Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My children are ignoring me... surely every parent's dream

I am in heaven. My dreams of the perfect at-home parenting experience have finally come true. I have spent the last half hour sitting reading my book and drinking tea while the girls have been playing in the paddling pool. Now I have snuck off to write as they are absorbed in a game of restaurants. Bliss. I get to be with my two favourite people, watch them, love them and soak them up, without actually having to do anything that I do not want to. It is not that I do not like to play Princesses and Mermaids... but as fascinating as it is, I am quite happy to have a day off now and then.

How did this happen? How can it be that my tiny baby Bella woke up this morning and brought all of her clothes to me including a pair of Jemima's pants which she had half put on herself. "No nappy Mummy. Pants please".

OK, she will be two in July and is not so tiny. She poos on the loo and expresses all basic needs in English (well we understand her), but she is still my baby. She breastfeeds like a new born and still has short baby curls (I say still.. I mean finally). Now she is ignoring me and wants to play with her big sister undisturbed. I was actually banned from the paddling pool because I would "stop them from splashing and having fun". Bella confirmed this vehemently: "No Mummy. No swim! Mummy go INSIDE!"

I know it is only so long before this display of independent, peaceful sisterliness turns into a chaos of snatching and squabbling and the usual demands for my attention, but still, what a relief! Not just the me time, but because after a morning spent discussing the pros and cons of different approaches to parenting and schooling at an impromptu play date, I came home feeling somewhat stressed. I lost perspective. I forgot what I thought, and why I thought it anyway.

I woke up this morning my usual self: a mother who believes that while a few hours each day of learning through play in a happy school environment are wonderfully beneficial for both child and parent, essentially the most important thing for children under the age of six is lots of time at home (assuming the home is a happy, healthy place to be), both for one-to-one parent and child activities and also for unstructured, unsupervised play that allows imaginations to roam wild. Having almost definitely decided to stay in Cambodia for one more year in order to delay Jemima from starting school at the tiny age of 5 years 0 months, I came home at lunchtime asking James if we should put Jemima in full-time 8a-4 school next term, and whether we should start her on music lessons.

A few hours of making necklaces, dressing up and watching them play, ignored by me, and ignoring me, has put my world to rights again. They have the rest of their life for institutions and long hours away from home. Now is their time for precious, unpressurised, total absorption in worlds of fantasy and adventure.

I think...

Share your thoughts and experiences please, preferably in comforting agreement as we can't afford the international school fees in Cambodia anyway, but all opinions welcome :-).

As I thought, things are melting down out there.. time to go.


hana said...

Aha! Almost missed this one. Well I can totally relate to this 'ideal stay-at-home scenario' so much so it's made me think more positively about the idea of a sibling for the wee man!

Recently I've been really struggling with entertaining a 17month old marauder in a sweltering wee Bangkok apartment 24-7. The city has been out of bounds, not just for the most obvious reasons (riots/water fest) but the HEAT. I'm jealous of your rain! Scones and height charts = genius. WHEN IS THAT BOOK COMING OUT AGAIN!??

Sorry we missed you in Bkok - nice to see you back here tho. xx

hana said...

PS: School shmool, The Scandinavians surely have it right that pre-7 are the PLAY years...

I went to a 'reunion' party in a commune in India where all the kids did until 10 or so was ride horses, tai chi, yoga etc and 'explore' life.. And the kids who'd grown up there all seemed super successful/sociably relaxed.

Anyway, back to the sticky rice, cheese n grape fest - Fusion food, toddler style!

Georgie said...

Ah great to hear! We are off to Laos where sticky rice abounds so I shall be thinking of you. Three weeks back-packing woo hoo!!! xxx

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