Thursday, 1 February 2007

Thinking positively

Today I've done psychology, philosophy, and behavioural science.

The psychology has been for Shark. Shark has been very challenging and living up to her name. She swims about happily for days on end, chatting with the other fish and playing catch-the-pearl, and then, without warning, goes bonkers, takes great bites out of us all and smashes everything up.

Usually, on Shark-days, we have big, long, talks. And usually they start with Shark walloping her sisters. At the reprimand she offers a few sneering insults to her parents, accompanied by 'Ha! ha! ha!' and then screams at the full extent of her lungs until she's red in the face. At some point she'll shout 'I'm leaving this family!' and will pack her toy pelican, Pelly, and toy fish Angela, into a bag ready for the off. Then we'll talk about how the family needs to work together, how we all cooperate for our mutual benefit, about our anger management strategies and techniques of self-control, our responsibilities, expectations and power. Blah blah blah. After a while I get a bit fed up with the psychology and offer to pack a bag for her and drive her to the railway station.

Then there's the philosophy. This is mostly prompted by the clock. It's fourteen minutes to go before the start of the lesson we're supposed to be at, and we haven't yet left the house. An eight minute drive and a five minute change of clothes is required. I reason that if we don't leave the house PDQ we're going to be late. Again. So with my blood pressure getting critical I start thinking whether home education is really the best way to live. After all, with school, I just might get the frantic dash at 8.30 in the morning and the drag of sending Dig down to fetch everyone at 3.30.

This way, when I drop everyone back at home at 2.35, I reason I will just have time to make a cup of tea for the thermos flask (to 2.45), dash out of the house to pick up gold paper to make crowns for Henry III or Simon de Montfort (depending on our fancies and allegiances), and arrive back at 3.15 to pick up and drop off anyone who wants to go to French club. It's all just do-able but at 2.45 disaster strikes. I can't find my purse. This blow means I have to stare at the wall for a vital nine minutes, which renders the whole plan pointless. And no-one wants to go to French club anyway, which sends Dig into a loud philosophical frenzy of 'What is the point of home education?' Dig has to do his philosophising on this subject while striding up and down waving a finger in the air.

Next there's the behavioural science. I've spent some of the day planning this. Thanks to Shark's psychology and the philosophising while staring at the wall, I reckon that we are all motivated by food and money. I'm planning that on Saturday, every act will be rewarded or punished by money in the piggy bank. If any sister is pleasant or helpful to any other sister, there's 20p in the piggy bank. Then if there are scowls or horrid words, hair pulling, threats of violence, physical attacks, unicorn bashing, insults to parents and so on, there's a naughty note of -20p in the piggy bank. And on Sunday morning we have a count up. If we have more coins than naughty notes, Dig will take us all to the Indian restaurant that doesn't have carpets for a buffet lunch. I haven't cleared that bit with Dig yet, but I'm quite looking forward to it all, and will let you know how it all goes.

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