Making Changes

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What happens when you take two artistic homebodies and match them with a ball of energy?

Well, you know. Like any parents we are floundering along, doing our best. It’s been an interesting couple of weeks — in between financial woes and illness, Will and I have spent a lot of time talking about the lifestyle changes we want to make so that Sam’s interests aren’t ignored for our own comfort levels.

I’d already been spending a lot of thought on how I want to facilitate his interests and encourage him. I’m hesitant to use the word education here, because it has so many implications and I don’t want to get into all that, but basically I am thinking about his education. Bethany mentioned how hard it is to sift through the options, which was quite timely on the heels of Lori’s post about choosing the perfect curriculum. I was raised an unschooler, following my own interests. My parents were awesome, and quite actively involved, and I’ve always assumed we would follow suit pretty closely — at least in as much as we would not follow a curriculum, but rather Sam’s interests.

What does that mean? So far, mostly observation. I have a running list of things Sam has shown interest in. It’s by no means complete. Some of the items are kind of silly, but I don’t think that means they should be dismissed. I mean, if I assume that his kicking everything in sight (mostly my shins) is not acting out but an attempt to express himself physically, then maybe we look into karate classes and he channels his energy into a real skill. (Note to self: look into karate classes. If he’s going to kick me all the time, he should do it properly.)

One of our observations is that Sam is bored of his toys. There are too many and they are all out. We would love to rotate so that only a few are accessible at a time, but where on earth would we put the toys on hiatus? Living in two and a half rooms is challenging enough. We’re going to try, but we think it’s equally important to not bring anything new into the mix. Let him explore what he has and really enjoy it, rather than become further overwhelmed by the choices. So we’re putting a moratorium on toys and focusing on — you guessed it — Sam’s interests. (There’s a few small exceptions, things I am planning to make that I’m really excited about. I unearthed my desk the other day, so maybe I will have something to show soon.)

Right now it seems that what Sam would like to do most in the world is be outdoors, preferably somewhere that he can run and climb and scramble. Playgrounds are OK, but National Forests are better. He’s had the time of his life in Joshua Tree and at Vasquez Rocks. At the latter he’s tried to climb upwards of 25 feet (Will didn’t let him go all the way up) and so we’re thinking about some climbing gear. There was a moment when it was time to climb down and Will had to trust Sam to stand still while he moved down — and if Sam had not listened to him, they might both have fallen. Sam listened. I stood below thinking about a nice chest harness that could attach Sam to his Dad. Will was thinking about helmets. I definitely do not want to go overboard — I hate the focus on safety that is prevalent in parenting these days and think it is more harmful than good. More than the safety gear I want him to have an extra pair of good shoes, a windbreaker, maybe some gloves if he will wear them. I want Will to get a new pair of sneakers. I would like a good fleece jacket for myself. But I want that harness too.

What else will Sam show interest in? What else will we find ourselves trying? I don’t know! We’re figuring it out as we go. I have to say, I am excited about moving toward a more outdoorsy life. But it’s a big change. (Will wants to try camping next. Yikes!)

Thank goodness his second-greatest interest is Star Wars. Much more my current speed.

9 thoughts on “Making Changes

  1. Mary

    February 13, 2009 at 5:35pm

    I’ve been plotting to do the toy rotation thing as well. I am literally tripping over toys, even after I just picked them up and put them away. I’m making a Goodwill box of some. The rest… I still don’t know.

    I am planning on getting outdoors more this year. I am always up for it, but getting anyone else to go is my obstacle. (That, and World of Nerdcraft. I’m staging an intervention for Jeremy soon.)

    Mary’s last blog post..Tax Time Can Be Stressful…

  2. Ina

    February 13, 2009 at 6:07pm

    The toy rotation idea is a good one…I tried this with my daughter and it works awesome…I have 3 huge tuppeware storage tubs full of toys…2 of which stay in a closet for a while the other is in her play area. Once she seems bored of them time to put the current box away and drag out another to be cleaned sort through and then given to her….usually this works for a good month before she seems bored again.I think its awesome that your being so observant to your son’s interest. Most parents take it for granted what, why and how a child learns and think they know whats best by following books and/or what everyone else says. My kid loves to dance and as soon as she turns 3 my man and I have already decided that dance classes or gymnastics would be the best thing for her. Plus not to mention taking a child’s interest and turning into something they enjoy IS a learning process..who are we to say otherwise?…anyways awesome blog as usual…kudos to you!

  3. Katherine

    February 13, 2009 at 7:21pm

    Sam is an incredibly active kid. Crazy active. I think that if you were different kinds of parents (like my uncles), you’d already be enrolling him in competitive sports or beginning his “training” and gauging his “talent level.”

    I think that what you’re doing is so much better – getting him to engage with the world through his activities. Also, a martial art? AWESOME.

    Katherine’s last blog post..Is this really a “man problem?”

  4. oslowe

    February 13, 2009 at 8:55pm

    Ohhh, Soupy- I wish you coulda SEEN him go nuts at Vasquez Rocks- it was like id unbridled. He just climbed and laughed and pointed and ran, no fear, even with minor rivers erupting in front of him from the rain’s rivulets. He would just laugh, stomp in the puddles, and then start scaling a 90 degree incline with a fierce grin and a shout of “we GO we GO!!”

    Come to think of it, you guys should come with us some time.

  5. nana

    February 14, 2009 at 9:17am

    Reminder to self: bring good hiking shoes when I come visit.

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