About Me

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Michigan, United States
a registered yoga teacher, and a Thai/Yoga Bodywork practitioner.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tribe of four

kids dancing at part

My daughter, M, has just a few good friends. One girl is a full three years younger, but they play as equals. They giggle like mad when they're together. They are in the same dance class and always opt for each other as partner when a dance move requires two bodies.

This friend is not homeschooling, but she is part of a community that sets her apart, a culture that's in the minority. She, her family and her tight community strive to preserve this identity. They don't just pay homage to it like the eyedropper-full Irish who go green on St. Pat's Day or my husband's increasingly watered-down Italian family who love garlic and all, but are otherwise integrated.

This group has a language, a traditional dress, customary music, etc. They hold education classes to continue teaching the young ones. It has been my only glimpse into what an Old World neighborhood would have been like when America was less homogenized.

The friend's name has a pronunciation that everyone "out here" turns into something else. Imagine the name "Mar-TI-nez" (Martinez) pronounced (oh, shudder) Martin-EZ. This girl rolls with it, though. She's not expecting everyone to get it.

My M. uses the proper pronunciation. I learned from the mother how to say the name. That's how M. learned it.

"My dance class makes fun of me for saying (friend's) name that way," M. says. "Even the teacher does."
(She repeats their phrasing, which exaggerates the vowel change).

There's a lesson in this. Give me a second...

"Do you want to say it like everyone else, or do you want to say it the way you know is right?"

"The right way."

"Okay. This is a good thing, you know." (Quizzical eyebrows from M.) "This is a chance for you to do what you know is right even though everyone else, including the person in charge, is doing it another way."

I let her think on that and comb my mind for possible complications...Ah!

"Did (your friend) ask you to say her name like everyone else?"
"So what would you rather do?"
"Say her name the right way."

I can't claim a single heritage. This is a household of European mutts. However, in homeschooling, there's a definite clan, a way-we-do-things that is not diluted by spending most of our days apart. It's a small thing, but I am pleased M. would rather stand out and get a little ribbing than relent and go along with the class. She'll get support from her tribe (us) and experience facing off against a crowd that wants--in a gentle, teasing way-- conformity.

I hope this builds resistance for future times when the teasing is less gentle and the crowd more imposing than a gaggle of girls in tights.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

My bi-polar homeschool


Some days...some weeks...the larger share of some months, I have such doubts about continuing to homeschool. I want to stop feeling the oscillations of delight and failure, like this teeter-toter on which I am tied by choosing this life.

It's tiring, this ride.

On the high side, there's spontaneous learning. We drove home from my mom's in a merest suggestion of snow. The remaining week called for above freezing temps. The Dad and  I recall Novembers full of snow and Decembers were definitely snowier than we've seen recently. My son goes from content to irate when I comment on "global warming." He gets irrational.
"We are never sledding AGAIN!" he bleats. Winter is ruined. It will never recover.

The next day --the very next day-- I am leafing through National Geographic for photographs to use in our Roman mosaics. There's an article about one family and their attempt to make a difference in energy use.  I read most of this aloud as the kids snip and sort papers.

We learn the greatest use of energy is heating one's home. We learn that running a push mower for an hour spews out as much exhaust as running eleven cars; running a riding mower for an hour is equal to running thirty-four (34!) cars.

"Imagine them all lined up on that road," I say, pointing out the window. "Thirty four cars running an hour just for the neighbor to mow his and our lawn."

There's no snow tantrum today. We talk about a concern with facts and guidance. I didn't decide to preach about energy use; it came up as part of life. These are my favorite moments. These kids are going to be fine in life. I just know it.

Then there's the low side, when I become entrenched in "learning" with a capital "L" -- for the sake of keeping up, seeming well-rounded, meeting Core Standards and all that rot. Our schedule gets skewed because we're staying up too late. We don't check off all the items on my list-o-subjects. It's evening, dark already, and I am back home and available to round them up and direct Learning again.

They're not having it.

I call to them. No one answers.
I walk down the hall and confront them. "Let's do history."
Groans and grimaces.

It comes down to either forcing them to pay homage to me for the sake of pleasing my schedule/staying on track/being educated enough, or letting it go for another day. I am more inclined to let it go, and I hate myself for it.

I watch The Great Courses Lectures on my own, taking notes. The girl curls up next to me with Calvin and Hobbes. The boy  is clicking through his YouTube subscriptions. I am failing them; I just know it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Autumn wrap up pics

You mean the year's almost gone? (Really: it was a Starbucks Cake-Pop thing, gone in two bites)
The kit was purchased, but the decorating was all by hand.

So pleased!
Early morning creation:
our outdoor cat, May
(pencil and marker)

Early November excursion to the old campus for pizza and football. 
Every Friday night: Chinese painting class.