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Connection

August 29, 2007

We’ve been having a hard time lately, I’ve got several blog posts that I want to write up that I can’t get near (and I’m about to make it harder by writing this instead).  Karen reached a point of mothering overload last week, and a friend stepped in to help her out. The friend is a good friend but parents more or less in the conventional manner. It’s fair to say’s she tends toward our way of doing things but most of the help consisted of the mainstream idea that at times like this you need to get the mother away from the children.

Basically the maintream solution to this problem is through separation from the children. I want to be clear that I’m not criticising this friend in particular, she took on an extra load herself and has indeed given Karen a break but I suspect that if we’d had friends in town who parent like us their instinct would have been toward building connections instead of creating separation. They probably would have descended on the house to take some of the responsibility away while still enabling us to maintain our relationship with our children. 

As parents I think that a large part of the stress we’re loaded up with comes from problems in our relationship with our kids. We are tired and don’t want to attend to their genuine needs or they are feeling fractious and are acting it out in ways that certainly bring their needs to our attention but also press buttons from our childhood that cause us to back off from our kids like our parents did to us. So our parent’s bad relationship with us begins to repeat itself. 

I believe the solution to these problems is to work on the relationship and to strengthen it. I confess that sometimes I don’t know how to do this and at other times I just don’t have the inner strength but I still think it is important because it’s really apparent that when the relationships are suffering our kid’s behaviour really goes downhill. 

Our oldest is someone born with incredible persistence, she never waits until she is sure she can do something before trying she just starts doing it. She started walking at 9 months and fell down about a million times learning but she got their quickly. She learned to ride a bike without trainer wheels over a period of about three days when she was 3 years old – she just never gives up no matter how hair-raising it got. Unfortunately when her emotional needs are not being met this same level of persistence amounts to total harassment for us parents. We’re lucky their’s two of us so we can tag-team her when there’s a problem. She’d be a nightmare for a solo parent or for a school, especially as all the co-sleeping and non-coercive efforts we have gone to have made her a very strong person. I think she’ll be an amazing person when she’s an adult (yes, I know this is her father talking :-) but right now she can be really hard for us. 

With all that in mind, when our kids got back home yesterday afternoon after having spent the second day in a row away from us she was incredibly difficult, the worst I’ve ever seen. I also got the angriest I’ve ever felt at her because of it and it wasn’t a nice evening. We were at our wit’s end. 

After we’d managed to get them off to bed we sat down and to figure our where we’d goen wrong and decided to try to get back on track. 

Basically she went to bed and slept in physical contact with Adi (oldest daughter) all night, told her she loved her a million times and (this is very important) apologised for the things she hadn’t got right without making excuses about it being hard and this morning when we got up Adi was back to her normal self again. Just like that.

Honestly it feels like someone has waved a magic wand over the girl. It’s a testament to the bedrock strength of Karen’s relationship with our kids that she can do that even when she’s under stress. I suspect that conventional parenting techniques cause the parents to have to shut off their feelings for their children while they teach the child to ‘cry it out’ and that it leaves them permanently numbed to one degree or another. Staying connected to your kids means you have a really deep love to draw on when things get tough. 

Karen is still in need of a break for a few more days but we’re going to do it by having me come out of the office for parts of the day and she’s going to take them out for things like bush walks because it is also apparent from our fussy-baby (now five) that time spent in nature has a very soothing effect.

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One comment

  1. Empty comments boards as far as the eye can see. I just stumbled across your blog again after a year or so, and i thought I’d say hello. I will comment on two things from August and then tell you why I am randomly writing on your comments board instead of, you know, preparing for the crash and that…

    Kids – yeah, my sister just had her first, and all this stuff is on my mind. Trouble is, there’s only so far you can preach (read: subtly introduce) continuum concept / natural parenting ideas before the mother in question starts to get defensive and you’re actually diminishing the quality of parenting the child receives. My basic rule is to stop when the kid is born. At that stage more info is not going to be absorbed and is not going to help.

