Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Valentine's Day

I detest Valentine's Day.

It's the sugar-coated sap, you see, and the Hallmark-cheesiness, and the pink hearts. They cause in me a knee-jerk reaction that I cannot help - until this year when, like Eliza Bennett with her Mr. Darcy, I find that my feelings have changed. They are not, as she puts it, 'quite the opposite,' but my heart has softened a bit towards the holiday of love.

And I think that Jane Austen has something to do with it.

This week, I felt surrounded by bad news. We receive mail, from time to time, sent by the political party that is not our own, we got on some list apparently, and reading the latest installment on Wednesday, I felt downright harassed. The language was so violent and aggressive and angry, it was like holding something lit on fire, or a howler from the Harry Potter universe. Seeing my principles turned into vitriol on the page really hurt. Why do political parties feel the need to trash each other so violently?

On that same morning, I read this in the Boston Globe, with the scary title "Home-Schooled in Ominous Isolation" (I know, online it's 'situation' but the paper uses the far scarier 'isolation'). It's about a mother who keeps her teenage daughters stuck at home, giving them no opportunity to be with others. It is not so much about homeschooling, but instead about a woman who abuses her children by separating them from the world. It depressed me because the conclusion that can be drawn - that will be drawn, by anyone outside of the homeschooling community - is that homeschooling equals ominous isolation, and that is simply not the case.

Also, looming in the near future is a doctor's appointment for Luke, a biggie that has to do with his left leg. The leg that's always given him trouble. The one he needed surgery on at age five. The one that keeps him back, despite the stretches and exercises he does every day. The one that causes him pain.

To counter the bad stuff that cannot be filtered out, I am lucky enough to have weapons of the highest quality: a lifelong friend who started a superb photography blog this week, who knows the value of a well-placed giggle, and who owns - and shares! - a copy of the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Here is my favorite, favorite scene in the whole movie (I know, Shan, it's crazy, but this even beats out the lake scene):

I've also borrowed three Jane Austen books (one from another friend, I am so lucky in my friends), and reading her funny and insightful words helps. A lot. I started with Pride and Prejudice, because I just can't get enough of Darcy, I guess!

Also, we attended a Valentine's Day party on Friday that was quite the opposite of ominous isolation: seventy homeschoolers, and bowling, and crafts, and food, and storytelling, even a penny drive for Haiti. It wonderful.

(Thanks to Erica for the two best pics up there :-)

So this year, between Valentine's Day and Pride and Prejudice (and good friends, and good fun!), I am able to counter the forces of evil. I hope your day is a good one, whether you love the holiday of love - or detest it.


Lise said...

I'm sorry to hear it's been such a hard week. Thank goodness for those shining moments. Hope next week is much better.

bugsboysandbooboos said...

Austen is beautiful and so isn't Valentine's Day! I am also not for the cheesy Hallmarkiness of it all or the opportunity for movies like, The Notebook (which I have never seen) to rear it's head and be promoted during this red, white and pink time. I think it's a cute thing to celebrate with the little ones, but if you can't express your love for someone on anyother day but one specifically designated by everyone else, then poo on you. ;)
Politicians do need to be nicer. THEY should have more Valentine's Day parties...
This week will be better...we're having a Parents' Night!!!

shannon said...

Thank you so much for the sweet words!

The title the Globe uses really is depressing. Sometimes I feel like no matter what we say or do, people are always going to think that we keep our kids locked in the basement (or in a cupboard under the stairs). I guess the trick is to just say 'oh well' and go back to loving our homeschool life--but the bad press can be so infuriating!

The expression on Darcy's face is priceless...

Jena said...

Thanks for the post, the positive in the world of negative. I think the more we post and highlight the GOOD in homeschooling, the better chance we have of balancing what's out there. Anyone looking for info on homeschooling will find people like you and see what's really going on in 99% of the homeschooling world. It's a lot of fun and our kids turn out great!!

Magic and Mayhem said...

Don't read the political nastiness! Shred it and use it in the garden. Avoid the news stories too. They're just trying to stir things up for sales.

I got caught up in an argument with some idiot who has a science blog this week, so I do know the feeling. He keeps publishing posts about how abusive HSers are, and judging all of us based on a few anti-science sorts he keeps following. I've resolved to leave the discussion and not go back, because there are better things to use my energy for in the world.

Sorry too about Luke's leg. My husband has had septic polyarthritis since age 2 and had multiple surgeries and painful exercises, so I had instant sympathy reading about Luke. I hope the doctor visit goes better than expected.

There is a lot of nastiness, pain, unpleasantness, etc. in the world but I am uplifted by the vast number of fabulous mothers raising fabulous kids who are all helping to make it brighter. You're one of those balancing the scales for me. :)


Anonymous said...

If you'll check my FB profile, you might notice that I have Pride & Prejudice - - the BBC version - - listed as my favorite movie of all time. And it is. It SO is. I've seen it at least 10 times all the way through, and now, seeing this clip makes me want to see it all over again. Might create a brand new Valentines tradition for myself, in fact!!! Sorry for the bad stuff in between!!

Firefly mom said...

{{{HUGS}}} I'm sorry about all of the craptastic news you've been getting. Isn't it interesting (ok, maybe that's not the best word ;) how it all comes at once? At least it seems that way in my life!

And it bugs the snot - yes, snot! - out of me when they have articles like that one. The one thing has nothing to do with the other, and unless they want to start writing articles with titles like "Public School Parent Abuses Their 3 Children", then they can shut up about it. *steps down off of soapbox* ;D

The party looks like tons of fun! We had one last week and there were kids and goodies everywhere. I'm not ashamed to admit that I stuffed my face!

jugglingpaynes said...

Jane Austen is great for providing happy endings. I've found humor and romance great for staving off negative feelings. And stop reading the political junk mail! I had to actually erase all political emails during the last presidential election (Yes, I was bombarded from both sides) just so I could function. It's sad our society has become so divided in its politics.

Take care!
Peace and Laughter!