Like about half my posts (and I really hate it), I’m not exactly sure what I want to write about- it’s been brewing in the back of my mind for a while (like most of my posts). Three books that I’ve read lately really kind of comprise the beginnings of an idea- one is the Family Virtues Guide by Popov, one is called “What to do after you turn off the TV” by Francis Moore Lappe (the one who wrote Diet for a Small Planet), and one is called “Awakening the Hidden Storyteller“, which I also read in conjunction with ‘Storytelling for Children“. Anyway, each of these books has a piece of what I’m looking for- and I think what I’m looking for is a way to define our values as a family and impart them to our children. I’d really like to get together with The Boy, and talk about what our joint values are, and write a mission statement of sorts. Decide what we believe, and what we feel is important enough to pass along to Fairy Girl (and any future hypothetical children- can you tell I’m not done yet? :))
But it’s not JUST about imparting values. It’s also about having fun together, and really bonding, connecting. And I don’t believe you can do that very well while watching TV. I think you can impart values while watching TV- we all get together to watch Dancing with the Stars on Monday and Tuesday nights- it’s about the only time we turn on the network TV- the ads really are striking- it’s amazing how COUNTER to my values most of them are! I am really looking forward to using our slight TV watching time as a way to teach Fairy Girl about media literacy. I want her to know how tricky those ads are, and not to hold herself up to those standards of beauty that are just everywhere in the media. Part of that is to watch, and talk while you watch, part of that is to limit media exposure in all forms (though I believe to severely limit media exposure is unrealistic and rigid, and has the counter effect of making children less immune to the ways of advertising), and part of that is to expose yourself to the tricks of the media (psychology, twisting of facts, airbrushing… etc). But where was I? Oh yes, imparting values- I don’t want the media to impart IT’S values to MY family, thankyouverymuch.
Ok, that was an only slightly related tangent- since my idea of Family Culture doesn’t really involve sitting down in front of the TV (with notable exceptions), I guess I had to think that one out. But what DOES it involve?
It involves games, music, and storytelling. I am especially interested in storytelling right now- the oral tradition of fairy tales, making up your own stories, storytelling games, having an oral or visual ritual to the beginning and ending of storytime. And I don’t mean the “once upon a time” kind of storytelling, that you do with children, but the “gather round the fire” kind that has been virtually lost in our American culture- with adults and children all together. This is where things kind of get fuzzy- I’m not really sure where to go with this now. One of my favorite parts of “Storytelling With Children” (which is actually about the adult kind of storytelling too) is where she asks you to visualize your inner storyteller- mine is a round, strong, ancient woman with a long white braid sitting in front of a hearth that looks remarkably like Tasha Tudor’s hearth. Her eyes are wise, her voice is aged but strong and clear. She’s me, in about 60 years, I hope she is, anyway. She doesn’t have to speak loudly to command attention. She’s like Maya Angelou- she commands attention just by BEING. And you know that whatever comes out of her mouth is important, and is going to reveal some of yourself to yourself. THAT”S the storyteller I want to be.
I see storytelling as a way to impart our values, tell the stories of our family’s history, and to have fun. Part of our family’s culture.
It’s 3am here, and I don’t think I can be more concise tonight. I’ll just ramble in circles if I continue. So, hopefully I can come back more clear tomorrow and finish this.