Learning from the best

Every Thursday, I have the joyous and fulfilling pleasure of spending the hours between 9-3pm with two exquisite mentors. Our schedule rarely varies, although I do like to bring in new topics for them to adapt and proliferate, and at the end of each shift I leave feeling bigger and better for our confab.

As any good mentor should, my mentors help me to clarify what is important in life. They hone and simplify each matter to its finest point. They challenge, correct and humble. They show me the way but are happy to be led. Our hours together are gold: raw, nuggety, priceless. 

This is what we do:

Mentor H and I eagerly await Mentor E’s arrival, and her appearance is invariably met with literal jumps for joy. After a brief warm up session on the swings, we convene inside whereupon we each don our alter egos: her’s Batgirl/Ponygirl, his Batman/Fireboy and mine just plain Watergirl. Chasing imaginary robbers, our game play morphs into a lengthy game of hide-and-seek wherein I never get to hide. Then it’s outside for a session on the trampoline, involving two games: “Zoo keeper forgets to lock the cage” and “Queen Kong”. Suffice to say the former involves a lot of animal noise and running whilst the latter strengthens the thighs as I bounce around the springy surface as a cantankerous gorilla.

Morning tea beckons, and my mentors don their virtual toques and prepare me the finest in mock cuisine whilst I dutifully prepare their real assortment of nourishment, all the while scoffing the odd nut in preparation for the next sitting.  We eat, they indulging on a carrot or two and crackers, me delighting in fish ice-cream and egg-on-cake. Then it is back outside for our next session, this being a relative new-comer to our schedule: a re-enactment of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. For us it is two bears, sand for porridge and beach towels for beds but the design has stuck and we perform this play possibly five times over. 

The next stage in our learning is perhaps my favourite: craft. We rummage through the recycling, rejuvenating toilet rolls and bottle tops into works of art. We use petals and leaves and stickers and sticks, and when the connectable textas aren’t being shaped into guns they are drawing rainbows and monsters and jellyfish. We indulge our creativity and marvel at our works for almost an hour, before it’s time for more action. This time, I am the prisoner and they my jailers, and handcuffed they escort me to a bedroom cell. But I have some tricks up my sleeve, and each time they come to check on their prisoner, they find objects moved and mysteriously vanished from the shelves. Dolls are propped up reading books and ducks are taking baths but all the while I sit a-handcuffed in my seat. They puzzle at these oddities and I tiptoe the line between pretense and sincerity, never fully sure if they are fooled or not.

After the jailers game, it’s a sit-down Star Wars battle. Mentor E digs out the Princess Leia figurines and I set up the “goodies” while Mentor H insists on directing the dark side. Four battles later and good gets annihilated each time: that seems to be the way they like it. When pretending, at least. 

I try not to forget lunch in amongst all the busyness, and we then ride our horses (Emma, Jack and Star) across the road to the playground. Even here our discourse will follow routine – “bombs away” on the swing and our spaceship through the seasons. Our work together is continuous and always has meaning.

We head home and are nearly finished for the day. We fill the remainder with whatever we like from the itinerary of our time – we have ample stock. 

My shift is at an end and I must alight from the cloud and emerge in my other world. The transition is frequently fraught and harried but I am always buoyed by what my mentors have given me: the freedom to play, to enjoy and to be without judgement or censure or critique. It is a lesson worth taking and an experience to cherish and I am enriched and enlightened because of it.


One Response to “Learning from the best”

  1. Clare (@dr_clare) Says:

    Woot! You’re blogging again! And to re-pay me kinda giving up on you for a but there, there’s an even older post to read 😀

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