There are the good days and the bad ones. The don't often come quite as close together as the last few days. Three days ago I was seriously considering putting all four children out by the road with a Free-To-Good-Home sign (actually, the word "good" was up for discussion). Nobody was napping, everyone was cranky, all the baby wanted to do was nurse and cling, all the other kids wanted to do was whine because it was raining and they wanted to play outside.
And then there are the days like yesterday, where you begin to think you are doing something right. Simon finished his first ninepatch quilt block, the one that is going to make a pillow. He's not a kid with a lot of fine-motor dexterity, so you have to understand how much *work* this was for a four year old. And not only was he proud of himself, but he wanted to start again with the next one.
Isaiah spent most of the afternoon in the garden, eating raw chard and pulling odds and ends of weeds, while quizzing me on the identities and properties of various bugs and plants. Then, he and Simon wandered back into the house to help bake chocolate chip cookies for our neighbors.
Eli has a hard enough time with the english language, but has mastered the words to the Schecheyanu prayer, which is the traditional Jewish prayer to say when you do something for the first time, or the first time in a long time. Simon reminds us to say it each time we do or eat something seasonal for the first time. So we have prayed over our first acorn squash, or our first brussels sprouts, Eli's first swimming lesson and the first time we got a new Magic Schoolbus book out of the library ;-).
And both Simon and Isaiah have taken to heart the message that it is better to make things than to buy them. Sadly, we, their parents, have a hard time living up to their standards. Simon wants to build a schoolhouse - a real one, and Daddy has had to inform him that his woodworking skills are more on the birdhouse level. Simon asked me if we could make needles for sewing, and since mommy neither carves bone or works metal, I had to pass him off with the fact that we have enough needles to last a good while. Isaiah wants to make a bat costume for Halloween, even though we have a perfectly good bat costume that he wears daily to breakfast. When asked why, he says, "It would be my bat, and it would be better."
Well, two people down, 6.7 billion to go on the "living voluntarily with less" message. My kids are (for today) convinced that the things they make are the best and most beautiful and most wonderful things in the whole world. And there is a world full of artisans and craftspeople who believe that as well. If only we could figure out how to pass that message along - because this is the central, essential method of peak oil and all the others. Life is better this way. Getting out of the rat race and building communities and living more simply is its own reward. Matching your values to your actions is its own reward. Children can see this is more fun and better. Why can't the rest of us?