Category Archives: Learning

“I Don’t Believe in Abortion Either”

“I don’t believe in abortion either.”

This is what she said to me as she ambled to my side. I was watching my children play in the children’s zero depth pool. It was the end of summer preschool outing for my two eldest children. My eldest son was almost 5, my daughter had just turned 3 and I held my youngest in my arms, who was around 10 months old at the time.

I had been enjoying myself. I was exhausted caring for 3 under 5, but I was enjoying the sunshine and laughter of small children splashing in water. I was especially enjoying my children. I sat on one of the many lounge chairs along with several other parents. My youngest on my lap, I enjoyed soaking in the sun as he gnawed on his fist. When he got restless I walked around keeping him entertained in my arms. To put him down meant a constant effort to keep him out of the water.

My husband couldn’t make it out of work that day. There was another mother or two who donned their suits to join in with their younger children. I hadn’t wanted to try on swimsuits. I just wasn’t ready. This was my choice.

Still, I had been enjoying my children and myself.

I was happy, dammit.

Her words took my breath away. I waited for what would come next. I was horrified but curious. What was this preschool teacher talking about? Why was she saying this to me?

“Um, whaaat? Actually, I believe in a woman’s right to choose.” What the fuck.

Her words that followed made no sense to me, as if she were speaking in a different tongue, foreign to my ears and my heart. I struggled to make sense of what she was saying. She had three children. The last a boy. She grieved over not wanting that last child. Boy, had she not wanted that last child.

“Well, it took us almost 4 years to have our first child so I’m very happy with our decisions.”

Still she kept talking.

She hadn’t wanted three children but she made the best of it and now they were all grown and doing well. I stood listening, holding my sweet baby, wondering where she was going with this one-sided conversation. I wondered how this all had anything to do with me. I knew I didn’t like what she had assumed and I knew this would not end well.

The other assistant teacher present was much younger, maybe in her mid-twenties,  sat with her back to us and her feet dangling in the water. She had been listening and turned her head to interject only to state she would have only two, if she had any at all.

I could feel the rage in my calm but incredulous demeanor bubbling to the surface. I had kept a conversational tone, that, up to this point had included “Oh”, and “I have enjoyed and wanted all of my children”. This hadn’t made her stop talking.

The 60-plus year old assistant teacher of my children’s preschool class kept talking like she hadn’t made her point perfectly clear. I felt a cold heat rising in my neck, reaching my ears, and then like a geyser springing forth from my mouth, I said it. I said the nicest thing I could think at that moment.

“I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy your children.”

“Oh. I enjoyed my children.”

Silence.

We studied one another’s face.

I broke the silence.

“Oh, ok.”

I can’t remember any words that followed. I knew she was trying to justify her words. All of those putrid misguided words. She couldn’t. Not to me. I excused myself to watch my children and to wash clean the vileness that had clouded my experience.

They had been watching me that morning, making awful assumptions, and then acting on them. Dear God. What the hell is wrong with people?

What is wrong with me? I should have shut that shit down immediately. I didn’t. Again, horrified but curious me actually wondered what I had done wrong that morning. Did I deserve this treatment?

I scoured all my actions and feelings leading up to that moment. I am a pretty self-reflective person so this affected me more than it should have. I honestly, couldn’t think of anything leading up to this day that would justify this treatment. I had felt good despite my husband not being able to attend. Though, I had felt in my gut I really needed him there and now I knew why. My gut is never wrong.

I vowed never to allow any more of my children to be in any of her classes. This was hard, because she assisted in teaching the main preschool classes at the art center we had decided to make our children’s preschool community. I was pissed and hurt. I felt utter betrayal. I felt something very special had been taken from me and my children. The world was a colder place.

I thought about talking to the director. I thought about how my demeanor had been misread in such a horrible way. Maybe it was my face. Maybe it was how tired I was. Maybe.

Maybe I looked unhappy even though I knew I wasn’t. I was just tired.

Maybe if my husband had remembered to take off work, this wouldn’t have happened.

Maybe that horrid woman shouldn’t have made assumptions about my life or my children and then without thinking, accosted me with it.

“I don’t believe in abortion either.”

Abortion. What the fuck.

Clearly people, the only reason a woman would have a third child isn’t because she wanted that third child. She just doesn’t believe in abortion. Gross.

Aren’t we allowed to be tired? Can’t we, as mothers, allow one another to be joyful and tired?

An older mother with grown children made some pretty base assumptions based only off my demeanor as a tired mother of 3 under 5.

Shouldn’t she know better?

Well, maybe she does now.

If I am honest with myself she had been a judgy bitch towards me the whole summer session I had my kids in her class. I got the impression she thought I was younger than I was, and gee, my kids sure are spaced close together, and of course all the other judgments that come with having more than 2.

Over the following years I enrolled my children in other classes at the center she didn’t teach. We also didn’t go there as much. When we would see each other there was no eye contact. She ignored my husband and I and our children and that was just fine with me.

