This week I read two posts from well known and respected writers on their kid's first day of kindergarten: That First Day and Kindergarten, Kindergarten, Why So Soon?
I want to preface my thoughts with the fact that I am in no way questioning any of the following: their love for their children, whether school is the best choice for their kids/families, or whether these parents are "good" parents. For one, I do not know either of these people in real life although I've read (and enjoyed) both of their blogs several times. And for another I do NOT think that I know the one right answer or way in this awesome thing we call life.
Ok, here we go. A couple of phrases really jumped out at me as I was reading these heart-felt posts. From the first, "I know this is part of it. I knew I'd have to leave" and from the second, "I don’t know if I’m ready for my kid to be a bus-riding, recess-playing, homework-doing big kid just yet. I guess I don’t have a choice." (Emphasis mine in both cases)
These two little words "have to" are like a trigger that sets off a bell in my head now, "ding ding ding!" When we think "Have to" we are giving our power away because we believe that we *don't* have a choice. The majority of the time the "have to" thought is NOT true, and when we lie to ourselves about what we "have to" do we are not living our lives to their fullest potential.
The truth is many kids DON'T "have to" go to kindergarten even though the majority do in our culture. School is so very entrenched in our lives and way of thinking that it feels like it is inevitable to most people.
The comments in both of these blog posts were all very emotional. What is amazing for me is that I did not get emotional at all. Well, I guess it's not so amazing - I haven't had to experience the first day of kindergarten since we've opted to homeschool; and, because of our choice I am reading their words from a completely different perspective. What I feel most sad about is the fact that people are failing to see that as a culture at large we are CHOOSING school. It is not obligatory. (I'm not talking about cases of families where home schooling is truly not an option due to financial or other reasons).
And yet, I also understand why most people think this way.
When Marisol was a baby my mom used to say, "You should homeschool, you'd be great at it!" And I was all, "ok, whatever Mom." (She thinks I'm great at everything! ;-) But seriously, I didn't even ENTERTAIN the thought at first - after all I came from a long line of teachers. And we believe in public education, right? And also, I *liked* school and actually had a pretty fantabulous school experience.
That was before I stumbled across Unschooling. And it really was an awakening. (Makes me think of the kids that once they hear we homeschool start begging their parents to do it!) Once you question something so big it becomes apparent pretty quickly that there are many things that are worth taking a second look at.
Like "have to". The fabulous Tara Wagner made the bold statement that all we *have to* do in this life is die. Really. Think about it for a while.
Here are 10 things that I've discovered we really don't HAVE TO do:
1.) I don't have to wash my hair (or my kids!) with soap every day (or even every week for that matter)
2.) I don't have to get rid of their toys or clothes before they are ready to (space does help with this one! I'm learning to be creative though.)
3.) I don't have to get away from my kids to take care of myself.
4.) I don't have to clean the dishes or do the laundry.
5.) I don't have to have all the right answers.
6.) Kids don't have to sleep when we want them to.
7.) Kids don't have to wear shoes at the park.
8.) Kids don't have to eat a sugar-free, organic diet to be healthy.
9.) Kids don't have to go to school to learn to read, use numbers, and make friends.
10.) Kids don't have to be sent away from their parents to grow into their independence.
Honestly, I kind of had a hard time coming up with this list because I just don't think this way much anymore. Mostly it is like I said before - whenever I see or hear "have to" mentality it is like a trigger is tripped in me and I want to be like, "oh no you don't have to!" But I usually just keep my mouth shut.
Believe me, it is so freeing to let go of "Have-tos" and decide that you are going to make very deliberate choices for yourself and family. Try it - once you begin to "choose to" or "decide not to" you will never want to go back to "have to."
Go crazy and add some things to my list - pick the ones that you *really* *truly* believe you "have to" - then post a comment here - you don't have to! Maybe it's go to work every day or clean your house... once you own it you will be free to choose - do it... or don't!
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.