Thursday, March 31, 2011

a gift

I wanted to start this post by saying:
Thank you so much for all your comments recently—for your support, and for your kindness! 

I feel moved and blessed, in that warm, indescribable way,
where all I can say, again, is, Thank you, and 
know that you know what I mean :)

It's been quiet here for a few days 
my boy has been sick…

Not anything terrible, just a fever and a cold,
but sick enough that he needed (deserved!) to be pampered
with a quilt and a pillow on the couch
and lots of fetching and carrying by mum
a book from upstairs
and can I have some tissues
and oh, I feel bad, I need a cuddle
and a cloth on the forehead
and much time on the computer
and movies in the middle of the day.

It's been four days of staying close to home,
missing BAND even (which never happens),
and lots of quiet time.

I took the time to slow things down too.
I suppose I could have cleaned the house,
or organised some things,
planned stuff that needed planning,
fixed stuff that needed fixing,

but because the computer was taken up most of the time,
and none of us felt so hot,
and it was that sort of energy in the house
—of slowness, do-nothing-much-ness—

I took the time

to read.

A whopping 650 page book about the time of the Tudors in the 16th Century, no less!


YEAH. No yummy kids' literature for me, or funny Terry Pratchett novel
but some serious, hard-slogging historical fiction. A book so dense and complicated that at one point I read two pages, realised I couldn't work out who was talking, and had to go back and read the two pages again.

But I didn't give up!
(well, I kind of couldn't, as it's our BookClub book and we meet tomorrow).
So, as my kids lolled about on couches, and read, and drew on Paintbrush, and played Poptropica, DragonFable and Timebuilders on the computer,
I squared my shoulders. Picked up the book (which could have been used as a corner stone for a skyscraper. The thing was huge).
And said, Bring It On.

Funny thing was, I ended up hooked.

I ended up completely entranced by the language, and by the idea of people living as they did back then, totally bound by the whims of a King and the people in power. I got so sucked into that world that when I finished the last page this morning
it was like waking up.

To find the world, my 2011 world, was up and about, getting on with things
while I was traveling slowly through England in 1536, through the city and the woods and along the river Thames,
eating rare apples and wine,
and peering over the shoulders of great men as they rewrote the religion and laws of the people.

And I thought,
That's what books should do.

Take us deep inside a world that's hard to wake from.

Where after you've finished reading, you're surprised to find people aren't wandering about in doublets and hose
wearing ermine cuffs and long riding cloaks.

Where you spend the whole day thankful that no-one's dying of the sweating illness or being burned as a heretic.

Where you actually weep over your main character, the one you've totally become attached to,
not because anything happens to him in the book, but
because you look up his history and you find he doesn't make it out alive.
He doesn't get a happy ending,

And you literally, consciously wish you could travel back in time and save him.

That's where books should take you.

Deep and hard inside another space
and time

so you care and wonder and weep

and you carry that world inside you afterwards

and you are never the same again.

And what's so wonderful is,
my boy just went through the same journey

with Watership Down,

one of my favourite books of all time.


My boy finished it on the couch the other day, snuffling and snuggled up in his quilt.
Days later, he can't stop talking about it. He's there with the rabbits, every day, talking about Hazel (his favourite character), and how relieved he was that Bigwig survived being tangled in the fence, and how glad he was that Woundwort the "bad-guy" didn't get killed off.

And I remembered
how when I was nine I finished Watership Down,
looked up,
and blinked.

Kind of stunned
to find the world still spinning,
and I wasn't, in fact, a rabbit.

I've never forgotten reading that book—it was like there was life before Watership Down, and life after. And now I see my boy moved the same way. Moved and changed forever.

Which makes me think,
and feel deeply:

what a gift words are

Sunday, March 27, 2011

words and a journey

I've been thinking about yesterday's post for two days. I have been wondering, just wondering, if it came across as preachy and sanctimonious.

