Sunday, November 04, 2007
Gary's current job is a perfect illustration of how learning happens without formal instruction or a curriculum. Almost 10 years ago, we decided on a huge life change. It's become so much bigger than we could have imagined when it all started. I had just decided to quit my full-time job to be home with Andy. On my 35th birthday. From there things quickly evolved from me working at home to a decision to sell our home in Northern Virginia and move to New Mexico.
We'd expected that Gary would find a job in the gov't contractor field, as he'd done for the previous 18 years. When we arrived, tho, he wasn't able to find work. After several discouraging weeks looking for positions, he saw an add for delivery drivers, using your own pick-up or van. We had a minivan, and he enjoys driving, so he took that job. He found he loved it --just the right balance of time alone and time with customers, beautiful views while driving around, time outdoors in the fresh air, no office politics, no work to bring home, and a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day when the van was empty. He was very happy, but wanted to make more money.
That first job gave way to other delivery gigs, with a couple of nationwide shippers. Really, tho, the in and out of home deliveries wasn't really what he wanted. As time went on, he wanted to do more driving and less delivering. And he wanted more money, which meant getting his commercial license. He continuously looked for new job opportunities, finally finding one with a small, local company, delivering freight. The owner agreed to help Gary earn his first commercial license, a CDL-B. Within a couple of months, Gary had his B license. That company closed up shop and Gary was laid off. He signed on with an office products company, where he was able to gain more experience with 24' trucks that require a CDL-B license.
The real money, tho, requires a CDL-A license, to drive tractor-trailers. The usual route to a CDL-A license is to attend truck driving school. The company he worked for didn't need class A drivers, so they weren't in a position to help him get the training he needed. Truck driving school costs about $4,000 and takes 4 wks of time without pay. We couldn't afford that, so he'd need to get his A license without formal training.
Last October, that company announced they were closing the local warehouse and letting everyone go. This time, tho, he was already interviewing with a freight company that would help him get his CDL-A license.
When the warehouse closed, Gary took the new job immediately. Within 3 months, he had his CDL-A license. Continuing the job search, he found that virtually all the good driving jobs required over the road driving time, anywhere from 6 mos to 3 years. While there are companies that hire inexperienced CDL-A drivers, they usually keep their drivers away from home for weeks at a time, which isn't our first choice for a lifestyle.
Last month, he was offered a job with a national carrier, home at least once a week -- actually, he's home twice a week, tho with only one true 'day' off. He's finally found the over the road opportunity he needs for experience to qualify for better jobs that will bring him home more often. He's finally making the 'more money' he's wanted for the past several years -- a take-home increase of about 40%.
While he misses being home every night and all weekend, he really enjoys this driving job. It's still not entirely driving, but much better than any other job he's had. We all know this is temporary -- just another part of the path to the next thing.
He's accomplished all this without any formal training -- and he was in his 40's when he got that first commercial license, now he's 52. What an illustration for our boys that you can learn anything you want, when you're open to finding the path that fits your chosen life. And that you don't have to spend your entire adult life in a job that's wrong for you. Not to mention that it's never too late to redesign your life to fit your dreams!
How cool is it that our kids get to learn from Dad how to find your own joy in life, on your own agenda?
UPDATE: Now it's September, 2010 and I was reminded of this post today, in a conversation with another unschooling Mom. Now Gary has a job driving a truck on a local route, working for a company whose offices are exactly one mile from our home. Four years ago, when we bought this house, Gary said "wouldn't it be cool if I could get a job there?" Last June, that company offered him a job. Now he has a job he enjoys more than any other he's ever had, and it's right in our neighborhood, so he's home every night -- weekends and holidays, too!
Saturday, November 03, 2007
"Do you want to learn to read or write cursive?"
"No, I don't really need to -- I don't see it very often."
"If you decide you'd like help, let me know -- and you know Dad or I will always be happy to read cursive for you, if you can't."
I included his answer in an email to my mother inlaw, with an assurance that when Andy is ready to read cursive, we will of course help him.
A couple of days ago, I received a birthday card in the mail from Will's fiance, Elena. It was a funny one and since I was driving when the boys found it in the car, Andy offered to read it to Dan. He read only the pre-printed portion and they laughed at the joke. Later in the day, I stopped for gas. When I came back to the car, Andy held up the card and said "Mom, what's this word -- I can't read it."
"It's in cursive, sweetie -- what word do you need help with?"
"This one here" and he point to a word that was about the eighth in a sentence of a dozen or so words.
I told him what the word was, and he read the rest of the sentence. I said, "cool -- you can read cursive!"
"Oh, that's right. It's in cursive and I read it -- it was easy! Elena's cursive is easier to read than that sign I saw with Grandma. I can read cursive!"
Andy was right -- Elena's cursive is easier to read than most. She writes in big, round letters. Who knows how clear the sign was?
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
The all important candy trade afterwards!
