Focus, Hobbies, Obsessions

online chat, January 30, 2013, discussing pages 186-191 of The Big Book of Unschooling (2009 edition)

AnnieLou:Hi from Australia.

Robin B.:Hello AnnieLou from Australia.

Sylvia Woodman: What part of Australia?

AnnieLou: The Yarra Valley, just outside of Melbourne. A wine growing region

Sylvia Woodman: Sounds quite glamourous compared to Trenton, NJ where I am..

MelissaP: Oh Sylvia, I grew up in Morrisville, right across the bridge from you.

AnnieLou: Yes it's very pretty, mountains and hills and very rural

Sylvia Woodman: Really?? Where are you now?

MelissaP: Las Vegas now.

Robin B.: My nephew and his family live in Melbourne.

AnnieLou: Ooh, where in Melbourne?

Robin B.: I'll go find out!

Sylvia Woodman: Wow! Also sounds fancy!

TeresaHY: Hey, y'all! Joining from Fayetteville, Arkansas. Am I remembering right that the chat today is on hobbies and obsessions and the like?

Sandra Dodd: Correct, Teresa.

TeresaHY: OK, good, because if the topic turns to pirates and knights, the Youngblood boys and I have much to contribute.

Robin B.: Albert Park. Is that technically in Melbourne?

Robin B.: Returning now to the regularly scheduled topic.

AnnieLou: Yeah that's right near the city, a very nice spot

Robin B.: International group today.

Marta Pires: Yeap Robin, Portugal here!

Robin B.: And Alex, a Brazilian living in the U.S. Me, a Canadian, living in the U.S. What fun.

Sandra Dodd: Jihong is often here. She's a Canadian who was once Chinese, living in the U.S.

Sandra Dodd: My son Marty (Bardolf Gunwaldtsson, for this purpose) is being knighted at the end of February, at the Estrella War in Arizona. (Society for Creative Anachronism knighting)

Sandra Dodd: That's pretty cool.

Robin B.: Yes, very cool.

Robin B.: It's kind of a big deal, isn't it, Sandra?

Alex Polikowsky: Congratulations to Marty!

JenMcG: We're going to that Estrella War for the first time this year.

Sandra Dodd: Yeah, kind of.

Sandra Dodd: Oh! Jen, if you go to grand court, you can see Bardolf be knighted. I think (not sure) Saturday night. Outlands.

JenMcG: Very cool!

Sandra Dodd: I won't be there. I've sworn off and taken the persona of an anchorite.

TeresaHY: !!! Congrats!!! We went to our first Ren Faire last year, when Woody was 6. A pretty great group of folks were leading the kids through--I don't know what to call it--a play battle? Telling them all about the weapons and techniques. It was amazing.

Sandra Dodd: That sounds fun, Teresa. :-) Maybe they called it a melee?

Sandra Dodd: /sca/aeanchoress

Serah: Hi everyone!

Sandra Dodd: That was my focus/obsession/hobby for half of my life, the SCA. It's way bigger than a single hobby, though. It's kind of maintaining and alternate universe. :-)

Sandra Dodd: I think "gaming" can be that way, too.

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes saying "I'm a gamer" can mean that the person's priority is gaming, not limited to one kind of gaming, and probably including collecting and reading and attending conventions.

Robin B.: I love this: "Hey, I would be TOTALLY religious if I believed there was a God." You would be passionate about that!

Sylvia Woodman: What does that mean you've "sworn off" Sandra?

Robin B.: (from the aeanchoress page).

Sylvia Woodman: I have hobbies that I've left off but I try to leave the door open to come back to them...

Sandra Dodd: I don't want to go to events. Even if my son is being knighted.

Sandra Dodd: I did enough for this lifetime. I'm helping people with unschooling now.

Robin B.: My daughter's priority is gaming. She writes and reads and draws and sculpts and socially interacts and cosplays, all due to gaming.

Robin B.: And goes to conventions.

Sandra Dodd: And some people are costumers, who would put that priority first, and so might be involved in some gaming, some dancing, some theatre, some museum research...

Sylvia Woodman: I think because my kids are still young I wouldn't want to miss any of their events...maybe that will change someday...

Robin B.: Sandra, wouldn't you be dealing with "are you coming back to SCA?" questions if you went.

Sandra Dodd: A friend of mine makes hats. And so she loves the SCA because it's a place she can make hats and have them be appreciated (and actually worn!) and she has reason to research and learn more about hats she might never otherwise have hear of.

JenMcG: My 12 year old son calls himself a "gamer". He's never been interested in anything like conventions. He's been spending a lot of his time lately learning how to program his own games

TeresaHY: That's something I've noticed about some of my kids' (and my) interests. Interests turn to hobbies or pastimes. Those, in turn, lead to people--often very interesting people--who turn you on to different aspects of your shared interest. A friend describes that as "going down the rabbit hole," which maybe gets to what you're saying, Sandra, about the whole alternative universe (though maybe not quite so historically-heeled as a true SCA "universe!

Sandra Dodd: Yes, Robin. The irritation to me would way outweigh the slight "nice my mom's here" that Bardolf might feel. And I'm embittered about some stuff, and I don't want to spread my frustration, not even to people here!

Robin B.: Gotcha!

Sandra Dodd: Part of what makes something sparkly and wonderful is the observer being new to it and seeing it as a giant wall of glory and potential.

Robin B.: We live in the Pokemon universe *a lot* here.

Sandra Dodd: But it's kind of cool, isn't it, Teresa? I think ANY interest is a portal to the universe. And that's what I thought we could play with today.

