doors into the restaurant and the doors to the outside is about a 20-foot-long space; that space is not visible from the restaurant at all, and so I am thinking that this man was standing outside and watching our boys talk and walk back and forth.

I frankly wasn't one iota concerned if the boys were wandering about in this space, or even in and out of this space.  But, despite trying three times, this man simply couldn't offer up any other explanations for his rage - he just kept saying that they were walking in and out of the doors more than a few times and that were terrible parents setting a terrible example for society, etc etc etc.

I asked if he would like to continue this discussion another time when we'd all had a chance to think about things (basically so he could calm down) and he said no.  Matthew said quietly from behind me that he really didn't think that they'd done anything they weren't supposed to do, and I believed him and quietly said so.  Certainly when they had walked to/from their table to the reception area, they had been totally calm, heads bent towards each other as they talked quietly and walked...nothing untoward at all.

Eventually, after the man continued referring to us as terrible parents, I said that I was sorry that he'd had a rough experience that he associated with our boys; I added that we moms had given our boys permission to be between the doors and outside on the sidewalk and that I was ok with this.  I said one or two other things, but I forget what they were.  Then my friend and I both expressed that we hoped his day got better, and I repeated that I was sorry that he'd had a bad experience.  He stomped off after his wife (who had been standing in the background looking embarrassed), who had waved her cane at him and was walking away.

My friend and I then took a few minutes to reassure our boys that everything was ok.  They were upset that he'd called us bad parents, but we assured them that we were totally fine.  I commented that perhaps he was having a bad day, or perhaps he was simply the sort of person who had a negative and harsh view about life or people; I doubted, given the look on his wife's face, that this was the first time he'd done this kind of thing.  We never know what's going on in other people's hearts, I said, and with that kind of perspective it's a little easier to find grace.

I felt totally fine after leaving that encounter, though five years ago it would have been a traumatic event that would have taken me a day or two to get over.  But today, over a week later, as I think back to that incident, I realize that I really am totally fine about it all.  I haven't just been putting a good face on it; I'm really fine.  No trauma here...I've barely thought about the incident at all since, beyond checking in with Matthew a couple of times in case there was more discussion needed.  I have no regrets about how I handled myself in the face of extreme rudeness.  In my response to this man, I believe I managed to achieve a balance between respect and 'having our boys' backs.'

This incident led me to think of my recent post about Facebook.  I ended that post by suggesting that it is, in fact, possible to be respectful in the face of rudeness.  Even when people act disrespectfully towards us, I said, I believed it was possible to offer respect in return.

This thought has been reaffirmed for me by this latest experience.  That man's rudeness would have been a perfect, and arguably legitimate, opportunity to let my own frustrations find a foothold in how I spoke to him.  I really could have yelled back, and no one witnessing the whole encounter would have questioned my behaviour because it would have been warranted.  He really was extremely rude and disrespectful.  But I remember at the very beginning of that exchange something flash through was more of an impression, perhaps, something that just said Ruth, it's going to be ok.  Hear him out.  Protect the boys AND seek to understand AND model for the boys as to what it means to be respectful in face of disrespect.  You. will. be. ok.

There's something very validating about maintaining one's integrity in the face of rudeness.  It's a settling sort of feeling - a sense of assuredness that comes from knowing you did the right thing when a choice was to be had, when you have every reason to feel right but choose not to assert it with anything other than respect and a bit of grace.  I really wish that I felt this way about F/book, but I have to say that mostly being uninvolved with it for the past week or so has only proven to be an awesome choice.

Maybe I am getting a little wiser with age.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

20 Years

I remember looking at Geoff's face, in the fall of 1993, shortly before we got engaged, and thinking that his was likely the face that I would get used to seeing for the rest of our lives.  I specifically remember wondering what it would be like to see his face twenty years later, what our life together would look like then.

It was a strange thing to think - that his was the face.  I'd wondered for some time what that face would look like...and suddenly there it was.  It was a nice-looking face, I thought, but the strange thing was the contemplation of that face over any other.

We haven't always had an easy road, through his fault and my own, and because of life circumstance.  There have absolutely been times when his face has not been the one I've wanted to see in the morning, and I've no doubt that he's felt similarly.

But here we are.  Twenty years later.  Twenty years.  How does that happen?

We've weathered a lot.  We're still together, there's still this love between us, and there's still the commitment to seeing it through to the end...we know that now more than we did twenty years ago.

