Nose Bleed

Last night we had a bit of excitement.  Tre fell asleep on the floor in front of the TV (a place he often choses to rest).  We were watching a movie and planned to move him to bed when the movie was over.  However, about a half-hour after he fell asleep, we looked down to see that Tre's face, arms, and the floor around him are covered with blood from a nose bleed.  I got him into the shower to clean him up, his nose started bleeding again, and it took a while to stop.

He's had quite a few nose bleeds this summer, though prior to this summer, I don't think he had any.  So, we're heading to the doctor soon (probably Wednesday, due to scheduling conflicts tomorrow) to see if there's any particular problem that might be causing this recurring problem.  I don't think the house is excessively dry, but that is something we've considered.  He's had the nose bleeds both here at home and in Tennessee visiting his grandparents, so it doesn't seem that dry air is very likely, though we're not ruling it out.

I hate it when something is bothering my son and I have no way to fix it right away.  It makes me feel a bit more powerless than normal.



As of this past Wednesday there's been a fairly major change in my life. My sister-in-law stopped working for my mother's company, so I stopped watching Andy. All by itself, this doesn't sound like much of a change. However, Andy's absence from my childcare plans means that I'm much more able to follow a path of consensual parenting with Tre and Wyatt. So, even though Andy was a MAJOR challenge all by himself, I've found that my work has INCREASED since I've stopped caring for him.

If this doesn't sound right to you, then you probably don't know just how much work is involved in consensual parenting. When things are going smoothly, it can seem incredibly simple. In fact, it can seem an awful lot like "un-parenting" (or letting your child parent themselves, something very akin to neglect). Nothing could be further from the truth. The groundwork that must be laid to make this smooth sailing possible is extremely time intensive and requires a lot of creativity. Plus, problems are much more difficult to solve when you can't revert to the "do what I say because I told you so" method of traditional parenting.

It isn't until I discovered that Andy's absence has actually increased my workload that I realized just how far away from consensual parenting I had slipped. He's been so difficult to work with, and reverts to violence so quickly, that I had basically fallen into a pattern of solving problems by separating the kids (a solution none of them was very happy with). Now that I am actually working on helping Tre and Wyatt solve their disagreements through consideration of each's position and looking for a mutually acceptable solution, it's not so easy.

But despite this fact, I'm absolutely thrilled. I know it's not easy now, but it should get easier as Wyatt and Tre develop more tools for solving disputes (which at the moment seem near constant, though I'm sure it's not as bad as it seems). The time I spend now in helping them learn how to work together consensually will pay off in their future well-being, and this goes for Wyatt too, even if his mother doesn't fully follow the same parenting standard.


And Then

The last few days have been busy, but uneventful.

Friday I was watching Andy and Wyatt (a friend's son, same age as Andy). Rich had off work, so he took Tre out in the mid-afternoon. Most of the day, the kids played in Tre's room with LEGOs and Thomas trains. I spent a great deal of time in with them, trying to keep fights from errupting.

Yesterday was quieter. We ran errands in the morning ending in lunch at CiCi's pizza (an extremely reasonably priced all-you-can-eat pizza buffet we love). Then I came home and Beth (Wyatt's mother) came over and I spent some time helping her with her homework. While I was helping Beth, Wyatt and Tre played together until Tre got frustrated (in part because he was so tired) and we set them both down in front of a movie. After the movie was over, Beth and Wyatt went home and we watched Hancock as a family... Tre fell asleep part way through.

Today Beth is coming back over with Wyatt for more homework help. Rich is back at work, so it'll just be us ladies and the kids. I expect it to be fairly similar to yesterday, so unless something major happens, I'll leave it at that until tomorrow.


The Wheels Go...

Today was a day off (no other children to watch than my son), and I decided it might be fun to do something we've never done before. A few days ago, we drove by a roller rink that seemed to be closed, and I immediately did some quick research and found one not too far away that was open and had (what seemed to me) very reasonable prices. So, I asked Tre if he'd be interested, he said yes, and off we went.

