It’s Not All Rainbows And Unicorns

Sometimes single parenting sucks. There, I said it. I’m not trying to delude anyone into thinking that this doesn’t come with some definite challenges, so I’m sharing the not so pleasant aspects.

You can’t just leave the kiddo with your spouse and run out to the store. They have to come with you EVERYWHERE until they’re old enough to stay home alone. Even if you’re lucky enough to have family or friends close by who are willing to watch them for a minute, it’s not as convenient as being able to say, “hon, I’m, gonna run to get some milk.” Easy to take for granted too.

The older they get, at least with my son, the less they enjoy ‘running errands.’ It becomes another exercise in patience and empathy on my part when all I really want to do is get stuff done and not have it be some huge exhausting life event.

Without a co-parent, you don’t have the built in support when things get difficult. Someone who is as invested in raising this little person will have a much different outlook than when you unload on your friends at the end of a particularly challenging day. You can’t ask a partner what they think or how they feel you could handle a particular hiccup with this child that they know equally well.

Then there is the play part of single parenting. Sounds like it should be fun and most of the time it is. However, especially if you only have one child, you are their playmate. I can’t tell him to go play with his siblings or his other parent, I’m it for choices. ALL THE TIME. I’ll tell you another secret. I loathe pretend play when I have to be involved. A lot of adults do and that could be a whole other story. If I want to foster it though, I must get in there. So I do.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means. I’m not looking to be a complainer, merely to shed some light on the trials associated with parenting on your own. Feel free to share yours too. I’d love to hear from others who can relate.

On The Fringe

I found a Meetup group that was for vegetarian families and they were having an event soon. Since it seemed like it might be fun and I’m lacking in a sense of community, I put in a request to join. The short application asked questions about my son’s age, his diet and mine. As I always am, I was honest. I answered that I’m a vegetarian, my son is seven and he makes his choices about what to eat, although our home is predominantly vegetarian.

After what seemed like ages, I got a response. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting. I was declined, albeit politely.

Really?! Because I allow my son to make his own decisions about what he feels comfortable with, we were ostracized from a group of families that gets together at restaurants and goes camping periodically? It almost seemed comical to me.

I told my son about it and that I’d rather he has his freedom to choose, than be a part of a group that is obviously a bit uptight. Even when you’re one of the weirdos (a term we wear with pride,) sometimes you’re even too much for them.

So Many Pets!

Why in the world do we have so many pets? Anyone who’s been to our home or seen my Instagram knows we have a lot of pets. I suppose that wouldn’t be strange if we lived on a farm or something but we rent half of a two bedroom duplex in the middle of a city. So, why?

I did grow up on a farm and developed a love for animals, almost from birth. While my parents were raising animals for our dinner table, I was naming them and getting to know their unique personalities. So, I gave up eating them at age 14. I learned so much from them as a child; love, loss, birth, and life. It’s hard to imagine my life without pets now.

So, my son and I have 3 hens who live in our back yard, 3 cats, a gecko, a newt, a dwarf hamster, 4 goldfish and 2 plecostomus. We have to take all of their different needs into account when making a home for them. B is aware that they each have a unique biome and food requirements. He helps with feeding when he’s so inclined, but he’s not required. I want him to know the love aspect of caring for others, rather than the drudgery of unpleasant chores. The care is most genuine then.

There is so much to learn from having so many different kinds of pets but it’s not the main focus of why we choose the ones we do. We adopt pets when we do because we want to share our lives with them. Strange to some, I suppose. They give me a reason to get out of bed in the morning, although I’ve never been a morning person. When a bout of depression strikes, they give me a lifeline to hold onto. Before B came along, that was huge for me. I need to be needed in times like those. These little creatures depend on me and I won’t let them down.

B has loved and lost pets several times in his short life and he remembers each one. He has learned to guard his sensitive heart ever so slightly but he still loves deeply and talks about how sad it will be when it’s their time. I believe that having learned young the fragility of life, helps one better enjoy and appreciate the time we do have.

While these pets are in our care, we take the best care of them that we know how. They are part of our family and B knows they have feelings and needs just like we do. We take them in for life when we adopt, no matter how difficult that may prove at times. We learn about them, from them and also about ourselves as people. I’m more inclined to wonder why people don’t have pets.

