It was last week Half Term holiday, and we were visiting my husband’s parents in the picturesque Lake District for a few days. The four of us had driven for five hours two days before, and it had rained constantly since we had arrived. Waking up to the knowledge we had a five to six hour car journey back to London suburbia in the rain filled me with dread, causing my mood to be as heavy as the clouds. To top it off I had to go on an hour round trip to a ‘Steam Train Museum’. Could my day get worse?
I admit, my attitude was poor. I huffed and puffed as Peter drove up into the mountains towards the museum – in torrential rain. The children oblivious to my mood, wriggled and giggled in their back seats, excited to be able to see real trains like Thomas the Tank Engine. With tension filling in the front seats I put some music on.
“Why should we bother in this rain? Why can’t we just turn around and go home? What is the point? We’ll only get stuck in rush hour traffic later, on our way back home.” I muttered to myself.
I was never sure Peter heard my whiny comments, but to deepen my self-righteous mood, Peter, not listening to the sat nav directions took a wrong turn, which then added another twenty minutes to the journey.
Finally we pulled in to the old railway station and met up with my in-laws who had come separately in their car. First impressions were bad; an empty puddle filled car park with an old carriage and single large shed, which we presumed were filled with train engines. Rain pelting down, we headed for shelter in the cold damp-smelling shed.
Seeing the children’s excitement as they saw the old steam trains, I thought. ‘How can I turn my mood round? What can I get from being here?’
As the children ran around with glee, I took out my iPhone to take photos of the them with the train carriages. It was then I began to see how interesting the train carriages looked on camera. The colours and patterns of the trains looked great. My mood instantly changed. Suddenly everything seemed more vibrant interesting and positive, and before long I was as inspired by steam trains as the children were.
After seeing the old steam trains we noticed crowds of people starting to fill the platform. There was great excitement as the old steam train pulled in full of tourists. As the whistle blew the train slowly departed with more people on board. With the noise of the engine, the glowing coal fire, and the smoke and steam, the atmosphere was electric.
I asked myself; ‘How could you ‘not’ fall in love with steam trains?’.
Lesson # 2 Finding a fresh perspective and inspiration when I’m in a funk!
We all know part of being a parent is being selfless and putting the children’s needs above our own. Often we turn off our childlike curiosity and see things in black and white, and as something to just get through, to grin and bear.
iphoneography on this day was my saviour, creating a distraction and a project to see everything in a more positive and creative light. So now, when my old eyes get tired and worn down with day-to-day grind, the iPhone can give them a fresh colourful new perspective.
My fascination with spiders came a few years ago when each morning I would get up and see a spider had built an amazing web that sparked in the hallway window. When it rained it sheltered by the side and we could see it so close up we felt as if it were our own pet. We watched as it caught flies and bees and resisted all weathers. It seemed it would be there forever; I never really thought about how long it would live, it just became part of the family. But, one week I realised it was gone. I wasn’t sure how long it had been missing but the delicate bits of broken and fuzzy web looked like it had been unused for a long time. It was that day I felt saddened by this significant, but tiny loss.
This time of year is spider season, every morning the garden is lit up by the beauty of sparkly spiderwebs covered in dew. As soon as they dry out the webs become invisible and the whole family have experienced being tangled up in the midst the sticky and tickly web strands. A few years ago I would have been irritated by the amount of spider webs I had to battle through to get into my garden, but since I have had children my attitude to spiders and creepy crawlies have completely changed. I am more tolerant of these creatures as I try to instil a level of compassion as a value to my children.
My neighbour mentioned she hadn’t gone out in her garden much as she was petrified of spiders.
“Ooh no, I can’t bear them!” she said, “… awful things.” It turns out that both her husband and herself are scared of spiders, so it meant her two year old was unable to go outside to play on her trampoline. I told her that I got my two children to go out with a duster and taught them to be kind and brave when it came to walking through a spider web or getting tangled up in one. I wondered then what we can learn about resilience from spiders for ourselves and for our children.
Being curious I Googled spiders and resilience and I found one school, Cottingley Village Primary school in West Yorkshire had used the song Incy Wincy spider to represent resilience for their Early Years nursery and reception children. Through the song they focus on c as their Learning Power Capacity. They said, “The children know that:- We can learn by not giving up even when we find things hard. We should keep trying!”
Every day spiders get up and even when someone destroys their home they jump down and within an hour have rebuilt their home, with no fuss, just pure resilience. I have come to truly admire them, firstly for their creativity, the architecture of the webs are so complex. I wonder how they begin and where they end. But the thing I admire most is how they deal with their daily setbacks, their stamina and perseverance. They are just so resilient.