22:22 [2019-08-22] Feeling tired. Eyes sore. Was a challenging morning with the boys. But lovely moments within it.
Preparing birthday gifts for our neighbour friend who’s turning 11. Like to do that, once I get into it; it’s a kind of meditation on the person and a lot of love gets generated in the making of them (er, that is, once I get past the oh-god-another-thing-to-do-stage). Each of the boys made a card for him. I think some people in this area (judging by their bemused expressions, and subsequent tossing of the card alongside the discarded wrapping paper) think we’re “cheaping out” by making our cards, but it’s actually the exact opposite, though I’ve never been good at conferring value when giving things — which is an art in itself. I think it’s partly due to a culture gap, and a lack in my communication skills.
To my mind, it’s often much cheaper in *time* to buy a card than make one. And time is the most valuable commodity in a society where most of us already have more than enough *things.* When you can monetarily afford to buy cards, but instead choose to make them, it’s an act of love.
It’s always been a tradition in our family that we make birthday cards for each other, and we all grumble (even if just internally) about having to take time to do it, in the moment; but it’s a wonderful feeling when we open each other’s handmade cards, no matter how rudimentary they are nor how limited our drawing/design skills. To me it’s the best birthday present I could receive. (And in fact, for my husband and I, it’s usually the only presents we receive from each other, besides a homemade cake, and we like it that way.)
My favourite part of the morning though, was the more self-indulgent linguistic endeavour of penciling the French-language Flower Fairy names into my English-language Flower Fairies book (by Cicely M. Barker) – I’d bought the French version for the friend’s sister as a gift, but I’d like to have both languages in my own version, so I’m copying the French names over, before giving the French version away.
An interesting language difference: in the English version, both boy and girl fairies are called “fairies” while in the french version, the girl flower fairies are “fées” (fairies) while the boy fairies are “elfes” (elves). I love looking at these small differences in language and what they might mean on the greater scale of things in each culture. It’s certainly easier for a boy to relate to being an “elf,” even in English, so boys might be more likely to read the book and see themselves in the flower beings, if in the English version they were also called elves instead of fairies. Then again, just the fact that in French, perhaps boys *can’t* be fairies, and the gender difference is thus more pronounced, shows that gender culture itself may also be more pronounced — and in my limited experience I definitely have found that to be the case. “Vive la différence” as they say.
Later, the three younger boys picked up the flower books and were reading them together. Another lovely moment. (Never mind that one was insinuating that the other was most like toadflax….)
If boys can willingly become interested in knowing the names of flowers, perhaps they can better help change the world… and I find that these sorts of things happen naturally, when access to world-conquering video games is suppressed and more peaceful input is made available.
Then I took a walk with the boys along the wayside, identifying the blooms there, which is one of my favourite things to do in general (though the older boys now sometimes get annoyed — their indoctrination in modern society is growing). Cowslip (primivère) has disappeared; now there are toadflax (linaires), wild poppies (coquelicots) and yarrow (achillée — tiny pale pink clusters on tall stems). White campion (campion blanc). Red campion (campion rouges — which is named for its stems, not its blossoms, which are not red but pale pink). Mallow (mauves — the soft purply-pink ones with wider petals than campion). Red dead-nettle (ortis rouge — which has red leaves, but tiny purple flowers). Thistle (chardon) and self-heal (can’t remember the translation).
Then to the nearest lake. Was quite busy with people. Would still have been lovely but my second son wouldn’t stop badgering me to go home. He was experiencing severe screen-addiction withdrawal symptoms and just kept moaning. (The natural consequence of that, he discovered, was that I was too worn out by his moaning to be able to “check out this new video game” he wanted to buy when his computer time did finally come around, after we got home.)
Found out that my eldest son had last night snuck his phone into their shared bedroom at night — a completely illegal maneuver in this house. He hadn’t slept at all, just stayed up watching shows! (His brothers later informed.) The natural consequence being that while he was catching a morning nap to make up for lost sleep, his phone went on retreat, locked in the van. It too is tired, and needs a good long rest.
