In response to my article, “How Learning Happens Without School”, a reader/mom asked this:
“What about kids whose parents (like me) are not passionate about anything? I don’t expect of my kid too but I really want to give this kind of environment to her. I know you and your daughter are talented…”
The reader (am not mentioning her name) asked this in reaction to my writing that as part of providing a rich environment to my kids, I follow my own passions and keep my learning alive. Following my own ideas and interests may or may not serve as inspiration to them; I follow them anyway because that’s what feeds my own curiosity and creativity, and offers a rich environment to them and makes them see how much fun it is to dive yourself into your interests. Interest-based learning, anyone?!
Now, to answer the reader’s question:
You may not be passionate about anything, but you can be curious about something. Your curiosity will fuel your desire to learn something new. And, it may (or not) rub off on your children.
So, yes, you may not have passions. You may not be particularly talented at one or more things.
But, it’ll help if you’re open to learning yourself. You’ll make a rocking team if you kindle your curiosity – your natural state of learning. For, your children are inherently curious and will be curious about one thing or another. You just need to follow their cues.
And, feed THEIR curiosity, while feeding your own.
And, how exactly do you feed their curiosity and support their learning?
As you all know, Pari does not go to school. It’s been roughly 5+ years that we’re unschooling her. She’ll be 11 on November 30. And Sufiana, who’ll be three on November 2, does not go to any preschool or playschool either. So, yes, we’re homeschooling our children. Actually, unschooling. Because, homeschooling is often (not always and not exclusively) about doing school-like subject studies at home; about following a curriculum and maintaining a structure or a schedule at home. Whereas unschooling means breaking free from the trappings of school. The traps being – learning from a curriculum, following fixed hours, categorizing learning into subjects – science, math, biology, history, geography; testing and grading; sticking to schoolish habits, expectations, fears and terminology.
What is unschooling? If you’d ask me to define it, there’s no one way to explain unschooling. For, unschooling is not a parenting ‘technique’, unschooling is not a learning ‘formula’, definitely not a modus operandi for ‘education’. As I’ve come to understand, education starts with an end date. Unschooling is life-long learning.
Sufiana was mad at me. She was raging with anger; hot tears flowed down her cheeks. In between sobs, she was yelling her heart out, “badmaash (naughty) mamma…kyon badmaasha kara (why did you do such a bad thing). I was standing there sheepish and sorry for the hurt and resulting anger I’d (unwittingly) caused to her. I kneeled down at her height and sincerely and gently told her, “I’m sorry baby, I forgot that you don’t want me to wipe your body and wrap the towel around you. I thought you were feeling cold. Sorry Sufiana. I’ll remember this next time, okay?” I said the same thing, using different but simple words, a couple of times.
She’d let me know before in no uncertain terms that she would like to wipe herself dry after every bath and then wrap the towel around herself; that I should not do it at any cost. Basically, this less than 3 years old is an eager natural learner. She loves being in charge of her everyday chores (so much fun for her!) like brushing her teeth, bathing, applying coconut oil over her body, grooming her hair. But, that noon, when she ran out of the bathroom with her body dripping wet, the fan was blowing full speed outside and the cold breeze due to the monsoon rains added an element of cold that we aren’t used to here in Goa. I rushed to wrap a towel around her, without thinking how upset she gets when I or my hubby ever do that. To make matters worse for her, I laughed light-heartedly as if meaning, “yay, I caught you and beat you to it”. Now, that was hilariously stupid on my part, I sincerely feel. And, well, she wasn’t humoured one bit.
Hence, the angry expression over not being listened to, of not showing regard for what and how she wants, of undermining her opinion.
So, yes, I was sorry for her hurt. And that’s an understatement. It’s heart-wrenching for a mother to see pain in those sparkly, trusting eyes. I was feeling for her and was trying hard to hold the space for her – I wasn’t intervening in her cry, wasn’t stopping her from yelling.
Yet, I could not help but feel awe-struck by the immeasurable beauty in that scene….
Ever since man and woman came to partner on this planet, women have given birth. Birthing has been their second nature – an involuntary process – like breathing. But, times changed. And messages too. The modern woman was constantly drilled with messages about child birth that created dark and perilous clouds of fear in her mind. She was constantly being told if she won’t do this, that might happen, if she won’t listen to so and so, she’ll put her baby at risk. So, she was constantly listening – to every fear-inducing message from the authority figures, from the medical experts, from the machines and the lab tests. The only important being she was told to not listen to was her own body, her own inner wisdom and her natural instinct as a woman and a mother.
Last night, as I felt a part of me engulfed by sheer exhaustion, of the body as well as mind, I found myself inadvertently browsing through an old collection of photographs on the laptop. So momentous were the memories associated with these pictures that I felt goosebumps on my arms and a shiver down my spine. I was walking through visuals from a time of my life that was nothing if not life-changing. Those pictures were from the last few days before I gave birth to my second child – Sufiana (2.5 now). I realized that this is the first time I’m actually watching these pictures after clicking them for, I’d downloaded the pics on my hubby’s laptop, which I never use. Now, I’m using it as he got a new one and my old laptop is on its verge.
Within minutes of going through those photographs, my mind stopped racing; I wasn’t blinking as much; my breath felt less laboured. I felt love within me, for myself. I felt grateful that I was able to do all that I wanted to.
