Parenting Dilemmas, and How to Make Big Box Stores and Other Nasty Shopping Environments Magically Disappear

Sometimes I think the hardest thing about parenting multiple children is that when one child is having a crisis that demands attention, sympathy, wisdom, advice, action, the world just doesn't stop, and all the rest of them still need to be delivered to their activities de jour, need to be taken to the dentist, need new shoes, demand to be taken to the snow:

and if they are Posy, wake up in the morning with the day's activities fully planned.
'Today I will make a very big cake and carve it into the shape of a car,' she declared this morning approximately three seconds after waking up. Changing Posy's mind is like changing the direction of the Titanic. It is so much more relaxing to go with the flow, we have found, icebergs notwithstanding.

Conceived, planned, executed, eaten. Tick. That child is a force of nature. Hope she continues to use her powers for good...

So this week, it has been all about juggling needs of children, and my need to get through this very large pile of books:

What I love doing with non-fiction books is dipping between half-a-dozen at a time. It is such a luxurious feeling to have so many books to read, and not having finished any of them. Most of these are library books. I am excited to have discovered the call number 640, which appears to feature books about domesticity past and present, greener ways to live at home, and experiments in domestic management. I borrowed A Long Way Home from a friend because I heard the author on the radio. I am re-reading my copy of Nurture by Nature in the hope that there may be some clues in the Meyers-Briggs personality profiles which will shed some light on the personalities of a number of my peculiar children.

The Dirty Life and Mobilizing the Green Imagination I ordered from my local bookshop, The Dirty Life because I got it from the library and loved the glorious craziness of it. I think there is a tiny corner of me that really wants to go out and start an organic farm and live like Almanzo in Farmer Boy. A very small corner. Because indeed I wouldn't get to live like Almanzo at all, but like his mother, and like her, never get to sit down except when spinning, or like Kristin who married a crazy man who didn't like plastic and wanted to start a farm with no money or electricity, but lots of cows and some draught horses. Fun, fun, fun. I think I am more a reader than a doer, farm-wise.

Frances recommended  Mobilizing the Green Imagination, and because I trust her book recommendations implicitly, I rang up the bookshop straight away and ordered it. More later when I have finished it. But I am perking up already. It really is an antidote to environmental depression.

Do you have a local bookshop? I never, never order books on-line. Well, once I started an on-line bookshop, which is still running two owners later. I am immensely proud of that achievement, even though it was never really financially viable, because it turns out I am not much of a business person, but that beautiful site? I love it. I helped design it, because I wanted a calm and beautiful on-line shopping environment. I was homeschooling at the time, and lots of homeschoolers are geographically isolated, far from a bookshop, and needing good books for their kids. I do still buy books from Leatherwood Books, because it is an independent bookshop, on-line. But those giant behemoth book sites? They are like big-box stores, but on-line. And they are ruining the High Street of every small town that now doesn't have a bookshop. What kind of a world doesn't have a bookshop in every town? How is civilisation to continue? Do these giant book behemoths hire local literary teenagers in the summer? My bookstore does. Is there a lovely gracious lady on your shiny lap-top screen who chats to your children and finds them books that they will love, and recommends the perfect gift for your godchild? If there is a problem with your child's textbook order, does the bookshop owner contact you personally, and tell you how much he regrets the error, and give you a hefty discount to make up for it?

Sometimes.. let's face it, most times, the books from my local bookshop are more expensive. But what kind of a world do we want to live in? One where there are local, independent stores, with book readings and employment for your kids, and you can afford five books a year in your budget? Or one where you can buy a dozen books a year and have no bookstore in your town? If you buy a dozen books a year, you will just end up decluttering them later anyway. Makes much more sense to buy quality, buy your kid a job, and not overfill your bookcase with bad books.

We get to choose the kind of world we live in, every time we spend a dollar. I had this revelation the other day while standing in the shower. Which is why I need long hot showers. NEED them. Here is my thought:

I never need to go to a shopping mall, giant department store or supermarket EVER again if I don't want to. And I really don't. They are just nasty and soul sapping. With some determined planning, I could avoid them entirely and pretend they aren't there. And maybe, we could all stop believing in them, and then they would just .. cease .. to .. exist..


