PAM: Welcome, I’m Pam Laricchia from livingjoyfully.ca and today I’m here with Eva Whipple. Hi, Eva.
EVA: Hi, Pam. Thanks so much for having me on.
PAM: Oh, thank you so much. We connected recently, which was really fun, and I know that your kids are still younger. But I know also that you’ve been focused on your unschooling journey for a while, so I’m really looking forward to hearing more about your experience. So, to get us started:
Can you share with us a bit about you and your family, and I’d love to hear a bit about what everyone’s interested in right now.
EVA: Sure. I had a lot of fun thinking about this. I’ve been a listener, from the very beginning, and I know that the interview always starts with this question.
So, we had fun. I told my daughter that we were going to talk about this. So, we sat down and she made a comprehensive list of everything that she’s interested in. I won’t read the whole list, but I’ll start with her because she helped me with the answer to this question.
So, well, let me say, there are four of us humans in our household. Myself, my husband Bryan, my daughter Lois, who will be 4 on May 7th and my son Sonny, who will be 2 on May 7th, they share a birthday.
EVA: Yeah, I know! Everyone’s always like, “Did you plan that?” The answer is no, Sonny was a surprise. So, we certainly didn’t plan his birthday. He was a wonderful surprise.
So, Lois, the nearly four-year-old, I could sum her up in one word, which is just pretender. That’s what she says. Instead of pretend she says pretender. So, she loves to, from the time she wakes up to the time she goes to bed, it’s just imaginative play. All day, every day since she was a little, little tiny thing. She would pick up two sticks and say, “Mommy stick, baby stick.” All the time. Right now, she likes to pretend that we’re jaguars and horses. She’s very into animals and pretending that we’re animals. So, that’s her main focus, imagination.
She loves that. And especially relationships, she does a lot of play about someone’s hurt and being saved. It’s all about the relationship piece. She also loves to swim. She’s a great swimmer and she loves to run. We’ll run laps at the gym when things are open and the world is functioning normally again.
She loves to spend time with friends and spend time outside and with animals, and we just hashed out a bunch of little baby chicks in an incubator. We have chickens and goats. So, she’s really enjoying spending time with our baby chicks right now too, and she’s so sweet and gentle with them. So, that’s kind of Lois in a nutshell. I mean, I could just go on about, I could go on about each of them for the full hour, so I’ll just leave it there. She also colors and draws and writes her name. She just, she’s really awesome and super observant. That’s the last thing I’ll say. She’s just always been very observant. We were just hiking back here and she spots a Turkey feather and runs and grabs it. She’s just very observant.
Little Sonny who will be two in May, is just starting to talk, which is really fun. So, we’re getting to hear his voice and he’s starting to try to make people laugh, which is adorable. His favorite thing to say right now is “help too”, but it sounds like “hup to”, so he’s very cute. Like hop to it.
PAM: And he’s wanting to do what you guys are doing? Is that what he means by it?
EVA: Yes, exactly. Yes, exactly. Whatever we’re doing. Like today, I made breakfast cookies he’s like, “Hup to, hup to,” and he grabs this stool, pulls it up to the counter and climbs up there. And I mean, his help is very messy but he really wants to help with everything. Lois is more like me, where our interests are a little more, I’m all over the place. We’re interested in a lot of different things, but Sonny is like my husband and they’re both interested in literally one thing, which is skateboarding.
Sonny’s not even two. And he’s already pushing and we have a mini ramp in the garage and he skates on the mini ramp on his hands and knees. He’ll hug his tech deck, his little mini skateboard while he’s on his skateboard. I mean. He’s truly, he is all in to skateboarding. He’s already doing really cool stuff.
My husband owns a skate shop. So, he’s either, busy with the skate shop or skateboarding, his whole life revolves around skateboarding as well.
PAM: Do you guys have a park nearby?
EVA: We do. Right now it’s closed.
PAM: Yeah, yeah.
EVA: But yes, we do. Now they’ll skate the mini ramps in the garage or skate out in parking lots.
PAM: Oh, sweet. Yeah, there’s lots of spaces to go to. You have plenty of options. You’ve got a paved driveway or something for your ramp and everything?
EVA: No, the ramp is just fully in the garage. It’s like a little mini ramp. My husband’s a really great carpenter. He hasn’t built much recently. He’s been busy with the shop, but he built the ramp in the garage and he can pretty much build anything, which is really cool.
And then me, I like to swim. Oh, how did I not start with this? But I own a yoga studio. I didn’t start with that, that part. But yeah, my big interest is studying, practicing, teaching yoga. I offer a teacher training program at my studio, so we’re both business owners and we just support one another.
