Friday, March 13, 2009

Other People's Houses

I am sometimes a bit envious of other peoples houses. They seem to be something that mine isn't-- oh, I don't know--tidy might be the word. Not that I am a big advocate of filth. But what my house has ISN'T filth--it is the detritus of learning.

For example--my lovely house has a nice(ish) porch all the way across the front of it. There are two ways of looking at it--you could use your realtor hat, and see that the big limestone slabs that make up the steps are cracking and need remortared, the paint is peeling and the whole thing seems to be covered in sticks, like some ospreys went crazy during nest building.

Or you can see that the sticks are actually an armory, constructed with creative patience by 3 imaginative boys (10, 11 & 12) and that they are really a wide selection of the best implements from every time and country--medieval pikes & longbows(more on bows in a minute), chinese swords and Turkish knives. The cracks in the steps allow a really funny chipmunk to live under them (in a state of near constant panic and hysteria brought on by the upstairs neighbors, I would guess!)

The other end of the porch (which looks REALLY untidy!) has a selection of pots & pans (from the great cupboard clean out) making "potions" or something--I am not sure what, today.

The games change and morph every time the boys are together. This intrest in weaponry caused some really exciting research into the Knights Templar and their role in history (wow--I never knew that stuff!--I am learning SO much by permitting my children to follow their hearts!)

The bow and arrows--LargeBoy came in last week, and asked if he could look up how to make archery equipment on the internet. It turns out that a great source for wood for arrows is goldenrod--the weed that I can never quite get all out of my outer flowerbeds! I generously let him have it all--and promised him the entire summer crop, too!

They very proudly showed me the bows they made--they can actually shoot an arrow from the porch to the sidewalk (about 12 feet). Since the bow is made from some of the deadwood that fell out of our trees in the last windstorm, and the bowstring is a piece of small nylon rope, I am pretty stunned at that distance and accuracy!

I did interrupt a particularly noisy game when I told them they were not permitted to shoot AT one another, when I was informed they were "practicing catching arrows out of mid-air, and if they can't shoot at each other, that would be impossible!" Nevertheless, the ban remains in place.

If I insisted that they stay sitting down, learning history--they would learn nothing. If I permit them to cover my porch, my yard and my world with the debris of their experimentation--the world comes alive!

So, I remember that the important thing I am creating is not a magazine layout of "better living through conspicuous consumption", or even an immaculate house, but an environment where creativity can bloom. And then, I can stand back in wonder at the amazing results of mental freedom in the lives of my children!

One of my favorite quotes comes from the mother of 12 children: "I do not want my home to be a museum or a showplace, but rather a laboratory for learning". Indeed.

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