Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Normal?!? What's that?

I came to a realization today, one that I should have had a long time ago, I suppose. I realized that I'm truly eccentric, maybe even a little out there. Okay. I'm way out there y'all! Surprisingly, that realization didn't ever enter my mind until today and yet, when it did. It didn't bother me at all.

Why do I say I'm out there, or very eccentric? Where do I begin? I'm a writer, who has turquoise doors to her house, and an impressionist artsy front porch. I go through culls for free vegetables. I have tons of animals. I'm vegetarian, a stay at home mom, I do delayed, selective vaccines. I'm a novice to homeschooling, an Episcopalian in Baptist country, an attachment parent who believes in free-range playtime. Yep, I'm different but who isn't....and why do these things make me so eccentric?

 Well, we could talk about my vegetarian lifestyle. I've been vegetarian for 23+ years now. Yes, twenty three years, and it's normal...completely normal to me that is. But I remember, when I first became vegetarian, my fear was that I would become one of those strange vegetarian people. I wasn't one who was going to eat tofu. Nope, not for me...I was going to stay mainstream, and vegetarian too. But I'd be totally normal. Riiiiiggght!

Here I am twenty three years later and I eat all kinds of unusual things, tofu being one of the more normal ones. And my children eat quite eccentrically as well, they don't know any different.

Then there's the crazy cat lady stereotype. Once years ago, 14 years ago to be exact, I had 5 cats. Today, I have three. The difference was all my cats got along 14 years ago, they were all related, now none of my cats do. Oh and we now also have two dogs and three fish. But the pets I want y'all...are sometimes more numerous than the stars. I want horses,chicken, ducks, goats, hedgehogs, rabbits, and fish. Always fish. Yep, I'm most definitely a crazy animal person...but so are my girls. And from I see and hear so are many of the other members of my extended family. Who knows, perhaps it's genetic.

 And don't get me started on research. I'm a research fiend. I don't follow blindly be it politics, medicine, schools, healthy eating, child rearing or anything else for that matter.

And through the years this research has changed my perspective on many things. When I was younger I would have categorized myself as a conservative. In truth, I was one and still am in some ways. I don't believe in abortion, ever! I don't really believe in hormonal birth control. I'm not a big feminist. I really think feminism has pushed too hard in the wrong direction. That is often expected a woman will work outside the home regardless of whether or not she wants to is wrong. I truly believe families benefit from having a parent stay at home. I know mine have. Don't get me wrong, I don't see anything wrong with a woman working outside the home if she wants to. I don't see anything wrong with a man working inside the home. I just think the push to be all and have all and do all is too much. None of us can do it all... Choices have to be made. Where is the person's priority? That's where the person should be.

Now, if I'm asked to categorize myself politically, I couldn't. I'm quite liberal as well. I believe anyone who can marry and wants to should be able to do so. I'm completely anti-death penalty (or as I like to put it I'm against all killing). I'm not entirely justice system type government even though I used to work in a police dept. I think our judicial system from the police dept standpoint has some major problems, in many, many places that need to be addressed immediately. However, I am all for giving a helping hand to someone in need. And  I believe government programs that help the unfortunate are good and necessary. I'm all for protecting the environment, but not fanatically so.

However, I do recycle. I cloth diapered my girls up until they were 2. (And yes, I was a crunchy attachment mom). By that point Ella Rose was potty trained and Evie Alice moved into disposables. I wish sometimes I'd stuck with cloth for her all the way through perhaps she'd be fully potty trained at 4 if I had. Ella Rose potty trained before 18 months old. Sounds fanatical, huh? It wasn't. She just was ready, and so was I.

I'm an extended breastfeeding mom. Evie Alice still nurses at 4 years old, but slowly is weaning herself and rarely nurses during the day time, now. I bed share and yes, I'm honestly an attachment parent.

However, I'm also for free range play. I send my children outside to play on their own, just like my parents used to do. I let them get dirty and explore without adult supervision. There are boundaries, and they know them. They don't go into the street or into the drainage ditch. But their imaginations and outdoor supplies are the limit on the type of play they pursue while outside. I guess my parenting may seem like just as much of a paradox as my political beliefs.  I don't believe either are paradoxes though. I like to think they balance themselves out.

 And I'd like to think my fanatical research helps me make balanced health decisions as well.  For instance, I'm for vaccines, but don't have any problem with those people who don't vaccinate. I delay and in some cases selectively choose what vaccines my children get. We don't do flu shots. I have to see a real reason to vaccinate, the need for it has to outweigh the danger. We do do MMR, but I've recently decided that although I don't see harm in having the vaccine that I don't believe it truly protects to the extent that many want us to believe it does. There over 9 varieties of measles and we vaccinate against one type and expect that vaccine will protect against all 9. That's ludicrous in my opinion, but what the medical community would like for us to believe and what many people do believe.

I don't push milk products in my home, but don't deny them when asked. I discovered that the dairy industries creation of the food groups was a marketing scheme and what a marketing scheme it was. No grown human needs milk...and yet many people believe we do. Yes, this belief even extends to some doctors.

My research doesn't stop there, it also extends to child development and educational needs (and yes, I'm strange there too).  In fact, research and personal beliefs are exactly what have led me to decide to home school. Yep, I'm one of those strange home school people. Ha ha!! I've actually not started  homeschooling yet, but I've done tons of research and I've discovered that even among the homeschooling community I'm probably on the outer edges.

So why home school? Well, for my family the reason would be that I don't agree with the current trends in education today. Children need to be able to be children. They need play time. They need fine arts. Those are not being provided in schools the way they should. Tests are the main focus now, yet research shows children shouldn't take standardized tests until they finish 3rd grade. Then there's the issue of pushing children to do too much, too quickly in the status quo public schools. Kindergartners are being shamed for not reading quickly enough or proficiently enough when some children simply aren't ready to read at that age.

I don't like those things and so we are going a different route. I want my children to love learning. I want their educations to be very hands on, and positive. And yes, I believe every day activities can be learning ones. So I see positive in even the unschooling or free schooling model of homeschooling. Unschoolers provide little to no formal instruction and let their children learn through experience and according to their interest. While I see value in that, I also believe there are some things my children need to know. So we will do a formal curriculum, but incorporate some unschooling models or even days into our learning as well. I hope, it goes well. I will be doing this with just my older daughter for now.

Okay...so there ya go. I'm out there folks....definitely not the norm. But then again, who is.

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