TeresaHY: SpongeBob, for us. "Oh, Barnacles!" is the family swear.

Sandra Dodd: Any interest can (if my theory holds--someone here might shoot it down, and that's okay) ... can potentially lead to ... can potentially lead to everything else in the world.

ColleenP (NH): we did a lot of Pokemon here, for several years - but suddenly the last couple months, Robbie has left that interest behind for Star Trek, Munchkin, and Mario - it's different not to have it as a focus any more!

Robin B.: Pokemon came later for Senna. She's never been interested in the game, but collects the cards (for the art, I think).

Alex Polikowsky: My son Daniel is big into video games. He researches them , writes about them, plays and is really into all of it.

AnnieLou: We're into The Avengers a lot here at the moment - which certainly opens windows into lots of other worlds and universes

Robin B.: I think her gaming world is safe, in a way that the real world isn't, if that make sense.

TeresaHY: Scribblenauts--which I think I first learned about on a chat here a few months ago--led to conversations about spelling, why words are spelled certain ways, silent letters, words from other languages...

laura z: Caitlyn's interests are cyclical...sometimes days or weeks before she rotates to something new, something old, or a blend of all.

Sandra Dodd: Kirby was quite the Ninja Turtle guy for many years, when he was young. One day he was a bit nervous and confessed to me (or shared to see if I was worried too) that he thought about Turtles all the time, he even dreamed about them, and thought about them while he was eating. I asked if he was worried, and that I didn't think it was going to hurt anything if he was okay with it.

Sandra Dodd: Robin, that makes a lot of sense to me.

ColleenP (NH): Robbie played the DS games, and liked collecting the cards (but not playing the card game) - he has his room decorated still with a bunch of Pokemon posters that his dad made for him - so that's still a connection - but he says he'd like to add some Minecraft decor...

Alex Polikowsky: Gigi has been playing Roblox and Minecraft with friends and skyping. It is so cool to hear them talk.

Sandra Dodd: Teresa, have you shared with them (or at least used it yourself)?

JenMcG: Alex, yes, that's been happening here too. Very cool to have unschooler's voices from around the world coming through our Skype.

Jill Parmer: Luke (14) spends plenty of time playing games on his computer, and the conversations we have are all kinds of topics - politics, famous and infamous people of the past, relationships, personality, humor, on and on.

Alex Polikowsky: She specially has two brittish friends who are adorable. Brian and I just loving hearing them talk with their endearing brittsh accent. Brian calls it Kid Downton Abbey,

Robin B.: Yes, Jill. It's all of a piece!

Jill Parmer: When I was playing a lot of World of Warcraft with my kids, I would dream about it, especially if we had a day of long WoW adventures.

Sandra Dodd: Lately my obsession is Just Add Light and Stir.

Jill Parmer: Oh my gosh, I love that too, Alex. When Luke's computer was in the central room, it was like we had 6 boys here every day. I loved it.

ColleenP (NH): My husband is walking around yawning today because he'd been building his own minecraft city and says it's all he dreamed last night so he barely slept as he kept waking up and debating going to build

Marta Pires: My obsession is radical unschooling at the moment.

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes I find a source for two or three quotes, and put them in scattered over time, and sometimes I get some great photos, and sometimes I'm all dried up and not thinking of anything and thinking I will never find or create another good quote EVER again, and all my photos are boring crap.

Erica Jones: Sandra, I just googled "just add light & stir" so far so good. Thanks for the lead

Jill Parmer: My obsession that I didn't have much time for when my kids were younger has returned with more uumph than before. Sewing. I'm having so much fun making stuff, and my family is loving the items they get.

JenMcG: I love sharing your Just Add Light and Stir because they're nice quick little reads that are great for people who wouldn't sit and read a whole blog post.

Sandra Dodd: Thanks, Jen.

Sandra Dodd: I like them because they can be quick or hours. If someone follows the link, that link has three or six other links. It's kind of like the randomizer, but with a starting quote and new photo.

Marta Pires: I love the randomizer on your site!

AnnieLou: Lately I've been pursuing my interest in various topics by borrowing lots of books from the library, watching DVDs etc and really immersing in the topic (which of course leads to other topics)

TeresaHY: When I was doing Facebook, I'd find that I'd *think* in status updates--I'd package my experience of the world around me in one or two sentences. It was odd to watch my thinking patterns be so affected by that "obsession." When something happens that stays in my 4 year old's brain for a while, he sometimes reaches to the SpongeBob episode that it reminds him of, using it maybe to make sense of what he's seeing or experiencing.

Sandra Dodd: I haven't added any links to that randomizer for almost two years.

Alex Polikowsky: My son is into Ocarina and playing them because of Legend of Zelda.

Sandra Dodd: I'll need to go through the announcements and gather them up.

AnnieLou: I've never allowed myself to do that before because it seemed too self-indulgent to pursue interests that weren't 'worth' the time. But thanks to unschooling now I realise that all interests are worth the time. And I'm really enjoying it

Alex Polikowsky: I have always pursued my interests when I was young. Thank goodness my parents were supportive.

Robin B.: Seeing kids immerse themselves and being okay with their immersion can be enlightening for a parent!

Alex Polikowsky: Yes Robin!

Sandra Dodd: AnnieLou, I like when we play games like Chronology and people know an answer because of some obscure or particular interest they have.

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes the players don't want to know WHY a person knew what came first, but that's the most fun thing for me.

