Should You Tame the Uncorked Child?

 UNcorked
un·cork

(ŭn-kôrk′)

tr.v. un·corked, un·cork·ing, un·corks

1. To draw the cork from.

2. To free from a sealed or constrained state.

Our friends came around the other day, they are in their thirties and are lovely, one is from Denmark the other Italy, the kids were so excited to see them. We sat down and had tea together on the downstairs in the lounge. They sat on one sofa and the kids and I on the other. I say ‘sat’ I was the only one that ‘sat’ as the kids were upside down, wiggling their legs, getting up and down and up and down. It was driving me nuts. So I said to our guests? ‘Can I ask you honestly, what do you think about the fact that when we are having tea and chatting on the sofa, what do you think about the way the kids are upside down?’ And I stressed ‘answer honestly’ bit because I was curious. Then one friend paused and said in his Danish accent ‘You know, I am kind of thinking that they are zo free, I wish I could be dat free’ I then smiled and said ‘Oh really’ and the kids laughed very loudly and carried on wiggling. I then looked to my very refined Italian friend and said ‘and you?’ and she took a huge breath and paused and then said ‘I am kind of jealous that they can be so free’ and then the kids laughed even louder.

Now that scene could have gone either way, if they were with their Great Aunt, or Grandparents it could and would have played out differently and I definitely do not advocate that they do not learn any social skills but it can be tough for me as a parent. When they are as uncorked as they are and as free as they are we do find ourselves in situations where they speak their minds LOUDLY. Or they hang upside down, when in my opinion it would better if they didn’t. So I know that they need to learn these skills as they grow. They do know, to an extent when to reign it in as it were but I do find it a challenge on occasions when their free-ness (if that is a word) bumps in to the norms of society. On the flip side in lots of ways I find their uncorkedness very refreshing and I marvel at the beauty of who they really are.

Like for example our daughters used to do a slightly African looking jiggly bottom dance when they were excited, perhaps they got that from Africa and seeing African dancers. Some people have said that they have got it from me but I don’t remember ever doing it but then maybe I do do that and I don’t know it? Then there was a phase when our son tended to sing his feelings really loudly. Once, when talking to the Italian plumber about a leaking tap for example he was singing in the background and it became quite tricky. But to me it is about self expression and letting it be. Often times it is just the kids expressing themselves, the balance for me is to know when it is out of whack and when it is spilling over in to not being able to function well in the world. Getting the balance is the key without squashing the kid’s spirits, this is something we work at all the time. And let’s face there are times quite frankly when I would like to sing or dance my way in or out of a situation and perhaps it is just the conditioned adult in my that stops myself, also the fact that people may think I am mad.
To me an uncorked child is a free child who is just doing what children do. It could be that unschooled children have learnt that they are as equally important as an adult and that their voice is valid. That can be challenging in itself. It can also be a learning curve for the child to understand that there are times when respect is needed, respect for an elder, respect for a sensitive situation, knowing when to be quiet and still and not yelp or sing at full volume. But I feel it is better that they learn that for themselves by reading the situation as it is a huge life skill.

Within it all an uncorked kid to me is an expression as to who they truly are and isn’t that what we as adults we strive to achieve through out our whole lives?

 

 

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About the Author

Lehla is an illustrator and an author of books, she has written for The Guardian. She trained as an actress at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She wrote The South African Illustrated Cookbook, The Lovely Book for Wonderful Women and she illustrated a kid’s book by M.J. Amani called ‘Excuse Me, I’m Trying to Read’ and also ‘I am Me, You, Us and We’ by Caroline Trowbridge. Above all she is a mother to three fast growing kids, she juggles her time between them and working on new books and projects. She has recently co authored with Anthony ‘Jump’, Fall, Fly – from schooling, to homeschooling, to unschooling’ Her art work can be seen at http://lehlaeldridge.wix.com/lehla-

4 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Ha, Ha, I know that feeling when the kids are asked ‘What do you do when you are homeschooled?’ I too, brace myself for the answers that may come depending on what mood the kids are in that day. Our lives can sound like the kids are heading to Eton or to Social Services, depending on what day you ask them that question. xxx

  2. This is so true Luminara!

  3. ellenrowland says:

    I struggle with this too, Lehla! I find that most of the time when I’m feeling uncomfortable with their behavior, it has to do with my somewhat victorian upbringing, as in thinking to myself, “I would never have behaved that way in this situation.” So I project that onto them. But I really am the only one who’s feeling uncomfortable so it’s more my issue. Just like your friends attested, they admired the kids freedom! I also find that my kids are very different at home–totally themselves–than in public or at other people’s homes, where they are usually super polite and respectful, but a little bit dull and tame. I prefer the free version! Luminary, I laughed out loud at your response!

  4. I also laughed a lot at Luminara’s response! Yes, it is often about me and my state of mind. I love the Pippi Longstocking-ness of kids when they are free to be themselves. My son said to me yesterday ‘Wow, my sisters are growing up so fast, why is childhood so quick, it isn’t fair, as if you live to be 98 and only like 12 years are childhood then, that is too short’ he was thinking childhood stopped then! So as it is over in a flash bring on their upside down ness and let the rest sort itself out. I am with you about the free version!

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