If I came across as the kind of person who thinks they're better and wiser than others,

thinks they are the best parent ever,

thinks they have something new to say when they're actually stating the obvious,

thinks they are someone who has all the answers and needs to tell everyone what those answers are,

but has, instead, just come across as one of the biggest windbags of blogdom.

Because, if I did, that would be really sad.

I know most parents on this planet love their children AND like them. I'm not the only one. I'm one of billions. I'm also not the only one who sees their children as their friends. I am not the only one who can list reason after reason why their kids are great. And I'm not the only one who says "I love you," countless times.

I'm not special or unusual or particularly amazing as a parent. I'm not blowing the lid on any secrets, nor have I found the Parenting Meaning of Life.

I wasn't actually writing anything most people didn't already know. So what was the point of yesterday's blogpost, then?

Well, I guess, like so many of us, I was just writing my thoughts. But sometimes I wonder if those thoughts are read differently from how I intend them to be read.

I can't always prevent that. But I can explain a bit more about where my thoughts come from and what I believe.

• I believe respecting others is the most important thing you can do as a human.

• I am a pacifist, the kind who believes passionately in non-violence, in peaceful resolution to conflict.

• I am a dreamer who wishes everyone could accept each other, treat all living things with kindness and compassion, and take care of the earth.

• I'm a mum who is learning every day how to be a better parent, mentor and friend to my kids.

All these things inform my words—

the words I think and the words I write.

And sometimes I think that makes me come across a little bit, "Hey, lookit, I've found the Golden Ticket! The Holy Grail! The Secret! Everyone should listen to me (who is awesome! and wise!), right now!" And I think perhaps I also sound a bit, "Gosh, everyone, let's all live more like this, because then everyone can get along and be happy! Tra la la, skippety skip!"

You know, a mix between Pollyanna and some hairy dude on the sidewalk, holding up a sign saying, "Meaning of Life. $1."

Which is kind of weird. :)

So in the interests of full disclosure, I thought I'd add something to yesterday's blog post.

I have controlled and do control huge aspects of my kids' lives. I suggest when it's time for bed, I suggest brushing teeth, I say yes or no to icecream. I suggest maths and I say no to things. I get cross and have asked my kids to go to their rooms. I have, in fact, slammed doors! I have cried and felt hopeless and even found myself saying those words: "Perhaps you should go back to school." I have not been the best, or greatest, or wisest parent sometimes.

But sometimes, I've done okay, maybe even better than okay. Sometimes, I've done something that rings so true and so right and brings such joy to my kids, that I've quietly said, "Good. That was good," to myself and notched one up for me as a Mum.

And I've found the more I journey down the path of our Freedom Experiment—into natural learning, unschooling, life learning, whatever it's called—I've felt more solid as a mother. More sure of myself, who I am, and who I want to be.

I say "Yes" so much more.

I say, "This is what I think, but what do you think?"

I say, "No, I don't think so, but here's why."

I choose communication and friendship over control.

And I've found that this way makes us happier.


I feel like I'm learning SO MUCH, ALL THE TIME.

So then I share, here, what I'm learning.

And I truly hope my words come across as my own discoveries,

about myself and about my family,

NOT as some "Declaration on the Way to Live as Discovered by Me which is the Right and True and Only Way by the Power Invested in Me and So Forth."

Because no matter what I write here, these are just words,

just thoughts,

and I'm just one person

amongst the wondering, thoughtful, heartfelt billions.


Saturday, March 26, 2011


The other night my husband said something so fine
that it's been popping into my head ever since,

on some kind of repeat cycle that gets more and more beautiful
with each replay.

He said, and I quote:

"The kids are amazing. It's like we got to make our very own best friends, from scratch!"


Beautiful, right?

Now, the fact that my husband loves our kids this much is awesome.

The fact that he sees our kids as a gift. Awesomer.
(And I don't care that "Awesomer" is not a word. I'm using it)

But the fact that he sees our kids as his best friends? AwesomEST.


we're those parents, the ones who see our kids as our friends. :) And not just the type of friends we socialise with but don't know so well, or the friends we wish, just a little, would change. No. Our kids are our best friends.