Sylvia Woodman: Harry (6.5) is totally into Sklyanders right now and he has been longing for a particular figure (Eyebrawl) that is difficult to get right now. We found it on ebay and he and Jim bid on it he was so excited when they won the auction and it JUST arrived in the mail so he is happily exploring all it's features right now!

Alex Polikowsky: But for some people certain things are not valued as much or at all.

Marta Pires: Indeed Robin!

Sandra Dodd: Congratulations on that Ebay success, Sylvia. :-)

JenMcG: Deciding that I was going to pursue things that interested me and not what other people thought I should have pursued was very, very, freeing.

Robin B.: Yes! I was really interested in genetics for a time as a teen. Mendel's name stayed in my memory long enough to win a Trivial Pursuit game :-)

Erica Jones: Unschooling has been freeing to me too. I'm still learning about it but I'm enjoying the journey. Even my complete black/white logical husband is on board. Which to me is awesome because he's not much of a reader & I suck with words

Sandra Dodd: I'm glad people are talking about their own hobbies, too, here. There are some adults who were "serious" children and didn't "waste time." That makes it hard for them to see value in their children's curiosity and exploration.

Sandra Dodd: Erica, click "join the chat" at the bottom, if you want, so your messages will be direct.

Erica Jones: thanks sandra.....newbie here

Sylvia Woodman: Welcome Erica!

Sandra Dodd: Some parents get frustrated, too, if their child doesn't HAVE "a passion." And some think it's their job to nurture the hobbies past the point the kids are interested in them.

Erica Jones: I think pursuing my hobbies will inspire my 3 year old. Besides he can help

Sandra Dodd: It's important to let things come and go.

AnnieLou: I love watching and supporting my children in exploring their interests as deeply as they want to. It was quite enlightening when I realised that I still wasn't letting myself do it

Sylvia Woodman: I remember being forced to take piano lessons long after my interest had waned.

Marta Pires: Is it just here in Portugal that the word "obsession" doesn't have a very positive connotation, though?

Jill Parmer: About things being "worth the time". I talked a bit to Marty about this at the symposium, because of something he said on a panel about right living, or good work. Sandra, do you know what I'm talking about? It's a philosophical term about ..oh wait. Right living?

AnnieLou: Yes, some hobbies or interests can be really fleeting

JenMcG: I've always found that when my kids go through a long period of "down time" that it's almost always followed by a huge explosion of interest in a new (or old) passion.

AnnieLou: I think here people tend to be derisive about obsessions

ColleenP (NH): Marta I think a lot of people do use the word obsessed to mean "over-infatuated with" - like it's a negative

MelissaP: My daughter's Skylar (11) and Summer are passionate about Monster high dolls and creating make up collections. We have a lot of fun.

Robin B.: Erica, what do you mean "he can help" with your hobbies?

MelissaP: Summer is 9, sorry.

Jill Parmer: Ah I found it. Right Livelihood.

Erica Jones: Robin I mean when he finds interest (my current one is soap making) he can help with my recipes or pour ingredients

Robin B.: He can. If he wants to!

Sandra Dodd: Sorry, Jill. Keith, Marty and Holly were in here. They just finished stacking two cords of wood (I helped for half and hour between the dentist and the chat) and Marty helped after he got back from work). They're all going out to lunch. They would've waited for me, but I know Marty's hungry.

Sylvia Woodman: Gabriella 8 is spending a lot of time watching as many tween series as she can find on Netflix (Good luck Charlie, ICarly, Shake it Up, Kickin' It, Total Drama Island etc) I don't know what exactly fascinates her so about the shows but I'm confident that she is getting something important from them.

TeresaHY: Growing up, in my extended family, there were lots of catty remarks about the cousins' (our) obsessions. I remember things like, "She likes books better than people," and "He'll never get a scholarship if he doesn't do anything but draw." Luckily, maybe because my own mom was a proud "dabbler," those comments always seemed a bit off to me, though I couldn't say why at the time.

Sandra Dodd: Right livlihood. That's what he mentioned.

Marta Pires: Yes Colleen. As I was writing that I was obsessed with radical unschooling, it felt awkward, as if I shouldn't be obsessed with anything, because that means I'm going way overboard.

Sylvia Woodman: Would passionate be a better word?

Erica Jones: sylvia i'm currently on a netflix kick myself. vampire diaries right now. i have a fascination with the paranormal. i don't know what it means, but its too fun to stop

AnnieLou: My mother doesn't really approve of anyone being even passionate about things, she thinks that the passion means there's not enough balance int heir life

Sandra Dodd: Exactly what they mean, Marta! It's used insultingly.

TeresaHY: Maybe that place where passion meets obsession is where we all kind of stop and reassess--like Sandra's story about Kirby checking in with her about thinking about turtles all the time.

Sandra Dodd: I think it's fine for some people to have no particular interests or hobbies.

Alex Polikowsky: Yep Maybe passionate. That is a more positive word :0

Jill Parmer: Addi loved watching shows like that, Sylvia. Sometimes the whole family would get into one, like the Gilmore Girls. So many conversations about how people acted and the choices they made.

Sandra Dodd: The problem is when someone else TELLS the person it's too much. That's bad.

ColleenP (NH): Robbie though will announce happily things like "wow I really AM obsessed with Star Trek!" so for him, he sees it as a wonderful word - I like that, it sort of redeems the word

AnnieLou: Luckily for me, my dad was passionate about a lot of things and ignored her disapproval, so I did see that it could be ok to be passionate

Robin B.: I'm obsessed with hula and Hawai'i and that obsession can take up *a lot* of time and energy (sewing, rehearsing, meetings, classes, volunteering, etc.). I've dialed it back because my family was missing my physical and emotional presence. For a parent, their obsession can impact their kids and partner in not-so-good ways. Being aware is good!

