When Kids are In School…

I realized when my son started kindegarten that my method of child-rearing had not in any way prepared him for the school experience.

Coming from a background of respect, discussion, debate and explanation, he had no idea how to handle a school environment.  he immediately balked at the timed schedules, the format of blind obedience, the repetition, lack of explanation or exploration and expected performance.

for example, he’d been counting to 100 for over a year, but refused to at school.  his teacher finally wrote him on the list as being able to count to 100, when she asked him to try, and he counted up to 99, and then looked at her and began counting back down again.  “98.  97.  96…”

I actually felt guilty for a while, for not having better prepared him.  I felt guilty for letting him do things at his own pace, for explaining the reasoning behind the limitations put upon him, for not just saying “because I said so”.

is it our job to raise our children to blindly accept, memorize and obey?

is it our job to help shape our children into cogs so that they will struggle less in ‘real life’ settings?

or is it our job to give them a sanctuary where they are respected, honored and allowed to have opinions and develop at their own rate?

if an animal is shut up in a cage for it’s entire life, it’ll be content, because it won’t know that things could or should be any different.  it will believe that it’s life purpose is to sit in a cage, and will be complacent.

if however, an animal spends its it’s life in freedom, but then is shut in a cage for a period of time each day, it will of course protest, and then eventually adjust and accept it’s time in captivity, knowing that it won’t last forever.

perhaps it will be longing for freedom when caged, but which animal do you think is truly happier?

we should raise our children not with the goal of shaping them to fit or belong in a culture that does not respect them, not with the goal of teaching them to conform and change who they are in order to make life easier for them, they’re going to have that pressure surrounding them their entire lives anyway.

we should instead, warn them of what they’ll be up against in the world around them and give them a safe zone, free of that pressure, where they can express themselves.

in this ‘safe zone’ they can rest, recover, and prepare themselves for the next days assault on their individuality.  our homes should be free of ‘peer pressure’.

within the guidelines of safety our kids ultimate drive at home should be finding out who they are, and we should both observe and participate in this.

the better we know our children, the more prepared we should be to notice the voice of mother Culture coming out of their mouths and see when they are caving to pressures at school.  the better we know our children, the better we can support them.

-citrus

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Learning to Breathe

I am naturally an idealist and an extremist in pretty much all areas of my life.

this is just how my brain functions.  if you put any weight in palm reading, whereas most people have a line for their emotions and one for their thoughts (heart and head lines) I have just one, which carves deeply across my palm, since for me, there is no differentiation between my thoughts and my feelings.

this is, frankly, a pain in the ass.

I am VERY emotionally invested in my ideals, especailly when they involve something I feel deeply about, such as my family.  if I do not live up to my ideals of what I think I should be as a wife and mom, I immediately consider myself a failure.  but would I ever consider telling my son “wow, you are such a failure at being my kid”?  holy hell, no.  I would never tell Ethan he was a failure at being a husband either.  that word, which I use on myself over and over again, I would never use to lable anyone else.

it’s like cooking mama lives in my head.  I burn dinner, and instantly the words FAIL burn themselves across my cerebral cortex, and some little inner self of mine pops up with flaming eyeballs to declare “you’re not mine!” or whatever the hell she ACTUALLY says.

I was raised with very distinct and self-sacrificing values involving being a wife and mother.

we were taught that if you had a family, their wants and needs always came before yours.

my mother was always self-sacrificing, and she made sure we were constantly aware of it.  she at times be so exhausted after making dinner that she wouldn’t have the energy to eat it herself.  mmm… guilt-free meals.

she put so much effort into being the “self-sacrificing mother”, that she completely neglected taking care of herself.  her emotional needs were always so great that there was no room for ours.  she was so busy doing everything she needed to do to try and keep herself from feeling like a failure as a mom that she had no time to actually… be a mom.

therein lies the danger of being a self-sacrificing parent.

recently, Israel was going through a very rough time.

he was dealing w/ an event that he experienced very intensely as betrayal, and a lack of control over his life.

