Posted in mothering, unschooling, writing

Lazy Is A Four Letter Word

I caught sight of this from Momversation on my Twitter feed this morning: Is a Lazy Summer Really So Bad? Contributor Shannon of talks about letting kids be kids on summer break and how, as she sees it, they have eighteen summers before the Grown-Up World gives them the ol’ smack-down and fun screeches to a halt forever. Now, she’s got a point, and if you’ve bought in to the whole school-work-retirement-death model then it’s a damn good one. But as soon as I see that four-letter word, l-a-z-y, my hackles stand up and the surface of my eyeballs starts peeling off.

I despise the lazy label.

What’s the problem? The problem here is, what Shannon describes isn’t a lazy summer at all. It’s a normal summer. And the profiteering of those entities that sell the condemnation of being lazy threatens to bankrupt half the middle class and destroy childhood forever. No time for watching clouds, roasting marshmallows (ack! the chemicals! NO YOU MAY NOT EAT MARSHMALLOWS DON’T YOU KNOW THAT CONTRIBUTES TO ADHD WHICH WILL IMPAIR YOUR ABILITY TO GET INTO AN IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL???), catching fireflies, or that dreaded most-lazy-of-all-pastimes: daydreaming. All this overscheduling engineers exactly what the Establishment needs to perpetuate itself: more drones who can’t think for themselves. Many of the great minds ironically most revered in schools were, if not completely unschooled, at least allowed space to cultivate thought and creativity as children. Certainly Edison, Einstein, Lincoln, and Curie (just to name a few) didn’t get carted from one formulaic organized groupthink activity to the next throughout their childhoods.

The condemnation of lazy isn’t limited to kids either. Adults push each other at work, at the gym, and on the subliminal message sourcebox implanted in almost every home in America (need a translation? that would be your TV). We are weekend warriors, we plan activities even on vacation, we cram it all in, but at what price to health and sanity? As William Sloane Coffin said, “Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.” Chinese astrology aside, will winning the rat race be your greatest accomplishment as you reflect on your life at its end?

A wise friend, Tina Tinsley, once told me, “You’re not lazy when you’re doing what you want to do.” This key insight can be a powerful tool to guide planning and decision making. The next time I catch myself calling myself lazy I’m going to pull out this tool and ask, what is it I want to be doing right now? Feeding offspring and refereeing arguments notwithstanding, I’m going to begin a list of honest answers to that question. With three small kids, I may not be able to always attend to my “right now” desires in the now, but the simple act of naming and owning them feels like a wonderful (if subtle) rebellion against a culture that would prefer to busy me into an early grave. And I’m going to banish “l-a-z-y” to the four-letter-word list.

Will you join me?

Posted in unschooling

Who Decides?

Thanks to the amazing power of viral video Ted Williams, who happens to have this classic radio voice, went from zero to stardom essentially overnight last week. I thought it was a great story and shared it on Facebook; one of my friends commented that she was becoming a little “jaded… the gifting is… over the top… I’m not sure it’s doing any favors to someone who struggles with addiction.” (Mr. Williams has admitted to having substance abuse struggles in his past.) This got me thinking. Would she, and others out there who feel the same, feel differently if Mr. Williams did not have any history of addiction? Why? Is that appropriate? Who decides?

Who is my friend to imply that we should withhold generosity from someone because of past addiction? How long, then, will an addict have to wait before being allowed to reenter the world of receiving from others freely? Who will set these rules? And if that is allowed, what else will then be subject to regulation? If Christians are in power (and believe me they are), then what would stop them from deciding I have deviated “too much” by failing to attend church, owning blacklisted books, and God literally forbid, practicing meditation and even magic? How long will I have to “behave properly” before I could receive from others without it being questionable as to whether it was doing me any favors? Is that decision not entirely up to the giver?

Of course it is. I don’t know that my friend thought about this quite so much as I did. But even the implication that some authority to judge the worth of another might exist has grave consequences indeed. This way of thinking is nothing short of a path to the dark side. It is a simple step from here to racism, to segregation, to punishments of all kinds. Who gets to be the judge? What shall the criteria be, how will these evaluations be decided? Will exceptions be allowed under extenuating circumstances? Who will be given that authority?

Ugh, sounds like school. Shudder.

And what purpose does becoming jaded serve? Is my friend benefitting from closing herself off from feeling positive about this story? She certainly has no impact on Ted Williams by feeling doubt and suspicion. Is her life enriched in some way by her doubt and suspicion? Now that, I doubt. No, I’m pretty sure being jaded is a protection mechanism based in fear. After all, what could anyone have to lose from being hopeful about a rags to riches story? Sure, one might have to relinquish jealousy and racism, classism and arrogance… ah, yes, we insulate ourselves with those lovelies. Those ugly feelings are difficult to let go. So, jaded it is! Better to hold on to the worst of human behavior rather than risk keeping our hearts open and hoping for the best…

No thanks. I’ll keep my heart open, and I’ll retain my rights to making decisions based on the guidance of spirit and not abdicate to any fear-based external authority. TYVM!