I wondered if he thought what I thought when I read the book:
We are surrounded by crazymakers.
The author of The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron, defines a crazymaker in her book, but I define the word in my own way.
My definition of crazymaker: A person who gets between you and your self-confidence and/or who stands in the way of you accomplishing the work you want to do.
As homeschoolers, we're vulnerable to crazymakers who undermine our enthusiasm and decisions.
Examples of crazymaker talk:
- Are you qualified to homeschool your children?
- I heard about a lady who homeschooled. She ended up drowning her kids.
- I read about a homeschooling family. All the kids sailed around the world on boats they made themselves and then went to Ivy League schools before they were teens. So, what do your kids do?
- I could never homeschool. I don't have the patience, and my kids like to have friends.
- Are you home all day? It's abusive to keep kids locked up all the time.
- It must be nice to spend afternoons at the park or to go grocery shopping in the morning, but shouldn't your kids be at their desks learning?
- Only the elite are rich enough to homeschool.
- Only the uneducated are dumb enough to homeschool.
- Instead of abandoning the school system, homeschoolers should help fix it.
- Homeschoolers ruin their kids by giving them free rule of every decision. The kids will never make it in the real world.
- Homeschoolers dictate everything their children think and don't allow the kids any freedom. The kids will never make it in the real world.
- Homeschoolers are right-wing wackos.
- Homeschoolers are left-wing nuts.
- I would be bored out of my mind if I homeschooled. I didn't go to college just to stay home with my kids.
And so on, and so on.
- What about socialization? What about chemistry labs? What about sports? What about your career? What about getting into college? What about cutting the apron strings? What about fitting in? What about algebra? What about prom? What about the real world? What about getting along with peers? What about testing?
Sometimes we are the crazymakers.
Sad to say, even homeschoolers can be crazymakers with each other. If you feel inadequate or defensive after spending time with other homeschoolers, chances are good there is a crazymaker or two in the group.
- You use that curriculum? You use curriculum? You don't use curriculum?
- My kids taught themselves to read at three years old. All kids are capable of doing that if parents provide the right environment.
- My child didn't read until after she was 12 years old, and the first thing she read was the encyclopedia from A to Z followed by the entire Harry Potter series in one weekend. Reading at an earlier age is only the result of parental coercion.
Okay, I'm exaggerating, but let's curb the crazytalk in our homeschooling community.
- You might want to know that the snack you just gave your child is poison. We don't eat like that in our family.
Charlotte Mason has advice.
Charlotte didn't use the term crazymaker in her writing, but even so, she did offer a way for us to deal with crazymakers.
If you're familiar with Charlotte, you know what I'm talking about when I say Mother Culture. For those who don't know, Charlotte urges mothers to constantly keep learning, and creating, and exposing ourselves to new ideas - just like we encourage our children to do. By nourishing our own growth, we keep crazymakers at bay. It's not 100% effective, but it's very good.
When you spend time with your own hobbies, think about new ideas, breathe fresh air, visit new places, read good books, you gain perspective. Then, when a crazymaker starts doing the crazy-making things that crazymakers do, you'll recognize the antics for what they are and either avoid them or patiently tolerate them without offense. When you are filled up with Mother Culture, you have it within you to do that.
The tricky bit with Mother Culture is that it requires self-motivation and self-discipline. You can't wait for your husband or child or anyone else to say, "Take care of yourself." Take care of yourself on your own like the big girl that you are.
What eventually happens is not only do you reap the benefit of whatever you're doing for Mother Culture, but you hone those good habits of self-motivation and self-discipline. You will become fulfilled and strong, attributes that are antidotes against crazymakers.
Not only that, but by learning new things, you'll become flexible. In my opinion, flexibility helps us from becoming offended by opinions that differ from our own. And, it might make us open enough to consider a differing opinion and change our minds once in awhile. After all, sometimes a person isn't a crazymaker but someone who is simply different than ourselves. If we're willing, we might even learn something new by being challenged, as crazy as that sounds.
(For people who have read The Artist's Way: I happen to think Charlotte Mason's idea of Mother Culture is very similar to Julia Cameron's idea of Artist Dates. Do you see the similarities?)