Sandra Dodd: So if a parent is tempted to tell a child "You think about Ninja Turtles too much," or "He cares more about books than people" or "He just draws all the time," the person doing the criticizing might be putting the brakes on a genius. Or might be attempting to stop the flow of someone who was drawing, reading, playing, thinking for real and good reasons.

AnnieLou: Yes I've found that too Robin, one of my passions is breast feeding and I could spend all my time doing my volunteer work there, but I choose to put more time into my family

Sandra Dodd: AnnieLou, it's very likely genetic, too.

Marta Pires: Yes Robin. Luckily, radical unschooling is all about being with our family, so I only take the time to work on my passion when I'm not needed. Hehehe

AnnieLou: Do you mean I've inherited my day's passionate genes?

Sandra Dodd: I haven't had a chance to respond to the question about a child who's collecting "trash," but I'm a packrat, and the grandparent I'm most like physically and tempermentally was too.

Alex Polikowsky: Yeah Robin. I like showing dogs but I have put it off until my kids are older. It is no big deal.

Sandra Dodd: Possibly, AnnieLou.

AnnieLou: Oops - my day's

Sandra Dodd: dad's

AnnieLou: Thanks you. iPad keyboard is a bit tricky sometimes

Sandra Dodd: And Alex, if you never do get involved in dog shows again, you still did it, learned it, lived in that world a while.

Sandra Dodd: If I never play SCA at all again, if I were to stop making costumes for Marty and Keith, give away all my stuff, I still will have the memories and knowledge I gained.

AnnieLou: I see parents all the time tell their kids that their interest is too much

TeresaHY: I like that aspect of it. It seems so optimistic and holistic--I did it, it's part of me, it may be meaningful to me again.

Sandra Dodd: Marty loves history and puts everything together as he goes, and always has. He's about to drop out of the first history class he's ever taken.

AnnieLou: Or roll their eyes when they tell people 'he's obsessed with....'

ColleenP (NH): yes my mother used to say I should be "well rounded" and not focus too much on any one thing - it's interesting how concerned people sometimes get about what others enjoy!

JenMcG: I started enjoying trying things so much more when I didn't feel like I had to FINISH them. I could try things until I got my fill and then move on, or not.

Alex Polikowsky: Absolutely. And with the technology today I keep in touch with my dog shwo friends, I see shows live on TV or streaming. It is just not a priority. I have been in the dog show scene since I was 13. I rather be with my family now

Robin B.: It seems societally normal to do that, AnnieLou.

Erica Jones: OO JenMcG I never thought about that. I like it

Marta Pires: On the other hand Colleen, some parents can also think the child isn't able to focus!

Sandra Dodd: I suggested it himself, after reading through the two pages of instruction for the assignment of a five page paper. Marty had already said the teacher didn't talk about history, only talked about himself. He told them they were lucky that he's so busy with his PhD dissertation that he can't assign the two-page essay he usually assigns every Monday.

ColleenP (NH): yes Marta exactly!

Erica Jones: Geez I wouldn't wanna be in that class either Sandra

Robin B.: It can also cause problems between spouses. Women who slag their husbands for their interests. I know more marriages that have broken up because of that than I care to count.

Sandra Dodd: NOT about history. And the convoluted, officious directions for this paper concluded with the threat that if page five was short, not to the bottom of the page, he would turn it over and mark it a zero. I said "Marty, you should drop this class."

Sandra Dodd: But here's the deal: Marty learned some very cool stuff from that book, and from what has happened in three weeks. He will still have that knowledge.

Robin B.: Geez. Can you or Marty write the college about that?

Sandra Dodd: What he won't have anymore is the pressure of the papers.

Sandra Dodd: I thought about it, Robin.

Erica Jones: hopefully he can keep the book for pleasure reading

Sandra Dodd: Marty doesn't care about things like that.

Alex Polikowsky: Or that they say their husbands are too different or they are stunting their growth ( because of different interests and ideas)

AnnieLou: And he'll probably retain the knowledge longer than the others who are there to pass the course

TeresaHY: Robin, I made that mistake early in my marriage. I minimized my husband's great passion for LSU football, specifically how emotionally invested he got in it. He was--rightfully--upset at me, and I realized how insulting I'd been.

Robin B.: I'd be pissed!

Sandra Dodd: Robin, tell them what your husband does. That's the very kind of "hobby" wives slag about.

Robin B.: He's a race car driver.

Erica Jones: really?!? robin thats awesome!

Robin B.: And coach, more now.

ColleenP (NH): as his hobby, or his job, Robin?

Sylvia Woodman: A long time ago I was in a relationship with a guy who was totally obsessed with football and I figured I could either be a football widdow or a football fan. So I got a book to explain the rules and started watching the games and reading the sports section...

Robin B.: A lot of those marriages were racing marriages.

Marta Pires: Wow Robin! My husband's going to be really envious! ;)

Erica Jones: what kind of race cars?

Robin B.: You can rub it in with Ross's Wikipedia page. Nah, don't do that!

Robin B.: Indy cars, endurance racing.

Sylvia Woodman: Even though the relationship ultimately failed I still have that knowledge (which continues to serve me -- Jim likes football too and so does my brother) and I still have some nice memories of that time.