his method of regaining control and his power was to latently refuse everything we asked of him, and make sure we were aware he could think for himself, by arguing with absolutely everything we said.

he was also very emotionally needy, wanting attention, approval and closeness at all times.  he had to be in the same room with us, we had to acknowledge everything he did.  the only way I could accomplish ANYTHING was through involving him.

also, he had problems sleeping.  no matter what time we put him to bed, he wouldsn’t fall asleep until 11 or later.

by which time, I’d be so exhausted that I would be a crabby, rude, emotionally unavailable mom, and then once he finally fell asleep, I would turn all my frustration towards Ethan, who, to make matters even better, had been working late, sometimes not getting home until 8pm or later.

I could have set Israel up with a project to keep him busy for 20 minutes during the day, while I took a break.  I could have called any of his grandparents and had them take him out for lunch.  I could have let him go over to the neighbors house and watch cartoons and play with her baby.  but I thought, “he’s having a rough time.  he needs me right now.  he needs to know that I can be here for him.”

but the truth of the matter is that NO ONE can be there for anyone else 100% of the time.  you needs to have time to experience yourself, or you end up so drained that you can’t be there for anyone at all.

the whole week of distress he went through, which was immediately followed by three days of stomach flu as soon as he started to balance back out, I spent the day meeting the emotional needs of my son, sacrificing my own needs, and by the evening I would be a heinous bitch.

sometimes I live my life like it’s a competitive sport.

like it’s my responsibility to maintain a kickass home, supply healthy, tasty and fun meals, and have an unbored and well-adjusted family at all times.

as soon as I start doing this, pressuring myself, making everything my responsibility and getting the Cooking Mama inner voice, it’s not fun anymore.

usually, I enjoy being domestic.  that’s why this blog is called The Domestic Anarchist.  it’s me learning how to accept my domestic tendencies, my natural inclination to have fun decorating and up-keeping my house, finding and trying out new recipes, and thinking up fun shit to do with my family.

but the instant that instead of being “fun shit to do” it becomes “shit I have to do”, the martyr mentality kicks in.

if I have no downtime, I become bitter and get bitchy.  I do what I need to do, but I make sure everyone knows that I am fucking pissed about it.

and then I get more pissed that they are not appreciating the sacrifices I’m making for them!

and I always said I do things differently from my mom.

I need to relax.  ask for help when I need it.  sending my son over to the neighbors doesn’t make me a bad mom.

neither does serving scrambles eggs, ramen, or peanut-butter and jelly for dinner, on the days when that’s the most I can muster.

it’s not a competition.  there is no “pass” or “fail” or “first place”.  it’s just like any other life adventure.  it’s there to experience.

and sometimes, having scrambled eggs for dinner at 10pm and watching fraggle rock, can be an exciting experience, if you don’t fuck it up by feeling guilty.

-citrus

Letting Go

there is a story, oft repeated, that many of you have heard before.

while playing outside, a little boy saw a butterfly struggling to get out of it’s cocoon.  he watched for a while, fascinated, and then, feeling sorry for the butterfly, who was beating it’s new wings desperately in an attempt to escape, decided to help.  he peeled the cocoon off and pulled the butterfly out.

the butterfly, of course, promptly died.

while this really in the case of what will almost always happen if you attempt to “free” a butterfly from it’s cocoon, the moral of the story goes beyond ‘don’t fuck with butterflies’.

struggle is what makes us evolve.  it’s what makes it possible to move from one stage in life to another.

evolution comes from having to adapt to your surroundings.  the culture we live in has decided, instead, to adapt our surroundings  to make ourselves more comfortable.

some people attempt to ‘complete’ themselves through sonsumerism.  our media encourages this, urging us to define ourselves through impersonal possessions.

others, perhaps, glory in their incompleteness, putting experiences and challenges in front of themselves, to struggle through and either emerge victorious, or perhaps admit failure and return again.

