Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mushy Mushy

Life has been pretty much filled with practical concerns these past weeks. Carting babyG everywhere perched on my right hip, including all day at work, is taking the last bit of youth from this old body. Of course she's worth it, and there aren't any alternatives presenting themselves (my job has been advertised, but I don't think anyone wants it!), so on with the games. It makes everything very physical, though. I don't have to calculate pace/km, or when to pick up the pace to the finish. The nature of this kind of effort, is just to keep going, keep doing what has to be done.

I find, though, when I'm slogging away, doing the doings of a mother of 4, my mind wanders far from what my hands are working at. Kind of a material / abstract juxtaposition of mummy-ness. So, I'm sitting on the floor feeding babyG her first few tastes of food, enjoying the moment with her, but at the same time, a part of my mind is wandering out the door and into many parallel universes where the whats and whys of what I'm doing right now with babyG, are being played out. Not food issues, but me, sitting on a grey carpet floor in Australia with babyG in a little green chair, on a Sunday afternoon (I think. Daylight saving always messes things up). Who is she, who will she be? What am I in all of that? What does the mix of her brothers and sister add? Her grandparents, who don't know her, and her surrogate grandparents, who adore her? Her "zia" at work, her family of thousands at St Elsewhere, all putting their own little piece into her life. It's a privileged life, to be so rich in people, from so many different countries, backgrounds, ages and beliefs. I hope she lives long and well, and grows to be a wise and loving woman.

On the silly side, I've had to consider options for moderating computer use, to enrich the lives of the rest of our mob. Plans for that are still evolving, but the discussions led to an idea that I found funny, but the kids were unsure about. I explained to No. 1, that I really prefer a more ascetic lifestyle than we currently pursue collectively. Less time online, more time in the books, more time in the garden or the bush, walking instead of using the car, etc. Just my own preferences. I pointed out to her that if I were a more domineering person, I could have forced a lot more of my ideas on my children, restricted their choices and options, so they were left with no option but do to things the way I like to do them. (Of course as parents, we all do this more than we think, but I'm talking about things that teenagers generally expect to be autonomous and self-regulating in, like TV, internet, use of leisure time).

Anyway, I came up with a game, where we each get to be the "cult leader" for a week. During each person's week, we all have to conform to their lifestyle, and the choices they make for us. Like, No. 2 might have us all scripting in Second Life, eating pizza, and neglecting our homework if it pleases us. The cult leader will have to accept responsibilty for the welfare of the rest of the family while following his/her example - the leader may have to modify their own activities, to ensure the family/household continues to function. Like, No. 2 may have to set the example of doing the laundry from start to finish, so that task is taken up by the other members of the family.
I enjoyed playing out the scenarios for each kid's week in my head. Kind of strangely, though, the kids weren't so interested. I think it's their childish selfishness, mixed with self-knowledge. They know some of what they do is not advisable or sustainable on a wider scale. They would prefer to keep the balance as it is, while they are getting away with doing what they like, because someone else is doing what they should be doing, or helping them do it, some of the time.

Lucky buggers.


Katie said...

Haha that would have been great to see how it all played out!
Long time no chat...I will send you an email :-)hclnfmv

Amanda said...

Ah, a thought provoking blog - not sure my tired brain is up to that at the moment. Pretty pictures though!

Btw, Amanda's hair is cut by Partners in Glebe, her tracksuit pants were supplied by Bonds and slippers by a company whose logo has long ago worn off.