    Guns – that Argentina thing has totally messed with me. The casual discussion of handgun acronyms suggesting that they are a regular part of conversation there…. But I suspect that invisible and hard-to-quantify elements of culture play a big role in how bad a society gets. Not to downplay the economic and political elements responsible for events there, South America just tragically doesn’t seem to have that x factor that allows a culture to carry on through a crisis without falling apart (although Argentina has done pretty well, considering). Whether countries like the UK and NZ do remains to be seen.

    Timelines for collapse and escape: OK, this is why I am distracting myself with typing at people I don’t know. Consider yourself an anonymous sounding board. I just need to talk this out with myself (although feedback is much appreciated). I have been procrastinating the issues for two months now and I am out of time. I have no problem with the idea that I need to be relocating (arg, from London, not great in a crash situation, i imagine). i have no problem living on less than £10,000 a year (never earnt more), so i won’t miss things here, and I have spent two years adjusting myself to the reality of the world situation and the potential hardships of dropping out. I am earning money doing academic work which will not be nearly as valuable in n years time, but it pays, and I know what my next step is – i am going to assume i have a few years left (because, frankly, if i don’t, I’m not going to manage any kind of exit strategy on my own anyway), which means i have time to train in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which i am starting to think forms a large part of my True Vocation (TM), in addition to being a handy skill once the large-scale health systems stop working (if you can call what they do at the minute working).

    I would love to think that I could end up in NZ, about which I hear only good things, mostly from homesick Kiwis in London wondering why they are here rather than there. But all of these many plans are reliant on having a good five years to put into action, not to mention the continued desire of somewhere like NZ to welcome immigrants (albeit a massively overqualified one from a fellow commonwealth country). In a sense this financial crash has been a big relief, since i have been waiting for it the last two years and it seems not to have instantly collapsed the global systems network. yet.

    But now I have to decide how much of a hurry I need to be in – should I desperately rush into training, potentially reducing my overall well-being, adaptability, social networks and financial position, or take advantage of my current position to pick up some more varied skills, see some old friends, scout out some regions of the world and save up a bit more money and start the 3/4 year track this time next year? (Reading this over it sounds like I’ve already decided. A large part of me is passionate to start learning the skills, and keen to begin immediately! I can imagine how annoying it would be to be a year too late and end up trapped in London no better off than if I’d been asleep the whole time)

    So yeah, I’m trying to ignore the more abject extremes of paranoia, maximise the positive, believe in the residual inertia of the system carrying us through to when I can make my move, reading the old deconsumption timeline for unfolding crisis and trying to work out what i really think is going to happen in the next few years.

    SO! My challenge to you, if you choose to accept it, is to help me out. How much time do you think I have? Not that any predictions are in any way reliable, obviously, but I am currently entertaining suggestions for why things will not be falling apart by this time next year. What makes you call Savinar paranoid? What positive elements in the mix do you see?

    Even if you don’t choose to accept it, keep up the good work, and I’ll keep dropping in to see what you’re up to…

    Cheers!

    Posted by: cheeba | 08/31/2007

    HI Cheeba, nice to hear from you. Yeah I don’t know why the lack of comments, My stats are being destroyed by refferals from sites like dogsex.com so I’ve got no idea if real people are reading or not. Probably didn’t help that I took 6 months off a while back but the whole scene seems quite slow at the moment.

    You’re right about holding back with your sister after her kid is born. I’ve just about given up talking to people about this sort of stuff because I’ve never convinced anyone by talking to them. My wife is better at that sort of thing but the biggest indicator of which way a mother will go is what’s going on around her. If her support network (friends etc) is saying ‘you’ve got to let the baby cry it out’ then there’s no way they will have the strength to hold out against it. It only works if the father is a stubborn and argumentitive sod like me who sends people packing if they try to undermine us. Even with our level of determination we’ve found it soooo much easier when there are like-minded people around us.

