Sunday, 9 August 2015

What sticks in your mind?


Your appearance (though you haven't actually appeared yet) has made me think very much about people and the world we live in. People are funny in the way they try to make sense of the world. They have funny sayings, ways of predicting the future which suggests if this happens then it means that or if that happens then it means this. As people we seem to find it
so difficult just to live with now.  We seem to be obsessed with knowing what will happen next or finding signs which will give us clues.

I can remember being taught red sky at night, shepherds delight; red sky in the morning shepherds warning. And I thought I knew a real secret.  For some reason it made me think of shepherds in the desert looking at the sky and wondering for their futures.  Red skies in the morning or evening always make me think of this now.  We'll have to be careful what we say and tell you because the strangest things might stick in your mind and shape you.

I can remember being told: sticks and stones might break your bones but words may never hurt you. This one is trying to help you deal with the world. To teach you not to be worried about people calling you names. But sadly there are different types of hurt in this world and words can be very powerful when people want them to be.  Words can cause as many problems as anything else you let them and they can be more painful than broken bones.  You should always be careful with the words you use and how you use them with other people.

I suppose playing with words is really today’s lesson. People play with words and superstition to try and work out which sex babies will be. Often such sayings are called old wives' tales, though I don't know who the old wives were or why they told tales. We’ve come across quite a few in these last seventeen weeks. Cole's mum said that your mum's face was getting fat and that means she is having a boy.

When I played your heartbeat at school someone said, you're definitely a girl because your heartbeat sounds like a galloping horse not a runaway train! Your heartbeat is 140. Apparently above that is a girl and below that is a boy. So in your case we still don't know if you're a boy or a girl.  I hope that doesn’t mean you’re going to be awkward.

The way people use language fascinates me. In Knaresborough there was a woman called old Mother Shipton. She lived in a cave and some said she was a witch. Maybe the old wives were witches and that's why they had so much to say. In her cave was a petrifying well which is still there today. If you leave things in it, over time they turn to stone. I think there are a teddy bear, a boot and an iron in it at the moment. We'll take you to see it when you're old enough.

The word petrifying now bothers me because people misuse it. It means 'turn to stone' but people use it to mean scared. Sometimes words take on different meanings or people use them wrongly so often that their wrong meaning becomes right. That's one of the great and confusing things about our language. Unfortunately this backfired for me because petrifying now has two meanings in the dictionary and one of them now means to be terrified and I can't tell anyone off for misusing it.

I’m being a bit grumpy though.  Words are great things and I think we should be able to play with them and change their meanings.  After all, in this world nothing is quite as it seems. Ideas twist around themselves and seem to suggest one thing whilst pointing at another. I suppose this is a good thing, it means that nothing is fixed and everything can and does change quickly. This is just some of the fun you will have with all the thinking you will do and all the new words you'll get to play with.

These contradictions are an important part of life. They help us understand what is going on around us and remind us we don't have as much control as we think we do. This is definitely for the better. It stops us thinking we are too powerful and keeps us in our place. We get carried away as people sometimes and this confusion plants our feet back on the ground.

I do feel a bit sorry for you though. Me and your mum are both teachers which suggests you or your brother or sister will follow in our footsteps. Teaching is one of the best jobs in the world; we can't wait to teach you all these things. Schools are in a bit of a mess at the moment which is a shame. We've no idea what school will be like by the time you get there, we can't even think about which high school you'll go to, it hurts our heads. Either way it will certainly be another great big adventure for you.