Reading – February

Ok, so February is a short month but my reading has been shockingly slow. I need to become one of those clever people who can read while walking to work. So this month I have pretty much only read:

California – Edan Lepucki – My second post-apocalyptic novel of the year. Well, more mid-apocalyptic maybe. Follows a couple who’ve left the destruction of LA to live alone in the wilderness. Focuses on how people are surviving, rather than the why. I didn’t find it massively compelling, which is probably why it took me so long to read, although I do like a bit of commune-based fiction. The fact I’d read Margaret Atwood’s Maddadam so recently probably didn’t do it any favours.

Escape from Childhood – John Holt – Related to my recent rambling post, this book by the unschooling pioneer looks at the rights of children in society. He proposes that “the rights, privileges, duties of adult citizens be made available to any young person, of whatever age, who wants to make use of them”. I’ve not finished this yet, but so far it’s definitely thought-provoking, challenging and a probably a bit extreme for me generally, a bit ranty, lots of his observations seem based on brief random encounters with children at airports. “If we gave up our vested interest in children’s dependency and incompetence – would they not much more quickly become independent and competent? We ought to give it a try.”

Back again

So my run of posting a photo of Arianwen every week didn’t last very long did it? I started to have doubts, both about the general safety aspects of posting so many photos of her online (how will I persuade her to be ‘Share Aware’ in the future if I’ve not 100% thought through the implications of sharing photos myself). But it also started to feel uncomfortable as it felt like it implied that she was some sort of project to me, rather than the actual photos being the project, if that makes any sense at all.

I’ve been having vague thoughts about how we treat children and view childhood as a society. I wish I was articulate enough to, you know, articulate them. It boils down to a balance being wrong somewhere. By seeing children as ‘other’, and making such a big deal of childhood, does this make it harder for us to ensure that children have the rights they’re entitled to as human beings? Which is not to say that children should be treated as mini adults, as of course they do have different physiological and developmental needs.

So much energy seems to be spent on making childhood ‘magical’. I admit I’ve been drawn in by the shiny ideas on Pinterest and made rainbow spaghetti (which Arianwen ate rather than played with, then the cat ate it and got sick, and then the patio was covered in tiny spaghetti worms for weeks). But does all this emphasis on ‘sensory play’ make it so that normal life isn’t seen as enough? I actually saw a mum say on a Facebook group that her baby ‘hadn’t done anything sensory yet’, as if because she hadn’t spent time making cloud dough that her baby wouldn’t have experienced anything yet. It just seems another way of cutting off a child’s world from adult society. It doesn’t feel quite right to me how children are banded together in groups of the same age for so much of the time, rather than having the chance to interact and learn from older and younger people.

Oops, this hasn’t really gone anywhere. My thoughts aren’t really defined enough to go anywhere yet. I have no idea if this makes any sense. If anyone can articulate it for me that would be great! Or if anyone’s read anything that could shed some light on my thoughts? I guess it’s about how it makes sense that as a society we push children towards independence (wow, she sleeps all night in her own cot, what a good baby!) while also surrounding them in this big fluffy cloud of magical childhood rather than just, well, letting them get on with it with a bot of guidance. (By writing this I am no way saying I have any sort of balance right, in case you’re wondering).

This vague rant was brought to you by too much coffee, and a rare hour on my own.

Reading – January

At the end of last year, on a Facebook book group, Lisa asked what everyone’s favourite books were of the year. I could not for the life of me remember what I’d read. I don’t read as much as I’d like. Andy and I went away for one night last weekend, and one of the things I was most excited about was uninterrupted reading time.

This is so I remember at the end of this year, with somewhat arbitrary scoring, and my ever so insightful reviews:

MaddAddam – Margaret Atwood ****

Enjoyed this. Not as much as Oryx and Crake. Was very glad of the recap at the beginning. This should happen more often.

Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell **

I wasn’t in to this. But then, I’m not 14. It’s not really for me, although I really enjoyed Fangirl.

Yes Please – Amy Poehler ***

I’m just finishing this off. I’m not massively in to this either. Bit of a mish mash, lots about people I don’t know or really care about, although I would like to be friends with her. Would prefer to read Leslie Knope’s memoir.


Level Up!

As cliched as it is, one of my aims for the new year was to move more. To do this I know I need to keep trying new things, to keep me interested.

Which is how I find myself collapsed in a broken sweaty mess on the floor of a church hall in Penarth twice a week, spurred on by Harry Potter quotes and the thought of letting my team down.

L12 is a 12 week fitness course run by the lovely people of Level Up Fitness. I’m still not sure if I’m the only woman doing it who doesn’t play roller derby. I was pretty much terrified when I signed up, but I knew I needed a good kick up the bum. Ari has just learnt to say ‘heavy’ and I could do without that being pointed at me too often, thanks very much.

The course consists of two sessions a week, but the arse-kicking doesn’t end when the classes finish – there’s always a weekend challenge, good and bad bingo (tick when you dance or an hour/go for a run/eat pizza/eat cake etc) and a food diary to give in every week (the thought of someone looking at everything I eat is great motivation, as long as I can keep myself honest…!)

Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times when one only remembers to turn on the light.

I’ll let you know how motivated I’m feeling at the end of the 12 weeks!