The street where I live...

The street where I live...

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Acting, Learning and Getting Merry like Christmas

It's been too long since I've posted, and once again I do not have a specific idea spinning to hang a tidy essay on, so I'll just freelance some ideas, shall I?

I am doing a short run of one of my solo shows at the Site right now, and I went through my usual process during my rehearsal period - first I felt dread, then fear, and then I yelled at my husband for booking me when he knows full well that I hate, hate, hate doing these things. Then I did the first show and remembered how fun it is to perform and couldn't wait to get back again the next day.  My process drives J insane as he is a natural performer and does not go through the same agony that I do at the thought of getting up in front of people.  I can't wait to write, and paint, and direct, all manner of solo or behind the scenes creative endeavors, but performing scares the crap out of me every time.  And I am an actor.  Dr. to weigh in?

I am having a tough mom dilemma right now in that, here in our tiny Town, there is a very small group of parents.  The preschooler parents have tried to run a play group for a couple of years, and my girls love going.  However, there is something I am having trouble with (I had written out details, but have subsequently deleted as too many people who know me read my blog now, and it's not fair to work out my shit on here in that way - but basically something happened that I am uncomfortable with - and it made me feel like my kids needed me to protect them.)  Anyway, suffice to say, I was eventually so annoyed by this situation that I pulled my kids from the play group last week (major stress as I know how much the girls love to play with the other kids), and am contemplating taking them out for good.  Ugh - such a tough decision.  And such a classic parent conundrum - do I remove my kids from a situation they love, because I have grown uncomfortable with it?  And all of this got me thinking about the girls' future options.

So now that I have deleted out the details, the next few paragraphs will make less sense, but here goes: a wise friend of mine said something like this to me:  "If you look for bad behaviour in children, you will find it, and if you look for beauty and creativity, you will also find it - often in the same behaviour."  Isn't that awesome?  Isn't that re-framing in the most perfect way?  I hope I have shown, so far in this blog, that I am a person who owns right up to my flaws, and who is pretty willing to sing my own praises as well.  Well here is something I know I do that I like about myself - I always see the beauty in other people's children.  I always see a running laughing child as a thing of sheer joy, and not a behaviour waiting to be "corrected."  I think little kids are so much better than adults - freer, more abstract, so much more divine.  And as my kids near school age I have been hit with a realization I did not see coming - I think school and organized education and blind adherence to the mantra that structure and routine are ALWAYS the right choices are wrecking kids and turning them into the mass of unhappy adults walking around today.  A couple of my friends are engaged in a movement called "unschooling".  I was sent some links and opened the literature and it was like the damn clouds parted and a choir of angels started singing just for me.  I hate the idea of my kids going to school.  I hate the idea of behaviour that I honestly, honestly adore becoming "bad" the moment they walk into a classroom.  I hate the idea that passivity is to be emulated and a child who naturally engages, and questions, and jumps in with both feet needs to be taught not to sing, not to dance, not to question.  So, unschooling is (sorry for all of you unschoolers, because I'm not sure if this is right, but it is my take on it) basically home schooling but in such a way that allows the child to lead the way, to discover their bliss early in life, to have the parent watch and gently guide according to the natural inclinations of the learner.  When I did my Masters degree I studied the teachings of a ground breaking drama based educator called Dorothy Heathcote, and have now woven her methods into my work.  A few years ago, while she was still alive, I had the amazing opportunity of watching her teach.  She was so damn brave.  She walks into a classroom with a general idea of what needs to be learned, and she trusts that, through drama, the kids will get there (and will without question make hundreds of other discoveries along the way, and will learn a bit more about what it means to be human).  I think Heathcote was an unschooler before there was a word for it.  She believed in the children, and in their wholeness, and did not see them as adults in training.  So that's where I am right now with the idea of sending my kids off to be "educated."  I want them to be the people they want to be, not the people they are forced to be.

What else?...

Oh, here is a huge thing.  My beloved J is a little bit sick.  Well, in a way he is a lot sick, but in a way it is a good thing.  He had some news from the doctor about his health, and he does have a serious condition that, with some very big lifestyle changes, can probably be reversed.  So we are going to have to pull up our socks around here and genuinely commit to good food, rest, less stress, less saying "yes" to every contract that comes up, less consumption of bad stuff.  In a way, getting the news was like the big excuse we needed from the universe to do what we really want to do anyway - pull back and spend way more time with our girls.

It's the Christmas season and I am a complete Christmas nerd and it's true what they say - having kids brings back all the magic of this season.  My kids are drunk with it - every night is "Christmas Eve." every shiny, sparkly bauble is "magic".  It's bliss to feel the wonder of it all again.  And our decision to keep them away from network television means that our girls really have no association of Christmas with mass consumption.  When I asked what they want from Santa at first they couldn't think of anything, and then they said "toys and paint." Toys and paint.  Not some specific electronic or princessy marketed in your face until you want to puke thing.  Just toys and paint.  God I love those two.  

Those are a few things that have been on my mind.

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