Thursday, 6 November 2008

Going backwards, downhill

I am failing right now. Lots of bits of me are failing. I am failing to see a way out of failing. Which means I do the thing that occasionally I do, and that is close my eyes, grit my teeth and get on with it.

There are so many reasons why I am failing, I can't count them all. But the house is filled with crap, so I'll start there.

We have enough junk here to advertise ourselves as a landfill, then everyone for miles around can come and dump their stuff on us, and do you know what? I wouldn't even notice your contribution. The floor of the schoolroom is already knee-deep in bits of cut up paper, cardboard, plastic junk, toys, and a model for a space rocket.

What's more, Squirrel, who sometimes has a way of learning that I do not understand, she has set out a few death traps by tying the furniture together. She ties the legs of chairs and tables together with lengths of wool, then hides the tripwires under cardboard boxes and calls them space rockets. Frankly it is driving me crazy. It is driving me so crazy that if she does not stop this, I will find something to kill.

But if I take control, and scissor my way through the wool and paper models and all the home-made junk and throw it away, I am guilty - no, by my own standards, damned as far as hell and back - for stealing the precious learning experience my children own, and which is rightly theirs.

And if only I could dump it secretly. Because I cannot tip the junk in the recycling sacks. No. Because these sacks are clear. That means you can see through them. Then Squirrel sees that her darling mama, the one she trusted, the one she thought was on her side, she just picked up that space rocket with the secret messages to Lem the unicorn, and she shoved them along with all the other crap produced here at a rate of 40,000 pieces of paper a day, and stuffed them all in the rubbish.

Well, Squirrel, Shark and Tiger, the sight of you all, three years ago, wailing and screaming in anguish and pain while ripping out from the recycling bin all the millions of bits of paper you graced with wax crayon scribble is a sight I'll never forget in my life. So now I throw your stuff away in black plastic bin liners so you can't see it, and scream that mummy just threw away all your art. Why don't you just stab me in the heart with kebab skewers and have done with it?

But listen here girls, I am trying to teach you right now the difference between rough working drawings and the finished pieces that we work hard to create and will proudly show to other people. And there is a difference, OK? So please, unless you want me to kill myself right here and now, allow me to throw out the forty seven bits of paper with half a horses head drawn on them in yellow wax crayon.

Now another reason why I am failing. Some days I feel we learn nothing, do nothing. Except go backwards. To keep that dreadful vacuum of life away, everyday I maintain an activity, a busyness, because if I do not lay down my head on that pillow each night, thinking today we achieved something, anything, then I know my body will shut down in a cannot go on state, while my mind might explode and go awol. That thought scares me witless and keeps me planning just for another day. One more day.

And this is part of that very big reason why I am failing, crawling, really, lost, in a dark box, is that home education can be a lonely, lonely option. Especially when the husband you might once have had is sitting in business class far above the Pacific ordering another glass of wine, while the only adult here is reaching some end part of what it is to cope, and soon will be entering that place which is not coping.

Then here come these days when it isn't enough to be surrounded by garbage, or failing to learn anything, or struggling alone.

Here comes a day when I am confronted by this timetable that I have carefully set up - the gym and trampoline lessons - and these three little voices say this does not work for me. Which would be fine if the little voices that belong to Shark, Squirrel and Tiger actually said words this measured and reasonable: this does not work for me.

But I guess like so many children, this does not work for me actually translates into screaming, yelling, slamming doors, swinging punches, clawing at the walls, throwing stuff around the room and hurtling their bodies to the floor in a bomb blast of chaos, misery and damage. And all of that is prompted today when I say, it is Thursday and time for gym and trampoline. And then two of my little charges say that phrase, this does not work for me, but translated into Shark and Tiger language, while Squirrel sits in the car and witters on about her hat, and I feel the right thing to do with my life right now is to end it.

Todays, like today, when I am drowned in junk, alone, walking blindfold backwards, missing those carefully planned lessons of gym and trampoline, listening to screams, sitting weeping in the car, in despair, I can only do what I can do. Bang my head with my fists, grit my teeth, resolve to get on with it, and hope that somewhere in the chaos and the crap and the misery, all this grit, one day, some other day, somewhere else, some other time, delivers a pearl.