The Room To Be Yourself

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Our children mix with a lot of kids from all kind of different schools. They have a really good group of friends, all with similar values from what I can tell. It all happened by coincidence, you know. The way they found each other. Being home-schooled children, mine didn’t find their buddies in the classroom or playing during recreation. In a way it was life that brought them together.

Like my son and his very best friend. I remember it was one of those days where everything was sort of hard. The morning was already a struggle. It was a typical “no” day in the life of a 6 year old who was struggling with the fact that his best friend had just moved away. On top of that was my toddler girl who was not keen to take her nap anymore. In any case after a long discussion and managing to actually get him dressed, the baby in the stroller and the dogs on the leash, we finally took off to the nearby park.

My son kept telling my that he doesn’t want to go to the playground over and over and over again. I kept saying that maybe there would be someone there for him to play. My daughter was excited to head to the playground so I almost felt like a worm trapped in the beaks of two chicken. Pulled left and right and on top of that trying to keep my dogs in check.

When we got closer I could spot a boy who from far looked about the same age as my son and he was wearing the exact same jacket as my boy. He was the only child there that day. I pointed him out and said “look there is a boy who looks almost like you and he is wearing the same jacket. Why don’t you go play with him?”

To my surprise my son actually took off. It was really not like him. He usually needed time to check everything and everyone out before approaching. Not this day. So while I was chasing my two year old around the playground he introduced himself to the other boy and this was the beginning of an amazing friendship which, I’m pretty sure, will last for a lifetime.

My daughter found her friends through her activities, especially soccer. The girls are a tight knit group and I hope they will stick together for a long time too.

As I said, all of them share a very similar approach to things. It seems like they have found each other by this magic magnet that brings people together who share similar values and approaches. Almost like here in the blogosphere. But although they are all very similar in their behavior there is one thing that stands out for me while watching them. It’s how much they try to be like each other. Or another girl (I have to say it’s much more the girls that do this). How much they try to be older, cooler, smarter then the other ones.

It’s the difference between our home-schooled kids and the kids who go to regular school.

Yes, mine try to be smarter than the world too but they are pretty comfortable being the age they are. I enjoy watching my daughter comfortably play with her dolls, something that for me should be normal for a girl of her age. But then I hear some of her friends ask her why she still plays with dolls or why she still watches certain shows on TV. When she says that she likes it and asks them why they ask they tell her “because it’s for little kids”. And I can’t help myself thinking “but you are little kids”…

Why does that little child have to fight so hard to “survive“? The time they have to be children is so short and I truly don’t understand why the system tries to make them into little adults so fast and so early. It will happen soon enough. And don’t you agree: We all often wish we still could be children or act like kids. How often do we miss being a child? How often do we talk about the inner child and letting it out again? How often do we mourn our childhood? I bet we had actually more time to be children than our kids have today. Imagine how they must feel one day…

So while I watch this happening I realize that there is one more gift that our kids have received through homeschooling. It’s that room to be themselves. That room to be a child for just that little bit longer. It’s the innocence they can keep for just that little bit longer while the kids who go to school have to deal with the pressure of having to be cool, having to act older, having to give up on what they like to do because others find it silly.

Keeping that innocence, having that room for as long as possible is the greatest gift ever. The day will arrive soon enough where they have no other way than growing up.

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7 thoughts on “The Room To Be Yourself

  1. I REALLY hate that part of school — kids feeling that they have to be older & cooler. I DO think it’s possible (probably not to the degree it is if homeschooled) to preserve some of that innocence simply by keeping home a safe space where kids can be themselves. I think it has more to do with how the parents handle these situations & how the parents converse with their kids when these things come up. I teach kids’ tennis clinics in our area so I see plenty of this. It starts earlier with the girls, and frankly, some of them are awful to each other. Girls also seem to point it out more — “Your hair makes you look like you’re five.” (The girl saying this was seven.) I see a lot of hands-off parents who throw out things like “kids are gonna be kids; that’s how they learn to get along; I let my kids work this stuff out on their own.” Blah blah blah. I’m not saying it’s good to interfere every time, but I’d like to see adults setting better examples & having hard conversations. THAT is lacking — and it’s going to be more prevalent in families where kids go to traditional school simply because there’s less time & the kids spend 7+ hours away every day. I teach a group of only homeschoolers during the day and this definitely doesn’t happen there. But…in the afternoon groups where I have a variety of kids who attend public schools, private schools and a few who are homeschooled, I can’t say that the homeschoolers stand out. They aren’t usually the ones initiating this sort of behavior, but they seem affected by it — maybe more so than the traditionally-schooled kids, likely because they’re not used to dealing with it every day. As an adult and an empath, all of it bothers me. My main hope for my children is that they feel like they have to right to be who they were designed to be individually AND that they allow others that space as well. Sorry this got SO long — I think on this sort of thing a lot & your lovely post got me thinking further. My hope is that the other adults who teach my children aspire to this as well. I certainly consider it part of my job as a teacher — to let our space be a safe one where they can learn a sport but also where they’re learning to get along and to be kind compassionate humans.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Please never be sorry for such a great comment. I really don’t care how long it is. I totally agree with you. It comes down to the parents and their values and what they teach their kids. As you said unfortunately way too often they let things slip that should be brought up and stopped.

      Liked by 1 person

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