One of the biggest blessings and joys that I have experienced from living this life, is how much I have been inspired and encouraged by my children’s utterances. Every time they have been questioned by others, they have been able to confidently stand their ground and their answers always floor me. Since they were very little, it has been that way. Back then, it was always with a sense of darling innocence, as if they couldn’t understand why anyone would be so curious about our life. It was just our life! As they got older and their public schooled friends seemed to have disappeared, the difference in the way we did things became more apparent. And it became a bit of a chore trying to make others who “just didn’t get it” to understand. Though there were lonely times when the kids wondered what it might be like to just “be like the other kids”, those moments were merely fleeting and now on the other side of that, both of them seem to have really found their footing. To hear them now, as teens, explain to others what their life is like, it’s no longer just a matter of explanation but rather it’s become an opportunity to show others how the unschooling path has provided so richly for them. Both Trystan and Alivia are so happy to share with others about this lifestyle. Not only eager to set the record straight and prove themselves but to enlighten others to how easy, natural and wonderful life can be when you live by the philosophy of freedom and respect for all.
If you are a follower and/or regular reader of this blog, you are, no doubt familiar with both of the Tabangay kids but solely through my eyes, my narrative of their lives. I thought it would be a nice treat to invite the kids to join me in this post and share a bit with you (from their perspective) how they feel about their lives as unschoolers.
First up, Trystan (age 16, unschooler since the age of 8):
Note: As soon as I was inspired to write up this post, I asked the kids if they wanted to participate by sharing their views here. They both agreed they really wanted to. After some time and much thought however, Trystan decided there really wasn’t much to be said or rather too much to be shared, so he summed it up this way:
“I’ve been thinking on it ever since you asked me and the truth is, there are just too many things I could say. It’s just awesome! I just think my life is awesome. My freedom, my friends, everything!”
And . . . Alivia (aka Livy, age 14, never been to school with the exception of a short stint in Kindergarten):
In Livy’s words:
“I’d say I love the freedom my parents give me and how my life allows me the freedom to be a true individual, if that makes sense… what I mean by that is, whatever it is I decide to do with my day will be made possible if it is possible and I’ll be free to do it! I can pursue all my passions now while I am young instead of being consumed by, I guess, stuff like homework and not have the time. To be honest, it’s actually really hard to say or express all the things I like about this lifestyle of unschooling because honestly i just like it as a whole and well, I think my lifestyle is just freaking awesome. x :)”
There you have it. Out of the mouths of free children:
AWESOME! It’s just freakin’ awesome!
And neither of them are shy in sharing this sentiment even with perfect strangers in foreign lands . . .
Their first official “speaking engagement” was in Puerto Rico at the Art of Embracing Life’s “Peaceful Parenting” workshop with their friends, Tiffany and Devin Martin. Their mom Dayna was the featured guest speaker. It wasn’ t the first time they had to entertain questions but the first time the questions came from complete strangers. They were a tad bit nervous being in the spotlight (so to speak) but as always, their answers were heartfelt and genuine.
Most recently, they, along with a bunch of their unschooled friends, joined Dayna once again as special guests on her one-hour radio show “Try This At Home with Dayna Martin”. It was so refreshing to listen to the banter between them all, their authenticity, honesty, and sense of humor, so apparent! Even when some of the comments in the chat room got a little nasty, they all held their own, their belief and confidence sustained them. And the responses and comments that flooded in after show it wasn’t just us who were affected for the better. These kids have the ability to inspire change and their lives are a testament to the peaceful parenting paradigm and the beautiful co-existence it makes possible.
Both of these experiences when the kids spoke out as advocates, were fantastic. For me, as their mom, listening to them fills me with such a sense of contentment and pride. After hearing them speak out on the radio show, I felt so inspired and so liberated. I even commented on facebook: “I am riding on a high right now from the kids’ energy. I feel so incredibly grateful and proud.” And Dayna: “All of the kids rocked it. We were so pumped up after the show…and STILL are!”
Another recent experience I can relate was about a month ago. It isn’t just the families who live this life that are affected. The kids spent a couple weeks with their best friends in New Hampshire; a sort of impromptu “let’s extend the fun of Life Rocks” sort of teen gathering. We drove them there and dropped them off not even sure how we were going to get them back home but tend to just “cross bridges when we come to them” and I was confident it would work out. It did! Beautifully! The kids were given a ride home back to New York with our neighbor; someone who has always been gracious and so nice but who we really didn’t know too personally.* Well, that car ride changed all that. Not only did the ride provide an opportunity for the three of them to get to know one another a bit better (and they had so much fun) but it also provided a perfect opportunity for the kids to talk about what the unschooling life is all about. Their so openly sharing with her has paved the way for a few more conversations since then and the chance to get to know her a bit more, myself. In our short interchanges, she had always struck me as a serious professional woman (and she is, two bachelor’s degrees under her belt). What I have come to learn is that she is also a very perceptive, intelligent woman who is so kind-hearted and empathetic to the plight of our world today (our educational system being one of them).
When I told her about our blog and that I was going to be writing about this, she was kind enough to send me, in her own words, this narrative of her car ride experience. I think it speaks volumes and reinforces so much for me:
“Recently I had the opportunity to spend some time with tmy wo neighbors, a 14 and 16 year old. I had never had any substantial conversation with either of them prior to our lengthy road trip but the several hours I spent with them left me very impressed.
These two young adults were not like most of the teenagers you encounter, not that that is bad but they were wise beyond their years. Our conversations were very diverse and they had many interests. They talked about their friends, who also had some impressive abilities and interest. I soon learned these neighbors (and their friends) were “unschooled”. I had never heard the term nor was I aware of the concept. They were so intellectually curious and well read which is something their mother told me is created by this education process.
I had a great trip back home, learned a lot, and found myself telling several others of these bright, courteous young adults. If everyone has this type of outcome with such a non-traditional approach, perhaps this model should be used more extensively in educating our children.
I was glad I had the opportunity to learn about this and get to know my neighbors a bit better.”
When you hear your truth spoken out loud it serves to prove all sorts of things to yourself. Both to the kids and us, as their parents and partners in this life, it seems evident that the choice to live an unschooling lifestyle has been the best choice we have ever made; so very very easy to see why. It’s why we are able to so confidently speak our truth (all of us). I set up this blog for that very reason, as my purpose, but it makes my heart so glad to see my children accompanying me on this advocacy path, seeking to inspire, encourage and help others to find their truth.
Love, Light and the Courage to always speak your truth . . .
*To hear the whole story in how the opportunity manifested, you can check out this post.