Putting some thoughts in order.
So its absolutely clear in case anyone wondered, i asked Joyce to remove my comments because i felt i had truncated my thought processes too much to make clear what i felt and because there were people from my past who i had referred to in there, who i preferred not to find such thoughts. I stand by what i feel but i don’t quite stand by the order in which i expressed them. I find, when thoughts rush around my head, that i can’t sleep. I could blog in private but tbh, what is the point? I’ve already put cards on the table. Sometimes thoughts need honing ;~) What Chris said yesterday about rights and views was a good case in point; what i wrote was not quite what i meant.
Its odd how differently people perceive each other really. C described Sarah, Joyce and his own family as the “hard core lazy buggers” and the odd thing is that mostly i read the blogs of those people and rather wish that this house got as much done as they seem to in their houses. I see myself as a lazy bugger trying hard to make sure my natural sofa led inclinations don’t affect my children in some negative way. (And just so everyone knows that i am feeling inarticulate already, it took me so long to find the word negative there that i nearly wrote “anti-positive…”)
It sometimes amazes me, particularly from those mentioned above that people manage to do so much. Just getting out of the house is an effort for me; contrary to popular apparent belief, i am not sociable, not socially confident and making a fool of myself or being rejected slams me so hard that i prefer just to walk away than deal with it. I said a long time ago now that it was easier to be a “cat who walked by herself” than to risk such things but given the life i have chosen, its deeply unfair on my children to do that. But mostly i read every single other blog and think “blimey….” to erm.. put it succinctly :~) On the other hand i made a decision some time back that rushing around hadn’t proved too good for my children; we had a period of skating, french, playgroup, ballet, tumbletots and groups every week and it just didn’t seem to make anyone of us particularly happy. It felt like we needed to put our family “house” in order and become friends before we moved outside of that, and i was uncomfortably aware that Fran and i were NOT friends for the early part of our relationship. And long ago, when MP first started, i started to come under the influence of people for whom it was not like that and try to take advantage of what they were making happen. I’m fairly sure my parenting has come a long way in those 3 years. Certainly i don’t have the difficulties now with ANY of my children that i had when i just had Fran.
I suppose when you feel that something as fundamental as your relationship with your children needs putting in order, its fairly natural to look around at your peers and try to see and evaluate not only how they do things, but how they CAME to do it that way. If i thought it was as easy as getting a good parenting book, then i would do so. But i very much doubt that reading anything would do me as much good as watching and questioning and evaluating. Probably it should just be done privately :~) And while i feel that i have gleaned good things from all of the people who influence me most, i do believe that the only way to use that information is to then remix it according to our own family cloth.
For example, i hate it when my children bicker and i am prepared to go to most lengths to stop them doing it. I’m not altogether sure that is actually a good thing (in fact a conversation about supressing emotions i had recently with Alison made me evaluate that one further, but not to a conclusion yet!) but i have such sad recollections of how horrible i was to my little sister when she wanted to play with me and how that turned into an 8 year old little sister completely capable of destroying me, that i simply HAVE to try and change that experience. Doesn’t mean i think anyone who lets their kids play out fights to their full extent are wrong, its just not something i can stand to listen to.
For example, i often read Sarah’s blog and envy their family time together, with other influencing friends, on a Sunday. I really do ENVY them that and i see it as very much part of the education they are providing. But its not going to make me go to church; it does make me want to pick an extended “family of choice” for my children who i want as important influences on them. Family time in my own childhood was almost completely restricted to family holidays – i want so much more than that for my kids.
For example, i really admire Joyce for the enamel wearing, teeth gritting patience she has shown with Hannah’s reading. I just don’t seem to have as much enamel on my teeth but i have taken that influence and tried to use it to at least remind myself of the words “slowly gently” lately.
For example, i find myself inspired by the number of people i know who can cope with having their children up late. I just CAN’T!!! lol! (Actually in a field i can!) But i have taken on board that i can make sure my children go to bed loving me and knowing they are loved and recently that has been improved no end by having a good story session together. I’ve also found that i have an ability to be flexible that i didn’t know was in me and that actually my “lazy-bugger-itis” has been significantly enhanced by a “they’ll drop when they are tired” mentality.
