Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer wishlist

Here are a few things on our summer wishlist....
  1. Make cool sandcastles
  2. Learn how to surf
  3. Visit an island
  4. Write a story
What's on your list?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Graphic expression

Oli has always been into drawing. Which is good. Much of the year at his preschool they have focused on 'graphic expression' in the early years (which really translates as 'interpreting the scribbles'). But in the past few months his enthusiasm has really taken off. He's recently been channeling it into colouring photocopied pages of busytown from Max's Best Ever Rainy Day Book. Then he discovered tracing paper and returned to his well-loved copy of the Lego catalogue (so, so well-loved since Christmas and taped and stapled to keep it whole) and he began tracing Lego men and castles and horses.  Then last night I went into his bedroom to find this...
Your eyes might need to adjust to the light but I tell you, the pencil lines are all but faint when you see them on the wall. My jaw dropped. I was so shocked. Drawing on the walls? Isn't that the tipping point when supernanny is called in? Down the other end of the corridor Dom gave a yell.  Jack (increasingly verbal and rarely quiet) had climbed back into the bath, fully clothed in his zip-up pyjamas. His crying was not from falling in, no, he was having a fine time splashing with his brother, the tears came from being hauled out, dripping wet and several pounds heavier, in soggy clothes and a swollen double layer of cotton nappies.
Honestly if, a few years ago, you had told me my three year old would graffiti his bedroom while my one year old climbed into the bath with his clothes on I would have said you had the wrong house - no, no, no. There will be worse to come I'm sure (parents of teenagers - teenage boys - will be chuckling) but this is where I am - the summer holidays, just days away, stretch in front of me like the Marathon Des Sables.
At first Oli insisted that the artwork was 'an accident' (spot the signature tag on the right? ) then he fell into a despairing mantra of 'I did it on purpose, I'm bad.' The truth is, he's actually quite good. He's certainly good with a pencil. I love how he starts at the bottom, perhaps thinking, I'll just add some legs to this old circle here (the metal thing in the wall) and then maybe give this person some friends (the group of little circles with legs). Then he sees his own hand, leaning on the wall to steady himself and thinks, I'll trace round that. Then he has this great idea of drawing a person and adding his own hands to it. I love to think the top two images, the climax of it all, represent a genie coming out of a bottle to grant him any, any wish...even maybe hinting to him that he might really want to wish the pencil markings would fade before mummy comes into his bedroom...He actually says it's a house with two lights on the side and he's inside the house (well, I had to ask). I'll have to wash it off, I know, but looking at it does make me smile...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

One for Mum

I promised my mum I would post something today. Actually I have been waiting for my head to clear in order to say something coherent. In truth, I'm not sure I'm there yet.  The past few months have seen me pitching and rolling like a boat in high seas.  It is nothing very serious that has had me lurching around like this.  Nothing that threatens the immediate survival of loved ones.  So really, why all the anxiety?  I think it's because everything has felt so tangled, as worries do.  One concern is so mixed up with the next. From the future of the planet to finding our own future on the planet.
To counter my apocalyptic thoughts back in March, I started reading. Books. 'Your book has 294 pages!' Max was astonished. It's true, my normal reading material is either the internet or my 60 page subscription to a Finnish sewing magazine (that's just how I roll).  In my desire to make sense of it all, I found The Great Disruption by Paul Gilding, to be just what I needed. While it doesn't shy away from the fact that our finite planet is under pressure that is unsustainable, it does at least try and look beyond the forthcoming 'disruption' to a possibly better place (if you can get over the pain ensued by actually getting there).
Then I went to hear Richard Louv speak. He's the author of The Last Child in the Woods, the book that introduced the term 'nature deficit disorder' to the public consciousness. I admit I never finished the book, I found it too depressing. But, like Gilding, his latest offering, The Nature Principle attempts to imagine a better world rather than send us headlong into the blade-runner futures we are familiar with. The ever present cynic in me sees the similarity - both books are pushing optimism, undeniably a more attractive sell than the pessimism of prior publications. But optimism is working better for my mental health.
Something else that has been taking up space in my cluttered mind has been the task of finding the right school for Max and the worry that, when we switch, we may realize we had it in the other one all along. Decisions about the future seem to have been so very grueling as we plan to head 'home' to the UK to see grandparents and friends. Where is home, then, if we travel 5000 miles once a year to get there? I know this is partly slippery language playing tricks on me because, of course, home is here in the US where our toothbrushes live, but that question never seems to go away. And it's not that I haven't loved our time here, it's just that the path doesn't seem to open up in front of me. We are forever hacking at the tangled ivy, cutting at the thick vines.  Don't the song lyrics say you only get the view when you look back at the path you've cut, not by looking forward where there is no path? I don't care, I'm still hungry for what's in front, but I desperately want to know what it looks like.
Today I cut my hair to a 'boy's cut' and can no longer be exclusively blamed for blocking the shower drain.  Max really did not want me to cut my hair and it crossed my mind that I should keep it long just for the sake of consistency (and the fact that it's taken me this long to grow my hair back from that hormone horror hair-loss after my last pregnancy). But I wanted to cut it off - the time had come. In lots of ways I also want the boys to embrace change in a way that I have never found easy, and that fact, in some strange way, urged me on.  This afternoon there was a grin on Max's face when he saw me. It's true, I do look a bit funny.  And it reminded me that nothing is set in stone. Change is often good. Hair grows back. Decisions can be changed.  Things only look a certain way for a while.