Trailer Park Unschoolers

Because you don't need to be rich to unschool!

We Are NOT Doing This Again!

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All the changes have made things frustrating around here.  The kids are reacting to the change, as they always do.  I don’t blame them.  It’s hard to see their friends leave.  It’s stressful to know that our neighbors may not have anywhere to go soon.  It’s definitely not easy to move a bunch of stuff in our house from our neighbors because they need somewhere to keep it and we’re going to try and help them hold on to as much as we can.  Life hasn’t exactly been easy.

Corde’s been taking it the hardest.  Now that Maddy’s no longer in town she doesn’t really have another female friend to play with.  The rule preventing her from being out on her own is making her a little crazy.  As I remember it the rule used to be that the kids weren’t allowed at the playground unattended until they were ten, but I really don’t want to check the lease to find out the exact details.  It’s really not worth it to fight with management over it.  I’d rather not cause a stir and it’s getting towards the colder and darker months anyway.  The sunset will be early enough that any play time after school will be very limited and school work only gets more intense through the winter, so chances are there would be less kids out playing anyway.  Besides, the neighborhood is slowly turning into a ghost town and we don’t know how long it’s going to take for new kids to move in, if any of the families that move in even have kids close to their ages or allow them out to play.  There were a lot of kids in this neighborhood that we didn’t see until everyone was packing up to leave.  It’s frustrating for her and she really doesn’t want to be friendless in this town.  I can’t blame her.  I’m going to see about finding events that happen locally to get her involved in.  Maybe there are activities at the school she would enjoy, or perhaps a bigger playground or park within walking distance that attracts more kids.  You never know until you try.  We’ve just been too caught up in helping our neighbors get everything taken care of, moving things, and saying goodbye to people that we haven’t had much of a chance to look.  Hopefully things will even out soon.

Beekee has been reacting to it all by being over-tired.  He’s exhausted all the time because Corde keeps him up at night.  He’s afraid to sleep in his bedroom alone and the boys’ room has been too much of a mess to lay down on the floor in there until they go to sleep.  That’s what Oz always used to do.  As a result Beekee has become the whiniest, most demanding, cranky kid ever.  He screams and throws a fit over everything.  You’d think he was two!  It’s really trying Oz’s patience and I have to admit that it’s wearing me thin too.  I know he’s just tired, but he keeps fighting it every time we try to help him get settled down to sleep or take a nap.  Corde has taught him that sleeping is bad and it’s going to take a lot for us to get that out of his system.  I know once he recognizes what it’s like to be well rested again he’ll be doing so much better, but until then he’s going to be a nightmare to live with.

Sander has been taking all of this the best.  It’s like he recognizes that everything going on means he needs to be more grown up.  He’s been using the toilet without any problems.  His phase of having accidents has finally ended.  Now he almost always makes it to the toilet if he’s naked and only has accidents when he’s dressed if he’s tired.  We had a couple of poop accidents because he still can’t get on the toilet without a step-stool and won’t go in if it’s dark, so if we don’t leave the light on for him at night or his step-stool is missing, that’s when problems occur, but he’s really been on top of it.  He’s been more tired and cranky than usual, but he’s really trying to work with us as much as he can.  He’s such a little trooper!

Even Lucabear has been having problems.  He’s fussy and irritable.  He won’t fall asleep unless he’s laying on my chest and if he’s awake he’s really clingy, and is very particular on who he clings to.  Sometimes he’ll cry for everyone but Oz.  Other days he cries for no one but me.  It’s incredibly frustrating, but I think he knows everyone is stressed out and doesn’t know how to react.  It must be pretty scary for him.  On top of that, he’s going through his own troubles.  It seems like he’s teething and that’s been very frustrating for him too.  Everything EC has completely gone out the window because I can’t focus on him well enough right now and he’s definitely not in the mood to work with me when I am.

Tonight things finally came to a head.  Corde and Beekee were both told they were over tired.  I informed them that if they didn’t go to bed at a reasonable hour we would not be going to church in the morning.  The first Sunday we went the kids were so tired and cranky that we were tempted to take them home halfway through the service.  Oz and I were both completely frustrated to the point where Oz had to take Corde outside and have a talk with her because she was being completely disruptive, inappropriate, and rude.  Everyone was wonderfully understanding.  Church can be long to sit through for a little kid, but Corde is old enough to show a little bit of respect and I know she’s capable of it when she’s not exhausted and worn thin.  Since she found out Maddy was leaving she’s gotten back into her habit of getting up in the middle of the night and eating things she knows she’s not supposed to have, including cooking oatmeal for herself, so she’s been tired all day long anyway.  Now it’s gotten to the point that she’s so exhausted all the time from refusing to sleep until 1 or 2 in the morning that she looks like a zombie all the time with glazed over eyes and a blank expression.  She cries over everything.  She throws tantrums over the tiniest things, things that wouldn’t normally bother her.  At the same time she’s still sneaking around at night and refusing to go to bed.  When I make her lay down for a nap she’ll pass out for three or four hours at a time and then only gets woken up when someone is too loud, so obviously she’s exhausted, but even naps don’t help.  I just wasn’t going to put up with her attitude and Beekee’s tantrums at church tomorrow.  It’s not fair to me.  It’s not fair to Oz.  It’s definitely not fair to everyone around us.

