Tag Archive | family life

The Wrong Adventure!

I’m delighted to tell you that Harry’s off on another adventure.

Illustrations by James Robinson

Illustrations by James Robinson

If you haven’t already met him he’s the adventurous little homeschooler in ‘Who’s Not In School? who wants to learn about everything.

But his adventures in trying to do so often lead him into trouble as his curious investigations – particularly into the more interesting things that belong to older siblings – end up annoying people. So Harry decides to go off on an adventure on his own where he can’t annoy anybody.

See how he does this in ‘The Wrong Adventure’ which will be out at the beginning of August. It’s illustrated by James Robinson, a home educated young man himself with incredible talent.

If you pop across to Bird’s Nest Books to pre-order your copy you can receive a discount. Enter this code RMTWA at the checkout and your copy will only be £7.50 instead of the usual price of £8.99

It’s the perfect story to read outside with your youngsters this summer.

Term end – sad or sweet?

School term ends, summer hols begin and so does the usual media coverage on the good, the bad, and what to do with the kids all day.

I know it’s a challenge for many parents, especially those who work out the house. But it’s sad if it reflects on the children, making them feel they’re perhaps a nuisance in grown up lives.

We were lucky enough to never have that problem – we were with the kids all day anyway, home educating. A choice we made that meant having to do without a lot of stuff that money can buy to give our kids something money can’t buy – our company.

Holiday time!

Holiday time!

And I say ‘lucky’ but I sometimes feel it’s a kind of luck many don’t want. The choice to be with their children is not one everyone relishes as much as we did.

We all have the right to have our choices respected. But maybe we should make them with deeper consideration of the consequences, even the choice to have children at all! We managed on very little, which meant we didn’t have expensive holidays, top-of-the-range brands and constantly up dated technology. We didn’t want to perpetuate that culture of consumerism as being desirable anyway. We thought about what was truly of value to us and made a choice.

Our culture is based around that consumerism and it’s bred an expectation of a right to have; have far more than we ever really need. And although I respect and empathise with those who have the real challenge of just maintaining a roof over their heads and paying the bills, there are equally as many who expect to maintain a standard of consumerism for the sake of their image, not because it’s a value that’s been deeply thought about and prioritised.

The rewards for us choosing to have less (and I mean real thrift here – no frills at all in our case) in order to have more time for the kids outweighed any amount of disposable income we may have had and was a sweet choice we never once regretted.

We realised that giving time and attention to our kids at that time in their life was of irreplaceable value.

And thinking out our values is something we all have a choice to do.

 

Find out what our home education life looked like in a fun and easy read with my book ‘A Funny Kind of Education’. A book for laughter and learning – the two should always go together!

An educational phallusy (yes – I meant to spell it like that!)

Charley and I were having a conversation last week just before my book event at Waterstones.

She’d wanted to come along and support me but I thought it maybe best not. For home educated young people tend to get viewed as exhibits really. They provide an opportunity for others to see whether they’ve grown two heads or turned out weird or not.

And they always get quizzed about exams; ‘How many GCSEs have you got?’

This question seems to be the panacea for measuring a successful education and intelligence unfortunately. For it isn’t at all accurate to assume results show that.

Discussions over dinner still seem to end up being about education!

Discussions over dinner still seem to end up being about education!

She didn’t bother with GCSEs. But went ahead with other qualifications that interested her and onto Uni that way. So what’s intelligence anyway? Not something that can be measured by GCSEs alone, although they’re mostly used as such. And that’s the big sad confusion that many parents are under; being told that their child’s future is doomed without them. Qualifications have their uses obviously, but doomed without them? That’s just a fallacy.

We ended up having one of our inevitable conversations about education and what makes you an educated person which is very different to merely being a qualified person

‘It’s not only to do with what you have – as in qualifications,’ I said. ‘It’s about what you do and how you behave as a result of what you have’.

She was thoughtful for a moment.

Then she said; ‘Measuring people by how many GCSEs they’ve got is like measuring men by how big their penis is. It’s not what you’ve got that’s important, it’s what you do with it that matters’.

How we laughed!

What a wonderful analogy; just couldn’t resist sharing!

The glums and the excitement!

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The delightful daughters!

I’ve just spent a lovely few days with these two beauts! So there’s not really any way I want to face getting back down to work, when I’m feeling a bit glum post holiday!

I’ll just have to concentrate on the excitement of my new book coming out today (details here). It’s there to support parents through their home educating wobblies; I recall a few of those!

And next week, on Tuesday evening, I’m hoping some of you will come along to my evening at Boston Waterstones in celebration of its publication and cheer me up! I’d so love your company.

So, I’ll have to make do with this excitement for now, until we’re able to be together again.

And I suggest you enjoy your children while they’re around for, although hard to imagine that it is, they won’t always be!

(Copies of the new book are available from the publisher Bird’s nest Books, Amazon, Waterstones and other major booksellers).

