Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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Documentary Kids

What do your kids say when you ask, “Hey, would you guys like to watch some television?”  I’m sure most kids would want to, even if they don’t watch much TV.  What about when you ask what they want to watch?  Most kids come up with some kids show, but not mine.  Mine want to watch documentaries.  Does that make my kids weird?  I don’t know.  Maybe it does.

So I’ve talked a lot in this blog about our lives as unschoolers who are really poor.  A lot of people have asked me over time how I do it, how I expose my children to enough content to figure out what they’re interested in and to be exposed to a wide variety of topics.  They want to know how it’s possible when we can’t get out much because we don’t have a car and our environment isn’t exactly rich with opportunities, at least not that we’ve seen.  We have to get our opportunities somewhere or we’re not exactly doing a good job as unschoolers.  Half of unschooling is presenting learning opportunities.  While kids can get a great education from just being kids, I want more for my kids.  I want them to understand where they can find information and to find the most fields of interest possible.  It would give them a fantastic basis to be just like I am, a person who is full of “useless” trivia that’s a lot of fun.  It adds diversity to a personality.

How do we manage?  Amazon Prime!  Netflix!  Those are our two greatest resources.  Each program offers a different selection of movies with a bunch of overlap, though I’ve got to admit that Netflix is by far my favorite of the two.  We spend a lot of out time watching reality television and documentaries.  We watch them, take the facts, and learn.

I should explain something here.  By reality shows we don’t mean things like Survivor and other game shows.  We watch a lot of shows such as Cake Boss and DC Cupcakes.  Beekee’s really interested in watching Iron Chef and other culinary shows of that nature.  Take Home Chef is a personal favorite of Corde’s.  Beekee likes to watch Overhaulin’ with Oz.  I have a feeling she’d like Orange County Choppers or whatever the other motorcycle show is.  They’re great shows to give ideas to the kids, expand their own creativity.  In a lot of these cases there are problem solving situations that come up that are great examples of what to do (and sometimes what not to do) when problems arise.

Most importantly, the kids love documentaries.  Corde’s got a big thing going on with the food industry, as anyone who has been reading along surely knows.  Beekee likes documentaries about animals, though we haven’t watched many.  Sander is even getting in on the whole thing.  Today I told him he could pick any show he wanted to watch.  He picked out a CNBC show on “As Seen On TV” products and how they’re marketed and we’re currently watching one on McDonald’s.  It’s not surprising since the “As Seen On TV” logo can be seen in many stores and McDonald’s is a brand we see every time we walk to the grocery store.  They’re familiar to him and therefore interesting, even if he doesn’t understand what the documentary is trying to convey.  I can’t imagine he does because he keeps getting up and walking off before he can really watch enough to understand.

Yesterday while we were walking to the store, Corde had something to say about documentaries:

I like watching documentaries.  They make you smart, which means they make your brain bigger, and I want to have the biggest brain ever.  You learn a lot of stuff from them.  I like it because I’m sometimes so smart even your friends are surprised, Mom!  Regular school kids don’t learn half as much as I do.  They miss all the things I know about and get to learn about, which is too bad because they’re pretty cool things, don’t you think so, Mom?

I’m inclined to agree with her.  Kids in school do miss out on a lot of the things we get to learn about.  She’s got a personal crusade against Hartz flea and tick products.  She thinks Monsanto is evil, and is just now starting to pick up on the name ConAgra as well.  She can talk your ear off about the crazy things GM foods do to your body.  She’s become big into taking proper care of animals, even if you eat them in the end because animals shouldn’t have to suffer just because they’re going to be someone’s food.  She knows a good deal about American History, more than any of her friends.  She’s an incredibly bright kid!  I can only imagine how much more we’ll explore together.  It’s part of the whole process.

