I sent some photos of Olle to a friend in England and she sent this reply: Terrific pix. I can imagine him looking at those in grown-up years to come, and thinking what a golden time.
My friend is a grandmother whose older son recently turned 40 and whose father and brother recently died. I think she's been doing a lot of looking back at her own golden childhood in that context.
Her comment led me to think about the notion of pure, timeless happiness which is inherent in that word, "golden". When Olle was much younger, carving out space for him to have unpressurised time was at the forefront of my mind - along with carving out the space necessary for me (and co-parent) to enjoy that time with him. We were very fortunate in that circumstances allowed us to keep him fully at home until he was over three and after that he only went to preschool for two, later three, days a week. Since he's been at school, it's been an effort to create just two or three free afternoons for him a week - the demands of adult work lead us to place him in after-school acitvities, all of which he enjoys, but he also enjoys just hanging out at home doing nothing in particular. [This year, he gets one full free afternoon at home a week (when he has to do homework). He gets another free afternoon at a friend's house. He gets a half afternoon at home on another day after his piano lesson. The other two days, none of us gets home till after 6pm. This is very different from my childhood, which consisted of the proverbial roaming-the-neighbourhood five days a week and every weekend. I do indeed look back on that as a golden time.]
A few years ago I read something about childhood which pointed out that children don't deserve their "rights" just because they are future citizens but because they are already citizens. It gave me a jolt to read that - a lot of the time as a parent (and much of the discourse around children does this too) you think in terms of how things you do now will affect their future and prepare them for that future. And of course, raising children does involve preparing them to be teenagers and then adults. But the pressure is now intense on the preparation side of things, whereas the 'golden space' side of the ledger gets short shrift.
I think Olle was about two when someone first pointed out to me that we live in the catchment area for a very prestigious high school. I couldn't believe it! Now that he's nine, we participate with the best of them in discussions about potential high schools but I have to work at trying to stay in touch with my sense of what will be enjoyable for him as well as what will be good preparation for a presumably successful adulthood. (Of course the two are linked.)
This year he can sit the exam to see if he gets into the OC class next year. The OC class is in a different school - he'd have to leave our local school to go there.
There are at least a couple of kids in his class whose parents are serious about wanting to move them to the OC and I've found that influencing me towards considering it as a real option (assuming he passes the test, which isn't in fact something that can be assumed.) But when my friend sent her "golden" comment, I immediately knew that this wasn't the right thing to do. In fact, moving him to a different school would be positively the wrong thing to do. He loves his school and already looks ahead to being in year six, being a leader, the culmination of seven wonderful years. By moving him, we'd be saying that the future is more important than the present.
Here's a poem he wrote at school recently. They had to make a mask and write a poem to go with it. He made a three-eyed mask.
but not on threads
because it knows
That nature protects
with invisible nets