Robin B.: We raced at Surfer's Paradise twice!

Capn Franko: Read Ross' books.

Alex Polikowsky: I learned to love watching sports and learned about basebal because it is one of the things my husband past time and passion It really connects us>​

ColleenP (NH): cool Robin!

Marta Pires: On the other hand Colleen, some parents can also think the child isn't able to focus! THAT is important for unschoolers (new unschoolers) to think about.

Capn Franko: Loucks went from not really being a "car guy" to being a guy who just finsihed Skip barber's racing school. He read Ross' books. (wink)

AnnieLou: Wow surfers paradise is a fun place to visit

JenMcG: Supporting my husband's love off of his Land Cruiser and off-roading led to discovering a new hobby that the whole family now enjoys.

Sylvia Woodman: Jim was never into videogames but he is getting a lot of enjoyment out of playing video games with Harry!

Sandra Dodd: Rather than try to prescribe what children should focus on, it's good to see that they CAN and do focus, when they feel safe and free to do that without criticism and pressure and a timer.

Robin B.: One of Ross's passions is hiking. I have really tried to enjoy the ones he does, but it just hurts for me. So, I take him where he wants to go, send him off on a hiking trip to Hawai'i with love, arrange for easy hikes together.

Robin B.: It's a new passion, too.

AnnieLou: Yeah my daughter sometimes seems like she can't focus, but what she does is short bursts of a whole range of interests, then might leave them alone for months

ColleenP (NH): my husband's parents wouldn't let him have video games growing up - so he's having a blast playing now - and it's cute how patient Robbie is with him, as RObbie's skills exceed his since Robbie's been playing since he was little so his reflexes etc. are pretty amazing!

Robin B.: Frank, thank goodness he has Shannon for a partner!

Robin B.: Sweet, Colleen!

Marta Pires: Yes Sandra. I'm lucky to have started reading about radical unschooling on your site and the Always Learning list, because Constança (3 years old) is just like that--it seems like she doesn't focus on anything really, but I think maybe it's how she's wired to learn? She's loves to do something for a while and then moves on quickly (although who should define how quick is quickly?).

AnnieLou: Whereas my son has a couple of big interests that take up all his time, so it's interesting to see 2 different ways that passions play out

ColleenP (NH): it's cute - especially if my husband gets stuck on a level or task and calls Robbie over to get him unstuck

Sandra Dodd: It's likely that Marty already understands what he's read better than some who might get an A in that class, because he came back all excited and talked to me for an hour about the comparative effects of people living where most rivers run east/wast (Europe) and north america where they are mostly north/south, and how that affects all kinds of things, from migration of animals and plants to the travel and settlement (and so language) of people, and even after the Europeans came it had unexpected effects.

Robin B.: Some kids alight like dragonflies on their interests; others grab them like pit bulls and don't let go!

Jill Parmer: Colleen, my kids and I have had such an amazingly fun time playing video games together. I got into it to know what was going on in the game to help them out. Ended up loving it. And we've played with other families. Many many kids on the game have wished their parents played with them.

Sandra Dodd: So I was excited and said "Tell KEITH!" And there was another long discussion that other day. Marty will forever have that on his checklist of things to consider when he reads about a different continent.

Robin B.: Sandra, I *love* that history excites Marty like that. How many kids in his class feel that way, too, I wonder?

Alex Polikowsky: Marta maybe because she is 3 years old?

ColleenP (NH): yep having the time and the willingness to play *together* makes gaming so much more wonderful!

Sylvia Woodman: Right Nerf guns were HUGE for months and months here and then I realized it had been a couple of weeks and then a couple of months with not much use and then suddenly last weekend nerf battles started up again. Now flavored with some Skylanders ideas! I love cross pollination!

Robin B.: That's what I was thinking, Alex. She's 3!

Sandra Dodd: For those new to the chat, if it gets too fast, click on "review mode" on the left, and it will be still a while.

Jill Parmer: I have play a game with Marty, I'm pretty sure is was Chronology. I was amazed at the things he said about history and the tidbits he shared when he got a card.

Marta Pires: Maybe Alex. What I wanted to say is that I learned to respect her timings, thanks to radical unschooling. ;)

laura z: sylvia that's what we get is a lot of cross pollination. T/he other day after playing for hours with miniature dogs/tiny sea animals and other little creatures, Caitlyn took her sea creatures and named them with the my little pony names and began a whole new game with them acting like my little pony characters

Robin B.: Hooray!

Sandra Dodd

-=-my daughter sometimes seems like she can't focus, but what she does is short bursts of a whole range of interests, then might leave them alone for months-=-
It's possible that what it LOOKS like a child is doing is not what she's doing.

Robin B.: For Marta, that is, in this cae.

Marta Pires:

Robin B.: case.

TeresaHY: My husband's passion was history. He remembers being really young, replaying battles in his backyard with sticks and pinecones. He's a historian and archivist now at the University of Arkansas, feeling like he is living one of his dreams! That's quite a lovely thing to see in a grown-up.

Sandra Dodd: Maybe it seems like she's picking up, putting down, various things and the mom would call them "dolls / puzzles / dinosaurs" (or something) and what it really is is colors, or materials, or patterns.

Sylvia Woodman: Wow I want to read Marty's text book!

Robin B.: Sandra, maybe she's gathering and storing, too.

Marta Pires: Interesting, Sandra.

Erica Jones: I'm not sure I fully understand the difference in unschooling & radical unschooling

Sandra Dodd: that's nice, Teresa.

