It’s been a long time. It seems like a very long time. But I’m back, with little snatches of internet time here and there..in the library, in a friend’s house.
It feels as though a whirlwind has taken us all up shaken us around between its teeth and flung us down…raging on with its wildness and leaving us, for now,, to limply rise, pull on our socks and stumble to the kettle for a morning cup of tea.
We moved house. In a rather complex protracted and convoluted way.
And yet, for this week, we are still where we have been for the last two years, in the beautiful community of forty or so people in the luscious green rush of South Devon springtime.
In this blog I have rarely discussed education. I’m not about to start now, in any great depth, but I have slowly, over the last three years of home educating Tansy and Leo that I’m actually not cut out for it. In my ideal world, all children would be around all the time, dipping in and out of adult’s (meaningful, wholesome and productive)activities and getting up to their own mischief, projects, shenaningans with each other. We adults would be hanging out together…not going stir crazy alone in our little boxes, toiling struggling to accomplish everything; but co creating our lives and food and meaningful existence.
Yes I know there are home ed groups. But somehow I struggle with sitting around watching kids do an ‘activity’ and for me it can seem a bit contrived and forced. I’d far rather they all just tagged along and witnessed real work….gardening, making food, whatever, done by relaxed and connected adults. And learn that way.
I’ve also realised I have very high expectations of what I ‘should’ be doing with the kids, and when I fail to live up to that on a daily basis, it kind of bothers me. And then I yell at the kids . Because I’m frustrated we haven’t managed to achieve the felting a wall hanging and writing a neat beautifully illustrated (and annotated) piece of work about the uses of a sheep. And I’m also super frustrated that I can’t get anywhere near my paintbrushes or writing book….Or any of the other a hundred projects that I want to do. (Have you ever tried writing a children’s book with a toddler on your lap and a 7 and 9 year old in the background, not to mention the teen after school…)
Well, we discussed and discussed and talked and talked and realised that we had chosen Steiner education for a reason…back when they were in school. It’s not that I’m completely in love with or even understand some of Steiner’s more eccentric ideas, it’s just a more heart centred, nature focussed, less pressured, less intellectual based place for my kids to be. Freddie has gone through nearly the whole school pretty well. It’s just that, well you have to pay. And we struggled with that. So in (a rather large) nutshell, we are moving to where there is a free one, state funded, in the hope that they will get places.
And it’s a sacrifice. Leaving acres of beautiful gardens to the city streets. Have we done the right thing? I ask myself daily. But then I remember the shrivelling feeling inside at the end of the holidays when I know that I ‘should’ be educating the kids and actually its the last thing I want to be doing. And I know that there are hundreds and thousands of wonderful, talented successful women who home ed multiple kids..like five or six or more…and still run their own businesses and write blogs etc…and I have no idea how they do it. Having a toddler makes a difference of course…but they do too.
But it’s not me. I’m not particularly patient and I worry that what my kids see of me most is me holding my head in my hands and moaning in frustration and desperation.
So we’ve moved…and more of our new home in another post, but for now, for now, we are in our converted horsebox, parked up at the community we have just left due to car problems. There are various commitments we still have here which, carless are tricky to attend to, so, I have been forced to take a break, stop and breathe.
In our horsebox there is beauty and simplicity. There is no room for more than the absolute basics, a change or two of clothes, a couple of books, a game, pots pans, a few packets of food. There is the moon at night, the patch of nettles which I have been cooking most days, the squirrels and rooks. There is a connection to the outside, to nature and all her teaching and complex simplicity. There is no ‘stuff’ to sort, pack, cajole, box up, shift around, rage and weep over. Which is how I seem to have spent the majority of the last few months, preparing for the move. (I wrote more about my battle with ‘stuff’ here )
Sure I’ve still had the kids, but suddenly we’ve been finding time to pick dandelions and create delicacies such as fritters and coffee again; making up stories…aahh I missed this; sitting in the evening crocheting, or, gasp, doing nothing. Just sitting, by candlelight. Breathing into the moment.
And just when I was starting to get a wee bit twitchy, like, actually, this car problem needs sorting, I need to renovate a house, get on with it, do some maths with the kids…get serious again….well, Finch gets ill. Feverish, limp, attached.
Back to sitting telling stories and picking nettles it is then. And what a wonderful teaching it’s been, I shout less, I haven’t held my head in my hands and groaned all week. I feel calmer, happier, like this is how its supposed to be.
It is how its supposed to be but we can’t live in the horsebox for ever. Tansy and Leo are sleeping in a tent, and Fred is lodging nearby…its a short term solution but I’m really enjoying it.
And I plan to take the teaching from this interlude into the next, potentially manic phase of my life.