Hellena Post - Creatrix

I've tried on so many uniforms and badges that now I'm just me - mother of 8 children and all that entails, flowmad, and human animal parent. Writer of this living book of a blog, philosopher, and creatrix of hand dyed and spun crocheted wearable art. I gave up polite conversation years ago, and now I dive into the big one's.....birth, sex, great wellness, life, passion, death and rebirth.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A day in the life of us....

We wake up in the morning about an hour before dawn, Zarra having a feed and a nappy change, in the process waking the twins who climb into bed next to dad.  As dawn’s tendrils feel into the window in our bedroom, the other kids get in as well, so there’s nine in the bed, and Balthazar says ‘roll over…..roll over’, so we all roll over and Griffyn and Lilly fall out……to go and collect up cups and bottles, and put on the hot water to boil, and start the process of our greatest family ritual, the cup of tea, ecco, or hot chocolate in the morning.  Then there’s seven in the bed and little Max says ‘roll over…..roll over’, so we all roll over and Spiral fall’s out……..to hop back in her bed in the loungeroom where the three big kids have been sleeping so they can tell each other stories as they go to sleep at night and hang out together.  Despite many people disbelieving us, we all really like each other, and feel most supported and ourselves when we’re all together, either hanging out at home or going on an adventure.   Then there’s six in the bed and no-one says ‘roll over……roll over’, cause it’s cold outside and Max and Zarra are asleep.  A bit later there’s six in the bed, and mummy says ‘roll over…..roll over’, so we all roll over and Balthazar falls out to go and see what all the others are up to.  Then there’s five in the bed and Merlin says ‘roll over……roll over’, but nobody does so he gets out.  And we hear later on that he’s got a full nappy so Currawong gets out to change his nappy and pour the hot water.   (With a slight detour to make sure that Merlin’s not beating the crap out of my laptop)  So there’s three in the bed and Max wakes up and rolls over……rolls over, and gets out of bed to see where everyone is.  And a bit later I hear that Max has a nappy that needs dealing with too, so I roll over…..roll over, and get out of bed to leave Zarra asleep on his own for a bit. 

Babie’s are changed and climbing into the big bed in the loungeroom with the other kids to consume their ‘hot juices’, ( another bizarre family ritual, dating back to when Griffyn was about three and a total apple juice nut, so everything to drink was ‘juice’, and cups of tea were ‘hot juices’ ) Currawong and I take turns in the shower (swapping saucy comments as we pass) to warm up and start the day fresh, while the kids are watching Saddle Club from the library.  I jump out, dress warm, and mix up corn and rice puffs with honey and milk to feed the boys as Zarra is still asleep.  All the other kids are in various states of consuming breakfast and a big discussion is going on about how they hate the snobby girl in Saddle Club.  I tell em I reckon she’s the best character cause she’s got spunk and imagination, and the other girls are all a bit too nice for my liking, and this starts up a conversation about how there’s always goodies and baddies in movies, and the baddies never win, and then I ask them if that’s the way it happens in real life.  And it’s not hard to think that the baddies win far more often than happens in movies, cause they’re running our corporations and governments and militaries and all the other institutions that are messing with our planet and it’s future.  Zarra wakes up.

Then us big people say ‘let’s do a big clean up, and we can get it all done and then just hang out for the rest of the day’, and between us all we whip around and get everything ship shape.  I get a bit big animal growly with the kids when one of them is wandering in a circuitous fashion to the bathroom carrying one sock for the washing, but we get beyond all that and get the space sparkly.   Lilly does benches, lots of compost and some general tidying, Griffyn does the floors and a whip around which he’s a bit of a legend at, Currawong does the recycling in the bathroom, and I sweep the floors.  While Spiral’s holding Zarra, Balthazar is wandering round having sporadic bursts of a tantrum about something or another (he’s three…..no more needs be said), and the twins are doing their best to merrily get in the way.  Max’s favourite trick is standing in the sweeping up pile, treading it under his feet, and spreading it in pretty patterns.  We get a surprisingly large amount done really quickly when we do it all together.

