In doing some blog attention (yeah - it's been a while!), I found this post in my drafts that I had started way back in Sept. of '08. Since I really "got nothin" new for anyone, and I enjoyed rereading this account of getting thrown back into the real world after an unschooling conference, I thought I'd go ahead and post it. I'm sure I originally was going to add more (hence the draft status), but more than a year and a half later, I have no idea what it might have been.
The magic of the L&L conference is very strong and hard to describe. The best I can do is mention the energy that propels us back into the real world.
This time, the real world met us quickly in the Atlanta airport. I've never felt that I'm great with other peoples' kids. I love hanging out with and talking with my own kids, but I've always felt uncomfortable with other kids. So it was quite surprising when, while waiting for our plane to Seattle that I would strike up a conversation with the kids sitting near us. After being at L&L for a week, I was just used to talking with anyone and the people nearest me at the airport were kids. So imagine this scene: A 12 year old boy sitting across from me - I ask him if he's going to Seattle or is that just a stop on his way to elsewhere. He starts to answer me, then seems to remember that he's not supposed to talk to strangers. It took me a minute to remember that people actually tell their kids not to talk to strangers!! I smile knowingly at him and ask his mom the same question.
He was the oldest of four kids with a mom who really didn't seem to like any of them very much or think very much of them. The boy had an electronic game to play, and the mom brought coloring book pages and a package of 24 crayons for the four of them that she doled out one at a time for a 4 year old, an 8 year old, an 11 year old and the 12 year old. The crayon box was one of those super cool ones with the sharpener and when the 4 year old started to sharpen one of her new crayons, the mom sharply said, "Don't do that, you're ruining it!" I couldn't help myself and had to ask, "Isn't that what it's for?" Hello! What a stupid thing to ruin your relationship with your kid over - sharpening a crayon with a crayon sharpener!
The 11 year old borrowed Steffi's DS and while she was playing it, the 8 year old started saying that she wanted to play a game. So I asked her if she liked to play tic-tac-toe. No? Okay, well, I have a puzzle book - "Have you ever done a Word Search?" (I know, I know, it's not the most exciting game in the world, but I wasn't exactly prepared to entertain an 8 year old!!) When she said she hadn't, I pulled one out and started to show her how it works. The mom says, "Oh that's way too hard for her, she'll never be able to do that." Totally ignoring the mom, I continue to show her bright daughter how to search for words on a grid. I could tell she was thinking it wasn't the most exciting game in the world, so we moved on to rock, paper, scissors. Now, I don't play rock, paper, scissors like most people do. To make it more fun, you have to get up and do this crazy thing with your feet and try to maintain your balance. She loved it and so did her little sister. We had a good time until they had to check on their seats.
What was really hard, sad, strange, was that these four kids were traveling with their mom and two (youngish) grandparents, and all three adults were totally ignoring these lovely kids except to point out something they were (supposedly) doing wrong! It was just such an abrupt change from being surrounded by wonderful, supported, loved children and their supportive, loving parents and grandparents to be thrown into the ugliness of the real world and traditional parenting.