Today came with sort of a sad moment.  Corde watched a documentary about Santa that kind of gave her the thought that maybe the Santa myth isn’t true, but she turned it into a beautiful moment, just like me, she’ll never stop believing in the magic of Christmas.  She’s decided Santa may not be a real person, but is definitely alive in everyone.  I told her the real secret of Santa, why they had the actor come in to play Santa for their kids, was because you can’t ever see “Santa”.  If you see the real Santa that leaves your gifts, the magic is gone and you can never get it back.  You can make all kinds of crazy theories, but if you see who it is, it becomes less special.  For example, the policeman that brought the box of toys for the kids (and that was a LOT more than we’d anticipated.  We’d thought one toy for each kid, but it was just a bunch of things for me to split up and distribute), was Santa when he brought those toys.  Was it magic?  No.  It lost it’s magic because it wasn’t some mysterious gift-giver.  They knew that policeman was a Santa for them.  Of course, they don’t know the Santas that donated all those things, but the general idea is it loses the magic.  She’s decided that she doesn’t want to know who leaves her presents (tough I think she knows who it is) because she doesn’t want to lose the magic.

I’m really glad I have unusual kids.  I’m glad they often choose documentaries over fluff children’s programming geared at most kids.  I’m glad my kids are able to use our television as a portal to the world and things they couldn’t otherwise learn about.  As long as we don’t have a car, this is what makes unschooling possible for us.  I don’t know what I’d do without Netflix, Amazon Prime, and documentaries!

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Because the World Hasn’t Ended Yet

And we’re back!  We’ve been having some challenges lately, as I’m sure you’ve all imagined.  Luca has been teething, which has been a nightmare.  Beekee and Sander both got horribly sick (darn stomach bugs!)  Oz got sick too.  I’ve been busy with writing and have completely forgotten about blogging (sorry…my bad…)

On top of that, I should probably let you know for the future longevity of this blog, the holidays are horribly busy for us.  Either we’re busy going out and doing things, or we’re cleaning the house to get ready for the holidays.  Today we’re stuck at home waiting on the police department.  Yes, they’re finally coming to haul me off to the funny farm for choosing to unschool four kids with a teething baby in the house.  Okay, so to be more accurate, they’re bringing Christmas presents for the kids.  Someone put our names into the school for assistance with the holidays.  I’m betting it’s someone from the church.  The school contacted the police department.  The police department called Oz.  Now we’ve got toys coming for the kids for Christmas.  This means I’ve got some time (while Luca is sleeping on my lap) to sit down, write, and take a breather.

Clearly whoever has been trying to help us out for Christmas has no idea that we really don’t need the help.  My family may not be local, but the family still sends gifts from back home.  We’ve got presents from my mom, my aunt, and my ex’s parents.  The oldest two aren’t getting gifts from their dad this year, but their dad is going to have to be the one to deal with that.  I’m not taking the blame for that.  Our little tree is going to be positively overflowing with presents.  We don’t have as many as we did last year, and the number seems to be cutting down each year, understandably as another child just got added to the mix and the economy is bad.  Besides, I’m sure the older two are becoming more and more expensive to shop for.  I’m sure that doesn’t help either.  Of course, we’re not complaining!  Actually, I’m kind of glad.  We’re trying to minimize the stuff we’ve got around here.  We’ve got a trailer with no storage space.  That means we’ve got limited space to put new toys coming in the house.  Already I’m kind of hating the idea of Christmas because we’ve got a whole bunch of new toys to add to the list, but I know we’ll be alright.

Honestly, I can’t wait to see what the kids think of their presents.  I have no idea what my aunt sent, but I’ve already seen what my mom sent.  She asked me what I thought she should get for Corde, and while I won’t share with any of you (because I want you all to be just as surprised when I post the Christmas pictures!) I will tell you that the package came from the American Girl company.  It came along with a new dress for Corde’s current American Girl Doll that she got last year, Marie-Grace.  My mom promised the dress for Corde’s birthday, but then she got sick and couldn’t send it.  Corde’s very understanding of this.  She didn’t care that the present was life.  She loved the dress she got.

Then there’s the boys.  Sander’s getting more to fill out a collection of toys he’s already got a bunch of.  He’ll have so much more to expand on his play, which is fantastic.  Beekee is getting another set to go with some other toys he’s got in a totally different collection, even more expanding on the ways he can play.  Luca is getting a couple of baby toys that are honestly things I hate, but I’m not going to complain.  I never got those kinds of toys with my kids when they were young, so it’s not going to kill us to have them for one kid.  Thankfully, he’s probably the last in line for these kinds of toys, so I don’t have a problem with him being a little spoiled.  Besides, I have to secretly admit that the toys in question are two toys I’d thought he would find really fun, but couldn’t justify spending the money on.  Both are mostly quiet toys that do cool things, or at least things I think Luca would find cool.