If I’m teaching or teaching teacher training or working at the studio, Brian’s occupying the kiddos, adventuring with them, and if he’s at the shop, I’m doing that.
PAM: That’s wonderful. I love hearing you guys are just working through that scheduling thing, working together and just kind of on the fly, isn’t it?
EVA: Yeah, it is. He’s got set days that he’s open. I’ve got set days that I teach, but part of me kind of is like always looking for a little bit more of a daily flow, but that’s just not how our life looks where I teach some days and don’t teach other days. So, it’s more like a weekly flow, like Mondays tend to look similar, that’s kind of how it flows.
We’re just not, there’s not any kind of set routine, but there are set rhythms to things, you know?
PAM: I love that. love that word, rhythm.
I would be curious to know how you discovered unschooling in the first place.
EVA: Okay. Yeah. So, I think that we arrived at it naturally, honestly, the philosophy, I think we arrived there naturally. But then the term, I would say that you have the distinction of introducing me to the term through the podcast. When you started the podcast, I was pregnant with Lois. I didn’t even have children of my own yet, but for a couple of years before having kids, I was already reading books on parenting. I’d already read books on education. And I just was, I kind of worked in reverse. Before I had children, I was thinking about their education.
And then once I was pregnant, I was thinking about the birth, and then I was like, Oh, yeah, I also need to think about pregnancy too. I really enjoy diving into educating myself about parenting, birth, and just kind of making informed choices about all of those things.
Lois was born at a birth center that’s a couple of hours from here. They weren’t allowed to do home births in Maryland at the time she was born. But then by the time Sonny was born, he was able to be born at home. Both were really special, but reading and learning about attachment parenting, I think led me to the idea that, I want to be with my kids for the learning and the exploring that we’re going to do.
My husband really disliked school, I’m avoiding the word hate, but I don’t know that I need to, he really did not like school. He kind of scraped by, dreaded it, had detentions. He was not a fan.
All through public school, I did well, I graduated a year early. I got great grades, but honestly, I don’t feel like I retained any of it. And the only part I really enjoyed was the social aspect. There’s a few things that I really remembered and retained and I noticed, when thinking about educating my own children, that the things I remember are the field trips or the really engaging activities, and there’s no reason to not have that be every day.
PAM: It was a big part for me too, thinking about my own school experience and realizing how little I retained of it except for the stuff that I actually used every day
PAM: Then realizing I know it because I use it. You know what I mean?
EVA: Yeah. It’s not even because you learned it in school. It’s interesting, my mother has been an educator my whole life, on the collegiate level. She’s been a nursing educator for my entire life. And she loved school. She loved elementary school, middle school, high school. She loved school. She was her class president. She loved it. But she’s also been really open and supportive about all of it. I would just explain to her, we just don’t really feel like school matches up with what we value.
There’s not enough time spent playing and exploring. And, for me, being outside and moving my body is important. And there were a lot of things that I heard from you really early on that resonated and helped me to really just dive in and embrace that idea of unschooling. And one thing in particular. Now maybe if it wasn’t you, stop me, but I think it was on your podcast.
I remember years ago you were explaining about how up to the age five when a kid is interested in something, we dive in, right? We’re like, ‘Oh, you saw a train and you said train.’ Now here’s a toy train and a book about trains and we’re going to take you to a train museum. And we just dive in and we support the interest and then when another interest pops up, we support that. But as soon as they get to compulsory school age, we’re no longer interested in trains and coloring and whatever they might be interested in, now they are supposed to be interested in history, math, science.
Let’s say that Sonny continues his passion for skateboarding. I want him to be able to put the time that he wants to put into skating.
PAM: I love that. That observation. It’s incredible to me that shift and it’s so conventionally normal, right? It’s like you’ve hit the age where now you have a job really. School becomes a child’s job and now it needs to be more important than all that other fun stuff that you got to do. Because you were younger than school age.
It’s so fascinating what that shift does in our minds. But when you look back, as you’re thinking about unschooling, and you look back at the kids and you see how much they’ve learned in those first four or five, six years, whatever compulsory school age is, and when you begin to respect that as real learning. You see how engaged they are, how interested they are. They just pick up so much. It’s around them and
EVA: They’re learning so quickly.
PAM: And we’re just taught that we need to turn that off for some reason. So yeah, that was a huge aha moment for me as well.
When I think back and see the difference. And then, because my kids went to school for a while because I didn’t know about homeschooling. I didn’t know that was legal, but I could just see the stark difference between the child in school and learning school stuff and the child on the evenings and weekends and summers when they were doing their own things and pursuing all the stuff that they love.
