I am sitting down to nurse, and that is "me" time. I have a chance to read quietly while sitting down for a few minutes. What should I pick? There is my brand-new Yeshaia, released by Artscroll. There is Prayer for the State and Prayer for the State of Israel, with sources and halachot. There is a memoir I got out from the library. There is Time and Discover. Finally, there is Good Housekeeping. What will I pick?
It is easy to go with a magazine; the quick nature of nursing, with interruptions, makes reading pleasurable little nuggets of information easier than following a chain of thought in a book. It is easy to go with an easy read. It is hard to pick Yeshaia. My Nach Yomi went on hiatus when I had the baby, but the real reason was the total unexpected nature of the book. There was not a story line, and I could not yet pick up a pattern to follow from perek to perek. Also, Judaica Press's Yeshaia was hard to read, both in language and in the dense commentary. I stumbled, and the baby just led to whirlwind where daily learning came last. I did not have time!
Or did I?
I open the fridge searching for a snack. There is a Costco-sized bag of baby carrots. There are apples which require just a quick rinse. There is yogurt and cheese. And then there is toffee and cheesecake, leftover from Shavuos. Cheesecake is my weakness, I never met a cheesecake that did not call to me. What will I pick?
Everyday, we are surrounded by choices. Usually we know what is the right choice, but usually we can rationalize why the choice that is best for us (Yeshaia instead of a magazine, carrots over cheesecake) is not the choice that we are making. Just a few years ago, my grown-up sister confessed how strange it is to be that grown-up and be responsible for what you eat and how you spend your money. All of a sudden, nobody is telling you what to do. Yet we take kids, tell them what to do, send them to others who tell them what to do some more, and then, one day, expect them miraculously to develop this uncanny self-direction. We want THEM to choose baby carrots over cheesecake and Yeshaia over magazines. We want THEM to practice drums and do math problems for fun.
The boys restarted taekwondo. One day, I dropped them off a few minutes before their class and then shopped in nearby farmer's market. When I picked them up, I asked them about their class. 9 yo burst out crying; TV was on in the lounge, and since they were a few minutes early, they decided to watch for a bit. But then they watched and watched and watched and never went to their class. Then 9 yo started getting homesick and when I pulled up, he realized that he missed the class! I was speechless: how can you be dropped off for a class and not notice everyone else go in?! I decided that he has to write a letter of apology to the master, and we talked about it not happening again.
When I cooled off a bit, I saw that this was a chance for a perfect lesson in self-regulation. Nobody has to tell them when to go to class and when to turn off TV. If the consequence is missing one class and being a bit embarrassed in front of their teacher, that's the risk I am willing to take. They have to make a choice to be on time, not me always prodding them along.
I am viewing this unschooling opportunity as a perfect chance to work on self-regulation and self-control. At the same time, I am forced to figure out what am I doing. Am I being as virtuous as I would like to believe I am? Do I self-regulate because it is good for me? Am I making good choices?
Today I stuck with Yeshaia.