Death….and to some extent life

Over the course of the last year, we have lost several pets.  Some of these losses weigh heavy in my heart and seem to exert some unknown pressure in the back of my eyes.  Passing their final resting place twangs some invisible string in my chest cavity.

But each ending has been an opportunity for the children to learn and me to wonder at the workings of an open mind.  I have witnessed their capacity for compassion and grief juxtaposed with immaturity and nonchalance.  I have seen how wildly different my children are and how individual their thought processes are.

I have also seen where they are lacking and wonder what I should do.  The balance between respecting their personal inclinations and my need to instill compassion and reality is not an easy thing to find.

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Homeschooling and socialization

Lovely well meaning people keep asking how my kids will socialize if they are homeschooled.  And I keep repeating myself.  So, I’m going to write it down here and tell them to read it because when I say it now, its so rote and practised, there isn’t any conviction 🙂

Well, in a typical week, Bern is visited once by Farhan who lives in the palatial mansion behind us.  They barely speak the same language but seem to have fun comparing what they can and cannot get away with on their bicycles.  Farhan is 8 and can cycle anything!  He has an amazing collection of bikes and can do tricks on them.  Bern can barely cycle with slightly elevated training wheels , bless his little uncoordinated soul!

At least twice a week, they play with Hannah and Sophie from further down the road.  Their games tend to be wilder, with lots of screaming, water splashing and dress up.  For many weeks, they were the Navi from Avatar defending home tree.  My mulberry tree is somewhat the worse for wear but the children, dressed in belts, tails, nerve braids and anklets made from Zoob were totally immersed in the alternate dimension for at least a month.  Their current pursuit of choice is catching and observing the insects and spiders in our gardens.

The children all go for gymnastics at Scope and have a fabulous time there.  Their constant companion there is shy Lounes.  He is an only child and somewhat reserved and introverted.  However, the children interact in such a respectful way that us adults need to learn from them.  Sometimes, Lounes is reluctant to participate and Bern or Kiki will try to coax him into joining.  If he refuses, they take it in their stride and carry on.  If he agrees, they are so pleased.  If he joins in later, there is no ridicule or resentment, just happiness that another child will learn what they are learning too.

My children also have a wonderful relationship with my grandmother, aunts and uncles and my cousins.  They will happily go off with them all day and sometimes even overnight.   And remember, Cian only turned 3 in March.  When we go out as a family, the children often ask if Taima can come along or if we are are shopping, they will remember that YeeMa like that biscuit and we should get her some.

True socialization is not about 45 children in a classroom regulated by bells and being asked to concentrate by a harrassed teacher.  It is not 20minute recess breaks where one has to fit in a toilet break, a snack, catch up on home work and perhaps a little bit of play.

True socialization is not about being told off when you help your classmate with work he struggles with.  Nor is it about being segregated in to Malay, Chinese and Indian for the class quiz.  And it sure as HELL ain’t being rushed off from one tuition class to another so you can score enough A’s to get into a better class.

My friends come from all over the world.  They range from 20 years older to about 15 years younger.  Some of us are poor and some are rich.  Some live in Malaysia, some elsewhere.  Some are HSers, most are not.  Some are religious, some chronic athiests.  Some are married with kids, some are dating.  Some are straight and some committed homosexuals.  Each and everyone is special and precious and almost ALL I DID NOT MEET IN SCHOOL.

Exhausted us

We have been very slack about posting and I feel the need to offer an explanation.

A fellow homeschooler said MOE officials had visited her and given her lots of trouble for HSing her kids.  I got kinda nervous.  I mean, OK….I have a fair excuse but still, I am loath to deal with government officials in any context as it invariable results in funding a tea break of sorts.

The kids seems to have collected an interesting t of friends and we have been having playdates most afternoons.  It is wonderful to see them play and create, improvise and compromise, sweat and scream.  They have fun climbing, wading in the pond, splashing in the paddling pool and feeding the chickens.  Inspecting local wildlife is also a favourite pastime and they have found all sorts of bugs, insects and grubs to scrutinize.

The kids have been going to gymnastics for over a year now and still loving it a lot.  I really like how they have learnt to use their entire bodies and how much better coordinated and balanced they are.  Cian is always the first to climb up something and then leap off!

Bern recently started fencing and we are all in awe of how fun yet disciplined it is.  The combination of strict manners and calculated aggression is exhilarating.  I may just take it up myself in a few months.

As a reward to myself for homeschooling, I have taken a couple of hours every morning for myself to walk, run and just be with my dogs.  They are the happiest and most content they have ever been and I feel ALIVE.  I jumped into a monsoon drain deeper than I am tall to fish out our blind foster pup, AND climbed out with no problem.  Three months ago, I would’ve had to call the fire department.

Since August last year, we’ve fostered and rehomed 3 dogs.  We also put n a vegetable patch and started raising chickens.  So all in all, it’s been a wonderful time of learning and growth.  We’re mostly exhausted each night before bed, and we wake up with anticipation of what each new day will bring.