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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Invention of Lying

Edward was not happy about being left for our now usual 3 hours apart today.  I go and do a little bit of work and he has a lovely time with his grown up friend who happens to be a really gifted child minder and all round good person. He loves her not only for her superior train track and bob the builder toys but also for her lovely sense of fun. He often tells me she is funny. He has learnt new phrases from her too - okeydokey and messy were carefully shared with me today in perfect context.  He doesn't use many words but does try to make them apt ones.

So I went to work - I say work but  really for that you must read pleasure, because my boss is my friend Angie and in return for some data entry, some sharing of ideas and script development I receive a good number of cups of tea, a large breakfast, a few snacks and some freedom to be thinking about some less domestic issues than is there enough bread for sandwiches tomorrow and how long til the nappies run out and so on. And since it is so much fun I do really wonder if I should abandon my son but I know I would go slightly insane if I did not. He was very distressed when I left him this morning though and I did feel a heel.

Part of the reason I enjoy work is that what we do is meaningful. Here a Tangent. is a new company, which is only just finding its feet  It began from a Christian ministry for missionaries and sunday school teachers but is taking new directions.  It is still holding to those roots, but we also see opportunities to develop it for new audiences so that there are bags for sharing experiences with under fives such as going to the zoo and down to the farm as well as Christmas, Easter and old favourite bible stories.

My experiences with Edward are leading me to look at what is offered to under fives in a way I had not previously. I think the idea of story telling to impart values is kind of frowned upon in some way by a lot of parents, we have got used to the idea that the concept wrong does not exist and the concept right is purely one's own subjective value judgement and should not be forced upon anyone else. We are also so scared of offending others that we tend to regard sharing our thoughts and ideas as forcing belief  on others.

The parenting course emphasises we should praise children for being compliant and letting others go first.  This is how my eldest has been raised to this point.  Its consistent with Christian values, but it is not consistent with life in the real world where if you are compliant and hang back you will just be pushed aside because the world, propelled forward by its ambitious parents  is a very very competitive place.

 Simultaneously though, the course teaches us to make our children believe they have the very best ideas, are never wrong and are incapable of making a mistake since we should not correct them. This seems to me to put self right at the centre - self esteem without humility does not reckon much to other people's needs or talents, I am not comfortable with this, but it is a tension that highlights the difficulty of raising not just well adjusted children but creating a Christian family where moving forward together is what is aimed for, that we should develop 1 Corinthians 13 style of love but maintain a sufficient grasp on what the world is truly like to be salt and light in it not a complete irrelevance.

I think it is ok to think the way I think and share faith with my children and let them know they can share that with me or go their own path, but I do think this way is the right one.  I want to signpost what I believe to be right and wrong to save them pain in the future, but I wouldn't see any point in forcing belief. I'd rather my children would trust me that fire is dangerous and not experiment to find that out, and spiritually speaking I feel the same way, I don't want them to take emotionally harmful routes through life any more than I would be happy that they suffer injury to their physical being. To be honest even the harm being done to my daughter's spelling and grammar because of the do not correct culture is distressing to me.  I assume by the time she looks for work the people hiring will also be illiterate so she won't miss out but its a shame really that she won't be able to treasure language or manipulate it with facility because the building blocks at the base of learning are arranged by her 8 year old  thought not the consensus of generations  Thank the Lord she reads widely and has the Bible in her cultural lexicon there is at least a chance for her being able to understand why justice is as it has been developed in this country, why our landscape is littered with churches even if many now redundant and what countless references in Shakespeare were really intended to say in his own generation.

 I want my children to grow in faith and be able to express themselves in the world, but I see that as a process of nurture not of my forcing belief which would be counterproductive - the parable of the sower is exactly what it is all about.  The Seed is the word of God, we sow it at every opportunity in the lives of our children in actions as well as words but it is the environment in to which it is sown that really makes the difference as to whether it takes root and flourishes or withers and dies with no discernable effect on the happiness or fruitfulness of that life.

Wow that was quite a tangent and may be it only made sense to me. So to The point.  Today my darling Edward told me a whopper for the first time.  He told me he fell on his bottom (he was sitting in bed and the last story had been read and prayers prayed  and hugs hugged) and he produced some crocodile tears and a wobbly bottom lip.  And I said Oh really?  And when did this happen? Sniffed dramatically he pointed at his stuffed toys and said "My Toys Did it" I laughed and told him not to be a pickle and go to sleep.  Which he did. But I was impressed.  I remember Aslana's earnest reception year teacher telling me with straight face that Aslana could not possibly have been lying to her to get out of PE because a child of 4 is not capable of doing so. So I was slightly proud, and slightly mortified in nearly equal measures.

Its definitely time to read him the one about the boy who cried wolf.  Ah, there is some consensus on what truth is after all - its the opposite of that porky pie you are telling me darling child of mine and if we disagree with all the world what it is still you and I need to share what truth is in order to have trust and once we have trust real love can grow. You test me with your fibs and when I hold you to truth you know love forgives all things and hopes all things but it still knows what the difference is between right and wrong.  Goodnight

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