So, here’s the story and the visuals…
In a previous post, I shared our upcycled saree curtains and referred to that queen bed which has propagated many lovely pieces of furniture. We’d dismantled that whole bed with the help of a local carpentar, extracted three wall shelves from one portion of the bed. The bed itself was broken down into two singles, which we’d painted earlier – in a shabby chic, distress style (pics below). I couldn’t wait to do something different with the wall shelves. So, here’s the rest of the post, see for yourself…
When it comes to art or craft (or, any other subject for that matter) I keep getting smitten by a new form or type or tool every so often. There’s just so much to explore and learn and yet such limited time to create with a 2.5 year old around. An over dose of curiosity and an under dose of free time to ‘make’ is a tough combination. And that has an impact. It impacts my ability to master a specific art form that I’m exploring at a particular time. (Paper Mache, right now…..).
I never feel more given to
than when you take from me –
when you understand the joy I feel
giving to you.
And you know my giving isn’t done
to put you in my debt,
but because I want to live the love
I feel for you.
To receive with grace
may be the greatest giving.
There’s no way I can separate
When you give to me,
I give you my receiving.
When you take from me, I feel so
These verses, dear readers, is by Ruth Bebermeyer from the album Given To.
I felt deeply that I must share this poem with you all to express how I feel after receiving your positive and warm comments today (on the blog and on FB page) – about the blog post (‘Upcycled Home‘). I published today after a gap of 7-8 months and was totally not sure anyone would ever read anything from me given my erratic ways on the blog. But, by receiving my writing in a way that you did, you’ve given me the gift of joy and grace and love. It’s a beautiful confusion happening – my writing is my giving to you and your receiving gracefully is your giving to me. As it’s said in the lines above – “to receive with grace may be the greatest giving.
I’d also like to share that I came across this poetry in the book ‘Nonviolent Communication A Language of Life‘ by Marshall B. Rosenberg. Have been reading and re-reading this book and I can only say it’s truly life-changing. Life-changing because it teaches you the language (not just words) of compassion that stems from the heart. It helps you listen to what others have to say and to express effectively what’s on your mind and in your heart. It gives clear and concise ways to improve your inter-personal relationships.
As I was typing the password to enter into my blog’s admin page (to write!), I wondered if the password would work. It’s been so long after-all. Wasn’t sure if it was the same or I’d changed it along the way.
The password remains the same. Only, I’ve been too stuck to open that page. Stuck in my mind? Stuck in my beliefs? Well, that remains a question for me to introspect.
For now, I’m dying to catch up with you all. To see how you’ve been. And, to let you know what I’ve been upto.
Well, for one, we moved houses – nearly seven months back. (And, that’s exactly how long I haven’t written here). So, not that I’m justifying, but a house move takes a big toll on my writing. And, art. And, craft. Oh well….! There I go again. But, hey, it does. Besides all the obvious tasks related to a house move (and the house hunt not to forget), there are new things that get my adrenalin flowing.
Like a blank canvas, a new house is so tantalizing – it’s exciting, nervous, challenging – all at the same time – to do up the space.
Yes, literally a blank canvas it was….
This house. For, before we moved, we’d sold off even the very basic furniture we had; parted with most of the crockery, furnishings, heaps and heaps of books. A house move itself is so tiring; I didn’t want to waste my time and energy over managing all that stuff that we can very well live without; all that possession that consumes my time, energy and attention away from my top priority – my children. Plus, my need to create time for my own creative satisfaction.
Over the years I’ve come to realize, all that we fret over – the clothes, the artefacts, the crockery, the curtains, the carpets and rugs – they only further us away from the selves that we want to be. For in the middle of acquiring and managing, there isn’t much time for self discovery, introspection, meditation, ‘doing nothing’, living in the moment, living mind-fully – things that take you closer to yourself. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy the good stuff – wow, I know how much I love a good piece of handmade earthenware/ceramics! The problem, I think, arises when the ‘stuff’ scripts our life story and stress takes over….
Hence, the clean-up.
But well, in the next few months, we did buy some stuff – absolutely essential and simpler – easy to manage and simple in style – a style that reflects the people that we are at this stage in life – inside out.
The best part of this whole project was recycling and upcylcing a ton of things. And that includes converting bulky double beds into two single units; handpainting our own beds, art tables, chairs; upcycling age-old sarees into curtains. And, this reuse, recycle, refurbish, repair project is still on. Repurposing headboards into wall shelves – they’ve turned out gorgeous. So, lots of pics to share with you all. But, I need to download the pics and that may take another couple of days. So, in the meantime, I couldn’t wait to share this rambling from my heart.
There’s an old mirror that needs rehash.
There are cardboard boxes that I can convert into pieces of art.
There are old pots and pans that can be my canvases for zentangle art or something else.
There’re family photos that are being beckoned by those bare white walls.
But, more than anything else, I’ve got to start new seeds in my garden. (okay, I have those seeds sprouting already by the time I got around to publishing this post!) The rains aren’t far off and I need my saplings to be fairly sturdy just in time to be able to withstand the ferocious Goan monsoons.
In my next post, I’ll share my kitchen garden with you. I’ve harvested much and some are withering away in the current scorching conditions. A lot to share nevertheless.
Whoa…it feels good, to be writing again, to have those words tucked away in my chest tumbling out making amusing and weird sounds. Those stuck-up words had become an ache in my heart, a noise in my head.
More than anything else, I’m grateful to you, dear friends/readers, for being around here even though I haven’t written and connected with you all for months now. Thank you from my heart for reading this article. Please come by and say hello, share what you’ve been upto, what’s new and meaningful and fun (or not so fun) in your life right now. Hugs and blessings….