We learnt a whole lot last year. Not just about the world outside our little nest, but about the world inside it. As our owlets get older and reach for more independence, we learn and shift. Like how we play musical beds all the time. We meet their (and our) needs.
Last year we explored letting go all over again. Owlets spent days upon days at play, making new friends and strengthening old friendships. It was a wonderful life-learning experience. Most of it happened online. We thought we'd see how long it'd last... Minecraftschooling. How long they'd want to keep playing/watching all day (and I mean ALL day). They went hard. They learnt to touch-type and play online parkour. They figured out some tough mathematical puzzles and negotiated friendships. Oh, they learnt. They learnt lots. And we were always around to guide them (we learnt lots too). It was great! They didn't want to do anything else in their waking hours.
But underneath it all there was this strange, underlying... boredom. Our owlets seemed to be waiting for something. And yet not. If we were out, they'd count down until they could get back to playing and rage if it felt like too long. We'd suggest going out or trying something new... a craft activity or baking or an outing... anything... and it was met by this overwhelming sense of *meh*. They were grumpy lots. They didn't know what they could do without some direction or entertainment. Unless they were online. They were bored, but it was an unsettling kind of boredom. And despite one out of the three owlets being able to self-regulate, even she was caught up in it. It was almost dependency. It was all a bit much.
They'd forgotten how to daydream.
This worried us. Daydreaming and boredom are big friends of creativity, in our book. Boredom isn't something to be afraid of usually. It pushes you to be creative. To be perfectly honest, we adults fill quiet moments with screens too. We work online. We organise social outings online. There's no time to be bored or daydream. No time to be quiet. Always, always busy.
We had a family chat about all the things we hoped to do this year. It wandered into what we'd like to do in years to come. Hopes and dreams and all that stuff you talk about as a new year approaches.
Big Owlet wants to be an artist. Little Owlet wants to cook. Tiny Owlet wants to be a tiger. And so we talked about how they are and can be all those things NOW. That they can work at them and master them and perhaps do them for a living (tiger may be tricky), but they have to DO them. We pointed out that right now, at that moment, they were skilled online gamers, which is totally cool if that's what they want to be, but they seemed bored with it. Like it was their job. Not their passion. Turns out we were right.
They needed balance, just as we do. And they just weren't equipped to find it on their own yet. They were ready for a push. Big Owlet was ready for a challenge. She identified gaps she found and didn't know how to go about filling. From birth, this owlet has adored routine. She loves the comfort of order and a programme. Which is, I suspect, why screens appeal so much.
If you were to label it, we'd probably have one sort-of-waldorfy-homeschooler, one unschooler and one radical-or-bust unschooler. But we don't have to label it because it is what it is. And how it looks now will most likely look different next month. I'm being a bit careful about the words we use to describe what we do these days. And I'm ignoring the voices out there who try to package it and tell me how it should look. Labels are unhelpful other than to help identify a tribe. And, wonderfully, thankfully, we have found it.
So we're working with variations on a theme. We're life learning, living and loving. And doing what we want and need for now. Looking out for each other so there's time for all the good stuff. So far, so good.