    Agree about the Guns thing, it freaked me out too. I wouldn’t count on an X factor to get you through the crash though, A better rule is the more developed a place the less likely people will be to have the skills to survive – which means where you are won’t be great.

    Personally I would get out of the UK as soon as possible, I can’t see it being a great place to be and really you need time to hook into a community. Presumably you can learn alternative medicine skills somewhere other than just London? Getting into NZ is hard though, unless you have skills we want you need to bring $2 million with you (about 600,000 pounds) or marry a New Zealander like Kevin at Cryptogon.

    The truth is I want someone to tell me what to do too. We all have to make our own decisions though and unfortunately some of it will be pure guesswork – it frustrates the hell out of me. Like you say the Deconsumption timeline seems to be the best predictor but with the events of the last few weeks I feel like the economic system could totally implode within a matter of days. That’s the paranoid view but I imagine that if it did demand for oil would drop and shift the peak back quite a way so who knows how things would pan out.

    If you want to prepare for the worst I’d imagine owning a good pack, tramping boots/bike and outdoor survival gear might be useful, learning how to eat plants that no one else will think to eat in the UK would help too and basically heading north (although it’s helluva cold up there) away from population centres. You don’t mention a family so I presume you can just pack up and leave a place. For me I’ve got to make things work locally or else we’re stuffed.

    Is Dan Bartlett in London? I’d get in touch with him so that if the shit does hit the fan you’ll at least have someone else with a few clues nearby. You don’t know how much I wish I had that at the moment.

    It’s bloody tricky though, I spend hours thinking about this – and not nearly enough time acting on it. It’s hard enough to keep the family going at the best of times without throwing this in the mix.

    Let us know what you do.

    What makes me call Savinar paranoid? It’s just that when ever I visit his site I come away feeling paranoid, I don’t think he really gets the human side of things. It’s no real criticism though, our culture worships technical skills (of which he has plenty) and it’s only fringe dwellers like Ran that can bring the emotional human component into the equation. Every time I start to feel too panicky I send him an email and he responds with a few succint observations that usually settle me down.

    Posted by: Aaron | 09/01/2007

    Thanks for the reply Aaron.

    Well, I looked around some more of the site later on and found not only your own post on Chaos and/or community (I’d heard that Joe Polasicher thing about growing food in 100m2 somewhere before) but also links to Ran which did, indeed, calm me down.

    I guess I’m more of a declinist than a collapsist, so I’m assuming there will be a few years where London is actually the only place where there is any work still going. I am on the edge of it anyway, so yes, my pack/boots/tent/bike (no, hang on, bike was stolen, must buy a new one!) could come into play.

    “the more developed a place the less likely people will be to have the skills to survive” – this is the usual way of thinking about it, that the rest of the world will stop giving the 1st world their resources and we will be the worst off. But if we assume the collapse is already under way, it becomes clear that a culture of eg national unity, blind obedience to authority, like what we have, is actually a powerful asset for a nation in the short term, whilst people elsewhere are subject to so much chaos and noise that it becomes impossible to organise effective collective action – the system seems to be capable of destroying entire continents, like Africa, before the control mechanism breaks down.

    So it is on the basis of this assumption – that just looking at the facts and figures underestimates the extent to which cultural factors will kick in to extend the life of the system – that I am gambling I have a few more years. Obviously, true collapse pays no attention to cultural issues, things fall apart anyway, but I think it’s easy to forget how much and how many people are locked into the memetic channels of the system and will accept ridiculous privations without disturbing the overall set-up.

    Dan is in Bristol. I keep on meaning to get in touch with him.

    You’re right, I am asking everyone I know to tell me what to do. Of course, when they occasionally oblige, I instantly think “well, you haven’t spent nearly as long as me thinking about this” and discount the advice.

    As things stand at the minute, a bug-out kit and some primitive survival skills are probably my best bet. Moving on my own to the countryside and waiting for collapse to come isn’t really going to cut it, and I have been caught out assuming the sky is about to fall before, only to have to carry on living my life after all, so I think I might as well carry on trying to arrange a longer-term plan in case I have time. It’s a gamble, but that’s living, I guess. I have the advantage of no debt or kids and quite a few friends becoming increasingly interested in arranging some kind of tactical withdrawal from civilisation, so the odds come out on the side of spinning things out here for a bit longer.

