Friday, April 22, 2011

Don't Let the Crickets Be

On Earth Day, I would usually write about protecting an animal. This time I am writing about capture.
And release.
It's dusk and my five year old hollers, " MooooOOOOOM!" and comes scampering at me, sliding across the Pergo flooring in his socks.
"Mom, Mom, Mom! Come quick, it's important!"
"What? " I ask as I attack a mountain of crusty dishes.
"Just come see!!" He urges.
"Okay, Okay." he face is too excited to let this moment pass.
We walk to the corner of the hallway and my other two sons have something surrounded on the floor.
It's a little brown cricket.
" Mom! There's a CRICKET in the house!!!!" They are inspecting it. It's fun for them. My two year looks like he is going to poke or squash it.
"Leave the cricket be." I say. It's just one little cricket, but I don't need a squashed cricket mess to clean up.
"The Chinese say they are good luck. " I say importantly. I walk back to my dishes.
It occurs to me briefly that it is an insect and I should probably catch and release it outside. But I don't. I choose to be lazy about it and do other things. The dishes seem much more pressing at the time.

The next time my kids see a cricket in a different area of the house I think it's the same one and it hops away under the couch. Not my problem.
Then,pretty soon, we start seeing one in the kitchen, one in the boys room, and the chirping starts up at night.

One night I am up late getting a late night snack, and I pass my husband who is sleeping on the couch due to his increased snoring when he is mildly congested. The crickets are peeping away, one here, one there, hidden little noises making a symphony around us. The pitch and volume is incredible, really. It's loud. The suckers have been multypling in my house.

"How can you sleep?" I ask my husband.
"Doesn't bother me." he mumbles sleepily.
It bothers me. I am not tending house for a cricket festival of mating insects!
Pretty soon, they have migrated, unseen, into MY bedroom and they are keeping me up at night. I am frustrated because before, earlier, I could see the one or two crickets, but now, I can't see where they are to get rid of them!

It occurs to me that there are lots of places in my life, where I have let the "crickets" be.
When the conversation I had with a family memeber doesn't go exactly the way I intended, ah oh well, next time it will be better. I have other things I need to tend to right now.
When the toys start piling up in the livingroom, I think later, later...
When I exceed our budget one month and then another month, I keep thinking, oh it will be fine.

Then, one night, the noises in my head are a cacophony of those put off things, the rewind button keeps automaticlly replaying what my family member said and what I stupidly said back. The toys are driving my bonkers and I hate the way I ineffectively yelled at the kids about them today. The budget has me feel like I am in game of slipe and slide, only it's not fun, and I have been tossing and turning and cranky with my husband.
These "crickets", things that just don't belong there or just don't work for me, but I chose to ignore them, are now keeping me awake at night. They are robbing my peace of mind and stealing increments of my wellbeing and patience. Because I let them, because I chose not to catch and release right when I noticed them the first time.
I can see now that there are just actions to take, catch and release...catch the words that just came out of my mouth and release them by acknowledging that those words are RIGHT there. I said them. And that's not what I want in our space. And then shooo! out they go. And we have a new clear space to create something new.
Same with the toys and the bills, just acknowledge that they are there, right THEN, catch the issue and release it where it belongs. The toys go where they go and a system for having them go that way. The money goes where it goes and we consistently have it go there.
By taking these steps I begin to have a new found freedom in those areas, and find myself being much more present and bold in handling other areas of my life as well. I am writing more consistently, being much more present with my children. I am taking care of business with my business and in communication immediately with my husband.

In fact, my husband teams up with me, hears a cricket inside the portable cassete player in our bedroom the other day, and moves the squatter and boom box outside. I feel a minor sense of victory.

Zen Honeycutt

Thursday, April 14, 2011

To Home School or Not to Home School?

My children go to an excellent school. Rated the best elementary in our area. The teachers are shining examples of patience, creativity and expertise. The Principal is delightful, committed and loved by all. We couldn't ask for a better public school.
And eldest is doing C level work...which is simply because his preference of learning is very creative...he love science and art and excels at systems and story boarding. The style of learning focused primarily on math and writing, he says, is the same thing over and over again. He enjoys school, he loves his friends and teacher, but he goes because we say so and he does Ok because he needs to.

