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Adventures of a Surrogate Unschool Mom

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On August 21, 2019, my 10-year old nephew, Dillon came to stay with me and my family in Hawaii. Apparently, he was having trouble and getting into trouble at home with his family. What follows are my notes, which I made public on Facebook to my Unschooling for Parents group page.

August 21, 2019

The boy is afraid that without the behavior modification drug he’s going to misbehave and make aunty Hope angry with him.

I told him that was impossible. He doesn’t seem to believe me, but I think in time he will see for himself. 

August 26, 2019

My 10-year-old nephew explained to me that he’s “too lazy” and that’s why he didn’t do what he thinks he should have done.

I let him know that I’m not buying it because it’s impossible for him to be too much of anything and “lazy” implies that he’s capable of doing things.

He doesn’t totally get what I’m saying, but it does apparently calm his anxiety and that’s good enough for me.

September 2, 2019

Dillon 10-Day Update:

As many of you know, I’ve been playing in the role of surrogate mother to my 10-year-old nephew, who was on psychiatric drugs and considered to have serious behavioral issues.

When I visited his family in Henderson, Nevada he was a bit nervous to come with me all the way to Hawaii, but after a few days, he seemed incredibly excited. In the airport, Dillon expressed fear of not being on the drugs because he thought I would become angry at his behavior. I assured him that that was impossible.

For about the first week, Dillon seemed to be working very hard to incite anger in me, in every member of my family, and in anyone who wasn’t giving him their full attention. It was obvious to me that this way of being was just a habit that had become his way of calling for love.

On the airplane, Dillon would burst out in laughter, pain or otherwise make loud sounds that would startle me and the other passengers. At one point I found myself covering his mouth and when I removed my hand, he was smiling at me. I smiled back and let him know that people are trying to get some rest. He was doing his best, but still, the outbursts would come, and I was given the opportunity to exercise patience.

At home, the loud outbursts and other seemingly odd and disrespectful behavior continued while many “I’m sorry’s” came from Dillon without any immediate change in behavior.

I did not enroll Dillon in school because he has no desire for it. Dillon has been with me most of the time, even when I’m working because that’s where he wants to be.

After letting him know several times that I need quiet while I work, Dillon was still making loud outbursts, even though he has a Kindle Fire with plenty of movies, games and other things that he enjoys very much and that could very easily keep him occupied.

I watched as attack thoughts about him occurred to me, but I kept refusing to hold onto them. Sometimes those thoughts stuck with me, but not for very long as I could see the suffering they were making for me. I watched myself and members of my family became unnerved with Dillon and I kept refusing to make anyone at fault.

My 11-year-old son, Braun expressed that he wants Dillon to go back home because he is “so annoying”, so I let my son know that if he still feels that way in a month, I’ll send Dillon back home. Dillon heard this and expressed fear that if he was sent back home, he would be sent to juvenile hall. I told Dillon that I wasn’t concerned with that and if/when he’s sent home before June, it will not be because of his behavior but because he and Braun did not integrate.

I also let Dillon know that if he pays attention he can learn how to integrate anywhere and with anyone he wants. I also related to him that the loud outbursts were not working for me while I was working and that he was going to have to stay in his room if he could not keep quiet around me for the 3 hours or so that I needed to focus on other things. I said that he could try again each day to keep quiet and then go to his room if needed.

A few days later, Dillon calmed down and he’s been able to keep quiet while I’m working, keeping himself occupied with his Kindle Fire. He’s also demonstrating more maturity and respect for himself and everyone else.

Meanwhile, I’ve been taking Dillon out of the house to engage in community activities almost daily. At first, his habit was to complain a lot. Instead of being in awe of the beauty all around him, for the first few days, Dillon kept finding something wrong and jumping between elated, fidgety and pained.

He also had a habit of yelling out as if he just became seriously injured.
We arrived in Hawaii on a Wednesday night, and the following Sunday was his first Puna style Sunday Funday. This includes ecstatic dance, then a clothing-optional beach with intense waves that break right on the shore, then The Lawn, where many people gather to play music, eat, and engage in activities such as tightrope, frisbee, soccer, gymnastics, etc.

Dillon was afraid to dance because he said that people would make fun of him for being a bad dancer and afraid of getting naked because people would make fun of his small penis. I let him know it was safe to dance, be naked and to be himself, that it was not likely that anyone would make fun of him, and if they did, it doesn’t matter. I also let him know that dancing and getting naked were both optional.