Last Sunday the kids also got spoiled.  A family at the church got us presents for the “Chinese Gift Exchange”.  I had no idea what that was, so I did a search.  It turns out I know it as a Yankee Swap, but I guess Texas still has a thing against “Yankees”, so I guess an alternate name is required.  I have to admit that I hate the term “Yankee” too, but that’s because of the baseball team.  With the number of little kids that attend the church I had expected more kids Luca and Sander’s age, but there surprisingly weren’t.  As a result, I think Luca and Sander got the contributions to the swap that were brought as their gifts.  I’m okay with that as they ended up with age appropriate toys.  I think Sander’s was luck and Luca traded with another kid because he got a “baby toy”.  Luca didn’t mind trading, of course.  He didn’t seem terribly involved in the process and probably wouldn’t have cared if he didn’t get a present at all.  He was more interested in being carried around by Daddy and watching all the other kids go crazy.

The kids had a blast, and they all feel like they got great gifts.  Corde got Simon Flash which she has since played to death. There’s a lot of memory skills involved, something Corde desperately needs to work on as she generally has the memory of a goldfish, even with things she wants to do. This has already been helping with her memory skills. Beekee got a bunch of coloring books, crayons, and flashlights that he shared with Corde and Sander. That was perfect because he’s been asking for coloring books. Sander and Luca switched presents when they got home and opened everything up, which is probably for the best. They share them both anyway, so it doesn’t matter much. Sander came home with the VTech Preschool Learning Alphabet Apple. That’s perfect because it’s recommended age is 3-6 years. Well, Sander’s birthday just passed and he’s now officially three! It’s also got a lot of learning skills for his age. Luca just mashes the buttons when he gets his hands on it anyway. Luca ended up with Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Puppy’s Piano, which he mostly loves.  He finds it really amusing, but he’s not sure what to do with it.  It’s been wonderful to watch him.

So, what have we been doing while waiting for the end of the world (that isn’t going to come, aside from perhaps in a spiritual awakening kind of way)?  We’ve been watching documentaries.  We’ve seen some pretty good ones.  We watched Foodmatters. That was a pretty good documentary about the food industry. Corde particularly loved it. We saw Hungry for Change, which was also great. Corde thought the story from it was a little weird, but she liked it. We’ve noticed some familiar faces showing up in these documentaries. There are some really interesting people in these food documentaries. Then for a change of pace we picked out something completely different. Corde picked out Craigslist Joe, which was absolutely amazing.  It’s aboaut a man trying to live for 31 days, in December, no less, on nothing but connections he makes from Craigslist.  That’s how he would get everything he needs.  He even got to meet up with the creator of Craigslist, which was interesting.  Some of the stories were absolutely inspiring.

We’ve had a lot of good going on for us.  The church has been wonderful to us.  They were even very understanding when we said we didn’t want to go on Wednesday because our former neighbors went back (undoubtedly to try and get something else out of the church).  We’ve gotten the house clean.  Oz doesn’t help, but he’s spent a lot of time working.  Luca learned to crawl like a normal baby and now pulls up to standing on everything.  He’s being tortured by teething too, which seems bad, but it’s good because it means he’ll have teeth soon (big boy!)  It’s been exhausting.  Hopefully we’ll be back on track after the holidays.

In the meantime, happy Yule/Solstice everyone!  Enjoy the fact that the world hasn’t ended yet, not that I ever really anticipated it would.  I wouldn’t have let Oz go to work today if we thought the world was going to end, after all, the end of the world should be spent together as a family, right?  Still, it’s fun to imagine that we’ve somehow been saved from the end of times.  I’m sure some new “end of the world” prophesy will be discovered for an end long beyond our lifetimes.  Until then the only sign of any “end of the world” was my net going down for two hours.  How’s that for a dramatic story to tell the grandkids?  Well, looks like tomorrow we’re going to start watching the 2012 documentaries (we’d thought about it today, but more interesting stuff was on) then talking about how foolish it was.  I have a feeling it’ll be a great conversation starter for the kids.


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A Hard Lesson, But Learned Well

Yesterday was an interesting day for lessons.  The kids learned some good lessons out of all of it, but at least they’ll learn never to make their parents’ mistakes.  They’ve also learned that sometimes help will show as soon as you ask for it.

