Friday, 7 November 2008

The TV aerial that there's nothing wrong with

There is one sure antidote to a failing day, and that is do nothing. This is the most wonderful medicine, and I am sure is practised by home educators everywhere.

So today this is the bold target I set for myself and the gritlets. At breakfast I suggest we don't go anywhere, or do anything, or try to be clever with stuff, like a plan, or a piece of paper and a pen, or indeed anything, especially look for socks, which surely won't be matched anyway.

I suggest I read The December Rose by Leon Garfield, if anyone wants to listen.

If only it could stay like that, snuggled up on the sofa, Squirrel on the left, Tiger on the right, Shark lolling on the sofa back, grumbling that it's always her turn on the back, and she never gets a chance, ever ever ever, to sit on the fluffy cushions while a story's being read.

But then Grit remembers about the aerial.

Mr Pod, who lives on the middle floor, says he cannot get a picture on his new telly. He thinks we have an old aerial, and he's rung up a man in Northampton to drive goodness knows how many miles to come and fit a new aerial. I think I might have said, perched somewhere on the hall stairs last night, surrounded by screaming, and possibly with a noose round my neck, that I thought this big old house had a new aerial fixed a little while ago, and that it should work with this new fangled lark that is digital.

But because my brain resembles a plate of cold mashed cabbage, what with the screaming and the isolation, maybe those words didn't get through. Or maybe it is because somewhere I am thinking, I know nothing about aerials. The gritlets do not watch TV. And I don't get the chance even for Coronation Street. Now, only the DVD Night at the Museum and endless Dad's Army videos, so no TV at all. Therefore, I conclude, my brain ticking away like a plate of mushy peas, I probably do not know what I am talking about when it comes to aerials.

Anyway, Mr Pod, with his round face and his round made-for-television glasses stares blankly at me, like I cannot possibly know what I am talking about because I do not say it from behind a TV screen and do not look like Carol Vorderman. So Mr Pod must be right because he says he is, and it is all the aerial's fault, and there is a man coming here on Friday, and that is unstoppable, and by the way he is out fishing in the North Atlantic, so can I sort it out and let the aerial man have access to the roof.

And these are all my thoughts and recollections which gather on me as I settle down for a long read about Barnacle and the boat.

So I post the children on look-out duty and say we will read about Inspector Creaker's hunt for the locket through Victorian London until the man comes about the aerial.

And a couple of hours pass and we all forget.

Then I happen to take a break, wander through the hall, and there on the mat is the card which says Hi! I am your aerial man! I've just driven 90 miles with my ladder to fit your new aerial and YOU SODS WEREN'T AT HOME.

Which means I can now telephone the number on the card and say Hi! I'm the poor sod without a husband edging on a nervous breakdown down in the flat where the buzzer doesn't work, waiting for the aerial man we don't need and who didn't knock, called by the bloke who doesn't know what's wrong and isn't here. And by the way, there's nothing wrong with the aerial, and if there was your ladder wouldn't reach, so please, don't come back.

Like I said, I set out to achieve nothing today, and that's exactly what I did.


HelenHaricot said...

AH, i feel your buzzer pain, i think DH has fixed our bell several times this year. when my jehovas witness bell story is less painful, i might blog it, and i think you will laugh.

sharon said...

A day spent reading aloud and achieving nothing else sounds more rewarding than your previous post Grit. We can all hear and feel your pain.

I think maybe telling the Gritlets to sort through their various pieces of artwork, and to find a TIDY home for those they wish to keep, might help with the clutter problem. A stout cardboard box each should hold the 'can't part with' bits and they can put the rest out for recycling so that new paper and other products can be made thus sparing some trees...... That approach might help to ease their pain. They aren't babies now and should be part of the solution, then maybe that problem at least will be diminished for you ;-)

Now give yourself a break Grit. Send the Gritlets to bed, get yourself an industrial sized bar of your favourite chocolate and a large double of whatever beverage takes your fancy and watch 'Correy' (even if it is with a lousy picture). Dig will come home soon(ish), I hope, and life will get better again.

these boots said...

Oooh Grit I hope things are improving for you.

We've been through that 'Mummy threw out my precious *art*' stage too, and are still going through it. I now have a huge box where 'art' goes, and when the box is full, we 'select what we want to keep for the portfolios' (ha ha) and the fact that a few months or whatever has passed between putting the art in the box and throwing the contents out usually seems to lessen the blow.

And also, of course, the days that you can't see what they could have possibly learned that day are the days when they are probably busily assimilating and processing all the good stuff that's gone in their heads the rest of the week.

That said, we're a household who have very few scheduled activities (maybe once a week at most) and I *know* the girls are learning, I can see it everyday.

At the moment the girls are learning tap dancing from a dvd and the results of that are pretty amazing. Outlay = 2 pairs tap shoes from Ebay and one cheesy dvd also from ebay. They're also learning to read, and they spend a lot of time writing "stories". Most evenings we watch an 'educational' type dvd together (at the moment that's Around the World in 80 gardens ... ahem!) Other than that what they do most of the time looks like play - but when I hear them discussing it at night (under the duvet with a torch ) I realise what's going on in their heads is huge. They're making links between what they watch and what they do all the time. It's amazing. So now I'm pretty happy with the idea that our formal learning comes mostly in the shape of dvds to watch together. I do very vaguely theme stuff - so that the 80 gardens dvd is getting watched at a time when I'm doing a lot of stuff in our garden (and the girls 'help' with that when they fancy getting cold and muddy), and I'm reading The Secret Garden to them in the mornings before we get up. But that's the extent of my planning at the moment, but it seems to be working O.K nevertheless.