Before we embarked on the clothing optional beach Dillon told me that naked people were disgusting. I let him know that he was talking about me because I was going to be naked in a few minutes. He changed his mind immediately and while he has kept his suit on, he doesn’t seem to mind the nudity at all.

He was much more interested in the waves breaking right onshore. He got immense enjoyment from experiencing the wildness of the ocean while staying grounded onshore.

Dillon took very well to all of the activities at The Lawn and even danced a bit in the drum circle. He’s had no problem integrating with people in the Sunday Funday environment.

Dillon has also been swimming at the community pool, played basketball with other kids at the community center and had lessons in aerial silks. This week he’s going to receive lessons in balancing and juggling skills at a circus community center.

His second Sunday Funday was even more fun for Dillon. He joined me for a few minutes of ecstatic dance, played in the pool after the dance, learned how to use a bullwhip at The Lawn, improved his tightrope skills, deepened his connections with people and made some new connections.

At home, Dillon told me that he wants to be a YouTube star, so I informed his father that Dillon could use a computer. When his father came up with stories of scarcity, my husband and I did a little research and purchased a suitable computer for him on Amazon.

Dillon was very grateful and relieved to have his creativity supported, and that night he entertained us with dances, jokes and his fun personality.
Last night, Dillon said he was sorry for something and I told him that he never has to be sorry because he’s always learning. I asked him if he would apologize to his teacher for getting a math problem wrong, and he laughed and said: “Why would I do that?”. I said that life is the same way. I told him that he can just appreciate what he is learning as he watches himself be changed.

Dillon then informed me that he can’t change because of the past. I asked, “What about the past?”. He said that because of how he’s been in the past, he’s going to keep being the same way.

So I asked Dillon if he’s noticed any difference in his behavior. He told me that he feels much calmer and more mature. I communicated that I see it too. I asked him why he thinks that is, and he told me that it’s because he feels happy.

He related a story to me of how he found himself going all the way upstairs to his room to put something away that he would have normally left on the couch. He said with emphasis that he would have NEVER done that at home in Henderson.

I told him that no matter what other people think about how well he’s learning, he can choose to just be happy that he is learning and the past won’t matter. That as long as he’s happy, he’s going to learn easier and faster.

I also related to him that his family in Henderson has been seeing him the way he sees himself, and because he was holding a poor image of himself, he kept drawing the same reflection from his family. I told him that he may have learned to see himself that way from his family’s reactions, but that he didn’t have to keep teaching their reactions to himself.

I asked him if he can imagine being loved, respected, supported and appreciated at home and he said “Yes!”. I told him that it was all within him and that he can totally learn how to express himself in a way that changes the people around him.

Needless to say, I’m super excited to continue this adventure in love and consciousness. I’m also excited about having a conversation with Dillon’s parents about how they can support this highly creative and intelligent child.

September 6, 2019

More Adventures as a Surrogate Mother:

A few days ago things got a little rough for me, in a playful way of course. Dillon seemed to be acting antagonistic and I seemed to be feeling annoyed.

Understanding for myself that this is all occurring in my mind, and that antagonism is a call for love from within myself, I take responsibility for all that I perceive. I go through emotional turbulence gladly and the breakthroughs come quickly.

That night Dillon related to me that his mom (stepmom) told him that if he’s sent back home early, she will send him to juvenile hall.

I told him that sometimes adults say things out of fear and they don’t really mean those things. He replied, “Like when my dad says he’s going to fuck me in the face or rip off my head and shit down my neck, but he never really does those things?”

I chuckled and said “Yes. just like that.” I let Dillon know that people who are hurting say and do hurtful things but that he can learn how to be protected from harm.

He said “But my reputation is so bad that when I go back home I’m just going to be punished some more. I asked him if he’s aware that reputations can change? He instantly perked up and said “Really?!”.

I said “Yes! That’s one of the things you are here to learn, is how to change your mind, which will change your reputation. Your parents are learning too. They want to have a happy, healthy relationship with you.”

I related to Dillon that because he was afraid of being sent home early and going to juvenile hall, it was causing him to act antagonistically because the mind has a way of seeking the very thing we are afraid of.

I shared with Dillon about how to undo the habit of being an antagonist by passively watching what’s motivating his actions and what he hopes to get out of relating with people in that way.

