Right before we were about to leave to meet twenty people we didn’t know, Margo, 4 2/3 disappears into the bedroom for a few minutes and proudly emerges with black facepaint all over her face. Not like nice pretty color facepaint. Like smeary… black… can-barely-stand-to-look-at-her facepaint. I said, “Oh! You painted your face! Ok, we’re leaving as soon as I get dressed!”
My little one, Goldie, 2 1/3, who had been wandering around naked, also disappeared into the bedroom and emerged, showing off her own outfit. Every article of clothing she had on had stripes. Striped shirt. Striped pants that were 3 size too big for her, but functional, as they were not falling down. A mismatched pair of socks, both with stripes. Oh, and a tutu on top. No undies.
“Let’s go!” I said, and we went flying out the door. It was a twenty minute walk and we were starting to run late. A friend of mine organizes this homeschooling meet up once every two weeks and I’d been meaning to go for a while as a way to start getting to know the home educators in our area.
Along the way, a young lady walking on the beach path was handing out chocolates. She was an employee of Max Brenners, (The Bald man chocolatier chain store).
“Hello! Would you like to try a piece of salted caramelized chocolate?” she said. Um… hell yeah, and how random!?
“Until 2pm, Max Brenners is offering free salted caramelized milkshakes in celebration of our grande opening today. We’re just across the street!” she pointed.
Margo was like, “Yeah!!! Let’s go! I want one!”
We walked across their street to get our milkshakes. They were the nasty kind. God knows what was in them and they were way too sweet, but they were good and we drank them and got tummy aches and they made my gall bladder hurt.
When we got to the meet, I exclaimed to everyone that Max Brenners was giving out FREE MILKSHAKES, “Go get one!”
Blank stares… “Oh, we saw that lady, but we told her ‘no thanks.’ they said.
Oh yeah, silly me, I remembered that lots of people don’t eat sugar or let their kids have sugar.. like ever, even when it’s free Max Brenners!
I sat for a while, nursing my tummy ache, when my kids came over to me. They were fighting loudly over a hoppy ball. I said, “Hmm, you’re going to have to work it out girls.” I didn’t interrupt and they eventually worked out some way to share, despite some screaming banshee-type communication.
As my tummy ache started to subside, I looked at the other homeschooled kids. They were all smartly dressed. Their clothes matched. They had nothing smeared on their face. They were eating organic blueberries. Their hair was brushed. They had shoes on. The little ones were not screaming like banshees over toys.
Completely out of the blue and unrelated to the homeschooling meet at all, friends of ours, an unschooling family, whom we haven’t seen in ages, rocked up to the park. They are the real ‘radicle‘ ones. The ones that don’t even stay in the same country for more than six months. Their kids stopped to play too. Their kids had no shoes. Their kid’s hair was not brushed. When I told them about the free milk shakes at Max Brenners, they happily skipped across the street to get some. They came back with the same tummy ache that the girls and I had. In case you’re not familiar, unschooling is similar to homeschooling, in that the kids are educated a home, but unschooling is a bit more… how do you say it… free or something?
The whole thing suddenly made me realize that I can just about slap that unschooling label on myself and be proud of it, because somehow along the way, that’s what we’ve become. I am in no way saying that unschooling is better than homeschooling or vice versa, or even that school is bad. Because, to be honest, it can all be good or bad. I don’t like labels as they can be really limiting to who we truly are. I also know that I am obnoxiously labeling and generalizing people for the purpose of the post. And, my kids are still really young, so anything can happen or anything can change… It was just one of those funny realization moments.
Two and a half years ago, when I first heard of unschooling, I thought it was a crazy idea. But it looks like today, that crazy idea has become our life!