They're the kind of friends we see and the first thing we do is smile. And reach to hug them.

They're the friends I look forward to seeing in the morning, literally minutes after they've gone to bed. And in the morning, they're the ones I tell my crazy dreams to.

They're the ones I respect, admire, and am inspired by. The friends I learn from.

They're the friends I tell my opinions to, and then, so they don't blindly agree, ask if they can find the opposite argument (which makes for some funny conversations!).

They are the friends who, in times of stress or trouble or frustration, I ask gently to be respectful. To think of the other. To be mindful of the effect of their words.
Then they become even more kind to each other and kind to me.

We have so many interests in common, and so many new things to learn from each other. We ask each other questions. We listen to the answers. We are always, always talking. We say, "I love you," all the time. It's hard to believe I get to share my life with these people. I feel grateful, short-of-breath lucky, every day.

Now, I've heard as a parent you're not supposed to be your child's friend. You should be their mentor, their guide, their disciplinarian, their leader, but not their friend. I've heard that if you don't have control over your kids, they'll be disrespectful and misbehave. I've heard that being a child's friend confuses them, or makes them take you for granted.

Ah, the things I've heard and read and seen! None of them resonate with the kind of parent I am or want to be.

I remember when I started teaching, many years ago, and being warned, "Don't try to be the kids' friend. They will walk all over you." So I went into that school room with a list of rules, and my defences up. Today I know I could have done it differently, and I would have felt more true to myself. I only taught in a classroom for a short time, but I know I was more effective the more I treated the kids not as people to control, but people to learn something from.

I believe teachers and parents can be friends to kids. I think being a friend—and by that I mean—listening to, being inspired by, and respecting children is one of the finest gifts you can give them. AND yourself.

That doesn't make me a pushover. I also say that receiving respect in turn, is part of the deal. It's a mutual thing. It's the whole, 'Treat others as you would like to be treated' thing. So I'm someone who treats my kids and others with kindness, honesty and respect and I assume that's what I'll get in return. If that's forgotten, I just ask for it. Openly, and without anger (for the most part!).

I'm not a saint and I've totally gotten cranky. I've been frustrated with my wonderful kids and they've been cross with me. But we always come back to the core of Us. Which is that we love each other. So very much! We are people who genuinely like each other and want to be liked. We don't want to hurt each other or make others sad. We want to be treated kindly and we want to be kind. We respect and want to be respected.

When we remember these things, and live by these truths, friendship is inevitable. It can't help itself—friendship just comes!

I've seen kids light up when adults ask them something about themselves, when it's genuine and has no agenda. I've seen kids run up to share something special because they know I'm interested. I've seen kids smile so big when grown-ups stop being "older and wiser and better" and just talk.

It's not hard to be a friend. Kids don't walk all over you. They just share and give and love you all the more.

It's magic when that connection, that true, honest bond, is made.

You fill right up, then overflow.

(And to my husband, who loves appearing in this blog? You are my best friend, too.)


Thursday, March 24, 2011

in his element

My boy loves music

so much so
that I think if you looked at his dna—

at the twist and whirl of it—

you'd simply find 



He can't stop humming, tapping, trying

figuring, listening, asking

learning, loving.

It's the thing he loves to do with his dad

(and what could be better than having your dad be the band teacher,

like, the coolest band teacher of all time?),

and it's the thing

he simply loves to do.

Whether it's a band rehearsal, a lesson,

a concert

 a performance,

a workshop

or just a jam session on a rainy Saturday with a bunch of kids
who love music as much as he does,

it's all bliss to him.

It's where his friends are and friendships are forming

where, at ten years old he's as much at ease 
with the 18 year olds as the 9 year olds

because, you know,

they speak the same language.

The other day 
my boy told me he wanted to be a percussionist when he grows up

(as well as a writer, inventor, artist, and architect living in Italy!)

but I know he's this already…

already a musician,

because it's obvious;

 it's what he breathes and thinks and feels and is.

