Cosmic Bowling: A Win-Win Solution

Recently my thirteen year old son was excited about attending a youth event with some friends. It sounded like it was going to be heaps of fun, and my ten year old daughter was *not* a happy girl about missing out. We had lots of discussion about her reasons for wanting to go, and my reasons for not wanting her to go. They weren’t easy conversations!! These things aren’t resolved easily and quickly; they are messy, emotional and complex.

Well, it could be “easy and quick” if I just put my foot down, controlling-parenting-style, and said, “You’re not going, and that’s that! And don’t let me hear you complain about it. I’m your parent, and you’ll do as I say!”

It would also be “easy and quick” if I threw caution to the wind, ignored my mothering-instinct and went with the permissive-anything-goes parenting style, simply saying, “Fine! Well just go then! It’s not like I can stop you anyway” or “Whatever you want, dear. You know what’s best…..”

With both of those options, however, I would be left with a seemingly quick solution, but one that overlooked the deeper issues going on:

  • My child had some big feelings about her desire to go and about the option of missing out.
  • I had some valid concerns about her going (it was an event aimed at and marketed to all the local high schools; I knew of no child her age who was attending) and felt I would be negligent to drop her off at that type of scenario.
  • Our relationship was more important than either of us “winning”.
  • She had some valid needs underneath her feelings: the need to be heard, the need for social interaction, and the need for FUN!
  • I had at least one valid need too: the need to provide safety for my daughter.

So with all of that going on, we talked. And listened. And felt our big feelings together.

We also brainstormed possible solutions.

Eventually we found a solution that honoured both of our feelings and met our needs: COSMIC BOWLING!!

It happened to be a Friday night, and this was something my daughter had never done before. She loves ten-pin bowling, loves hanging out with friends, loves dancing and music and pretty lights, and all up it seemed like the perfect alternative to a hall full of high schoolers on a Friday night! It didn’t happen without quite a lot of effort on my part, and also quite a bit of stress: there were enquiries to be made, many text messages to friends, lots of planning, and driving to a few different suburbs to pick up some playmates. But it was so very, very worth it. The smiles on their faces and the sound of their laughter were confirmation that looking for a win-win solution and honouring both of our feelings and needs was the best possible investment of my time and energy. I’m sure, too, that the rewards of the process will have a flow-on effect to other similar scenarios that are sure to crop up in the years ahead.

It was also wonderful for our relationship. She felt validated and valued. She knew I was on her team and that I was trying my hardest to help her have a great night, while staying true to what was important to me.

cosmicbowling_unshackled

All in all, it was a win-win solution to a tricky problem and well worth putting in the emotional investment. I’d love to hear some other stories of people working for a win-win, where everyone’s feelings and needs are respected, and mutually agreeable solutions are sought and found. It can be done! Maybe not always, and maybe not without some time and effort, but it is definitely worth working towards!

Toys: Science at Play

Our local (free! did you read that? free!) museum has just had a pretty cool exhibition on all about toys. We decided to go check it out with some other homeschooling friends (and one unschooling friend). I was hoping to see some “old fashioned” toys from when I was a kid (back in the “olden days” and all that lol!). We did see a fair bit of that, and some not so old toys, too. I guess it wasn’t just about “old” toys, but rather the science of toys, but that’s cool, it was fun! And we got to play, of course.

Want a peek?

Frogs really do fly!?
Frogs really do fly!?
This particular display about "vibrations" captivated lots of the children. I would often see someone sitting there engrossed for quite a while.
This particular display about “vibrations” captivated lots of the children. I would often see someone sitting there engrossed for quite a while.
I was so busy taking photos and following the kids around, I forgot to make time to play myself! Now that I read this description, I want to have a turn! But the exhibition is closed. Oh well, it was enough joy for me to see them having fun!
I was so busy taking photos and following the kids around, I forgot to make time to do much playing myself! Now that I read this description, I want to have a turn! But the exhibition is closed. Oh well, it was enough joy for me to see them having fun!
I can't see any adults in this photo instructing or showing or teaching the children anything, but look at the engaged, interested faces on each child. They are all totally engrossed in what they are doing. No need for "dumbing down" or over stating the lessons. The learning is in the doing.
I can’t see any adults in this photo instructing or showing or “teaching” the children anything, but look at the engaged, interested faces on each child. They are all totally engrossed in what they are doing. No need for “dumbing down” or over stating the lessons. The learning is in the doing.
A replica of an early pinball machine. This got the kids totally engrossed as well, and I even managed to sneak in a few games myself (a friendly bit of mother-daughter competition!) I bet you didn't know that Pinball was banned from the early 1940s to the mid-1970s in most of America's big cities, being labelled a form of gambling, because it was a game of chance, not skill.
A replica of an early pinball machine. This got the kids totally engrossed as well, and I even managed to sneak in a few games myself (a friendly bit of mother-daughter competition!) I bet you didn’t know that Pinball was banned from the early 1940s to the mid-1970s in most of America’s big cities, being labelled a form of gambling, because it was a game of chance, not skill.
One of my friends who joined us as the museum is not yet unschooling, and observed that the children were "having fun" but "when would they learn something"? She had been trying to explain some of the exhibits but noticed their eyes would glaze over. I explained a bit about natural learning and encouraged her to relax and let them discover. A few minutes later, I observed this. It is her daughter, deeply engrossed and thoroughly "in the moment".
One of my friends who joined us at the museum is not yet (lol) unschooling, and observed that the children were “having fun” but “when would they learn something”? She had been trying to explain some of the exhibits to her kids, but noticed their eyes glazing over. I explained a bit about natural learning and encouraged her to relax and let them discover things, being available and interested, but not stepping into a “teacher” role. A few minutes later, I observed this: it is her daughter, deeply engrossed and thoroughly “in the moment”. I observed her similarly engrossed in a few other exhibits during our time at the museum.
We watched a sound and light show about the history of steel making in our city. We learned a thing or two that were quite interesting! I'm kind of glad I'm not a steel worker though!
We watched a sound and light show about the history of steel making in our city. We learned a thing or two that were quite interesting! I’m kind of glad I’m not a steel worker though!

