Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Disclaimer

Prema and Nithya came and met us some time ago with their young children. This post is a response to Nithya telling me that she got depressed reading some of my blog posts because we seem to be superparents and superkids always DOING the right things. Her specific complaint was about our family watching the solar eclipse together as mentioned in a previous post. Nithya was convinced that she would not have the energy to organize their family looking at the eclipse together like we did.

And this I thought gave me the perfect setting to write this...

Disclaimer:

1. Our children are older than six. And this blog is about our experiences homeschooling them. If your children are not six yet, please dont get exhilarated or unhappy about anything written here. What you read here is probably not directly relevant to you.

2. I did not have to spend energy convincing or coercing my children to watch the solar eclipse. All of us were equally excited by it. Please remember that this broad commonality of purpose that is one of the miracles that we have noticed over our 4 year homeschooling experience did not happen overnight. It has come as a wonderful gift slowly over the years, unheralded and unsought. And I believe that this or other unsought gifts will come to all who are willing to take the plunge into the unknown. Just dont expect it to appear within 30 minutes like a Dominos Pizza.

3. Our homeschooling experience is 99% about long boring days, about a general air of tension in the house, about angry moments and smacked bottoms and in many other ways lots of material too boring to be talked about on this blog. We consider homeschooling to be a long term practice and we recognize that any long term practice is made up of a few peaks interspersed with many many plateaus.

4. We wanted to live a more conscious life, we needed more time together, time to think and act in a manner that was not dictated by EMIs or school or office schedules. This was our central requirement and my working from home and the children not going to school were the means to meeting this requirement. So homeschooling in our case is like an indicator or a symptom of our life choices and as such not the main focus of our lives. (I know that I need to do some explaining here and I intend to do that in a more leisurely manner in my next post).

5. All of us (and especially Kanti and me) work very very hard. (Although to the unsympathetic eye it may look remarkably like lazing around) We strongly believe that this committment to hard work on the part of the parents is the pre-qualification to become a homeschooler.

---End of disclaimer---

Thank you Nithya for making me think about all this. I hope this public answer helps you to forgive us our superhumanbeingness.

3 comments:

  1. Arun, thanks for the post. I logged on to your blog after a long time to be confronted by my name! I absolutely have to respond to each point despite the "disclaimer" (legal training dies hard perhaps)!
    One - let me state outright that I was at no point under the impression that you all have it easy or are lazy - quite the contrary, which is what led to the "superfamily" impression. And that I certainly do not consider myself lazy either.
    Two - I was trying to share the feeling of pressure I experience at times as a responsible parent in trying to do the right thing while all around me parents seem to be doing amazing things without any of the frustration I feel. This aspect is hardly spoken about, everyone is always so upbeat and content (it seems) and while my day is also filled with moments of joy and liberation, there are also huge internal and external struggles.
    Three - hey, it was never a "complaint" - I gave you an example when you asked for one because I was one of those families who watched it on NDTV! And it doesn't mean that I will not EVER have the energy to get my family together for anything. (Actually, that statement of yours is pretty offensive!)
    Fourth - I am not simplistic. In having that conversation with you I did not expect that you would see it as my looking for an instant solution (aka Dominoes or whatever). I was merely trying to share some of the difficulty I face in this new journey which somehow stood out against the background of your blog.
    Fifth - I really enjoy reading your blog and all said and done it does fill me with wonder and optimism. So keep it coming Superman!

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  2. Dear Nithya,

    Thank you very much for your comment.

    Reading the post from your perspective now I see how offensive it sounds although I assure you that my intention was just to make the points for everyone who would read my blog and to use your and my conversation as a seed to hold these points together. Looking into my heart I find only respect and wonder for the perspectives you and Prema brought to the conversation that day.

    With apologies for all that you found offensive and with head bowed in deep respect,

    Arun

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  3. Hi Arun. I was not at all offended (I just felt that I should be)! I think it's good we got this dialogue flowing - for me this is critical in whatever encounters I have.
    Just to update you - Krishna and Kanha are still at home and the last 9 months have been very very interesting in terms of my own and their growth. When I look back, I see myself as having had a sort of desperate edge and full of anxious resolve. Now, I feel relaxed with myself and my children. I will not be able to tell you what Krishna has learnt or how homeschooliing has drastically changed his life. I can tell you that it feels like I've really just BEEN with him. And somehow in all the "stuff" that goes on, that was lowest in the order of priority. I don't feel the need to be DOING something as a validation of myself or my children. We play, read, cook, swim, go to the office, climb trees or whatever without each being an "event" leading to some result. Does this make sense?
    Anyway, I am happy to talk and share with you and absolutely admire your energy and your writing.
    If you are still in Bangalore, we will visit you sometime.

    Nithya

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