Tanya Murray said…
On the bright side, at least she didn't want to carve the Eiffel Tower! LOL
Judy said…
Thanks for making me smile. Your daughter sounds similar to mine. Has she tried to make a Newtons cradle from marbles and gardening wire? Or a water gun from cardboard boxes and carrier bags? It is the kind of task that seems far too hard, if not downright impossible, yet they believe that they can do it, so they can. The cake looks amazing!

I wish I could find more time for reading. I have a pile of books half that size to read and will be lucky if I finish them all this year (or unlucky, because I do most of my reading when I am in bed ill!)

You could have the same revelation sitting looking out at the garden maybe? But as its winter for you I can understand the need for hot showers :)
Jo said…
Tanya, I won't mention the Eiffel Tower, just in case...
Judy, I would get a lot more done if I didn't read, but this lot won't last me for more than a couple of weeks. That said, I do reread a lot, so I don't run out of books completely...
And you're right, I do need to find a new venue for inspiration, not least because otherwise I will develop lizard skin...
Anonymous said…
You are such an ethical person. I love you! I wish I could be so consistent with my values. And I love that you opened a niche online bookstore.

I thought about joining your "only buy from small business" idea, but I do like certain larger stores, like DJs.

I love little book shops. Wandering in them, the whimsy, the hidden treasures. I can waste hours in bookshops. I have tried e-books. Just don't like them.

I have a local bookshop - it's one suburb away. And I have a local second hand bookshop. It's just up the road in my suburb. I don't buy from Amazon but I do buy from a bookseller in UK that has books not released here. I am not prepared to order them through my bookshop at higher prices. Oh! I am soooo inconsistent! And so conflicted.

I do like to have several non-fiction books on the go too. And I can join you in reading and dreaming about becoming self sufficient. But I know I will never take the steps towards it, excepting total global collapse. I know I have dreamed about marrying Almanzo 100 or so years ago. I will let you in the know: we were a successful couple.

Off to read a book in a bubble bath.
Bless that Posy! Bloody minded ness will get her everywhere! My uncle owns one of those suburban bookstores in a great tourist town. A town that generally loathes big box stores. Though he did restock his Harry Potters through Kmart when he ran out of his full priced stock! I think well in showers too - provided I'm not asleep/waking up. I also think and drive.
Heather said…
I loved 'The Dirty Life' too.

When I was growing up, there was a children's book shop in my town very similar to the one in the movie 'You've Got Mail.' I still have memories of that beautiful shop. I think that proves that it had a soul.

GretchenJoanna said…
The Dirty Life - that sounds like my kind of book!

All your talk about bookstores jives with the book I am reading now, The Gutenberg Elegies, the first half of which is all about the glories of reading - and the author worked in bookstores for many years and makes me long to spend days browsing in a cozy local establishment.
Jo said…
Lucinda, you are such a sweetie! I'm not ethical so much as wanting a different kind of life, a life which is too short to spend at Kmart.. why don't you join me shopping at independent businesses, except when you want to go to David Jones? Remember, I'm not really into rules. It's never an all or nothing choice.
Sarah, if I think about anything except driving when I am driving, I tend to find myself somewhere I didn't intend to go!
Heather, shopping at places with soul MUST be good for us! PS Love that movie!
Gretchen Joanna, I will look out for that book. I often give myself a 'treat' when I have to spend hours in town doing boring errands and shopping for children - half an hour browsing in the bookshop before I go home. Very restorative.
Jen's Busy Days said…
I have the dilemma instead of doing my thinking while cleaning. I know I should be teaching my boys how to do chores but I want to keep the jobs so I get quiet time to think.

Great idea about visiting the local book shops, I haave three in walking distance.

Best wishes
Jen in NSW
Jo said…
I mainly sigh noisily while cleaning in the hope that someone else will take over...
So glad you're reading Anthony's book--and that it's cheering you up. It's really a hopeful message.

I loved The Dirty Life. I have farming dreams, but I can barely keep up with my big backyard garden, so I'm probably better off reading books ...

I'll be honest: I do order books online, especially used books, but also if there's an expensive book I want at deep discount. However, I do all my Christmas shopping--which is where I spend big bucks--at local stores. That's my compromise for now (I also shop at local stores during the rest of the year, but I have to admit I'm a sucker for convenience ...).

i am noting all these books down. and the dewey number! i too am a big supporter of the local library.

i love that phrase "easier to go with the flow, icebergs notwishstanding" i must remenber that as a good life motto!

I am waiting for posy to get to voting age and rule the world.

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