Marta Pires: Never thought about it that way.

Robin B.: In her mind's storage, for later. To piece things together.

Sandra Dodd: I'll get you a link, erica. We can discuss it in an hour, then.

Sylvia Woodman: Can you say more Erica?

Sandra Dodd: But for now I'd like to stay on the topic

Sandra Dodd: Don't say more, Erica. :-)

AnnieLou: That's a good point, Sandra.

Erica Jones: okay thanks

Sandra Dodd: /unschool/radical

laura z: Caitlyn will get deeply into some things and that will be her whole world for awhile and then she shifts onto something new sometimes like that dragonfly analogy or deep into a new thing

Sandra Dodd: Near the end of the chat we can talk about other things.

Jill Parmer: Teresa, I love hearing stuff like that, about people living their dreams. That's exciting for your husband. =D>​

Robin B.: Marta, I think that's what Senna did when she was little with regard to speech. She stored words up until she could say them to her satisfaction.

Sandra Dodd: Holly has a boyfriend who doesn't talk much, but he hears EVERYthing. And sees (like an artist) EVERYthing. And sometimes when he talks, it's to make connections nobody else could have predicted or imagined.

Alex Polikowsky: My older brother was like that Robin. When he started talking ( he was over 3 years old) it was in full sentences

Sandra Dodd: But it would be easy for someone to watch him and think he was anti-social and ignoring people, or that he was too shy to keep around.

Robin B.: Ooh, yes. Teresa!

Sandra Dodd: It's a good reminder that we cannot see what our children are learning, and to some extent it's none of our business.

Alex Polikowsky: Yes

Robin B.: Senna hears everything like that, too. I'm surprised by the connections she makes. Although I shouldn't be!

Jill Parmer: So true!

Sandra Dodd: Learning to respect that people are different makes us better people.

Robin B.: Yes.

Alex Polikowsky: Sometimes my kids say something that I had not idea they knew. It is amazing.

Marta Pires: Indeed, Sandra!

Alex Polikowsky: YES! Sandra.

Sandra Dodd: Assuming a child will (if you don't screw him all up) grow into a unique and interesting person with a liftime of connections is a cornerstone of really successful unschooling.

Robin B.: ~ It's a good reminder that we cannot see what our children are learning, and to some extent it's none of our business.~

Alex Polikowsky: ~"Assuming a child will (if you don't screw him all up) grow into a unique and interesting person with a liftime of connections is a cornerstone of really successful unschooling."

AnnieLou: I like that line too, Robin

Sandra Dodd: The more accepting you are when they share with you, the more they will share.

Alex Polikowsky: worth repeating!

Robin B.: That's what bothers me about recording what kids are doing and assuming what they're learning.

TeresaHY: I was just re-typing that to remember it, too, Robin! Yes.

Sandra Dodd: Robin, I don't mind people recording what their kids do and what that could be, as long as the parents grow in the awareness that their report is just for funs and isn't the goal.

AnnieLou: Exactly Robin, because they are learning something from everything they do and it may not be what it looks like

Sandra Dodd: Some people live where they need to report, or they have rich relatives near death that they don't want to piss off.

Sandra Dodd: Or something. (Fill in your own extreme reason to report.)

Robin B.: Yes, that's what I meant to say, I guess. If it's for funs, no problem. I like the blog kind of documentation.

JenMcG: I love how excited and animated my kids are when they're sharing things they've learned with me.

Sandra Dodd: I love blog posts about what a family did, with photos of kids seeing things for the first time, playing with bubbles or goop, and laughing and saying sweetly wonderful things. I like blog posts people can look back at to see their progress.

Sandra Dodd: Blogs are the shared-diary-color-photo​ BOMB

Jill Parmer: I feel like it's my job to protect my kids' space to learn how/what they want, as opposed to a school curriculum. Because I wanted to make unschooling work, I more often than not, needed to let go of societal pressure, embarrassment, comments from others. That all made me stronger.

Sandra Dodd: Look at this: Three teens! I have three teens! (Friday, July 28, 2006)
I do NOT have three teens. But because of blogs, I could juxtapose a photo of them leaving for the first time. And I had three teens. Now Holly is 21; they're all in their 20s.

Robin B.: I sometimes think about the quantum theory thing, though. The act of observation changes the outcome. Maybe I'm obsessed with that :-)

Sandra Dodd: Someone could be obsessed with keeping a blog. So?

Erica Jones: Thats a great point Jill. I struggle with comments from others. Just in the last 6 months/year did we decide to take the unschooling journey

Marta Pires: Yes, Jill.

Sandra Dodd: Nobody wants to live an entirely unobserved life. How sad would that be?

Robin B.: Just thinking out loud. Rabbit hole stuff. Never mind!

Sandra Dodd: The act of observation mars a social experiment.

Sandra Dodd: That wasn't meant to discourage mothers from paying attention to their children.

laura z: I've been trying to decide whether to use a blog or a photo site like Flickr to keep our journey. Now that we have Uverse it's kind of cool because we can look at photos on the big tv

Robin B.: Gosh, no!

Robin B.: Pay attention!

Erica Jones: what is Uverse?

Alex Polikowsky: I have been trying to blog again just to record memories.

Jill Parmer: I have a strong hermit quality. I wouldn't mind an unobserved life. And I'm not sad about that. Although, it's not *entirely* unobserved.