On Monday, the tribe had our All Hallows Party at the park. Some dressed for the occasion, some didn't.
Susan brought a pumpkin pinata -- here's Emma talking her turn
After the sack race
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Wow! 400? Can you show me how you counted that?
He spread his nickels out on the desk, and started counting them one by one into his hand.... 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, all the way up to 100. Then he paused a moment, and looked at me. He asked, "what comes next?"
One hundred and five -- a dollar five when you're counting money.
Okay. One dollar five, one dollar ten, one dollar fifteen, all the way up to one dollar forty. He just beamed, and I wondered when Dan learned to count by 5's.
Minutes later, he came running with two quarters. "Will gave me 50 cents to put with my other money! How much do I have now?"
Let's see - you have $1.40, add 25 cents you have a dollar sixty-five, twenty-five more makes a dollar ninety. If you go get that dime off the counter in front of the microwave, how much will you have then?
Immediate reply. "Two dollars!" and off he ran.
I asked Will just a moment ago if he'd shown Dan how to count his nickels. He answered, "no, I gave him two quarters I didn't need, but I didn't help him count anything."
Dan knows how to count by fives, and that a dollar ninety plus one dime is two dollars!
Saturday, October 13, 2007
These were taken before the camera battery died, on a tribe park day.
Trying to help Sorscha down from the tree
Andy showing off his strength with Judson on his shoulders -- Judson is 5" taller than Andy, tho somewhat lighter.
Andy watching Sorscha & Spencer in the tree -- don't know where he found the Readers Digest
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I finally figured out how to move pictures from Dan's phone to my email, and then to my computer's hard drive files -- even how to post them on the blogs! Imagine that! One reason for all those technical achievements is that our camera died while Dan was away in North Carolina. I've shopped a few on ebay, but not found any at a price we can afford. Until then, pix from Dan's phone will have to be enough!
Here's Jenny -- I'm not sure why she looks like she's angry at her Fanta soda, but I hear she had a good time in spite of having three kids in her room, and a very long walk to the other buildings from their room in the Night Owl Family Lodge.
Scotty licking a battery -- taken by Dan with his phone. Okay, so the details aren't great, but we've all done the charge-check on a 9-volt battery, so we can imagine what it felt like for Scotty. And anyone who really knows Scotty will be happy to hear he didn't actually eat the battery!
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
They'll be in South Carolina before Andy & I get to the park for tribal time this afternoon. I'm expecting phone calls from Dallas and Greenville just to let me know they've made it. I am so not an airline traveler, so altho I know (rationally) that he's safe in the air, I'll be happiest when he has his feet on the ground!
Monday, September 03, 2007
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Today we met with Dan's new soccer coach & team for the first time this new season. The coach and his wife are very nice people -- as were the other parents we met. I was reminded, tho, just how different our life is from most people. It's noticeable to me because we're fortunate to spend almost all of our time with other families like ours -- with our tribe, for whom I am unbelievably grateful, by the way. So, when we spend regular time with mainstream families, seeing them week after week, I see much more than just in the casual encounters at the grocery store and the like.
As I look forward to the next several months spent sharing one weeknight and part of every Saturday with the other team families -- all schooled kids -- I know I'll see more instances of the parenting path we didn't choose. I'll embrace the opportunities to reach out to the children in these families and Dan's teammates and to just be who we are even when everyone else does things differently.
I also agreed to volunteer as an assistant coach -- more adventures in the mainstream world! I'm looking forward to it, actually.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Friday, August 03, 2007
Andy & Sorscha (he's gasping, not yawning) watching the magic show.
In the middle of a humid afternoon, we heard the thunder. Being Albuquerque desert dwellers we figured it would be a passing shower, just enough to cool everything off. We gather under a couple of big trees that usually would make enough cover for a passing shower. Crystal, Sorscha & Andy were smart -- they headed right out to Crystal's mini-van for shelter. Jenny was somewhere else nearer the building, tho Eliza was still with us. The rest of us thought we'd just wait it out while the kids played. In Albuquerque, we know better than expect that our kids will come in out of the rain!
Now I could take a few pictures. I didn't get anything with everyone in the bathroom, but here are a few pics:
Dan, soaked in the rain, Scotty climbing the wall - literally!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Dan on Independence Day
Yesterday, I had to accept that our planned trip to the Live & Learn Conference '07 was just beyond our means. I cancelled our reservations and told the boys. They were somewhat disappointed, but took the news well enough. Andy was okay, since altho he'll miss a few friends, Sorscha isn't going either, so she'll still be in town that week.
