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.