Millie Rosa

I admire you for many reasons. And I understand, I think, a little of how you must be feeling, in that you have taken this child in and are hoping to "save" him from going down a dark road. And you posted here for a reason. You have shared that you are interested in unschooling the other children and possibly James as well, in the future. And I think you have gotten some excellent insights from others regarding the fact that there is only NOW. I do understand that you feel he is very much "behind" and feel some pressure to help him learn what you feel he needs to know.

I do have a few things I would like to add to what has already been said. I think you are still on this list because you want what is best for James. Unschooling is so different from everything WE were taught and lived and knew that it does seem incredibly radical at first and many doubts present themselves. It is a MAJOR paradigm shift when we begin to see the world through unschooling eyes. Every paradigm shift takes time, and courage, and what may seem radical, far fetched, and even sometimes plain wrong at first grows on us as our understanding and perceptions change.

I would like to present an analogy which may help you to see things from a different perspective. Imagine you had been feeding your family potatoes. That is what everyone eats, you guys have always eaten potatoes. And so one day it occurs to you that your family is not particularly thriving on potatoes. So you think about it, you do some research, you talk to some folks, read, whatever, and you discover that you don't have to eat potatoes and that they don't provide complete nutrition, and whats more there are all these wonderful and exciting new vegetables that your family can eat instead, vegetables that are tastier and will nourish your bodies much better than plain old white potatoes ever did. So you become excited and you begin feeding your family colorful, exciting new dinners. You are excited by cooking these new dinners (and a little confused as we all are when we do something new) and you see your family begin to grow healthier and thrive. Okay, so now, James is the
member of your family who has thrived the least on potatoes, Latoya. He is allergic to potatoes; he is the member of the family whose nutritional levels are most deficient, who is truly sick and suffering because of having eaten the potatoes. Of course you would not say "we will enjoy these exciting new foods and way of eating but James will have to sit over here by himself and eat all the leftover potatoes....we need to get more potatoes to stuff James with and let me get online and find some new potato recipes to make for James, cuz the other children they did okay when they had to eat potatoes, but James keeps on throwing his up so we gotta find a way to stuff James all up w potatoes so he will keep them down." Of course not, you would help James to detox from all the potatoes that you NOW KNOW are what was making him sick and you will feed him all the healthy good colorful stuff you are discovering and you would throw out the potatoes immediately!

Now, I would also like to emphasize what others have said regarding the fact that you really can't make James learn or do anything. Trying to do so will certainly push him in the direction you are trying to steer him away from. When I was 14, my parents didn't like my crowd. They thought I was hanging out w losers and feared I was using drugs. I wasn't using drugs. They forbid me to hang out w these friends, they restricted me in every possible way and did not allow me to go out because they were so afraid that I was "headed in the wrong direction." They spent money sending me to counselors because of my anger at them and my mom quit her job to stand over me at the table while I did my homework after school and to make sure I wasn't with these other children. Latoya, as I said, I was not using drugs, smoking, drinking, or doing anything wrong except giving my parents a really hard time in response to the hard time they were giving me. But eventually, I did start smoking and
using drugs. Because I couldn't leave my house or have any contact w my friends, I left school every day w new friends. I had sex, I did drugs, I committed crimes. I ran away from home and it is a miracle that I did not die, and some bad things did happen to me. My point is that I was not headed in any wrong direction, but my parents FEAR and their attempts to prevent me from doing so pushed me, propelled me, into exactly the direction they were desperately trying to prevent me from going. I believe that had they trusted me and allowed me to live my own life I would never have chosen that direction on my own. If my parents had accepted me and helped me and allowed me the freedom to be, instead of focusing their love on preventions and remedies, then I would not have had such an intense need to find validation and comfort in drugs and peers.

I am learning this lesson on the other side now. My own child is only 3 yo and I have learned that it is not advisable or even possible for me to control him or his behavior. That is not my job, it is his. It is my job to love him and to trust that he will know best where he wants to go, and to help him to get there. I model the traits I value, kindness and love and joy and honor and respect and I give these things freely to him. I believe this is the best way for him to learn these things. (-but I think I am heading on an unrelated tangent, so I am stopping now!)

BTW, I was excited to see you state that you will be inviting James to a drumming workshop and even offering him the opportunity to build his own drum; that sounds like it would loads of fun! I play drums and can tell you w certainty that there is plenty of math in drumming and beats; its all about numbers.

Anyway, good luck to you and your family, Latoya. I thank you for being a loving presence in this hurting child's life and I hope you all will find much joy in your time together.

by the riverside

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