The first lesson of the day was kind of a good one.  Corde and I talked about budgets when we walked to the grocery store.  I told her that as far as I was concerned, the food budget for the month was already blown and we hadn’t even done any shopping yet.  She thought I was crazy, but we’ve finally decided we’ve got to eat.  If that means throwing the budget out the window, so be it.  Eating and being healthy is more important than whatever we can afford on a “food stamp” budget.  We’ve been throwing things out the window a lot lately.  We went out to eat on Oz’s last day off to a really nice little Italian place.  It was more expensive than we originally were planning, but the kids got to try some new things, like calamari.

Anyhow, Corde and I started talking about how living off $1 per meal is no way to live.  There’s no way you can eat healthy.  We talked about the things we like to eat that we can’t afford on $1 per day.  We talked about the actual cost of each meal and why Oz and I don’t eat three meals a day.  We do it because we just can’t afford to let the kids eat the way they should, yet still afford for everyone to eat.  Rather than having the kids go hungry I decided to cut back on what I was eating.  However, there was a down side.  The baby effectively requires me in order to eat, which means Oz has been eating even less in order to make sure I eat.  Thanks to a few food splurges our food stamps ran out last month well before we needed them too.  We didn’t have to spend our own cash on much, mostly things like milk, but it was rough.  Oz and I decided that we’re just going to have to put a little extra and when our food stamps run out, they run out.  We’ve already seen the difference eating a little bit better has had on the whole family.  There was no reason to take that away from everyone, especially with Oz working a second job.  Instead we would focus on what we really needed.

When we got to the grocery store Corde’s eyes lit up when I ended our trip with the produce section.  Generally we would opt for canned veggies because they’re overall cheaper.  This means not having a lot of fruit.  Unfortunately, my planned menu included a lot of new things so I could make smoothies, figuring that would be a good alternative to meals every now and then.  It would also help me go more towards a vegetarian/vegan diet, not because I have some problem with meat, but because I’m trying to steer towards a healthier diet overall.  I’ve gotten suggestions to go on a vegetarian cleanse or a juice diet instead of what I usually eat.  While I’d love to do that, these kinds of diets are often times rather expensive, so I’m just doing small bits and pieces to aim for something healthier.  Some of them will be great, I’m sure.  Some, like the smoothie I made today, aren’t going to be a complete win.  Since I know I’m not going to be eating all of it, I’m going to be letting the kids dig in to some of the fruit I picked up.

After we’d gotten everything said and don, Oz’s friend tracked us down to give us a ride home.  Unfortunately she caught up to us after we’d paid for everything.  Her bad news had me a little concerned about the groceries I’d just bought.  It was great that she was giving us a ride home, but the power was out at the house.  We were disconnected.

Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve been disconnected, but it’s always been when someone else was responsible for the bills.  We’ve had power outages due to storms and things like that too, but that’s different.  We knew everything in our lives was relying on the ability to have power.  That was our heat.  It’s our ability to cook.  It’s our ability to store our food.  I was completely caught off guard, and I was honestly a little upset with Oz for not warning me this was going to happen.  Had I thought about it I would have realized he had no clue this was coming either.  As far as we knew we were on top of our bill.  Apparently we’d missed the memo somewhere along the line.

When I got home Corde had a valid concern.  Without a refrigerator, how would our food stay cold?  She started to ask other questions, which, of course, Oz and I put her off on.  We had other things to figure out.  We’d never gotten a disconnect notice or anything like that.  Apparently we were still a month behind too, not that this showed on any of the bills we had in our possession.  There was nothing waiting in our mailbox.  It was a nightmare situation.  In an even more challenging situation, we called to get the electricity turned back on if we could only to find that they shut us off almost too late to get a reconnection.  There was nothing we could do.  We’d have to hold the night over without power.

The kids were real troopers through all of this.  They just went along with whatever the plan was.  We were going to use the light we had left to clean the house and get everything organized.  Oz walked us down to the church for Wednesday night dinner.  Then he went off to work.  We sat through dinner and the class.  Corde and Beekee both thought this would be a good idea for us since the church was warm and had light.  It would keep us busy until we had to go home and go to bed.  It was a great plan and I’m glad the kids thought it was such a good idea.