And I could see that difference, even between the level of effort and the level of things that they learned, but it was stuff that they loved versus stuff they had to do for school. I remembered most of having to do spelling sentences like, so these were just little memories that were tucked away that once I discovered homeschooling and unschooling, all of a sudden those were the puzzle pieces that made sense because he would spend 10 minutes coming up with the shortest spelling sentence to write down. But there’s a really awesome sentence at first to use the word he was supposed to use, but he’d spend another 10 minutes coming up with what would be the simplest sentence that you could use, the most boring. And I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness what a way to use your mind to get smaller rather than to get bigger.’
EVA: Yeah, and I think there was a concept that I was introduced to early on as well that was like if we don’t want to learn something, essentially, we won’t. Right? I don’t feel like I retained the things from school because I memorize. I will say, I’m good at memorizing things. Probably because that was all I did for pretty much all of the years I was in school. It was just memorizing. And fortunately, I was good at that, which is probably why I was good at school. I just memorized it. I didn’t remember, but I memorized it and then if I couldn’t, or if it didn’t stick, I’d BS it. And I was really good at that too. And writing, if I had to write an essay or something, I was good at using language so I could work my way through it even if I didn’t really grasp the topic.
PAM: Exactly. The understanding wasn’t the important piece. Right? It was just memorize it. Memorizing the process so that you could get to the answer they wanted, or like you said, essay stuff, just kind of fiddle around it. If you could use words well that took you a long way, didn’t it?
EVA: It did. Yeah. But I can remember a few things and a few good teachers, not the others, but a few who really stood out.
I can remember dressing up as a character from history and presenting information, that stuck with me, but it was the exception rather than the rule. Like you said, it’s so conventional to make that shift towards saying, these are the things that matter, not your passions, not your interests.
And we’re frankly just not conventional people. Convention doesn’t matter to me. I’ve always been fine with, very confident about not making conventional decisions. So, I think it’s just natural for us to look deeper and ask, “Why?”
I don’t think most people stop to question. And I think if they did it would make a difference. When I’m having conversations with people whose kids are in school, like my sister talking about my niece or my parents who assume that school is like a given, when you pose the question and open up dialogue, a lot of times people really end up, at least in my experience, totally agreeing with you.
PAM: I know it’s just questions they’d never thought of. They haven’t dug into that.
EVA: I’m going to move just a little bit cause I’m chilly in the shade. Just shift to the sun. I’m about to start shivering. That’s better. Sorry. I might be really yellow now. Oh wait, it’s switched me around here. Okay, got it.
PAM: You’re good. That leads so nicely into our next question, right?
It can be challenging to make these unconventional life choices because people really don’t understand because they haven’t even questioned what it is that, you’re looking at whatever the life choices are. I would love to hear more about how you worked through that. What is usually an initial discomfort, maybe even a bit of a fear that we’re making choices that are very unconventional, that go against what society says is the right way to do things.
I’d love to hear how you became more confident around those unconventional choices.
EVA: Sure. Well, first of all, I think that my parents did a good job just instilling confidence. I feel like I’ve always been pretty confident in my choices and able to discuss ideas.
There was a concept, I guess I read somewhere recently about, maybe it was you again, who knows. It could’ve been one of your episodes where you were talking about this. About teenagers having that natural, there’s always this conventional way we talk about how teenagers are like essentially a pain, right? Like a pain to deal with, rebellious, but it’s can be paired with social activism, growing awareness. It’s this really amazing time. I think especially around that time, but even earlier than that, I liked to debate. I don’t want to say like be disagreeable because I do like to be agreeable and I have very cordial conversations but I like having those conversations with people that call into question conventional ways of thinking. I think I’ve always been like that.
PAM: So, it’s something that you’ve been working through for a long time, then.
EVA: Yeah. I don’t remember like necessarily feeling uncomfortable. I think it’s really just, we always just keep looking deeper, like in the study and practice of yoga. My practice revolves around the yoga sutras of Patanjali. Which is like kind of like the text that provides the framework for today’s modern practice.
Well, in that book, Patanjali says that there are three ways of accessing information. One is your direct experience. The next is inference, based on your past experience, you see smoke, you think there’s fire and the third is through trusted references. And I just feel like that resonates with me. I certainly call into question my direct experience as well, like unconscious bias and conditioning, societal conditioning. I think questioning everything and really examining the choices that we make rather than just being on autopilot is a spiritual practice for me.
PAM: Yeah, I love the way that you described that. That’s definitely the kind of the styles, the ways of learning that we see, especially with unschooling, right? The experience, inferring things, actually thinking about things and the trusted references. Those are the connected and strong relationships that we develop with each other. So, we can have these conversations and learn through that.
And while you were talking, I was thinking back, for me, growing up, I was always driven to understand, I asked why all the time, yet, not in relation to school. That was such a given. Everything else, I would ask about. So, once I discovered homeschooling, and that opened up this whole new area to start asking why about, then all of a sudden, all these pieces fell together. That’s interesting to see that that kind of personality does help.