I’d like to think that somewhere in my parenting there is one thing i do well that someone else thinks is useful. I don’t think its a bad thing to want to learn from ones peers really, the bad thing would be to try and turn yourself into them. Rather like knowing someone of the same size and shape as you and thinking “I like that shape of skirt on her but i don’t think that actual colour would suit me.”
Which parenting meandering leads me slightly back to my point. I have a very vivid memory of starting a writing course when i was 18. It asked you first of all to list all the things you knew about that you might be able to write an article on. And i couldn’t think of a single thing to list. I spent my school life either doing homework or lurking on or off stages, doing very practical stuff which was largely useless in the real world. I was a good theatrical sparky but i couldn’t wire a plug in a house, a good set designer but i couldn’t make my bedroom look individual, great at learning lines but rubbish at saying what i felt!!! I didn’t even know that many plays! It was rather confusing to have got to the end of 14 years of education and suddenly realize i didn’t know anything useful! (And frankly most of what i had done for A Level was rapidly slipping from my memory!) I hadn’t had any hobbies apart from theatre and making Fimo models, i hadn’t had time to read much or follow much of a personal interest because theatre and school had seemed to fill everything and because my theatre interest was so completely at odds with what made my parents happy to see me doing, i had done it really in isolation.
I don’t know quite why it all worked out like that. I have two really motivated parents who were, and still are, completely engrossed in really high power careers as scientists and journalists and here is me without a useful interest in the world!! I don’t really remember ever wanting to do anything but theatre (or be a nurse at one point but i was told i wasn’t allowed – and i took it!!!) and when theatre went badly wrong i didn’t have much left. Except that i had ALWAYS wanted to be a young parent and i had a hazy but determined impression that i was going to apply complete effort to it. Which i hope is what i am doing. (And yes, they are in the paddling pool again!)
I have this great fear that unless i hunt ceaselessly and make lists, my children will have no better an experience. I know that i
n the last year they have been far happier and more interested in the world than ever before. The blog, getting my thoughts and ideas down on “paper” has really helped that.
I really wish in retrospect that i had changed this lack of application about myself but i haven’t so far. I haven’t developed any passionate interests or used my time wisely. I don’t know much about anything and i don’t have a degree even in anything largely useless! I can’t remember how to multiply to get a percentage from one time to the next and i can’t be bothered to balance my cheque book. I own three websites and i haven’t had the gumption to learn to write html properly! I love history but the only time i learn it well is when i teach my child about it – even doing a timeline is a slightly terrifying concept! I seem to have lots of people i really love in my life that seem to achieve some basic application without having to give serious thought to it and i just don’t know where they get it from. My husband is one. He may only have two major interests, beyond his family, but he knows as much as he could possibly know about them. I don’t know a 1/10 as much about EVERYTHING i am interested in! Even my sister, who was WAY less motivated than me at school and who everyone worried about ceaselessly is a high flying business manager of a successful recruitment agency. HUH??? I didn’t even manage to manage a deli in a supermarket successfully!!!
So far from subscribing to the “everyone else is a lazy bugger” theory i rather find myself astonished that anyone, least of all potentially themselves, could put those people in that category. Which is why i said in my (other) essay that i had really never managed to define autonomous HE, because the one thing that it DOESN’T seem to encompass is sitting back and doing nothing. In fact, most of the Autonomous HE people i know seem to do pretty much what i do or more of it or more interestingly, which is odd because that isn’t how i define myself, even though i don’t know why i don’t.
Which led me, eventually to decide that what it must come down to is a state of mind and a state of faith, perhaps a confidence in who you are and perhaps a confidence in where you are going. And that perhaps that confidence comes in part from having the faith and trust of people who are prepared to support you. And given that i suppose my feelings are that i didn’t achieve those things within my original family setting, in my childhood and in my early adulthood, my conclusion was that the people, of whom there are many, who do seem to have those things as their basis, must have achieved them during a time and with the help of a set of people, when i feel i didn’t.
Now – before anyone starts, if they are still there, i wrote this as self exploratory. It was interesting to me and useful to me as a place from which i might go forward. These are things which actually i feel quite comfortable with and i don’t need to be told its not true and everyone loves me! lol! I’m afraid its not even an apology. Its just an attempt to express better why i feel i need to do things the way i do, rather than how other people might do. And an attempt to express better something i put clumsily, but meant well.
(And Chris, i dread to think how many words it was, but i don’t need a word count! ;~))