During my years (yes, years!) of deschooling, as I journeyed towards really getting
unschooling, I struggled with one main question:
How much should I do? How much should I suggest and offer ideas and activities?
I couldn't get my head around it. I was learning to trust that my children would
learn from living life, I was learning to set them free... but I wasn't sure how much
to "let them be," and how much to suggest ideas for activities and outings,
etc. How active should my role be? When I heard about the concept of
"strewing" I realized I had found my answer! The problem was how I went
about doing it.
I would take them to the library... and get frustrated if they only wanted to
borrow DVDs instead of "all those interesting books".
We would end up coming home with piles of borrowed material anyway. Lots of it
would not be looked at... and I would comment on what a waste it was.
I would leave an interesting (to me) library book opened on the coffee table and it
would often stay untouched... and I would sigh.
I would suggest an outing or activity and the response would often be, "Ah,
no, I'm not really interested," or "Maybe"... and my heart would sink.
I had been hoping for something more like, "Yeah, Mum, that's an awesome
For ages I was completely unaware that when they responded without the enthusiasm
I'd hoped for, I would subconsciously do my "magical maneuver": a
super-subtle eyeroll that was invisible to me, but very visible to them. They could
sense it somehow, and hear the almost-silent sigh. They knew.
They knew I was not happy with their response. That what I was offering was
something I really wanted them to want to do. If they didn't respond with boundless
enthusiasm, I took it personally. I judged their choice as "less than". I
really thought they should do it, or at least want to do it.
Expectations and "Should-ness"
But "should-ness" is soul sapping. Maybe their lackluster enthusiasm was
because of the attachment I unknowingly had to the activity, or perhaps they honestly
just weren't interested.
Either way, my subtle response was not so subtle in its damaging effect on their
deschooling journey. And it was damaging to me: my trust would decrease and my
frustration would increase. I had this picture in my head of what our life outside of
school should look like, and their responses to my occasional suggestions weren't in
keeping with my idea!