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The Gang Hits the Farmers' Market (Unschooling & Socialization)

We had another first this Saturday, all three of the kids here—7 y.o. No. One, 5 y.o. No. Two, and 3 y.o. No. Three—got up at 4:30 in time to head out to the Farmers’ Market!  Three has made the early morning trip once before, but One and Two had busy weeks that time, and so stayed home.  This is the first time the whole gang has trekked across town with me to the market.  It was a blast!


We head out early because the market is too crowded later in the day.  This isn’t really a problem for us so much as it is for those around us.  When Two was three years-old, he was jostled by passers-by on his first trip.  I taught him how to throw elbows, and the problem was solved.  Sort of.  On our next trip on our local subway Two applied his new skills to a different situation, elbowing his way off the train, causing a few “Ohs,” and “Eeps,” as he went.  So, now we go early.  We beat the crowd, and get first dibs on the really good stuff.

Three was immediately a valuable addition to our expedition.  This being only her second time to come along, she was excited to be there.  She fairly ran down our hill, (it’s an 8/10s of a mile walk to the bust stop that early in the morning).  Her momentum kept One and Two moving along nicely. 

On the first block, Three—who excels at navigation and spotting—noticed a skunk about a block in front of us.  A few blocks later, we stopped in the chili, foggy San Francisco air to marvel at a house whose Christmas lights are perpetually on.  I forgot to get cash the night before, so the gang and I stopped at an ATM down on Mission.  Three retrieved the card from the machine, Two retrieved the cash.

Everyone said hi to our bus driver who took us over the hill between our house and the Farmers’ Market.  With the hard part of the trip in the bag, we set out to walk the last half mile or so where buses don’t tread.  Two pointed out the spot he and I saw a car take out a light pole two years ago on one of our solo trips to the market—I’m always amazed at how much the gang remembers.  We all held hands making the last two, busiest street crossings, and we were there!

That’s when the true adventure for the kids started.  It was an adventure for them, for me it was a pleasure to get to see them practice their independence and socialization skills.  They ranged out to explore the market while I made the first few purchases. 

The gang is responsible for buying the flowers and bread at the market without me.  They are friends with the vendors, and have made friends with the other flower customers all by themselves.  Three went with them because, well, why wouldn’t she?  In her mind it made perfect sense, so it made sense to me too. 

To get to the flowers, they have to cross a one lane road that divides the Farmers’ Market in two.  I asked Three to follow One’s instructions.  She agreed, and off they went.  Since I was right there, I was able to reiterate to Two and Three that they should stick with One; they’ve been peeling off on their own more lately, soon that’ll be fine, but they don’t quite have One’s focus yet.  Two and Three made the correction, and they all crossed the street safely and stylishly.  They made the crossing back with the flowers all on their own.

To me, this is socialization.  The gang is learning to socialize, not in a school, but in society.  They’re learning how to interact not only with other kids—there are a lot of homeschooling kids in San Francisco—but with all sorts of adults as well.  They’re learning how to make friends out in the wide, wide world.  They’re learning how to negotiate spaces that have cars.  They’re also learning how to make an evenironment their own as they explore the market without me.

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