October 2011

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Slow Day

Yesterday was what I’m going to call a ‘slow day’. Slow days are my favourite type of days. They are the days where every idea is indulged, fleeting thoughts are explored, and enjoyment of each other is the top priority.

We had a few things to achieve, and these things took us into the nearest town, and into the city centre. Quite a novelty for us both!

On slow days with Astra, every single railing or low wall must be walked upon. Every pigeon must be chased. Every leaf in our path must be trodden on, as though our lives depended on it. Under bridges we must stop, and clap our hands sharply, and shout ‘Bop!’. We must copy each other’s silly walks, getting ever more preposterous and impossible as we move along. And as we walk, we talk, endless conversations follow meandering trains of thought.

So many shop windows, some with halloween decorations. We stopped to look at them, went into a few of the shops to see if they lived up to their window displays. Astra was disappointed by the locksmith’s shop, such an impressive skull in the window but only keys inside?!

In the library, we browsed leisurely. I looked for books for next week’s Storytime and Astra brought me books to read to her. ‘That’s not my rabbit’, and some early reader books, and then a ’Jokes about the School Canteen’ book. She had watched and listened as an older boy had been reading it to his father – as soon as he left she swooped and brought the book over to me. She is very interested in jokes; how they work, what is funny, and what is not. She experiments with jokes a lot. So many jokes are wordplay. She is beginning to get it.

The ladies in the library were all dressed in pink today, in support of Macmillan Cancer Support. They were very fancy, wearing pink hats with feathers, one of them gave us a twirl and her face beamed like a small child’s! It was lovely to be in the library today.

And then the haberdashery, they were selling net curtain offcuts, perfect for ghostly decorations. We had a lot of fun in this shop….and thanks to a little persuasion from Astra, and a genuinely measured and thought out, ‘I think you should be okay’ from the shopkeeper, I purchased two yards of fake black fur and a pattern for a jumpsuit/cat costume. I have no sewing machine, and I have not followed a sewing pattern since I was eleven and got thrown out of sewing classes….but the shopkeeper was so helpful! She found the pattern for me, worked out how much material I’d need, how much velcro, and all the while interacting with Astra in such a natural way. I fell in love with this shop, of course!

In the town centre, several bronze sculptures. We stopped, touched, sat on (where appropriate!), discussed. What was wrong about the face on that one, why didn’t we like it? Is the pose that girl is holding actually possible? Why is the giant book/bench sculpture attached to a ball and chain? And the trees…..the palm tree that is about to smash through the roof, why haven’t they pruned it as they have the other palms? How did such huge tropical trees come to be growing in our shopping centre? Ohh, and the clock, the wonderfully elaborate musical frog clock. We arrived just as the half hour struck, and on top of the usual spectacular, the frog started to blow bubbles – what luck to arrive at that time – we spent a good while watching and ‘figuring out’ the clock. Lovely new artwork on the opposite windows too, Astra was very impressed with these paintings.

The toyshop was the reason we were in the city centre, to look for some prizes for our halloween party games. What a time we had in this shop, trying out all the toys and novelties, watching as the staff demonstrated things to us, trying to choose between the animals with roll up tongues and the tubes of ‘stuff’ that you couldn’t hold onto no matter how hard you tried. Lots of laughter in this shop.

We were exhausted when we finally got home. It was a slow day, and a tiring day. A connecting day, a ‘nothing is unimportant’ day. My favourite kind of day.

So, I finally started a blog about home educating my daughter. How ironic that I chose a day that was one of those nothing days. One of those, ‘oh no, I’m not doing any educating’ days. But the inspiration took me, and so here I am.

That’s one of the joys of home education, now I come to think of it – and one of the responsibilities. When Astra says, hey, I am interested in this, I am inspired by this, I can go and explore that interest with her, right now. There is no need to say, ohh, but we are studying THIS right now, that will have to wait (and be forgotten). We can follow her interests as they arise.

But still, life has it’s routines, and for us Wednesdays are ‘clean the house’ days. We have a horde of people arriving for a French class on Thursday mornings, so we must dust and change the beds, clean the floors and clean the bathroom. It isn’t supposed to take all day, but it nearly always does. I wish I could tell you about yesterday, when we went to the woods with our friends, learned some history about the trees and about the future plans for the area, and looked at maps, and made some beautiful woodland art. Or the day before yesterday, a different woods and a different group of friends, where most of the learning was of the social kind. On Monday we baked a sourdough cake, our first experience with sourdough.

But I digress. Today, because that’s when the inspiration to start a blog grabbed me. So, we got the house clean. Okay, *I* got the house clean. Astra ‘kept me company’. Some of the time. The rest of the time she was…..figuring out a halloween costume for her teddy bear (he is currently sporting a pink bikini), patiently cutting out strips of paper to make halloween paper chains, finishing off the halloween decorations from the comic I’d bought for her, cuddling her guinea pigs and giving one of them a bath, playing princesses and other far noisier games with Daddy, watching some Moomin cartoons, playing the keyboards with me, playing at her being the guinea pig that baby fly and I have just bought from the shop. Ohh, and here’s the educational bit, she delivered a parcel to me with some gifts inside and a handwritten note that said, thank you very much for my card. It was written in cursive writing! She showed me what she had copied, a little note from her great aunt. I’m stunned that she managed to copy cursive writing, and it was completely legibile. Such a surprise! What else…oh yes, we also drew a halloween picture together on her whiteboard. I have to say that her witch was MUCH better than mine. I wish I could draw. Thank goodness my lack of ability doesn’t seem to be catching.

So, a ‘nothing’ day, educationally. We just cleaned the house really.