Monday, 7 September 2009

Because most of the time we fall flat on our faces

The other day Tiger accompanied me to Scrapstore. She was terrified. Children are not allowed in Scrapstore.

To get inside, you must first pass through locked doors. Here are pinned large notices about what they will do to children who are NOT ALLOWED in Scrapstore. If you dare defy them and bring that child inside, then you will be DISEMBOWELED and hung lifeless over the wiggly eyes and that will serve as a lesson to all humanity what will happen if you bring children into Scrapstore.

And I agree. Really. Children should not be allowed in Scrapstore. There is nothing more irritating than a soft and gentle fantasy involving 2,600 plastic offcuts being broken apart by a child screaming MUMMMEEEEE at the tops of their voices. No. No children. I want that place all to myself.

But. Tiger has a specific project in mind. It requires foam. This type of foam? I plead for the hundredth time, gesticulating with my hands in the air, like a desperate woman clawing at straws. No! That type of foam? No!

Then Tiger suffers me like the idiotmama I am and with a tut and eyeroll tries to explain in excruciating detail what type of foam is exactlythattypeoffoam.

Until I throw up my hands in despair and say we will risk all, it is worth it, come and look at the foam yourself. In Scrapstore.

And together we make our way to Scrapstore. Once we have passed the locked doors and fearsome notices, Tiger catches a glimpse of this Aladdin's cave of plastic offcuts, bits of wool, cut out squares of paper, and it is like looking at a cave sparkling with diamonds and emeralds and rubies.

But to reach those treasures in the inner sanctum, you must first pass the six headed keeper at the paydesk and his name is Norman and he is The Guard. Tiger peeps out from behind me, and sees Norman. Norman catches Tiger in his sights and emits the sort of growl you could expect from a ferocious panther ready to leap upon you and rip you limb from limb.

Tiger shrinks in horror and Grit becomes a backsliding slime laden weed who is grovelling apologies on the floor for ignoring those signs of death and bringing a child right into the cave of delight that is Scrapstore.

After some negotiation, Tiger is allowed to pass. On the understanding that I will be disemboweled before dawn if she breathes out of line. Tiger, meanwhile, has seen the plastic offcuts and now has eyes as big as saucers at this warehouse filled with junk. Delirious, she starts to babble about all the exciting things she can make with wool and paper and foam and 2,600 plastic offcuts. And those things are all elephants! dinosaurs! fairies! horses! castles!

Norman, who has been unable to stop his ears from wigging all this chatter, must have a heart that melted. Because when all the choices are made - bits of string, clumps of wool, fabric scraps, 2,600 plastic offcuts - Norman gruffly passes over a little package to me, containing four blocks of Sculpey. As he does so, he says in his grim and surly voice that the baking clay is a present because Tiger is using Scrapstore properly and what's more, that is how it is meant to be used. And that comes out sounding like the greatest threat and the most wonderful praise all at the same time.

And I don't know what to say, apart from a mumbled thank you. Because it may sound stupid but that is one of the kindest things to have happened to us in a long time.

In simple truth, I walk about this world with headlines like this hanging over me, and 'common sense' from Delyth Morgan shaping my world, and all the while waiting to be dragged off to the local police station with a truancy officer gleefully filling in forms right behind us.

All because we have made this non-mainstream choice and chosen to home educate.

For that choice, we must face the one old lady who loathes the sight of kids gadding about on a Wednesday morning in full view and lets us know it in no uncertain terms. Or we must be flicked into the gutter by the young professional striding down the high street and who, this morning at 8.23 precisely, deposited her child in the local state school and knows for sure it's people like me that are failing to support our schools and bringing this country down.

And so often I am put in a position where I am made defensive, explaining things, justifying ourselves, even when I don't want to be that defensive person, and there is no need to feel these things, but I feel them all.

And sometimes moments like this happen, and gruff old Norman passes that baking clay in reward to us, to Tiger, and it feels like someone opened a window and a million and one diamonds and emeralds and rubies just shone out.


The Green Stone Woman said...

It sounds like the Scrapstore is a wonderful place to visit and that Norman is doing a good job guarding it. I am sure he appreciated someone with an imagination like Tiger very much.

Don't feel that you ever have to explain yourself to other people who happen to pass your way. It's really none of their business why you are there with your child at that hour of the day. You don't owe anyone an explanation.

mamacrow said...


Good old Norman!

We've had the odd moment like this, and I've felt so sorry for the Normans... because it's been such a surprise to them to encounter a child who, like Tiger in this case, is enthusiastic, eager, and just behaving nicely.

Raquel said...


Rachel M. said...

Wow that's really cool! Sculpy is one of the best modeling clay's. I hope you post photos when she's done.

sharon said...

Hooray for Norman! And bravo Grit and Tiger for entering the hallowed portals of Scrapstore and successfully completing their mission, and achieving a bonus score of super Sculpy to boot!

Glad you have climbed out of the grumpy not-talking pit. I'm thinking of dropping in there at the moment - even my supposedly grown-up off-spring can still drive me to the brink!

Maire said...

Glad you found the magic word for admittance, and glad Tiger's visit means that kids are more not less likely to be let in in the future. Love Sculpty, how sweet of him.

Maternal Tales said...

Oooh Scrapstore sounds fantastic. I want to go too!!! Glad it turned out to be such a positive experience. Don't feel you have to justify your choices - I admire you hugely and think you are doing a fantastic job. Your girls are very very lucky to have such a wonderful Mother x

Grit said...

hi irene, you are right, we do not owe explanations, and yet the government here is doing great harm in dividing communities and taking away the bonds of trust that make them work. i bloody hate it.

yes mamacrow; and i am pleased when we challenge stereotypes of children!

thank you raquel!

hi rachel! tiger has made a stripy cat. i might post that.

sharon, i guess it never ends, huh?

maire, that would be a good thing. but i believe the magic incantation 'health and safety' is uttered...

hi MT! find your nearest scrapstore from the directory and get yourself along and joined up. it is a fantastic resource, and we all need to build it up!

Potty Mummy said...

Never apologise, never explain...

You are doing the best possible thing for your children, there is no doubt about that. I would like to give Norman a huge hug for recognising how wonderful Tiger is.

Grit said...

thank you pm!

Tess said...

i found your blog via RenegadeParent. Just wanted to say I found this post quite beautiful. Actually all your posts are very moving and quite joyful.