24 Jan 2014
A long way to fall
One of my friends has put Jemimah and me on a pedestal, and it is not a very comfortable place to be, since, as the saying goes, it is a long, long way to fall from that iddy biddy perch. I'm suspecting that a lot of the reason that my friend has put me there - and she may well be you - I don't know - is because of this blog.
Take a look at the pictures above. They're pictures - not very good ones, but pictures all the same, of our Melbourne home, taken in the last couple of days. In them you'll find books, lots of books; nice scented candles and perfumes; Jemimah's baking; botanical drawings and even a bottle of The Green Fairy and its accompanying accoutrements - glasses and an absinthe spoon - if you look hard enough.
My life looks pretty good in these photos, doesn't it? It probably even looks fairly familiar, since these are the sorts of photos of our days that I post on A Peaceful Day all the time. You may even have seen some of the very same photos on FB if you follow us there.
But now take a look at the following photos.
These are photos of our Melbourne home too, taken this afternoon. Top to bottom - dining room, hall, playroom. My home doesn't look nearly good in these photographs, does it?
I started writing A Peaceful Day to encourage Australian mums to use Ambleside Online in their homeschools, and to show them what a Charlotte Mason lifestyle looks like. My blog is supposed to encourage and help and explain. I don't know how well I've done in my endeavours. There are some Aussie mums still reading along and still using AO, but there are an awful lot who have fallen by the wayside, as well. Still the purpose of my writing remains the same, even if nowadays I write for a more international audience. I still love you Aussies the bestest, though.
Anyway, I digress. As usual.
Because I set out to encourage and build up and to promote CM as an educational philosophy and as a liberal lifestyle, the vast majority of my posts are going to tell you about the good parts of Jemimah's and my educational journey and life. She's a really bright kid, so that hasn't been hard. I can tell you all about the erudite books she's read, and the deep philosophical concepts she has grasped. I can explain how far ahead of grade level she is in maths. I can boast that we're just starting our third language. I can tell you about the romantic trips we've been on and the countries we've visited and the things that Jemimah has seen at 11 that many of you haven't seen at 40 and possibly may never see. I can encourage you to see Shakespeare performed and to give Plutarch a go and to attempt all the difficult books in the AO line-up because we can do them and so you can too.
I can write about all of these things, and I do. And now I've ended up on that pedestal. I don't deserve to be in that very high place. My life is like our Melbourne home. I love it. It is incredibly comfortable, and I wouldn't change it. I love my life. But it is flawed, and it has its rough patches. And it does have areas that we need to work on. Just in the same way as we need to do something about the playroom ceiling before it all collapses down on somebody's head. Maybe even mine.
Moaning to you about Jemimah's struggles would not be respectful to my daughter. It would be an extreme breach of her privacy, and I suspect that she would not be willing to have me talk to you about her ever again if I were to do so. I do not tell you about the days that I threaten to send her to school, and there may or may not have been one of those last week. I don't talk much about her struggle with spelling. I don't tell you all of her bad habits, nor about what character issues we are working on. I don't tell you when she's sad. I don't tell you when I'm sad either. I don't tell you when I've had an disagreement with my best friend, or a bad day at work, and I certainly do not tell you when I've had an argument with my husband. I don't tell you this stuff because it is personal and private and it is not what A Peaceful Day is about. I can assure you right now, though, that like the photos I've shown you above, they do happen. There are days that go badly for all of us.
Sometimes I read articles warning against whitewashing your life online. I hope you don't think I do that. No matter what method you choose to educate your children, even if that's the local State school, there are sure to be days when you wonder whether you've done the right thing. There are days when little Arthur answers you in a most disrespectful way; when Flora kicks the little girl next door and when George can't do a single problem on his maths sheet. There will be the day that you realise that you've studied German or French of Spanish for four years and that little Samuel still can't say hello. Things like this, only not exactly the same, happen to me all the time. I hope you know that, even if I don't tell you so.
Most days, I love the AO/CM path that I have chosen for Jemimah. I love the way she is growing and developing. I love seeing the connections she is making in her brain. I love the delightful young lady she is becoming. Most days are full of Kodak moments - the nature ramble, the pile of delicious books, the chockie chip bikkies she is baking right now. Those moments are the ones that I am going to post on this blog. They're the things that I hope will encourage you to try this gentle, rigorous, crazy method of teaching with your sons and daughters.
When you read about our days, though, please do not be tempted to place us high on a pedestal above you. When you are tempted, just remember that just outside of the camera shots are cracks, and flaking wallpaper and crumbling walls. We belong right down there on solid ground with you, and we would love to be walking the path right by your side.