12 jan came and went in the usual fashion of a saturday and it wasn't until halfway through sunday that I realised, just by sitting on our hands and doing nothing, we'd let Jude's registration for the kindy across the street lapse. That's right, despite my conniptions from interview day, they sent us an invitation for Jude to attend. We were so set on not sending him to kindy, but maybe that was partly because we thought they didn't think very much of his performance at interview. So when the letter arrived, the prospect of free child-care again reared its head, this time more concretely, and we weighed up the pros and cons all over again. What we couldn't really get away from, is that 3yo is not quite classroom age for kids. However "only lightly academic" this kindy claims to be, it's still within the framework of a classroom, prepping kids for the cutthroat world of Primary School. Well, at the moment K and I are trying to foster some skills for Jude to start regulating his basic emotions — sadness, anger, excitement, disappointment etc. If we have any success, it'll most likely be a better outcome than the dubious prize of surviving cutthroat PS.
At the same time, Ovaltine, who had a traumatic interview at the same kindy, also got invited to attend, against expectation. For his single mom, the scales come up quite differently to us. Without a 2nd parent, home school or home anything is a daunting prospect, which is to say, not sending your child to kindy at 3 is only a viable option for some, however scathing we choose to be of prevailing educational frameworks. It does set up some tensional dynamics though, both for the boys and their observers.
The last few days saw a renaissance of Rev G's Red days, with a trip into Red Country to stage a detox for one of the fishing village men. It'd been a long hiatus from the mundane days of night duties, day duties, house program, work program, basic basic bible, and endlessly introducing Jesus. This time, only 3 days instead of 3 years. The short duration and novelty made the days satisfying : re-calibrating mindspace for the relative bluntness of playing house with a bunch of reformed gangsters, and a temporary detachment from the frenetic energy of the fantasy island.
One of the long-standing criticisms the miniverse holds for full-time ministry men is that if in the purported course of their ministry they neglect or otherwise abuse their wives and/or children, then they pretty much have got it backwards and missed a vital part of God's heart for the family. Of course, the follow-up broadside to that is that mostly, they never wanted to be that involved in their family anyway, and ministry just provided a convenient and unassailable alibi. Sometimes, in the course of discipling our women who have kids, we suggest that they palm off their children for a period of time so they can focus time and energy on Jesus. In some cases, we have suggested the more permanent palming-off option of giving the child up for adoption. For all that we have learnt about developmental stages of a child, especially the very early stages, would a mother deciding to leave her child for say, the 1st 6 months of its life to become a disciple of Jesus, in any way be construed as neglect or abuse? And if so, have the people who have instigated it, somehow mis-prioritised the work of making disciples? Would we come to the same conclusion for them as we do for the men? Or, if the great commission always has first priority, then did we get it wrong about the centrality of family?
A couple of months ago, K and I sat down to watch a film called Vegan 2018. It's the kind of film nobody really chooses to watch unless they are already somewhat sympathetic to the varied causes for choosing a plant-based diet. Which we were. Kinda like reading Huffpost puff posts if you lean left politically. Politics aside, we are more or less convinced that a plant-based diet is most consistent with the original mandate of stewardship given at Creation. Meat consumption breaks the planet, breaks our health, and benefits... wait for it, corporations. Not eating meat is relatively easy, surprisingly. Trying to explain the choice to reformed gangsters, in the terms of justice, conscience and not being in thrall to the machinations of BigCorp, is harder than reforming gangsters.