Sometimes I wonder what our lives would be like without children.
I imagine it being full of opposites; Peace and parties, lie in's and late nights, spare time and disposable income. I swear, we'd have the life of Riley. I'd have a small, classic sports car. Miche would have her horse stabled in the back garden. Perhaps I'd have the time to dress well. If I managed to do this, we may finally join the ranks of the beautiful. Our weekend time could be spent shopping with them. My wife could help me to learn how to "look the part".
Perhaps we'd be happy. Though something tells me I'd be a bit bored. There's only so many boutiques and home decor stores one can explore.
In real life, I'm lucky to share my spare time with 2-5 year olds. If you could call it 'spare'. They mop up time like dry sponges. And it doesn't come without its tribulations either. I tell you, my feet are aching from running around / with / after them today. I'm off work this week, apparently taking it easy. Yeah, right.
Let me list today's antics for you;
7:00 - Get up. Sort two breakfasts, 1 glass of milk, a colouring book, find model airplane, play with model airplane
8:10 - Shower, shave, dress
8:14 - Eat bread
8:20 - Dress two children on the move
8:30 - Pack car with lunch bags, reading bag, drink flasks & buggy
8:40 - Set of for schools
8:50 - Drop Miche & Meg off
9:00 - Drop Dom off at play group
9:10 - Shops for bread, milk, fruit etc
9:35 - Home. Tidy said home
10:35 - Sit down. Email, blog, news etc
11:40 - Set off to pick Dom up
12:00 - Pick small child up and drive to nearest beach as it's a beautiful day (eat lunch on way)
12:30 - Arrive at beach, set up camp and start exploring dunes etc
14:30 - Set off home
15:00 - Pick up Meg & Miche from school
15:30 - De-weed back garden (desperate - been put off far too long)
16:00 - Badgered by Meg into going to garden centre to buy Pink flowers to plant (apparently having none is a travesty)
16:45 - Plant pink flowers in garden.
17:00 - Tea ready. Cajole two kids into eating something decent.
17:30 - Kids TV == a sit down
18:00 - Baths, play, fighting over bath toys, tears and soap in eyes
18:30 - Jamas, books, milk. Tired arguments over who's blanket is best.
19:00 - Cook dinner whilst kids being put to bed
19:50 - Eat dinner
20:15 - Sod dishes. Boot up lap top. Sauvingnon Blanc.
I don't remember days off being this frantic in the distant pre-sprog days. So why the hell do we do it? Why have we put ourselves through this assault course of a life?
There are myriad reasons. Not least the primordial urge to procreate.
For me, perhaps its the white hot excitement that my children exude that keeps me feeling alive. Buzzing. Connected, you might say.
Today, seaweed and rocks have been awe inspiring. The way compost feels like poo has been hilarious. Pink has become all important and blankets are worth fighting over.
Long may this last. Though I worry that it won't.
I worry that our western educational priorities are mis-balanced. Things are now 'outcomes focused'. In order to increase GDP and per-capita productivity, we focus on give our children the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the world 'marketplace'. We teach them important stuff like mathematics, physics, human biology, geography and basic literacy. Stuff that can be directly linked to good productivity. We monitor and grade them incessantly. Our children are embarking within a career within this system.
In doing so, we risk stifling this awe of the little things.
Now, there are ample opportunities for numinous experience in physics and geography of course. Plenty of things to say wow and cool at.
However, we need to learn the vocabulary to describe these experiences more fully, so that we may understand them better, and keep hold of a sense of wellbeing. We also need to develop an emotional fluency that allows us to appreciate ourselves and those around us.
These things for me, are best learned through art and creative expression - Music, Visual Arts, English, Drama, Dance and so on. In our target driven world though, these are the very things that are being squeezed out. They're left dangling as an afterthought on the edge of the curriculum. Starved of funding.
Now, we may raise our generation of literate, confident and numerate business people. We may lead the world once more. In doing so however, we should prepare ourselves for the tide of ever increasing depression, when our golden generation forgets how to say that sand is quite cool.