Children surprise me. Sometimes in the most extraordinary ways. Sometimes in the most predictable. I am constantly taken back by the interpetations they have of their world, and struggle - sometimes with laughter and sometimes with unidentifiable frustration - to find answers to alleviate their concerns, or right their world order. I also struggle with whether I even should tamper with it all, and just let them believe in their own way, and learn in their own time.
The story of Pia  Pia goes to daycare 1 day a week. It's a fantastic break for me, and for her. She gets to be immersed with other people, and away from the regularity of our life at home, and I think that is always a good thing for children [I know a lot of people would disagree, but for us it works]. Most of her friends go to some form of daycare through the week, most for two or three days. It's something we talk about a bit, but it's not something which governs our life. Pia asked about one little friend we see every morning at school when we drop Max off, and I said he's at daycare. Then as we drove around today, we passed Pia's daycare, and she pointed it out to me. And then she said we could go and play with Otis, because he was at daycare too. It never, ever occured to me that Pia's identity with daycare is that there is only one daycare, and that's hers. The Penultimate Daycare, that everyone goes to. When we say Otis is in daycare, she assumes he's gone to her daycare. It's only just dawned on me today. I find this utterly adorable for a number of reasons. First we take so much for granted as adults, we forget how insular a child's perception of their world is, how much they cherish and accept unconditionally. Second, I adore the fact Pia's world is small and safe and secure, and all encompassing - evey person she knows fits neatly into a predescribed order, and it revolves around her experiences. There is something quite nurturing and community minded about that, which given we live inner city, makes a lovely difference.
The story of Max  Max is a beautiful gentle soul. Quite naive. I sometimes wonder if he isn't too naive, but I also cherish the chance for him to remain unsullied by The Real World for a little longer. He has a very strong world order, which is often quite far off the mark of reality, but it's an order and he seems quite happy with that. Over the last few years we've come to love Max's interpretation of television, but I also wonder how we might best realign his views with what actually happens. He watches a broad variety of things - movies, documentaries, news, reality, sport, cartoons...but he thinks it's all real, all happening in real time, and he's struggling at the moment with the concept of 'film' and past/present/future regarding the taping of programmes. For a long time he thought one cartoon family were real and lived in an alternate world. He's stopped that now, but we have almost daily conversations about what is real and what isn't on TV. It's a trully difficult and strange concept to be discussing given as adults we understand the subtelties of it all, but a really valuable one as well. It's a sad reflection on our society that the lines get blurred so much, that even in watching G rated children's programmes he's confused. But this is not a discussion about the merits of children watching tv, and I don't wish to enter that discussion here. What I'm more interested in is how to explain how TV works, simply, and give Max the technical background to understand how he can be watching something set during the sun filled day when it is dark and wet outside. We've tried many times, but I think the whole concept is bewildering him even more. We did visit the set of a television programme a few years ago [thankyou Miss Fee!] and he got to see it being taped and rehearsed and that was fantastic for understanding some things get done ahead of time - as a wonderful aside we saw that particular episode a few mornings ago, and he remembered being there and called me over to watch. Some things he gets, some he doesn't. He's struggling at the moment also with the whole notion of 'broadcasting'. He thinks when we turn our tv on, someone at the tv station starts playing a programme just for us. He's very concerned how tired they're going to get, turning things on whenever someone turns their tv on...Bless! On the up side, the television company must hire an awful lot of people, and therein lies the answer to the worlds economic crisis according to Max.
I wonder what else goes on in their heads, and what little worlds they have created in there. And I wonder if that joy and amusement of a life ordered just so, can continue for long, and whether they can take with them some beautiful notions of self, and place within community that will last them forever. I think they will. I know they will.
* on a completely different note, Pia has new shoes, new clothes, and mummy has a new coat for winter.