It's beautiful, just for me, 
to see him inside his music,
in his element,

but today he got to share a bit of this true self
with a whole bunch of other people,

because today,

 my boy was on the radio!

He went on with his dad ,
who'd been invited into the station to talk about New Orleans Jazz 
and something called 2nd line drumming. 

My boy was there 
to play the drums live on air. 

Which he did, and nailed it!

First he played a clave rhythm with one hand while shaking a shaker with the other.

Then he played this totally complicated New Orleans groove,

while accompanying his dad (on bass drum)
and the radio host 
(who played ukelele and sang!)

without missing a beat.

Afterwards, my husband said,

"He was so cool. It was just another day for him, playing music. 
Wasn't nervous at all. But I was!"

I sat at home listening with my girl.

I couldn't get the grin off my face.

Felt like I was soaring.

Which is how I imagine my boy must feel

when he plays

and lives inside the thing

he loves.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

after the rain

day after drenching day of it

and after the front yard flooding
which made my girl ask, Are we safe? because right now the world seems kind of wobbly…

and after days spent indoors,
story writing and art making and reading and playing games of mancala

(the whole family around the table playing a gorgeous wood-carved version

 and the version made by my boy)

and after days where dishes of hot, fresh apple crumble 
were just what we needed…

the sun came out,
and did this to the clothes.

And then…?

Our after-dinner,

twilight walks 

came back…

perhaps the last ones of the summer.

Ah. They have been the most precious part of summer for me.

So many nights we have walked
through the park

or by the sea

in light that seemed to float, 

and hold us suspended there.

These walks have been a time of reflection
and observance
and inspiration

where we've said…
look at the light!
those clouds!

c'mon, dog!

where the kids have talked and played and imagined non-stop
and my husband and I have walked arm in arm, or hand in hand, deep in conversation about life, the universe, and education… :)

and where 
the light 
has slid down off the mountain, rolled around for one last play,

swept us up in its arms
for a long, delicious hug,

left us there,

until tomorrow. 

I am so thankful for it.

For the floating, 
dancing light,

And for

the clear, clean feeling that comes

every time I let the light inside.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I'm inspired today by two posts, which I just have to share…

One is by Stephanie of Ordinary Life Magic. It's beautiful. It's about happiness.

One is by Jennifer, my friend from FourSeeds. It is stunning. It is about the spirit.

It can be this simple. Finding the Happy. Finding the Sacred. Finding Joy.

The other night, the kids were snuggled into our Big Family Bed. My son doesn't normally go to bed there, and I could hear them whispering to each other as I came upstairs to say good night. So instead of coming straight in to say goodnight, I went to my boy's room, and pretended he was there.

Now, if you're thinking this kind of behaviour is reserved for infants and toddlers, I can tell you, it shouldn't be! It was really funny. I said some truly ridiculous things; I could hear them laughing hard in the other room. And the whole time, I had this huge smile on my face.

Then I went to say goodnight to my girl. Didn't acknowledge that my boy was there (actually I think he was hiding under a blanket). I know—they're 8 and 10. Too old for such games, right?! I say, NEVER.

Then I went downstairs, without saying good night to my boy. I stopped 2/3 of the way down and could hear whispering.
"Has she gone?"
"No, I don't think she has," etc.

Suddenly, I raced upstairs, feet thumping on the wood, and tore into the room, and leaped onto my boy. I wrestled him until he was in a huge, all-body Mama Hug. He shrieked, he yelled; both kids fell apart with laughter. Suddenly we were in this enormous pile of bodies as my girl joined in the hug. We were laughing so hard.

So hard in fact that my boy got asthma and I had to give him his puffer. But it was worth it. It was, in fact, awesome.

There was our Happy. There, in that moment, was our Spirit—which is, and will always be, Love.

I'm so glad I took the time to do something unsensible, something that totally wound the kids up and made bedtime late.

I'm so glad I took the time to find my Joy.