It’s being curious right. Being curious and not making everything as a given really embodies the unschooling life style and embodies that lens through which you see that world though our world. Of being curious about how this works and why this works and why do we do that.
EVA: And I mentioned that my mom’s been an educator forever, and so she loves school, but she also, she and my dad both have been lifelong learners.
My dad went back to college and switched from respiratory therapy to IT when he was in his fifties. My mom just finished her doctorate in nursing last year. They’ve always continued to learn. And they almost were like unschooling parents whose kids were in school, right?
When we went on vacation, we would explore together and follow the interests of each person. They still really did a great job instilling and encouraging that curiosity and that love for learning. So I think that, I think that they did a really good job with that.
I still think that there are other things, other areas in life where occasionally I just pause and say, ‘Okay, let me just make sure nothing here is on autopilot. That everything in my life is what I’m choosing.’
PAM: Yes, choosing.
EVA: And that makes it all that much more enjoyable too. I said that in a yoga class just the other day that I was teaching on Facebook live since things are shut down. Every morning I wake up and I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m choosing my husband.’ Because there are always options. (laughing)
PAM: Yeah, that’s it. Isn’t it so refreshing though? Like that’s something that’s been a really helpful tool for me from something as simple as, cooking or doing the grocery shopping. All the seemingly mundane things. When you remind yourself that you’re choosing it and why you are choosing it. Back to that, why is this important to me? Why do I want to do it? And you can just, I just come at it with such a fresh mindset and I enjoy even those little mundane aspects of life. It’s like I get to do this, I know why I want to do this.
I have so many people make comments that I have a smile on. So often, I’m walking through the grocery store and people go, “You’re smiling,” random people. Of course, I’m smiling at you. I’m happy. I’m doing my thing. I’m choosing it.
And you know, it’s not a simple thing, is it, in that it’s not about, ‘Oh, I should be happy and pasting on a smile.’ It’s that real work of asking yourself why, just so that you can refresh that enthusiasm for what you’re doing day to day.
Like you said, your husband each day, why you’re choosing to be here with him.
EVA: Right? Yeah.
I think that if for people who kind of just like follow the conventional flow of things, if folks aren’t feeling happy in that, maybe it isn’t that anything needs to change. Maybe it’s just that they need to pause and say, are these the decisions I want to make rather than feeling like they’re being made for them?
They might look the same. It might look the same or it might look totally different, but I guess I’m lucky also that I have a partner, my husband who also doesn’t feel trapped in any kind of box at all. Neither of us feel like we need to follow any kind of conventions or norms.
I enjoy those kind of tough conversations that ask people to question and to examine their own choices perhaps if they care to do so. Just like I, the other day I said to a lady at the playground. I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m still like breastfeed.’ I’m still breastfeeding my almost four year old, and I didn’t think anything of it, you know? I’m just saying it and I saw her face like, ‘Wait, what?’ But I don’t have any qualms. If it makes people uncomfortable, I feel like it’s that discomfort that will lead them to think about it.
And we also enjoyed our time playing together at the playground. So, she probably then thought, ‘Oh, well here was this nice, seemingly sane person who is still breastfeeding her four year old. Maybe there’s something to that.’
PAM: Right, exactly. I love to talk about just planting seeds when we’re just out and about ourselves.
PAM: There’s no expectation. You had no expectation that she would change or accept anything. No. It’s just us going about our things. They just see something a little different. It’s like, ‘Oh, gee, you know. I had fun with them. I had a nice chat with them. They seem normal.’ There’s this thing you’ll find as your kids get older, you’re going out in the world doing that and the thing is the kids don’t go to school, and that’s the thing that…
EVA: But they know how to talk and everything. How strange. (laughing) It’s not, I don’t say that kind of thing to make people uncomfortable. Like you said, just be yourself in the world. And I think that if you feel confident in your choices, which if like for me, if I’ve spent time thinking about them, examining them, which I have, then I say it with confidence, and then that’s what plants the seed for people.
PAM: Yeah, exactly. I love that. I love that.
I wanted to move on a little bit and look at the lens of parenting your relationships with your kids. Let’s shift over there and I’m curious to hear about what deschooling has looked like for you so far in that area.
EVA: Yeah. I think this was cool to think about because they are still so young.
I love focusing on relationship and connection. I will say that’s what really drives my parenting and that’s what resonated with me about unschooling and about your work. Focusing on connection.