When we went to church Corde and the boys went to the children’s classes while Luca and I sat in for the service.  Everyone missed us there.  It had been a couple of weeks since we’d been there thanks to our former neighbors.  Oz and I didn’t feel comfortable going there if our former neighbors were there.  As it turns out, they haven’t been back in quite some time.  We could have been going all this time, but it is what it is.  We’re going back now and I think that’s most of what matters.

Oz had spoken to the pastor earlier in the day and they gave us some suggestions on where we could go for help.  He said he’d talk to the church and see what they could do.  What i didn’t know was Corde shared what had happened with the teacher in her class.  At the end of the service she came up to me and asked if I’d talked to the woman that organizes the dinners to see if there was any food we could take home that didn’t need to be cooked to help us out.  As it turns out they didn’t have anything, so Corde’s teacher went to the store and got us some food to hold us over until we got our power back on.  The pastor gave us a check for the money we needed to get the power back on.  Then one of the other members of the church gave us a ride home.  It was wonderful, and it definitely showed the kids just how generous people can be if you’re only willing to ask for help.  More importantly, these people wanted to help us.  It wasn’t just because we were needy or just for the kids.  These people wanted to help us because they know Oz is working two jobs and we’re doing the best we can, but sometimes things happen unexpectedly.  Sometimes your luck just turns bad.  As we didn’t have any kind of notification to prepare us, obviously this wasn’t even a case of us not playing things smart.  We genuinely had no idea this was about to happen or we would have made certain to make other cuts in our budget, like not going out to eat and not doing any Christmas shopping.  We had all the best intentions, but things just didn’t seem to work out.

When we got home the kids and I all went to bed after having some snacks.  There wasn’t much else to do without power.  We’d all just settled in to bed when we got a knock at our door.  One of our neighbors, someone Oz knows pretty well because he sees him all the time in town, asked if we wanted to let the kids stay at his house.  He didn’t want them to be in the cold.  His house doesn’t have heat right now, but we had space heaters that weren’t going to do us much good in a house with no power, so it all worked out.  We packed everyone up and went over there.  Oz stopped in there when he got off of work and we all slept in a warm house.  The baby snuggled up to me and Oz snuggled on the floor with the boys.  It all worked out pretty well.

Well, that is it worked out until this morning.  When we looked at the check we realized it wasn’t made out to the electric company, but to one of the other people from church.  Thankfully they came right out and got it taken care of, and took Oz out to bring the check to the office in time to get the electricity turned back on.  It was perfect timing.  The electricity came on almost as soon as Oz walked in the door.  We were able to get some heat in the house (which really wasn’t as bad as it could have been) and get everything sorted out and organized.  Thanks to the cold, no food was lost in the process.  It all worked out in the end.

Corde brought up a concern she had.  She asked if I was mad at her for telling her teacher about the power.  I told her I wasn’t, which was true.  Then I told her how there are certain people that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.  It’s actually good to ask for help sometimes.  When she needs help with something, it’s good to know who she can go to.  I told her about the way things had gone down, how we really hadn’t gotten any notice of the disconnect and that’s why everything fell apart like this.  Since we didn’t know what to do we asked for help too.  We talked to the pastor at the church and that’s how we got help getting the power on.  If we didn’t ask for help, we still wouldn’t have had power.  If she hadn’t told her teacher what was going on we wouldn’t have had cereal, granola bars, pop tarts, crackers, and fruit snacks to tide them over until the power came back on.  I’d bought juice for the kids, so the additional juice we got was nice, but we could have lived without it.  Everything else was stuff that needed to be cooked, even the breakfast food, with the exception of a few special snacks.  Those snacks got us through the night, morning, and early afternoon while everything was being taken care of.  Without it we would have been cold as well as hungry.  Oz asked the neighbor to check on the kids and I, which is how the plan hatched for us to stay there.  Sometimes it’s good to ask for help.  I told her I was proud of her for expressing her concern to someone she felt comfortable to talk to because it’s never easy to ask for help.

