Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dads can unschool, too

My Dad worked hard, but he took time to unschool us in swimming, nature and general fun. My Dad was a baker, he went to work 6 days a week at 4 am, and got home around 5 pm. In the summer, Mom would make sure we were presentably clean before dinner.

On Sundays and holidays, before we moved to the suburbs, we went swimming and picnicking. My parents would pack us in the car and we would wind up at a lake. I remember standing on a dock watching my Dad and my brothers' swim. It looked fun, so I jumped in. I remember swimming, but my Dad said it was more like him going fishing for a little blond girl.

I was playing in a sandbox at the bottom of a hill, next to a lake. There were other kids, and we were having a blast. Suddenly, all the Moms came screaming down the hill, and picked up their kids. I was sitting there by myself. While I was wondering what's up with that, I saw a slinky snake wiggling in the sand. I picked it up. It was shiny and green, and felt cool. I stood up, and there was my Dad, just looking at me. He made me put the snake down.

One fourth of July, my Dad got a ladder and took my little brother and me up on the roof to watch the fireworks. Now that was fun. We sat there, talking, watching the bursts of blues and reds. When it was over, we learned how to climb backwards down the ladder without falling and breaking our legs, as my Mom had predicted.

Once, my Dad brought home a coconut. He gave me a hammer and told me to hit it. I did, but it didn't open. Then he let my brother try. Dad told us about islands where coconuts come from. He told us there was milk inside. We hit the coconut a lot, but it wouldn't open. Finally, my Dad whacked it, split it into two halves and gave one to each of us. It was amazing. I took the hammer from the garage later and had some fun whacking acorns; my brother preferred to use the hammer on caps.

My Dad believed that children should be spoiled, and have a happy childhood. Little did we know that when we were taller, we would become his free labor. My Dad unschooled us in work ethic, but that's another time.