During half term last week, we did our obligatory library run, popping in, after our wander around the local market.
There we stumbled upon a ‘Monsters’ session where the very calm, very patient Library Manager who proceeded to read 4 monster-based story books, including the required Gruffalo.
After that, the children (all 4 of them!) moved to a craft table to make some monster themed craft (a monster mask, and some monsters to colour in).
A local press photographer had turned up and took numerous photos for the weekly local paper. It was too late for the article to make the run that half-term week, so Georgia waited very patiently for the Monmouthshire Free Press, that comes out only on Wednesdays.
She was rewarded with this ….
As we had a couple of minutes before getting ready for bed, I offered to read Georgia a story. Any story that she wanted. So she picked up the Monsters Inc. Guide, turned to the front page and this is what we read….
As we get to the bottom of the page, she notices the scrawled signature by Henry J. Waternoose, President & CEO, Monsters, Inc. Curious she asks,
G: What’s that? (pointing to the signature)
Me: That’s called a signature. It’s a special way of writing your name, so only you can do it.
G by now looking dubious, looks at the signature again, then points to it and says,
“But anybody could copy that!”
About two years ago, we, rather randomly spotted the Bristol Violins shop on one of our weekend jaunts and decided to drop in to see if they had any baby cellos (1/4 and 1/8). She was about 3 at the time.
From my own experience, I was fairly certain that Georgia would benefit most from starting out on a String instrument before moving on to any other instrument she wanted. I also desperately wanted her to start before age 6. Yes I am a pushy parent but I’ll also explain why.
Starting a musical instrument before age 6, has roots in the concept that babies and children all have perfect pitch. They are born with a sense of natural rhythm and if there are no hearing deficiencies, they can hear and reproduce sounds almost perfectly pitch-wise.
As they grow, this skill, unless nurtured and practised, apparently seems to start becoming lost. And it does actually make sense, in the haze of everyday life, little children’s brains pick up and learn so much, so even if they had pitch perfect hearing, if it was a skill that was not important and did not contribute to daily life, it is natural that it would gradually diminish both in importance and in ability.
Being a pianist and picking up the cello and the flute at Uni, I came to the realisation that of all the instruments to learn, strings are quite possibly by far the hardest, mainly because it relies wholly on the ear to create the pitch perfect note.
You see, unlike a piano, where a fixed sound is made when a key is depressed, or guitars where there are frets to guide your fingering. The accuracy of a note, to be played on a string instrument relies entirely on the positioning of the finger on the finger board. If it is tilted, even by the tiniest angle, it would affect the sound, changing it either sharper (higher) or flatter (lower)
So anyway, we were really lucky then as we did find an 1/8 size cello which we managed to borrow on loan (for free!) for two weeks.
The amazing thing was Georgia turned out to be a complete natural. Not once did she make that squeaky sound, common with all first time string players. She played the open strings (when you don’t press any notes) really confidently.
So we went away and eventually came back, £80 poorer, 4 months later, to return the baby cello, having spoken to numerous cello teachers. None of whom would even consider taking her on at her age then, 4 – simply because they had no experience. Oh Shame!
Reading Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, the second chapter talks about race and why we really should be talking more about the variations in our skin pigmentation more with our children.
I suppose it hit home, although I do have a lot of comments and opinions to add to that chapter, from personal experience growing up in a fluid multi-cultural society (read: Malaysia). So anyway, I thought I’d ask 5-year old Georgia, why she thought people have different skin colours. The conversation went like this.
Me: G, why do you think people have different skin colours? You know, like some people are really fair and some people are really dark.
G: Well, it’s because they get more sun and some people get less sun.
G: Like you know, in Malaysia, people are darker and there’s more sun than people here.
Me: Gosh, that’s a logical explanation….
Boy, we’ve got some explaining to do 😉
As we gleefully left school on Friday afternoon, after what had been a seriously long week, we walked along the shaded path heading towards the car.
Two ladies came walking in the opposite direction. And G whispers,
G: There’s Mrs Mo…
And because they were drawing nearer, I looked up, to smile as the one that Georgia knew smiled at her. And as soon as they were out of ear shot, I stopped Georgia and asked,
Me: What did you say her name was? Mrs Mooncake???
At which point we both burst out laughing.
G: Her name is Mrs Morgan. But you know, they have such strange names, like Mrs Kershal.
Turns out, she thinks Sam is normal, but Jin Aik is strange too – Poor Daddy!
In case you’re wondering, Mooncakes are a type of Chinese sweet-cake associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival, along with the Lantern Festival. There are legends that go with it as well – read more about it here.
If you have been following The Untold Story series, these Life Lessons (and so many more!) are a culmination of the journey and how we have found our balance.
There are so many more good things that can be added to the list. These are my top 4. If you can think of others, please do share them.
Lesson 1 – Staying home with children (under age 5) is much harder than going out to work
I do not mean to start a national debate, at all, WOHM and SAHM contribute significantly to all areas of our lives. I will admit that this feeling may well not be universal, but the majority of SAHM’s I know seriously miss the ability to ‘shut the door’ and have some down time. Equally, WOHM’s wish they could spend days with their kids, finger painting and digging in the sand. It’s not a competition!
So yes, I stand by, going out to work is easier than staying home with children, BUT, having said that WOHMs – all that juggling — that is a super-human task. So which ever camp you fall in to, pat yourself on the back, and remember we are all just doing the very best that we can.
[Disclosure: WAHM – definitely have it best of all!]
