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Thoughts from this week...

It's going to be a super busy weekend, so I thought I'd take a moment to just reflect on this week a bit...

Kinder and School

  • As I've mentioned a million times, my kids go to school and kinder because they want to go, not because we make them go.  This week has really been a mixed bag with regards to this approach.  On the one hand, I've had a conversation with Erik and Lukas asking them, very seriously, why they want to go to school.  Frankly, Dave and I are finding the whole school situation hard to handle.  There is so much we're just not happy with.  The constant demands coupled with a lack of understanding or support in far too many areas, it's all take, take, take, and then the attitude of "you owe us because we're doing such amazing things for your kids"...  Dave isn't particularly impressed with what passes as curricula at the moment (me, I'm less concerned because I don't see the academic side of school as being particularly important anyway).  He feels that we're pretty much expected to do most of the educating ourselves, which we could do at home without half the fuss they impose on our family.  I'm most concerned about the messages the children are getting about their own family.  Erik was embarrassed the other day because, "there are so many of us, and we're poor".  "Huh?" So, what, they think we're Catholic?  (no offense to Catholics, but you know the whole stereotype that Catholics are poor with a buttload of children, right?).  Anyway, Erik's answer to the question about what he likes so much about school was, and I quote, "It's the socialization thing, mum.  You can't offer me the same opportunities here at home as I can get when I go to school.  That other stuff isn't important!" Yes, truly, this is what the child said.
  • On the other hand.  I attended kinder as a helper on Wednesday this week, and Bryn, who is usually happy at kinder (well, he gets stroppy if they won't let him bring out a toy from home, but that's not about kinder so much as about wanting to show stuff to his friends at kinder), COMPLETELY.  LOST.  THE.  PLOT!  The absolutely mammoth tantrum was triggered by not being allowed to have his Omnitrix in the playground.  It shocked his teachers who swore up and down that he's never done this before, I told him he's never done this at home before, either - you know, in case they thought this was something he was used to doing with me.  I'm torn about this because his Omnitrix is his "handle of attachment" and I feel separating a child from their handle of attachment is not really a good idea at this age.  On the other hand, I can see that in the Ben10 madness that goes on at kinder, it would be a massive distraction to all the boys there, which would be hard work for the teachers.  AND besides which, I was ACTUALLY right there, and THIS is when he chooses to lose the plot (strange child, most other children lose the plot when mum or dad LEAVE, not when they STAY)...  So, I got a bit hard nosed with him - I was gentle about it, but very firm - and said, "Here's the thing.  We COULD go home, but all choices have their good and bad sides and the bad side of this choice will be that you won't see your friends as often, or at all, because they live on the other side of our suburb.  That'll mean no playdates, and no one to share your love of Ben10 with for the rest of this year.  And next year, if you want to go to school, what are you going to do when you don't like a rule.  Just quit?  There are always going to be bits you don't like.  You don't have to put up with stuff you don't like, but you need to think about your choices, too, because you might not only be giving up a small thing you don't like, but also a lot of big things you do like!" This child of mine has always been very reasonable.  Friday, he was fine.  He has a playdate on Monday with a kinder friend.
Understanding people...

  • My journey of learning about people continues.  I often claim not to understand people, almost as if I'm on the outside looking in on humanity like some sort of researcher.  Yet, time and again, I find I do understand people very well, what I have a problem with is coming to terms with the why of humans.  I know what a person is likely to do and how they will react in a situation, but often don't get how they can't see how they come across.  So many things this week have had me in this kind of quandry.  The election and people's thinking on the three big parties, particularly the way people can't see how they are being manipulated here, there and everywhere, a thread on a forum that was like the living image of wolves encircling their prey, not wanting to spook it into running, but barely - and essentially not - able to keep from attacking prematurely, judgments that allow people to feel better about themselves and their choices while simultaneously blinding them to how they have been carefully guided through a Venn diagram that has caused them to reveal far more about their strengths and weakness than they ever could imagine by people they feel superior to, and how the company of a good friend, filled with laughter and silliness can make your week when you've felt put through the wringer by forces beyond your control (that being the indisputable autocracy of other individuals - particularly four year olds).
The gift of giving...

