Hm. Read an article Home Education Magazine posted on its FB feed about Unschoolers and rules. Very good article. Got to one spot that made me feel very unschooly-- their family has a rule that no one has to do what they don't want to do.
After a few hours of feeling rather guilty because that is not the case in my house, feeling like I missed the boat, screwed up, I finally remembered what it has been like raising these two girls.
They stubbornly want to do different things and are both very emotional about it. I can bet that if one wants to go to the park or on a walk, the other wants to stay home.
Or, conversely presenting a united front, they absolutely refuse to do what needs to be done (say, grocery shopping or specifically Costco shopping
If I had a rule that no one does what she doesn't want to do, we would have been home forever, except when dd1 wanted to go out. But, wait! That meant that dd2 had to do what she didn't want to do! GAH! I can never win!
And after I spend 2 days getting half the house liveable, after a week away from home and I am doing all the unpacking even though I am freakin' tired because dh is still out of town and they start tearing down the tents I've hung up to dry and throwing "my good work" around, you can bet that if they don't do what they don't want to do, they will get an earful of pissed-off mama!!
No, this rule is impossible. Absolutely impossible with 4 stubborn people in the house (including one stubborn dh who doesn't believe he's stubborn because he never actually butts heads he just sneakily does or doesn't do as he pleases).
Nope. Nope. Nope.
But we do have an equivalent rule-- Rules Are For Everybody. If our rule is Don't Hit, that applies to every one. No Name Calling means parents, too. Brush Your Teeth, Respect Others' Good Work.
It is perfectly acceptable for my girls to call me out when I'm in a bossy mood the same way I call out my girls for yelling at everybody and "Throwing Their Grumps Around". I do not sneak toys or artwork out of the house. (Mostly-- there are times when the toy or work is dispensable and I can usually tell the difference. Usually. "But Mama I worked so HAAAAAAAARRRRRRRD on that!!!!!!!!" "!!!!!!!!!!" "!!!!!!!!!!!")
Rules Are For Everybody actually works in our house. And maybe No One Has To Do What They Don't Want To Do works in someone else's house, I don't know. I don't enjoy contemplating what that might be like here. I already can't win anything. I'm either upsetting one girl or another. If I don't get an earful from that girl, it will be the other one.
Nope. Nope. Nope.
Sometimes things are so bad I sit firmly on my ass and tell the girls we are doing nothing until they work out a solution. But although it looks like doing nothing, Sitting Firmly On One's Ass is also doing something someone doesn't want to do ("I don't want to sit firmly on my ass! WAAAAAAH!" "Well, I do and mama does, so there." "WAAAAAHHHH!" Sigh.....)
Thankfully I can laugh about it when I'm not close to tears in the sheer frustration of it all. I have a full head of gray hair, and I'm only just 45. Coincidence?
I do have some rules that are just for the girls now I think about it. We have a rule called Sticking Out Your Tongue Is A Totally Acceptable Response. I started that one because, really, what other non-violent, non-verbal options to kids have to express anger? Kids need to be able to do that. A sentence like "You are making me so angry, I'm having a hard time controlling my fists" is nigh on impossible. But a well-timed tongue stuck out, paired with an appropriately sour face or even a juicy raspberry? Perfectly encapsulates the emotion with very little collateral damage. (The adults in the house just have to take a walk outside and let loose a primal scream.)
Unfortunately, since I made that rule, the girls never actually stick out their tongues much any more. Hmmmm...... maybe I should let the name calling and fists fly? No, I think that's taking it too far for me. I was the youngest sister. Some things are just too hard for me still.
Back to unschooling. Another hallmark of Unschoolers and Those Who Won't Call It Unschooling is the lack of top-down edicts. I'm still working on this. But I don't make rules arbitrarily, and those we all want to keep. DD9 is particularly adept at contemplating what would happen if we changed the rules, after she punches her sister. That would allow me to strike out when I am angry. No, she doesn't want to change the rules.
Maybe being the Benevolent Dictator is generally scorned in the Unschooling community. I could just take the easy way out and say "We don't need labels" and "That's OK if we aren't 'pure' unschoolers". But I absolutely bristle at this idea. Why should *I* be the one to wear the Unschooling label loosely? Why should a discussion end that way? I know I'm ending my own post by bringing that up, and no one has said anything yet, but it's often the progression so I bring it up. Maybe I'm being too hard on myself and "Dictator", benevolent or not, is a harsh, unfair misjudgment.
What in the World of Rules is so key to identifying as Unschoolers? I feel like our rules are open to change and discussion (though not while in a screaming fit, thank you). They are few and far between but most of all Rules Are For Everybody.