And that's saying something, because marriage is hard.  Next to raising kids, staying married is pretty much the hardest thing and the thing that makes us grow the most.  Yes, there's enjoyment and fun and love and joy and all of that good stuff.  But man is it hard work at times.  Although I believe that, as a people, we give up too easily on marriage at times, I understand why marriages fail...because Geoff and I have been surprised at times that there has been light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel.

I'm proud that we've made it twenty years...through the thick and the thin...through the everything.  I look at Geoff's face today, knowing all that I know, and it's a different experience entirely than in 1993 to say that his is the face I want to see for the next twenty years.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Word Mix-Ups

Seth often gets words jumbled up, and can have a hard time pulling the right word out of his memory.  Sometimes that can be frustrating; other times, funny.

On Monday, Seth and Lizzie were discussing the live animals we'd seen when touring a "Live Bethlehem" Christmas event we'd attended the day before.  Lizzie's favourite animal was the beautiful pony she'd touched.  But when she described that moment to Seth, here's what happened:

Lizzie:  "Oooo, my absolute favourite animal was the little horse.  He was so pretty with the long tail."

Seth (said totally seriously, and with great disdain):  "Lizzie, that wasn't a was a unicorn."

He had no idea why I was laughing so hard.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Article: 50 Reasons Homeschooled Kids Love Being Homeschooled

I occasionally enjoy reading from a blog called  Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.  Recently the author of that blog posted something that I enjoyed reading through.  Below is the post; here is the link in case you'd rather read it on her blog:  50 Reasons Why Kids Like Being Homeschooled

Sometime today I'll ask my kids which resonate most with them...I'll post their answers here.

Til later...have a great day everyone!