I hope you find yours today too.

with Love,


Sunday, March 20, 2011

how to make something awesome

Today's Art Lesson

is brought to you by a Highly Regarded Guest Artist 

who goes by the name of Squibs.

He is going to teach you all about 
and how to make them.

I hope you're ready! 

"Good morning class. My name is Mr. Squibs. 
Today I'm going to show you how to make a Dragon Flag.

"First you get some black cotton material. Then you cut it to look like a flag. Like this."

note: scissors are not to scale
The flag is MUCH larger than the scissors!

"Then you get out your trusty roll of contact."

"Cut out a square of contact. Draw the outline of your dragon onto the contact. 

(If you draw on the smooth plastic side you need to use a pen, but when you cut the shape out and stick it down the picture won't be reversed. 
If you draw on the paper side, you only need to use pencil, but the picture will be reversed.)"

"Then cut out your dragon

and stick it onto the flag.

"Then get your art teacher to take it home and spray it magically with bleach."

"When it dries, peel off the contact, and voila! There's your dragon flag."

dragon flag by Squibs
aka My Boy

dragon flag by Kitty
aka My Girl

Thank you, Squibs, 
for the instructions and excellent illustrations*!

Please come and teach us again!

(Thank you also to
our much-loved art teacher
who we've been coming to for art classes now for 5 years,
taught Squibs to make the flags
…so that he could teach you!)

Today's post is linked to Stephanie's

Come check it out (and join in), if you like!

*All drawings done by my boy on Paintbrush
Which rocks, and is free! :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

super dooper

Today it's raining and the kids are curled up with books. My girl is reading Enid Blyton, my boy is inhaling Watership Down.

My husband is playing drums. Yes, a New Orleans groove that's lighting him up right now. (My husband is a trumpet player, but he'll spend hours tooling about on the piano or the drums too. So much music in our house!)

The kettle's on. Cats are curled up on chairs and in corners. There is no Kitten wee where Kitten wee should not be. A great day!

I'm about to reheat last night's Lentil Bolognese and gobble it up. And I thought, perhaps I should pass on the recipe for any and all who think it's worth a try?

It's our all-time favourite meal in our house. I think it might actually give us Super-Strength. So, shhh, don't tell anyone!

Here goes, then. My first ever blog recipe. How exciting!

To cook the World's Best Lentil Bolognese, this is what you do: 

fry up an onion (which you have cut up first. Just in case that wasn't clear)

Lookit! An onion!

add a clove (or two or three?) of garlic (also cut up or put through the crusher)
and cook 'til everything's softened, 

then add two carrots chopped into bits.

wow! A carrot! Don't cook the green stuff.

Then you add a can of tomatoes (I use an 800g can of diced tomatoes), and two tablespoons of tomato paste.

my paste doesn't look like this. I get mine from a jar.

Then you plonk in about 3/4 of a cup of rinsed red lentils. 


(Some people say to soak your lentils for about 7 hours to make sure the nutrients stay in your sauce. I haven't done this yet, and the lentils still get nice and soft and tasty. But I should consider it, 'cos we vegetarians need all our Nutrients!)

Then you add two cups of vegetable stock. 

the prettiest vege stock I've ever seen

Get it all bubbling and simmering away nicely and cook it for about half an hour (at least 'til your lentils are soft and the sauce is thickened). You can cook it for longer; the longer you cook it, the tastier it gets!

Keep checking it and stirring it, 'cos the lentils get thicker and thicker. If you forget, it sticks to the bottom and can burn (unless you have a pan with a mighty, unburnable bottom, in which case I am impressed!)

Then you cook up some pasta—spaghetti or any other kind you love—and serve your bolognese with lots of yummy parmesan cheese. 

no better addition to pasta than this

In fact, for an extra delicious kick, I stir some butter and parmesan (not much) through the pasta just before serving up the sauce. Then I top it with more parmesan cheese. Mmmm, mmmmm. 

There you have it. It's so simple. And so SCRUMPTIOUS! 

Now I'll go boil up some gluten free pasta, reheat some sauce, "Plate it up," and take a picture for you!

