Over the past couple of weeks, I have written a great deal about how my garden is growing and a bit about mental health during a crisis. But the other cornerstone of our @HomeCrazzyHome is parenting and #homeeducation.
As crucial as your garden is for your family’s food security, and as vital as it may be to stay positive, it is just as essential that we nurture our children and young people during these unprecedented times.
So, how is @PanKwake doing?
Honestly, better than we could have possibly dreamt.
Obviously, being home educated and pursuing a self-directed learning philosophy, the lack of a routine caused by school closures was not an issue for us.
But despite the persistent myths to the contrary – home educated children are not recluses. @PanKwake is an extrovert, so maintaining a vital and active social life has always been among our top responsibilities as parents and mentors. It is the major part of our job to enable her learning in this area as well as academics.
Before all this started, she had what we call ‘people time’ almost every day, usually six days a week. On Sundays, we hosted what we called F4 (Friends, Food, Fun & Filosophy), but she called it 3G (Games, Gossip & Good Food). Then she had a regular playdate with another friend once a week as well as the occasional visit of another.
Our most substantial financial investment in her education was her companions. She had two of them now. We call them companions now because she has long since outgrown the need for a carer. These young women’s sole job is to play with her. Computer games, board games, sometimes watch videos or YouTube, and the worst – Just Dance on her Nintendo Switch.
Yes, we bear these costs without any government help beyond the non-means tested DLA and carer’s allowance. We are blessed to be able to do so – thanks to Alan. But even before he came into our lives, her father and I found approximately £75 per week, we needed back then to pay for her carer.
And yes, she has been expensive during this time. But honestly, not as expensive as she could have been. We have bought her a punching bag, an adult exercise one, not the kiddy ones we used to get. These proved vital when she was younger and prone to meltdowns. She could safely take her anger out on them. And that is what this one is for, too. Just in case, but so far, so good, no meltdowns.
We bought her a wicker chair swing that still has not arrived. But by far the best purchase we have made is her Gorilla Gym. This thing is AMAZING!
@PanKwake probably weight one-hundred-twenty pounds or over nine stone. And did you see how high she was going?
She loves that. Partly, because her autism means she requires extra vestibular stimulation. Proprioception is the fancy name of it. From the time that she was a tiny baby, @PanKwake needed movement. She cried – A LOT. Until we found a baby swing at a yard sale. Put her in that thing at less than a month old (not recommended), and she was good as gold.
As she got older, she has been drawn to physical activities like playgrounds; we would sometimes spend eight hours on them in the summer. I called her my ‘higher, faster, more, More, MORE!’ girl. By the time she was six, she had graduated to scary rides at fairs and amusement parks, some I cannot bear to watch.
So, too, is it with her Gorilla Gym. she takes immense pleasure in torturing me with how high she swings. Her feet almost touching the wall. And yes, I am horrified.
But it is what she needs to calm her. Just as my garden is for me.
A tiny plug for the Gorilla Gym. I bought ours at Amazon. It said that for wider doorframes you would need an extension. We measured and ours was right on the edge. When we checked out, though, there was no option for an extension. We crossed our fingers and hoped. When it arrived (everything stays in quarantine for at 24-hours here – that was torture for @PanKwake), sure enough, it did not fit, by 4 mm.
I panicked. @PanKwake showed how much she had matured. She was disappointed for certain, but did not meltdown. I got online and emailed them through Amazon. Their customer service was top-notch. When I explained that @PanKwake was autistic and this was her treat for enduring our Total self-isolation, the man shipped them as quickly as possible given these times…at no-charge. In days, she was torturing me with her antics and high-flying skills.
If you can afford it, this really is a wonderful investment in your little people.
But, I realize that not everyone has that kind of money to spend, especially now.
And, honestly, there is something more vital to our children and young people than Nintendo Switches or Gorilla Gyms or anything else that money can buy. What they need most right now are:
Understanding – We are not the only ones that are frightened or feeling displaced during these challenges. Our children feel the same, perhaps more so because they have even less control and have a longer lifetime to face the high costs of these troubles. Now, more than ever, we need to understand that fitting into the mold of that ‘perfect’ child is an illusion. A standard that no child is capable of maintaining, at least not if they are to grow up mentally stable, secure, and happy. That means they need our…
Acceptance – Not the child we wanted or thought we deserved, but for who they are. No one promised you a rose garden – or that perfect child. Accept and be grateful for the amazing human being that you do have. Take this time to get to know him or her better. Focus on strengths instead of challenges. That will foster…
Unconditional Love – Perhaps some would say that this one is an illusion. And I admit, it is not easily achieved. To see the challenges that someone faces and love them in spite of it. Well, if you have not started with that understanding and acceptance then this one is not possible. But with work, it gets easier and easier. Then you discover that it extends beyond your child to your partner and friends, too. I ain’t gotten there yet. I gots my offspring and Alan. I am working on friends, but neighbors and society? I doubt I will ever get there. Maybe next time.
Respect – But even if that unconditional love is too much, you can still extend this one. The problem is that too many adults believe or more accurately were taught that it is something due to them on the merits of age and position alone. Nothing can be further from the truth, or more damaging in the world to come. Respect is mutual. If you don’t give it, then you can’t expect it in return. That is called obedience and blind obedience is not always a good thing.
Respect means little things, like:
Knocking on their doors before entering.
Listening, and honestly hearing, what their opinions, thoughts, and feelings are – before you make unrealistic rules.
And, perhaps hardest of all, saying ‘I’m sorry,’ because we all fail, mess up sometimes – but this is the most vital skill we can teach them – to own your sh^t.
Oh, and give yourself a break, too. None of us are perfect (though I used to think Alan was, turns out he is just close to it). If it makes you feel better, I ‘f’ed’ up last night. @PanKwake is back on that up all night and sleep all day schedule that it is so hard for my #5amwritersclub self. At 12:30 last night, she wanted twice-baked potatoes. That takes half-an-hour to make. I was the one that melted down. Thankfully, though, all this gardening does exactly as Loretta promised:
The work we done was hard. At night, we’d sleep cause we was tired.
I went right back to sleep, though I did miss that #5amwritersclub and overslept until six this morning.
The thing is that when you do those things, show your children understanding, acceptance, unconditional love, and respect, they reciprocate. They show them to you as well.
It’s what makes our @HomeCrazzy so special for us and our friends. And my greatest hope is that one day that will spread beyond these walls and infect this whole world.
Until then may the Goddess bless you with her understanding, acceptance, unconditional love, and respect,
From our @HomeCrazzyHome to yours