The Childish Ways of An Unschooling Wannabe

December 9, 2010

Dear Family,

“Tooth decay is not only unnecessary, but an indication of our divergence from Nature's fundamental laws of life and health.”
--Weston Price


Not that I'm the kind to worship before false idols, but I've gotta say: quotes like that one really give me the shivers. Since I just re-read the new edition of “Cure Tooth Decay” , I've spent several days mourning the fact that life isn't perfect, and neither was my teeth or jaw development. And yet: I'm also drawing empowerment from my ongoing discoveries about nutrition, which are fueling a growing certainty that humans do not _have_ to be perfect in order to heal, and be really healthy, vibrant and happy. And the same goes for our teeth and gums.

My new life's goal: healthy, vibrant, and happy teeth.

(This book is full of useful, practical information about dental health, that you may not find anywhere else--but you will have to look elsewhere for well-articulated, well-written scientific Proof. Like, read all the stuff mentioned in Ramiel Nagel's footnotes.)


For the first time in eight months, Jeff and Ben and Jem and I are here in NJ, at Grandma's and Grandpa's. I feel a little like a space alien (_do_ I do anything besides cook and read about gut flora?? I'm not sure...and these activities do not a social butterfly predispose me to be...), and it's good to be home. :)

Last night was the first meal since Ben Started Eating that we've eaten away from home, and which was cooked by someone else. Despite my near-superlative worries and preliminary breath-holding, Ben ate the lamb stew and pronounced it “really good!” He only had a brief gagging episode, toward the end of the meal. He really is getting better. There were no screaming fits all evening, and only a tiny bit of anxiety, and he exhibited actual social _eagerness_.

After we had our cloistered dinner, and the boys got really and truly fed, we had a real Blended Family Hanukkah Party. I got to meet my sister's future in-laws, as well as her dear friend from Honduras (Athena got to be our interpreter), and there were four different kinds of latkes: potato (cooked in olive oil), vegan (with no eggs), GAPS (cooked in lard), and low-fat/low-cholesterol.

I had this brief moment, watching Ben and Jem help Grandma light the candles, when I got that Shivery Feeling--like, this is what it's all about: A whole bunch of people hanging out, who love each other despite the imperfections, and who take a moment to light candles together and appreciate life.


Something happened last week. I'll tell you about it in a minute. I felt silly for being surprised that it happened, and even sillier for being embarrassed. And I couldn't help feeling a tiny bit like a soldier returning with reports from the front lines, shunned by my own countrymen...

See, back When I was a Girl, things were different. I'm not kidding! They really _were_. There was no Internet. No cell phones, either! There were hardly any other kids around who weren't in school. And when we found some like-minded, non-schooling families, all of us met down at the park every Friday to play and we called it Homeschooling Day. We sometimes called ourselves unschoolers, and in any case were proud of our Not Going To School-ness, and my friends and I sometimes bragged about it and sometimes complained about the challenges we faced, and in general we lived incredibly free, rich lives and gradually grew up.

Sometimes our little group (all ages) engaged in ridiculous politics, and sometimes we felt superior, and often we all got along pretty well. In many ways, the ideals and personalities and hopes and dreams that kept us united were varied and disparate, and on any given Friday, it wasn't the lack or presence of any one Family Value that made us like each other or argue a lot (that was a result of Personalities). And as far as I can remember, it wasn't our group's perfection or intelligence that caused us to hang out together--it was a desire for community. Not so different, after all, from groups of people everywhere.

But I still tend to put people up on a pedestal when they call themselves “unschoolers,” and to imagine that they are Highly Evolved (=More Like Me). In an ironic way, “unschoolers” are just about the only group I've ever identified with. I tend to imagine that all of Us strive to embrace the ideals of freedom, and of learning all the time, and to reject the labeling of children (or adults).

I've also met hundreds of people who either left school, or pulled their kids out, because they weren't able to find an institution that could embrace their or their child's individuality. I happen to know that many, many non-schooled persons have struggled with so-called “learning disabilities,” and diagnoses of “mental illness,” and how to acknowledge and overcome these challenges without resorting to psychiatric diagnoses and/or drugs.

Therefore, I really wanted to share some of things I've been learning about GAPS with some other members of My Tribe. I waited all summer, because I wanted a little more useful, personally-tested data, but after eight months I decided it was time to start getting the word out. I'm getting more and more frequent correspondence from desperate parents with very sick kids. I don't have the resources or skill to advise; and so I'm eager to help other people start learning about this stuff, so there are more folks who really can help with the desperate necessity of healing our families. Especially in an unschooly sort of way.

I figure it this way: if GAPS isn't an issue and a protocol that is relevant to just about every facet of an Unschooling family's existence...well, if it isn't, then the moon is striped fuscia, and I am a College-Educated Young Professional who wears Really Sexy Shoes.

Therefore, I gathered my courage and last week I posted several brief GAPS testimonials, as well as some resources, to national unschooling e-lists. I tried to keep things very personal (so it would be entirely relevant, and not invade any other family's privacy), and include only links to things I had written, so if anyone wanted to learn more, they could feel free to do their own research.

What happened first, was that two of my messages were posted to two different lists. I got several really positive responses, from interested individuals who were intrigued by the Gut Flora hypothesis.

And then, the moderator from one of the lists responded to my post. She was sorry, she told everyone else, that she'd allowed me, a Spammer, to get through. She then refrained from posting my message to another list at all. And while a couple of people disagreed with her being so quick to call me a spammer (she later apologized), a number of others (including other moderators) expressed additional indignation that I had posted something so “off-topic.”

My first reaction was to think I really must have done something wrong. But my second thought was: I don't think I did anything wrong _at all_. I know it may be just me and my distorted view of the world, but I see gut dysbiosis impacting lives everywhere I look. And furthermore, it's not as though I Get Rich Quick if someone decide to implement this complicated, super-challenging and confusing, multi-year dietary protocol!

It's amazing, my petty inner child that lurks right below the surface. It was NOT the positive e-mails that I thought about when I awakened at two a.m., worrying over the matter. I spent more time in the wee hours than I care to admit, trying to decide, objectively speaking, whether I might possibly have turned into a Spammer without even realizing it. (At the dinner table with my family, my overbearing qualities shine through. But in writing?? I ran my e-mails thought through every possible self-arbitration process, and I really don't think this was the case, at least this particular time.)

Yes, maybe I use too many words. Maybe I get overexcited. Maybe, even, like Athena and Dad say, I use the words “gut” and “dysbiosis” way too often. But I can't help but finding irony in this--that content posted by a lifelong unschooler, on a topic pertaining to children's and adults' health, mental illness, and family relationships, should be deemed “off-topic” by a few unschooling e-list moderators.

It's always good to eat GAPS-legal humble pie. How often have I heard someone describe their experiences, and, feeling threatened, just stopped listening at all? How often have I failed to even hear what they were actually saying, just because I was so eager to put in my own two cents? Way, way more often than I wish. My one clear conclusion: I am still childish and vulnerable enough that I shall refrain from posting to these groups again, at least for now, and even despite all the positive responses from folks who found my posts useful and informative. I will stick to posting information on my website, geared toward the patient, interested, prestigious, and purely self-selected audience who chooses to click on it. :)


Okay, Jem is awake, and we're going downstairs to rejoin all of you who are hanging out in the living room. :)