Go Back to the Future {Ideas for Healthy Happy Teens #3}

The Wolfe, Hackett & Cohen families jamming in the Spring. All three families are "guerrilla schoolers:" sometimes our kids are homeschooling, unschooling, in public school, and sometimes in Waldorf or other private schools. It's all about what works for each child in each family, any given year. What's consistent is engaged, loving community and the excitement for what is, what's been done, and what's next. 

The Wolfe, Hackett & Cohen families jamming in the Spring. All three families are "guerrilla schoolers:" sometimes our kids are homeschooling, unschooling, in public school, and sometimes in Waldorf or other private schools. It's all about what works for each child in each family, any given year. What's consistent is engaged, loving community and the excitement for what is, what's been done, and what's next

As a grownup unschooler, I hold the teenager years as an epic era for inhaling life. It's a jaded time, as we've developed a distinguishing palate for what we eat with our eyes, our ears and our hearts. Our soul topography is making itself known, and yet, we become monumentally social, and impressionable. Our gesture reflects this dance between what is ours and what it not. Our clothes are astral! We are just. So. Ready. 

For all of it.

So I melt when kids, just as likely to conceal, as much as to reveal, share their interests. And I'm crazily grateful to those who make spaces for teens to engage. Between 12-and-18, they have "things" they are filing away, for a time when they have more resources of their own. Concepts, idols, and curiosities they love in small ways, that can become lifelong passions. Interests that keep them up at night, filling their chests and lengthening their spines. And, I remember what it was like to start unschooling, to want to try everything, and needing a little bit of structure to help me along. While some needs went unmet, I was given a privileged share of conscious, creative, communal support. This little series is about that. 

I'm coming at it from a funny angle: I'm noticing healthy, happy, modern teenagers. And asking:

What's behind it? What kind of structures, practices, questions, attitudes, rhythms, and tangible love helped them along? How did life come knocking, and what created resilience, tenacity, perseverance, and work ethic? Where did they get the will to be so extraordinary? Where is all this gentle, unformed confidence coming from, and how is it that they are each, still, gorgeously themselves? What mantle of protection was provided to keep their innate qualities intact?

The answers are hard to pinpoint, they're complex, they are specific to each family. It's an ongoing inquiry that I am selfishly using to support my own journey as a parent.  I'm hoping you will engage in this inquiry with us, sharing examples of teens, practices, concerns, struggles, discoveries and inquiries that you're living with. What do you attribute to what? We'll riff on them, and send them back out.

photo by Yale Creek Crew. "One of the many things we do here at Yale Creek Brewfarm is host a #farm camp. Many of our campers are talented #musicians and every night put on a mini#symphony performance in the yard." 

photo by Yale Creek Crew. "One of the many things we do here at Yale Creek Brewfarm is host a #farm camp. Many of our campers are talented #musicians and every night put on a mini#symphony performance in the yard." 

Here's an inspired example, at Yale Creek Brewery. This photo brought David and I to tears, seeing not only our son, but all of these young people that we know and love, doing their thing, away from us, and still very much experiencing a sense of home. Every single one asked to attend. Two of the staff are voluntarily playing their own instruments. That "bass drum?" I watched a 6th-grader invent it a few years ago. This is truly an intergenerational, community experience. The farm is owned by teacher Cindy Toy and her family, run by her teen and adult children (who have also danced with public, home + Waldorf schooling), and their friends. So our tweens and teens have a continuum of "family" thru the break, complete with farm chores {processing chickens, even!} and beautiful meals. The intergenerational vibe creates true roots, a village of wisdom and experience that spans different ages, skill sets and temperaments. The camp was made financially accessible, and the students are from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Off the top of my head, there were participants of Japanese, French, Filipino, East Indian, Norwegian, British, Mexican, Irish, Native, African, German, Haitian, Spanish, and Croatian descent. They co-hosted two farm camps this summer, "Strings" with Davis Waldorf School's 20-year+ instructor, Angela Kost, & "Basketball" with our own Waldorfish Brian Wolfe.

Now, that's a dream example, very literally, because the creating of that camp was their family dream. It's a beautiful example of what comes from co-creative collaboration.

I grew up with this same sense of expansive possibility from the Asian-American artists & activists in San Francisco. So what is your dream for the young adults in your life? What small actions can you take toward that dream? Everyone else will hold their dream, and do their part. And the teenagers, of course, will do their thing. We can count on that. 

{in celebration of all that you already do}

Maya

p.s. ~ Again, I'm hoping you will engage in this inquiry with us, sharing examples of teens, practices, concerns, struggles, discoveries and inquiries that you're living with. What do you attribute to what? Answer in the comments below, or send us a note if there's a teen, parent, or teacher you'd like us to interview. xx