Today we are off to one of my top bucket-list destinations… Japan! We have a late start, followed by the usual bustle about for ‘passports’ and then take another flying YouTube tour. Once grounded, we play along to some war drums, have a Sumo match, roll some Sushi, fold some origami, copy some Hokusai, try our hands at Manga, and then utilise the old Japanese table top grill- still THE best thing we’ve ever picked up at a student “clothes swap”!
An interesting discussion unfolds at tea time, however, as the Eldest wants to dress up like the Geisha girls she saw in the video. I say yes and Husband says no.
“Why not? She always wants to theme dress in the evening?”
“Ok, just don’t do the make-up.”
“Why not? That’s her favourite bit!”
“You just can’t! Especially not this week!”
“But… why not? She’s not copying anyone’s skin tone? It is actually make up?”
“It’s just… not right.” Says the usual under-thinker of the family. “Do the rest but don’t paint her white!”
Hmmm… I follow his advice and mull over it for the rest of the evening, before finally Googling “Cultural Appropriation” – as I’m pretty sure my unsettled feeling has something to do with that, but haven’t actually got the foggiest what it means! After reading the Wiki-explanation I deduce that Cultural Appropriation is “borrowing”, “stealing” or “playing with” customs from another culture, without experiencing the hardships endured by the people of that particular culture. It can also be adopting particular fashions, symbols or practises from another culture (e.g. the crucifix, to take a Christian example), without fully understanding or appreciating the significance of the elements being copied. And so… I am quite disturbed. For if Husband is right, and copying Geisha make-up would be cultural appropriation… then surely, so would all of the other things we have copied from YouTube every single week?!
Hmmm. Fusion food for thought!
In the end, while I slightly regret sumo-wrestling in pillows and underpants this morning… I decide on a whole, that- as far as the kids are concerned- the positives outweigh the negatives here. We are teaching our kids that the world is a vibrant and diverse place; full of different people with different traditions and cultures and that is an exciting and beautiful thing! However… it has been a learning curve for me this week; to sit back and reflect on my own attitude and approach to ethnicity and education. To reflect honestly upon the things I may have done for a good photo or video or seemingly innocent learning outcome, without considering their true value; small words, actions or activities that may, however unintentionally, serve to reinforce dangerous attitudes in my white, privileged children. And that’s the last thing we want- for their future, or anyone else’s!
Slightly heavier than expected this weekend, but there we go. Life is for learning- and it seems we’ve all got a lot to learn this week.
While I’m busy overthinking, the usually-chilled Husband is busy overfeeling. We have an embarrassing Flanders-style argument during our live Service broadcast, as both think the other has missed a line from the Lord’s prayer and attempt to correct and override each other with wide eyes, low eyebrows and increasingly determined voices! Not cool.
“You jumped ahead!”
“No- you were a line behind!”
The argument continues off-air and yes, I realise now, that either way I should have just followed his lead. Still, his reaction is out of character and we soon get to the bottom of it:
“I’m sorry for flipping out, but I hate my job at the moment.”
Ouch. That’s a first- ever- and I hadn’t been aware of it until today. Lockdown life for the Reverend Husband has unfortunately taken away most of the elements he loves about the job- and amplified the most difficult. Characters who are hard work under normal circumstances have been isolated for so long that eccentricities are exaggerated and passing anything through a digital PCC has reached a whole new level of tedium! He feels like he’s wading through sludge and I’m pretty sure he’s not the only one.
We make a note to try and find him an achievable hobby!
In the afternoon, however, I leave him to play with the children while I drive to a surprise, socially distanced baby shower. I realise in the car that my sunglasses are broken and Husband’s are prescription. So… novelty pink flamingos it is! I am definitely the coolest driver on the M6 today.
School is becoming a lot more reliant on the laptop these days. We use Oak Academy for Maths, online books for school level reading, Bitesize for Science facts and phonics games for… well… phonics. It’s only short sharp bursts, but I realise as we near July that I’m pretty much done with trying to do the core subjects in original and imaginative ways. We are officially ticking boxes over here.
In the afternoon there’s a thunder storm and the kids think this is the most exciting thing in the world! The neighbours’ kids are squealing with glee at the fence, so they put on their rain suits, dash about and laugh at one another. Nice!
Later on, I head out for a walk to call a friend and end up discovering ANOTHER new wood! This one even has a babbling brook, which is just sweet music to my ears. While walking and talking by said brook, however, I slip in some post-storm mud, submerge both flimsy shoes in the water, fling my phone into the mud out of reach and completely cake my legs and coat trying to retrieve it!
It’s a very squelchy walk home!
Husband still has no hobbies, save spending time with me. Which is nice, but increasingly difficult as the Eldest is taking an age to go to bed. No matter what time we start the process these days, we aren’t getting to sit down together until at least 9pm. Which is a really stupid time to try and continue a Marvel marathon really…
But not the stupidest thing I’ve done this week, it would seem!
In the afternoon, I excitedly tell the kids about the new, new wood and we decide to wait for Husband to join us as I think it’ll do him good.