Alex Polikowsky: I think It would be neat to record memories for my children

TeresaHY: Embarrassment. Oy. That's a tough one for me. I have to work hard to let the body-tension that accompanies it pass so that I can breathe and make thoughtful choices about what comes next. I have to take a break from posting to my blog sometimes to focus more on my kids! I realized this when my 7 year old said, as we were playing with clay, "Take a picture of this for your blog. It will look good on there."

ColleenP (NH): I started a blog but haven't been good about keeping up with it - I figure I'll get back to it eventually

Robin B.: Oh, Jill :-) I confess I wanted to be a nun at one time. But God would always be watching, then :-)

AnnieLou: I've been trying to blog, although finding I'm worrying about what people will think of what I write...

laura z: I just figured out to download about 500 plus photos from the last year that were on my phone. We had so much fun looking back through the last year. I had one mom show me her flickr easy just a photo and a short caption of whatever it was/wherever it was. Fun to see the journey

Alex Polikowsky: AnnieLou you can make your blog private

laura z: alex, is your blog available to see?

TeresaHY: The blog has been a great repository of our new passions, though! Wood burning, baking soda experiments, bird watching, drawing, hiking, SpongeBob, Playmobil...

Alex Polikowsky: Yes

Sandra Dodd: I might've been a nun if I had been Catholic.

Robin B.: We had Anglican nuns and I was Anglican.

Sandra Dodd: -=- I realized this when my 7 year old said, as we were playing with clay, "Take a picture of this for your blog. It will look good on there.-=-
Did it seem critical, Teresa, or was he showing an interest in YOUR interest/hobby? Did you assume it was negative?

Alex Polikowsky: my blog.

JenMcG: I love that I have a blog to look back on, for so many reasons.

Sandra Dodd: Blogs don't need to be regular to be valuable.

Capn Franko: I look back on my/our life on Ronnie's blog. That way I can use mine as my psychiatrist/garbage-dump.

Sandra Dodd: They can be like occasional Christmas letters. :-)

Sandra Dodd: I like yours, Frank.

Sandra Dodd: Occsional rants or comedy routines.

Capn Franko: Or both.

Sandra Dodd: Comic rants. You're right!

Jill Parmer: I love your ideas/thoughts, Frank.

Alex Polikowsky: I love your blog Frank and Ronnie's blog too!

Robin B.: Me, too! Post the address, Frank. And Ronnie's.

AnnieLou: I do find that sometimes when we're doing something fun I am writing the blog post in my head, rather than being in the moment with the kids

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes an interest can be hot and burn out in a few hours. A big curiosity, or reading an article in Smithsonian and looking some things up.

Capn Franko: Thanks, y'all. Ronnie's is definitely good unschooling reading, Mine is more --- random.

Sandra Dodd: OR deciding to watch all the moview you can find by one director or...

Sandra Dodd: That stuff. Following a trail.

TeresaHY: No, it didn't seem critical at all. I did take pictures, and he chose which one to post, and told me what he wanted to say about it. But I was taken aback by it. I wondered how he was viewing my blogging about our life, if I was in some way changing the way he played or stamping "approval" on some of our activities by photographing and writing about them. I don't know exactly where I am with that, except that I needed to take a break and give it a think.

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes the trail gets cold after a day.

Robin B.: I felt that way about my friend who was a photographer, AnnieLou. She was rarely in the moment with her daughter. Always trying to capture the perfect shot...

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes it leads to a lifetime of involvement and research and joy, joy, joy!

Sandra Dodd: Or 25 years (in my SCA-life's case)

Capn Franko: Ronnie's is and mine is

Sandra Dodd: Well...

ColleenP (NH): sometimes Robbie will ask a couple questions and we'll look something up and he'll say "ok - I'm good" - seems to be his way of letting me know it was a fleeting moment of wonder, and nothing he wants more of. I like that he's in tune with when he does and doesn't want more - and I like that he knows either way is ok!

Robin B.: Joy, joy, joy! Ahhhh.

Sandra Dodd: IF he considers whether his play is worth taking a picture of (i.e. "something to write home about"), worse things have happened regarding play, and thoughts.

Capn Franko: On either, you can search for "unschooling." Ronnie even has two tags, unschooling and unschoolingtoday. Mine is not tagged.

laura z: thanks for the link Alex

Sandra Dodd: And if a mom photographs cool things her kids do, and that's one of the mom's hobbies, she will surely notice if a whole two weeks went by with nothing photogenic.

Sandra Dodd: And that could be a reminder that maybe she wasn't arranging for cool learning experiences (which can be called that, or not)

Erica Jones: Sometimes while playing my little man will ask me to take his picture

Sandra Dodd: Or the mom might realize that there are other things worth photographing than her kids. :-)

AnnieLou: Colleen, Caitlin and Liam do that too, we'll look something up and sometimes it will lead to more links, other times they'll say they are done

TeresaHY: That's so true! Last year, when I aimed to photograph 180 of our days for what would have been Woody's first year of school, a few days of no photograph would often spur me to find something new and cool to introduce.

Sandra Dodd: Or that there's a ton of learning happening that wouldn't show in a photo.

Alex Polikowsky: I could probably write in my blog everyday something really cool we did or learn or saw!

Alex Polikowsky: My daughter takes pictures and makes videos of what she wants . It is easy for her.

Sandra Dodd: But sometimes it's better to continue being with the kid doint cool things.

Robin B.: Teresa, you're putting together a record of fun and learning and swirly good times, while you're enjoying yourself with your kids. It's so different from what my friend did.

