Georgia has been going around to people telling them that she is skinny, the same way she tells people that she's five and that she has loose teeth- personal status information that she finds interesting and is thinking about, maybe is proud of. I said nothing of interest back to her when she told me this several times, but just hoped she would lose interest in this idea and let it go. But as she persisted in it, I started to dread the thought that she could be aware of body image stuff and the American obsession with thinness. I didn't know what I would say to her, and didn't want to have to get into a complicated conversation about it that must surely be above her head. So I finally decided to get more information from her about what she was talking about. I picked a relaxed time (in the bath tub) when she had not recently told me she was skinny, and the conversation went like this:
"Georgia, why do you say that you're skinny?"
"Because Nadine is skinny (her tall and gangly 7 year old cousin) and I like her."
"What does skinny mean to you, is it a good thing, a bad thing, or something that just is?"
"It's something that just is."
I was relieved that the context and value of this topic for her were not the same as adult issues with weight, and was very happy to remember that a child's understanding of the world is very different from an adult's. They can talk about the same subject , even say the same things, but MEAN totally different things. I know that the day will come soon that I'll have to explain sexism to her, but I'm not ready yet. It makes me want to cry to even think about it. I want to do lots of building before she has to know about the tearing down of people's self-worth and all the degradation of body image crap. I have been careful not to EVER say to her that I or anyone else is fat or skinny or needs to lose or gain weight, let alone the word "dieting", which will will really unnerve me if I ever hear it coming out of her mouth. Georgia knows a lot about diet in the sense of eating healthily and it's something we talk about all the time because of all the food allergy issues we have to deal with, so I'm trying to build as much positive there too before she even hears about "dieting". God help me! I'm raising three girls here. I've GOT to get this one right (issue, not girl).
Oh joy and happiness, I had the energy to pick up three rooms of the house, down to bare wood (I can see the floor!) this morning. That means that the weekend will be that much less cluttered. My mind is needing that kind of cleaning out, and I'm starting to do it by processing my whole life in education and trying to figure out how I feel about the schooling that I have received and poured my life into. And I'm trying to be detached enough from my experiences to look and see what really makes sense for good learning to occur so I can make a good and appropriate decision about what kind of school my kids need to be at. I realize that my decision will affect the course of my own life to a huge degree, as I will have to buy into it as much as my kids do. My reflecting and evaluating and researching process still feels very internal, and I don't have it figured out enough to be very coherent or to write an 'expository paragraph' about it. But it's very interesting to me to be in this process- this is the kind of thing that I love to do- reevaluate and poke and prod at experiences to see what they were all about and discover new insights. The end result is exciting too because everything is back in place, though usually in a different place, and then it leads to action, which is a releif after all that thinking.
I've been to the library again, this time to look up books for researching my own philosophy of education and to see what other people have written already about it. I found a book by educational philosopher, and, I assume, activist, John Holt, called "Teach Your Own". It's about homeschooling in the sense that a home environment is a more meaningful and productive place to learn than a typical public school setting BECAUSE it is a home, not because it can be made to be like a school. Anyways, I've only read the conclusion so far (as I usually do with non-fiction) and he cites (although irritatingly without a reference) an "oft-repeated" psychology experiment to show how the way things in society are now, the majority of (I guess the point is 'public school-educated') people are not as ready to defend freedom as they should be. The experiment consists of the Bill of Rights being posted on street corners without a heading (so they won't know it's the Bill of Rights unless they can recognize its contents) and being asked to sign their names to it. The result being "the vast majority of adults scoff at this document as something dangerous and they refuse to sign" (p. 284). I thought this was sad and funny and an interesting argument for a more American approach to education. I won't add any more commentary for fear of getting political in my analysis, but I will say that this book promises to be an interesting read. I also have yet to find any information on this experiment being done in reality, so tell me if you've heard of it, and how it all went down. The details can be even more interesting and revealing than the overview of experiments such as these.
I've been feeling very 'internal' lately, as Billy gently puts it. He noted that this happened at some point with each pregnancy, where I pay a lot of attention to the baby inside and have my own, very hormonal logic for doing things, with lots of nesting and planning going on. It tends to leave less room on my plate for the immediate here and now and I get forgetful and wrapped up in whatever I'm doing. And I have a tendency to get intense about projects anyways, so pregnancy just brings this out. I'm thinking about a plan for labor, trying to get all the physical things I'll need for the baby all ready- clothes, food prepared and frozen- and get the kids ready- labor intensive (for mom) behaviors reduced, encouraging them to broaden their mindset about what the family is so there's room for baby (they've already got lots of room for her in their hearts, and regularly 'kiss the baby')- and get me ready in as many ways as I can, and think of all the people to ask for help through the intense chaos that is birth.
I've been working on a quilt for my baby girl and it's getting close to done. It was great fun to pick out whatever fabrics were the most exciting to me and put them all together. I've learned so much under Amy's tutelage, and just from the process itself. I've learned that sewing keeps me out of trouble- it's a constructive thing to do at home with the kids when they're busy playing and I need a way to focus my thoughts. And they tolerate me doing it a lot better than me reading or doing anything at the computer. They want me to make this quilt for the baby, so they're willing to be cooperative. It also keeps me warm to sit under a quilt all folded up on my lap- I'll have to remember that this winter when I get too cold. My big goal with this (my first 'real') quilt has been to not get fussy, just do it as simply as possible so it will get done. That's a good goal for me, because I get frustrated when I have grand dreams for projects but don't have any of the skills yet to carry them out.
It's been really great having Billy back at home on the weekends and evenings. I don't feel so harried and pushed past my limits, and the kids are a lot happier. We missed him! We got right back into our house projects last weekend and worked on planting (bushes) and painting (a coffee table). It felt so good! The kids had a great time helping out with the painting too.
Oh! and Georiga turned 5 on Monday. Yeah! She keeps growing out of her clothes and out of old ways of doing things that don't fit her anymore. She's become my 'superhelper' and always wants to help Maya get dressed and go potty. Maya sometimes tolerates this, sometimes not (much to Georgia's distress). She keeps growing in her reading and writing skills, and it's SO FUN for me to watch her grow in these things that are such a big part of my own life. She told me her goal in learning to read is so she can read to Maya. How heartbreakingly sweet is that!
Yup, now everyone else knows what I even recorded in this weblog as already knowing. Not to be a know it all or anything, but anyways, It's official. I had my ultrasound today and it went very well with no surprises. She is 10 oz and is absolutely average in size- so much so that her due date by size is the exact same day as her calendar-predicted due date. She is perfectly healthy from all the measurements they did. I loved looking at her heart beating, and it was so weird to be able to see inside her brain and to see all her bones. It's so strange that the only time I'll probably see her insides is before I see her outside. I feel priveledged like the story of the donkey that carries building supplies into the mansion while it's being built, but, of course, would never be allowed in once it's completed.
The ultrasound technician was really helpful and descriptive, telling me everything she could find or guess about the baby. We saw the baby flailing her arm around and she said that the baby was probably irritated by the umbilical cord that was pulsating (actually moving!) right under her elbow. She also said that the baby was resting her head on the placenta as if it was a pillow (which was also moving with the the blood flowing through it). I'm so happy to learn more about this baby so I can bond with her and get myself prepared for meeting her. I can't wait!