The end of October, we loaded up the minivan to head to Big Sandy, TX for No Greater Joy's Big Texas Shindig. We had an awesome weekend meeting lots of other "crazy" homeschooling families like us. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!
If you listened to the media at all, you would get a very different picture of the Pearls than what we saw in the four days we were with them. They portray him to be this Bible-thumping hillbilly who advocates abusing children and keeps his wife under his thumb. What we saw was a very different picture. I think they enjoyed meeting all of us just as much (or maybe more) as we enjoyed meeting them. I think Debi Pearl is one of the happiest people I've ever seen. Honestly, she is just always smiling and enjoying life. She and Michael were cutting up together and having fun, and their kids (only Nathan, Shalom and Shoshanna and their families were there; Gabriel and Rebekah were not) were teasing them and each other. I got to observe Nathan and his family, Shalom and her family, and Shoshanna and her family interact as husbands/wives and children. The children didn't march in to their seats like soldiers, but they didn't run in and make noise either. They obeyed their parents! I watched as one of Nathan's sons came back with some cousins to his seat (from the restroom or somewhere?), and the son filed into the row with his cousins to sit with them. Zephyr (the mother), very calmly snapped her fingers to get his attention and then pointed to a seat on her row. The boy did not make a scowl or whine or even look upset. He just went cheerfully to the spot she pointed to. She did not have an angry look on her face or anything like. After one of the meetings, as we were talking to Shoshanna and her husband, their little two year old was running around with the other kids, but she didn't stray too far from mom and dad (and they, of course, kept an eye on her the whole time we talked). They didn't make her sit still while we talked; they let her be a kid. But when they called her to go, she came. What I saw were husbands and wives who really enjoyed each other's company, parents who enjoyed being with their children and didn't have an adversarial relationship with their children, and children who obeyed their parents, acted with common courtesy, and were smart and enjoyed life. And there were more hundreds of children that sat in the meetings, coloring or playing with toys, but no fits or whining that I observed. After the meetings, children played with each other on the playground and sandbox, peacefully - helping each other, not fighting or bullying or teasing one another.
If the Pearl's method of training your children with swatting really makes kids angry at their parents, you would expect to see either quiet, timid children who were afraid of upsetting their parents or anyone else, or you would expect to at least see children who didn't want to spend much time with their parents. I didn't see any of that. If wives submitting themselves to their husbands made wives doormats and husbands controlling ogres, I would expect to see quiet timid wives, and bossy, domineering husbands, but I didn't see that either. There were happy. And not a fake happy, either.
We loved getting to meet so many different families from all over the US (and some from Canada). It was a wonderful experience, and we are hoping to get to go to the next event that they have!