When you are a radical unschooling, freethinking atheist, unconditional parent to an agnostic atheist tech prodigy and an emotionally intense violence aficianado, weapon wielding brony, then your world becomes pretty small and seemingly unrelatable. Finding like minded people becomes harder and harder as you continue to reject more and more traditional thinking, ideals and institutions. We reject all mainstream thoughts on education and parenting. The one size fits all approach has never worked for us. I don’t really see how it works for anyone but the more divergent your children are, the less relevant anyone else’s ideas are on how to raise and educate them. There are no professionals that will have better insight into what is best for my kids’ overall development. I am the one spending every waking moment with them and I am uniquely privy to their actual personalities, intellect, creativity and learning styles. As a parent who is quite intense, with children who are exteme in oppositional ways, discovering our tribe has become almost exclusively an online social media experience.
Social media has been integral in bringing together a group of parents from all over the world who are enjoying a similar lifestyle of raising gifted children outside of the school system. There aren’t gifted unschooling families everywhere you look in your surrounding community but they do exist and we find each other online. Many families translate from virtual to reality even if they are not locals and the uniting experience of our online community has bridged the gap of geographical limitations. I had to start a Facebook group to truly find my tribe. There aren’t too many of us but when you are radically unschooling two pretty extreme children then you cannot just look next door for the neighborhood kid and hope for a match. We are not easily compatible if we maintatin our true authenticity which is our perferred operating system.
As we travel down the path of non-conformity, we continue to evolve into more dissident beings. We love it; however, it doesn’t make for an easy or normal life which my husband yearns for earnestly. I am too much for him and most people; my kids are intense and we generally don’t fit in. Anywhere. My oldest son and I are fine being complete outcasts. My youngest son doesn’t know how different we are as he is entirely unprocessed and unaware of mainstream thinking. He does; however, understand exactly who he is and embraces his autonomy and power with charismatic confidence. He has an affinity for weapons and violence which is balanced by his overwhelmingly intense passion for My Little Pony and all things cute and lovey. He is an emotional marshmallow who channels vigilantism and stays in character as a method actor embodying a superhero with no less than one toy weapon in tow. We are the traveling circus and obedience training is not on the menu. This entertains, confuses or offends some people. We are okay with that too. I love my children unconditionally and do not engage in bribes, rewards, punishments or coercion to get them to peform like trained animals. They are uniquely authentic and express themselves unapologetically. One child is highly dramatic and emotionally volatile while the other one spouts out detailed technological advancements like most people breath. Heads turn in public and remarks are made about their precociousness. No one quite gets the depth of it; however, we thoroughly embrace our quirks and wave our weird flag proudly.
We are starting to find our peeps. They are around and social media has made it easier to connect. We all seem so relieved to find each other and everyone is thrilled to be able to let their children express their quirks without judgment and disapproving stares. It gets tiring trying to have to explain away the peculiar traits inherent in gifted children. Then, again, one could just chalk it up to that fact that the children aren’t in school and haven’t been socialized properly. We have spent time with socialized school children as of late and we have a hard time around some of them. We don’t have the patience for their style of conversation and play while they scrutinize us like we are aliens and mock our way of life. That is, until I break down how my children are free to engage in that which they please all day, every day. Then, those same children look at me enthusiastically and declare, “That sounds awesome. I want to do that.” Their parents will have to deal with the fact that their children now know that they could be free, autonomous human beings and not mental prisoners under someone else’s command.
Oh, but the outlier sentiment doesn’t stop there folks. We are pretty well rounded freethinkers. We are agnostic atheists who move with the flow of science. I thought most of my friends were non believers as well; however, it turns out that this is just one more thing that separates us from long-time friends and family. We are so far left of liberal that even in the enteratinment business, where I dabble in work, people are still mainstream liberal which is pretty conservative from our vantage point. All encompassing radical views shake even the most liberally minded creatives and we seem to only get more extreme. We may end up having to live off the grid soon which would likely suit my husband and older child just fine. My youngest child and I are the extroverts who crave live social interaction; however, apparently, I don’t have the same social skills that I once I had when I lived a more superficial life of attending parties and movie premieres. My authenticity and passion for subversive living are not pleasing to the Everyman so I have to select my social engagements wisely or I will further alienate myself and my family.
With each lifestyle choice that is left of center, the potential community one can feel a part of dwindles greatly. The fact that I live in Los Angeles certainly helps our cause but as I delve deeper into true freethinking, I am finding that even in a progressive area like Southern California, people aren’t really so forward thinking at all. Fortunately, I continue to find my people in this every growing social media world and I am able to tap into my online community of like minded friends when distance and schedules do not permit in person get togethers. Sometimes the online social component is just more conducive to how our daily life actually unfolds and since we don’t seem to enjoy mass market social gatherings, social media will serve as our communal outlet for the time being.
I generally do not appreciate extremism, at least, not on the other side of things where views are so closed-minded and yet, we don’t feel extreme or radical. I have come to view sending children to school as the radical and extreme choice. Being the most prominent influencer in my child’s life makes more sense to me then sending them off to strangers for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 12 years so that people I don’t know can fill my kids’ minds with whatever outdated and irrelvant disjointed information someone who doesn’t know my child finds relevant. So, while most people look at us like we are the oddballs, we just feel like we are enjoying a life of freedom and creativity with no intellectual boundaries.
We accept and celebrate differences with open arms. It is a prominent part of our make-up. Homogeneity and striving to fit into some artificial societal expectation is what we don’t find appealing. The more one leans toward different, the more likely it is that we will be friends. I am a self-proclaimed chaos whisperer but what I really am is the pied piper for intellectual and creative freedom, dignity and shared power. What we don’t embrace is closed-minded, indoctrinated people incapable of original thought or the ability to express their points of view with logic, reasoning and intelligence. If you spout out dogma with no knowledge to support what you are talking about, we will rip you to shreds. Every. Single. Time. We aren’t doing this to be mean but this is just how we communicate regularly at home. We are all highly empassioned, knowledge hoarders well-versed in a variety of debatable topics and we have well informed opinions about all of them. We thrive on unleashing our extemporaneously crafted rhetoric so we need a group of intelligent freethinking, quick witted conversationalists around us or the social dynamic won’t work well for very long.