We talked for a little while as Dillon opened up and imagined a whole new way of being. When we started this conversation, Dillon was fidgety. He was wringing his hands, scratching himself and complaining of being itchy, having a headache and having a tummy ache.

He also seemed to be having trouble focusing his eyes on me. I told him that all of those pains were just habits set up to keep him from focusing on what we’re talking about. He said, “But I really want to talk about this.”

So I held his hands gently but firmly and asked him to look at me. When his eyes moved, I reminded him to stay focused on me.

While we were talking Dillon completely calmed down. I let go of his hands and I asked him if he noticed how calm he was. He said “Yes”. I asked him if he knew why he was so calm and he said it was because I was talking in a calm voice, that he liked what I was saying and that he was glad I wasn’t mad at him.

I could see that over the course of that day Dillon had projected that I was mad at him and that I was going to send him home for his bad behavior. Because he believed he had already messed up, he was made to act out even more and to manifest physical symptoms, not to mention getting smacked a few times by my son who is around the same age.

He also told me he was afraid that he was going to forget what we talked about because he always forgets things. I let him know that if he forgets I will remind him again and again, that we both want the same thing for him and that he can’t get it wrong.

As we were communicating he saw how he was only making up a story about me sending him home for bad behavior. That thought did cross my mind throughout the day but I didn’t pay any mind to it because I immediately saw that it was meaningless just like the perceived antagonism and my perceived emotional reactions to the antagonism.

The next day (yesterday), there was markedly less antagonism and other attention-seeking behavior and more helpfulness and self-sufficiency.

I’m having fun watching how my projected feelings and thoughts fluctuate with these seemingly different perceptions and it’s rewarding to encourage and inspire this chid’s return to peaceful awareness again and again

September 10, 2019

Update on Dillon’s Integration…

Many of you may recall that my 11-year-old son Braun wanted to send Dillon (his 10-year-old cousin) back to the mainland because he was “annoying”. I told Braun that if he still felt that way in a month, Dillon would return home at that time.

Well, the other night, the three of us were playing Uno when Dillon said to Braun, “It seems like you like me now because you let me into your room”.
Braun started singing “🎵Yes! Because you’re actually a nice person🎵“, and then Dillon sang back “🎵Then that means I can stay longer than a month🎵“, and Braun sang back to him “🎵Congratulations!🎵“. Then Braun did an expressive dance before we continued on with our game.
Dillon still seems to be attracted to making conflict, which was being expressed during our Uno game that night. But Braun seems to be able to roll with it now that he sees how much Dillon has already calmed down and how much fun we can all have together.

During the game, Dillon tried to lie and cheat and he accused me and Braun of trying to look at his cards. Braun and I both expressed that we weren’t interested in playing like that and even if his cards were exposed, we were going to try not to look at them because that makes the game less interesting.

Dillon seemed to get the message that we like playing in a friendly way and that he could let his guard down and just relax and have fun.
We were able to play three games with Dillon winning none of them, and by the end, he seemed perfectly content with the outcome.
I’ve noticed that Dillon tends to feel unsafe and insecure, and react as if his very survival depends on being seen and heard. That kind of expression has been a major turn-off for Braun, who generally feels safe and secure and who is generally attracted to people who feel the same.

As Dillon has learned what it takes to be friends with Braun, he’s been allowing himself to just play with Braun instead of trying to get a big reaction out of him. Still, when Dillon gets preoccupied with getting Braun’s attention, Braun lets him know that he doesn’t like it.

For instance, Dillon was accustomed to using sexually explicit words to get a reaction out of people, so he would often burst out with words like “dick, balls and booty hoe”. Being with Braun has been putting that in check because Braun finds it dumb and unfunny. In fact, when Dillon would make a joke that used sexually explicit language as the punchline, it would tend to get Dillon an “unfunny joke” slap from Braun.

****Last night, Dillon got the computer we ordered for him and I helped him set it up. It took a few tries because he would get very antsy and impatient, and I’d find myself stopping. He would ask me to help him again and I would let him know that I would be willing to help as long as he was chillin’. He eventually got the message and discovered how to find relaxation while engaged in the project with me.

At this point, because Braun is getting more comfortable with having Dillon in the house, it appears that Dillon is going to be able to stay with us for the entire 9 months we had planned. Dillon expresses that he loves his parents and siblings very much and he misses being with them. He seems very excited about returning home in the spring with a new perspective and a clean slate.

Much appreciation to the parents for giving Dillon this opportunity to discover another way of being and for their willingness to learn another way of being with him.

