There’s always something out there

There’s a path behind our neighborhood.  Like many neighborhood paths these days, it cuts through land that’s been scraped for development, and nothing too natural is left.  It’s a nice little path, but there’s so much construction right now that it’s littered with chunks of cement and random wooden posts and wire.  Plus, right now, it’s cold and barren everywhere.  Even less incentive to get out and enjoy it.

The kids always want to go run and play on the path.  There are times I just roll my eyes and mutter under my breath, “But there’s nothing out there.”

But every time we go and walk and run and play, I am amazed at what their childlike eyes find.  There’s always something out there.

A nest abandoned for the winter.

A tree that lived this many years!

Flowers that still have some seeds to explore.

Rocks that have their own story to tell.

The girls come home bursting, every time.  They can’t wait to tell their dad what they saw and did and learned.

(A phone is a handy tool, so that it can be used to help identify which type of bird made the nest when you get home.)

That path has made me think about our learning and our situation lately.

Our littlest has been very, very ill.  She was in the hospital for days, and since she has been home, she has been sick enough that I have had to pretty much hold her, rocking, 24 hours a day.

What to do with five other children?

I’m ashamed to say that Netflix has been my friend.  Well, not really ashamed.  Sometimes, that’s just life, moms.  You do the best you can.

Anyway, the circumstances have been less than ideal, just like that silly little path behind our neighborhood is.  But as we’ve rocked the baby and watched movies and  documentaries together, we’ve still kept ourselves completely open to ideas and questions.  As we watched various documentaries and movies, I had my phone handy to type down little notes.  Being keenly aware of the questions they are asking is the key to unschooling for me, regardless of what situation we’re in.

We watched a movie about volcanoes that brought on a whole slew of questions that I listed out on the calendar and we’ll address next week.  We watched a documentary about sharks that brought up lots of questions about predators and prey.  More questions on the calendar, and a trip to the zoo is in my mind for a few weeks from now.

(And guess what.  Documentaries got boring to them after a day or two, so we even broke down and watched Disney movies, too.  Pocahontas brought up about ten million more questions…next week is going to be all about her and her true story, with lots of other Native American stuff thrown in.  Can’t wait.)

The circumstances won’t always be perfect.  But there’s always something out there.