I realised something interesting the other day. I actually enjoy chatting with my children. I hear all these things about people trying to work out how to have conversation with their teens, products like prompt cards for round the dinner table, always assuming families manage to gather around, and I felt so lucky. We chat about life, the universe, books, politics, food and pretty much everything. Sometimes there’s a bit too much minecraft in the conversation, but hey, you can’t have everything.
I particularly enjoy discussing books with Big. We both like science fiction and fantasy, and the current rush of YA dystopia has been great for sparking off long rambling discussions about the books, the characters, the politics in them and the politics around us. We’ve also featured particular books in a family book club, so far Wonder, The boy in the striped pyjamas (sad, so sad) and next up we’re going for Terra.
Obviously it’s not always sweetness and light. I get my fair share of “I hate you” from both the older children, generally when I’m asking for housework or education to happen. But perhaps because of the home education, we get to relate on so many other topics. Big and I have a shared interest in history, sparked off by our time at Kentwell. Tudor times were fascinating, and so many aspects of that period are enlightening about the world today – the levellers, enclosures and education for poor people all quite fascinating. We both loathe sewing, so we get to bond over that too.
Once a week now each of the big children takes a turn at cooking. I tend to sit in the kitchen to offer whatever level of support is required, and it’s another chance to talk, one on one instead of all together. I hadn’t thought of it as offering that opportunity when I built it into our week, it was much more about developing independence skills but it’s turned out to be a lot more than that.
I cherish these chances with each of the children and I’m already starting to carve out one on one times with the little two. So Smallest and I had a library trip on Sunday and Tigerboy and I get quality quiet time each afternoon before his nap.
These are the times that matter. Not the moments when I have to pull the tough mummy routine. The times when I get a glimpse of the people my children are, apart from their relationship with me. And it is very good to see.