Monday, 3 October 2011

Put up or shut up.

This is a phrase a friend of mine used regularly in my presence. Often it was in reference to other people, but occasionally it was directed at me. Its approximate translation (at least within our friendship circle) was: 'It's ok to moan for a bit, but there comes a time when you either need to SHUT UP wingeing and DO something about whatever's bugging you OR just PUT UP with it'.

I'm quite fond of moaning. Perhaps it's a British thing (I am most definitely a through-and-through Brit). But I suspect it's also a bit of the drama queen (or king) in each of us that likes to think if we complain/grumble/winge about something, then someone might - at least temporarily - put us as centre of their attention and listen. We will have centre stage, spotlights, and an attentive audience.

Some friends (usually the less experienced ones) will do their utmost to 'fix' your problem. And to every solution the persistent moaner will come up with some reason why it wont work: 'Yes I know I could do that, but it would mean that x, y and z would happen' or 'well I tried that about 6 years ago and it didn't work then, so there's no point trying now.' Because deep down persistent moaners don't want solutions, they just want their spot in the limelight and someone to go 'poor you'. It's a human thing. It can become a dangerously compulsive habit. And if you've never done it then you are either at one with the world/fairies, or half-android.

What has this got to do with Home Education? Truth is, I'm not sure, but it does. I suppose it has a lot to do with parenting and parenting is inextricably intertwined with home education. And I've been thinking about it quite a bit recently.

So, how often do we complain about our lot? Money? Kids? Housework? Truth is, most of the things that bug us we could choose to change, or change our attitude to. So, for example, the kids wont keep their room clean and it is driving you demented. You nag. You cajole. You bribe. Eventually you darn well do it yourself while spitting bile at them and listing all the other misdemeanors they have ever committed since birth in a voice loud enough to curse them into the carpet (but not so loud as to alarm the neighbours to the insane family living next door to them). And then, for weeks afterwards you find every opportunity to moan about it. Other people join in: 'Oh I so know what you mean.' and 'My kids are just like that'. And it becomes a moaning club. Then, after a while, your companions tire of the moaning (stuck record), and move on, perhaps to find less grumpy company. And you're still somehow stuck in that rut of a peed off mood.

So, what's the alternative? Well if the state of their room bothers you, perhaps it's worth asking yourself why it bothers you. Is it because you're embarrassed when people visit? Is it because you were made to keep your room clean when you were a child and damn well don't see why your kids shouldn't do it as well? Is it because you have issues over hygeine - are they reasonable, or excessive? Is children obeying your wish for a clean bedroom evidence that you have some control over your kids and therefore reassuring that you are a good parent? If you're really honest with yourself, the reason might actually surprise you.

What next? Well its the PUT UP OR SHUT UP thing, isn't it. You have choices. You can either decide to do something about it: e.g. hire a cleaner, clean it for them (and choose not to be resentful about it), or do a Super Nanny and start a whole starchart-time-out-naughty-step routine (probably a bit late if your kid is 15). OR you can let them stew in their own pit of body odour and underbed fluff while using the time you would have been moaning to ensure your own space is clean and wonderful and restful and lego-brick-free.

I wonder if, perhaps, we just don't like the easy solutions. If you're overweight and unhappy the last thing you want to hear is 'Move more, eat less'. If you're worrying about money the last thing you want to hear is 'get a part-time job' or 'stop paying out for those ballet lessons for your pigeon-toed daughter who has no sense of rhythm'. Because our moaning and martydom serves a purpose to each individual moaner. That purpose will be different for each person, but I'd bet a dollar (if I had one) that every time we moan we are getting something out of that moaning. Take a look. An honest look. And if you don't like what you see, then you know what to do.



Big mamma frog said...

btw, just in case anyone thinks this post is a personal dig at them, or their behaviour, it isn't. Just years of observation of human nature. :)

Sue Reed said...

o wow this is so true - i get so frustrated with the state of my girls room! You are right. What the hell! Thanks x x