Thursday, January 31, 2019

Travel Agent to Traffic Cop the Changing Role of an Unschooling Parent of Teens

When the children were younger, I thought of myself as an educational tour guide leading tours through text books, pointing out interesting subjects, and finding fun activities.

Drawing by E(age14)
These days, my teens don't need me to point the way so much as keep things moving, and I find now that they've jumped off the tour bus and behind the wheels of their own cars (literally and metaphorically speaking) I've become a traffic cop rather than a travel agent. 

According to a  job description for a traffic officer from
  • Traffic officers help keep roads and walkways free of congestion so regular traffic, emergency vehicles and pedestrians can move about safely. I try to keep a clear environment, decluttering our spaces as much as possible, and keeping books and supplies weeded down and as easily accessible as I can.  I also find a good deal of my day is spent keeping things flowing - making sure schedules don't conflict, everyone has a ride to where they need to go, and helping the kids juggle computers and books (and bathrooms) so that everyone has what they need to proceed through the day.
  • Traffic officers typically need a high school diploma or the equivalent, along with a valid driver's license, and they also receive on-the-job training and class instruction. A valid driver's license is helpful for homeschooling too, since I'm running the younger teens everywhere, and on-the-job training or continuing education has been a must. There's always something new to know, and I want to be sure to stay at least one step ahead of the kids if I can.  Helping students stuck on multiplication and fractions was easy, but remembering factorials has required review.
  • Sometimes traffic officers issue a warning before issuing a citation. They also check vehicles that are parked in metered parking spots to see if they have been there beyond the time limit. If so, they issue a warning or citation, or in extreme cases, impound the vehicle. Traffic officers are also responsible for impounding vehicles that are illegally parked or abandoned.  Change "in metered parking spots" to "on the couch" and "impound the vehicle" to "Impound the Nintendo Switch" and you get the gist.
  • Traffic officers are responsible for directing traffic during parades, road work or accidents. They may assume the responsibility of the crossing guard if one is not present. I might not function as a crossing guard, but in my newly assumed role as school guidance counselor, I'm often clearing paths and cutting through red-tape to make way for our little parade.
  • Traffic officers may also control crowds during emergencies to make sure fire and rescue workers can get to the scene safely.  Anyone with a house full of teens together...all day...everyday (or at least pretty often) knows what it is to be on crowd and safety patrol.
Oh! And I just thought of one more this morning.
  • Traffic officers may provide roadside assistance.  Just like that kindly officer stopping to ask if everything is okay when you're stalled on the side of the road, or trying to change a flat tire, I pull up beside my teens when they are stalled out, stuck, or in distress on an assignment, and offer assistance if it is needed - whether that is helping them myself (just enough to get them moving aging), or calling ahead for help, but instead of a tow-truck it's an expert YouTuber working out a sample problem, complete with answers, or even just with an encouraging word (like that, "You can't park here!  It's best to keep moving" you get when you try to pull over on an off-ramp).
It's great to be a homeschooler.


Phyllis said...

I know how you feel! Great analogy!

Ticia said...

Yes, and I had to laugh at the impounding Nintendo Switch. I've impounded electronics too recently.

Camie said...

This was a fun post and analogy. Yes, our roles as parents really do change in the teen years. In some ways our teens need us more than ever, which is a big reason why I'm thankful for homeschooling.