… making the most of opportunities when they arise.
Take today. I grabbed the opportunity of Princess being asleep, and my man being on duty with the two middle children, to have a few minutes with Pokemon Boy before bedtime. Pokemon Boy and I have been at loggerheads for at least a week. He thinks I am being extremely unfair, expecting him to do 3 hours of academic work each day. I think he is being lazy and selfish, expecting to stay at home and do nothing, especially while I am very stressed about an impending house move. That’s on top of the everyday juggling that is required being a mother of four.
That’s the background. Surprisingly, we have just had the most wonderfully productive half hour, brainstorming for his Just So Stories assignment. The Just So stories were written by Rudyard Kipling for reading out loud to his daughter and young relatives, as bedtime stories. They follow the vein of creation myths. Each story is set in a mythical past, taking one creature with a flawed temperament or undesirable behaviour, which is changed to give them a distinctive feature. For example, the Whale used to be terribly greedy, but a clever fisherman rammed a grid inside his mouth so that he could only eat small creatures. The Camel was extremely lazy and would not work, so a Djinn gave him a hump which would allow him to work for three days without stopping. The language is appropriate for a young audience, but nevertheless rich with wordplay and poetical devices. I haven’t read these stories for a long time and I am enjoying sharing them with the boys.
We (Pokemon Boy, Drama King and I) are registered on an online course from Brave Writer where we analyse the stories and then the children write their own. I love the Brave Writer approach and it has been instrumental in changing Pokemon Boy from a reluctant writer to someone who considers ‘author’ to be one of his career options. This online course is even better than following the e-book ‘The Writer’s Jungle’, as we get access to a Brave Writer tutor who can give us feedback on our work, and point out features in the original texts that we may have missed.
In our half hour before bedtime, Pokemon Boy and I came up with a great list of behaviours that annoyed him, several of which were modelled then and there by his younger brothers. We chose one to focus on, worked out what change could occur to minimise the behaviour and what animal would be most appropriate for the story. Then we wrote a great opening sentence to introduce the reader to a mythical place where animals could talk – the setting for his story.
It was a far cry from the ranting and throwing plates around that occurred approximately 12 hours ago. I am so pleased.
I am not sure whether it is in the nature of homeschooling, or the nature of being a mum, or even a hormonal imbalance, but recently my emotions have been oscillating wildly. Tonight’s feeling is one of relief and pride. And I’m really glad I took the opportunity to chat to Pokemon Boy when it presented itself.