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Family obligations.... finding the fun.

by Alison Schipp August 25, 2017

Family obligations.... finding the fun.

Families, as we know consist of many different shapes and sizes. Mine is 3. Ruby who is nearly 11, Isaac who is 8 and myself. Oh, and two and a half more if you include the two aged goldfish and our foster-dog Ruffles we have every Thursday night! 

The school that my children attend is a public school that has undergone some considerable growth in the past 2-3 years. 4 new classrooms built, re-purposing of old art/ science rooms into fresh classrooms.... they have actually done a very good job, but needless to say, with more children, comes more resources.... with more resources, come more activities.... with more activities, come more obligations. These ultimately become 'Family' obligations, which doesn't offer you a choice of participation or a decision-point of whether you even find value in it or not.

This year there has already been a multitude of activities.... earn and learn, school disco, crazy hat day, just a few I can actually remember right now (evidently buried them), and this week, most recently, was National Book Week. This is an event in the calendar that makes the children squeal with delight!.....and makes most working parents groan with overload.....

Every year, you see the same parents making a good fist of organising elaborate costumes. My experience and philosophy is very much driven by my children, so I am guessing that this is where these parents get their motivation from.... right? Whilst I am not so certain of that, you can certainly hear many parents who are pushed beyond their comfort zone. Perhaps it is that they are not creatively inclined, or extremely time poor, or they are unable to meet their child's lofty expectations for an incredibly realistic costume, but whatever happens, inevitable panic ensues.

The day before the parade, my extended network exchanged some quick-witted banter via email. Honestly, it was a way to mask the deep sense of foreboding and a plea for last-minute resources that they desperately needed.

In this situation, my kids seemed to have a completely different approach to one another. Interestingly, Ruby was as cool as a cucumber in relation to this event. Not always how she approaches life, but she showed a calm confidence in getting organised. She went as the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, along with a bunch of friends as other core characters, and they had been organising for weeks. It showed. Being so calm, anything I put in front of her ended up in the 'let's wear it' list. She was most excited that most of the items had made it out of my wardrobe, including my favourite bottle-green boots!

Isaac on the other hand, decided the Saturday before that he wanted to be "Murder the Clown" and had very set views on what that might look like. We googled it and came up with an image so horrendous it gave the kid nightmares (you think I am joking - he actually was unable to look at the picture when we were doing the makeup!).

This required one of my more favourite skills. Creativity, you might say? Dress making? Shopping? No. None of that. I had to apply the skill of intentional parenting. This little guy was so hell-bent on being the most expensive, carbon-copy gruesome clown he could be..... and for what? He wanted it to be perfect (my adventures on perfectionism this week will be saved for another blog) to which the hairs bristled on the back of my neck! When we got to the bottom of it, my little man had fallen off his chair earlier that week.... and you betcha, all the kids laughed. He was so worried that if he went looking like a crafted homemade version of this clown, that the kids would laugh again. He didn't think he was able to cope with that.

His feeling of relief was palpable. His face changed, his attitude lifted and the whining stopped! Literally a 180 degree turnaround. What I saw from him was incredible. The perfectionist ideals dropped and clarity of thought returned. He could hear I was not going to spend any significant money on this costume, but I would pull together some resources, be it borrowed, created or a cheap add on from the $2 shop once all other resources had been tapped. He then thought up ideas I never could have. He orchestrated the whole dress-up- of course with help from his supportive mum, with borrowed resources to which he had been very resistant. We worked on the features that we had a sticking point on - the bald-headed wig and the ruffle. In the end, he looked like the most horrible hand-made clown you could imagine. And nasty! He tapped into his best nasty clown attitude too, as he worked out that this is what makes this clown different to an ordinary clown.

And it didn't look exactly the same to the book or the image he had built in his mind, but it did - if you know what I mean. He was so happy, and even happier when I pointed out what he had achieved as an emotionally reflective person.

The costumes were great. The best ever they said (no offense (on previous years) said my little man)) and helping them pull these costumes together was not only fun, but an extremely joyful moment of parenthood. The parade, well, it was lovely to see the kids all enjoying the day to dress up, celebrate books and connect with their community.... did need a coffee by the end though!

So very grateful.

Alison x




Alison Schipp
Alison Schipp

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