Personally I find the palaver of getting the girls ready and out the door in time to make it to our one activity a week so exhausting and stressful that I am in complete awe of your ability to do that most days.

Reading your home ed stuff is inspiring and wonderful for me. And when your immediate stress lessens a bit, I know you feel for yourself how brilliantly you do stuff.

Sorry - didn't mean to write a lecture. Toss up now between pressing publish or delete. :-/

Grit said...

you are all very kind in your comments folks.

i'm happy to admit this home ed lark is pretty tough some days ... which is the price i have to pay for that smug self satisfied feeling when we spend seven hours in a museum and then the kids are still sad when we have to leave. we've read most of the labels, drawn every wonderful item, quizzed the staff on a variety of topics and departed filled with ideas about how to continue our interests. i might, in that time, watch the school party of 30 kids enter and depart in the space of one hour, fifteen minutes of which is taken up by them queueing. that's the term's visit over and done with.

Kitty said...

I just had to say that you are so NOT failing. So NOT going backwards. You are probably in the middle and going forwards at full speed. Your kids are at the age where they just don't *see* the mess - it drives me mad too, but at least when mine are at school I can spend a few hours clearing it all up, and have the luxury of being able to throw stuff out unseen.

You're a heroine. And even heroines have bad days.


mamacrow said...

i'm really really sorry things are tough. but, (rather meanly) heartened that such a seasoned home ed vet has bad days too sometimes :)

I here you on the 'STUFF EVERYWHERE!'

In our house everyone has a basket box for their personal toys, and there are boxes for bricks, cars, etc. We generally 'put the house to bed' each night, and pop things away in their places for a new day... we've always done this so it works ok.

I have two 'washinglines' up in the kitchen that I clothes peg art to. When they've both been full for a while, then I clear them, keep some bits for posterity and recycle the rest. Because they can rescue what they want (space permiting) and they've seen it hanging up for ages, there's rarely issues.

About once a week or when needed or when (if i'm honest) I flip out, we have a big tidy up that would include junk rockets with messages to unicorns. If they want to keep them, they must put them away tidily - we have a baby and a 2yr old in the family so this a saftey issue, both for the babies and for the models themselves!

I'm usually reasonably flexable about things, while forever pointing out that we have limited room, so they are usually reasonably flexable too (depending on which way the wind is blowing) so things arn't TOO bad. I think having only one REALLY dedicated crafter and two dabbelers and two 'too small'ers helps.

to be honest, my real problem is piles of books. everywhere. they' just seem to mushroom. Just as i get a load of library books back to the library, grandma unearths piles that will be useful, and so it goes on and on...

Grit said...

kitty, thank you so much; i am feeling a bit stronger now!

hi mamacrow! i have no solution to the piles of stuff, apart from to flip over the edge once in a while! and you are right about the piles of books too. i'm sure i don't buy that many. i think they breed.

kellyi said...

I can better your throwing out of precious creations (and make you feel a whole load better about it in the process.)

I had a pre-christmas clean out of the boys toys and decided to freecycle what I didn't want them to keep.

When the new lucky owner came to collect said items unfortunately my middle boy came with me to the door. I handed the tesco bags to the lady (damn tesco for making bags so cheap you can see through them!) The poor lady left with the sound of middle boy shreiking "those are MY TOYS mummy! You gave that lady MY TOYS!" Cue a huge amount of screaming and stropping.

I am also with you on achieving nothing. As we speak moron child (my only daughter) is filling her time by covering her glasses on her face with the cleaning cloth and practising her fake burping skills.

mamacrow said...

I will say I never ever get rid of toys without the owners say so, unless they are under 1andhalf or so and therefore inarticulate.

I am alowed to throw things away if they are broken in a dangerous way - sharp edges, melted battery etc - but if its a VERY special toy, I will try to mend (sticking plaster on the sharp edges)

HOWEVER, we have and have always had finite space, so there are limits on things, and if those limits are breeched they must have a sort out and can only keep what fits in the storage space available to them - so if only 5 stuffed toys fit comfortably on the bed, then they must choose their fave five from the 20 or so that have bred. If they can't or wont do this, not even with help, then I will do it for them but they can watch me and/or view the different piles etc.

Yes, this can be harsh, though only my eldest really has REAL problems with it - different temperments, they all have I guess.

I could never sneak stuff out - my mum was the same - I just couldn't live with the guilt.. so I am a bit of a seargent major about keeping stock down to a reasonable level, but I'm completely in the open about it!

mamacrow said...

oo, forgot to add - now I've got a snazy phone with a digital camara in it I use that ALOT to capture big wall displays and it's especially useful to capture models that can't stay that way for ever necessarily - lego bricks ones for example.
They seem quite satisfied with that, it commits for prosperity and they even get to take the photo themselves sometimes!