Tuesday, September 1, 2015

in praise of quaintness

Sometimes there are moments when looking at my children, I register the specialness of that moment and store it away in my memory, a treasure to hold on to.  This morning I sat watching my 7 year old daughter, home sick from school, sitting by the heater, listening to an audio book of Anne of Green Gables while French knitting.  She is totally absorbed in the story unfolding and the tricky task of hooking strands of wool around the metal loops of her knitting bee.  She is content, concentrating, oblivious.  Apart from the overwhelming love I feel for my daughter, I am also struck by the quaintness of the scene.  Such an old fashioned little girl – apart from the ipod on which she listens to the audio book.  This leads me to reflect on the type of childhood we hope to allow our children; both my partner and I are very much of the mind that childhood is not something to rush through but something to dwell in for as long as possible.  We limit our children’s exposure to TV – NO commercial television at all, our family TV viewing is generally something like Dr Who, Antiques Road-Show or Grand Designs.  We encourage reading, writing, drawing, tree climbing, playing in the garden, cooking, knitting, sewing, hammering nails in bits of wood.  We discourage any form of gender stereotyping and avoid like the plague anything that even hints at the sexualisation of little girls.  Both our girls  are now very good at judging if something is ‘inappropriate’ – like the dance moves and song lyrics they have to learn for a school concert or performance.  As parents, we are often incensed by the images and stereotypes that bombard our children on a daily basis, outside of the home, and sometimes even at school.  We don’t want to home-school our children or bring them up in a bubble, quarantined from contemporary reality, as much as that sometimes appeals.  But I hope what we can do is give our daughters the tools to deal with the daily bombardment, to develop a strong enough sense of themselves to be able to know what’s important and what’s not.  I hope our children can stay children for as long as possible; that they can be quaint and whimsical and creative and themselves.

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