Today I was walking in the park with Z and I said, “I could plant broccoli here. With brussel sprouts alternating.”
Z said, “I have an idea. How about you parent me instead?”
Blah. That was the first thing I thought. Then I thought, is he being a jerk? Then I thought, there is no way that I can be defensive about how much time I spend gardening. I spend an insane amount of time gardening. And I keep making gardens at places that people won’t let me come back to. Which is like, probably the most autistic thing that has ever been said about gardening.
I spent most of Covid restoring a community garden in Roxbury.
Also, as long as I’m confessing how much my gardening takes away from parenting, I also spend way too much money on gardening. I bought 75 different species of bulbs which I mapped out for ten different flower beds, which I built on the streets of Boston without permission.
I keep hoping Z. thinks that because everything looks like dirt and sticks he doesn’t process how fiscally insane it all is.
When people tell me they don’t want to homeschool because they’ll never have time for their passions, the first thing I want to say is that if you have a passion you will do it no matter what. But also, there are two types of passion that drive us, neurotic passion and harmonious passion.
Harmonious passion is an interest that, by definition, enhances ones participation in other parts of one’s life. Neurotic passion swallows other parts of one’s life. This passion is hyper-focused, driven more typically male. It’s what makes a person super competitive and obsessed with getting to a single goal.
When someone says they are worried that family won’t leave time for their passion, they are saying they are worried they won’t express a neurotic passion. The truth is that most women find neurotic passions unappealing, because they mess up your life. The women who have neurotic passions are already expressing that way before kids. Not contemplating it but living that life.
So you don’t need to worry that kids will ruin your neurotic passion because believe me, they won’t. Your neurotic passion will ruin your kids. That’s the definition of a neurotic passion.
Here’s another way to think about if homeschooling will smother your passionate life. Each family looks at who is getting what out of life and adjusts to give everyone the best benefits possible. No family can do everything. Every family makes compromises. Homeschooling is making a choice to be more conscious about this instead of having it dictated by school.
The thing that really stands out to me about putting kids in school so parents can explore passions is that school squashes kids passions. School is simply not at all about kids expressing individual passions. This puts the kids passions at odds with the parents passions. But I don’t think it has to be that way. Most people are able to balance their passion and their relationships.
Think of people you know who sacrificed their relationships for their passion: Steve Jobs, Marie Curie, Mother Theresa, Erik Satie. These people are such extreme outliers there is 0% chance you are like them. It’s more likely you can express your harmonious passion and homeschool your kid.
Or you can be like me, and homeschool your kid and let your neurotic passions run free, and when your kids grow up they will criticize you for it. My solution: I told Z that he should plant broccoli with me, because his brain injury is so limiting and getting outside is good for him.
I’m pretty sure that just made things worse.