Thinking Inside the Box . . . and Shopping

It’s a strange thing . You buy them all of these things for Christmas – even though you aren’t a Christian . And you know that they have already got enough . You try to find things that are at best ethically sourced ; at worst , likely to last past Christmas day and actually be played with , and then passed on , recycled . Yet even so , it’s hard . So much of what is ‘made for children’ (or should that be , for the buying , paying parents / carers ) is just awful .  It is disheartening .

At school , recycling & ‘ healthy living ‘ are part of the curriculum . Forest School ( ‘ the outdoors as classroom ‘ ) is being introduced in more and more primary schools .   ‘ Environmental Issues ‘ are on the classroom agenda for discussion . And Yet . When it really boils down to it , how can we teach our children that something more than lip service is needed ? Do as I say , not as I do –  it strikes me that what we are saying in the classroom and what  is being presented to them in their larger environment doesn’t add up .

‘ Reduce , Re-use , Recycle ‘ we chant – and then a quick trip down to Tesco – or indeed pretty much any any-town retail outlet – and the choice of goods on display is enough to make anyone say ‘Land fill ‘ . Items marketed at Children are often the worst culprits . The packaging , the plastic , the ‘made in somewhere a lot worse off than we are ‘ clothing – just what are we teaching our children ? Why should they listen to anything that we have to say ? When what we do is something else entirely ?

This is what bothers me : the lack of choice . I visited three main supermarkets today . I don’t like supermarkets at all . We grow as much of our own food as we can . We source as much of our food as we can locally , from local sources . But I still reluctantly find myself in one of ‘ the big three ‘ once a week , filling in the gaps .  I doubt very much that I am alone in this .    And I hate it . For many  reasons .

I’d love to buy locally , exclusively , from small traders , from bakers , from farmers markets . Yet we have a farmers market once a month . And few local shops now , as the Big Three Juggernaut pushes relentlessly on , prices rising higher daily , choice of organic produce decreasing , if our locals are anything to go buy . I live in AnyTown , UK – this is how it is , I am pretty damn sure , for many people , if not the majority of the population . 

I have noticed , lately , that Eldest isn’t bothered with toys , not really . We have been out and about over the last few days  (school holidays) . Eldest has not ventured out without : her camera , a pen and a notebook . She is copying me I am sure , as little girls do copy their mothers . She takes pictures , and writes things down in her little book . She has started ‘ spotting ‘ birds , trees , butterflies , wildflowers , and likes to tick them off in one of her Usborne Spotter Guides as she sees them . It was  I – Spy in my day . Not that I’m old or anything . Eldest says that I have to do it too , look and tick off . It’s important .

Over the last few days , out and about with my Eldest , we have shared some lovely ‘ nature moments ‘ . Several times Eldest has proclaimed out of nowhere that she loves being outdoors ; that she loves the outdoors , and that she’d ‘ rather be outside than inside ‘ . Several times Eldest has requested that we both ‘ sit down , just here ‘- and we have sat , mostly in silence just taking our surroundings in .

Sometimes Eldest tells me what she likes about where we are :  ‘the trees ‘ ‘ the nature ‘ – and sometimes Eldest pays it the highest compliment – ‘ I’d like to live just here , forever ‘ .  Other times . Eldest likes to run against the wind , giggling ; collect sticks and leaves from the floor and tickle my nose with feathers . Occasionally we find it highly amusing to post leaves down the back of Mummy’s top . 

To be honest , I wasn’t that surprised by the camera / pen & book thing . Chip off the old block and all that . But I was surprised by me still being  surprised by this on some , other , level . I realised that , unwittingly , I had expected too little of my Eldest , or indeed of ‘Children ‘ in general – this despite , knowing , on an intellectual level , how bright and cool and inquisitive children instinctively are . 

I realised that I had somehow , somewhere , maybe through being surrounded by it all , bought into the idea  , even just a bit , that children want and need all of these things that we as a society throw at them . Well they don’t . They are brighter , quirkier and more creative than many of us truly give them credit for .

The outdoors , and children , that’s a match made in heaven. Ask any mother at any bus stop about childrens Christmas presents , and somewhere along the line that well worn cliche of ‘ … and he just played with the box for two hours ! ‘ crops up . Yet still we miss the signs . Still we insist upon thinking outside of the box when we really need , for once , to be thinking inside it .

And still we keep buying them stuff that isn’t really doing much for them .

We nearly home educated Eldest , for various reasons . It would in many ways have been the easier option . I am trying to teach her , at home , the bits that school leaves out . I am hoping that this will give her a bigger picture , and that she will ask herself questions and seek out her own answers . But really , I just want her to Be Happy . 

I won’t be buying as much this year . I am beginning to know what they like .  And like any child , I am pretty damn sure , given the opportunity to play and be outside , in the wild , they like to do that . A lot . So we will be doing a lot more of that from now on , and a lot less shopping .

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About In a Welsh Garden

Artist,Illustrator,Pro-face and body painter,Blogger and Happy Gardener : )
This entry was posted in ' Forest School ' ' Eco School ' 'School Holidays ', garden, gardening, green living, nature, sustainable living. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Thinking Inside the Box . . . and Shopping

  1. Sandie says:

    Being Happy – yes, that’s it in a kernel really, isn’t it………to be happy with what one has and what one is – and just relax into the business of living – just being. I love my life but it’s taken 60 years to get here and much struggle – but I honestly wouldn’t want to be anyone else right now……..hope it doesn’t take my children as long as it did me to find their ‘place’ in this wonderful natural World. Have a great day…….

  2. .. couldn’t agree more : ) – I don’t think that it matters how long it takes to ‘get there’ , I see it as all part of the journey – I know that my appreciation has heightened considerably since my happiness has been hard won. I am really glad that it is that way too, as I think that it helps me to remember to appreciate what I have and to try not to take it for granted . Nothing lasts for ever . Live in the moment. Etcetera : D …. I seem to remember reading or hearing somewhere that the single ,largest factor in people feeling that they have personal happiness is that they feel ‘happy with their lot ‘ . Sounds about right : )

  3. Keep writing, I love reading your posts. Though I can’t vote for you in the welsh blog thing in your widget as I don’t work, live or whatever it is in Wales apparently. But I would if i could !

  4. Aw , Bless You – and likewise , I can 100% return that compliment , as I love to visit your blog and remind myself of just how many amazing things I could make in the kitchen , if only I had the skill and the cooking equivalent of ‘green fingers’ – on balance I would have to concur that You definately have these , and that I definately havn’t : D Thanks to your site though I did manage some damn fine blueberry muffins which I suspect was purely down to your idiot proof recipe rather than any great skill on my part .It is also safe to say that mine wouldn’t have tasted anywhere NEAR like yours ; they didn’t look like them either !!!

    The Wales Blog Awards – Thankyou , you are very kind . One of the reasons that I put the logo on there was because I wanted to get down with the cool blog kids and have a logo on my blog : D It’s also good to draw attention to them though I think , to promote Wales & Welsh writing & blogging . I am not under the faintest illusion that my blog would actually win anything , I am not a writer (I trained as a fine artist) I just write it for pleasure as I love writing ,and I just babble on really , willy nilly , about whatever pointless drivel happens to be swimming around my head at the time . Last night it happened to be courgettes : D

  5. You are a star ! Teach away . Thankyou ! I am a bit clueless with this stuff , still learning so that is really helpful . Will get on the case with this later ) x

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