I was so close to letting Pacha and Yani stay home from school today.
They were ‘reigniting’ a fire we had lit yesterday. Completely focused in their task, fascinated watching the flames come alive once again. So many lessons learnt on so many levels, ancient memories, emotions, associations, a sense of slow time…maybe it was a good day to learn in a different way than sitting in a classroom - but I - the dutiful parent, found myself nagging: ‘Get your shoes on kids, quick get your bags ready, have you remembered everything you need for school?’ And forced them to the bus stop - the kids were pretty grumpy.
It is winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Despite the long list of ‘jobs’ to do (and jobs I love doing – physical jobs, real tasks), I’m here at the computer - not able to move from a sense of deep reflection and questioning; am I doing the right thing for my children, bringing them up the way I am - making it so obvious that I/we reject the majority of the mass culture foisted on us everyday? So many of these are reinforced through the school system: duty, obedience, conformity, blind faith and trust of annointed ‘teachers’, patriotism, consumerism…
I’ll give you an example; Pacha has a school assignment/project given by the local Country Women’s Association. The topic is: Scotland. I believe the expectation is of a neat, orderly poster with pictures and touristy type information – and for the ‘best’ result a prize will be given. Having been one of the few parents of children that has actually visited Scotland, I find myself guiding Pacha about what I think is a most important current information about that country, based on my own experience, the fact that Scotland is home to England’s illegal nuclear arsenal that has the capacity to destroy most cities on the planet. So, on her poster there is a picture of the ‘Loch Ness monster’ and beside it a picture of a nuclear submarine with the caption: ‘other monsters lurking in Scottish waters’.
What will the response to her poster be? Is it unfair that I have imposed my own experience and viewpoint on her? Will she be ostractised or ridiculed for having this ‘unique’ knowledge and opinion? At 9 years old is she too young to have a voice – because she happens to have me as a parent?
On facebook recently my parenting style has been challenged by a family friend. I suspect her views are a commonly held (but not often spoken) mainstream view, and I take them to heart, because I want to be the best mother I can to my children. I’ll include my response to her concerns about my using Pacha to express my own ‘political agenda’.
“Thanks for your deep and concerned response L - I know it is coming from a real place. The words in the song were actually of Severn Suzuki who, at age 12, addressed world leaders at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZsDliXzyAY). She started an environment group when she was 9 years old. I guess it would be good to talk with her about whether she has similar feelings to you about her own childhood (ie. being a mouth-piece for other adults political agendas).”
“This is a long conversation and it incorporates just about everything, it's about the subversive and seducive influences that our children are exposed to throughout their childhood that we have little control over: coca cola, mcdonalds, glorified military ads, health (and diets) coming from a chemist shop- and the more expensive the 'better' they must be, beauty coming from a bottle or a doctor's surgery, food being neatly packaged and totally detached from its source, oil gushing out of the Earth because our human culture considers itself more important than anything else, consume more to be more happy... Not only children - adults are still so trusting of these messages engulfing us from modern media.”
“Should children be given the opportunity to participate in shaping the culture that is currently destroying the Earth and causing untold suffering through the guidance of their parents? Because I love my children more than my own existence, because I know we are interconnected with everything else in this miracle of life - I believe so, yes.”