Sunday, 31 August 2008

Keeping an open mind

Travel is amazing, don't you think? One minute here you are, in familiar surroundings. The next minute you are on a mountainside haggling with a man who is holding a yak and trying to sell you a sharpened dagger which he swears on his mother's life is a souvenir and not a murder weapon. And, at that moment, with the sun shining, the yak lowing, and the two-foot blade only the price of a loaf of bread back home, it actually looks like a reasonable deal and surely the airport staff will be delighted and say No problem! Just pop the scimitar in the cabin baggage!

Of course the experience could go badly wrong and you could journey home wounded, humiliated, mugged, broke, or with post traumatic stress disorder, but the one thing that travel to distant lands never fails to instill in me is hope. Hope that on the mountainside it might not be raining, so you can actually see the yak and the view. And hope that as you travel on, you will discover new places in the world, new people, and surprising new experiences in yourself too; opinions, values, understandings, compassions, beliefs.

I have believed that home education is our travelling. Everyday. And best of all, for these most precious of insights we don't travel further than our own backyard. Here we meet those people whose world views, knowledges and understandings are so different from ours that I am astonished we find common areas to talk about at all, apart from the surprise that it isn't raining.

We have taken the children by the hands and led them to look at the world through the eyes of anglers, birdwatchers, miners, historians, monks (Benedictine and Buddhist), biologists; we have learned from experts in bats, lichens, trees, fish, engines; we have seen the world of miniaturists, astronomers, archaeologists, sailors, artists, farmers, engineers, Vikings, earwig enthusiasts, and zombied out drug addicts. (OK, I made the last one up, but give us time.) And as we go on, searching out these people with all their wisdoms, I hope that in each of their ways, these wonderful, significant people will lead us to new knowledges, both of the world, and of ourselves.

And this, I say to myself, and possibly Dig and the Gritlets, is exactly why we are going to Pontins. To learn about people, the world, and ourselves. So Grit, you have had your pep talk. Now get packing.

Because you see I might have done the worst thing possible for a home educator. Already made up my mind. Over the last 24 hours I have, possibly alongside Dig's quiet show of no enthusiasm, convinced myself that the Pontins experience will be like Cell Block H without the fun.

For my huge lack of enthusiasm about this project - possibly now so large I could pour into a double decker bus only a fraction of this hopeless doomed gloom - I could, of course, blame the weather. Because the sky at five this evening looks like the sky at seven this morning. Leaden grey. With a bit more rain. Nevertheless, with merely hours to go before departure time, some preparation for this journey has to be done. So at nine this evening I do not so much pack, more throw into a couple of holdalls an assortment of possessions, some wrenched directly from the washing pile, and then tip a jumble of different sized shoes into a plastic bag, and hope that when they all disgorge at the other end, some will match.

Of course I do not allow Shark, Squirrel and Tiger to catch me morosely packing with a face like I might be holidaying to meet the bluecoat daughter of death in the Pontins pit of hell. No, to them I say every new experience is like a wonderful gift, because you never know where it will lead, who you will meet, and what you will learn.

And silently, I tell myself, what I should learn must not be I will never do this ever ever ever again.


Minnie said...

Have a nice time. You will be ok:o))

OvaGirl said...

All the things you say are absolutely true Grit, so hang in there. And if worse comes to know you'll have some cracking stories....

Samurai Beetle said...

Well after reading the one forbidding review of Pontins and your growing anxiety, I'm very interested to read the outcome - or outtakes! I have every confidence that you will find at least one positive experience to boast about.

Maggie May said...

Sure you will all be fine and hope you have a really great time. I expect the girls will be the centre of attraction!

sharon said...

Cheer up Grit, there's bound to be plenty of nearby fields to retreat into, possibly clutching a bottle of beer or two. If I remember correctly some of the local brews are pretty good.

I have just returned from 8 days of 24hour care of 1 x 10yr girl, 1 x 8yr girl, 1 x 6yr boy, 1 insane puppy and 2 cats. Parents had gone to the Maldives. I have impressed myself, we all survived - and with no visible bruises. With consummate timing, tomorrow a couple of hubby's old workmates from the UK arrive. I might hit the bottle myself tonight . . .

Grit said...

you are right minnie, we have survived, although i feel a bit battered.

i may not be up to the telling of them, though, ovagirl!

hi samurai beetle! we have survived the accommodation, which is positive, and we enjoyed great yarmouth, in true british style. with beer and chips.

hi maggie may! thank you! there are wonderful things to see and do all over this amazing country, as we find... and i am sure pontins accommodation does not put us off norfolk, of which i am very fond!

bravo sharon! i could not handle multi age groups and am in awe! i will drink a well brewed beer to your good health and in mututal support!