Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A Goldcrest, a Robin and a Blackbird


Olly and I turned up a little late for school this morning. Not too late, but late enough to go in via the secretary, Mrs Stevens. I gave 'watching the birds' as a reason for our late arrival. "What birds did you see, Oliver?" she asked. "A Goldcrest, a Robin and a Blackbird," he replied. "What a lovely way to start the day," she smiled.

I had to rouse Olly from his slumbers this morning. He didn't want to get out of bed, even though he had had a very chilled out weekend. The lousy weather had forced us to stay indoors. Between us, we pottered, played, baked, read and diy'ed. The light levels were low, and the lamps stayed on all day. I lit candles, and enjoyed the peace and harmony of a household quietly going about its' business.

It was all in stark contrast to the events unfolding elsewhere. We watched rolling news, until I could take it no more. It was not so long ago that Samuel drew at the table, pre-occupied and unconcerned, while I sat glued to the television watching the horrors of 9/11 unfold. And now years later, I sat feeling the same shock and horror as Olly engaged in very much the same thing. I thought of those poor people caught up in these attacks. Their families and friends. Their children. And I felt an aching sadness for this visceral pain that had reached out and was drawing them in.

I also thought of those that had committed these attacks. The picture of the young man wanted in connection with it all, made me feel so sad. He is so young. It would appear that they were all so young. They are victims too. They have been manipulated and brainwashed. They have been disenfranchised and ignored. They have been swept up by promises and false doctrines. They have had their hearts and minds filled with hatred. And I feel a sense of responsibility for that. I am one of a global community that has fanned the flames of extremism. I cast a gaze through the history of the world that I live in, and feel a sense of shame that past global actions have also left their mark. An indelible mark, ensuring that young men can be so easily indoctrinated into a life of hatred and self destruction.

But oh my God did I feel lucky. Lucky to be sat here listening to the wind and rain buffet our white house on the hill. Lucky to have the heating on and the lamps lit. Lucky to be able to wander through the house, pottering and pausing. Feeling safe and secure and happy. Lucky that I am still able to see life from both sides. To try and gain an understanding of the whole picture, so that when my children need to talk about what is happening in their world, I can hopefully help them to see through the hatred, and look beyond. It is all too easy to react in kind. Many of yesterday's papers were full of that. It is all too easy to proclaim an eye for an eye. It is all to easy to condemn and point the finger of blame at your neighbour.

Of course I don't condone violence. I find the slaughter of countless innocents abhorrent. But two wrongs will never make a right. My hope for my children is that they can shine a light through all of this, and see beyond all that knee jerk crap. After all, we will all be passing the baton to them someday. And I am naïve enough to think that compassion, understanding and the desire to change things for the greater good will prevail. I am unashamed in educating my children to look at something from both sides. To walk in someone else's shoes, and see how it fits. It's not about sitting on the fence. It's about trying to gain an understanding and perspective of the world outside of your own frame of reference.

I'm trying to help my children to see the beauty in the small. In the Goldcrest, the Robin and the Blackbird. To understand that there is more to life than computer games and the right kind of hairstyle. But I don't live in a bubble, and I do want them to be aware of the bigger picture. I just don't want it tainted by prejudice, ignorance and the Daily Mail.

I could go on, but I'll leave you with this; Mrs Stevens must have told Olly's head teacher about the reason for his late arrival. She has asked him whether he would teach her and his fellow pupils the names of some of the birds that can be seen in the school grounds. Isn't that wonderful? Oh and he is to be a cow in the school nativity. Suggestions for a costume that doesn't make him look like Nursey from Blackadder are appreciated.

Leanne xx

(my phone is broken, so no Instagram for me for a while. I'm bereft).


  1. I do agree with you although it is very hard not to not react with anger. There are some very relevant Martin Luther King quotes about love driving away the dark.... On a lighter note, how lovely that Olly has been appreciated.

  2. Good luck with the cow costume. M once went to a party dressed as a six foot sheep. An ebay special, we nearly causes several accidents en route because I suppose it is quite unusual to witness a sheep driving a car. As for Paris, I have no words. Lovely to hear about the birds- Go, Olly! xx

  3. Leanne, how thoughtfully you have written. You always seem to have just the right words, to put everything exactly the right way. I often find myself saying, "It's not quite as straightforward as that" if the boys jump to a black and white conclusion. I like them to look at both sides as well and try and imagine what it is like to have a very different life. I remember a post you wrote a while ago when you said how different things looked when you sat in a seat other than your normal one, on the other side of the room. It has stayed with me. Thinking carefully about all the aspects is a lovely trait you have. I hope it's something we call all pass on to the next generation.

    How wonderful your school's reaction to Olly and his birdwatching is. Our school could learn a little from that, it favours a draconian approach to everything these days. My middle son is scared to go and join the rugby team that's held on a lunchtime in case he is shouted at for not having a form for it. Sigh. CJ xx

  4. Excellent post Leanne, I couldn't agree with you more. You have put into words what I have been struggling to say.

  5. Beautifully written: we could all learn from your words.
    And good news for Olly - what a boost for his confidence!
    Wishing you a happy week x

  6. Lovely, lovely post Leanne. In a world that feels quite sad at the moment it was heartwarming to read about Ollie and the birds. And yes, if only we could all walk a mile in someone else's shoes we might alleviate some of the horrors that happen on an all too regular basis.

  7. Lovely words, Leanne. I'm so pleased that the other children will be learning about birds via Olly. It sounds like everyone will be a winner. xx

  8. Very wise and thoughtful and so well put and explained. I think that taking time to watch the birds is wonderful! xx

  9. "The beauty in the small" - such a wonderful thing to teach our children, that and being kind to yourselves and others. And how wonderful that Olly's school recognises and encourages his interests and passions!

  10. Hi Leanne. I am proud of Ollly by proxy, what a star. You are so good with words, so articulate and clear. Christina xx

  11. That's what kids need to do, be taken outside and allowed to look at stuff. Put feeders up, have a little butterfly garden. Start young, so they don;t go around kicking cats, setting fires, or fly tipping.

  12. Beautiful post & echoing my own thoughts and feelings about this world of ours. Looking beyond the hate & anger to try and understand. It gives me hope that I truly believe in the power of love and compassion to overcome evil and hatred. It's a struggle to achieve on a personal level, let alone globally, but every journey begins with a single step....

  13. Obviously, I agree with every word you've written here. I don't know really know what to say about terrorism, and I try to discuss it in simplest terms with my children, but I'm usually at a loss. I will say that your school office lady is a lot nicer than ours. I try not to even make eye contact when I go in there, lest I get yelled at like I'm eight years old myself. :)

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    1. She does a good ine in necklaces too ;)) xxx

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