    I don’t know how much NZ wants me. I have lots of letters after my name and stand a chance of getting a job teaching there. Of course, academia is unfortunately linked to large urban areas, hence the greater mobility of TCM as a profession. I don’t know whether you guys are short of acupuncturists. Maybe I can find myself a NZ girl!

    Curiously, I am finding less and less resistance to my ‘crazy ideas’ every day. Otherwise conventional people all seem to agree that there is something deeply wrong with the current set-up of life, health, work, parenting, schooling. I think staying true to your beliefs starts to pay dividends as the opposing narratives increasingly lose strength and suddenly people start coming to you to talk about whether there is another way.

    I have lived in fear for much of my life and it sucks. The only way I can maintain belief in the path I intend to take is to look for ways in which positive things can come out of this, and to assume that vision, community and cognitive flexibility will have some value in the coming years. I still say it’s all good. I think I’m going to take a year out.

    Posted by: cheeba | 09/01/2007

    Thanks for the reply Aaron.

    Well, I looked around some more of the site later on and found not only your own post on Chaos and/or community (I’d heard that Joe Polasicher thing about growing food in 100m2 somewhere before) but also links to Ran which did, indeed, calm me down.

    I guess I’m more of a declinist than a collapsist, so I’m assuming there will be a few years where London is actually the only place where there is any work still going. I am on the edge of it anyway, so yes, my pack/boots/tent/bike (no, hang on, bike was stolen, must buy a new one!) could come into play.

    “the more developed a place the less likely people will be to have the skills to survive” – this is the usual way of thinking about it, that the rest of the world will stop giving the 1st world their resources and we will be the worst off. But if we assume the collapse is already under way, it becomes clear that a culture of eg national unity, blind obedience to authority, like what we have, is actually a powerful asset for a nation in the short term, whilst people elsewhere are subject to so much chaos and noise that it becomes impossible to organise effective collective action – the system seems to be capable of destroying entire continents, like Africa, before the control mechanism breaks down.

    So it is on the basis of this assumption – that just looking at the facts and figures underestimates the extent to which cultural factors will kick in to extend the life of the system – that I am gambling I have a few more years. Obviously, true collapse pays no attention to cultural issues, things fall apart anyway, but I think it’s easy to forget how much and how many people are locked into the memetic channels of the system and will accept ridiculous privations without disturbing the overall set-up.

    Dan is in Bristol. I keep on meaning to get in touch with him.

    You’re right, I am asking everyone I know to tell me what to do. Of course, when they occasionally oblige, I instantly think “well, you haven’t spent nearly as long as me thinking about this” and discount the advice.

    As things stand at the minute, a bug-out kit and some primitive survival skills are probably my best bet. Moving on my own to the countryside and waiting for collapse to come isn’t really going to cut it, and I have been caught out assuming the sky is about to fall before, only to have to carry on living my life after all, so I think I might as well carry on trying to arrange a longer-term plan in case I have time. It’s a gamble, but that’s living, I guess. I have the advantage of no debt or kids and quite a few friends becoming increasingly interested in arranging some kind of tactical withdrawal from civilisation, so the odds come out on the side of spinning things out here for a bit longer.

    I don’t know how much NZ wants me. I have lots of letters after my name and stand a chance of getting a job teaching there. Of course, academia is unfortunately linked to large urban areas, hence the greater mobility of TCM as a profession. I don’t know whether you guys are short of acupuncturists. Maybe I can find myself a NZ girl!

    Curiously, I am finding less and less resistance to my ‘crazy ideas’ every day. Otherwise conventional people all seem to agree that there is something deeply wrong with the current set-up of life, health, work, parenting, schooling. I think staying true to your beliefs starts to pay dividends as the opposing narratives increasingly lose strength and suddenly people start coming to you to talk about whether there is another way.

