The true measure of success

Today Maya announced “There are so many exciting things happening.  It can’t get any better than this!”

Those are just about the best words I could think of hearing from one of my kids.  Words that say they are happy and excited with their lives.   Is there anything better?

And what, you might be thinking, prompted her declaration?   Mostly it was things like looking forward to her next book club meeting, knowing that her friend Greta will soon be spending a weekend with us while her parents are out of town, the prospect of a coming overnight with some other friends and a visit from our former sitter and all around wonderful person, Andrea.    Also, she found out today that The Donators, the group she & Ben belong to that raises money for various charities, will be featured in the Winter issue of “New Moon Girls” magazine.    She got a letter from her Australian penpal yesterday, is looking forward to being on a live radio show next week, and of course there are always new videos to be made and edited.

Life, in other words, is very good in Maya’s world.

I cannot adequately express how happy it makes me to know that my kids are not stressed because of grades or tests or homework or classes.   In their world, such things literally do not exist.    Isn’t that amazing when you think about it?  Of course I know it is because Joshua and I chose this path that they have such freedom, but sometimes I still look at them and marvel at their confidence and joy, which is far beyond what we ever expected.

Today they spent the afternoon pretty much on their own while I went to Pilates and Joshua worked from our home office.   When I got back, they had declined an invitation to go out with a friend because they were happy and involved doing their own stuff.   Ben has resurrected a Playmobil castle and now uses it as a fortress for Lego battles.  (And when he is working on his own stuff he spends the entire time singing to himself.  Nothing you’d recognize, just the music that is in his head.)   He and Maya also made something called ‘deco-dens’ by putting silicone (which we just happened to have lying around – the perks of owning a hardware store) on top of plastic containers and decorating them with stuff before the silicone dries.   Maya found a ‘how-to’ about it on line so they each did one and showed the finished products to me just a few minutes ago, almost as an afterthought.    “Oh yeah, look what we did while you were out today.”  How cool is that?

Lest it seem like I am simply bragging, let me say again as I have in the past, my kids are not that different from any other kids.   The only difference is that they have never been forced to go to school or coerced into ‘learning’ subjects about which they have no interest.

A.S. Neill, in his book Summerhill School, wrote that “…a school that makes active children sit at desks studying mostly useless subjects is a bad school.  It is a good school only for those who believe in such a school, for those uncreative citizens who want docile, uncreative children who will fit into a civilization whose standard of success is money.”

Quite so.  And when the standard of success is based on income alone, happiness rarely follows.   On the other hand, a person who chooses their life path based on what inspires them will often do quite well financially, and even if they just ‘make enough to get by’, then in the words of Neill again, “…I would rather see a school produce a happy street cleaner than a neurotic scholar.”

Being happy and excited about your life?  There is no truer measure of success than that.

Maya and her 'deco-den'

Ben and his 'deco-den'

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