My most successful attempt at getting Jessy involved in domestic chores has been ‘Happy House Hour’. We spend one hour on a Sunday doing housework together. I pick 6 different tasks and we do them for 10 minutes each. It’s an idea from ‘Fly Lady’. The aim isn’t to do things perfectly or get it all finished, just to get some stuff done. It’s a good way to introduce him to new tasks and the short time scale makes it feels manageable. This week he was nervous about mopping, but so proud of himself when he mastered it that he volunteered to do the next bathroom. In fact he’s been enjoying helping in the home this week. He decided he wanted to cook dinner for us and settled on bacon, chips and eggs. I reminded him how to put the gas hob on and reminded him about gas safety. He read the instructions on the chips, preset the oven and put the chips on the tray. Turning them over halfway through proved tricky but he didn’t give up! My niece and I helped out, I kept the bacon sizzling while Anais chopped carrots to give us some fresh veg. Jessy served it all up for us and was rightly proud of himself as we sat down to eat. He also had a new found appreciation for how much thought goes into cooking even a simple meal!
Dinner, mostly cooked by Jessy.
He also sorted out a load of laundry (I’m very particular about colour segregation!) and put it on. Later in the week he asked to bake biscuits. Baking has never held his interest for long, but this time he was very focused and did all the measuring himself. We used a recipe in a wonderful old book called ‘The Home Encyclopedia’ I found in a charity shop, which features an A-Z on how to be a domestic goddess! We had to do some conversions when it came to weights and oven temperatures. The biscuits were delightful and I ate far more than I should have done!
The interesting conversations continue. Jessy’s mind is always fully awake before mine is and one morning he began talking about Global Conflict and what he believes causes it before I’d even woken up. I gradually emerged into consciousness as he told me that he thinks the problem lies in the fact that male animals are designed to fight for a mate but because human men no longer fight for a mate they end up fighting about other things instead and causing war and conflict. Taking on board his theory I mentioned territory as well, and we decided that War really is just a huge fight for territory. He then began to question why everyone in the world can’t have the same amount of things as that would be fair. I introduced the idea of communism (I hadn’t opened my eyes yet!) and said that some countries have tried it, and although it may seem fair it doesn’t seem to make people feel happy, as people don’t all want to be the same, and people like to have something to work for and wish for. I then flagged up the problems with Capitalism, explaining how a very few people have most of the world’s wealth, which doesn’t make people happy either. (eyes opening, but still lying down.) Jessy then excitedly declared that he’d had a great idea! He said that people who are rich should give more of their money to people who are poor. I explained about taxes and how it does work like that to some extent. He proposed a personalised taxation system, whereby individual rich people give to individual poor people. He said that a rich man should give money to a homeless man, but he should know which person it was going to. I think his idea is a lovely one, although sadly I don’t think it will catch on – particularly with this government. After that lighthearted start to my morning I got out of bed!
I’ve been wondering whether we need to cut something out of our weekly schedule. It’s lovely to spend so much time out at parks and with friends but I’m feeling the loss of our time at home. It’s the days at home which germinate the little seeds that makes autonomous education work. I’ve also realised that one day at home isn’t enough. Jessy and I are both introverts. We enjoy our social time, but we need to recharge our batteries by quiet time alone. Being busier has meant that when we do get a day in, we both only seem good to sit in our pyjamas and watch films! To some extent I’ve made my peace with this. One day a week I’m totally relaxing the screen time rules and letting us bask in a day of media filled relaxation. Now that I’ve made this ‘officially OK’ in my head I can keep a bit of an eye on what we’re watching.
We’ve had a screen day today. I bought a subscription to LanguageNut with a discount voucher code because they have the option of Japanese. It’s a programme designed for children Jessy’s age. He wasn’t sure at first, but once we got into the songs and games section he got really into it and learned all the vocab in the section he’d picked. He’s memorising the words written in Japanese characters too, even though he can’t actually read them properly. We’ve been singing the catchy little song ‘Nama-ay wa nan desu ka? Watashi wa John des. Annata wa?’ all day! (What is your name? My name is John? How about you?) After that Jessy watched a couple of episodes of his ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’ DVD which was a firm favourite years ago but hasn’t been watched for a while. He then played games pretending to be a dinosaur and acting out some of what he’d learned. I got out the huge dinoaur book which we haven’t looked at in a while too. We’ve also watched a guided tour of a space station which was another one thrown up on Facebook and well worth a watch:
Although it’s a lot to clock up in one day we’ve definitely both been learning! I know what Jessy would pick as his best media moment of the week though. I finally caved in and decided to let him watch the Harry Potter films. We’re still only about half way through the Goblet of Fire, so finishing the series is a long way off. He’s also picked up so many details of the films and stories from his friends who have read and/or seen the whole lot, that there’s very little of importance he doesn’t already know, despite my best efforts! I don’t want him to lose interest before he gets a chance to see them either. With the later ones the films are just the bare skeleton of the stories anyway. It’s very interesting to compare the two as well. His other favourite video of the week has been the story of Peverell brothers. It’s a Harry Potter related story, and is a fairytale told to young witches and wizards and features in ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’. It has a pleasantly haunting sound and I haven’t minded the repetitive listening!
The other new feature has been ‘The Hookman’ computer game from the “Campfire Legends’ series. I didn’t realise the one we already have is the 2nd in the series, so this gave us the background. It’s a spooky style hidden objects game, with lots of logic puzzles. Jessy is usually better at them than I am! This game has been the inspiration for his writing this week. It seems the spooky scientist is spying on us and keeps putting notes through the letterbox! Jessy made a specific request to play chess this week. He plays when he goes to Sheffield, and he was showing off the new tips he’d picked up. We were lucky to have a lovely sunny day, so we played chess in the sunshine:
We’ve still enjoyed lots of time out and about in various parks as usual but I’ve enjoyed doing other things too. Sometimes I feel as if I’m always trying to strike the right balance, but when I really think about it, things are rarely completely balanced. The scales tip one way, and then another and often hover around. I just need to remember that that is ok.
Jessy and Anais climbing in Hulme Park.