September 20, 2007

The Computer (AKA A Thorn In My Side)

I'm going about this all wrong. That's what I was thinking when I reminded J about his idea to practice trombone and Japanese just before lunch. I suppose I would have felt completely different if he'd said "Okay," turned off the computer, and started practicing. That's not what happened. He was in the middle of a game and he didn't want to stop. I gently reminded him once more, then let it drop.

After lunch (he didn't even turn it off to eat!) we went to Park Day. While J played, I read some more of The Unschooling Handbook. The book just confirmed my misgivings! This is the line that really got me. Author, Mary Griffith, is referring to the parents' decision to let their child quit taking lessons of one kind or another:

"It is important to listen carefully to your child, to help her evaluate the alternatives, and make sure she doesn't base her decision on others' wishes for her instead of her own best interests. Fortunately, because of their experience with choosing and evaluating their own learning activities, unschoolers usually find themselves well prepared to make such potentially life-changing decisions."

It's not that J wants to quit his lessons. He loves them. It's just that I'm freaking out about computer use, so he's not really getting any experience with "choosing and evaluating [his] own learning activities." I'm evaluating them for him and I'm not liking them--one of them, anyway.

So, I told myself to relax and it actually helped. We ended up having a terrific evening and the computer played a very minor roll, just a walk-on, really, in our activities. And I let J choose everything. Mostly. Okay, I may have (ever so subtly) suggested alternative activities whenever he neared the computer, but I only ever suggested anything once. Shock of all shocks, one of the suggestions happened to include putting something away and he thanked me for reminding him!

So the day had a happy ending, but this swinging pendulum is starting to wear me down. I need to mellow out. And I need to join that ISP. The woman wasn't there last week at chess--only her husband--and I really wanted to talk to her, so I put off joining until next week. I need for her to tell me everything will be okay!

I've had a couple nice comments on this blog over the past few days, though, and they've definitely helped. So, if any of you seasoned unschoolers have any words of wisdom, or if you'd like to do the online equivalent of grabbing me by the shoulders, looking me in the eye, and shouting "Mellow Out! It'll be okay!" Please feel free to do so. Actually, I take back the shouting part. A whisper might be better. I'm feeling kind of fragile.


Tracy said...

It sounds to me like you are doing A-OKAY. Entirely normal, all the emotions you are going through. One thing you might find helpful... my son is a computer nut, too. I find that whenever I start worrying about how much time he is spending (and yes, it occasionally happens even when you've been doing this for years) I just go to him and ask him to show me what he's doing. He loves to show me the games he is playing. He loves to make me play (I'm horrible!) and tell me, step by step, how to get things done. Some games we play together. Currently, for instance, we are playing Harry Potter together and we take turns running the direction keys and the jump/spell functions. It's an interesting process. And honestly, my time is pretty limited because I tend to have a short fuse for some of these games. (He probably learns way too many curse words when I play.) So I might commit to a half hour at a time. It's enough to keep my mind boggled by all the stuff he has picked up and to be awed by his direction-giving skills (he's 6). And it quells my anxiety when it rises. But mostly, it's a way to spend time with him doing something that gives him pleasure.

Tracy said...

Here, I'll throw some links at you.

The book I talk about here might give you great hope.

And this is more about television, but by a friend of mine. is my baby, by the way. I've written more there about unschooling than on my blog if you are interested in more of my 2 cents ;-)

Take care!