As far as what deschooling looks like, I think a lot of it right now in these young ages is letting go of control and still focusing on connection and relationship.But the tricky part is that I still have to do some orchestrating to make sure that they live through the day, right? So, this morning they woke up and they said, I want cookies. And I was like, ‘Okay, well first of all, I don’t have any cookies in the house. Secondly, I would like you to eat something that won’t cause you to have a bellyache, but I’m not going to exert that amount of control.’ So, we just, again, just kind of not boxing yourself in, I said, “Well, let’s make some breakfast cookies.” So, we put oats and raisins and almond flour, and we made cookies that, so that way they could have cookies for breakfast. I think it’s been really inspiring to be creative and to keep pushing my limits, to not feel boxed in.
PAM: That’s a huge piece. What a creative way to come at that conversation. Right? When you’re open to those kind of ideas, you can make things happen, you can help things move along. Also, it all depends on their definition of cookie!
EVA: Yeah. Yeah.
PAM: Keep that open with them. I love that, “keeping them alive”, because when they’re younger, they have less experience in the world. So, they can be doing things that are dangerous for them at time.
Eva: A LOT!
PAM: Almost two year old skateboarding around in the garage. Exactly right.
EVA: Yeah. He almost kills himself a lot every day. So, it’s a balance between letting him be free to explore and like this morning he went in to eat the whole bottle of gummy vitamins. I can’t let that happen. But I can think about the fact that, I know if they have a gummy vitamin, they always want another one. So, when I go to the store, rather than picking the one a day, I always pick the one that requires them to have like four, so at least they can have the most gummies, you know? And I can’t give you all the gummy vitamins, but because I don’t set arbitrary limits, it’s not really an issue. I feel like I see a lot with like young kids, especially just exerting control for the sake of exerting control.
My husband was a zookeeper and people would be yelling at their kids in the zoo, which is like wide open, to stop running. Why? Why, again, just not stopping to ask why? Just exerting control because they can. So, because I don’t do that. I think usually if I have to set like a, “Hey, there are only four gummy vitamins, or you’ll get your stomach pumped.”, then usually there’s not a lot of fuss about that. You know what I mean? And if there is, we just have, like you always say, we just have a conversation about it.
PAM: Exactly. Because there are going to be times when we get upset about things, right?
PAM: But not arbitrary things. That way we’re not having to work through that challenge and those hard conversations every 10 minutes.
EVA: Right. Right. Oh my gosh. That’s what I always say. Why make more work for yourself? It’s cool to watch my dad’s deschooling. My parents are usually around a lot, under normal circumstances. They’re usually around a lot and really helpful.
That’s another thing, with the little ones, at least for me, I rely on a lot of support because otherwise we’re too stressed. I rely on support from my family, from the YMCAs. We go there a lot so that we all get some space. I get support and time for myself as well. But my dad’s deschooling process, that’s what I was going to say, it’s really cool to watch, because sometimes he’ll say something like, “Don’t do that.” But then I can see him back pedal. He’s really learning from me and my sisters. And he’s really learning and saying, ‘Wait a minute, why am I setting that limit? I’m just picking a battle that I might not need to pick.’
PAM: Yeah. Oh, that’s great that he’s open to even looking at that.
EVA: He really is.
PAM: And not feeling it like a judgment of him, but being that open and curious to ask himself those questions. That’s wonderful.
EVA: As somebody who’s now, I don’t want to get it wrong, because I’m sure they’ll listen to this episode, someone who is 76, he’s still really open minded and he was parented in a way where it was just, you are the child so you are subservient. So, you do as I say, no matter what. So, a lot of it is conditioning, but he, like me, is always questioning things. So, he does that. It might take him a minute. Like he might start to say, “Don’t jump on that couch.” But then after it seems like, well, ‘I guess they probably could jump on that couch, couldn’t they?’
PAM: Yeah, that’s awesome. I love that. Earlier on we were talking quite a bit about how you and I started figuring out the learning side of unschooling. Working through that process and how we realized our experience in school.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about your deschooling journey from the learning aspect? Because there’s really two big pieces, right? One is the relationship side, the other one is the actual learning side where we’re worried how they will learn. So, I’d love to hear a bit more about that.
EVA: Yeah, I feel like something did just come up for me. Let me think for just a second. I was thinking about, maybe this does fall more into relationship, but maybe it will lead me there, if that’s ok. I was thinking about how one of the things that I love is learning together and living together. Some folks can be really authoritarian and punitive. Right? And other folks can just, and this is where I think people will look, from the outside they might look in and think that, ‘Oh, this way of living is just very permissive. And child led, like you’re just doing whatever the child wants.’ But the focus on being together, learning and living together, has been really helpful for me because it reminds me that what I want and how I feel also matter.
So, going into the learning piece of it, I think that was something that really interested me as well, is that we get to learn together. So, it’s this opportunity to spark my own curiosity again and to dive deeper into things that maybe we brushed over in school that I didn’t retain because I just memorize.