I have to admit, I’m exhausted myself.  I’m frustrated.  I can’t go to bed because I know if I do Beekee will fall asleep so late that he’ll be a nightmare to deal with tomorrow.  I finally had to can the freedom-based parenting and put my foot down.  The kids were going to go to sleep when I told them to or they weren’t going to church.  I wasn’t putting up with it anymore.  The weather changes have had my arthritis screaming at me.  I’ve been hobbling around the house.  I had to help Oz move furniture so we could move stuff in here and no one was around to help.  I’ve been up to my eyes in laundry.  I haven’t even had enough opportunities to eat.  For everything I’ve done we’ve still got a lot that has to be done before Monday and there’s still more that’s going to have to be done after that point.  I just need it good enough by Monday that we can hold on to all the stuff we can manage to hold on to.  I haven’t been sleeping.  I’ve been desperately trying to resist the urge to get catty.  Sometimes it’s gotten the best of me despite my best efforts.  I’ve been pushing myself harder than I probably should have been, but I really have no choice.  It needs to get done.  I feel bad about telling the kids that they will sleep when I tell them to sleep or we’re not going to church and that’s final, but I need to get to bed some time before 2am too!  I’ve got a lot more to get done tomorrow.  I also shouldn’t have to be punished by taking them to church and dealing with bad attitudes the whole time.  That’s just not fair to anyone.

At the same time I kind of regret what I’d said.  We missed church last Sunday because Maddy’s brother was at the house and his mom was supposed to be by before we would have gotten home from church.  I missed church on Wednesday because I didn’t feel comfortable walking all of the kids down there by myself.  Oz was still at the hospital getting one of our neighbors into a rehab program.  I feel like we’re really slipping up on something that could be so good for us.  I wanted to go tomorrow every bit as much as the kids, but I can’t do it with crabby kids, especially with so much work left hanging over me.  I don’t want to be fighting with the kids for the rest of the day because all the stuff that needs to get done prevents them from having the peace and quiet to take a nap.  I’ve got to finish washing the rest of our laundry.  The neighbors have to do their laundry before they leave.  I’m going to be trying to light a fire under their tails to try and get them to sort through their stuff and determine what they absolutely need with them, what they need to leave with us, and what can be left behind.  They’re also going to be giving us some pants their boys have outgrown for Beekee, which he desperately needs before the weather turns much more.  I don’t want to be left to pick through whatever they leave behind, so that means I might have to get over there and motivate them.

So far their focus has been on getting her to go into labor, so it seems like very little has gotten done.  It’s incredibly frustrating to watch because I’ve been in situations where the move is unplanned out of need and is incredibly chaotic.  I know the sooner you start moving on getting everything done, the less you lose and the better off you are.  They’ve known they were going to have to be gone since Wednesday.  With the way Oz and I have learned to handle things, we would have had that house halfway packed up by now, and if we were doing what they were doing, leaving some of our stuff with a neighbor for a while, half of the stuff they were taking for us would already be there so we wouldn’t have to worry about anything the last night but getting some rest and taking care of the final details in the morning, even if that meant sleeping on palates or sleeping bags on the floor, or maybe an air mattress if we had one.  The first time I was evicted that’s exactly what we did.  Everything was gone by the night before so the day we had to vacate the only things that were left were things we weren’t keeping.  The second time we were already in our new house, even though it was this time of year and we had no heat so the house was pretty cold.  We were snuggled up in our beds so the next day Oz could go back and just take care of the final details before we just left whatever we were leaving.  Sure, we lost stuff we didn’t mean to lose, stuff that was somewhat important, stuff we wanted, but it wasn’t as bad as some of our other moves.

