Would you take your kids to a show home? A show home where everything is laid out perfect? Deep pile carpets, cream sofa, perfect bone china plates, colour coordinated bathroom with all the beautiful little bars of soap sitting on perfectly folded theatre set towels? Then the bedrooms: one like a princess room waiting only for the princess? Breathe deeply because this show home whispers I am style.
Grit takes her grubby little gritlets to one today. Partly because she is deranged by the vision that is home education, but also because she gets a buzz by doing these things, like the wet afternoons after the shopping creche closed. To go home I walked a slow, deliberate walk through John Lewis china and glass department. Best, my eyeful of toddlers were not strapped into the triple buggy. No, I just shouted Remember, kids! Mamma only has two hands! Be careful now! And that gave my sad day a little something like an evil sparkle: one way to resist a world that looked at me like an escaped freak from a sideshow was to become one.
Well now I do the same, and justify it not with What you looking at? But with We're home educated! like this is explanation and justification enough for some bizarre behaviour you're now about to witness.
Or it could perhaps be that home education unhinges you. Oh yes I believe it does a little, because once you step away from that normal template parent, then you start challenging all sorts of ideas and people and stick your face in places where it doesn't belong, and you may justify all oddities on the basis that knowledge is not something that is handed down to us; knowledge is something we produce for ourselves, and we're producing it right here and now and this is why we are carrying this chimney pot and that dead hedgehog.
And in this knowledge-liberated home ed world, this perfect show home is a perfect learning opportunity. Because last week we talked about architecture and looked at some working drawings and talked about building materials and construction methods. So today it's easy to say Let's go and see a building site!
You see how logical that is? How easy you can jump from talking about stuff to packing all the kids in the car and driving to a sales office here...
and interrogating the saleswoman for an hour, picking her brains about house building which Grit is pleased to call an architecture workshop, before watching the shock result when I say And can we now see the show home?
Once inside, Grit's plan of course goes wrong. This is the problem with knowledge - once someone gets hold of some, they start running about with it uncontrollably and doing what they like. A bit like Squirrel all over the show home with my phone camera. Because Squirrel, Shark and Tiger decide this is the perfect place to live in forever; mostly because it lacks any plastic crap over the floor and scribble on the walls - in fact no sign of real trashy human habitation at all - but so awe inspiringly Disney perfect is this palace to my little girls that they forget why we are here at all, but photograph every molecule in that show home. They finally only give up when the saleswoman's face is frozen by fear and the memory card on my phone is so fat and filled up that it is groaning under the weight shouting NO MORE PICTURES OF THE GREEN VASE.
But really, even after the shouting and fisticuffs over possession of the phone camera, this visit fits perfectly with Grit's project on architecture. Because these are not just any old homes, these are Oxley Woods homes, and they use no slates on the roof, and no bricks on the walls and they use torn up recycled paper for insulation. These are green homes with solar panels and ecohats and take a matter of minutes to build as opposed to half a year, and this is what we come to see:
As we are leaving, the saleswoman wipes her brow and heaves a big sigh and consoles herself with the thought that when all is said and done, the little grits are the house buyers of the future. And then I can add smugly, And the architects.