Meanwhile I pondered my own reading, writing and blogging addictions. Feeling like a hypocrite. I justify it by saying that I am filtering my input and using technology for creative, rather than just consumptive, endeavours. But still.
Blogging has taken over drinking wine, as a hobby. I mean, I read and write far more than I ever drank wine, and always have; but now it’s my main “self-medicating” support system. I crave the like-minded social contact (get it? like-minded? Ahhhh, dopamine); and I enjoy the conversations in the blogging world.
But, another issue on the creative front: I still tend to get obsessed with how to do everything “right,” and in the end still feel I do everything wrong.
Yet all the time, I know there are far worse obsessions or addictions, in the world… so then I think, what’s the point of worrying over something so inconsequential as blogging, for an escape, for a support, for a hobby? “Go forth and feel joy.”
Unpleasant incident while leaving the lake that shocked me — and even the boys — and even some people on the beach — and when we’d all finished registering it, eyes wide, mouths agape in horror — I made a move to get right out and speak to the offending persons, try to understand why they were doing that, and try to explain to them why it was wrong. But my eldest, in the front seat beside me, stopped me (I think to save us all the embarrassment or discomfort of my getting involved — he is a teen, after all). Then the offending persons left, while I hesitated, still in shock, and it was too late to say anything.
Note to self: never, ever let someone — even someone you love — stop you from your own core instincts to speak out against wrong-doing. You will endlessly regret it later.
I will tell you a truth: the reason for my recent depressed interval was partly due to feeling at times oppressed in my own home, within my own family. I am the only female in a six-person household; each boy in this household is different, but most idolize their father. I see things differently than my husband does, and I feel I am constantly battling for — for what? For world peace, in my opinion. Which in my view means filtering input, so that your output gets better as well. You are what you read, what you watch, what you play. It means avoiding shows, books and games that glorify asinine, exploitative, violent and/or conquering behaviour. It means seeking intelligent, inclusive, creative collaboration.
And yes, sometimes you do have to engage, and to fight against the bad stuff, and then, the best tool is words.
If I could have spoken (gently?) to those boys -— that is if I had followed my instincts — those ignorant kids, who were trying as hard as they could to impress the entire population of the small rural beach, by the look of it, would have understood that what they were doing only made them look like awful fools. And cruel, deranged ones at that. The crazy thing is that they are actually “good boys.” (Aren’t most of them, though?) I know one of them by acquaintance, because he was our boys’ classmate, when he was very young. Polite, friendly, he came to greet me and have a chat, just as we were leaving… truly engaging with me. And then he turned around and rejoined his friend, waiting for him at what must have been his father’s tractor — and did this strange and awful thing, almost as though to impress us, clearly thinking it was… cool. It’s the only explanation. Which made it all the more shocking.
To be clear, I am not judging those boys. Rather, I feel huge compassion for them, with a hint of despair. I’m crying internally at how they could have come to act this way *and think it was okay.* What it means about their environment, what they’ve been exposed to or the evident lack of education — about compassion for all creatures.
Sometimes an incident like that will take over the mood of my entire day, or week, or month. I would like to forget it, as well as my own shame for my lack of action in that moment, but you can’t un-see something nor un-feel something.
Even if the incident might seem relatively insignificant to some, I will think it deeply symbolic of all the worst pain and disaster in the world; the most heinous crimes.
In the past, I might have tried to wash away my sense of horror and regret with a few glasses of wine, talking it away with my husband, who would have most likely assured me that I was right not to get involved (— I am a mom with kids and their safety to think about, is always his argument at times like these); or to an old friend on the phone, who would have commiserated (— thank heavens, I am lucky to have friends like that). Then the memory of the incident would show up, eventually, like sediment at the bottom of a bottle, and I’d end up crying over the state of the world. It never really goes away, and it ultimately tastes worse, the more you try to drown it.
Today I instead coped by saying to myself, about my part in it, or rather lack thereof: “what’s done is done, I try to learn from this, and do better next time.”
10:26 [2019-08-23] I suppose we have to forgive ourselves, as well as others… because only with compassion for ourselves for our perceived inadequacies and failures, can we feel free to boldly keep trying to make change.