Ta Da!
The only picture in this whole recipe taken by me. You could probably tell. 

The picture doesn't do it justice—in fact, my son just said, "A picture can't show how yummy this is! You have to smell it to know!" Ah. SO true!

I hope you've enjoyed my first foray into recipe writing. If you end up cooking it, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Now, I'm off to test my Lentil-fueled Super Powers on a tall building or two…!


Friday, March 18, 2011

it got better

After discovering yesterday morning that our kitten had happily been peeing for days in a box of precious memories (kids' art, handmade little books, cards, letters),

and having spent the morning trying to find one unruined special thing we could keep
(and putting the ruined things aside to possibly be scanned,
so they could live another life as an electronic record instead of a much-cherished piece of original art),

we decided to take the rest of the day off.

It was a beautiful day, and we decided to go OUT. 

Out to lunch in a cafe by the sea. 

Out for a long long walk past the harbour

towards a lighthouse,

along undiscovered paths,

and past undiscovered pillars,

to where cannons waited and wanted to be climbed

and toys longed to fly.


Afterwards and at night, the kids said, "It turned into a good day, Mum!"
"Yes," I said (thinking the day had in fact turned glorious and full of smiles), "Howabout that! It did."

Then today at breakfast

the kitten jumped up on the table just as we began to eat our cereal.

As she was gently pushed off, she clawed the place mat,
and pulled my girl's placemat, entire bowl of cereal and whole glass of water onto her lap, her arms, her legs, and the floor.


Deep breath, deep breath; get the dog to come and eat the cereal, get the girl into the shower, find new clothes for her to wear, mop up the water, dry the table, clean the floor, throw out my own now soggy cereal, and

start again.

And reboot. 

How did we do that?

With writers workshop. With 20 beautiful young people. All coming, ready and bright-eyed, bringing stories and ideas to share, talking and laughing and supporting and writing, writing, writing…

And after a week that was

totally Kitten Crazy,

writers workshop blissed me out.

It made me choke up too. Like I was eyes-welling-up, finding-it-hard-to-talk

teary happy.

Because these kids… these kids … they are extraordinary.

They make my heart full.

In fact, I think anyone who gets to sit and listen to kids sharing the

deepest, most creative, insightful and sincere parts of themselves,

is one of the luckiest people on earth.

I got to be that lucky person today.

Plus I laughed and smiled so hard my face hurt.


when I got back home

nothing had wee where wee shouldn't be,

and lentil bolognese happened,

and my boy and my husband found and watched dozens of youtube videos of jazz drummers,

and my girl read peacefully at her desk,

and it was time for bed.

And I got to sit here

and write these words…

and show you

this photo I found…

Which is, I think, one of my favourite photos of all time.


you see?

It got better.

It really did.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

seek and find

You know that saying, "If you haven't got something positive to say, then don't say anything?"

I think sometimes it can be extended to, "If you haven't got something positive to write then…

don't write anything."

Because the negative, if you give it time and energy and light and air can get kind of crazy-like. It can get a mind of its own and try to take you down.

So I wasn't going to write anything here tonight.

On account of feeling kind of overwhelmed. And kind of whiney and mopey. And kind of snappy and cranky and tired and ready to give away a certain Kitten.

But then the thought occurred to me that perhaps I could

find something positive to write?

Reach down, or up, or deep.

It didn't have to be big. It didn't have to be transforming. It didn't have to be remotely wise. It just had to be…Better Than.

Better than sitting in the Overwhelm so long I pruned up.

Better than letting a small, difficult thing build and attract all the other STUFF so I ended up with a log-jam of worry.

(You know The STUFF—we all have it—sometimes we suddenly find ourselves crammed into a small mental room with it. Pushing at you and closing in, like those walls in the Star Wars movie. Sound familiar? It's messy, complicated, and usually too big to fix by simply bulldozing the house. Bummer about that!)

