Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Not guilty

I cruised past another of those articles on parenting the other day. You find them all over the blogosphere. Doing the best for your children. It means: keep regular bedtimes, be vigilant with schoolwork, be consistent in discipline, remember your status as role model, ensure wipe-clean kitchen surfaces at all times.

I wondered, am I meant to feel guilty that I don't do this stuff?

I don't feel in the least bit guilty. Not about ignoring the kids, letting them choose their own bedtimes, leaving the juniors home alone while I visit the gym, spending an hour trying on clothes, having a cathartic bout of the hissy fits, negotiating the day's activities, lying around in bed until 10am, sending Shark shopping for dinner because I am too busy rearranging books on a shelf and, yesterday, swapping one of their car seats for a bottle of beer.

Indeed, I feel so non-guilty about these pleasurable activities, that I shall probably do more of them all at the first opportunity.

And this type of day. More of these, please.

Shark, Squirrel and Tiger all get out of bed before I do. I hear them rattling around on the breakfast hunt, invading cupboards, scavenging in the bread basket. I stay in bed and read the newspaper with coffee mug number three. I'll go shopping later. The kids will chomp their way through the apple basket and wander off into the garden to play. It's a normal school day, but we're not doing school. Do I feel guilty yet? Nope.

Later, when I look for the kids, the garden's empty, but I find something else. Scratched channels in the soil filled with coloured paints and clays. I amuse myself with an idea about how someone trapped under the earth is trying to get out, and carving messages to us from the other side of the soil. The kids will probably tell me different tales. I'm happy to call that a creative education, made up as we go along.

Anyway, I don't feel guilty that it's nearly lunchtime and I haven't yet seen any of my offspring.

We have a bell outside that I ring. I taught the kids that when they hear the sound of the bell, come back; it means food is ready. I don't feel guilty about that, no. Or the frozen pizza that's heading their way for lunch.

I take them to play with a bunch of home educating kids at Stanwick Lakes after lunch. Tiger's too miserable, wandering around alone and sulky, but if anyone would like me to feel guilty about keeping her away from the regular hours of regular school, then nah, I won't.

She perks up a bit when I offer to drive her over to the local lake to muck about on a windsurf. It's the after-school paddle club, but she's the only child there. I guess the others are busy with exams or exhausted after finishing their SATs. On that score, I don't feel guilty either. Maybe a little pleased that we don't spend endless sunny days with worksheets.

Today I tried hard to think of something that merited parenting guilt. I really did. But I couldn't. Not one thing.