November 2011

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Thursday. No French today as our teacher is on holiday. So, ‘Wednesday is clean the house day’ didn’t really apply this week. Ah well, we cleaned up after the party, that will do until next Wednesday. In place of French, Astra decided to start a craft project, making a house out of a tea bag box. I now have a messy pile of tea bags in my cupboard, but her house is looking great!

We had Storytime today, an activity I started organising around a year ago. I now have three other mums who take turns at providing books and crafts, today it was my turn. The theme I had chosen was ‘Imagination’. We read some books together, ‘The Horse in Harry’s Room’, about a boy with an imaginary horse, ‘What Pet to Get’, about a boy imagining different possible pets, Dr. Seuss’s, ‘Oh, The Thinks You Can Think’, and a beautifully illustrated book, ‘Imagine’. I had chosen a very simple craft for today. I gave everyone a piece of paper and gave them 2 minutes to draw something before passing the paper on to the person on their left, who then had two minutes to add something to the picture, and so on. For the older children this worked very well, but for some of the younger children it was just too much to let someone else draw on their picture – or to draw on someone else’s picture!

I’d expected that might happen, and it didn’t really matter. I was happy that for a change, instead of creating something directed by *my* imagination, the children were just creating whatever popped into their heads. One child had never drawn a proper picture before, only scribbles, yet drew and coloured a wonderful picture for the first time today. It is so lovely when something like that happens. It sometimes seems awkward to engage the range of ages (from 2 to 11) but they all take different things from whatever is provided. The idea of passing pictures round came from something that Astra and I have done together many times - it’s our usual ‘waiting room’ game. If I were to do this craft again, I would pair the children up, rather than passing the pictures around the whole group. You live and learn!

After the library we went to the park with our Storytime friends and had some fun kicking leaves. I noticed there was a little maths going on today. The children always take their snacks and go and sit under the slide, to swap and share. Astra told me how she’d had two cakes and had broken each one into thirds so that everyone could have an equal amount. Fractions AND sharing! On the way home from the park I took Astra to get some winter clothing. It has turned really cold here and she is still in her summer pumps. So now she has some lovely furry winter boots, trousers that actually reach her ankles, and a new jumper. She is suddenly wanting to wear ‘grown up’ clothes, so I also bought her some lace up boots and a plain black top. She says she suits black (she does). She no longer wants pictures of butterflies or peacocks – are our pink days over?! It is so lovely to see her wanting to be grown up, and having an opinion about clothes, after all these years of only wanting to be naked!

We bought poppies today, because there was a lady set up with a stall in the supermarket. I stopped buying poppies a long time ago, for my own reasons, but Astra was fascinated by the lady’s display, and it felt churlish to not buy one. So of course we then talked about war, another one of Astra’s favourite subjects, this time explaining the significance of 11th November. And talking about the possible injuries that might lead people to need support. As I’ve said before, she loves the gory details….

Well, the Halloween party has been and gone. So much sewing, baking, decoration making, game planning, and then finally the pleasure of a house full of children having fun. I just LOVE parties!

We are now getting back to normal. It’s been a quiet week, by design, because I have learned that after organising a party we all need some recovery time! We did very little the day after the party. Astra made a bunch of Christmas cards - because it’s never too soon to start preparing for Christmas! She came up with some wonderful designs, my favourite was just a tree covered in snow, blowing in the wind. Very simple, very effective. We made some hand puppets, sewing pieces of felt together to make a monkey and a cat. We ate leftover party food and explored the trick or treat bag. A lovely cosy day at home.

On Wednesday we went to our trampoline class. The coaches have introduced a scheme for the children to work towards certificates. Astra said she wasn’t interested in certificates, it’s just fun to bounce! After trampoline we spent the afternoon in the park with friends, eating our lunch there. Many questions today, about the tooth fairy, and father christmas, and the easter bunny. Are they real?….no. Okay. Well, I think you’re wrong about father christmas. I think he IS real. Okay! Questions about the moon. Why is it bright when we can’t see the sun? I explained by waving my arms around and pointing at the moon and the horizon. Back home Andy explained again with suitably sized balls.

Questions about Christianity. Some of our friends are Christian so this is always a fascinating topic for Astra. Why would God have let her grandma die? Why doesn’t daddy believe we have spirits? Questions about Capital Punishment. She said, ‘but if killing is wrong, then the person that killed the murderer would also have to be killed, and then you’d have to kill THAT person, and then the person that killed them, and then before you know it there’d be no humans left on the planet’. What a girl. I told her how Gandhi had said the same thing, ‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’. We talked about some of the various punishments that are still used in other parts of the world. She always loves the gory details!

Then we talked about the difference between us debating something, and a government debating something. This is how our conversations go, we leap from one topic to the next, there are no distinctions between subjects. In a child’s mind, it is all connected, all one. It is all ‘the world’.