For a while there’s general grazing going on, a few rice cakes here, a few apples there, as the big kids go off for a walk down to the Coffee Club, and the twins mill around doing cute twin things.  Like sitting on the verandah hanging on the rail and looking out at the sky and the birds and hoping to spot a Bush Turkey.  And watching the neighbours cows who often free range on our grass. I take a moment to hang out with Zarra, stare in each others eyes and smile lots.  The big kids go off on walks often, and adventure round Billen or just make their own fun.  Just lately they’ve been getting into slapping foam pool noodles on the ground in a way that makes a huge ricochet like a gun shot, they like listening to the echo, and for a few days they filmed each other pretending to have huge punch ups, and someone out of the shot slapping the noodle in time with the punches.  Maybe a touch violent, but a fair call too in a culture where the media is often about aggression, fighting, and the eternal good versus bad. 

When they’re back from the walk, we all move around between housey pursuits.  Merlin falls asleep on the lounge.  I spend some time sitting on the computer replying to messages on facebook whilst feeding Zarra, and then hand it on to Griff searching on the internet for nerf guns ( another huge conversation that we all have about why he likes them, what they mean to him, why we don’t like them, what they mean to us, how we respect his right to like what he likes, how he can respect our opinions by using guns responsibly around us, what the rules are for gun possession – even toys need to be treated as the real thing if you want to develop a healthy relationship with them).  Lilly sits on the bed on the verandah drawing pictures, and Currawong reads Paul Jennings stories on the couch, while Balthazar, Max and Merlin take turns bike riding the circuit round the verandah and house.  Lilly helps me write this, giving me tips on the ‘roll over’ bit, and reminding me of stuff.  Meanwhile Max goes to sleep now that Merlin’s awake, as they often co-ordinate sleeping at different times these days.  Currawong gets a phone call from a phone company and ends up talking about how he drums and I crochet and write, and about homeschooling……as you do…….and a myriad other little things and dynamics go on all the while.

A lot of people ask me about what we do with our kids, if we do any formal schooling, are they socialised?, how are they learning?............... 

And it’s hard to say exactly what we do.  It varies.  And changes.  And most of our collective learning is what’s going on as we tumble through our days.  The conversations we have about things that are going on and different ways of looking at them.  The discussions inspired by the science that Currawong is consuming with an insatiable hunger about our universe, and our earth, and it’s animals, and geology, and all the rest of it.  The answers to questions that we all come up with together, consulting each other about how else it could be approached.  Like what colour dinosaurs are, and what the biggest horses, dogs, and cats are, and micro chips, and google glasses, and plasma.   And it’s amazing how much maths, science, geography, English, art, philosophy, history, and music can be learnt about through interesting conversations that the kids actually remember.  The explaining and demonstrating needed to translate between the little kids and the big kids and what they are teaching each other by example.  The talks me and Currawong have about what we’ve taught them with our functional and dysfunctional family patterns, and how to change them all if we need.  The depth to which we know our children, and their special needs and strengths and areas in which we realise we have to really caretake them.  The way how all of us reference and cross reference our experiences and favourite learnings to each other.  Adding layers to our combined stories that bring a new lesson with it.  The differing measures of love and respect, and disregard and grumpiness that we all treat each other with, and the working out between us all how to always do it better. 

