There was a fantastic thread over at The Denim Jumper about the contradictory situation with unschooling while you yourself area a control freak. I need help. I have serious control issues. People are usually not control freaks all their lives, but instead become that way over time. Usually the need for control stems from some kind of insecurity. In my case, I think I was always this way.
I cannot honestly remember a time in my life when I wasn't allowed to do what I wanted. Don't get me wrong, we were poor and I was told "no" several times when it came to the purchase of silly things I didn't really need. But I was an only child. I was the first in the Wave of Grandchildren in my family. I don't know how it happened that I was the favorite among older family members since I was rather hyperactive and a very homely child, but I certainly was the favorite just the same. Being the oldest cousin at family gatherings (and those gatherings were numerous), I was the Leader of the Band. In other words, if I really wanted something and there was no critical reason I shouldn't have it, it was mine.
Now that I'm a grownup, I find my desire to have my own way getting between me and my family, and even screwing up plans for other things I want. I want my kids' learning to be self-directed. I want to be a fascilitator and not a teacher.
Tonight I brought out all the books I got at the library today to let the kids dig through them. They were excited about the "Poop" book, but rather than just let them look at it, I had to read it to them - in my painfully monotone reading voice. Cadence was soon bored and Chad was only half-listening. We put it away and I backed off (a very deliberate action by the way). I had picked up 5 Get Ready, Get Set, Read books - 3 with different letter groups (-an, -ip, -ub) and two with stories that brought all those sounds together. I went off to start dinner and when I came back in I found Cadence reading one of the bring-it-together books and Chad helping her with the harder words. Instead of being delighted at Chad's willingness to help his sister, or being satisfied that Cadence was learning by reading more challenging stuff, I freaked out.
"You have to read these books first," I told her, handing her the letter group books. "These two are for after you've had practice with the others." I took the other books away from her and put them away. They're special books, you know. I didn't realize my mistake then. I didn't realize it when I saw her disappointed face as she started to read The Tan Can that she'd already read once this evening. I didn't even realize it five minutes later when she got bored with reading and went to play in her room. It wasn't until long after when I noticed The Tan Can stuck with the other early readers back in the library bag, where I like to keep books until we're "ready" to read them.
Holy Hell.. I am so stupid sometimes. I need to get some control of myself instead of trying to control everyone else. I need to learn to let my kids learn for crying out loud and stop trying to make them learn. So starting tomorrow morning I'm hanging a special shelf for library books (so I can be satisfied they're staying seperate and will make it back to the library together) out in the open and let them pick whatever book they want. I may even head up to the hardware store to get supplies for a facing-out shelf so they're more visible. I hereby swear to pacify my control needs with choosing books I think they should read (based on our current units or whatever), but letting them read the damn things on their own. I will let them start when they're ready and stop when they're finished.
Baby steps. If I get this part down I might be able to let them put food on their own plates. Man, this condition is just looking worse and worse all the time.