Saturday, 1 November 2014

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Mums...

Having taught 'Of Mice and Men' for more years than I care to remember, I am more than familiar with Robert Burns' poem 'To a Mouse' from where the title comes:

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Or in plain English.  Things quite often go tits up.

A case in point?  Halloween.

My plan:
I'd not really planned anything earth-shatteringly wonderful for Halloween for the kids. Mainly because only Lily, really, knows what's going on.  But the day I'd planned was:
1.  In the morning I would make cakes and biscuits in readiness for a party tea.
2.  Ray would carve a pumpkin with Lily while the kids were out at playgroup.
3.  In the afternoon, I would join the kids, with our childminder, Courtney, and make fancy dress costumes, paint faces and decorate the playroom.
4.  We'd have a party tea.
5.  The children would run around to some spooky music.

Sound simple?  Of course, it would have been, if I could have replaced children with teddies, or fast-forwarded a couple of years.

An air of excitement abounded from the get-go - the kids knew something was up. Anyone who's got little ones will know that this means their behaviour gets erratic and over-excited, leading to borderline fighting, getting upset over toys, you name it.

I went to buy a pumpkin in the supermarket with Lily and ended up in a ridiculous queue, so got stressed as had work to do before green cupcakes could be made.  Cue much glowering at customers with their trolleys full of shopping...

Later, I managed to get the cakes done (which looked nothing like they looked in my head).  We then took the kids to the park to "blow off some steam."  Joe then had a meltdown (we think he thought we'd left the baby at the park, but was inconsolable!).

By the time we arrived home, about 3pm, the kids were already ropey.

We ate the cupcakes.

Tea was a mish-mash.  The kids (and their MUM) were beyond face-painting, but instead I chucked them all in a big bubble bath all together (which was cute, as Joe washed Timmy's back, and Lily washed his tummy), let them watch a bit of TV and then bed.

And once again I realised that they are still not quite old enough for the plans I'd made.

The actual effect of my having these plans was (1) I snapped at the kids and had to keep them out of the kitchen in the morning (2) I sabotaged dinner by giving them cupcakes at the wrong time of day (3) the kids were too exhausted to do anything Halloween-y by the time darkness fell.

Which brings me back to the mouse:

Still, thou art blest, compar'd wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

Burns concludes his poem by remarking that the mouse, despite all the dangers it faces in life, is still more 'blessed' as it lives in the present. It doesn't think back to the past, and doesn't worry about the future.

Maybe we can learn something from this?  Surely if I'd had fewer plans and just been "in the moment" with the children, rather than trying to create the impossible, we'd all have had a better day?


 

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