It’s fall on the farm, which means the stack of wood is high enough to get us through the whole winter. My husband brings back chopped wood from our forest, and before he stacks it neatly into the pile, the kids build a fort. Or a kitten cage. Or a jumping pile for them and the dogs.
I saw the boys playing last week, and I ran out to take pictures. I wanted to show everyone how great homeschooling is. And how great farm life is. And that I am making good decisions for my family.
But you know what? The kids played outside all day. They didn’t come inside for raincoats, but they did come inside for food, which they ate, rain-drenched, in their fort. They got hurt more than a few times, including when the dog knocked my youngest onto a rusty nail that had me struggling to remember his last tetnaus shot.
So the day was obsessive, single-minded, a little risky in the health department, and full of violence (after all, what do you do in a fort except fight?)
I ask myself: Why am I so happy to publish photos of the boys in their fort, but if they build a fort online, with Minecraft, I don’t take a picture. I don’t tell the world that my kids ate lunch on the keyboard so many times that I had to pay Apple to clean out cookie crumbs.
I make video game-math problems to sooth myself: Each day typical school kids spend an hour on the bus, and hour walking from class to class, and an hour in the school computer lab. So my kids are not missing out on anything if they play computer games for three hours a day.
I do career coaching for a lot of people in their twenties. And so much of what I help them with is getting the voice out of their head that tells them to do what’s right for someone else. “You should be a lawyer,” or “you should not quit before a year,” or “you should earn more money.” The shoulds are endless. I teach young people how to think more independently so they have a better ability to recognize what’s actually right for them.
I’m good at that with careers: I turned down graduate school in history to play professional beach volleyball, and I turned down a book contract with a major publisher so I could focus on blogging. I am great at seeing what’s right for me instead of doing what is conventional.
But with my kids I’m still learning. Right now I count the hours that my kids are at the computer, and I practice how to defend the choice and be strong for my kids. On most days, I have the courage to let them play video games as long as they want.