We got to the roller rink at about 4pm with a closing time of 5pm. This turned out to be a good thing, as Tre was only up for about 45 minutes of skating and if we'd gotten there much earlier I would likely have been upset by that. He's never had skates on in his life, and it's been about 10 years since I last had skates on. I have my own skates, which I love, but at the moment (likely because of my weight) they don't fit me right, they pinch my toes. Next time I go, I'll try a rental. (Now I have to decide what to do with my skates: keep, replace, donate and just go rentals...)

But, we did go around the rink a few times. I went by myself, to start, remembering from the past that it only took me a lap or two to remember the basics. That was NOT the case this time. A combination of the time lapse and my complete lack of physical fitness had my legs quivering from the beginning of the first lap. In all, I did three total laps in the 45 minutes, interspersed with watching Tre's progress.

So, what did Tre do, since obviously he didn't put on skates for the first time and shoot around the rink unassisted? Well, it turns out there were only two other skaters there as we arrived, both wearing roller blades. As I was finishing my first lap and trying to figure out how to get Tre on the rink safely (as I was not stable enough to support him), they offered to assist Tre in rolling around the rink. He made one lap, very slowly, with his feet shooting forward out from under him VERY frequently, while I made my second lap.

After that lap, he wanted a break, so we both sat down for a bit. I was dripping with sweat, he was not obviously fatigued. I asked him if he thought it was fun, which he said it was. He was in an extremely good mood, but he said he wanted to go home. Iasked him if he'd be willing to do one more lap for me. He did not agree, but his attitude was such that I kind of pushed him to do it (if he didn't really want to, his attitude would have been different, tought to describe, but obvious to me). So, I encouraged him to do one more lap with the girls, and I did one more lap myself.

This second lap of Tre's was much more successful (either from better support from his helpers, or Tre's learning, or some combination thereof). He still had problems keeping his balance over his feet, but nowhere near as bad. He was still positive about the experience, but still wanted to go home, so I started taking his skates off. I got one off, and he wanted to play for a bit with the one that remained. I remember doing that myself, pushing with the "solid" foot and skating with the other. He had a blast, but only did that for a couple of minutes before he was ready for the removal of the second skate.

Afterwards, we put on our shoes as the girls traded their roller blades for roller skates (for those unfamiliar with the difference, blades have four wheels in a line front to back in the middle of the foot, while skates have them in a rectangle with two in front and two in back of the foot). I was surprised to see that competent roller bladers do not find it simple to trade over to skates. I knew that the skate to blade transition was difficult, having tried it once myself, but I figured that was due to trying to balance in a different direction (keeping the ankle centered over the blade).

Anyway, as we were leaving, I figured out what was driving Tre's desire to leave early. It wasn't that he didn't enjoy himself or that he was really too tired, but that he wanted my assistance with his video game when we got back home. He's interested in going back as soon as we're able, and I happened to notice a sign as we were exiting indicating beginning lessons for kids his age. I inquired and was thrilled to find out that the lessons are the same price as a regular day skating and do not require signing up for any particular stretch of them. Simply show up and pay the price. The only drawback is that until fall (when they start lessons on the weekend) it is highly unlikely that I'll have time away from the other kids I'm watching on the day they offer the lessons. And I can't begin to imagine trying to supervise the transportation, funding, or supervision of three children under five years old with no skating experience in my little four door compact car to the rink for lessons.

So, I'm looking forward to fall, and saving up for the next day we can go and just have fun at the rink!


Creative Fun

Today I had planned to go to the YMCA with Tre (as I'm not watching Andy), but they have an electrical problem. So, instead he's playing with his LEGOs. His creativity in making LEGO ships continues to astonish me.

We traded his smallish collection of "Mega Blocks" for his dad's HUGE childhood collection of LEGOs last Christmas (passing his Mega Blocks on to his cousin, Andy) and a few small LEGO Star Wars kits. He started asking us to follow some of the instructions to build the pre-designed ships. But very shortly afterward he started putting the pieces together himself following no patterns. Some of the ships he has made look as if they COULD have come from instructions (in fact, I've asked if they did, but so far he hasn't followed the instructions to make anything without adult help). He builds a wide array of different things, but most are space ships of one sort or another. Many use pieces in (what to me are) very creative ways. He seems to have no pre-concieved notions of what the piece is "supposed" to do, but instead looks at it for itself and uses it where he thinks it will work best.