AnnieLou: I'm taking less photos of the kids than I used to, I think because I'm more involved in what they are doing and/or I don't want to interrupt the flow of what's going on

laura z: Caitlyn often asks me to take photos of her playing her video games especially of the various things happening on screen. She used to do Pokepark shots and then have me photo them

Alex Polikowsky: yep. that is pretty what I do. Plus Gigi has been in my laptop more them me big time.

Sandra Dodd: "Flow" is important in all of this. Don't feel bad about your own motherly interests. That should flow, too.

Sandra Dodd: If someone is obsessed with learning more about being a good mother and she's comfortable with that, she should guard against others trying to shame her or make her feel that she's "being a martyr" or "thinking too hard."

Robin B.: Senna is very particular about what I take photos of. I always ask, first if I can take a photo, second if I can post in anywhere. But she's 17 and her concerns are different at this age.

ColleenP (NH): I love taking photos of places we go, things we do - and I really love that now you can make photobooks on sites like Shutterfly, so I can make books covering a year, or a certain fun event, etc. - such an awesome thing to be able to remember and look back via photos

JenMcG: Yes, my 5 and 8 year old love me to take pictures of them and share them... the older ones are more particular about what I take and/or share so I respect that.

laura z: just curious are my messages showing up the chat?

Sandra Dodd: Yes

Marta Pires: Yes, Sandra, that's how it feels to me. My interests flow around other things in the house that are important, and when they're more important, my interest gets postponed.

Robin B.: Yes, Laura.

laura z: thanks

Sandra Dodd: In a bad way, "postponed," Marta? Or you mean in a good way?

Marta Pires: In a totally good way!

Alex Polikowsky: yes Laura

TeresaHY: Colleen, it's often encouraging to me, too, when insecurities crop up. I can see the visit to the aquarium, and remember the conversation sparked by the tiny bird carcass, and laugh about the burned breakfast, etc., remembering all the fun and learning and all-around ease ushered in by those experiences.

Marta Pires: Sometimes it's postponed until the next day, for instance. Before reading about radical unschooling, that would definitely bug me, but now I interrupt my stuff pretty easily and with a sincere smile on my face.

Alex Polikowsky: I never wanted to have kids until I met Brian. Because I knew that if I had kids I would do everything for them and they would be my first priority.

Robin B.: Since learning about radical unschooling, there are fewer "What about *me*?" (said in a whiney voice) moments in my life.

Alex Polikowsky: SO I never felt bad about not doing something because of my children.

Marta Pires: Yes, Robin, that has happened to me too. It has helped me so much!

TeresaHY: That was maybe another suggestion I read somewhere, for new unschoolers to keep some sort of photo-record to help see the greatness. It's nice that family members can see it, too.

Sandra Dodd: I like that, Robin. :-)

Robin B.: Because what I do for my daughter and my family *is* for me, too.

Marta Pires: Yes!

Sandra Dodd: Yes, yes, yes. And I wish those who come to discussions and whine "what about ME?" because they think I'm not treating them the way I "say" I treat my children (they will write and tell me) would see that we're trying to help them have that feeling, too--that when they were generous with their family, it made them better people with fuller lives.

TeresaHY: It seems like the opposite would be true, doesn't it, about the me time? But it's not for me, either. There seems to be more plenty--plenty of time, plenty of resources, plenty of patience for everybody.

Sandra Dodd: I've had people write and say "I doubt you're really nice to your children, because you're no that nice to me."

Alex Polikowsky: Teresa.My blog is for my kids. If someone sees that is great but not my intention to make it for other people. I know that it can help spouses that are not certain about unschooling and family members

Sandra Dodd: The last time was... yesterday. :-)

Robin B.: :-)

Capn Franko: Wait! Isn't it all about FREEDOM? (Sorry, I take it back!)

Sandra Dodd: Teresa, partly because when you learn to give, it starts to flow, and the others around you are soft and giving and a family can generate a lot of joy! ;-)

Robin B.: FRANK!!!

Robin B.: Snort!

Alex Polikowsky: LOL Frank.

Sandra Dodd: Apparently I'm not free to be the way I want to be. :-)

Marta Pires: Hahahahaha Frank!

laura z: what about the blogging though as a way to share for partners who have to be at work all day and just hearing about all the cool learning isn't enogh

ColleenP (NH): LOL Frank

Sandra Dodd: New people will tell me how I should act and what I should do, and how I should treat them.

Sandra Dodd: I think it's great for that too, Laura.

Robin B.: Laura, that's a good reason to keep a blog.

Alex Polikowsky: They forget you are there trying to help everyone for free and out of your own goodness! crikey!

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes I was just too tired to tell Keith what had happened all day. I wish there had been blogs and digital cameras when Kirby was little.

Robin B.: Sandra, maybe they didn't learn how to be polite guests.

laura z: I loved what Brenna wrote in her blog awhile back about unshcooling and freedom. I guess that some people think running down halls at an unschooling confernece at night and dumping soda at the doors to hotel rooms is freedom with unschooling

Sandra Dodd: I liked this chat. There are some things I can use for "Just Add Light," and anymore, that's what I think makes a good chat, because that's my hobby and obsession. :-)

AnnieLou: I think most people don't want to hear how they could change to make things different, they want to know how to make everyone else different to make them happy

Sandra Dodd: Yeah, Laura. It gets frustrating.

Alex Polikowsky: Yes Laura. that is what I was pointing out. It can really be a great way to get others into your day without them being there!

Robin B.: Thank goodness for your obsession, Sandra.

Marta Pires: Yes, Sandra, great quotes for your Just Add Light!

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