I know I shouldn’t be judging my neighbors.  I’m not even really judging them.  I can understand where they’re coming from.  They may be able to get more assistance if they’re homeless and have a newborn baby.  If labor starts before Monday there’s a greater possibility they’ll be able to get help right away.  At the same time, I want to do as much as I can to help them get this done in the best way possible.  If it wasn’t for the fact that we need to make room to keep as much of their stuff as we can manage to hold for them, I’d be over at their house helping them pack, get everything arranged and ready to go out the door, and everything else.  Unfortunately, in a way, that’s not the case.  Hopefully I can finish up whatever I can tomorrow so I can know exactly what kind of space we’ve got and can cram in as much as possible so they’ll lose as little as possible.  Hopefully I’ll finish out our laundry in a reasonable amount of time so I can get over there and help them start picking out the laundry that’s most important to be washed so they can at least have clean clothes when they leave.  I can run a few loads of their laundry while trying to finish up everything here and then Oz can continue to wash stuff and watch the kids while I get over there and help them get stuff done.  They’re in a rough situation.  They’re unfocused.  They’re kind of flying by the seat of their pants, hoping something will be worked out before it’s too late.  They’re counting on having a newborn helping them through this as far as getting everything straightened out, or at least putting a roof over their heads for a while.  They’re trying not to face the gravity and reality of their situation because it’s stressful and painful right now.  That’s just being human, all of it.  It’s natural for them to be acting the way they are.  I’m just trying to do the best I can to be the best neighbor I can.  I just wish I could do more, or that they were a little more focused and motivated on getting their stuff together so we can work together to get things done.  It’s just causing a lot of stress on my family because this isn’t easy and we’ve already go a lot on our own plate.  I guess this is a sign that I really am as charitable as I’ve thought myself to be.  I’m giving up my home as storage space and all I’m asking in return is to let us use what we can make use of until they need to take it back, which is the only way we’d be able to get stuff like furniture in here.  If the management wouldn’t have a cow over it I’d even be willing to let them stay here until they could save up and find a place, though it would drive me to near madness to have four adults in the house, six kids, and one baby, possibly two.  I’d be feeling overwhelmed, like I had no privacy, and at the end of my rope, not to mention what that would do to our electric and water bills.

But, back to the main point, I can’t go through all of this again with the kids.  I’ve gone through the tired and cranky when we’ve got places to be.  More often than not, if they choose to stay up all night before we have to go somewhere, well, they made the decision and we’ll turn it into a learning experience.  Not tomorrow.  I don’t have the time for that.  I don’t have the patience for that.  Either they’re going to be well rested and their normal, happy selves or we’re not going.  I’ve got too much to manage tomorrow and Monday to spend a lot of time at church where I won’t even be able to enjoy myself and will have my hands full with cranky kids.  Oz is at the end of his rope right now and won’t be in the mindset to handle cranky kids either.  He’s had to take one friend to rehab this week and has tried with no success to get them moving on getting everything done.  He’s incredibly frustrated and has gotten pretty bitter about the fact that we want to help, but they don’t seem like they care.

In all of this we also got another clear reminder.  We’re never going to let ourselves face what they’re going through.  I don’t care if I have to sell my every last possession in order to make it happen, we’re going to find a way to keep afloat.  We’ve always played it smart in the past and when we’ve had to move we’ve always made sure we have the money saved up as best as possible and do everything we can to focus on getting it done in a way that will cause the least stress on our family.  It hasn’t always been pretty, but we got through it.  Watching what our neighbors has shown us why it’s so important for us to make this work out.  We need to keep our heads above water no matter how tempting it is to let things slide for a splurge here or there.  We’ve got to juggle everything so that we don’t have to face what they’re facing.  We’ll help them as much as we can, but we can’t go through that.  It would shatter everything we’ve worked so hard to build as a family.

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Author: Fox

With four kids in the house, who has time for much? Well, we're trying to make it work, trying to get as close to our unschooling roots as we can while state restrictions and family pressures try to stand in our way. Every day is a new adventure.

2 thoughts on “We Are NOT Doing This Again!

  1. Yikes, I hope life calms down for you a bit! Seems very crazy over there. I hope everything works out..

    I do have to ask, what really “stumped” me was that Corde will make herself things in the middle of the night that she isnt supposed to have? That is Kid Level – Expert! I have never heard of that before.. Sounds like you have quite the challenge

    • We wouldn’t mind her getting up to fix herself something to eat if she wants it. We’re more worried about her using the hotplate in the middle of the night. We’ve stopped letting her cook on the hotplate because she stopped being able to do it safely…but apparently she made herself oatmeal without a hitch! Go Figure! Yes, she’s quite a challenge, but only because she’s so incredibly bright! It’s one of the reasons she comes up with the solutions to problems like she does! If she’s hungry and has been told to make something filling, make oatmeal! I totally have to teach her to make it with water from the sink like Oz does when he’s feeling lazy. Our water gets hot enough for it.

      And yes, it’s pretty chaotic here right now, but the end is in sight. One way or another I’m determined to get back to life as usual. And with our new set-up we have potential to do so much more together! There’s space to do things! For now at least…

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