As if that wasn’t enough, one of the people from the church stopped by to check in with us.  He offered to pay for gifts for the whole family so we could participate in the gift exchange this weekend.  He knew we couldn’t afford to spend extra on gifts and he wanted to make sure the kids had a good Christmas, full of family, fun, and wonderful food.  He and his wife are going to cook for the potluck for us as well so we have nothing to worry about.  It’s the Christmas season, which is the season of giving.  It made me think about all the “reason for the season” comments we’ve heard.  Corde even asked what that whole thing was about.  I told her the reason for the season is more than just some religious story, no matter what faith you believe in.  The season is a reminder of what’s important.  The holiday season is about family.  It’s about giving.  It’s about charity.  It’s about humility.  It’s a time to suck up your pride and let people help, or reach out your hand to help those in need.  The holiday season is always a good reminder of why we take care of our whole community, not just the people in our family, and those who have need will generally find a way to get a helping hand, just as long as they’re willing to ask for help, never something easy to do.

In all of this we’ve all agreed that we’re never going to let this happen again.  We’re going to be putting reminders for all the bills on the calendar, that way if we don’t receive the bill, we’ll still make sure we call them to find out what we owe.  We’re going to mark the due date for each of the bills on the calendar because we want to make sure we’re still on top of all the bills.  The kids also now have seen from experience that sometimes things don’t go according to plan, and worse yet, not all companies are reliable with making sure you get the information you need.

So what have the kids learned?  They’ve learned why you don’t rely on the company to keep you up to date because sometimes they’re unreliable.  They’ve learned that it’s okay to ask for help, especially when everyone can see how hard you’ve been working to try and get something done without help.  They’ve learned that bad things happened, but if you work hard you can find a way to get through with it if you think hard about it and keep focused on what’s important.  They’re also learning a lesson about charity, from perhaps the most difficult side of the whole charity thing, the receiving end.  Hopefully they’ll remember how good it feels to get help when you need it and when they’re in a position to extend that help to someone else in need, they’ll be right there to “pay it forward” as the term is now called.

(Okay, so I fell asleep while writing this because it was a long day, so by “yesterday” I mean “Wednesday”.  By “today” I mean “Thursday”.  We’ll probably write about the cool lessons from the real today later!  We’ve been having some interesting discussions already!)


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Why Is It so Hard to Find Dolls for Boys?

Of course, after I’ve already done a majority of the Christmas shopping, Beekee finally comes out and tells me what he’d really like for Christmas.  He wants a doll.  All the dolls we have are “too girly”.  I can understand that.  We’ve got three American Girl dolls in the house. Then there’s Corde’s Baby Heather.  He’s got a little Waldorf doll I made him and a baby doll, but he wants something bigger.  I’ll be honest, I never quite got the hang of making Waldorf dolls.  I tried.  I gave it an honest effort, but it’s really not my thing.  I may be a great knitter. I can do a little crochet.  I’d even bet I’d be pretty good at making quilts, but doll making is not my specialty.  It’s something I wish I could do better, but I’ve got to be honest about my own limitations.

As such, I’ve decided it’s time to look into dolls for my boys.  I know if Beekee has his own, Sander’s going to want one too.  It’s just a reality that I have to admit.  It’s not that I have problems with getting dolls for my boys.  I just have a problem with the cost of doing so.  Dolls for boys aren’t easy to come by.  There’s limited selections.  Most of all, they’re often not cheap.

When I first started looking at dolls for boys I found Waldorf dolls.  They’re beautiful and there are so many people who have made beautiful outfits for them.  I thought this would be my perfect solution for the problem of dolls for boys.  Unfortunately I didn’t take cost into consideration.  When you’re looking at spending often $150 on a single doll that really limits how much you can spend.  Sure, they’re wonderful, hand-crafted dolls made of all natural materials, but that’s a steep price to pay.  In case you haven’t figured this out yet, I don’t exactly have that kind of money to spend on a toy unless it’s going to be the best toy of all time.  My kids will have to get their money’s worth in play time in order for me to consider that.  Even then, that’s more than my entire Christmas budget this year, not including what I can pick up on food stamps.  I can’t spend that on one child and then expect to have nothing left over to spend on anyone else.  It’s just not fair.

After that I’d considered making them myself, but we all know how that went.  Don’t get me wrong, the dolls I made are cute.  They just don’t meet the level of quality that the professionally made dolls have.  I might consider trying my hand at it again some day, but not soon, and certainly not before Christmas.  I know my kids.  If I want to meet the need, I’ve got to do it now while they’re still interested.  Otherwise Beekee might get over his want for a doll and forget about it.  Then he’ll want it again at some other suitably inconvenient time when I don’t have the money to buy him one or the time to make him one.  I’d rather get him a doll now and make him another one at some later point.  I’ll probably make dolls for all of my kids.  I’m just going to have to take some serious time to work on it and I don’t want the interest to disappear before I’m even done.  That’s what happened with Corde’s doll.

