Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Annalise and her donkey friend, Chester.
The word seems to be everywhere around the Fourth of July. Advertisers want us to believe that we simply can't have a free, independent life unless we buy the products they hawk. Politicians  use it, and so do extremists and activists, to attempt to sway public opinion. "Live free or die!" "Freedom isn't free."

Very often, we hear the word freedom, I think, and never really stop to consider what it is; what it means in our own lives.

Happy nibblers!

I've been thinking a lot about freedom, lately, in every area of my life. We've made some remarkable and profound changes in our lives, as individuals and as a family. As a unit, we are transformed, and transforming.

We are attaining a level of freedom I never knew (or even imagined!) exists. This freedom has nothing to do with the car we drive, the median value of homes in our area, the quality of the school district we live in, or our income bracket.
Annalise typing at my laptop.

We've found the freedom to do what we please. To help the kids to do as they please. To give up the endless stream of complaints and power struggles that often seem to define parenthood. To live our lives in a way that honors all of us, to share freely of ourselves, to laugh and romp and play in a bubbling-over of joy and delight. To live a life that we choose for ourselves, rather than one designed to look like a television show (we'd be an irreverent, sassy sitcom for sure, though, or a warped sketch show with elements of Python and Hill...) or a page from a magazine (I haven't found the magazine yet to define us - maybe MAD?)

Jeremiah fast asleep in the Papasan chair-shhhh.....

There are two guiding principles in our home:

 Everyone gets to be safe, and everyone gets to have fun.

These replace rules, which we used to have a fair number of, not so very long ago. Pretty much anything we need guidance for fits within those principles and still allows lots of options. You might notice that safety comes first; we're not going to let someone run out into the road without looking, and we aren't inviting any roof-jumping. And if one family member's fun is taking away from someone else's, there will be a need for understanding and compromise.

Giving her animal friends a bath!

There aren't punishments, chores, or bedtimes. There are agreed-upon quiet hours, for the sake of those who sleep earlier, and, if they aren't honored, someone may spend the rest of their time awake in their room rather than elsewhere in the house. But even this is an agreement instead of a punishment. There are requests for help, and offers of it. Requests, only, because the adults in this house don't like to be told what to do...and neither do the children (surprise, surprise!).

Annalise's doorway fort, made of cardboard and bedding.

When there is a problem, or a squabble, or some act of aggression, we're learning to see it as two young humans navigating their social structure and their place in it. after all, how many of us, as adults, are always, always in control of our emotions and reactions? Punishing a child for not doing so reveals a rather shocking lack of control  - in the parent. 

How is a child to learn control, or the complexities of human interaction, if the adults they love the most aren't modeling it?

There's more hugging going on, more time spent together building on the floor while the housework waits, a lot more finger food and fewer enforced sit-down meals (we mostly are all the type to have several projects going at once. Quick foods on a monkey platter can provide fuel on the go, leaving a lot more time for other fascinating things!), a lot more talking about what went right, or, if it didn't, what went wrong and how we could prevent it going wrong again.

Sometimes freedom looks like this!

How is this social experiment in limited anarchy (or so it might seem, from the outside!) going?

Well, it is 4am on a Tuesday morning. The rest of the family all drifted off to sleep within the. last two hours, each in a different room. I'm getting ready to put the laptop down for the night, take a shower, and join them in sweet dreams....so the details, beyond the thousands of words the pictures are worth, will remain a mystery, for now.....

May your dreams be sweet, and your waking hours sweeter! =)

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