So I decided to find, and write, the positive

even though already in this post I've written and deleted three versions of what tipped me over into the land of Overwhelm…

(…Think Kitten, and 'Days of dealing with Wee Where there Should NEVER be Wee,' and you're close).

So here it is.

The Positive!


Give me a moment…



No, I've got it,


Here it is.

It was here all along. Waiting patiently, like a dog with its leash in its mouth, standing by the door.

I present to you, my Positive. My Flip Side, if you will.   :)

1. Tonight, from his bed, my boy listing all the reasons his day was great. Because the day had TimeBuilders and music and more music, and home-made pizza and pottery and a movie night in it. It kind of rocked.

2. My boy telling me how his drum teacher kept the lesson going for 20 minutes extra because the teacher wanted to show him something and didn't want the lesson to end.

3. My girl's skin smell as I breathed her in.

4. Tonight, my girl and I trying to decide which of the animals of the Hundred Acre Wood we were. She decided her brother was Tigger, her dad was Winnie the Pooh, she was Roo, and I was Kanga. Yum.

5. Thinking how much things have turned around for my girl in maths. A whole blogpost is due on that!

6. Tonight, my husband saying I inspired him.  (Aww. A beautiful moment.)


7. Knowing everything (even the Kitten Wee Debacle of 2011) would somehow be all right. Even if it isn't and can't be all the way all right, everything is and can always be Better Than.

(and finally?

remembering that there is a really big world out there. Big stuff is happening. Difficult and sad stuff. My Overwhelm is small. It's tiny. It's just wee in a corner.

I generally try not to think of bigger negatives to outweigh my own negatives. Our sorrows and worries are real—they belong to us and are valid. But it's true that bigger things are happening outside my walls. I feel them. I am so sorry for those who are suffering. I send my energy, my care, my Positive, to those across the sea.)


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

This time

this morning, it was my boy's turn to be sad.

Nothing was right from the start. Poor guy; he tried to do his busy things, tried to get his brain working, tried just to write a sentence really, but a sentence simply didn't want to be writ.

I could feel his energy, slowly dwindling. It was like watching someone try to swim through glue.

And I could blame myself… if I look back, I see there are ways I tried (with good intentions, but still…) to steer his day when I didn't need to… (like suggest breakfast and perhaps getting on with some projects, when I think he really just wanted to read and read Watership Down 'til his eyes wore out)


I could blame his tiredness on going to sleep late, or his busy dreams, or his trouble going to sleep at night (just like his mum)


I could blame nothing,

and accept a day which simply was

unsticking for him.

Until there he was in tears, on my lap on the couch.

Yep, I know. My boy's ten, nearly 11. If he was at school he'd be expected to tough a moment like this out. Bury it. Get on with life. Buck up. Whoever heard of a ten year old boy sitting on his mum's lap actually confiding in her?

I have. It's kind of beautiful.

My boy sat on my lap (because he could)
and blurted out how awful he felt (because I was listening),
and said he didn't know why but today wasn't a good day at all.
(And I said, Man, I've totally had days like that!)

Then I said, Is there anything I can do? How can we turn this around, I wonder?

He didn't know what or how. Just didn't. And he leaked some more.

I said, Well, the first thing to do, is have a good cry if you need to.

(because a good cry is the best way to clear things out, you know? Kind of like how after the rain, everything seems washed and clear. Like it's been through a big old carwash and it's all shiny. A cry can bring such shine. Tears are so underrated!)

So my boy snuggled in and cried, just a little, just enough. And after a while, he said, You're the best mum ever. You always make things better.

Which was kind of funny to hear, because all I'd done was be squished by my boy and talk a bit… but I knew,


in that moment, what he meant and why things were better already.

Because here he can be.

He can cry if he needs to and no-one will tell him to stop. He can talk any time about his feelings. He doesn't have to wait until a set time to let it spill out of him or have it be buried by then. He can feel terrible in one moment, then—after a good cry and talk and brainstorm and rethink—feel just wonderful afterwards.

Which he did, you know. We rejigged the day. Changed the trajectory, adjusted the focus, fiddled with a few bobs and bits and buttons and

got back to it.

