It's been a difficult couple of weeks, no particular reason for it, some weeks are just like that! There is so much going on here all the time I often find myself thinking about what needs to be done next rather than focussing on what is happening at that particular moment. I've always been quite a day-dreamer and over the years its had it's benefits; I got through a period of 8 hour shifts sizing and packing avocados into boxes by writing novels in my head while travelling in Australia! I really enjoyed the job because I looked forward to a bit of time alone with my thoughts, but looking after the boys is different and I find I need to stay switched on and focussed all the time they are awake. When Oliver works away during the week as he been a lot recently, I think I stay 'on alert' 24/7 and it can be difficult to switch my mind off.
So during the last couple of weeks with little spare time to ponder, I've found my head buzzing with a back-log of things I haven't had time to think about and my mind drifting away, making the job of childcare more challenging. When the boys were smaller this was less of a problem because I could put them in the buggy and walk for miles along the promenade, letting my mind wander, listening to the sea and enjoying the scenery. The demands are different these days, the boys may not need breast-feeding every two hours but they need me constantly on hand to play, provide company, conflict manage and dish up what seems like a never-ending supply of food and drink among many, many other things!
I was sat at the the kitchen table the other day with all three boys eating granola and my mind in another place entirely, thinking something through or working something out, when Charlie's voice brought me back to the room saying, "Me on beach. Callum painting". I looked up and saw that he was talking about three pictures I have hung in the kitchen: one of Joseph digging up potatoes with 'Time' written underneath, one of Callum painting with 'Space' underneath and one of Charlie walking on the beach with 'Stillness' underneath. I put these up at the beginning of the year, long before I ever considered writing a blog, to remind me of my motivation for homeschooling. It was a lovely morning and the sunshine poured through the window where Callum sat. He looked beautiful; Charlie had brought me back to the moment, the only place where I could fully appreciate this!
I've been thinking a lot recently about the extent to which the boys exist 'in the moment' and how this impacts their learning. They are absorbed by whatever is going on at a particular time, and if they're not it's by something they desperately want in that moment! This is often the cause of any tantrums..."But I want it NOW!" Charlie at 26 months certainly thinks about the past; I know this because he sometimes talks about things that have happened before, for example when he's at my parent's house stood by their dining table he'll often refer to the time he took a dramatic tumble from the chair and bashed his head on the radiator. Generally though as I watch them going about their day, they are totally and joyfully absorbed by the moment in hand. I think this is probably why Oliver James recommended spending time with small children as an antidote to anxiety and depression in his book 'Affluenza'. Despite my attempts to allow my mind to wander or get absorbed by all the things I 'should' be doing or thinking about, the boys constantly bring me back to the moment as Charlie did in the example above. It could be a fall and need for instant comfort, a request for a particular toy or those dreaded words "Mummy I need a poo...NOW!" Whatever their interruption to my dreamy state they bring me back to now, where there is no need to think about anything else! It's almost always the happiest and healthiest place to be. I cherish the lessons I receive from my boys.
And if they are joyfully living and learning in the here and now, I suspect "picking up something where we left off yesterday" or "making the octopus body today so we can stick its tentacles on tomorrow" might not make that much sense or be that beneficial to them unless it is led by them. Of course Joseph can carry an idea forward; a little while ago at bedtime we were discussing whether Big Ben or the London Eye is tallest, and said we would find out in the morning...he didn't forget! These are things he is interested in and motivated by though, rather than someone else's idea of what he 'should' or 'needs' to be learning. When I watch the boys happily and thoughtfully exploring the world in the moment, it seems unfair to thrust them into a world where proving that you remember things you learnt in the past or contemplating the future are important. There will be plenty of time for that, and they will get there when ready if it's necessary at all. When Oliver and I went to look around a local primary school last year the head teacher was only minutes into her speech before she was talking about all the jobs our children may grow up to do, and what bags of untapped potential they are. I'm sure this was reassuring for some parents. I felt sick, I hate to sound dramatic but I did.
Our children are happy being, and we are happy letting them be. When we are able to enjoy each moment with them as it flows past, life is peaceful. We don't want a great deal more than that!