My middle son is excelling in Kindergarten. He does all his work quickly, somewhat neatly and attacks new concepts with verocity. Everything is a challenge until he has conquered it and then it becomes the most uninteresting thing to endure ever. He has surpassed the standard levels and yet there is no bonus work for him at school, no carrot or opportunity to tutor others or activity to keep him from getting to trouble before his boredom sets in. He complains the homework is for babies and he often grabs his brother's previous first grade leftover math homework and fills it out himself. He loves his teacher and the social aspect of school but puts up with the learning style.

That's just what's so. There is nothing wrong with what their teachers are doing. I love them. I honor them for what they do. They are GREAT at what they do.

AND there is something missing for my sons, not wrong, just something not there that would make a difference for their education. Where I begin to look at what might be missing for my children is in the entire system. The system and structure for learning is in such large groups, 36 now, and focused so much on the material needed to pass the standardized tests for "No Child Left Behind" that the entire context is based on passing those tests. If your child can do that, then great, they are fine. If your child can just barely do that, then great, they are fine. If your child cannot then they might get some extra attention, just enough to get them to the place where they can just barely pass. There simply isn't time within the system as it is for anything else. As much love and care as the teachers give, this is it.
There isn't any extra attention or different teaching style for the kids who are excelling or just barely making it. They just need to do more and more of the same to drill it in. What might really be missing however, is ME. My involvement in their education. Personal care and one on one attention..a guide for their education.

As my husband and I consider moving to an area where we can get a larger yard for gardening and more space for our rapidly growing three boys, I begin to shift my entire perspective on what's important. Where we live is based on the rating of the school, usually....if we are sold on the public school system and committed to the education they will receive there, that is...

This has us ask the question...What kind of education are we committed to our children having? What is our context that we are creating for our children around learning?

Learning is....
Boring? Drudgery? Something to be survived or put up with? Something you rush through to get to the good stuff which is TV or video games? Something we parents put up with? Something we are glad for because it get's them out of our hair?

What if Learning was an Adventure?
What if Learning was an opportunity to connect, to have fun and to create?
Well then homeschooling would show up inside of that context. It just would. Like the context of LOVE creates hugs, smiles and affection....
Learning is an Adventure would look like homeschooling outside, in a back yard with a garden, reading about the history of an area we go on a hike to, math with sticks we broke from branches, art with leaves that we gathered on the hike, and science everyday in between and inspired by everything around us.
Learning as an adventure would be spontaneous, fun and challenging. It would be fast and efficient, scary at times and exhausting other times. It would be immensely rewarding and unforgettably inspiring!

It would require an entire lifestyle shift. It would mean taking on the unknown. It would mean being willing to make mistakes or be flexible and creative.
The voice in my head says..For God's sake Zen, just be normal for once! Send your kids to a good school and don't stress yourself out!!!

What if it wasn't stressful though???..(or I mean unbearingly so anyway, I am realistic)...what if it was fun, exciting and creating the kind of education that really works for my children?
What talents could explode from them? What creations?
I wonder what riches could unfold for me if I was plugged into my kids learning and creating it with them...what kind of relationship could we have and what adventures could we go on?? Stay tuned for further pondering on children's education and what's possible.
Either way, whether I homeschool or not, this inquiry to what we want education to be for our children has me being connected and creative in a way I never previously imagined...again coming from this year's context of Courage, Creativity and Contribution!

Zen Honeycutt

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Favorite Moment

Sometimes I think God is speaking through my eight year old son Ben.

Like when he said " Mom, did you know that the beach is where angels go to have their birthday party?"

" Mom did you know that people get recycled when they die and come back as other people but they don't know it?"

or the other day when we asked him what his favorite part of the day was, he said simply..
" Right now is my favorite. Because you know when you pick right now as the favorite and feel happy, more happy things come, then your favorite is right now all over again."

I am not kidding.
He got what the entire movie "The Secret" is about. He got what hundreds of philosophers and spiritual teachers preach and yearn for us to get.
We looked into his eyes with love and awe and agreed that our favorite moment is right now, right here, with him and our whole family.

Life is moment to moment. Some of us have less moments than others. As a dear family member passes, I am reminded to be present, that right here right now, if I muster up or open up, or generate those good feelings, more good happy feeling will come, more good happy things, words, events and relationships will come.
It's only me and my fear of unhappy things that calls more unhappy things to me. I have the power to transform my life by choosing right now.
Even when unhappy things randomly happen, accidents, death, things beyond my control (oh yes, I am constantly giving up that I can't control everything or everyone)
if I chose right now anyway, exactly as it is, and know that this moment is exactly perfect, I can then create a happy good feeling moment and be inspired by the world again.
Thank You Ben.

Zen Honeycutt