Lesson 2: No regrets – Decisions you make at that point in time are the ones best for you then (keep moving forward!)
There will be times when we look back and think, I wish I did it differently, but (and it is always a very big BUT!) there is no way of knowing what you know now, and if circumstances where the same in the future, you then have the benefit of hind-sight and will perhaps take a different path.
But Live with it and do your best and most importantly – Keep moving forward (ever watched Meet the Robinsons?)
Lesson 3: Having it all, doing it all, being it all, is a Myth! (UNLESS you define having it all in your own terms)
Us women, we are too hard on ourselves! The suffragettes ensured that we had equal rights, equal access, equal votes etc to the men, and for that I thank them.
What they did not need consider, and perhaps it was because most suffragettes had live-in nannies and house-keepers (cue Mary Poppins), was that women generally are (very loosely said here) responsible for the household and for the children, not because there are inequalities in family life, but because by nature, women are more nurturing, they are able to multi-task (it’s true!), they do after all, carry that baby for nine months.
Now before you jump on me, yes we are very much a 21st centrury family and share all these responsibilities, but, (again it is a big BUT), I was never asked to go out and earn my keep, I did it, because
I felt it was only right that I contribute to the household income
I felt it was a distinct waste of an education and significant qualifications to do otherwise
I had an image to up-keep, and perhaps most importantly, and now i figure most bizarrely,
I needed to feel a sense of control, especially where money was concerned.
Note here, these are all I‘s, demands placed upon myself, by me. No one else. Do you see where I’m going?
And so how have I reconciled it? I will be honest, it has taken a long long time, a lot of support (thank you DH), a lot of open conversations.
I still have crazy demands of myself (a gazillion things, I want and need to do) but because I want to do them (writing this blog and another that’s coming is one of them). This is closely tied in to Lesson 4.
I accept that money earned, whether by me or by DH is ‘our’ money. Yes it’s still a guilty feeling to spend money on ‘myself’ if I haven’t earned it, but it’s getting better (I suppose it’s like the first time crook, do it once, do it once more and sooner or later, it becomes second nature 😉 I’m not at all suggesting that spending joint money is like stealing!) Oh and haven’t you heard, ‘your money is my money, and my money is my money ;))
I accept that I contribute significantly, whether in the business (that we own jointly) or in the household (where we live jointly) – it is about give and take. Some days I do more here and some days I do more there.
Which brings me to my final lesson.
Lesson 4: Live NOW.
Whether you are a WOHM, SAHM or WAHM, you will know what I mean about this.
The typical scenario of
a) a WOHM is, guilt at work because child is in childcare, guilt at home while with child, because of unfinished work.
b) a SAHM is, guilt when playing with children, because of unfinished housework, guilt doing housework because not spending time with children.
c) a WAHM is, generally a combination of the two above.
So having been at some point or other one of the three options above, I have come to the realisation that the very best we can do is to live NOW. So when I’m with Georgia, I’m with her (wholly, mentally and physically) or I try my very best (you know what they say about multi-tasking?!)
If I’m working, I’m working, full stop. Admittedly, it helps significantly to trust the child-care or school environment your child is in, completely.
So there – my four Life Lesson’s from my experiences. Do you have any more to add?
So looking back, it was all part of the ‘eating salt’ process and I do very much believe we, as a family, and I, as an individual, have come out much stronger knowing very clearly now, what is important for us and to us.
Having said that, I looked back and I found this post (June 2008), questioning, questioning….
Phew! Part 2 – was some story eh?….If you’re still with me – Thank you.
And so we have moved on…but not without the tonnes of support and sympathy from friends and family. I must at this point thank all my fantastic friends and family who lent listening ears, hugs and loads of encouragement and advice through those dark days, and most importantly, I need to thank my DH for understanding, being there and being supportive through it all (can we get a cocker spaniel now? :))
So what happened next? Basically in the year post resignation, I took a proper time-out and realised that I had a child, I thought I knew, but didn’t actually (1 hour evenings, and busy weekends really don’t count for anything!). Read more »
A word of warning: My Apologies, this is a seriously long post. It was a long nightmare 😉
I finished my PhD in Structural Chemistry (2003), with a coveted Lectureship in hand. I even skipped the post-doctoral phase and I actually had a job deadline – to finish writing my thesis in order to start work.
The truth is, I had started my PhD with the full intention of being an Academic (you know, one of those boffins in the Ivory Tower), by the end of it, I was pretty sure that I no longer wanted to be an Academic.
Having said that, I loved Crystallography, the science that brought us knowledge of the double helix DNA structure, of numerous bio-chemical molecules, in our body, and has formed the basis and groundwork for many of the medicines and applications in our daily lives. Crystallography-related Nobel prizes continue to be awarded, the most recent in 2009, not bad for a Science that started more than a century ago with the discovery of X-rays.
And so, when I was offered a job, doing Crystallography, at a time when there were probably 80 applicants for every Academic job going, I took it. I enjoyed doing what I loved, I enjoyed the lecturing, the contact time with the students, the sharing of knowledge. I loved what I did, I truly did, the only problem was, I abhorred the environment (both built and social) I did it in.
It was extremely lop-sided gender wise, I raised the women count by 100%, (not counting the really brave / really mad? man turned woman, who stayed on – Academia is complicated!) when I joined. I was the only non-Caucasian and the youngest by at least 5 years to all my colleagues, the average colleague was a 45-year old male Caucasian, BUT these were non-issues when I started.
The issues really started I suppose mid-2005. Read more »