50 Reasons Homeschooled Kids Love Being Homeschooled

In the blog world, we hear a lot from homeschooling moms, but not so much from their students. I often have people find my blog by searching things like, “Do kids like to be homeschooled?” or “Why do kids like to be homeschooled?” So, I asked the folks on my Facebook page to ask their kids why they liked being homeschooled and let me know what they said. I asked mine, too, and compiled the answers for you.
Some answers were heard a lot. Some were pretty unique. Some got my added commentary, and some stand alone. So, if you’ve ever wondered why homeschooled kids like being homeschooled, here are the results, in no particular order after the first two, of my really unscientific poll.
Learn why kids love being homeschooled - from the kids themselves!
1. Sleeping in. It appears that the number one thing most kids like about being homeschooled is being able to sleep late. Now, before all the haters get up in arms, I asked kids. Did you expect academic answers?
And, rest easy. They’ll still be able to get jobs when they’re older. My daughter, who graduated last year, now has to be at school – and often work on the days she doesn’t have school – much earlier than she ever used to get up. She has adjusted just fine. Many studies have shown that teens need more sleep and schools should start later to accommodate them. See? Homeschoolers are just ahead of the game.
2. Doing school in their PJs. Again, I know there’s a whole school of thought out there that people work better when they’re dressed for work and even lots of homeschool families don’t like the stereotype that homeschoolers stay in the pajamas all day – but don’t tell these homeschooled kids that!
There are a lot of them who like that perk very much. Our family is half-and-half. Josh and I are usually dressed – though, when it’s cold there are lots of days I stay in yoga pants all day – but the girls are usually in PJs. (Okay, not Brianna anymore. She’s graduated and going to cosmetology school. They’d probably look at her funny if she showed up to school in her jammies.)
3. It’s safe at home. I thought that was such a telling response and it was shared more than once. No matter how much we may be accused of sheltering our homeschooled kids, they see the news and they are very concerned about school shootings. I know lots of young kids in public school. Those very necessary lock-down drills are extremely unsettling. My heart breaks to know that kids anywhere have to practice hiding under desks in case a shooter ever comes to the door.
4. They can spend time following their interests. No, they’re not just talking about video games. They’re talking about music, art, computer coding, cooking,  photography, archery, and a huge variety of other interests.
5. The food is better.
6. The field trips are awesome.
7. The teachers doesn’t pick favorites. (Just for the record, that might have been my favorite response.)
8. They don’t have to be confined to a classroom. School can be done anywhere – even in the tree in the backyard.
9. Freedom. This includes being able to: go to the bathroom when you need to, go outside when you want to, eat when you’re hungry, listen to music while you work, or take a break when you need to.
10. They love having educational choices. Homeschooled kids say they like being able to:
  • Delve into their favorite topics
  • Have some input in choosing their curriculum
  • Follow their interests with electives choices
11. They like being able work at their own pace and at their own level. They can take their time when they don’t understand something or move quickly through the material when they get it. They can work at, below, or above “grade level” depending on their needs. And, they don’t have to wait until everyone else is finished to move on.
12. Hot chocolate during math time or hot tea during history. Hey, sometimes it’s the little things, especially when it’s as cold as it’s been around here lately.
13. Being able to do school in princess dresses. This was the answer from one respondent. I’m sure it holds true for pirate and superhero costumes, as well.
14. No bullies.
15. Being able to do school with pets. Have you seen the recent studies that show that reading to dogshelps improve the proficiency of struggling readers?
16. Homeschooled kids enjoy being able to go places during the week without fighting crowds.Their moms like that one, too.
17. Kids and parents alike enjoy family read-aloud time.
18. One-on-one teaching. One respondent said it best, “Because my mom is my teacher, she will explain things multiple times, multiple ways until I understand it.”
19. Flexible schedules.
20. Doing classes with friends. Yep, you read that right. So many people still think that being homeschooled means being isolated, but there are so many opportunities for homeschooled kids to work with other kids in a more classroom-style setting, whether it’s classes for homeschooled kids, an organized co-op, or just a couple of families getting together to work on a few subjects.
21. No homework. Don’t misunderstand – these aren’t kids talking about having less work than their traditionally schooled friends. Instead, they’re referring to having a schedule that allows them to get their work finished before outside activities, such as sports or dance, so that they don’t have to rush home and do homework before bed.
22. Reading great books.
23. Being able to pray, read the Bible, and talk about God.
24. Homeschooled kids love being able to be themselves. I have to share this one quote from a 9 year old girl because I thought it was amazing: “One of the best things about being homeschooled is that I get to be the real me, and not have to hide my gifts. My thoughts can be my own, and I get to think and discuss and move and explore, and not be forced to memorize stuff…I just know stuff because I get to think about it and make it matter to me.”
Yes, that!
25. Learning for the sake of learning. They don’t dread school – they enjoy it.
26. Spending time with family. One 5 year old said, “That we don’t have to miss [mom] at all.” Doesn’t that just warm your mommy heart?
27. No uniforms. Well, unless you count the PJs.
28. Seeing the world from a different perspective. I just have to share this comment from Facebook follower, Alicia: “When I was 20 years old I nannied for an American family in France. One day we were at the military museum in Paris and there was a cross-section of an old battle ship and I took the five year old I watched and showed him all the different things on the ship: the cannons and artillery, the mess hall, etc. His mom (who was an engineer) sat back and watched and afterward thanked me and said it never would have occurred to her to point all those things out to him. My favorite thing about being homeschooled is that it never occurred to me see things like that and not share them.”
29. Spending time with the non-teaching parent. So many parents work shifts other than the typical 9 to 5. These working parents often miss so much time with their families. Homeschooled kids can spend time with their parent whenever that parent isn’t working.
30. Going on vacation during the off-season. Yep, homeschool moms like that, too.
31. Not having to catch the bus before the sun comes up! That probably goes along with sleeping it, but not having to catch the bus early was mentioned specifically so many times that I had to include it.
32. No busywork.
33. Getting to surf when the waves are good. I only saw this reply once, but it was so unique, it had to be included.
34. Not having to worry about peer pressure or being popular or labeled.
35. School breaks can include video games and TV.
36. Stress-free mornings.
37. Interests can be incorporated into learning. Lego and Minecraft are two examples of interests that many kids have that can easily be made educational..but, don’t suck all the fun out of it, Mom!
38. No bad language from other kids.
39. Having a later bedtime. My kids can attest to that.
40. They can get academic help when needed.
41. Not having to be medicated. This was from the kids with ADD/ADHD.
42. Having lots of room to be creative.
43. Enjoying close relationships with siblings.
44. Being able to work with fewer distractions.
45. Young homeschooled kids appreciate using treats for math manipulatives. They can add, subtract, multiply, and divide with M&Ms (or whatever) and eat them when the math is done!
46. Not getting sick as often. Definitely!
47. No mean teachers. This one made me smile – though my kids have been known to get the mean teacher from time to time. Never for a whole school year, though.
48. Homeschooled teens like learning time management by scheduling their own schoolwork.
49. Plenty of time to eat lunch. My oldest used to hate having to gobble down her food. Most days, it came home uneaten because she didn’t have time.
50. Birthdays are school holidays.
There you go – 50 reasons homeschooled kids love being homeschooled. What would your kids add to the list?