The fine line between boring or crisis

We had a terrible crisis last winter. It could have been so much worse.

Appreciating a moment's equilibrium

Appreciating a moment’s equilibrium

It was a road incident that was a hair’s breadth away from being an awful fatality that we’d live with forever, due to the irresponsible behaviour of a drunk.

He staggered oblivious out into the main road in front of our car.

In the dark and driving rain, with black clothing and oncoming lights on a rural road that was not lit, there was no chance of spotting him beforehand. Although well within the speed limit we weren’t going slowly. Charley was driving. He glanced off the side of the car with a sickening thwack which made me think we’d killed someone. Thankfully not – he was hardly hurt, too drunk to even know what had happened, didn’t even go to hospital. We were scarred with the trauma of it for months – I can only just speak of it now without shaking.

Thankfully these incidences don’t happen often. When they do, the sameness of life I might have been bored with seconds before, becomes incredibly sweet.

When the shock and the anger at the perpetrator of it, who walked away unmoved, wore off I was left with the replay of the awful event that could have marred our young driver’s life for the rest of it should chance have swung the other way. It took us both a long time to settle back down to calm.

We all develop strategies over time to even out the pitch and toss of life. And to have strategies to hand is an enormously helpful skill to pass on to our youngsters. However we deal with things will be the way they deal with things. If we react with screams and drama it will not help. We have to be strong, pragmatic and move on forward with the practicalities as best we can. (Even if we crumple later).

And I also guess that these experiences are a reminder to take note, during those times of equilibrium, of what we value about life, even the boring bits, instead of always letting them slip insignificantly by.

Back to work…screwing up courage

My little break away with Chelsea went far too quick – isn’t it always the way with holidays and loved ones. We tramped the city, visited the Fringe events (her production amazed me – so proud) and hugged a lot.

Too soon it’s time to say goodbye and the missing begins again. I imagine you’re with your little ones twenty four seven so you don’t get the missing yet, but although I swap the pavements back for the lush green and bursts of blossom I also love it doesn’t make up for the missing.

And the prospect of work is not made easier by returning to a caustic comment, on the blog before last, accusing me of arrogance. That hurts.

I try my hardest to offer a balanced perspective here. Why is it arrogant to say it how it is? I don’t think people realise what courage it takes for writers to put their work out there and how easily it’s broken!

I swap the cityscape for this view from my bedroom window on my return

I swap the cityscape for this view from my bedroom window on my return

Anyway, smoothing ruffled feathers I have other things to look forward to; new books to come out next month (more soon on that) and an event to think about where I’ll get to meet some of you which is always so inspiring.

And breaks in between will mean roaming out among the greenery and bloomery to sample the season’s delights.

It’s what helps my heart survive!

A visit and a tribute

The lovely Chelsea – not often I get a picture!

Getting all excited about having a few days away and visiting my eldest tomorrow.

It’s so long since she’s been under this roof and we all miss each other. Although we speak regularly on the phone there’s nothing like sharing moments in physical space close enough to hug!

I was thinking the other day how little blogging there is about older kids – if kids is the right word for grown up ones. You read of all the beautiful babies and of mums paying tribute to their gorgeous little people, nestled as they are under the muddled motherhood roof. And shining out of the muddle and challenge of early parenting you read about the love and the intensity of feelings we have for them that accompanies it.

Is there anything so deep and consuming as the love parents feel for their children. anything that feels so complete as your baby’s head under your chin or that circle of love and protection that you can surround these small beings with as you enfold them on your lap.

Well, that feeling is just as strong when they are grown, when you can’t enfold them quite as easily and they don’t always want it anyway. But it’s not something that’s often written about. So with mine in mind I thought I’d equal that up a bit for parenting doesn’t just finish with age!

Although the children and the love matures, it is still there. And so is that loving connection even if it isn’t connected by a roof.

When you start with small kids, especially when you home educate them, you’ll no doubt have the hope, as I did, that your love will stay as precious even after you’ve inflicted your parenting on them! That your relationships will stay strong as it always was and you still stay friends.

Well, I’m just paying tribute here to my two closest friends, my two beautiful children who’ve grown into amazing twenty-somethings, who are just as revered as all those babies you read about, whom I admire and respect as never before. And with whom I perhaps have an even stronger bond simply because you have to let it go and trust that now you have no control over it like you did when you could keep them with you, wherever they go and whatever they choose to do, the bond becomes unbreakable simply because it is their choice – as much as it is mine – unlike when they were little.

My two continue to amaze and inspire me in the way they grow and grab at life, as much as they did when they were toddlers, in the way they work and laugh and love, their courage and their strength.

Toddlers teens or twenty-somethings, they have never ceased to amaze.

So I thought I’d write something about the adult children as they are just as precious and surprising as babies and toddlers, and remain forever awesome!

More when I get back!