  • There really is nothing like it.  Particularly giving when you have every reason under the Sun not to!  Yesterday, I went birthday present shopping for Bryn.  I blew the budget a little bit, and really, this week Bryn has really been fighting hard for that "4 Year Old Brat of the Year Award, 2010", so buying him the super-whiz-bang-bells-and-whistles-included, most highly prized wishlist item of the year, especially when you had to traipse around to several different shops looking for it in your 1.5 inch heels that seemed like a good idea that morning but turned out to be hell-on-feet torture devices, seems like it might possibly be rewarding that kind of behaviour, but WOW!  The feeling is so good, knowing he's going to be absolutely thrilled to bits.  Remembering what it was like to get such a highly prized item, especially when gifts of this magnitude were few and far between due to circumstances beyond my parents control (which is also his experience, unfortunately - or maybe fortunately???).  Well, it's a wonderful, warm, bubbly, sparkly feeling and I'm fully prepared to deal with any "unrealistic expectations" fall out that might result...  
Ideals, reality and ownership...

  • I've wondered this week why my life doesn't reflect my ideals in so many big and small ways.  We've been very short on money this week, but recently came into a little bit of money thanks to tax time.  It's nearly all gone.  Bills were paid and accounts padded.  Essential clothing was bought to replace that which was clapped out and to prepare for events requiring more formal dress.  Birthdays were had.  A bit of furniture was bought to enable a smoother run in the house and more options for flexibility so we're not on top of each other every hour. And getting the two big boys off to camp later this year.  In other words, lots of consumption.  It's felt good, and at the same time I've wondered if it was the right thing when I'm trying to be responsible.  Working through it though, I've realized that all the outlay of monies have benefited us, as a family, in practical and emotional ways that have restored us all after a very rough beginning to the year.  Any reticence I've felt has been more about other people's judgments, which are irrelevant because they don't know the needs of our family intimately.  The school/kinder thing has been another.  With Dave and I feeling unsure about school, in particular, we've asked ourselves if we shouldn't take a more classical stance in homeschooling and simply pull our kids out, regardless of their feelings about the situation.  That just doesn't sit well with us, though.  In the end we're committed to supporting our children in their choice of education, which means, if they're happy, we need to support that.  It even occurred to me that, in Erik's case, it might be that he intuitively understands that he needs to overcome his social ineptitude by immersing himself in a situation where he can learn about how people in this society interact - which might not be pretty, but it's certainly real.  Giving my children lots of things is another contradiction of my ideals (surrounding things not making you happy).  Like so many parents, I want my children to have the things I didn't have, to feel that sense of plenty.  My children have felt the opposite for so long now, that I sometimes feel desperate to convince them it's just been a bad dream.  It's not just about things - stuff - it's about emotions.  I'd love to say they've been rich in a loving, carefree environment, but in all honesty, they've felt our stress, and sometimes it's been hard going for all of us in that respect.  So, basically it comes back to just accepting that I've made these choices for reasons good and somewhat dubious, that's how it is.
So, it's been a huge week.  I only managed to write about 3000 words, which is about 11 000 short of my goal for this week (oh dear), but it's truly been a hectic and emotionally draining week.  This weekend is full of fun. Today, I have a tupperware party, I do love tupperware, but moreso, it'll be fun to catch up with people.  Tomorrow is Bryn 5th birthday party - the first with friends who aren't just family friends!  I have yet to bake cupcakes for tomorrows party and for Bryn's kinder group on Monday (all 25 of them!) Monday is his actual birthday (and my mum's, too), with kinder and a playdate afterwards!.  

After that it'll be writing, writing, writing like a mad woman!

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