Monday, 30 April 2007


We are all off to a home ed workshop on clay.

So for about an hour beforehand I'm getting everyone ready. It's 'Sasha, comb Tiger's hair', then 'Sasha, bring Squirrel downstairs to put on her shoes', and 'Sasha help Shark get up from the floor where she is lying down screaming thanks to Tiger having trodden on her'. Honestly, this au pair thing is hard work and I may well have had a nose full.

Next on the agenda is actually getting to Middletown. There are no road closures or spilled liquid petroleum. I am wise and I have put petrol in the car. There is not a hurricane like the day we decided to visit Kenilworth castle. Sasha did not burst into tears and there were no fisticuffs in the back seats. Even better, when we arrive, we see Am and Jol in the playground. So everyone is excited and happy. Personally, I cannot believe our luck. We have got here early, without casualty, and Sasha might think this is normal.

We're not early enough. Within minutes we're all off inside to find out about Rodin but not the naughty bits. I get rid of Sasha. I say, 'Sasha you could walk into town for an hour, there's not much here apart from a lot of home educated children, some clay, and Rodin without the naughty bits. So off you go and enjoy the sunshine.' What I really want to say is 'Sasha, push off so I can have your seat and get in some tip-top quality chat time with Jol.' Of course I do not say that because even I am on my bestest behaviour with Sasha now.

The first downturned lips come where there is a bit of a fight over who gets to sit opposite Am. Jol is right on form and solves this thanks to incredibly quick thinking and rearranging people and furniture, so everyone gets sorted. Then Rodin and the clay work begin.

After looking at pictures of Rodin's work but no naughty bits, everyone's invited to do something interesting with clay. Shark immediately starts off making the stem of a rose. Unfortunately, it looks like a giant phallus and looks like we might have studied Rodin's naughty bits at home, which we haven't, but hey, this is the home ed world, and people expect anything. So I let it be known that it is a rose stem. That's a rose stem that Shark is making. A lovely stem for a rose. She's going to put the petals on later. See, she's making the petals now.

Apart from this minor difficulty, clay procedes quite well. Squirrel starts making a bird but its head keeps dropping off. Tiger makes a horse, because Tiger is into horses big time. She hasn't fallen off yet on the horseriding lessons, so we might see a change of heart when she does.

Then, disaster. I can see Shark wanting to scream. She goes all stiff and red in the face, her mouth clamps together in a thin hard line, and little tears pop onto her cheeks. I have told Shark not to scream in public because it is embarrassing and everyone stares. Shark has a long history of screaming in public places. I think her best screaming has been done on the corner of Winston Road and Gurney Lane when the residents came out to look at the five-year old rolling about in the gutter hanging onto a bicycle. I could choose that as the top scream, or it might be the lamp-post incident last week, or perhaps the library. Whatever, she's under caution. I have told her that if she screams again in public I will sell her for medical experiments.

Shark wants to scream because her petals won't stay on the phallus-rose-stem. In fact the phallus-rose-stem is starting to droop and will never hold the weight of twelve petals made from about a half kilo of air-hardening clay. Every time a new petal gets squished into the top, the phallus-rose-stem buckles a bit more and Shark becomes more despairing. But now Jol is involved and has her second most helpful moment of the day. 'Put a stick in it' she suggests. This is brilliant and I leg it into the garden to locate a real bit of rose stem to skewer down the centre of Shark's clay. Success! This works. The downside is that the phallus-rose-stem is bigger than ever and starting to command attention. I start to worry about the police and social services dropping by later and am very grateful when the clay teacher suggests lowering a plastic bag over it and putting it in the car for the drive home.

I think all the niceness of Sasha's visit and the creative tension from the artists at the Rodin workshop had to explode somewhere. And it did. On the way back to Smalltown there was a lot of screaming and a very big bout of fisticuffs in the back of the car, followed by a lot of shouting from mummy Grit, and a frozen smile from Sasha, who didn't object one bit when I suggested dropping her off at the airport two hours early.

But now we can go back to normal. Sasha's gone, there's a clay phallus in a plastic bag next to Tiger's clay horse, which she says she hates because it has a nose like a sheep, and here's Squirrel's headless bird. The head is rolling about on a plastic tray, and already I've promised we can fix it tomorrow, if we get time.


Jax said...

Welcome aboard the blogring, it's good to have you :)

Jules said...

Welcome to the blogring. Love your writing style, I am looking forward to reading more :o)

alison said...

Hi Grit & family, nice to meet you. How old are the girls? And I'm sure I've read something about Rodin and clay elsewhere on the blogring this week ....

HelenHaricot said...

that made me laugh out loud! welcome to the blogring. we are petits haricots.
second the 'how old' question and probable geographical blogring links!

Michelle said...

Ah, see you really don't need me any more.

grit said...

well thank you very much for all the kind comments, I may have to weep a bit now. And of course I need you Michelle; I am deeply impressed you have managed this far with Grit's drivel.

Clare said...

What a great post - can't wait to read more :-) Welcome to the blogring.


Gill said...

Welcome to the blogring! I'm on the other one, but I read this one too sometimes. I think I'm going to enjoy your blog :-)