And the day turned out pretty fine for him, I'm thinking!

It involved playing an awesome Ancient Egypt computer game and Duck Duck Bruce, plus reading Watership Down on the couch. It was a day with funny poetry writing in it, and totally-focussed piano practice and Band. It had talking and loving and laughing and learning.

And it had a sense of safety and a sense of self.

Oh, it was a great turnaround kind of day. It was all kinds of shiny and freshly washed.

And beautiful. Did I mention already how beautiful it was?


Sunday, March 13, 2011

this is when you know

that life learning/ natural learning/ unschooling is working

for you and your kids (and so sweetly!)…

Last night I was cooking dinner and my son was a few feet away, chatting.

He said, "Something something something, Yuri Gagarin, something something something, Mum."

(and I wish I could remember exactly what he said, but we've both wracked our brains and can't remember why Yuri Gagarin's name came up!)

me: "Um, Who is Yuri Gagarin?"

my boy: "Oh, he was the first man up in space. He was a Russian Cosmonaut."

Then my girl, casually turning around from her desk, said, "And he died in a plane crash."

me: "He did, huh? How'd you know that?"

my girl, waving her hand breezily: "Oh, I read it somewhere…"

Of course she did…(!)

(and so did my boy),

read it somewhere, in one of our Space books,
one of dozens we borrowed from the library weeks ago, that have been out and available to read any time and every time…

And the information stuck… of course!

And then, after dinner

and after a game of
Duck Duck Bruce,

my boy started reading my book of Robert Frost poems,

because the other night (while my husband and I were out on our date)
he'd seen it on a shelf and—remembering the poet from something I'd read at Writers Workshop—decided to read some poems and loved them…

So last night we talked about another of my favourite (but sad) Frost poems, about a boy who died 'cos he was cut with a saw, and I said, "The poem's called "Out! Out!"
and my son said, "Oh, maybe it should be called, 'Ouch! Ouch!' "

(yes, he has a very sick sense of humour…! I'm so proud)

So he read that poem too,
and then I leapt up and
found my Norton Anthology of Poetry and we pored over it together,
and then he asked me about a nonsense poem I'd showed him once,
so we looked up Edward Lear and he read Edward Lear into the night.


when we go to the library

we'll be getting Edward Lear's poetry and hopefully books with cats in them and

we will NOT be returning our space books
because we just aren't done with them yet

this is how we roll.

This is how we learn and love to learn.

So random and beautiful…!

Kind of like life, don't you think?


Saturday, March 12, 2011

a good date

It's a good date that begins with

hot chocolate on a train

and non-stop conversation

about education and kids and music and the philosophy of Everything…

and has us eating lunch
with a piece of carrot thiiiiiiis long

and staying in a room
with a view thiiiiis big

and visiting a book shop so huge you can't see the ends of it
in a city you have to crane your neck to see the top of.

It's a great date that
sees us exploring and eating and walking and talking our way
to a tucked away, magical place like this



where we hear Real Writers, talking about their writing, ideas, books and Philosophies of Everything…

And afterwards
finds us 
walking through a living, breathing, wide-awake city,
eating ice-cream and
past kissing couples and karaoke bars, 
through soft rain.

It's a funny date that
sees us, two (mostly) teetotallers,
attempting at 11pm to drink complimentary champagne 
given by the Hotel on the Occasion of our 11th Wedding Anniversary…

and making it through almost a whole glass each!
(Such party animals! Living on the edge, we were!)

It's a beautiful date that has a
middle of the night view like this…

and a long sleep in
breakfast made by a fine machine

and more talking and laughing,
laughing and talking!

Ah, it's a sweet date that ends with
a sleepy,
leg-against-leg train ride back,

listening to the clickety clack of the wheels on the rails,
as the city turns to bush and long views of the sea,

and we make our way

What a wonderful
date it was!

I couldn't, in infinite years, find a better person to go with.

Thank you so much, Beautiful.  Happy Anniversary.