Thursday, 29 January 2009

Thursday 29th January 09

Another 'good side of the bed' morning... with luck this is a new approach to getting up and ready for school! I cycled our youngest into school and cycled straight in to town in order to meet Stuart who's part of Visit York, to discuss my role in the York Residents' Festival, which for many years has been the York Residents First Weekend, where locals brandishing a 'YorkCard' could get in a whole load of visitor attractions free, and some places not usually open to the public, like the Minster Stoneyard. So this forthcoming weekend there is a new-look event, with a wide range of attractions open, plus activities and entertainments in Parliament St and St Sampson's Square. They've got a huge Tepee type structure for a sort of stage area, and I'm contracted to do 5 one-hour shows over the two days.

So I chatted to Stuart for 20 minutes and then headed to the station to meet a student called Sally who's doing a dissertation on supermarket waste food, and some solutions to the problem. She'd contacted the UK Freegan website and asked if anyone in the North East would be willing to talk about what they do to reduce this kind of waste, and I said I was happy to show her. She was due to arrive at about 10am but by 10.15 she hadn't turned up so I cycled home. An hour later I got a phone call from Ivana at St Nicks saying that Sally had found her way to St Nicks after missing her first train, and could I meet her down there.

I cycled down and showed her around the centre, then we walked back home via the supermarket who sell me their unsold veg and fruit for a penny per sack, so I can use whatever I can, and compost the rest. We had lunch and I gave her a little tour of the estate (!) and answered her questions as well as signing a release form to allow her to use the info I've given her. My request was that I would like to read her dissertation once it's done.

She walked back into town and I cycled down to school to collect our little one.

A peaceful evening until homework was mentioned. Homework is the absolute bane of all our lives as when it is due to be done, there is inevitable trouble. So, we all had a nice tea... Gill made a stew with my help... I prepared some of the veg, including Jerusalem artichokes which need careful peeling as they are rather knobbly, at least the ones I grow are! Gill made a cheese scone mix to put on top of the stew... the veg cooked on the stove, then the 'cobbler' placed on top, and bunged in the oven for half an hour to cook the scone dough on top. Totally yummy, as is over 90% of Gill's cooking. Whilst she was making this, I made tomato soup for the weekend, and Melody came, her son and ours spent time on the computer, having fun with 'Club Penguin'. Melody and offspring went, having done a SUMA order and had fun on the computer, respectively. We then had tea... very nice, all together. Then time for homework and it all kicked off.

The situation became so serious that I was unable to go out to the meeting I was supposed to, as I had to stay in and deal with the difficulties that were occurring. Extremely depressing stuff as when it happens, I feel like a rubbish Dad, even though I know I'm doing OK compared to many less-involved and less caring fathers.

Of course, non-parents cannot understand, and some parents with easy children won't either... and it feels slightly better when we get sympathetic comments from those in the know as we know we're not alone. One of the problems is that both children get teased about me and my compost toilet... this is obviously the weirdest thing I do in some people's eyes, and children can be so cruel and unthinking, especially to other children. I love my boys so much it really hurts to go through what we are going through, and I feel little pangs of guilt and responsibility... some from the fact that I was a difficult child and some of my traits are obviously heritable, and also because the lifestyle I lead means I stick out from the crowd and it's easy for my sons to get teased and bullied about what I do. And neither of them actually use the compost toilet... it's absolutely nothing at all to do with them!

So, I missed the YiT meeting and spent at least an hour keeping the peace. Things did eventually cool down... no-one can keep up that level of activity for long... it's obviously exhausting.

Had a very nice sympathetic phone call from a good friend who is going through something similar. Much needed support. By 11.20pm the homework was done... an amazing piece of work, really excellent!

What an evening, what a day, what a life!


Anonymous said...

why dont you just let the school deal with the homework issue - if he doesnt do it he will get a detention.

Compost John said...

Homework is supposed to be done at home. Fear of detention is one of the things partly driving the 'challenging' behaviour.

Nothing is ever simple... we'd love him to just get on with doing the homework, OR have his first detention (He'd then see it isn't that terrible... I remember having them!)but there is a real genuine problem, looking at it from his point of view.

Anonymous said...

all that happens in detention is that he either has to do the homework he hasnt done or soemthing very boring indeed of the teacher's choice.

you really ought to just let him find out for himself what the consequences are if he doesnt do what is expected of him. seems to me there is a power struggle going on over it and all that is happening is that everyone is getting massively upset and angry which is counterproductive - it wont motivate your son to do his homework .

Compost John said...

The struggle is not external or between us and our son. It is entirely within his head. This then overflows into 'behaviour' which affects the whole family... which he doesn't enjoy and has no control over when he's in the middle of it.

Also, I have seen several of his homework sheets and I can quite understand why he is unmotivated... some of it's far too easy for him and therefore very boring... writing something out which is several years below him (in Science at least) is enough to put anybody off.

But 'anonymous' you may believe what you want... if you could see what was happening you would then perhaps not offer these 'simple fixes' as they are way off the mark... they might apply to some situations but as I said earlier, our set-up is far from easy or simple.

Anonymous said...

Well done on a positive evening with your son. I think you need more evenings like this. You can do York in Transition and all of your other evening commitments, when the children are older.

This is meant very positively and I love your blog - you can always stay home with the family and make up something more interesting for us readers!

A different Anon!

Compost John said...

Thank you 'different Anon' despite you posting anonymously which I don't really like or understand. I'm glad you love my blog!

I appreciate that my children are only young once, but re YiT, the planet we have is the only planet we have, and the TT movement is attepmting to keep it habitable for our grandchildren's grandchildren. I only go to a Transition meeting once a week or fortnight, for two or three hours and I don't leave the children alone... Gill is actually a very capable mother, and she supports my voluteering as she sees this as a very central part of who I am.

I also spend time with the family in the morning, before school (although not as much as Gill does) and after school, and at weekends. I work (paid work) part time and this leaves plenty of time to spend with the family AND doing voluntary work, socialising, promoting sustainable lifestyle choices, etc etc etc.

But thanks for the comment... please leave your name next time!