Week 13 – Guilt: a Difficult Emotion to Integrate

Week 13 – Guilt: a Difficult Emotion to Integrate

Grasp the subject, the words will follow.” Cato the Elder (234-140 BC) that’s how my life learning daughters learned math … ‘@LifeLearningMag

This tweet sums up how JJ is learning these 365 Days (and the many days she’s been life learning outside these more recently diarised days). When building her dolls house it involves measuring, long multiplication and division; when baking it requires more measuring this time in weights and fractions as well as reading; when going to the shops addition, subtraction and writing shopping lists. This is the natural way we all learn. The subject comes first: building, baking or shopping. Then the application of a particular subject comes next – math or english is a natural progression in order to achieve an effective goal. JJ, or the learner, is fully engaged in the learning opportunity because it has meaning.


JJ has been struggling this week with guilt, a direct reaction to the death of her beloved rat Scarlet. She felt guilty that she didn’t spend enough time with her; felt guilty when she laughed for the first few times after Scarlet’s death; felt guilty that she didn’t play with her enough and felt sad that now she can’t even play with her if she wants to. We all live with guilt so I chose to share with her my life experience of guilt. I told her the story of my dog Topsy. She was the first dog that I had as an adult and it is a sad story of how my busy life, in my twenties, meant I just abandoned her. Initially with my flat mate friend for days on end, eventually walking out on her entirely, leaving her with my ex, when my relationship failed. To this day I do not know what became of Topsy.

I’ve found that guilt is not something that ever goes away entirely, it hovers in the background for eternity, it appears when we least expect it and is often the culprit removing the wind from our sails when the going is good. Guilt is an emotion that can extract the fun out of life and reduce ones existence to blandness. It is a difficult emotion – an emotion which many adults cannot come to terms with never mind a 9 year old. Over the course of this week, when the opportunity has arisen, we’ve looked at how JJ feels with relation to guilt and without letting it overwhelm her, which is no good to anyone, we’ve tried to understand it, make sense of it and own it. When guilt is left to fester and built on by the negative opinions of others it turns to shame. Shame is one of the most damaging feelings resulting in debilitation. There is little one can do when enveloped by shame. Do I believe that JJ could have spent more time playing with her rat Scarlet, yes I do. Do I believe she did the best she could with her, being only 9 years old, yes I do. She cleaned their cage regularly, was always very gentle and caring with them when she did play with them and was their sole provider. I believe she took on this role responsibly and compassionately. She did the best she could. Are there lessons to be learnt, things that could have been done better, yes there is. Isn’t this what this life journey is all about – to learn from our mistakes?

JJ then meandered into the guilt of not sticking to her timetable. This is her self-inflicted timetable, which lists everything that she wants to do academically during the day.  During this process JJ has learnt what works for her and what doesn’t – it took me as an adult to work out setting a timetable was a useless act for me. When she expressed guilt about not sticking to her timetable we spent time exploring exactly what she is learning and how she does these things naturally without the guilt inducing timetable. We agreed that when she feels like doing something, when she needs to know something, then this is her best time to learn. The timetable has been ditched but moreover the experience of setting one up and trying to follow it will stay with her as a valuable life lesson.

Other discussion’s this week:

On the other end of the spectrum from the subject of death we discussed birth. Specifically on how long babies and various other mammals keep their young in the womb. We compared the gestation periods of humans 9 months and dogs 63 days, which we know well as breeders of Labrdoodles, to dolphins up to 17 months and elephants a massive 22 months. We discussed the different stages each of these young are born at, some can walk or swim immediately others have their eyes closed for weeks and are extremely dependent.

Easter Painted EggsJJ was asking about the meaning of Easter. We discussed the biblical significance of each day. We are not actively religious but being born into the Christian culture it is the religion we are most familiar with. The traditions from Christianity are the celebrations we tend to follow as our family traditions. This Easter the whole family painted a blown egg. JJ was champion egg blower, it was fun doing it with the men of the family. Then JJ used up the remaining paint, and some more, in a full bodied tactile exploration of paint.

Bruce was home for four days over Easter and we enjoyed the family time both with each other and with broader family gatherings. We had a delicious lamb roast with my aunt and uncle finished off with fruit salad. Champagne breakfast on Easter Sunday with Bruce’s cousin’s with a beautifully decorated Easter cake by their 12 year old daughter, scones, croissants and continental style meat and cheese. We had more relative visitors around on Easter Monday where we served two pasta’s: one was pork sausage balls in a tomato parmesan sauce and the other was prawns in coriander pesto sauce with chilli and lime. We finished off the meal with Eton mess served in Belgium beer glasses. AA says it was the best meal he has ever tasted – love my boy! Needless to say I am going to have to watch what I eat for a few weeks now.

I’ve finally handed in the winners trophy of champion Cluedo player! My son clearly takes ownership of it for the foreseeable future.  I seem to have lost the drive and ruthlessness of clue gathering required as a pre-requisite to successfully win this game. Other games played this week have been Traverse and Uno. The children are particularly enjoying setting up Domino Trains and watching other trains on you tube.  AA and JJ want more dominos and the switches used to make these fabulous trains.