And our adventures into the outside world!  We go and hang out at the Bush Theatre in Nimbin sometimes on a Wednesday for basketweaving, and there are other homeschooled kids and parents, and lots of other women making fantastic fibre artworks, and gorgeous crones and artisans teaching and showing how to weave magical baskets.  They’re all colourfully and uniquely dressed, and bring rare and beautiful instruments, and now and again at an unappointed time, everyone will draw close and break out the music, as Currawong sits on his drums and gently keeps his drum song steady within it.   If we’re ever craving company or conversation from others, we just drive into Nimbin and park our home away from home – our van – on the main street.  And that’s all we have to do really.  By the time the kids have erupted from the van and instantaneously decided they need a lolly or a walk or have seen a friend or want to pat a dog, I sit next to Zarra where I stay for the first 6 months or so of my baby’s journey in vehicles, and someone is bound to come up and chat to me as I pull him out of his baby seat and give him a feed in my comfy velvet bound spot.  I don’t even have to leave the van to have deep and meaningfuls, and Currawong often just pulls his drums out and drops some rhythms in the park, while we catch up or have chats or co-ordinate who’s going where.  There’s all these gorgeous teenager girls in town who love our kids, and anytime we rock up will pick up a baby and take them off for a walk, or let a whole mob of them straggle along behind them as they do their thing on the street.  We seem to have some seriously magical parking karma in Nimbin.  We always manage to be able to pull up just where the action is.  Like Michael Lusty’s wake, when we were parked virtually on top of the drumming circle, all our friends and loved ones standing round our van and hanging out with our little people while Currawong drummed and I danced. 

I read a quote on facebook the other day, that was written in chalk on a blackboard that said “Forced Association is NOT Socialisation”  And it made me think.  Throughout the course of our days, we come across anyone from brand new babies to grandparents and crones, and our kids can slide along the age scale as easy as swinging on a see saw with anyone our paths cross.  Nobody scares them, and they’re always willing to talk to anyone, respectfully and honestly, like us, their role models, try to be with everyone we meet.   I know where they are and am personally connected with the people they hang out with.  We all learn together and approach everything in life with curiosity and imagination.

And when it all comes down to it, and after much reflection about our children, society, and our choice to keep them at home, what’s most important to me is that we protect our kids as much as we possibly can from any external force that wishes to control, shape, or teach them how to ‘be’ in any other way than they naturally are.  It’s taken me till the ripe old age of 41 to know who I am, what I’m here for, and to have the confidence to be it in the world.  I want my kids to be at this point a helluva lot earlier than me!!  All I want really is that they simply have the confidence to be themselves.   

Anyway, I got a bit off course.  Back to our day.

Over the course of our day we’ve had three visitors, folks from the community that just randomly pop in.  One of the funkiest grandma’s there ever was, and the fella who lives in her caravan in return for helping round her property.  He gets by doing gardening for a cheap rate, and joins with many of the other folk round here carving unique lifestyles and paths towards income.   People drop in all the time at our joint, for a quick and inspirational chat, or to give us clothes, shoes, veggies, or other random generous gifts.  And we’re always open for people in need.  Who need somewhere to stay, or some food, or some company……after Michael Lusty’s death, the pact we made to not let anyone slip through our net who is in need, has been regularly taken up.  Our kids love visitors.

About this time is when we start getting ready for dinner, another quick clean up happens (you’ve got no idea how much dross can be scattered on the floor by twin toddlers and a three year old, especially when one of their favourite games that’s almost impossible to stop them from doing, is playing with the cold ash from the fire and making roads and railways in it….) 

And tonight is the first night that it’s cold enough to have a fire, so the lounges get moved close, and the little kids watch enraptured, as we’ve not had an open fire in our living space before, and when it’s lit, the kids all go a little hazy and dreamy as they gaze into the fire.  But Max and Merlin being Max and Merlin, it’s not long before they realise that putting the lounges close to the fire means they can jump up on the bench, so of course they do, and give dad a bit of help cooking dinner. 

Then after dinner it’s the time when we’ll sit around and watch something – a documentary, or a kids movie, or a series that we’ve gotten into (Darling Buds of May was a big hit, and so was My Favourite Martian and Get Smart).  Then it’s time for some books before bed, and nappies are changed again, pyjama’s put on, beds made, hot juices for the night furnished, and all the little sleepy babies go to sleep nicely around 8…..we’ve trained them well……and Currawong and I get to spend a little time conversing without interruptions, gazing in the fire, and remembering all the love we have between each other that’s created such a wonderful full life.