Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Survival day

Drove the kids to the woods. Kids, not bodies. Note that, because I am pleased about it. This means I survived yesterday's challenge of triplet parenting, which is to listen all day long to three small people shouting each other down before becoming so angry at a sister for yelling at exactly the same time and not shutting her mouth when she is told to SHUT UP, that she delivers a great big sisterly punch to the head. And what goes around, comes around. As mother to this nest of misery I can only watch while my heart is ripped out of my body and torn to shreds in front of me.

But today we can all relax. Because there is a home ed workshop in the woods.

I could get poetic about these ancient woods. See those twigged and bony fingers stripping those brown and yellowing leaves, flake by flake, down to the bare skin? Poetry is one of those essentials I'm putting in my survivalist kit bag. Not because the emotive language moves me, because it doesn't, much, but because it's quick to read. My eyes can remind my brain I am still alive, and all in the five minutes before the last coffee and the first scream. Anyway, in my survival kit bag I'm also perversely adding a book by Ian Mortimer. Then some fire sticks and a packet of green tea. I have brought green tea to the woods today, in a flask. And I have brought a picnic. Which some might call cheating, because today's home ed workshop, run by our wonderful parks department, is how to survive in the woods. Especially when there is no poetry, Ian Mortimer, firesticks, green tea or sandwiches.

We learn a trick or two on our survival course today. Survival is very appropriate to my life. It comes close on the heels to yesterday, when the very practical and logical idea came to the doting mama that carrying Tiger, Shark and Squirrel to the woods, frisking them for breadcrumbs and depositing them in a clearing before legging it, could be an appropriate and mature response to the continued squalling and fighting. Of course it made sense to plan a return pick-up at 8pm. There I would find them exactly where dropped, oblivious to the bats and bears, still punching the hell out of each other. Survival, of course, can also take the form of ear plugs, beer, whisky and slamming doors. However, today we are in the woods, and must survive there without any comforts from the Co-op. And without doors.

Raquel from the parks department first asks the children to tie plastic bags to trees to collect the water that is in a plant's breath. This is a very clever idea. It teaches everyone about transpiration and means there would be the crucial element to my cup of tea. I make a mental note to put a plastic bag into my survivalist kit bag too. And it's very poetic, don't you think? All those trees, sighing out their misty breathing. (No, not retching because someone has suffocated them by tying a plastic bag round their lungs.)

Next, the children are led off into the deep dark woods to build some shelters. Despite this being one of those obvious moments when I really should scarper to find a decent coffee somewhere, I tag along meekly, accompanied by all the other dutiful home ed parents who stay to see what their offspring are being taught. Perhaps we are all doing research for the forest dump solution. Truly, being with your own children 24/7 is hard work. And I doubt I am the only mother who has thought of dumping the lot of them and running off to the hairdressers.

Well the shelters are all very good, suitable for a cuddly sheep four inches tall, but as Raquel says, we do not want to encourage people to actually try sleeping in the woods and staying here. And Grit agrees, while looking at her feet, and denying that the idea ever came into her head.

When all the work of the shelters is done, sadly there is no time left to find out how to catch rabbits, spear them and roast them, or how to discriminate between two mushrooms that look exactly the same: one of which feeds you and the other which surely kills you. There is no time for that, but there is time for Shark, Squirrel and Tiger to scoff tasty jam sandwiches and for us all to discuss exactly what might happen if one day, heaven forbid, everyone found they were lost in the woods, and mama, even with her survivor's kit bag, was nowhere to be seen.


Maggie May said...

Oh it does sound fun except that there seems to be a slight desperation in your voice!

sharon said...

And not a witchetty grub or honey ant in sight!

I sympathise on the squabbling front, it is just too, too depressing. Still, look on the bright side, in 8 or 9 years you can pack them all off to University (probably best to use 3 different ones though) and have a rest!

The Dotterel said...

She wasn't really called Raquel, was she?

Grit said...

hi Maggie May! we all go through bad patches, eh? fortunately, there is no tax on laughter, sighing, or slamming doors (yet).

Oh wow, Sharon, that is a big thought. I shall weep, weep, weep, when that day comes.

hi dotterel! i change all names to protect the innocent. raquel is a little too close... but i liked the idea that next time i see her she'll be wearing a thong made out of lion and waving an ox bone.

Elibee said...

Am I the only one that felt surreal in that wood. We were in the middle of an ancient woodland watering sheep with a watering can. WATERING SHEEP!!!!!! Why is it that no one tied plastic bags to trees on the way in so that we could find our way back out? After half an hour of thrashing about in the undergrowth (which I studiously ignored in case I was imagining it) that poor mother, who had to leave early, fell back out of the brambles looking like a recruitment poster for the army camouflage unit and asked hysterically if anyone new the way back to the car park. And everyone smiled happily and said 'no, ha ha ha' and went back to building sheep houses leaving her to go staggering back in because nothing is more important than making sure your 4 inch cuddly sheep is safe from the watering can.

Grit said...

oh, elibee, you are quite right. i had forgotten the sheep were watered. if i had added that detail, people might think i had started hallucinating and making things up. and i edited all mention of the life size mermaids.