But now my kids are expressing interest and I’m diving in with them. And I mentioned the idea of stopping following their interests at five. Another concept that I definitely heard from you, is you learn things when you’re ready to and when you need to. Like when there’s something, I know this had to be you that said like, you could have not driven ever, and then you’re 16 and it’s time to learn to drive. And you learn because you’re motivated and it’s the time to learn. So, I put a lot of trust into that. We have a big community of homeschoolers and unschoolers around here, a really big community. I know a lot of times the conversation that comes up is like, “Well, what are you going to do about reading?” “I know you don’t want to follow a curriculum now, but what are you going to do about reading? What are you going to do about X?” Whatever the sticking point is like certain worries, and I know I’m not there yet, I haven’t had to cross that bridge yet to really see how I’m going to feel when I’m faced with it but right now, I feel pretty confident. I trust that when they want to learn, when they’re motivated to learn to read, they will. Just like keeping things open for them to explore and helping them when they show interest.
PAM: Yeah. I mean, that ties back so nicely to where you started. See, that was a great connection about learning together and being together. Because that’s what I worry when people hear child led and when you know newer people hear, they’ll learn it when they’re interested. Because that to me, that I think that can often make people feel like, ‘Oh, then I can stand back and wait for this to happen. I’m going to wait for my kid and say, I want to learn how to read or whatever.’ But no, when you’re there with them and you’re reading things for them and they’re seeing that you’re reading, you’re engaging with words with them before they have the skills. They see why. The togetherness part of it is, is huge. Right? That’s such a big part of this unschooling lifestyle we’re there together, we’re helping each other out and that’s the fun thing. As they get older, they’re helping you too.
That was another huge aha moment for me was really, ‘Oh, I can keep learning. I don’t have to be the adult who knows everything.’ And run off to secretly and feel embarrassed that I have to go figure something out and come back with the answer. No, I can be learning all the things that I’m interested in. I can be learning stuff they’re interested in alongside them.
It’s just a really different perspective on living together, living and learning. They’re just so interwoven, when you get into unschooling that you can’t even tease them apart.
EVA: Yeah. That reminded me, when you were talking, it just made me think of the fact that, one thing that I really picked up from listening to your podcasts over the years and reading, about unschooling is one area that is a struggle for me still sometimes is with technology well, not necessarily. I guess I could say technology in general, but then I’ve really started to challenge myself to embrace it. Because part of me always felt like maybe it was going to cause the disconnect.
But right now, is a perfect example of how it can help. We can’t, everything is shut down. I can’t see my parents and we’ve been, FaceTiming a Marco Poloing all the time. But even under other circumstances, we’re walking down this trail and I see this moss or lichen or something. And if I want to, if the kids ask me, we can look it up together, right here on my phone. So, embracing that has been really cool for me to learn and to show the kids how they can learn.
That’s another area where I feel like school right now is failing kids by not acknowledging that the world is a really cooperative place and that we can all be learning and advancing things together. Instead, it’s like, stay in your own desk. Don’t talk to the person next to you. Don’t utilize all of this technology that’s been made available for you.
PAM: It’s not cooperative. It’s definitely a competition. How did you do on your test and what was your grade?
EVA: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s true. That’s totally true. And thinking about reading, Lois loves watching Mr. Rogers and we’ll put the subtitles on, mostly because I like to see it. Because I’ll miss something. And so I like to have the words, but even just that right there, there’s exposure to words and I didn’t plan, I still don’t, I don’t plan on like pushing. That’s not on the agenda for us.
But Lois is interested already. Like she wanted to learn how to write her name. And so, she did. And so, she knows at least those four letters and she writes her name on everything.
PAM: That’s awesome. And that’s so true. That’s the part to your subtitle thing I just made reminded me that, so Lizzie was home over Christmas and she likes to have the subtitles on. So by the time she left, there was subtitles on all our TVs.
EVA: Yeah, I don’t know. I just feel like I’ll miss something. I guess I like the volume kind of low, and so then if I miss something, I don’t know. I always have had them on.
PAM: But yeah, that’s it. You can put them on and if someone doesn’t like them. You turn them off, but you can see what’s around in the world. It’s like, well, this is cool. Somebody adult or child may find that they like having that aspect. Subtitles is just an example. But back to thinking outside the box, thinking creatively, whatever’s in the moment, being open to so many possibilities. I’m not going to say all the possibilities. Because then that can feel like more weight, right? I need to figure out all the different things we can do in this moment.
