About us

The Barefoot family live an easy, relaxed life together playing, pottering and doing whatever feels right at the time!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Creative, artistic or just messy?

My daughter Newt is seriously unique. One of our good friends always says to her 'you have your own style'! And other friends all love her special way with words, clothes and imagination. Being talentless in the artistic department myself I love seeing her be such a creative sole from the outset. It's just her. She's not perfect at art, or crafts or writing etc. but her very being is art. I've had a few people aliken her to Tracey Emnin. Although I'm not quite sure how comfortable with that comparison I am I still totally get what they mean. My mum says she's a Helena (Bonam Carter) with her wild hair, individual style and animated dramatic storytelling! Unrestrained she's sensual in her discovery of the textures and tastes of the world..at five years old exploring surfaces by licking them (yes, I know, this can be a bit gross!), or touching and feeling everything is her way of discovering an objects mass and her relation to it.

But the big thing about living with a young life artist is....the mess. There has never been a boundary for the creation, our walls have been treated as canvas's, her body decorated with ink and paint, her dinner plate emptied and the contents rearranged in a pattern. There's no staying in the lines...what lines?

We've accepted her way. We don't hassle or get on her case. There's the occasional push and pull as we balance needs between her need to just empty an entire drawer to get a pair of socks, and my need to not be putting all her clothes away a few times a day! But aside from that we've tried not to suppress or restrain her urges. Perhaps without the need to rebel and break out of herself will they just fade away? Or will she just grow up satisfied and herself? I'm going to savour my Front row seat in watching and finding out and maintain my private promise I've made to always protect her from those who want to whitewash, or contain her. I get the feeling though she won't need me to do this for long though...

Friday, 15 February 2013

The path of least resistance

If your not familiar with Scott Noelle and his 'Daily Groove' emails then this title probably won't mean a lot to you.

I've been signed up to the Daily Groove for what must be about three years now. They land in my inbox, most days, and sometimes they are deleted without opening,other times I open it and quickly scan read it to refresh myself on a thought. Others times I read the whole thing savouring and enjoying it, forwarding it to others who might benefit from that thought right now.
They started to repeat quite a while ago but I've chosen to still stay subscribed. Mainly because even tho I may have read it before it still seems to know when it needs to land to the point if being eerily accurate.
The path of the least resistance is one that really sticks out for me though and it's always nice to see it arrive again. It was one of the first ones I received. I remember how my husband and I laughed at the idea of how resisting even less would look to our already pretty flexible family set up. It was good to read it though and really helped me have a better dialogue with our friends and family about why things were happening differently in our new family household.
It was shortly after this that my now dear friend introduced me to the concept of Radical Unschooling. At the time we hadn't known each other long and I can remember so clearly how she, almost hesitantly, asked me if I followed the theories of RU. I just shrugged my shoulders, smiled and said I've no idea! I'd never heard of it! It was the day that changed my life and our families too. We'd been bobbling along doing our thing, living with the ideal of whatever felt right and made us all happy, we'd no intention of sending Newt to school, I knew of autonomous education but even that didn't fill the picture quite for us, this new name hasn't arisen before. I looked that night on the Internet and it turns out we kinda were already an RU family! It was a moment similar to when I read Dr Sears Attachment Parenting book, five months after I had already been doing all of it! It was reassuring and reaffirming all at once. Shortly after that day I borrowed Dayna Martins 'Radical Unschooling' book (in my top five ever books!) and since then we've only carried on growing and thriving. There's been times where we have been more or less so but the ethos of deep respect, equality in the family and a driven family purpose of happiness has never changed. I know most families strive for all of these things, but if you haven't already, read the book, and a new path of how you can all truly live these things will shine before you!
Anyway, if that all sounds like old hat or too much change for you start gently, with the sign up for Scott's daily update http://dailygroove.net/path-of-least-resistance
You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

What little girls are made of...

I didn't go to any extremes raising my daughter. Though we told people that she was a girl (unlike one family in Europe recently who withheld this information from family and friends) I was careful not to assume pink, girly was immediately her thing. From birth her room with her things in was bright green and jungle themed. There were monkeys and parrots rather than bunnies and bears. She had pyjamas with planets and rockets on, she always got muddy at every opportunity and used to let herself in and out of the garden via the catflap (good for keeping us all on our toes). Despite having white blonde ringlets I always viewed this more as a Darwinian trait so as to help me spot her as she disappeared into bushes and through holes in the fence more easily, not as angelic, dolly material. For about two years she never allowed us to brush it. That was ok with us, after all it is her hair as I pointed out to anyone who felt the need to comment. I never corrected others but through gentle example tried to encourage questions about books she liked and avoid good girl/pretty hair blah blah type comments aimed at her (not to or with her). She adopted a baby doll that had belonged to my niece, but rather randomly named him Luke. Luke did come places with us and got introduced to everyone who cared enough to glance in her direction at festivals, beaches and campsites. That was it for dolls though really.
Now at five the always 'too much', passionate and extreme loving side of her personality has directed its attention to pinkness. Any merch with Hello Kitty is an object of need and desire. At first I thought this was largely fuelled by some base need to fit in with other girls that she had become friends with. If she liked it herself that would be cool for me but I was worried it was only because of she felt on some level it was what she was supposed to like. But the Radical Unschooler in me cannot judge or control this. I can guide and support but not lead or judge. It wouldn't be fair and wouldn't feel right to me. Instead I have just enjoyed her enjoying. This is the result....
A hideously over the top pink frilly giant cat! It even has purple eyeliner on ha! But hey, who cares? Check out the smile behind that polyester pink cuddly!

On a similar note it turns out pretty much since about five months old the Mancub is obsessed with balls, any kind but especially anything resembling the colours and print of a football. As for trains, rockets or planes.....excited is an understatement. The throwing himself around, launching toys like missiles and general roughness is far more intense too than it was with Newt. She was always precise, testing herself in her efforts, pushing herself that bit further, pleasure thrill seeking and life loving. He just lobs himself off the arm of the sofa and hits the floor. Distinctly different.

Its all quite fascinating for me really. As a behaviourist by education it just further backs up my belief that the sexes really are different. And they should be. They had different purposes genetically. Not better or worse. Not inferior just wildly different switches that flick. Surely as long as we accept individuality as well as accepting natural differences its ok to not get too bogged down in you can't have that as its too pink, you must have a doll and pram even though your a boy etc? Hmmmm. And whilst we are discussing gender differences has anyone else noticed that men more often than women seem to pull out all the tea and coffee canisters etc when making hot drinks rather than taking the cup to the can? Is it just me that has noticed this?!! Am I stereotyping myself now?