Some writings by Joanna Wilkinson

I have had a lot of people around me decide that their late readers had issues that needed to be dealt with. While I did let my son learn to read in his own time, I stressed for years about whether I was doing the right thing. He was about 13 when he became an active reader and reads a lot now. Mostly Manga and info. As much as I heard people say "trust it". I worried too much because of the people who said "no, DO something". I could have easily done something and now pat myself on the back because of it. And I would be wrong! So I'm glad I forged through, but the stress was a waste... —Joanna Wilkinson, (hindsight)

[Note from Sandra: Joanna's eight year old son, Sam fell through ice playing in early 2003, and died. Details used to be easily found, but two forums have come and gone, and much good writing with them. Joanna wrote quite a bit, back then, about her four children and her husband, Bob. They seemed a very happy family, and Sam's death while playing was not met with anger by them. Sorrow, yes, but their joy continued.]

Joanne wrote, January 14, 2004:
Sam thought the world was beautiful and fascinating. His enthusiasm was contagious and his spirit was a wonder to behold. His short time here was definitely blessed by unschooling.

He taught me so many lessons, and he's keeping right on with it.

My husband and I have a thing that when we find a penny, we say it's from Sam. Like a little sign from him. I thought it was a nice little thing to do, for a way to keep him with us. But it turned out to be more than that. Bob has found pennies in the weirdest places. He says almost everytime he finds one in a weird spot, it's when he's having a bad moment and one will just show up.

We have some weird unexplainable things happen. I've noticed a pattern in my penny finding. It's every time I'm getting short or unreasonable and a grump. Right before I say something I'm going to regret, I look down and see it.

To me, the penny is Sam saying to me, "chill out mom". He used to laugh at me when I would get like that. I'd be freaking out and he would just start laughing at me and make me realize how ridiculous I was being. He was usually the one to get me in that state in the first place with all his energy.

I really miss that energy.

Well, that all just spilled out.

I'll probably save this and print it. But I'll share it with you all too.


Joanna 4/2/04 on UnsschoolingDiscussion at yahoo:
I find kids to be refreshing. When my son Sam died, adults were at a loss for words, uncomfortable around us. Kids said things to me that adults would never say.

One little girl asked all kinds of questions about what we were going to do with his stuff and his room. Another boy, who had played with Sam at a family camp we go to said he wanted to come to our house. I said "sure, next time you come to our town." He said, "I wish I could have come when Sam was there". I said, "me too". Another mom, who was standing there, thought I was going to be upset. I wasn't at all.

I find kids to be so honest that I feel more honest with my feeling around them.

The other day, we were at an indoor pool with some other families. One of the boys, as I was walking by him, said, "So how's Sam doing?" I looked at him with suprise, then when I saw the honest interest on his face and remembered he had just been to his grave a few days before (I found a picture he had drawn for him there) I said, " I think he's doing pretty well." His poor mother looked mortified. Anyway, my point is, kids are just honest. They are curious. They see beyond the proper way to do things and get their information without fear.

It's a good trait.


Sandra Dodd, 4/3/04
-=-One of the boys, as I was walking by him, said, "So how's Sam doing?" I looked at him with suprise, then when I saw the honest interest on his face and remembered he had just been to his grave a few days before (I found a picture he had drawn for him there) I said, " I think he's doing pretty well." -=-
That's so interesting!

Do you think that it was his normal reminder to moms that he knew their child (a kind of "how's it going" without thought to the literal meaning of the words) or do you think he assumes that mothers are in close contact with their kids regardless of any other circumstances? Or what?

Cool story, and cool response.

I hope the boy's mother didn't harangue him later.


March 2008, in a topic called "Fear" on the Always Learning discussion:
Someone e mailed me and asked how Sam died and how they had a lot of fear that something would happen to their child, but didn't know how to stop worrying. I decided to post my response here in case anyone else had the same issues.

Sam died 5 years ago, Jan. 19, 2003 when he fell through the ice on a pond at our rec. dept. He was there with friends of ours for their daughters indoor lacrosse game. Their son and Sam went outside and onto the pond. Their son fell through too, but managed to hang on til the rescue workers arrived. Sam was lost instantly.

My advice to you is to let go of your fear. It will do you absolutely no good.
It will waste the time you have with your son that could be spent in trust and joy.

Breathe through it when the fear comes. Let it go.

I had fear before Sam died which intensified for my other kids after he died, and I have spent a lot of time breathing through it. I will not let my fear affect my kids life. I will not let it limit their possibilities. I've had to watch my kids go off with other people, with the memory of Sam leaving our house that day to go play with his friend. As they walked off our porch, Sam, who was really excited about playing Animal Crossing with his buddy said to him, "this is going to be the best day of our life!"

Every time I watch one of my other kids leave with someone other than me, I have that memory. It helps me to really be grateful for the time I have and to try to not waste it.

My oldest has been to Europe and Florida without us. She is driving now and comes and goes quite a bit with work and school. She's heading off to college in the fall. Deep breaths and a knowing that I really can't control her destiny keeps me sane. I try not to let the fear take me deeper.

If I can do it, you can do it.


on Always Learning yahoogroup

January 10, 2014, Joanna wrote:
I just wanted to put it out there, this is my last official day as a homeschool mom. My My oldest is 23 (did high school and some college). My 17yo who has never been to any kind of school is starting at our local comm. college on Monday and my youngest 14yo started high school this year. It's been a wonderful, mind blowing 17 years of unschooling and I wouldn't trade it for anything! Gratitude Rejecting a Pre-Packaged Life