Some of the displays of toys in cabinets were quite interesting, although I noticed they were too static to particularly grab the attention of the kids other than a cursory glance as they walked past. I, on the other hand, enjoyed looking back through memory lane and noticing toys I’d played with as a child. Way to make me feel old!! Especially when highlighting o the kids, “Hey, I used to play with that when I was a kid!” and they would be like, “Wow, really???” 😉

oldtoys

The kids definitely tended to prefer the more hands on activities, which was hardly surprising. I was really thankful that they weren’t there on a school excursion, complete with worksheets trying to get them to focus on answering questions, rather than walking around following their bliss, and *asking* questions (even silent ones inside their own heads) about what they were discovering. I was also glad we hadn’t booked in as a “school” group, because they would have had to go around the exhibition in small groups, spending ten minutes at each station. It was so much more enjoyable and natural for them to stay and linger at certain points, and walk right past other exhibits, and to absorb just what was right for them at that moment.

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This particular display totally reminds me of something out of a Dr Seuss book!

All in all we had a fun time, and the food from the museum cafe was absolutely delicious. An equally important criteria for a successful outing. 🙂

“Not Back to School” Big Day Out, 2013

A new homeschoolers’ social group has recently been formed, for people across quite a broad area, primarily for the purpose of giving the teens and tweens an opportunity to broaden their social circle, to help meet their need to connect with other tweens/teens who don’t go to school.

The first event we’ve managed to get to was about a four hour drive from where we live, but it was SO worthwhile! Jamberoo Action Park has been around for awhile (I even went when I was a teenager, prompting my kids to comment that “It really IS old, then!”) and it is bigger and better than ever, with even more rides on the way. One of the beautiful things about this small theme park is its absolutely gorgeous setting, with the backdrop of the green rolling hills. It is breathtakingly beautiful; one of my favourite parts of the world, in fact (not that I’ve been to many!).

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We picked the perfect day to go! Schools had just started up for the 2013 year, leaving the parks more empty for us homeschoolers to enjoy! Yay! 🙂 We also managed to sneak in before the school groups started doing excursions. One of the workers commented on how lucky we were, with waits for rides normally being at least an hour, whereas our kids could usually just run up and hop on any ride straight away. And the picnic sheds and grassy eating areas were pretty much empty. Most of the kids in the group didn’t know each other, so it was a bit awkward in some ways and the little clusters who already knew each other tended to stick together a bit, but I’m sure that friendships will be forged through more regular meetups. Here are some photos from our fun day!

The Funnel Web ride
The Funnel Web ride
Funnel web (showing the slide)
Funnel web (showing the slide)
3 brave girls, spinning out of control as they enter the vortex of the funnel web's trap!
3 brave girls, spinning out of control as they enter the vortex of the funnel web’s trap!
Inside the Funnel Web
Inside the Funnel Web
Jumping off "The Rock"
Jumping off “The Rock”
Weeeeee!
Weeeeee!
One of the things Molly was most excited about was the wave pool!
One of the things Molly was most excited about was the wave pool!
It was such a thrill for her to play in the waves, without needing to worry about sharks! She got a face full of water plenty of times, but didn't care one bit!
It was such a thrill for her to play in the waves, without needing to worry about sharks! She got a face full of water plenty of times, but didn’t care one bit!
Once she got out past the breaking waves and into the deeper water, it was eerily still. There is a 15 minute break between the wave sessions, while everyone just swims around in the water, waiting, waiting, waiting....
Once she got out past the breaking waves and into the deeper water, it was eerily still. There is a 15 minute break between the wave sessions, while everyone just swims around in the water, waiting, waiting, waiting….
Once the waves begin to roll, the intensity builds quite quickly and before you know it they're breaking relentlessly for then next 5 minutes or so! I actually found it quite scary to watch her in the water. The waves were quite huge!!
Once the waves begin to roll, the intensity builds quite quickly and before you know it they’re breaking relentlessly for then next 5 minutes or so! I actually found it quite scary to watch her in the water. The waves were quite huge!!
Declan and his mate Tim chillaxing on the "Rapid" River Ride
Declan and his mate Tim chillaxing on the “Rapid” River Ride
And then finding ways to make it a bit more exciting. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? :)
And then finding ways to make it a bit more exciting. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? 🙂
Molly rekindling a friendship with her friend, Kate
Molly rekindling a friendship with her friend, Kate
Such a beautiful setting for a theme park.
Such a beautiful setting for a theme park.
I had to borrow this image from the Jamberoo website, because I didn't manage to get a photo of the kids on the bobsled. It was, without doubt, the favourite of all the rides!
I had to borrow this image from the Jamberoo website, because I didn’t manage to get a photo of the kids on the bobsled. It was, without doubt, the favourite of all the rides! A week after we were there, someone got bitten by a snake when he got to the bottom!! Soooooo glad that didn’t happen the day we were there!

All in all it was a fantastic day! We didn’t know many people there, because they’d travelled from quite a vast area, but it was great to know that just about everyone else there were living school free, just like us!