Tuesday, June 01, 2010


The last two months have been about births of multiple kinds for both the beasties and the grown ups. We have had birth on the brain ever since we found out that we were expecting beastie number four. When the earth side beasties found out the news, they dragged out "It's So Amazing" from under some more popular books, and it once grained it's popularity in our home. We looked at lots of pictures of what the fetus looks like during various stages of pregnancy as well as many, many youtube videos of births as the beasties were invited to this birth. So we had this birth to look forward to but there were other births waiting in the wings.

First, Umberto had two grand mal seizures and was diagnosed with epilepsy in late January. This was after an EEG showed that he had petite mal seizures as well as some activity during his sleep. Petite mal seizures aka absence seizures occur without much visibility. It looks like someone is spacing out. My brother has these. But the birth here wasn't my son's condition. What happened is that he began meds and he began to read. It wasn't that dramatic but we noticed a marked improvement within a week of the meds. And with each tiny step toward reading, Umberto began to grow more confident. Suddenly it wasn't just Camille who was sitting curled up in chair reading, it was Umberto as well. He was no longer scared to read to me because he finally knew most of the worlds. I felt justified in my instinct that was something was off with Umberto, and while I wish to whoever that he didn't have epilepsy, I'm glad it's been caught and that we are finally seeing some improvement.

And Camille had her own birth in reading as well. Freed from the constraints of school, she is now reading chapter books on her own. We're guessing she's a third or fourth grade reading level...not too shabby for seven.

Second, we rebirthed our love of modified unschooling. I make no claims to be an unschooler so let's keep the flaming to ourselves, ok? But I do think we lean towards unschooling. The last few weeks of my pregnancy found me a constantly contracting bitch who really had very little patience for any kind of formal schooling. We spent a lot of time doing: reading, park, Legos, Bill Nye the science guy on the internet. My kids learned a lot, and so did I. I realized that I didn't really need to come up with fancy lesson plans. When you make learning a part of your life, you don't need to make it entertaining. There's no need for the dog and pony show I was used to creating to keep high school students from drooling on their desks. I even got to drive the point home with H.

We introduced Camille to habitats and food chains with some library books. Of course Umberto and Piper went along for the ride. I read them a few books and we talked about them. The next day the kids began a week long obsession with all things food chain and habitat related. H was stunned as the kids kept running downstairs to bring us pictures they drew, on their own, of various food chains and animal habitats.

Third, we had a real live human birth! And Umberto witness the whole kabang! All of the children began the journey at the birth center but only Umberto managed to stay up until 3:23 am to witness his sister being pushed out into the world. He sat on the bed while I labored upright using the end board for support but when I decided I needed to be on my side, lying down, he flew off so fast it was hard to believe he was ever on it. My mom reported later that the watched me push Rowena out from the side! As soon as she was laid on my chest, he jumped up on the bed and was touching her. He even got to feel her umbilical cord pulsing, and see the placenta. Our midwife was really wonderful at letting him touch and explaining things to him. He got to help her with Rowena's newborn exam as well. He was a little disappointed at not getting his big brother but he's in love with this little girl and she's already crazy about him as well.

I see a connection between this birth and homeschooling. In both, we are bringing things that have become institutionalized back into our home. We are erasing boundaries between public and private between institutions and homes. Some might think we are limiting our children's horizons by keeping them in a bubble but I like to think we are expanding them by breaking down what is expected, what is seen as normal. I want my children to question society and to see through that questioning that what is often presented as natural is often unnatural. That what we are told to do is often more about habit or worst control then it is about what is good or right. With both experiences my children learned to challenge the norms and through this challenge, they learned different ways of being.

1 comment:

Lynn Griffin-Roberts said...

Awesome Ginger...good for you guys! I loved reading this and I get it. Gald things are going so well. Hugs...