Thursday, 10 December 2009

Grit's guide to Christmas for mean parents (4): Decorations

Don't have any.

The end.

OK, I understand you might feel a little short-changed now after that Christmas advice.

I mean, you would pay good money to come to grit's day! Source of eternal parenting sunshine and bright hope worldwide!

You would, wouldn't you? Assuming you say YES I WOULD, I know you expect better service.

Like the reason why grit is Mrs Touchyabouttheruddydecorationsinthefirstplace.

Well there is a reason I turn my back in total denial of anything decorative at this festive time.

We are a home educating family. The children already decorated my house. And as home educating families know, their idea of decoration isn't confined to the fridge.

I bet I am not alone in saying I have not seen my walls, floor, nor any surface, for nigh on ten years. Every bead, button, stick-on loveheart and scrap of paper ever slaughtered in the name of art has gone up on the walls all around me. I am surrounded by the sacrificial remains.

This is a lifestyle that uses every inch of a house as a teaching aid and learning resource. This is a path that allows kids self-expression, that validates every skill, pen stroke, and the near-ability to roll out of bed before 10am in the morning.

Of course we call the result decoration. Or Education. Achievement. Commemoration. Adornment. Beautification. Triumph of hope over despair. Walls that look like tombstones. A total bloody mess.

Then, thanks to the daily pursuit of the decorative arts within the home education setting, there's the decoration I already keep on every surface of the house.

The mail table. Don't send me any cards. We won't open them.

Tiger's desk. Aka landfill.

Computer table. Shark with her hand over the screen.
She doesn't want you to see what she's viewing.
Being a home educated child, it is how to use a bong.

Hall table. Last seen 2003.

And this is a view of one of the kitchen walls, which is especially reserved for showcasing decorative items.

To take this picture I already moved the floor decoration - three empty beer bottles and two mouse traps - and I stood on the kitchen table where I extracted from my left ear a wicker fish chained to the ceiling. (And if you doubt that, ask Ellie and Mr W. They are regular visitors and bring curry.)

At this point, do not say grit, in the right light that kitchen could look quite attractive in a post-modern chic eclectic type of way. NO WAY. This kitchen is littered floor to ceiling with kid art and craft since the first bum prints in 2001.

See that face far right on the wall? That was made by two-year olds Shark, Squirrel and Tiger bombing a piece of cardboard with paint and beads. But can I take it down? Can I fly up to the moon on the back of a fish?

The problem with decoration of the education variety is that it turns me into a schizophrenic. My brain takes up polar positions and one side starts arguing with the other until both halves are smacking the crap out of each other. As umpire I am forced to knock myself out with eight aspirins and a bottle of whiskey.

The conversation starts something like this:

Left brain: God! It's a total mess in here!

Right brain: I know! Strip that crap off the walls and let's see some space!

Left brain: No! No, no no! Don't you dare clear up! This mess is the price you have to pay. Because this is ART. And it belongs to the children. They gave ART to your walls with LOVE. And you have no right to remove that. Bitch.

Right brain: But look at that picture of a flower! It looks like catshit.

Left brain: OK, good point. That one does. You could throw that away. But Squirrel will notice that you think her art is CATSHITRASH. And that will be the lesson you teach Squirrel. That she is CATSHITRASH. You MONSTER.

Right brain: But can't we throw it all away and start over again on a clean wall?

Left brain: You tried that in 2002. Look where it got you! That was the night you thought it was a good idea to throw yourself under a bus. So why don't you try it again ARTKILLINGMONSTERMOTHER?

So the upshot to this chapter in the long-winded series of Christmas Death is

Decorations? Save yourself time, money and SANITY. Don't go there.

Especially if you home educate. Please please please, in all that is holy, can we call a decoration-free day once a year?

Can we all just go now and clear up and SEE WALLS AND WORKSURFACE ONCE IN A YEAR.

PS. Dig just reminded me of these. No wonder I had wiped them from my consciousness.


Claire said...

We ran out of the blu-tack stuff so now my two stick their creations on the wall with ubiquitous brown plasticine - not pretty.

We have considered letting them repaint the wall themselves, might be fun - and of course a talking point for the HE inspector if he/she ever darkens our door (over my dead body).

Theresa said...

Oh, my. This sounds way too familiar!

Elizabeth said...

Am I a monster because I have no qualms throwing out my kids stuff? Saying that--not much gets put on the walls! I have retained power over the wall space in my home!

Grit said...

claire! i've never got plasticine to work. maybe i should leave it on the radiator a while before we slap it on the walls. things can't get any worse.

theresa, if that is the case, we need a support group.

hi elizabeth! you are SENSIBLE. you clearly have control of your brain. more than can be said for grit.

kellyi said...

holy moly.

What is going on in that last picture!?

Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly said...

Well, I can't spell. So I deleted my comment. Only forgot to copy it. Now do not have strength to start again. Will try to summarize. Yes, when oldest was 14 (seven years ago), I discovered I could throw out their artwork and they would NEVER NOTICE! So I took it all down, stuffed the good half in plastic boxes, stored under their beds, and let them start again! House continues to be covered, but I now throw it all out (or store it or frame it) from time to time. Sometimes I just replace one piece of art with another, and they don't even seem to know.

Of course, they are boys.

sharon said...

Haven't decorated the house since we moved to Australia. Wonderfully liberating!

Re artworks on walls, can you not negotiate a process whereby any new item for display is off-set by the removal of said child's choice of her own older artwork to be stored in a box (or even disposed of if you are very lucky)? Surely the repeated layers of artistic endeavour must be making your rooms shrink, although the insulation factor could be good ;-)

Heather said...

I feel unwell just looking at those photos. especially the last two! think i need a lie down.

Rachel M. said...

Wow those last 2 photos are priceless!

Maire said...

Just about to type but was going to say exactly what Rachel M said.

emma said...

those last two pics are fantastic. And yes, I am not bothering with christmas decorations for precisely the same reasons. My walls are covered with various offsprings' blue period (last wednesday), yellow period (last weekend) and other abstract offerings. I'm still hoping someone will visit and say "that splodge is pure genius! I will pay your child £10,000 for it!"

Ellie's Treasures said...

Brilliant - looks similar to my house (although we don't have paint all over our walls like in your last pics!). Tip from when I worked in a playgroup (we didn't let kids put paint all over the walls there either, sadly) - use toothpaste if you don't have any blue tac. It works!