Friday, 25 November 2011

Maybe I'm equipping them for another kind of normal

Okay, I give in. We home educated types. We're not living a normal life.

I suspected it.

You can find out too, whether your kids live a normal life, with this report, commissioned by The Children's Society.

Missing out: A child centred analysis of material deprivation and subjective well-being.

This is what the researchers write: 'We wanted to know what material items and experiences children themselves think are necessary for a 'normal kind of life', whether lacking these items and experiences is related to their self-reported well-being and if so, which items or types of items seem to be the most important.'

Took less than a second to find out my kids aren't normal, as Shark, Squirrel and Tiger dumped the most wanted items in 'normal life' - clothes, branded trainers, and cable TV - right at the very bottom of their lists. Worse, my kids don't even want them, which is an indicator of something (bloody mindedness, probably).

'Clothes? I'm not wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt with Hello Kitty on it. Why would you want to fit in with that?' (Expression of ghastly horror from Squirrel)

'I don't care if my clothes fit in with other people. I care if something goes with the other elements of clothing I'm wearing.' (Tiger, clearly not destined for either Top Shop or Vivienne Westwood)

'Does it give me the option of a diving suit?' (Shark, who has a very particular water-based definition of normal)

On the issue of cable TV the kids were even more flummoxed. We don't have a TV. (DEFINITELY NOT NORMAL.) The kids have laptops and we taught them to access the iplayer. (Does that count?)

Incidentally, the three number one items for my kids were garden (Tiger) family days out (Shark) and family holidays (Squirrel).

Then I showed them the original list of 20 material items. (If you gave these* to your child, which 10 would they strike out?)

Everything went bellyup then, not what researchers want at all, because top of the list here went pet as in HORSE (Tiger), books (Shark), and more books, preferably with dragons (Squirrel).

I blame the mother. Leading the innocents away from the one type of high-street, mass shopping, mass consumption, TV-watching life we are all invited to consider normal.

I led us into another type of normal. People who value books, gardens, outings with the family, and horses (that one, definitely not my doing).

Hmm. I suppose it is not particularly surprising, given the educational and cultural experiences of these young ladies (and the state of the mother's hair).

It puts me in mind of an incident that happened a while back at a workshop. Our home ed group sat side-by-side with a school group. The leader asked, Who's your hero? The school kids answered Eminem, Lady Gaga, P. Diddy. One of the home ed kids looked surprised, then pipped up with My brother.

*What ten items does a child value most for 'normal life'?

The original list of 20 items :
1. Some pocket money each week to spend on yourself
2. Some money that you can save each month, either in a bank or at home
3. A pair of designer or brand name trainers (like Nike or Vans)
4. Treats and snacks like sweets, chocolate, chips or pizza once a week
5. Being part of a club where you play sports or do a hobby like drama, art or music
6. An iPod or other personal music player
7. Your own mobile phone
8. A computer at home that is connected to the internet that you can use for school work and in your free time
9. A games console, like an Xbox, PS3 or Wii, and at least one game for it
10. Cable or satellite TV at home
11. A pet at home
12. A garden at home, or somewhere nearby like a park where you can safely spend time with your friends
13. A bedroom of your own (not shared)
14. Presents on special occasions like birthdays and Christmas
15. A family car for transport when you need it
16. Access to public transport like the train or the bus when you need it
17. The right kind of clothes to fit in with other people your age
18. Books of your own (suitable to their age) at home
19. At least one family holiday away from home each year
20. Family trips or days out at least once a month


RuralDiversity said...

I'm totally shocked by how normal my kids are. And how they have everything and still complain. Little sods ;-)

Nora said...

I'm shocked at what is considered normal on the list of 20 items. There's obviously not enough diversity on it. They're all the wrong options. Be glad that your kids don't fit in. XOX

Deb said...

Lady GaGa?

Well, that's it then. The end is nigh upon us.

(my kids came up with Hugging Mommy, Playing, and Books. I stopped pressing for answers before it occured to them to "need" massive quantities of candy)