Remembering yesterday’s faux pas with the mud, we go prepared in rain suits and wellies and it’s a good job we did! Beyond my recce, there’s actually mud slopes and puddles galore- the kids are in their absolute element and up to their elbows in thick, oozy, muddy goodness! For a while we just stand back and watch them jumping and climbing and sliding and getting covered. It is bliss.
Then I spoil it!
See, when I was little, my Dad caught tadpoles every year and brought them home so that we could watch them grow into frogs, before releasing them back into the wild. I have been desperate to do this with my kids, but never found any. Until now. On the way in, I spotted some in the stream but couldn’t find a way down to where they were in time. I spotted a crate on the other side just as everyone else was ready to move on, however, and so made a mental note to go back on the way home. An hour later, though, and Husband is pretty anxious to get a move on; so I run ahead with the older two and attempt to catch the taddies before he catches up!
I tell the kids to keep watch, while I climb down the ‘crate’ steps and within reach of our new temporary pets. I jump across to the pile of logs where they are and almost have them- so, so almost have them! Until the logs give way.
I fall in.
I fall in the big, muddy puddle- right up to my middle!
I laugh. What an idiot!
I can touch the bottom, there are tree roots to grab, but the sides closest to me are thick, slippy mud and I have my phone in my submerged pocket!
I smile and tell the kids not to panic. Mummy was stupid- “see, you never know how deep water is from the surface!” But it’s fine, I’m fine, do not panic… but maybe just go and get Daddy?!
At this point, Husband walks past us, shouting, “I’ll go ahead and get tea on, see you at home!”
“Erm…” Uh-Oh. “I think you’d better come here actually!”
“Erm…” Because I am up to my middle in dirty water and can’t currently see a way out?!
At this point, it gets hairy. My four year old son decides Daddy isn’t coming to rescue me quick enough and jumps in with me, shouting, “I’LL SAVE YOU!”
The area is so small I have hold of him in an instant. I tell him not to panic, it is very deep and he shouldn’t have jumped in, but we will get out in a moment. There’s no need to panic…
But of course, this is the moment that Husband arrives to see what is going on, isn’t it?! He sees me and the boy stuck in deep water and he PANICS. Big time!
I tell him to calm down. We’re fine. I just need to pass him The Boy then I can find my own way out…
“You are not fine! I can’t help you! We have too many children! What have you done?! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?! WE ARE NEVER EVER COMING BACK TO THIS DEATH TRAP PLACE EVER AGAIN!!!!!!!”
He’s holding a toy umbrella over the sloppiest, steepest side and demanding I grab it and climb out. It won’t work, I don’t want to freak him out anymore but I need to walk past his umbrella and put The Boy up onto the other side where it’s dry and rocky and he can climb out. He does and he’s out and that’s ok, so I wade over to my crate at the other side and climb out too, all the while Husband is cursing me in as child-friendly a way as he can manage! My wellies are absolutely full of dirty water, my jeans are stuck to me, my coat is drenched and I’m pretty sure the backpack is done for too… but we are all safe and sound and so I am totally ready to see the funny side.
I catch up with Husband, already laughing, only to find that he is busy telling the children that Mummy nearly died. I ask him to tone it down a bit and discover that he is , in fact, quite serious; apparently he “knows lots of people who have died looking for tadpoles!” … and I just can’t cope. I get the giggles; big, fat, uncontrollable, wet-welly giggles. And the more I laugh, the more he lays on the death talk. And so the more he describes these tadpole-related tragedies, the more I can’t control myself. I know I shouldn’t laugh but I just. Can’t. Stop.
Squelch. Squelch. Squelch.
Geeee. So glad I invited him out for this life-affirming breath of fresh air, hey?! Good call, Wifey!
I feel like I may as well just give up on this week already?!
Today we bake Husband a cake, just to suck up really.
We also make animals out of handprints.
Overall, it’s a nicely uneventful day compared to the rest! Thank goodness.
Pick and Mix school day! I put a load of activities on pieces of paper and mix them up in a bowl. The kids take turns picking one out and we all have to do it. There are things like Maths and Phonics games mixed in with puzzles, board games, hide and seek and calling grandparents. It works really well and everything actually gets done! Hallelujah!
In amongst the activities is P.E. With Joe. The kids want to know why this his last ever one? I hadn’t realised it was and so we watch the accompanying video commemorating his 13 weeks on air. I get strangely emotional seeing the news highlights from 13 weeks ago- the instruction to “stay at home” already having some kind of historical sheen to it. The winding down at the end seeming to suggest that lockdown is over; that this is all a thing of the past, that online lessons are no longer needed. When actually… we are still living it.
The shops are open, people are meeting in groups outside, but we- as a family- haven’t changed a thing. As far as I am aware, the virus is still out there and the daily infection and death rates are still alarming. I can’t see a reason to change what we are doing currently as it is working and there isn’t a desperate need… but I feel strange and uneasy about the fact that the atmosphere outside seems to have changed beyond us, perhaps prematurely?
So I’ll keep on with the lockdown diary for now, as for us, we are very much still in lockdown! Stay safe and sane, wherever you are and whatever you are doing… God bless you and yours.