Sunday, 17 January 2010

Haiti, Blog Power and Peter Pointer

Sunday, 17 January 2010
Ben is so, so, so impressionable right now. There are a hundred and one questions, while his brain is busy formulating all kinds of wacky scenarios as the little sphere that has been his life up to now grows bigger and wider. His vocabulary is becoming more enriched as his reading skills sharpen and I have become a walking Oxford Dictionary as I constantly define words for him and contextualize ideas into sentences that he can wrap his head around. It’s harder than you think! He heard a newsreader say “generally speaking” the other day, and asked me what it meant. WTF?! How do you answer that for a 5-year-old?

I’m sure that I am not alone in occasionally feeling that I sometimes find there is a bit of a gap between the kind of mother that I am and the kind of mother that I would like to be remembered as. It’s not that big of a gap, don’t get me wrong... but it makes its presence felt very occasionally when I find myself bogged down in the minutiae of maternity leave, where I am occupied with packed lunches, ironed uniforms, baby wipes, scratch mittens and 1-2-3-4-5-6 scoops of formula (or was that just five-shit-I’ve-lost-count), etc. etc. When life is more about just making it to bedtime without ripping out handfuls of my own hair than it is about trying to instil values and shape characters of the two little souls in my charge. Luckily, all I have to do when I’m feeling a little beleaguered by this responsibility is visit the website of Karen Walrond at Have you heard of this mother/writer/photographer extraordinaire? If you haven’t, check her out. She is my daily dose of inspiration – her daughter is the same age as Benny, we’re both married to Englishmen... so I can relate. But friends, I find her blog posts so soothing and the quiet beauty and calm that oozes out of some of her photos has this strange restorative effect on me such that I can almost hear the click of my internal clock counters realigning themselves to 0-0-0-0 so I can breathe out again!

Recently she spoke about how she tries to show her daughter an example of living with kindness every day; little things like buying the coffee for the person behind her in line at the coffee shop, etc. which got me to thinking that there really are a million little ways that we can all use to teach our kids about kindness and compassion, about human understanding, generosity and consideration.  And that it is our duty as parents to be brave enough to impart these sorts of lessons to our wee babas.

Cut to bedtime the other night, and amongst the plethora of quickfire questions aimed at me were the following memorable nuggets: “Mammy, why can’t you touch a rainbow?” “Imagine if I catched a cloud and put it in my wardrobe!” and then... “Mammy, what's an earthquake?”

We’d had the news on earlier and he must have overheard Jason and I talking about it, and the horrific scenes so reminiscent of the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, which was right after Ben was born. So we got his Children’s Encyclopaedia out and we read about earthquakes, and what causes them, and what happens to the earth and the houses on top of it if there is an earthquake near where you live. We got out his globe, and had a look to find Haiti, and talked about the people that lived there, and what had happened. I’m sitting there watching his little brow furrow as he absorbed it all. I tried to get him to think about how we (“...aaaalll the way on THIS side of the globe,”) might be able to help people in Haiti. “The people in Haiti will be poorly because of the earthquake; they will need medicine to make them better, “ he works out as I nod. “Have we got any medicine we can send them, Mammy?” We talk a little more and I steer his questions such that he works out for himself that we can send money to Haiti, and how it is important to use your pocket money to help people who sometimes need a little help.  "So... let's just say that if we sent a little money, and Nana sends a little money, and your teachers send a little money, and they added all the money together?  That could buy a lot of medicine, couldn't it?"
Minutes later, we logged onto the Disasters Emergency Appeal website and together we filled in the form to send a monetary donation to the appeal fund.

Then with compassion and concern, and with kindness in his little heart, I watched my child, his expression one of intense concentration, as he typed in his own name and our telephone number with his ‘Peter Pointer’ finger, carefully and purposefully, into the website and clicked 'Donate Now.'

(Thanks, Karen.)

3 people had something to say about this...:

Karen from Chookooloonks said...

Good Lord, honey, YOU'RE WELCOME. What a lovely thing to read -- and what very kind words. Thank you, I'm so moved.

And it sounds like you have a pretty exemplary little boy. :)

Danielle said...

Now I'm crying. I cry a lot though, all 25 weeks pregnant and all. I usually have NPR on during the day and I've had to start turning it off for chunks of time because I can't get through a news report about the earthquake and the suffering and the bodies and the incredible need, without sobbing in my chair. And then I realized, having read your post, that I have been spending so much time thinking about how horrible it is that I haven't even done anything to help. At the very least I should be putting my overactive emotions to good use. Good job, Ben. He's such a thoughtful little boy.

And also, I love Karen's blog. Love it.

Miss you Nicola!

Nana Janet said...

You are an inspiration too. Great parenting . Teaching by example is the only way.
I know that some of mine rubbed off on you. Cycle continues.