    I have lived in fear for much of my life and it sucks. The only way I can maintain belief in the path I intend to take is to look for ways in which positive things can come out of this, and to assume that vision, community and cognitive flexibility will have some value in the coming years. I still say it’s all good. I think I’m going to take a year out.

    Posted by: cheeba | 09/01/2007

    “the system seems to be capable of destroying entire continents, like Africa, before the control mechanism breaks down”

    I think that’s a good point, already I have heard that somepeople in Africa are no longer buying oil which why the price has been relatively settled for a while, presumably others will drop off the list of buyers when it goes up again.

    I’m not sure exactly which areas NZ needs help with but I seem to remember something about needing people to teach in the maths and science areas and needing more engineers – and therefore more lecturers.

    Posted by: Aaron | 09/02/2007

    I’m pretty sure this blog gets read, Aaron. I pop in from time to time and read what you write, and similarly lurk around Ran, and also Cryptogon. I think the reason people don’t comment is because they either don’t know enough to come from a position of authority on a subject – which is a controlling trait bred into us – or simply don’t know what to say. People are conditioned, sometimes willingly, sometimes not, to a certain way of life. Most of what is written on sites with a different outlook challenges this conditioning. People react to this negatively sometimes, but that is more likely to happen if it was an isolated post on a mainstream site. Anyone visiting here with purpose is sympathetic to your opinions, and anyone stumbling on it is unlikely to troll because of their conditioning, and the environment it is presented in, so they simply dismiss it.

    Nice discussion between yourself and Cheeba BTW. Outlines the uncertainty of uncharted waters one feels at this time.

    Posted by: Kemo | 09/02/2007

    oops, sorry for double posting.

    I think I have settled on a sort of 50-50 approach to collapse. Peak Oil, for example, is as bad as we think, but things like new technologies, switching to alternative sources of oil/coal/fuel, taking up slack in the system by reducing inefficiencies and altering behaviour, reversing the endemic trend of built-in obsolescence, will ameliorate about 50% of the problem, slowing collapse down to a certain degree.

    I had a look at the list of short and long term skill shortages on the NZ immigration website and university lecturer / post-doctoral fellow are both listed. It’s an interesting list in itself, actually. Apparently you are also short of jockeys and beekeepers. Who’d have thought it?

    kemo – I’m a lurker myself. I think of it as stealth blogging. Frankly, a number of sites (you know who you are, Rigorous Intuition…) would be better off if everyone else was similarly restrained. ;-)

    Posted by: cheeba | 09/02/2007

    Hi Kemo, nice to hear from you too. I think I do present my arguements in a very finalised form which is inhibiting of debate.If you look at Ted at
    Free Range Organic Human he uses his blog to think out loud, some of the posts are quite incomplete and much more inviting of comment – like a conversation opener. Basically he’s happier to be vulnerable so it’s no surprise really.

    I like it when I get comments because I’m a social person and like contact (even virtual contact) with people. Unfortunately I also went to school and have a strong need for external validation and also to move myself up the hierarchy. The row of zeroes, next to the comment link, I just went through was kind of troubling in that regard – although I try to resist responding to that. I know the blog is only worth doing if I keep honest and don’t start trying to ‘attract’ readers.

    Cheeba – you’re right about Rigirous Intuition, there are people there who treat the comments section like it’s their own personal site, the numbers get a bit meaningless after a while.

    So NZ has a shortage of jockey’s huh? the opportunites for bad puns are awesome.

    One thing you should know about NZ universties is that they’re getting a bit underfunded, the pay probably isn’t great and you’d probably have to work harder than other universities would require. Which would explain why their is a shortage. Plus some of the disciplines are probably a bit of an intellectual backwater – Architecure which I did was like that – not enough schools to create diversity and the level of debate was a bit pathetic really. Mind you if you’re only using it as a stepping stone then no worries mate!

    Posted by: Aaron | 09/02/2007



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