Thursday, 15 February 2007

PERNICIOUS PARENTING and the meaning of Furniture Moving

Ok, so it's been a week of little work, home education work that is. I figure since everyone else gets a week off for half term then we have a right to be rather lazy for a week too. And actually, more to the point, I really can't be a**ed this week.

I don't suppose most parents of school children will see this week as a week off. Some that I know of will visualise it as HELL ON EARTH.

The HELL ON EARTH reference is more likely to come from those with 5 year old boys - you know, the testosterone-fuelled hyperactive destructa-monsters with a 30-second concentration span, who, like something off of Dr Who are programmed to DISMANTLE , DESTROY and DISAPPEAR.

Parents with these children, well, they just have my sympathy.
Been there, done that, got the blood stains on the t-shirt.

This wont apply to those lucky parents with girls of course. Afterall, in my experience girls will quite willingly sit quietly for hours quietly doing 'creative things', while mummy drinks coffee, reads magazines, watches movies or goes to bed for a 2 hour afternoon nap.

Yes really! I know these parents! (and I hate them for it, in a nice generous way of course).

I suppose one advantage to the home educating parent of always being around their children and available to them 24/7 is that you can, quite rightfully, tell them to b****r off sometimes (in a politically-correct, child-friendly way of course). While this may lay on your conscience a short while, there is some justification for occasionally feeling the need to let rip. I personally feel that being 'on tap' to my children all day, gives me a reason - if not a right - to occasionally demand that I go for a wee without an entourage of 3 small beings trailing behind me and making bizarre requests through the bathroom door.

Call me a demanding mother, but it doesn't seem to be alot to ask for.

Of course being at home with 3 children IS 'work' and I dare anyone to do my 'job' for a month and not see it as 'work'. [Please, someone, take up the dare, I could do with a holiday]. I don't believe all those parenting books that talk of how rewarding parenting is (urggh). I just don't see it. Afterall, the job description basically states that you must be willing to work all hours, meeting all needs, with only 2 types of reward: minor satisfaction (usually at having kept your temper during the utmost provocation) and major despair (usually at having lost your temper over something really insignificant). It is of course worth mentioning the perks of the job: that rare benefit of parental gloating over some marvellous achievement of your offspring. However, this usually comes at the expense of someone else's parenting satisfaction and the self esteem of their offspring, so from a moral perspective it doesn't really count.

Still, it's work, it's a job. I sometimes think that monetary compensation for loss of sanity, sense of self and reduced libido due to the nature of the work would be nice, but hey, ho, don't I just lurve to do these wonderful rewarding things for free.


Anyway, on to less gloomy things. I have actually achieved something this week, something real and concrete. I've moved some furniture. No, don't dismiss it! It's an achievement and I like to record all my achievements, however small.

Usually triggered by a combination of boredom and visiting the house of another parent - a fantastic house which puts mine to shame - the ritual of furniture moving is a well-known phenomenon in our house. Usually it takes place in the lounge, as there are only two large pieces of furniture in this room and only 2 places they can go. It makes the moving somewhat easier and of course if we don't like it, we know that during the next furniture move (probably during the next 4-6 months) everything will be back where it started. If only parenting was that simple....

p.s. in case you were wondering about the title of this entry, the dictionary definition of 'Pernicious' is as follows:

1.causing insidious harm or ruin; ruinous; injurious; hurtful: pernicious teachings; a pernicious lie.
2.deadly; fatal: a pernicious disease.
3.Obsolete. evil; wicked.

—Related forms
per·ni·cious·ly, adverb
per·ni·cious·ness, noun
—Synonyms 1. harmful, detrimental, deleterious, destructive, damaging, baneful, noxious, malicious. 2. lethal.

Monday, 12 February 2007

Jigsaws, junk food and just learning to lower my expectations.

I feel like I should be making an entry in here today, but not sure if I can gather my brain cells together.

Monday is our busy day

It begins with the children doing some 'work' at the table in the morning and then the first of the day's activities is 'Games Club' at around lunchtime. Now, I consider this a good opportunity for the children to play games with other home educated children and generally do nice quiet educational brain-stimulating things, so that us parents can catch up on news and get a few uninterrupted moments of adult time. It's meant to be a nice treat for all of us.

So this is how the morning should go:
  • Children keen to do a bit of 'work' at the table
  • I pack a variety games, jigsaws, educational activities.
  • Children are cooperative and eager to brush teeth, put shoes on etc
  • I prepare nice wholesome things to eat.
  • We all get in the car calm and happy and on time (so as not to waste any of that precious 'adult time' that I look forward to).
  • We get to games club in plenty of time.
  • They play nice quiet games with their friends.
  • We all have a nice time.

