The Big Questions
|Sometimes, parents new to unschooling wonder how the big life questions and issues can possibly be trusted to natural learning.|
Therefore, I was a bit taken by surprise by her mood of receptive inquiry. She had nothing else calling her attention, no other pressing activity. We talked for over two hours, and I shared with her what I know about the Bible, Moses, the story of Christmas and Jesus, and what many people believe, in the cause of cultural literacy and sensitivity.
The conversation naturally wound down and Jayn moved on to other things.
The next evening, I was sitting at my computer and Jayn came to me and said that she wanted to have another “big talk.” She had enjoyed our close conversation the night before. She had more to ask.
I had a sudden intuition, and I was right. Suddenly, a prediction I made a long time ago was coming true. In her own time, when she was ready, she wanted to know about sex.
Jayn had for some time
understood pregnancy, genetic information, the concept of two parents,
the idea of menstruation. She also had a vague notion of the special
kind of cuddling that adults do. However, now she wanted to understand
the mechanism as it were.
I remember my (single) mother determinedly sitting
me down to have “the talk” one afternoon and imposing all this undesired
information on my eight-year-old self because she had suddenly
decided that it was time I knew about sex and growing up.
So I explained how it worked, and we also talked a little about different kinds of sexuality, STDs, and contraception. As long as she was asking questions and nodding, we continued. It was a real, deep, loving, and special conversation without embarrassment or awkwardness.
I watched the light dawn. Suddenly she said, “Is this what Quagmire is always going on about?” Yes it is. This is a reference to the TV show Family Guy,one of our favorites. I told her, “You’re going to get a lot more of the jokes now.”
For anyone who fears that knowledge of sex leads to action, I can only reassure you from our continuing life. Now eleven [at time of writing], Jayn has not evinced any interest in adding practical experience to her intellectual knowledge. She hasn’t become precociously interested in boys or sexual scenes on TV shows or in seeking information via the Internet. Sometimes, I will laugh at some adult joke, and she will look at me. I’ll say, “It’s a sexual reference, honey,” and she will roll her eyes and return to her activity. As her own puberty progresses, she has no desire to grow up yet, start her menses, or do any womanly thing other than play with makeup and wear cool shoes.
Contrary to what might be predicted, I find these to be the easy – flowing – conversations. I come to them as the experienced, qualified person. I don’t call it teaching, but I am guiding and sharing my knowledge. I have at least many of the answers. What can be hard is when the conversation is about something mundane. Repeatedly rehashing the plot of the latest I Carly, asking me to quiz her on events and characters in her TV shows – as if I wanted to know the answers. The permutations of different skins for Sims. The lengthy dissertations about the minutiae of the last Free Realms quest to find an elusive coin or her dilemma about choosing the long pants or the capris for an avatar’s outfit. Virtual dolls supplanting the many real dolls in her collection.
These are her passions at the moment: games, stories, drawings, crafts, and chatting with girlfriends on Skype, or visiting the mall and trying on clothes with her friends. I’m just glad she wants to keep talking to me, so I try to ask the questions. But devising the quiz questions she wants – that’s really tough work.
And I’m still here for “big talks” whenever she wants them.
Robyn Coburn is a part-time writer, part-time artisan, and full-time unschooling mom. When not working on some project or other, Robyn enjoys classic movies, reading, and not cooking. She lives in California with her husband James and daughter Jayn who has never been to school but still knows how to read, do math, create stories, ask questions, and organize her own time.