We went to our usual friday afternoon park day today. This is with a homeschool group that is primarily made up of fellow unschoolers/life learners, and one of the few places these days where I feel like I am with like-minded people who won't judge me for being a weirdo homeschooler/too liberal/not hippie enough/etc. They're like my Goldilocks group, "just right."
The kids in the group are a good mix, with ages above and below those of my own boys. Quinn usually immerses himself right in the action. D sometimes joins in, other times plays by himself or sits with me. All are fine, I'm glad for the chance to be out and about and with other kids, and mostly I get a lot out of getting to sit with the other moms and chat and hang out. The dynamics are pretty good-- the kids get along, and care for each other. One time a few weeks ago D got super upset about something and some of the older girls who don't usually play with him, came right up to ask if he was ok, genuinely concerned about his crying. Most park days are fairly smooth, with the kids playing and playfighting and just running around all over the park.
Today was a bit different. There was more clashing, more fighting and angry words, more "colorful" language being thrown around by a couple of kids. It was a reminder that homeschoolers are not, despite most people's claims./worries, isolated from fighting with their friends, from being picked on or called names or even bullied. These things still happen even inside our happy bubbles.
Yet, one of the other things I love about these park days is that the kids do have space to handle things on their own if they want, but we as parents are also still close enough at hand to step in if needed. Sure, we sometimes get caught up in our conversations and don't see everything, but we're usually only one "MOOOOM!" cry away. We are there to help mediate tough conversations, or step in when someone is being dangerous towards others, and try to guide them to a safe outcome. We won't always be there and we won't catch everything, but we get these moments as "practice sessions" to model the tools for how to work things out when they get a little ugly.