Radical unschooling (unschooling in the partnership paradigm) means that we facilitate our child’s interests and passions. We have been visiting the local (small) skateboard park with Sean’s bike, where he has expressed feeling within his element.
With the serendipitous gift from friends of a skate board and wheels, we didn’t waste time getting the trucks and assembly. He chose his own grip tape, and has been adding stickers, including an RU sticker that he cut apart so that the Radical Unschooling words form the mouth of a smiley face (see pic, above).
Our living/dining room has a straightaway of wood laminate for about 30 feet where he has been practicing. He has been watching Youtubers for tips, and is learning to get a couple of inches of air and perfecting the nuances of getting comfortable with his board (including falling).
We took the board to our outdoor ice rink, but too much debris from winter (like pebbles and sticks) made it cumbersome, so we are seeking out smoother outdoor spaces for the time being. He prefers his bike (or a scooter) over his board in our local skate bowl for now. We follow his lead rather than telling him that he “should” or that we expect that he “will” want to ride the board in the bowl in the future.
As for riding in the house, that is something that we never would have allowed his (now adult) sisters to do. RU has taught us to question where we might have said “No” in the past.
As a result, we get to enjoy saying Yes, and he has the freedom to make the board an extension of himself at all hours of the day and evening – even hopping on for a few moments while watching TV or Skyping with friends.
As I typed this, he just skated his bowl of Jell-O across the room, as I stifled the urge to tell him to be careful. He was careful, because he has had many such opportunities to trust himself.
We get to develop our own confidence in his safety by seeing how he handles this process. I am amazed at how he has taught himself to turn and maneuver the board in a matter of days. He doesn’t need a helmet inside the house, and even the dog has a greater chance of marring the floors with her claws.
That said, he did slam the board down hard and nicked a tiny chip in one of the laminate boards. But, the floor already has marks from moving and dropping things, and I am not fond of the color (hoping someday to change it out). I simply showed it to him and asked nicely that he see what “can” happen.
Since he is treated respectfully (as opposed to being reprimanded), I know that he was not only concerned, but surprised. He took it seriously, and just needs gentle reminding from time to time. How many kids would have been yelled at for such an accident? How many would have heard, “How many times have I told you…?!”
When we as parents don’t treat it as something to be upset about, we are also surprised at how easy it is to just acknowledge it for what it is – a mark in the floor. How important is such a tiny nick in life? What will we remember in 10 years?
Harmony starts from within, and it radiates outward when we see things for what they are instead of for what we might have been conditioned to see them as in the disconnect that resulted from the paradigms of our upbringing.
More importantly, what will he remember in 10 years? I hope he remembers how much fun it was riding his skateboard in the house with us present to see his subsequent victories. I hope he remembers the connection of knowing that what was important to him truly mattered to us. I hope he remembers the freedom that he experienced as a child.