Unschoolers

Friday, March 13th — was that the last “normal” day? It was the last day that I felt that frantic energy of normal life, walking around the neighborhood collecting various kids and kid things, having dozens of conversations, checking off lists. Hanging out on the school playground, accepting a running hug from Hugo’s classmate, chatting with other parents, playing with the kids in the tunnels.

All of the frantic energy is just gone now. Hours go by, days go by, weeks go by, they have a wavey, smoother rhythm, not so punctuated. The kids are turning into homeschoolers/unschoolers. I let them follow their interests and we neglect the videos and worksheets. Daily schedules were abandoned for lists, and the lists get smaller and weirder every day. But lists are replaced with trust. Do I trust that my kids will be curious and learn on their own, if I leave them to their own minds? Yes, amazingly, they are! They are always asking questions, and then finding out the answers. And I have a lot of faith, for them, that whatever they do is enriching right now. They are so young. I don’t have to control it or shape it too much.

That Friday, I remember picking up my weekly planner and feeling such a sense of loss.

For months, I had used it to carefully plan out babysitter time, make weekly goals for myself, to note down the kids’ school hours and activities so I could work around them, to plan our our social life. That planner was helping me squeeze productivity out of every week.

I remember the hopelessness of looking at an endless expanse of hours that were all the same, and all different, and all utterly predicatable and unpredictable, with no end date.

Even looking at the planner made me too sad, so I was willfully careless with it. I literally lost it, I put it in a pile and tried to forget about its existence. I came across it in the dining room the other day, and I quickly managed to lose it again.

Will the weekly-planner life start again on August 31st? At some point this summer? In 2021? I have no clue.

In the meantime, I finally downloaded Duolingo and am playing at learning Italian. I have been watching “My Brilliant Friend” on HBO (after reading all the Ferrante books a few times times) and I so badly wanted to be able to understand it without reading the subtitles, to just watch their faces. So I started. I read that Duolingo can get you up to a “B1” level of fluency (that’s not too high), and that when you plateau you need a grammar book, and after that immersion with native speakers. Duolingo feels like playing a video game, it was so fun. And on my evening walk I found myself saying the simple phrases I had just learned (“La donna scrive il libro.”)

So, maybe I’ve also turned into a homeschooler/unschooler during this time, too. I’ve abandoned structure and plans to push myself forward. I’m trying to find another way, one that’s about following my intuition to guide my learning. Will I ever actually use Italian? Is there any practical reason for learning it? Who knows? Maybe, maybe not.

Boungiorno, Buonanotte, Buonesera.

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