The reality:
  • The children, using their best delaying tactics, take ages to get dressed do teeth etc
  • I rant on about how much more work those poor schoolchildren have to do each day and how lucky my children should feel to be home educated.
  • They get stroppy.
  • I get stroppy.
  • They do some rushed, resentful work at the table.
  • I realise that the rabbit hasn't been fed, I haven't had breakfast and we're going to be late.
  • I hunt furiously through the fridge trying to find something edible and quick for lunch. [Have the prepacked vegetable samosas gone furry yet? Damn! Yes they have and it's too obvious to get away with it. It'll have to be the fruit loaf again. Oh and a pack of rice cakes. No point taking any fruit - ds1 will have his tuck shop open and the kids will just want crisps and chocolate again.]
  • We dash out the door with a handful of jigsaws and I stuff them into the car (the children and the jigsaws).
  • I moan at them all the way to games club.
  • The kids avoid all the games laid out for them and instead decide to race around the hall screeching like banshees and taking turns to shut various children in the kitchen/toilets or chase each other with sticks around the playground.
  • They eat far too many crisps/chocolate/sweets that they've somehow conned me into buying.
  • They spill the drinks that they wanted me to make for them all over the jigsaws that they haven't played with.
  • They complain when we leave that they haven't had time to eat their lunch.
  • I grit my teeth, turn the car radio up loud to drown out the fighting children in the back and try to remember how 'lucky' we all are to home educate...

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Celtic axes, the snow and return of the machine

Well the Celtic business lasted a few more days and the boys made double-headed axes. Well, to be accurate, ds1 made his. Ds2 and dd1 just watched while I cursed and hacked at bits of cardboard and tore off bits of silver foil.

These axes were, apparently, the 'in thing' for Celts in, er, Celtic days. So, I guess, they went off on their Celtic pub crawls with their essential fashion item, the double-headed axe, making sure they didn't leave it on the bus on the way home. (Probably alot of axes in the 'lost and found' cupboard at the bus depot, would have made identification very difficult, maybe they had to postcode them with one of those uv highlighters).

Anyway, one thing's for sure, theirs weren't made with the inner tubes of wrapping paper, silver foil and cardboard. Would have been a bit ineffective during your average British downpour, don't you think? Instructions for making these things were a bit vague, or I was being a bit thick (probable) and we couldn't find any pictures of Celtic axe-murders to confirm the weapon's description, so we had to 'wing it' a bit. Still, the kids were impressed by my handiwork for a few minutes before they started trying to kill each other with the things.

Talking of British weather, it has been decidedly un-British today, with a heavy fall of snow during the night. Kids loved it and as soon as they were dressed they had a snowball fight with the neighbours' kids over the fence for about half an hour. The schools must have been closed as there seemed a lot of school kids around. Still, it makes ds1 appreciate being home educated - a few weeks back when we had our first heavy snowfall of the year and all the kids had to go to school he was really chuffed that he could stay out and play in it. The home education group was cancelled today, so we walked to the park and met up with some other kids to play in the snow.

ds2's life support machine has returned. The computer, which had a faulty motherboard, was whisked away to G's work for a week to be rebuilt by an IT guy. Ds2 has been pining for his soulmate ever since, but at last it has returned. And he, in true form, has returned to the grumbling sulky computer-obsessed boy we all know and love.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

A Good Night Out and The Celtic Cloaks

At last! We (a bunch of local home educators) managed to get an evening out together (Tuesday)! Hooray! Put the flags up! Roll the drums! (And all that sort of stuff....)

You might think this isn't much of a challenge, but when you spend most of your waking hours meeting the demands of other - usually small and disproportionately loud - people, it's amazing how difficult it is to remember that actually you deserve a life too.

So off we went to the pub and had a bit of a 'really, do you feel that way too?' sort of bonding session. And oh it was so marvellous to have a conversation that wasn't interrupted by wails of 'I need a wee' or 'mum, xxx just hit me' or any line that starts 'I want...' and ends with a wail when you say no. And then, to top it all, we were the last out of the pub (oohh what stamina). Perhaps we were just trying to prove a point, or perhaps we genuinely didn't want to go home 'No! Please don't send me back to the kids! I'll do anything! Just don't send me back!'

So the next morning I woke up refreshed and positive, and thinking well perhaps my life isn't so c**p after all and I am doing an ok job some of the time and at least the kids are happy even if the house looks like it's been taken over by a giant magpie with a tendancy for large shiny plastic junk, cardboard loo-roll inners and small lego-shaped items.

In fact, so positive I was today that I even got the hand sewing machine out - i.e. the thing that can make tangles out of thin air and is guaranteed to raise my stress levels even before the handle is turned. Now that's what I call brave. And (nah nah nanahhh nahhh) we made 'Celtic cloaks' to go with the theme we're doing in history at the moment (Celts, obviously). [I had to put that in bold type, just so it would draw the eye and look really impressive if anyone actually gets to read this - hey you out there, skip the rest, just read about me on the day I did a really good job of home edding and made Celtic cloaks with the kids {g}] And, not only that, I was able to -calmly - coordinate sewing interspersed with cloth pinning and brooch-making amongst 3 children without shouting once. Ok, well maybe a raised voice once or twice, but hey, that's pretty good for one of those full-on home education-type activities. And this was after I had already done some spelling and some reading with Leon (ok, I'm getting blaise - er how do you spell it?). And then....wait for it...I had another 4 children dropped off in the afternoon, so 7 children in total. Ok, ok, perhaps that was a bit crazy, but I figured if I kept moving they'd get bored trying to track me down and then be forced to play with each other. Well actually I cheated and stuck a Scooby Doo video on and that satisfied about 2 thirds of the group so the rest were able to play undisturbed (while I kept moving so they couldn't track me down...). So that's it for *Super Mummy* for a week or two, back to the grumpy one tomorrow I expect. But it was nice for the kids while it lasted...