Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Learning to play

Brew of the day: Apple & Cinnamon
Sorry for the delay this week...have been offline. So, it's Wednesday afternoon tea rather than Saturday Morning Cuppa.

The average working parent in the UK spends more time answering emails than playing with their children, according to a study into such things. It doesn’t surprise me. Last week I had trouble with my ISP and was offline for several days. After swearing for the first 24 hours (bad Aussie habit!) knowing that for each day I was offline I’d have loads of emails to catch up on, I gave in and just decided it really didn’t matter and to use the time to clean the house and have extra time in the garden!

Knowing my inbox would be heaving I went to my local library to check for anything that required urgent replies. Next to me was a young mum with a baby (about 12 months old) in a pram…The baby was NOT happy in any way. But did this mother make eye contact with her child? Did she do anything to console the child? Nope. No eye contact. Nothing. Instead that child cried for about ½ an hour. I ended up with major puncture marks in my tongue. It wouldn’t have killed her to pick the child up and walk around for a couple of minutes or hold the child in her lap ~ anything! Anything to show that the child was more important than the bloody emails. Judgemental mother dominated my head space as I struggled to comprehend the messages in my own emails above the screaming child.

I see this a lot in supermarkets..Howling babies and mums who apparently don’t seem to hear the screaming baby. I would much rather a mum took extra long at the checkout to attend to her baby’s needs than to ignore them. Where did our culture learn this dysfunctional parenting?

I recently wrote an editorial about the fact I don’t play dolls with my daughters. Didn’t play with them much as a child either. I also believe it is important that kids have unstructured play as well as playing without adult supervision. This doesn’t mean we can’t be involved sometimes in their imaginary play.

This week the girls have made me various mud pies…chocolate and orange, lemon and coconut. I’ve marvelled at Bethany, who is now ten, totally immersed in the mud pie creations. Does the average ten year old still play mud pies? I’d asked them to tidy up the kids’ area of the garden as it was getting rather messy with various containers everywhere. I took them some old shelves for storing things on and to my surprise when they had tidied up, they’d done so very consciously. All the saucepans were on one shelf. All the small containers together, and another shelf for glass jars. So organised! Sexy Domesticated Dad gave me one of those smiles that hinted that they probably didn't inherit it from me! He'll keep!

We’ve planted half a dozen fruit trees to make a mini orchard in the back garden (peach, cherries, apples and pears). The girls have loved helping me around the garden. Our herb garden is now set up and it is taking vast amounts of will power for the girls to not start harvesting. Our first batch of sunflower seeds are emerging on the kitchen window sill. I LOVE sunflowers...Already our garden is filled with Blue Tits coming to feast on the sunflower seeds we’ve left for them on the cherry tree.

Next week we’re building a polytunnel from wood and waterpipes. Polytunnels are wonderful for still being in the garden even in the worst of weather. The cat seems to get joy from us all being in the garden and races around like she’s high on e-numbers!

Playing with our children takes on various forms but mostly it is about being involved in their world or allowing them to be part of ours. My favourite time with the children is actually when we’re out walking ~ not play as such, but very pleasureable because we get to see the world in Slow Time rather than racing by in a car. This recent change to milder weather has been a God send.

It's almost Bluebell time in the woods so once the sun manages to peak his head out, there'll be lots of picnics to nearby destinations. I might be crap at playing dolls but I'm great at playing the 'gardener' in the games my girls play. They love it when I come to visit their cafe.


I visited a friend yesterday who lives with her family in a 40' yurt..It is gorgeous. Huge wood stove; compost loo; spacious and cosy circular space. Delicious! They're surrounded by cherry trees, ducks, chickens, geese ~ true rural idyll. Over a hot organic fennel tea we both chatted about how incredibly blessed we are that we chose to be stay at home mums and to enjoy actually being with our kids ~ to have time to sit beneath the trees and chat, read, enjoy the wildlife around us.

I can only begin to imagine how different the tone and texture of my life would be if I wasn't involved in the day to day life of my children either by working for someone else rather than from home, or by them going to school five days a week. Counting my lucky stars and appreciating every day I have with my little bambini. And learning to play!





3 comments:

HugoMummy said...

Hi Veronika,
Thanks for your lovely post...it makes me miss grey old England. It is cherry blossom season here in Japan and everyone, old and young are out picnicing under the blossom.

I just wanted to write that I am very grateful to you- I am a subscriber to TM and have slowly been convinced to unschool (my son is 1y8m)- although I still need to convince my conformist husband! When you write about the beauty of learning to play along with your children and about how blessed you are to be a stay-at-home mother I feel exactly the same. I am lucky to live in a country in which women take great pride in staying at home and great pride in raising a family (in general). I am worried about going back to England for a holiday this year considering the biggotted views of co-sleeping and long-term breastfeeding or even carrying your children. I nurse my son on the crowded Tokyo trains and the only comments I ever get are along the lines of breast is best! I wish I could transmit the relaxed attitude of the Japanese towards children- for them it is not a big deal to sleep together, it just makes sense for the mother and children. It is not a big deal to breastfeed longterm- although Meiji and Morinaga (the two big milk companies) are changing this view :-(. Goodness (sigh!) we all love our children, don't we? Why are some parents so far off the mark?

Anyway, please write about any new, big ideas to change the world (your previous entry regarding creativity after lack of sleep), I would like to help too (but can not think of much at the moment- just plugging away at my own ego and prejudices).

Thanks again.
Emma xx

HugoMummy said...

Hi Veronika,
Thanks for your lovely post...it makes me miss grey old England. It is cherry blossom season here in Japan and everyone, old and young are out picnicing under the blossom.

I just wanted to write that I am very grateful to you- I am a subscriber to TM and have slowly been convinced to unschool (my son is 1y8m)- although I still need to convince my conformist husband! When you write about the beauty of learning to play along with your children and about how blessed you are to be a stay-at-home mother I feel exactly the same. I am lucky to live in a country in which women take great pride in staying at home and great pride in raising a family (in general). I am worried about going back to England for a holiday this year considering the biggotted views of co-sleeping and long-term breastfeeding or even carrying your children. I nurse my son on the crowded Tokyo trains and the only comments I ever get are along the lines of breast is best! I wish I could transmit the relaxed attitude of the Japanese towards children- for them it is not a big deal to sleep together, it just makes sense for the mother and children. It is not a big deal to breastfeed longterm- although Meiji and Morinaga (the two big milk companies) are changing this view :-(. Goodness (sigh!) we all love our children, don't we? Why are some parents so far off the mark?

Anyway, please write about any new, big ideas to change the world (your previous entry regarding creativity after lack of sleep), I would like to help too (but can not think of much at the moment- just plugging away at my own ego and prejudices).

Thanks again.
Emma xx

Askinstoo said...
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