Today I got word that someone with whom I was great friends while in high school committed suicide. 11 years ago. It guts me that I am just finding this out now, though how it would have made things any different had I known right away is uncertain. He would still be dead. I wish I’d been in contact with him after we graduated, but again, it might not have made any difference. But maybe it would have. Maybe knowing that there were people, or even one person out there who accepted him as he was – in his case, a gay young man in a very, very conservative town/state and with a family who wasn’t supportive – would have helped him. Maybe not.
The reason I bring this up is, I don’t want any of you out there to think you aren’t “real” unschoolers because you love schlock TV or processed foods. Or have kids on dietary restrictions that you find yourself having to enforce for their own safety and well-being. Or seek help for yourself or friends/family if suffering from depression. (Yes, apparently there are those in our community who believe that if someone is depressed and wants to kill themselves you should just let them because “it’s their choice”. Deep breaths, deep breaths…) Or any number of other things you may have read that cast doubt on your unschooling lifestyle and parenting.
I’ve written about this before, but I believe it is well worth spending the time to talk about again.
We are all works in progress. Sometimes we do things like eat Cheetos and fast food, even though we know it’s not the healthiest choice. Sometimes veg-ing in front of the TV watching “Dance Moms” or “Honey Boo-Boo” or “Dr. Oz” is the perfect antidote to whatever day we’ve had. And if someone you love is suffering from depression, please know that it is not a choice they’ve made. Please don’t leave them alone. Just as my friend did not choose to be gay or to deal with depression.
It bothers me that I feel the need to re-iterate this, but again and again lately I see posts online berating one person or another for not doing what “real unschoolers” do. Now it’s a long way – I hope – from being criticized for your choice of entertainment to a suicidal depression, but the point is that there is no perfect unschooling family and everyone needs help sometimes.
Our community should be a place where people feel comfortable reaching out to each other for help, guidance, or just a good laugh. We should feel free to be imperfect in our life learning, since there is no other choice. We should be happy that no one lifestyle defines us and that this thing we call unschooling can accommodate everyone who wants a life of freedom in learning for their family.
Do you know a fellow unschooler (or anyone) who needs a hug, a pat on the back or just a hello from a friend? Don’t make them wait. Give it now.