EVA: Just do something or just open it up for the kids’ ideas too. Because like you said, back to living together. They have great ideas about things we can do. We are kind of stuck at home right now. So, yesterday we did an egg and spoon race. We have chickens. So, we went and gathered the eggs and then Sonny threw one at the chicken coop and that made me think about doing an egg and spoon race. And so, then we had fun with that. And then it led to egg throwing and bobbing for eggs. I mean, just like, just like picking up a thread and feeling free to follow it.
PAM: That leads so nicely to the our last question. I’m very cruious to hear.
What is your favorite thing about the flow of your days right now?
EVA: Well, you know what? When I first read the interview questions as all of this shutdown was starting to happen and I was in a really difficult headspace. We both had to close our businesses for the time being.
So, we’ve got no, honestly, I mean, we’ve got no income right now. I’ve applied for every grant and we’re waiting to hear back. So, things are really tight now, very uncertain. And it took me a while to find the joy in the situation that we have right now. But we are using it as a way to embrace, just finding things to do at home.
Fortunately, we have beautiful weather, so we’re outside a lot right now. So, the flow of my days in the past couple of weeks and in the next month, I guess is going to be pretty different than how they typically are. Even though, like I said, our weeks are usually a little familiar and the days are each a little different.
In general, I would say I love our community. We spend a lot of time with friends and family and I love that. I love that freedom, while other folks might be at school or away from their kids, we’re out doing things together and visiting family and visiting friends.
So, I love our community. Like I mentioned, I utilize the YMCA as my support, and I noticed that Lois in particular, she does better, our relationship is better when she has a little time away from me with her friends. Even at four, and right now she doesn’t have that.
So, but she’s very self aware and acknowledging, “I’m a little grumpy, I need some space.” So, she’s already very good at regulating in that way. But typically, we rely on our community there as well.
So, my favorite things normally about the flow of our days, would it be the community that we have and I think the freedom is one that always would come up for me. Freedom to follow our interests. To drop what we thought we were going to do and dive into what we want to do in that moment. And then presence or mindfulness is what I would say as the other thing that I love is that we are always choosing our days and really trying to be present to whatever is happening throughout them.
The flow of the days is a little different, right now. I don’t have quite that same community or support. But we’re thinking outside the box and like getting creative and utilizing technology to connect with people.
PAM: I love that distinction, right? Because there are times in our lives when things go sideways for a while. And so, things do look different for a while and it’s nice to be able to appreciate, it helps you realize what things were or have been super important and you appreciate them more.
And when you can get back into that community, that’s going to be really fun. And that realization is also part of why you’re figuring out other ways. It’s not the same as face to face, but figuring out different technologies and different ways to connect with these people that you guys are missing right now.
So, I think that’s beautiful. And then just focusing on what you do have now.
PAM: Yeah. Fun things that you can do with what you have. Yeah, absolutely. It’s a process, right? I think we have such high expectations of ourselves to be able to make those shifts, instantaneously without thinking through them and being uncomfortable for awhile.
It’s really uncertain. Things are uncertain right now. We don’t know what’s going on, what things are going to look like a month or two from now. But taking the time to acknowledge that and then to work through it enough to realize that, well, if I’m stuck in fear, it’s going to be a horrible next month.
Whatever, things look like then isn’t going to be better by me being in a horrible place and the effect of being in that horrible place is just going to make this horrible for everyone around me as well. That work to realize, you know what? We can choose to do things differently. It doesn’t mean we’re ignoring things.
PAM: We’re still keeping in touch. Like you said, you’re applying for grants and doing all those things.
EVA: Yeah, yeah. I’m trying to still do the things that I feel like I need to do for the business, but then a lot of it, and it reminded me of the one other point that I wanted to mention. Part of this experience is letting go, right? Because so much of this is just totally out of our control. I’ve done a responsible thing and applied for the business grant, but like the rest of it, you just kind of have to throw up your hands and it’s out of control and we’ll take it day by day.
I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to the podcast Hidden Brain, I’m such a podcast person. It’s an NPR podcast. And there’s an episode where he talks about the analogy of the gardener versus the carpenter in parenting and like as a, yes. Are you familiar with that?
PAM: We did an episode.
EVA: I’m sure I listened to it then probably they’re probably both in my brain just meshed together. Both episodes that I’m thinking of are probably just meshed.
That idea that we plant the seeds, but then a lot of things are just out of our control. That’s true about being a parent. For me, it’s really liberating. I feel like a lot of times the reason people are so controlling of their children is because they’re acting as carpenters. They want to ensure this particular outcome that in reality is not going to happen.
And I’ve had that conversation with like my mum, my mother in law and other people like, “Okay, who are you doing this for?” Because in reality you are not, this response is not going to change, it’s not going to have the impact that you maybe are hoping it will. They’re going to take from this experience what they’re going to take from it. And I don’t know if I explained that quite as I wanted to, but it’s just letting go of that piece of control because ultimately, it’s not totally on us. It’s not on us, how they turn out. Does that make sense?
