R.L. SAUNDERS

writer attempting real life in the middle of everybody else's vacation

Calling him Humpty Orange-Tufted Trumpty hurts. Us.

The President is wicked and crude and I resent the living fuck out of him. He nauseates me for a million reasons, not the least of which is his disgusting objectification and assault of women.

That’s why I’m not calling him Cheeto in Chief. I’m not making fun of his weight or his combover. At the rally in D.C. yesterday, I chose not to chant about his tiny hands. 

I’m not making ghost jokes or inaugural outfit jokes about Kellyanne Conway. And I’m not making injection jokes about the Trump women. It’s easy (and feels good for a sec) to do that. But mostly it feels counterintuitive and counterproductive to me. 

My life’s goal when I was 17, aside from having amazing hair daily, was to find the right gold sequined shoes to go with my sequined prom dress (without being too matchy-matchy). And to throw up enough to look thin in the dress. And for my boyfriend to never have to tell me again that while I was still smokin’ hot (no worries!) his friends noticed I was gaining just a leetle bit of weight. Before he dropped me off that night, I asked him to make a stop at the drugstore where I ran in to buy some laxatives.

As a memento of my vanity, the lining of my esophagus gave up (a long time ago) trying to grow back as anything but the same tissue as intestinal lining. Intestinal lining is tougher. I’m tougher now, too. I take responsibility for my choices, but I also know very well how outside pressures and expectations worked to make me sick.

I marched yesterday, in part, because I envision a world where people are judged on their actions and intentions. A world where my 17-year-old daughter doesn’t feel like she has to starve, puke, shit her guts out, or paint her hair and skin to conceal herself under the guise of enhancing natural beauty. I don’t want her feeling obligated to waste any portion of her life working hard to look like a piece of plastic in hopes it will help her to be taken more seriously. On that, I’m trying hard to walk the walk. I hope she knows. I hope I’ve done what I can to help her understand her real value.

I don’t care that he has orange skin. I’m not concerned about his hair situation. I’m concerned that the leader of the free world seems to be a terrible human being. As we’re trying to build something good out of what feels like one of our darkest hours, let’s try not to turn into him on any level.

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Self-Directed Learning. At Midnight.

“Mom, 13 plus 13 is 26. I mean it just makes sense because two tens and two threes.”

“It does make sense. ‘Night, Pal.”

“And take two tens away from 56. Bam. 36.”

“Bam, indeed. Goodnight.”

“Four times four? Sixteen just because four, four times. Get it?”

“Zzzzzzz.”

I DO CARE that my son is excited about numbers as awesome tools. I love that mental math is useful and fun for him, even if those light bulbs switch on for him in the middle of the night when, child, my lights are out.

I DON’T CARE whether or not he calls it “math” and I don’t care where short-term, short-sighted measurements would rank him among traditionally schooled eight-year-olds. Standardized tests given at school provide data that have almost nothing to do with what’s good for the measured. They do not measure math resentment and its effects. They do not measure the long-term outcomes of too much, too soon. They do not measure if and how solving equations by hand, especially through coercion, hinders mental math. And they certainly don’t measure things like personal responsibility or capacity for compassion or creativity.

I like that my child is not being measured for the benefit of a system that, at its core, is not most concerned with the real development of the children it consumes to keep itself alive. While I believe some administrators and teachers very genuinely hold that as their core concern (I know many and I like to think I used to be one of those teachers), we’re fooling ourselves at the expense of our children if we believe that’s enough.

It feels like many of us, both inside and outside the school system, are increasingly on the same page. If like-minded people work from all sides, we can help bring to the mainstream an essential paradigm shift about childhood and about how humans learn. That’s the goal, from my perspective. The goal isn’t to take advantage of the great privilege of choice by opting out, only to stop giving a rat’s ass about anybody else.

If you’re even remotely intrigued by what I’m always fussing about, or just want to make sure you still hate the idea of unschooling and free schools, check out the newly formed Alliance for Self-Directed Education: Self-Directed Education.

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