Joseph’s parents evening went very well indeed; across-the-board praise from his teachers in all subjects. Joe was obviously pleased as the congratulatory comments were read out to him but he was also deeply embarrassed. I think this inability to accept complimentary words is a deeply ingrained cultural trait of the English and one I know I share.
Looking through Joe’s books afterwards was very instructive – he clearly enjoys being at school despite his protests to the contrary. Now I don’t want to give the impression that he’s some kind of wunderkind because he’s not. His spelling is variable and possessed of certain eccentricities and his idea of presentation can certainly be challenging. However what I saw as I looked through the pages of his various jotters and notebooks was enthusiasm and engagement. I don’t feel I can ask for anything more than that.
Were you to look at my school books from that period you would see a mess of half-baked, half-finished scratchings that with a little bit more effort could have been less than adequate.
This follows on from a similarly excellent report for Tom and with this double whammy in mind I rang my mother to give her the update. She was pleased to hear about the steady progress of her grandchildren and no doubt was minded to contrast this with her own son’s faltering efforts at a similar age. She’s not been too well recently – the ramifications of a major fall which damaged her pelvis – and it feels important to be keeping in touch.
Recent conversations with her and others over the last few days remind me that this thing we do called "life" is transient and will be gone all too quickly.
The baggage of prejudices and assumptions I continually haul around with me need not be who I am; the direction in which I move need not be determined by the whim of an automated / conditioned response or reflex to a situation.
If there’s one lesson I would hope to teach my children it would be that they regard the time spent with others as an investment and that they be generous in their hearts towards those around them.
Over on Barry Stock’s diary he has a sound clip running from Paul Bowles, the author of The Sheltering Sky.
“Because we don’t know when we will die we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood? Some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it. Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty and yet it all seems so limitless.”