Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Spring forward.

Whose great idea was this clocks going forward thing!  Waking up at half 6 and just knowing that this time last week it was half past 5 is an annual hatred of mine. 

Nearly a month since I updated! I am sorry. It's been a busy month but that's no excuse. Really I've had lots of ideas going round my mind but no coherent post. So have an incoherent one instead! So much more fun. Who needs coherency on a wet Wednesday afternoon anyway?

Since I last updated there have been some truly awful events. Earthquakes in New Zealand, a tsunami and really devastating set of earthquake and aftershocks in Japan. On a smaller scale two acquaintances of ours have had sadness I cannot bear to imagine - one lost her husband and the other lost their baby son during the second trimester. My heart goes out to everyone affected by all of these tragedies, and I've held so many people in the light, and will continue to do so.

Duckling won't remember any of these events. The thing that will stay with her, however, is any behaviours and tools we demonstrate for coping with grief, disaster and tragedy.  I don't know that there's a right or wrong way to handle these things so long as you DO address them. We talk about things that happen and what people can and can't do to help, and we try to be open with our own emotional responses.  So far I think her understanding of charity is that it's GREAT fun to put things in the bags to go to the Shelter shop! We'll connect that to its impact on people a bit more solidly later on I think.

I've openly cried in front of her many times. It used to scare her when she was littler but I am always careful to explain that mummy is sad but it's not her fault and give her an explanation she can at least nearly understand. Now she's not scared of mummy showing an emotional, human side, and she's developing her compassionate side. She will cuddle me and blow me kisses ('disses') and make me little cups of air flavoured tea in her toy kitchen (Good British child!). She is still scared when Mr. P or I get ill, but that's understandable.

On the other side of this I'm trying  to be mindful of her feelings too It's SO easy to dismiss toddler melodrama but it matters so much to her! Getting to her level and empathising makes a huge difference to her being able to work out her own difficult emotions. And sometimes, like her mum, she just wants everyone to go away and give her space while she processes stuff, so we've implemented the 'come find me when you want a cuddle' system. She stomps and so on then when she's exhausted that need she comes to be reassured I love her after all that.

Not that it's all doom and gloom in the purpleduck house these days! The sun has been out and we've done fun things in the garden, played in the park, done fun things, met friends (though not all the ones we' like to catch up with, yet!) and been very silly together! It's amazing what you'll do to hear an addictive toddler giggle!  We had great fun painting cards in the garden for some of Duckling's special people, last week. We ended up painting her toes for the fun of it and making stompy footprints.

Our small local Meeting met in OUR home town instead of the next one over last weekend, in our search for new premises. It worked really well, but not everyone made it. I hope more people can manage next time. The space was small but nice. there's a little space for the children's Meeting and a small but bigger room for the adult Meeting. We're near the beach and a good park for the kids when the weather's ok. The littles  joined the bigs for the last 5 minutes as usual - though Duckling missed her daddy part way through and wandered solemnly into Adult Meeting, gave him a big cuddle then silently came back to Children's Meeting. Sounds like perfectly good Ministry to me!  The feeling of the building is nice - cosy and welcoming.  I hope we carry on our Meeting there after the 3 month experiment we've agreed to. Though saying that I do love meeting at our F/friends' house  too. But this feels right to me.

I've volunteered to do children's Meeting next time. It's on Easter Sunday. On the one hand maybe that's an easy theme, on the other hand I can't help thinking that the 'every day is holy' thing is leading me to branch out from there, maybe do something different, or talk about spring and new life and why the church as a whole adopted this time of year, maybe have some short stories from other cultures' spring traditions.  Or we can colour in Easter egg pictures, paint eggs or ice Easter biscuits. Or ice a simnel cake. :) Ooo, or make rice crispy cake nests with chocolate eggs! Mmm, chocolate...

Friday, 4 March 2011

"Please make mythical button creatures while I am away."

This quote was so great I had to use it, with thanks to creekgal57 who coined it in a comment!

Comments! There are comments! It's so unbelievably good to know I'm writing not just into a void but as part of an ongoing conversation between folks online making their own way through this parenting and/or Quaking stuff! Thank you so much, all of you! There's some really reassuring points and interesting ideas in those comments and I really enjoyed reading them all.

Some of the comments talked about being the only child in a Meeting Vs. seeking a larger Meeting for the child/ren to have a same age community and I want to think about how we balance that today.  We might be cheating on this front with Duckling. We're attending a variety of Meetings at the moment and we gain something from each of them, though it's possible we do lose out on the feeling of having a 'home' Meeting. We go to the big central Meeting, which is wonderfully large at a level I had only experienced at gatherings before I moved to Scotland. We were married there. It's active and buzzing and exciting. We also attend a small Meeting that's been running a little over a year on the outskirts of the city, currently in a Friend's home, though we're experimenting soon with a new location. This one's important to me as it feels like my own Meeting at 'home' when I was growing up. Thirdly we have an even smaller gathering that isn't exactly a Meeting as such but is a few of us getting together for a little silence together once a month-ish with tea. This is important to me as Duckling's welcome to play with us or around us or sleep or join in the silence (Ha!) as she wishes. And I get to join in the worship as to date Duckling's only managed a few minutes without either me or Mr. Purpleduck being with her at Meeting - we usually hang out together in children's meeting or creche, depending on the Meeting.

I grew up in a small Meeting in Wotton-under-Edge. There were a few of us kids when we were little but as people got older, moved away, drifted away and so on it was often the case that I was the youngest, followed by my mum. We did go to other Meetings too and experienced different atmospheres and ways of doing things, which was great - Nailsworth is particularly gorgeous by the way, if you're ever in Gloucestershire! So I did go to children's Meeting sometimes, and very often I didn't. I can't say I was GOOD at silence but I would play quietly or read and listen to any ministry (I remember pleading with God for someone to SAY SOMETHING when I was maybe eleven and no one had ministered for weeks).

Last weekend in our small Meeting (number 2 in my list) we were talking about how the potential move might impact us as a Meeting and someone suggested that the space available may not be suitable for the children. Honestly we just won't know until we try it, but I did contribute that having grown up in a variety of meetings, some with better small-quaker provisions than others, it just didn't matter what our space was like, to us. It mattered that we felt included and valued as part of the Meeting and part of its life It mattered that our thoughts - and even occasional ministries- were taken as seriously as the adults'. If we had a room, great, but I've 'Met' in corridors, in small draughty rooms, in an old disused cinema (which we loved!), on stairways, in fields and of course wherever the adults happened to be. It mattered more that we were meeting, not the location - though the outdoor ones will always be special to me. What rankled was being set apart or treated as 'lesser' because of our age.

When Meeting talks about the children's meeting as if it were a separate entity - which is easy to slip into -  I'm always reminded that it was the children who kept the Meetings going way back in the society's history when the adults were being imprisoned for not conforming. The image of those children, all those centuries ago, solemnly attending their Meetings and keeping the spirit of the society alive when it would have been easier and less scary to stay at home is always with me when I'm hanging out with Duckling in the creche or the children's room. This is part of the story of our way of life, and part of her heritage. She matters, whichever Meeting we're at and whatever approach it takes to the smaller attenders. I hope, like me, she'll gain something from attending a variety. I know she contributes already.

Time will tell I suppose!