When Jenny arrived at group, she told me she had a proposal for me. She and Beth had a plan, hatched after they read a post I made at the L&L yahoo group. Would we let Dan fly to NC with Kevin, stay at the conference with Jenny's family (they already had an extra bed) and fly back home with Kevin? Wow! So, throughout the next couple of hours, I talked to Andy to see if he'd be okay with Dan going while he stayed home (he is very okay with this), to Gary to see that he was okay with it (he's very happy for Dan) and finally with Dan. Both Jenny & Beth had said they wouldn't be at all surprised if Dan said no. I was pretty sure he'd say yes, because Dan is always up for an adventure, and he'd do just about anything to spend time with Scotty.
What most touches me isn't their generous offer, or the way it's come together -- it's that all this was proposed to meet the needs of a child! As Jenny pointed out, Dan really is Scotty's rock. We all knew that upon hearing Dan wouldn't be at the L&L Scotty would insist he didn't want to go. We all grew up in a time when a child's distress at making a family trip, for any reason --much less 'just' that he'd miss his best buddy -- would not even have been considered by the adults involved. Kids were just expected to suck it up and do what their parents told them to do. That we belong to a community, a tribe, whose adults have such empathy for our children that we'd all go to these lengths for one child's emotional comfort, is more precious to me than I can say.
So, we've begun making arrangements for Dan's first solo adventure. I cannot believe my baby is big enough for this rite of passage! He's my tiny man, my sweet puddin' -- how can he be big enough to be willing to fly to the conference without his parents?! Jenny shared that Beth had wondered if it was asking too much of me. Asking a Mom to let her 6yo child be gone for a week! Thousands of miles away! I laughed and answered that I've been letting 6yo boys go away on vacation since the first time I had a 6yo boy!
Then, I realized. This really is a rite of passage for Dan. Will was 6 the first time I drove away from him at summer camp. He stayed 2 weeks that summer -- and for every summer until he was 13. The year he was 13, he flew off to spend the summer with his grandparents in Hawaii; at 14, he flew as an adult (no airline escort) to BWI (by then we lived here in New Mexico), caught a ride with friends to a month of camp, then spent a week or two with his childhood best friend's family in Northern VA. Andy took his first trip without us to Hawaii at 5 -- grandpa flew here, took Andy home with him to spend 5 wks, and grandma flew home with him. He made the same trip at 6, and another, without either grandparent -- flying unaccompanied -- at 9.
So, it must be Dan's turn to have his first adventure away from Mom & Dad. Does this mean I'm now dispensable? Is it a first step, another beginning of the end of his dependence on me, on us? I suppose really, tho it's not even a beginning for Dan -- just another step in his independence.
Dan is clearly ready - the first thing he said to Gary when we picked him up from work was "I'm going to Conference!" I'm sure I'll be ready by the time he flies away.
More importantly, tho, this whole adventure is the evidence of how very deeply our children are loved in this tribe we belong to. Three sets of parents have come together to make it possible for two boys who are the best of friends -- in many ways two halves of a whole -- to have a summer adventure together, for the simple reason that we recognize their need for each other, and that our efforts will bring joy to those two little boys we all love.
Friday, July 06, 2007
I had tried a photobucket album here, but couldn't get it to work, so I had to load pix one by one.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
With summer vacation on now, we find we're more often sharing the park with others. I'll admit we like to have it to ourselves -- I enjoy the quiet, and the boys enjoy the free access to the courts and sidewalks. One thing I've noticed is how often I see kids crying when it's time to go home, or unhappy with the outing in some way, usually to do with being overly controlled by their parent/s, or not getting enough help or involvement from their parents.
Noticing that caused me to reflect on what happy children our boys are. What a joyous and free life we enjoy. They are good friends and wonderful companions to each other. Sure, they bicker sometimes, and they're very different people at their core, but they really do look out for and think of each other. I attribute this to at least two things we've managed to give them -- security and autonomy. Our boys know we love not only them, but each other, and that our love for them, our desire to see them happy and joy-filled, is the outgrowth of that love. They also know that respecting their autonomy is my most deeply-held goal. It's not our place to dictate to them what their life should be. Rather it is our honor to watch them grow, to support in them the spark of whatever they love to do, to explore their path with them, led by their passions. We know they are already complete -- and magnificent -- individuals, capable of amazing, wondrous feats, and inherently joy-filled.
These are concepts I grew up without, so I don't know from my own experience how it feels to have security and autonomy, but I can see in our children, what a gift it is, and I'm so happy -- and at times surprised, challenged and humbled -- to be able to give this to them. I'm so very grateful for this life we live, together. For the love and joy and wonder in our lives every day.
Andy posed for this picture -- and for several other funny ones, with his hands over his eyes and his tongue sticking out -- and I just can't believe this boy of mine who looks - and is -- so self-assured, bright, loving, and thoughtful.
I sneaked this picture of Dan, but he didn't protest. How is it that my baby is so big? Look at those dancing eyes and that smile. In this shot, he had just skated over to us and was dropping onto the blanket to be 'in the middle' of a hug. His insistence on being in the middle of everything reminds me that it was his arrival that made our family 'done.'