we do this naturally, if you watch children at play the games they create are all about overcoming obstacles, battling monsters and great fights and quests.  …as long as they’re functioning in a natural state.  many toys and games that the media pushes on children are about, again, collecting and consumerism.  how many outfits you have for your barbie (or bratz) doll.  but is she really complete without her barbie car?  what about her townhome?

when a kid is in their natural state, and learning to climb trees, they encounter skinned knees, scraped palms, pitchy hair, and fear.

when our kids encounter anything that makes them uncomfortable, the fearful american parent will often instinctively react, to prevent or rid our child of any possible discomfort.  often we encourage the fear, instead of their innate ability to develop power over it.  “that looks too hard for you.  why don’t you try something easier?  why don’t you play on the ground, or have a snack instead?”

the child is then conquered.  they learn if they fear something, they should stay away from it.  if something is hard, it shouldn’t be attempted.  no evolution takes place.

however, without interference, that child will return to the same tree time and time again, and their body and mind will begin to adapt.

shoes will be abandoned, feet and hands will become more confident, coordination will increase, sense of balance will develop, and those monkey instincts will kick in.

screw comfort.

it’s discomfort that pushes us forward.  it’s struggle that makes us truly alive and instills in  us a sense of power.

let’s hear it for adventure.  for experience.  for pushing our limits and forcing our own growth.

and let’s not hold our kids back from pushing themselves and experiencing life to it’s fullest.

let’s hear it for letting go.

-citrus

Supporting and Raising a Natural Anarchist

Supporting and Raising a Natural Anarchist:

all children are natural anarchists and free-thinkers.  this is the natural state for any animal.

my parenting values are largely based on self-expression, free-thinking, and personal development.  which, when examined openmindedly, is in essence, the raising of an anarchist.

I am not saying you should raise your children to be anarchists or terrorists, I’m just saying that this is their natural state, and that our job is not to teach our children to be cogs.  our children should be supported in being individuals, and thinking for themselves.  we should encourage them to question things, and look at them from another way, and not blindly accept what they are taught.

however, teaching your children anarchism or any political view is equivalent with dogmatizing children with religious beliefs.  it’s unfair to force our beliefs on our children from a position of power, and being larger, and the provider, places us in a position of power.  we are the ones who control whether they receive food or shelter, or really anything else.  there is nothing we can do to remove ourselves from this position of power.  however, we can do everything we can to NOT ABUSE this power, and to provide children with the most power they can experience themselves.

we must allow children to have their own interests, and support them in it.  sometimes they may mimic ours, sometimes not.  if their choices are dangerous to them, their minds, or their health, are the times when we should intervene, and the intervention should come just as that.  not as demanding pressure, or guilt, but through explanation and discussion.

our culture and society are made 2 be brainwashing systems that leave us fearful, bored, accepting and compliant.  we should try to prepare our children for this as much as possible.

I try to keep my kids away from flouride excess sugar, caffeine and processed foods, because I believe these to be tools of a system which breaks down and pollutes our minds and bodies.  once Israel became old enough to question these decisions, I explained them to him, and he is in agreement with me… 90% of the time.

we should try to point out the voice of Mother Culture to our children, when we see it around us or when we hear them repeating it to us.  encourage them to question things, view them a new way, and ask them what they think.

for very small children, their exposure to the media and Cultural programming should probably be limited, but as they grow, they need to be exposed, they need to be prepared, so they can experience it and question it.  Children should be taught to question the media, the world, and the rules around them.

INCLUDING YOURS.

this is the hard part.  we have the programming that children should be dominated, should blindly follow our rules, and should listen to what we say without question.

but if your child comes to you with a good reason as to why a certain rule of yours is either unfair, outdated, moot, or needs ammending, show them the respect of discussing it open-mindedly with them, and choosing together as to whether to change, negate or ammend it.

after a certain point, your home should be a reason-based autonamous collective, instead of a dictatorship.  children’s powers of reason begin much earlier than people think, especially if encouraged.

-citrus