PAM: It does. I love that analogy, the gardener and the carpenter, because yes, you can create the best environment and plant those seeds and you’re with them, you’re reacting by following your interests and helping them as they are trying to achieve things. You’re helping and cultivating that soil and plant as much as you can, but yes, in the end you don’t have control.
The thing is you end up in a much nicer place as in you still have a relationship with them. It’s a trusting relationship. It’s a respectful relationship. It’s not one based in control, those are a lot less fun when you have ended up knocking heads for so many years where you see them at holiday time and that’s because nobody actually wants to hang out together.
But that point of that, the realization that the carpenter role as a parent is actually so much about us. And not about the child.
PAM: Because we feel we need to create this good product, this good child that’s acceptable so that we look good as a parent. So often we tell ourselves a story it’s all about them and we want them to have a successful life and all this kind of stuff. But when you ask why? So often, a lot of it is about ourselves and how we feel we’re going to be judged in our role as a parent, by how our child turns out. So, taking that step really does, it releases so much weight, doesn’t it?
EVA: Yeah. And it makes it more enjoyable and it goes back to the living together and it makes it more enjoyable for me. I had to have that conversation with someone in our family who felt like they needed to react really harshly and then they were in tears about it. And I’m like, “Well, if that doesn’t feel good for you, then who are you doing it for?” Because it’s not benefiting your relationship with the child. It’s not benefiting the child. And it made you feel awful too. Right?
So, for me, what I took away, when I think about that gardener and carpenter metaphor and letting go of, or accepting rather, how much is beyond our control, it also frees me up to enjoy the experience of parenting. I don’t want to spend all of my time fighting and nagging and nitpicking, and ultimately, it’s not going to end up with whatever kind of mold people had set out anyway. So why not just enjoy the time that I’m choosing to spend as a parent too?
PAM: And you know, it popped into my mind there too. The difference in our focus, right? In the gardener analogy, you’re in the moment with them.
PAM: In the carpenter, half your brain is thinking about the future
EVA: In the future, yep.
PAM: You know, if they do this now, maybe they’re going to do that for the rest of their lives. So, I need to stop them now, you know?
EVA: Huge. That’s been a huge aha thing for me too. You don’t need to what if yourself to death, cross that bridge when you come to it.
PAM: Yeah. And the great thing about that is when you’re staying in the moment and you’re living together and learning together, you are literally creating an environment and skills and tools together and a connection together that will better handle challenges in that future moment.
EVA: Yeah, right. I can already see it. In my four year old who will tell me what she needs. Yesterday, I said, “Do you want to FaceTime with our friend Brittany?” And she said, “I don’t think so because I really care about her and I’m a little hangry right now.”
We’ve created this environment where we’ve focused on emotional literacy. She stops and checks, I stop and check in. So, she stops and checks in and, and she’s like, you know, I don’t think this is the time for that. So, just creating that supportive environment where she’s able to say “No, that’s not what I want to do.” And to take it a step further and say, this is how I’m feeling. I think that’s the environment we’ve been trying to create is the one where you’re mindful, mindful of how you’re feeling, mindful of what’s happening for you in this moment.
PAM: And I think that’s another big aha moment for people is children that are so capable of that at every age is, aren’t they?
PAM: So capable. We give them little credit for all that, but they can. They can take that in and they can to it. I just love that, now is not the good time and I don’t want to ruin that relationship at all. You know?
EVA: I wonder if it was someone we didn’t like, if she would have spoken to them. (laughing) But she did make that distinction. But she said, I care about her and I’m hangry, you know? They have amazing awareness and they’re surprising us all the time. Yeah.
PAM: Oh, that’s beautiful. Thank you so much for talking with me. Eva, I had so much fun.
EVA: Thank you. Me too. Thanks so much for having me on. It’ll be really cool for the kids to hear their names on here because they’re always happy listening to the podcast while we’re in the car.
PAM: That’s wonderful! Now, before we go, where can people connect with you online, are you doing online yoga and stuff?
EVA: Right now I am, this is a brand new thing for me but out of necessity and it’s been a cool experience. So, on Facebook, my yoga studio is Soul Yoga Studio and we’re in Salisbury, Maryland, and there’s Facebook live classes every day, so that’s a good point.
They can go and do Facebook live classes with me or some of the other teachers at my studio. It’s really easy to connect with me from there. The business line is my cell, the email is my email. Very easy, very easy to find me if you find Soul Yoga Studio.
PAM: Oh, that’s awesome. Thank you so much. Eva have a wonderful day.
EVA: Thank you so much. Bye.