JJ and I squeezed in a couple of documentaries this week one on the Titanic and the other on the Barrier Reef. As a family we also watched series 1 of Mrs Fisher enabling me to get more crocheting done, JJ’s blanket is growing.

I’ve finally restarted writing my tween adventure book, after many months of leaving it to gather dust. In this last week I’ve revised it and written up four sections – feeling good!

Interesting links for this week:

Thank you @formulamom for your Hanging Bird Feeder Craft idea

@LivingFreePrjct An Incredible New Experiment – The Puzzle School – A Review: by Gina Basteri. An extremely interesting way of approaching learning – I’d love to see this method applied more frequently.

Thanks to @inspiritchoice  for Forbes article on No Job Requires College

Finally one more interesting article Need a job? Invent it!


It was Easter Sunday this week and we got up pretty early (compared to Easter in other years). We hunted for the Easter eggs from the Easter bunny, well we have an Easter bunny you might have an Easter hare or something else that brings eggs he he. But anyway we hunted and found loads of eggs. We then went to my cousin’s house for breakfast it was very nice but I was so full I didn’t eat that much. I got lots of eggs and presents from everyone they are always so kind. Then we went to my great aunt and uncle’s house for lunch, their niece came around with her husband and their 6 month old baby. The baby is very cute but I didn’t play with her.

I got MORE Easter eggs and read Percy Jackson when I got bored. I am getting pretty far into the book. My cousin and family came round for lunch the next day, my brother, my cousin and I played lots of games. We played Cluedo, Uno and Max &Jacks (it’s a game with dice). The NEXT day we went over to her house and played Monopoly for 3 hours and then we also played Max & Jacks again – it was loads of fun. I helped mom make the Eton mess by chopping up strawberries and washing them for my cousin and family – like I told you earlier, it was very fun by the way.

I’m growing my nails and they look nice.

My dad, bother and I played target practise trying to get boules into a hoops. We had 1 smaller hoop and  1 bigger hoop in different places. We had to get our boules inside the hoops, then we put them in each other’s and if you got a boule in the edges of the hoop you got 20 points and if you got one in the hoop it was 10 points. It was fun.JJ Tactile Painting

My mom and I blew eggs so we could paint them. I blew 5 and my mom did 1, I was very good my mom said. We then painted them. I painted 2 my mom painted 1 my brother painted 2 and my dad painted 1. I liked all of them, it was also loads of fun. I had lots of paint left over so I started painting on a piece of paper with a sponge.  I got some on my hands and then the fun started. I got paint all over my arms and then my FACE and hair. I got some on my feet and then on a piece of paper. Afterwards I went for a shower, I could see again when it washed off, because I had paint over my eyes.  It was one of the best days in my life.

I said to mom I was having a Moshi Mnsters weekend because I was playing all the time – it can sometimes be very addictive he he. I mowed the lawn for the first time the other day – my dad taught me. I enjoyed mowing but the lawn mowed was heavy. My brother didn’t do any but he helped with lots of other stuff.

I listened to music with my brother AA.

Mom is reading me Harry Potter again it’s The Half Blood Prince it is ssssssssssssssoooooooooooooooooo interesting. We’ve got on to the Chapter called The Half Blood Prince (this is for the people who have read Harry Potter not watched it) have you noticed that in every book of Harry Potter it has a chapter that is the same name as the name of the book. For an example in the book The Goblet of Fire it also has a chapter named The Goblet of Fire, don’t you think it is interesting?

The other night the whole family had a games night, we played Traverse, Cluedo and Uno. I also made a Dominoes Train with my brother – it is amazing. I have a video of it and I am going to try and put it on here, I hope you like it.

I’ve made a very human like bed for Charlotte, my rat, because she must be missing her sister Scarlet that died last week. I cry whenever I think about her. I also made a play ground for Charlotte but she didn’t like it.

I cleaned the out my rats cage and I cleaned it round the back of the garden where Scarlet is buried. So I talked to Scarlet, my dead rat, and cried. I made a movie about my rats with pictures and music it is very sad when I watch it but I don’t cry.JJ Posing

I decided that I don’t want to do my timetable anymore and I had a big chat with my mom about it. I was talking to her about death, I feel bad if I laugh or have fun because Scarlet has gone. Mom says Scarlet would want me to be happy but I still feel bad. I put flowers by Scarlet’s grave I think it will help her love me.

I made a log thing out of a log (obviously) with my dad. I used the electric planer and sander again – it was such fun.

I watched a documentary on the barrier reef it is SOOO!!! Interesting and SOOO!! beautiful he he.

At my music lesson I played piano and sang, I learnt about Stephen Foster and how he captured songs from the slaves in late 1800′s it is sooooo cool.

I got my first sewing pattern and I’m going to make a black skirt but I still haven’t made anything with it yet.

I hope you all had a fun Easter like we did?

Week 13 Cloud Tagxedo

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