Saturday, 21 August 2010

The ribbon

Home education, wherever you are, is a strange business. So much of it relies on your ability as an adult to shift your mindset, experience the world through the eyes of a child, and hold your tongue.

There are some moments I can't do it. I clash with my children. Then I shout. And slam doors. Like a child.

Just at that moment, I was busy. I wanted something else. I was adult thinking. Big thoughts. Complex thoughts. Mountains, clouds. Failure, success. And along comes the ribbon.

Then I deeply resent my children. I resent the way they stop me thinking my thoughts, and make me think theirs. I resent the way they force into my consciousness and turn their world view into my world view.

They do it in many ways. Sometimes with a simple Mummy? Other times, with a scream that shatters all my concentration. Today, look here. Let me draw your attention only to this. To this, right here. Can you see it yet? It is the empty space where the ribbon should be.

You might think, That's easy. I could help find that ribbon. Then I could go back to having my grown up thoughts. Yesterday, I'm sure I picked it up from the floor where it lay, discarded, behind the chair. I picked it up, gripped the strong satin between my fingers, and said to myself, that's a lovely piece of ribbon. I shall put that in the box, where the needlecraft things go. I'm sure the children will want that beautiful purple ribbon for something.

Try saying it. Then now, listen here. Did you steal my ribbon?

No, I didn't say that. How I resent the way my children take the words I say, twist them round, fashion them into words I never said. Then they add their own special poison to the blade - betrayal, disloyalty, how could you treat me this way - then stab back at me, aiming for the heart.

So I got out of bed this morning, and thought, Today I'll do great things, I'll go places, see wonderful sights, think through ideas I never had before. I'm sure I would do that.

But it hasn't turned out like that. My day becomes filled with Where is the ribbon? I left it here. You must have taken it. Why did you steal my ribbon? Why would you do that? You always do that. You always steal the things I want. You know I wanted that ribbon, more than anything in the world.

Now the ribbon has become everything, and every other thought I had is gone. It is the pale purple satin loop that binds the universe. Without it, the universe all falls to pieces in loss, destruction, chaos. We are all at each other's throats. The ribbon is confrontation, aggression, vengeance. I try to divert us all away. Maybe string would do it. Or embroidery thread. Please don't talk about the ribbon. I dread the ribbon.

Now I feel miserable. Tomorrow I might wake up and I'll fret only about the ribbon. I'll worry about how we can acquire that ribbon. The perfect matching shade of purple. It must be this thick, no shorter than this. It must wrap around my finger and hold the universe together, just so, with this tension, all held together.

I have to wrestle back that thinking. I have to let my grown up thinking go, about mountains and clouds and failure and success. And fill it with purple ribbon, failure and success. I must shift mindset: fill the empty space where the ribbon should be with cooperation, negotiation. I have to help the ribbon flow away, and in its place put resourcefulness. I have to turn a child mind round to options, which are opportunities and possibilities. Perhaps with those I can teach consideration, thoughtfulness, and patience.

Yes, I'll do that. Even if I don't spend all day staring at the mountains and the sky, thinking my big person thoughts of failure or success. Even if I spend all day looking for a ribbon, thinking small person thoughts of purple ribbon, failure and success. Anyway, the things you can achieve with a ribbon are vast, and probably bigger than the mountains, and more various than the clouds.

Maybe the ribbon is our home education for today. Maybe there's not much difference between big and little people thinking in the world, but maybe in the things we choose to think about. Failure and success? Or how much self-determination we could have with a mountain or a ribbon.

I shall try and teach these things and call it education. How we are all building our resources up again, from the ground upwards, and not from the mountain down.

Or maybe I should just stop thinking. Be practical and go out and spend the day shopping, buying as much purple ribbon as I can. That would address the problem we have: how we are very many people brought together in one house, with not much ribbon between us.


sharon said...

Hope you find some ribbon soon ;-)
If you e-mail me an address I can send you some emergency crafting supplies and other pretty things. I had begun to put a package together when you announced your impending departure for foreign climes!

Grit said...

hi sharon, that is very kind of you! i will email you an address. i have wanted to post things out from china too, and i nearly did already, except the post office was shut and today everyone had a fight and that rather took the bounce out of the venture. i brought along some basic craft kits because i foresaw trouble. but if it wasn't the purple ribbon it would have been the pink pencil sharpener or the white cotton thread...

sharon said...

Consider it done - well as soon as you e-mail anyway ;-)