It’s that time of year again. Back to School fever is officially upon us.
Walking through store aisles is a visual assault of signage flashing chalkboard fonts, snappily dressed cliques, and brand name paper. Buy, buy, buy your way to social acceptance and academic success! Television commercials and episode themes are an overdose of “start the year off right!” (In contrast to “don’t make these horrible mistakes and be labeled a failure and outcast!”). Social media posts are trembling through screens with excitement from overjoyed parents about to be rid of the miserable burden that is their children.
Ah yes, here we are again. Back to School.
I remember being in this ritual as a child and feeling swept up in a tornado of excitement. New purchases and novelty give us a rush of feel good hormones. As a parent, it felt like Back to School was our time to do our part to set our child on the “right” path. After all, once you shove them through those metal gates, you are no longer a part of the equation.
Now my children and I are sitting outside the system looking in and the view sure is different.
Learning happens every minute of every day of every month. It doesn’t begin in the Fall and end in the Spring and occur between the hours of 7:30 and 3:30. When learning is living, you live your whole life with the same passion and intention that occurs during the 2 weeks at the end of August.
The tools of learning are not merely paper and pencils but . . . everything we can get our hands on! “School supplies” just doesn’t translate into the unschooling lifestyle. It might be a plane ticket, a swim suit and a bucket, a museum ticket, a good book, or a stimulating conversation. Life supplies? Nah, the concept just doesn’t cross over.
No status symbols or trend watching is required for my children to leave the house, just a keen sense of comfort and self expression. That heavy layer of peer pressure just isn’t there and it frees them to be fully authentic, every day of their lives.
Busy is a choice. Rushing, full and rigid schedules, and milestone pressure are just not things we want in our lives. Simply observing the mania is stressful and exhausting. My children thrive when they are free to simply be who and where they are today. Their passions erupt and they lead their journey in a way that just couldn’t happen if I was forcibly driving the train of their lives.
Now, this might be the most radical of all: we genuinely like and respect our children as human beings. This notion that I would be celebrating their departure is heartbreaking. I would feel so hurt if my husband celebrated (and posted a photo online for the world to laugh) when I left him. Of course it’s okay to enjoy some alone time. But this is different. I chose to have these children. I won’t then shame them for being in my life. I choose to shape our lives around peace and joy, together.
As millions of families shift back into schooling, we’ll be reveling in our wonderful ever day lives (now free of the signature summer crowds and lines). #notbacktoschool