Some of his constructions are straggly, poorly supported monstrosities that seem to have no real rhyme or reason, but more often than not, they are now balanced, symetrical, and fairly functional. This whole process has been incredibly fun to watch.

This afternoon, we're going to the local park for some play time outdoors, hopefully with other kids.


Side Note

By the way, I just want to make it clear from the get go, that though I am absolutely convinced that the method of parenting I have chosen (radical unschooling, consensual parenting) is the best possible and I can't imagine trying to go down a different path, that does NOT mean that I am perfect at following the path I have chosen. I try, but I also fail.

I think maybe that putting it out here and holding myself accountable for both success and failure may make the failures happen less often.

Also, though I have decided to use this method to raise my son and have done the best I could to follow that path since he was about one year old, my brother and sister-in-law have NOT done so with their son, Andy, who I watch frequently. He has not been taught that violence is not the solution to problems, and it is usually his first solution (even his "dancing" is very violent motions). I am not at all sure how well I will be able to handle this, and I know that my interactions with him are significantly subpar compared to my interactions with my son, Tre. As I can't convince his parents to put in the effort required to raise him in a consensual manner, I don't know how far down that path I can go with him. I guess we'll all just have to watch and see how it all plays out.


So, today started out tolerable and has been going downhill since then. I have Andy all day today (I watch him while his parents work, and they have a VERY odd schedule). The boys weren't playing well this morning, so I put them in different rooms doing the same thing (playing video games). That worked briefly, until Tre got frustrated again.

So, we did some group activities, dancing to music and the like, until that fell apart and devolved into something more like fighting. About that time I noticed it was about lunch time. I figured I needed something quick and easy so I went with canned spaghetti-o's. I tried the house can-opener, and it wouldn't engage the can. Grr. But, we have a hand can-opener as well. I tried it. I've NEVER been any good at getting it to work smoothly. After about 30 minutes, I had two cans half open and edible. By this time, I'm ravenous and the boys are under something resembling control, so I start on my lunch (I missed breakfast breaking up problems this morning). But by this time my temper is totally out of control. Now it's nap time for Andy, so hopefully I can rest, recharge and face the afternoon in a better mood.


Try, Try Again

I'm going to try to be a bit more regular about updating this blog. There are a variety of reasons I want to keep a better track of what goes on in our lives, but the topmost consideration is that I plan to unschool Tre, and keeping track of what happens each day on a blog seems a bit easier that just about any other form of recordkeeping.

In that regard, today I was watching Andy for the afternoon. We got a bit of a late start, but Tre was feeling sociable, so he invited Andy to come "visit" early (I was supposed to start watching him about 2:30pm and Tre invited him back about noon.

They played some LEGO Batman until Tre got ridiculously frustrated by Andy not doing what he wanted him to do (he was trying to accomplish a particularly difficult goal and Andy was making it more difficult). Tre and I had a conversation about the fact that when working cooperatively with others, we can't always make all the decisions as if we were playing alone. Tre seemed to understand, but it didn't ease his frustration any. He decided he wanted to cry loudly (seconds after giggling, he made this decision in a calm tone of voice). I told him that was fine, but I'd need to close the door between him and us (Andy and me). He agreed, and went back to crying for a minute or two more.

After that drama, they played happily for a while, playing with Tre's Thomas wooden train set. That lasted an hour or two until they decided that it made more sense to jump on each other. Tre got tired of that well before Andy did, so I decided to come up with another form of entertainment.

So, we all three got into swimsuits, I figured out where I could find an outside water spigot I had some reasonable access to, and I started filling up water balloons. The boys had a blast. They each tossed about 10 baloons at each other, only two actually hitting their targets. (One of those two was caught, undamaged.) They retrieved the broken balloon pieces in order to get their next balloon, so there was little to no trash left in the yard. Then we just took turns spraying each other with the hose.

After that, we came back inside, changed into regular clothes, and watched some TV until Andy fell asleep. His parents came home within minutes of him waking up from his nap.

This afternoon and evening, Tre has mostly spent playing LEGO Batman on his own. He's doing a great job, which is pretty impressive given that he's only five years old.