Then my next thought was to find a boy doll somewhere else.  Well, the Pleasant Company (that makes the American Girl Dolls) has the Bitty Twins, and you can have both of those be boys, but it’s a steep investment to get a couple of boy dolls.  It would give me one for each Sander and Beekee, which I think they’d both like, but I would have to spend a small fortune to do it.  True, I’d get two dolls for about the same price as one Waldorf doll, but that’s still a little steep for me.  Amazon is full of Ken dolls, and even then it’s a pathetic selection.  There aren’t as many boy dolls out there as I would have liked.

I understand it’s not traditional for boys to play with dolls, but I have to wonder if it’s really natural for boys to play with dolls just like girls.  After all, most doll play is simply practice for being an adult, a part of a family.  Boys model that kind of mimicking too.  It makes me wonder if perhaps boys lack of interest in dolls comes from some other place.  For example, maybe a boy doesn’t want to play with a doll because he doesn’t think it’s okay.  Maybe all the pink turns him off.  Maybe he wants a boy doll, like him, but the options for clothing and everything else are so limited that boys quickly lose interest.  Where’s their steamer trunk full of clothes?  It could also be that fathers don’t tend to model good parenting behaviors that can be easily mimicked in play.  Dads go to work and pay the bills.  Moms sit at home, cook, clean, and take care of the baby.  Where’s the encouragement for a boy to take on that role?

At the same time I think playing with dolls is vital to a boy’s ability to become a well adjusted adult.  How else can he learn to be a dad without actually practicing it at home?  It’s a chance for him to remember and copy what he sees in the world, a chance to practice.  Instead boys are encouraged to do nothing more than play with tools and crash cars.  Boys are encouraged to be violent.  They’re not exactly given many chances to show that gentle, nurturing nature the way a girl does.

It’s frustrating that boys seem so trapped into this stupid gender role.  I have a boy that likes wearing pink, would probably wear dresses if I let him, and likes playing with dolls.  He’s frustrated because there aren’t more options for him.  He really wants a doll that’s got a little bit of variety just like his sister does, but it’s just not an option.  Well, I guess there are some options out there, but one of the options I found would have given me nightmares.  It’s 18″ dolls for boys, but their expressions are just creepy.  I think I’d have nightmares if one of those dolls were in my house.  Instead I think my boys would prefer soft toys, similar to a Waldorf doll.

Thankfully Haba has a line of wonderful boy dolls.  They don’t have any clothing or accessories, but it’s something.  They also have a baby doll I’m going to have to get for Luca Bear when he’s a little bit older.  The doll is fittingly Luca.  Supposedly the doll is a girl, but it looks pretty gender-neutral.  They sell clothes for the doll (it’s mostly girly stuff in the pack, but not all of it), a playpen style crib, a carry cot, baby carrier, and table seat.  Since Luca is my littlest and the only one I think will spend any real time in the doll phase it would be worth it to invest like that.  If we get his doll while he’s still a baby he’ll have the most time to bond with it and actually have some interest in it.  My older two haven’t had that same advantage.

All of this has gotten me thinking about how hard things must be for Beekee.  He’s a different sort of boy.  He likes the colors pink and purple.  He has no problems with wearing a dress and likes to on occasion.  He likes wearing his sister’s nightgown and his dad’s hockey jersey to bed because it’s like wearing a dress to sleep.  He’s always been on the more sensitive, nurturing side, but over the past few years that’s been changing.  He’s been more about violence and killing things.  He’s started to become more of a “typical” boy, but I think that’s probably because he’s surrounded by so many boys that don’t get it.

I’m not sure how we’re going t pull it off, but I’m determined to preserve just a little bit of that soft and gentle side.  If that means I have to find a way to get him a doll for Christmas, that’s what I’m going t have to do.  I’m really hoping that his dad comes through with getting a doll, but if not I may just have to come up with getting everyone else an additional gift.  I’m not quite sure how that will work, but we’ll figure it out.  We always do.