The Gaping Underbelly of (fill in the blank…homeschooling? permissive parenting? unschooling? creativity?)

Terrain project from 2010 or so on its way to the trash can

I went up into the attic in search of trash to fill our garbage can. The trash gets collected early on Thursday ┬┤morning so on Wednesday, I often search the house and yard for eyesores that we would be better off without. This goes best when no one else is home so they cannot raise objections.

This particular trip to the attic yielded the huge unwieldy mess pictured above. It is the last remnant of a terrain park that my third son build in his room about 6 years ago. It was for remote control ATVs to be driven at speed over.  He used a hot glue gun to attach huge amounts of styrofoam to a cardboard under structure. Then he used liquid insulation to build up mass. It occupied about a 8ft by 6 ft by 6 ft area of his luckily large bedroom for about 6 months. Like many of the large amazing things that got built in our house during twenty years of homeschooling four kids, I do not recollect much about it getting used. The kids were builders and “makers” to use the recently coined appelation. (Except for maybe my middle son who seemed to direct play for hours as long as it involved some kind of proft margin gor himself.)

At some point, terrain-park son wanted to reclaim the space in his room and relegated the terrain mess to the attic, which is also very large. There, it provided spacious housing and a wonderful defecation landscape for mice. The mice also snacked on the cardboard so that by the time I began removing chunks at a time, I needed a broom to sweep up the bits and deteriorated materials. I had waited a nice long time; about 5 years before I began the slow removal. Today was the first time my 18 year old son saw me relegating any bit of it to the garbage….and all he said rather happily was, “Oh man, that was lit, making that thing.”



It is an addiction like any other. I have to apologize to my husband when I finally arrive with the screw driver he asked for, “Oh sorry, I was in the middle of weeding”. We eat dinner late again; I stopped to weed on my way out to pick some basil for the pesto. I weeded in the dusk of the driveway where weeds are overwhelming the gravel. Yes, that is right. I am weeding driveways. Not one, but two. And gardens. a vegetable garden and several flower gardens. Just like alcoholism, it is starting to get in the way of daily life functioning.

I think as I weed. I think about why I am so compelled to stop what I am doing to weed. One reason is the immediate satisfaction  of it. It is the polar opposite of making phonecalls to try to figure out how to secure SAT accommodations for my older teen son. I can make phone call after phone call and then wait for return calls and then return those calls, only to find out almost nothing because many of the offices do not test older children for example, or they are not taking new patients. Or, they are not sure and have to ask someone else and get back to me. Or they refer me on to someone else. The weeds are a sure thing. I spot one, I grasp it firmly, and out it comes.

Another thing about weeding is that it is training for taking care of real problems, like culling people out of my life who are too demanding or discouraging to me, and like cleaning rooms in my house that need it desperately. Weeds can be easy to spot, but there are weeds that can seem worth keeping, especially after one has taken a Wild Plant class that pretty much assigns medicinal or dietary value to most wild plants. Alternatively, I sometimes do not spot weeds right away because they grow under or with a cultivated plant and sort of camouflage with it. So, by learning to spot the weeds and decide that they need removal, I imagine that I may be building up the discernment skills necessary for facing piles of messy build up in the house. Sometimes, I do not even see these problem areas, because I have grown used to them, and accepting of them. 

There is the pleasurable tangible feel of the little plant as I pull it and that moment of suspense as I find out if I got the whole thing or did I accidentally rip it from its roots. The subtle sort of tear as the web of roots gets pulled up through the soil and gravel. It is so palpably pleasurable to remove the offending plant. Like pressing puss from a festering wound. 

And just to be completely honest, my weeding complusion by no means leads to a tidy weed free garden. It is a compulsion, not an organized scheduled discipline. I weed just like I clean the oven: when it really is screaming to be done. 

This summer, I can empathize with the offending plants I am uprooting. They are “tossed aside” which must feel something like  being “unfriended” on facebook and in real life by a friend. I have noticed that the weeds sometimes don’t die when they are tossed into a pile….they can make a rich moist environment that favors the new growth of the more determined ones.