Yet it speaks volumes.

She hasn’t learned a damn thing.

Age does not belie wisdom.

Never stop growing as a person because so many do.

Do not ever let anyone put their baggage on you.

Do not ever let anyone dim your light.

Speak up.

Trust your gut.

Always.

 

Finding Balance While Raising Five Children

Rainbow garden inspired by Lois Ehlert's book "Planting A Rainbow"

“We cannot be happy if we expect to live all the time at the highest peak of intensity. Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.” –Thomas Merton

Balance

I don’t have it right now. Which is the reason for not posting in almost 2 years.

We have five wonderful, kind, loving, smart, active, independent children. They are ages 11, 9, 7, 5 and 1. I enjoy being a parent. I enjoy motherhood like nothing else.

We recently started homeschooling again… unexpectedly. 

I am excited and scared. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on. I have been gathering all my curriculum resources.

Relational aggression and bullying are very serious social issues in school environments. Being bullied is an awful experience. It is made much worse when a school counselor exhibits unabashed hubristic bias and states they do not believe your children. Even more disturbing, they openly discount your parental observations and concerns during your first and only meeting with the school principal. The child or children are left feeling powerless, as are their parents.

This has been our very real and recent experience. Name-calling and face smacking were dismissed as just part of a game, only my child was not a willing participant and these were not one-off occurrences. Relational aggression occurred in class but moreso, in the halls. They did not see it happen, therefore, they did not believe our children.

I appreciate the tough jobs these roles entail. Relational aggression is hard to spot. It is a far better educational atmosphere to “catch kids doing good” than to actively try and “catch kids doing bad”. We all have blind spots. We all are flawed.

However, when a school counselor is so invested in their own personal narrative that they are willing to lie (yes we were lied to) and overlook a child’s suffering then parents must actively advocate for their child. Sometimes, this means walking away from an otherwise ideal educational setting. We have never felt so alone. This has been an emotionally devastating experience. When we go into something, we commit ourselves, we go ALL IN. We have never felt so disposable.

With relief, optimism and trepidation… here we are.

The last two years have been a journey in tears, joy, anger, optimism, fear, humility, hope and prayera lot of prayer. I am sure there are many other words I could use but I think I will stop while I am ahead.

I have some posts lined up for this blog I think many of you will find interesting, introspective, perhaps even entertaining. Maybe, you will be able to use my life experiences to your benefit.

If you enjoy the subjects of mothering, breastfeeding, gardening, cooking, sewing, crafting, house projects, and just the curve balls of life, then make sure to drop by over these upcoming weeks. I will do my best to keep it interesting!

Thanks for joining me.

Rosa

Resources for help with Relational Aggression/Bullying:

Kidpower Bullying Prevention

Stop Bullying

The Ophelia Project What is Relational Aggression?

Relational Aggression and Boys

What Parents Can Do When Bullying is Downplayed at School

What Does Bullying Look Like?

5 Do’s and Don’ts of Helping Kids Handle Bullying

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inquiry-Based Learning and Following the Rabbit Hole

Our Sun, courtesy of NASA.

“When did humans first learn that stars are suns?”

This is a question my 9 year old son asked earlier this week.  My response?

“That’s a good question! Let’s look it up!”

We like using DuckDuckGo and it brought us here:

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=When+did+humans+first+learn+that+stars+are+suns

The very first result is a webpage sponsored by Stanford’s SOLAR Center:

http://solar-center.stanford.edu/FAQ/Qsunasstar.html

It was interesting to read about how many people and years it took to form this answer.

This search inevitably brought on even more questions.  Questions I made time for and we researched.  At one point my son got a disgusted look on his face.  It really was a face of disbelief and then he asked, “How can someone be killed for a thought?”

We had just read that Giordano Bruno had been burned at the stake for his thoughts on the universe, but not before being imprisoned for 6 years by the Roman Inquisition for heresy. Later, Galileo Galilei was also imprisoned until he died for heresy.

What is heresy?

This led to a conversation on personal conviction.  More importantly, we discussed being free to think and believe what we choose.  We talked about power, who has it, what it means to have it, and how it is used.  I left many things open for pondering and discussion.

Some questions can only be answered with more questions.  Some questions can only be answered by personal life experience.  Many answers I do not get to choose for my children but I can guide them and lead them until they are ready to take the helm on their journey to answers.

If they choose, it is a journey to Know Thyself.  As an adult and parent I have learned this journey is never-ending.

Knowing why we believe what we do is very important in living a whole and ethical life.  

What do we base our beliefs on and does it matter?  The answer is a resounding YES!  It does matter.  We need to know why we think the way we do.  Ultimately, there are very few things in life with definitive answers and even less absolute truths. There is still so much about this world and life we do not know.  In our home, the scientific method is important. Research-based evidence gets us closer to answers but keeping an open mind in light of insufficient evidence is an even better default position.

As parents we can create a space for our children to learn with guidance and freedom.

How do you approach learning in your life?