September 14, 2019

Protecting Innocence

Dillon came to me after being conditioned with extremely guilty self-talk, constantly saying he’s sorry, how bad he is and what an idiot he is. He’s also expressed the need to self punish because I wasn’t punishing him.

When he’s acting out of guilty self-talk it looks like he’s being a “bad boy”. I see him look at me for the reaction he expects, and it’s my joy to break his expectation, so I pray for the guidance and grace to see past guilty appearances in order to be a true reflection.

A few nights ago, Dillon asked me to tuck him into bed even though he wasn’t going to sleep yet. (He’s been staying up watching YouTube until he passes out.)🙂

I asked him what it meant to “tuck him in” and he said that I give him a hug, a kiss and say a prayer with him.

The first night he thanked God for the great day and for Aunty Hope being so nice to him. Then he asked me to say a prayer and so I thanked God for Dillon and asked God to show Dillon that he deserves all the kindness.

Last night we had the same routine. This time Dillon thanked God again and then asked God to forgive him for all of the sins he committed that day.
Then he asked me to say a prayer and I prayed for Dillon to see that he’s never committed any sin and that he’s completely innocent.

After the prayer, Dillon told me that someone said that it was good to pray for forgiveness every day, and I let him know that’s very common because most people believe that they have sinned and they pray for forgiveness because they are afraid of God’s punishment.

He then said, “But if I don’t ask God for forgiveness, then he won’t forgive me and I will be punished!” I then related to Dillon that God doesn’t know about the things he thinks he does and that it’s up to him to forgive himself for believing that he’s capable of doing anything that would make God angry.

I also let him in on the secret that the more he thinks he’s sinned and needs forgiveness, the more sinful he’s going to become in his own imagination.
Dillon asked if not believing in sin would stop him from doing bad things. I related to him that he’s already innocent, that it’s impossible for him to do bad things and whenever he thinks he has done a bad thing, he’s only making it up.

He seemed very excited about that, although he starts to sweat and he gets fidgety when he hears it. That’s how I know he’s heard enough for the moment.

Every day with Dillon is a blessing that I cherish. I appreciate every opportunity to protect our shared innocence in the midst of a world that aims to destroy it.

September 17, 2019

The other night Dillon prayed and thanked God for showing him that he doesn’t have any sins to forgive and that he can’t sin.

He seemed to get that so easily and since then he seems to have shifted into another dimension, with more ease and comfort.

The day before he told me that his mom always tells him how bad he is. I told him that he may not hear it from her when he returns home, and even if he does hear it. He doesn’t have to believe it! 💜💛

September 21, 2019

Dillon Update – One Month:

Dillon tells me he feels like he’s on vacation because he doesn’t have to go to school and he can watch YouTube and play video games all day.

What I see is that he’s also eager to help out, he’s inquisitive and very social. Also, from my experience with my own kids, he’s accelerating beyond his school-attending peers intellectually.

Dillon seems like a very different person from when he first arrived in Hawaii. He’s reflecting more of the maturity, calmness, and respect that the parents were trying to accomplish through conventional discipline, punishment, therapies, and psychotic drugs.

In fact, the evidence was clear that all conventional means had utterly failed. That’s why Dillon was sent to me in the first place.

Dillon came from a household where the prevailing thought was that bad behavior deserves punishment, and “too much” YouTube or video games qualified as “bad behavior”. The parents seemed totally stressed out and at their wit’s end with Dillon.

I’m encouraging the parents to allow themselves to trust Dillon’s choices because their trust in him engenders peace, fosters maturity, activates creativity and accelerates learning.

But the parents have some inner work to do before they can allow themselves to trust their child’s choices. While a parent is subscribed to the idea that children are meant to be controlled, allowing them to make their own choices is seen as neglectful, and being a neglectful parent is not an easy perception to have. Nor does it serve the child.

What’s being encouraged here is a complete change of heart and mind. For that to occur, the parent must be willing to recognize that everything they learned about their role as parent is backward and upside down.
Children have come to teach us, not the other way around. To let them lead the way takes willingness to go through emotional pain that serves as our defense mechanism for holding ourselves in a position of authority and in resistance to change.

Whether Dillon’s parents are willing to surrender their misbelief and face their emotional pain remains to be seen. In any case, Dillon came to answer their call for more peace and freedom and he will continue to do his “job” because he loves them.