 

What Unschooling Looks Like…Today

A day in the life of an unschooler looks different every day. I decided to just jot notes down as a random day progressed, and then write it up. Truth be told, as the day went on I wasn’t sure this was the day I wanted to ‘showcase’ but I’m all about keeping it real. So, here’s how it went.

My day actually started much earlier than B’s, but I’m focusing on his day. The little night owl rolled out of bed around noon and grabbed his tablet. It was important to him to see what happened overnight to his base in Clash of Clans. He checked on that and watched the replays of some attacks, then moved on to some YouTube favorites. He subscribes to many YouTubers so he gets a notification when new videos go up.

I mentioned that it had snowed so we headed into the living room to take a peak. The next door neighbor was out shoveling and B decided that he would head out to help meet him in the middle with shoveling the sidewalk. He stayed out for over half an hour; shoveling the sidewalks, driveway (so I could get the car out,) and sledding in the back yard.3-2-2016 039

When he got back in, he headed to the PC and while that booted up, he did some puzzles in his newest Lego Club magazine. I had just happened to leave it laying on the computer desk. B played Lego Worlds for a little bit and when his hunger got the best of him, he headed to the kitchen for something to eat.

He had some macaroni, while working on a new March Math Problem Calendar. This made him realize that it was indeed March and he had heard that Clash Royale was going to be available in the US this month so he grabbed his tablet and checked to see if he could download it. No luck, so we researched when the drop date is supposed to be for that. Then I grabbed a cookbook for kids that I had picked out at the library and showed him some of the recipes from around the world. We added items to our shopping list for the following day. Then B replied to the journal entry I had left for him on the table. He finished eating, brushed his teeth and hair, then headed to his room to get dressed.

Next up was some Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare on the Xbox, with online friends. He has a headset so he can talk to other players and made friends with a boy from California. This is a pretty intense game for him, so he bounces on his trampoline while playing it. This particular time, it led to a hurt foot, which ended the gaming and jumping for the day.

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Our new homeschooling books arrived from Amazon so we took a look at those. B thought it was funny that his book was twice as big as mine. He snuggled with his kitties that were in the vicinity, then headed to the kitchen to try the peanut butter energy balls I had made. They got a thumbs up!

B got on the PC to play Minecraft since one of the YouTube videos he watched gave him an idea he wanted to try. He hadn’t played in so long there were a lot of new updates to explore and test out. There was one called Elytra so we looked that up to see what it was, how you use it and how to pronounce it. It ended up being an insect anatomy lesson. Dragon’s Breath was another new one that we researched. When he lost interest in Minecraft, he moved on to Rock of Ages for a bit.

He finished on the computer and played with his kitties and some cardboard boxes, which reminded me that the pet store had called and said their food was in. We headed out to pick that up. That required removing snow from the car (one of B’s favorites.) The store was an exercise in patience and making the best of a situation, since there was no price listed and blah blah blah. This particular store gives out bite size candy bars at checkout so we earned a couple extra for our patience. On the way through the parking lot, I spotted a California license plate and pointed it out to B, reminding him that was where his online friend was from. Connections!

Got home, fed kitties and B and I ate too (not the cat’s food.) Then we snuggled up in his bed to finish reading aloud Diary of a Wimpy Kid #8. Next up will be his Guys Read book club choice from the I Survived series.

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B still had some sillies in him so he wanted me to play 2 player soccer on the PC with him. He deemed that I was too good and kicked me off to vs the computer. That didn’t last long.

3-2-2016 046.JPGI asked if he wanted to feed the fish and he said no so I did that and prepared the gecko’s food. I handed B a slice of apple and told him his hamster was hungry. He quickly got to work filling dishes and adding fluff to Jack’s bedding. Then he took little Jack out to run around in my bedroom, in his plastic ball. Ten o’clock rolled around and I reminded B that was the time he’d agreed to take his shower so we put Jack to bed and B headed into the shower.

Once he was squeaky clean, he came out, told me good night, collected a smooch and headed to his room.

That was our day. Simple as that. Living life, answering questions, exploring interests and making connections. Can I measure anything or say for sure what he learned? No, probably not. I don’t have to. This is his journey and he gets the most customized, perfectly unique education for him because he chooses his path.