Saturday, 5 June 2010

Two ways of looking

If you are closely involved in the daily life of your own children, at some point you may feel like you are trapped in a long, dark brick tunnel with no light at the end.

In the tunnel with you is an alien bat monster. You never see the full size of the alien bat monster, but it has the measure of you.

The alien bat monster watches you, while you wade on hands and knees along the sludge-filled tunnel floor, groping your way in hopeless search to a quick exit. It decides this is a good moment to do stuff with you that it calls playing.

Soon you are face down in tunnelsludgemanure. Then the alien bat monster might stop the fun game with the trip wires, spears and house bricks. It scrabbles onto the walls instead, screaming a piercing eeeeeewwaaaagghhh sound that slices your brains like a hot knife through butter.

You might wish for it all to end. But the alien bat monster wants you to love it. It shows its devotion to you as it crashes about your head, smacks you in the face, rips up your clothing, gnaws your ankles, and vomits on you.

You want now to be the time you are justified in catching it, and pulling off its wings.

Instinctively, the alien bat monster detects it has almost broken your spirit. It knows the end may be nigh.

Time for a different approach. It will pathetically cling onto your clothing, emit piteously soft kitten mewing, and snuffle at you with little gulping weeping sounds.

You are softened, and heart-touched, and moved to try and find its tiny head to tenderly stroke, and you will forgive it everything. Just before it sinks its teeth in your fingers.

This is the point I notice something. That this moment is managed differently between the normal parent and the normal home educating parent.

I see that the normal parent thinks now is time to blast through the brick tunnel and dump their alien bat monster somewhere else. This is called 'time out' 'having a break' 'restoring my work-family balance' and 'reestablishing my adult identity by going shopping for shoes'.

I see the normal home educating parent conversely thinks it is time to spend more time together: they grab hold the little claws of their squealing alien bat monster, refuse to let go, and say Righty-o-matey, since we have to get through this tunnel together to the bitter end, is it time now to consensually discuss issues of non-coercive cooperative family relationships in a postmodern eco-sensitive context?

I do not know if this preamble helps you understand, dear reader, why today you can find the normal home educating parent Grit and the three alien bat monsters lifted temporarily out of the tunnel and determinedly sat together under a shaded canopy to pummel the shit out of clay.

Dig calls this time, family therapy. I call it family art. The organiser says the work we produce adds to a project based here.

Anyway, it gives the alien bat monsters, and the alien bat monster home educating parent, a moment to sit, round the same table, being reasonably pleasant to each other, in a shared artistic endeavour to create something beautiful and enduring for display in the community in which this family lives. Endeavouring to be non-coercive, cooperative, and postmodernly eco-sensitive, in fact.

OK, it is also very calming, so may be therapy disguised as art, but is better than basket weaving.

And the day really goes very well indeed. So very well, that it is quite peaceful and brilliant and healing and gentle and loving and the alien bat monsters don't seem quite so fierce after all.

Tiger creates a horse:

You know her well enough by now to know that whatever the question is, the answer is a horse. Apart from when the answer is to smash up the house and lock herself in a bedroom.

Squirrel creates this:

Everyone looks at this and expresses their complete overwhelming admiration and devotion before gently inquiring, What is it? For the answer, you will have to wait until opening day like everyone else.

Shark creates this:

Wind woman, grown from early memories of sitting in this garden, threading wind chimes to hang in the trees.

Grit, because she is headstuffed with edubabblecrap in a patheticweedycommunityhippy sort of way, blubs a little with the happy, simple sanctuary of the together experience, and creates this:

These interlocking hands represent how we stay together: our interdependence, the development of non-coercive solutions to problems, the support we can give each other for personal growth, our delicate balances, mutual trust, and ways in which we can help lead each other out of deep dark tunnels.

It is entirely accidental that they also resemble a pair of scrabbling grasping zombie hands, skin-bound in death and living hell, trapped and doomed on a journey which ends in a melted corpse, and something I may have removed from the freezer only a short time earlier.

But, like I say. Better than basket weaving. Now, back to the tunnel, refreshed.


sharon said...

I think I need a bit of that therapy about now!

Big mamma frog said...

oh yeah! give me some clay too!

Funny, when I was pregnant with eldest I always refered to him as 'the bat' because it felt like he had lots of angular clawy things digging into my ribs and I had this vision of him hanging hanging upside down waiting to suck a bit more blood out of me. Thankfully he just turned out to be a kinda angular bony squawky baby with quite big ears.

Deb said...

oh my gosh - that is exactly my response when I am wresting with my home educated alien bat monsters! "we must need more one-on-one time"

Is it some sort of insanity, do you think?

screamish said...

I LOVE your non-coercive zombie hands...true talent...

Kelly said...

Masochists, the lot of us. But for the best of reasons.

sarah said...

Hi Grit! Thank you so much for your comment. We ( well I say 'we' but I mean 'they' really!!) are embarking on the whole new world of triplets so its good to see 10 year olds with talent and a mum who has survived it all!! Sarah x

sarah said...

oh - by the way I am from

Sarah x

MadameSmokinGun said...

Your wonderful clasping hands reminded me more of my own, clinging on to the right to open my own purse when I choose to, not just every time we clock a crisps machine.