September 25, 2019

When I had the perception of my nephew lying, I told him that people only lie when they are afraid. So I asked him what he was afraid of.

He told me he was afraid of getting in trouble. I let him know he was not going to get in trouble no matter what.

Now he just tells me what’s up. I think he likes being unafraid of getting in trouble.

October 13, 2019

More Adventures as an Unschooling Surrogate Mom


Dillon is ready to return home. He isn’t perceiving his family as a threat anymore and he feels ready to reintegrate with their programs. Hooray!!

When he first came to us, Dillon was extremely fearful. His little body would become stiff and he would become breathless while rapidly repeating that he was sorry, because he was afraid that he was going to “get in trouble”.

It occurred to me that he expected his behavior to earn him punishment and that he actively sought punishment even though he thought (and acted as if) he didn’t want it.

Once Dillon realized that nothing he perceived himself doing ever got him any punishment, his behavior changed significantly and quickly.
In fact, my older son asked me why his family was having a problem with him, commenting that he didn’t seem to be much trouble.

By the end of the first week, Dillon became adamant that he never wanted to return home. But he recently changed his mind about that.
His decision to return home came after Dillon had two instances of hallucinating loud screaming in his mind and images of the world encroaching upon him.

On the surface, it appeared as if staying up most of the night watching YouTube caused the hallucinating, but the motivation for staying up at night was only fear. That’s why it seemed to have fearful effects.

During the hallucinating, Dillon asked me how to make it stop and I related to him how to go through the fear, while I layed my hand on him and reminded him that he was safe. He relaxed within a few minutes and fell asleep.

The second instance seemed to be less intense and also seemed to subside sooner than the first, but after that Dillon’s fear of hallucinating again was multiplied.

Dillon told me that he realized he needs to have structure and punishments imposed upon him because it keeps him safe and healthy.

Such is a very good example of how people tend to cling to known fear rather than face unknown fear which arises on the path to greater freedom. The same is in no way any problem, as one can only accept as much freedom as they are ready for.

Many times a gradual release of fear is more easeful for people, as is the case with Dillon.

After Dillon related to me that he was afraid to fall asleep alone in his room, I’ve been sleeping with him every night so that while he’s with us he can feel safe enough to go to sleep before he passes out from exhaustion.

I’ve also told Dillon that I’m happy to sleep with him every night until he goes home. That seemed to put his mind at ease and he seems happy to be sleeping at night, yet he still “can’t wait” to go back home.

For the past few nights, he’s been making a big scene, acting like he’s distressed from fear and really wants to go home. Last night I told him if that’s the case, I’m taking him to the airport right away. He changed his mind and calmed down immediately because he really doesn’t want to go home before his birthday party, next Friday. It’s fun to see how fear is immediately resolved when it’s seen that it’s not getting us what we want!! lol!

Aside from the craving for rules and punishments, Dillon seems to be missing his family very much. Since he’s been here, he’s been able to perceive the love they have for him.

In fact, Dillon seems to be perfectly clear that everything his parents have done is because they love him. Yay!!

I just love how people are drawn together and apart perfectly in order to facilitate healing for our shared mind.

I’m also glad to be able to perceive even more how none of us are doing it right or wrong. Our roles are more like processes in one mental system that’s constantly being drawn towards greater love.

Today is Dillon’s 11th Birthday. We are going to celebrate with Sunday Funday and with a party next Friday. Soon after that, he will be off to begin his new life with his family.
What a blessing!

October 17, 2019

A Hui Hou, Dillon!

Dillon returned home on Tuesday. I was suddenly guided to get him a flight after it was revealed to me that he was ready to go.

While Dillon had been saying that he didn’t want to return home before his birthday party on the 18th, I was guided that he really wanted to return home as soon as possible.

So I made arrangements for him to fly before Dillon woke up. I felt a bit apprehensive because I wasn’t sure how he was going to react to the news.
When I went into his room to get his suitcase, he was just waking up. He looked at me and I said: “I’m getting your suitcase because you’re flying home today!”.

His eyes widened and he smiled big, then he jumped out of bed and helped me pack his suitcase. We went to his favorite breakfast place and he was off on his next adventure.

Dillon only mentioned the birthday party once and it was just a quick “Too bad I’m going to miss my party, but I’m really glad to be going home.”

We are still going to have a party on Friday for Dillon’s birthday, and we will be shipping his gifts to him in Henderson, Nevada.

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