Wise mums and Experiential Learning.
Two fantastic items helped cheer up my Sunday morning, with huge thanks to Mahe and Dr. Rebus.
The least said about the rest of the day, the better…to be discussed another time.
The good Doctor had reminded me about a wee story, one that I had almost forgotten. It was around his theme on the benefits of ‘experiential learning’ and the use of rubbers…ahem!
An association of ideas.
In the summer of 1969 I was 7 years old and fascinated to be watching tv pictures on the old DER black and white tele. In the morning BEFORE school!!
Watching Apollo 11 whisk Neil Armstrong and Buz Aldrin to the moon to take “one small step for man”. We were all completely transfixed.
I later discovered that Neil had wanted to say ” there’s no way a cow jumped over this…”
No, it’s all true…
Having access to 24 hours tv is something we now take for granted.
Then, it was a huge novelty, and of course the other news was being covered too.
I clearly remember watching images of rows of terraced houses burning in Ulster, and people being forced out their homes in the night. Also, police officers & soldiers throwing stones at locals. It was confusing to a 7 year old, as you can imagine.
What struck me was the look of sheer terror on my mother’s face.. this was a new thing to me.
My mum was the least excitable, most composed person in my wee world. At that time it was obvious to me she knew about everything. She had patiently taught me how to use a knife and fork, tie my shoe-laces, tell the time and to read & write. She was solid as a rock and I relied on her for absolutely everything and loved her dearly.
Yet here she was chalk white and distressed, trying to hide her tears. Not bubbling or anything, but she was dabbing her eyes and trying to avoid my inquisitive looks.
Then my questions…
I was curious and intrigued… even although I hadn’t any clue what those words meant then.
“Mum, why are they burning people’s houses and why are the policemen shooting people?”
She hurriedly explained it wasn’t real bullets, and that was the first time I heard about rubber bullets. She tried to explain they weren’t deadly ( yes, I know differently now…and she certainly knew the dreadful truth) the tv newsreaders were also talking about rubber bullets all the time.
My mum was attempting to reassure me that I wasn’t watching people being shot dead on morning tv. Of course she would.
Something wasn’t adding up. That didn’t explain why my mum was so clearly upset, in a way I never seen her before…my mind was working overtime.
Gradually, my ‘take-away’ was that rubber bullets aren’t dangerous, or even sore. So, just what was their purpose?
I also noticed that was the end of morning tv for me.
However, I must have been prattling on and on about how rubber bullets aren’t sore. Etc., etc. And my mum was probably just glad that I had not been having nightmares. Which would have been her primary concern at the time.
Then one night I was sitting beside my young brother on the couch watching kids tv… my mum sitting in an armchair with knitting bag on her knee. Next minute I felt something scudding off my shoulder….a ya!!
Then another off my arm…. a ya a ya aya!
Confused I looked around at my mum and she was taking aim at me with yet another missile.
‘ So, you didn’t think rubber bullets were sore?’
In her hand she held an eraser. My dad was an engineering draughtsman and the house was full of propelling pencils and long dark two/tone erasers/rubbers. They were unlike the wee white ones we used at school. These were very hard and shaped like …wee bullets.
Clearly my mum had waited a few weeks to make sure I had calmed down and wasn’t experiencing PTS, before deciding it was now safe to conclude my education on the effects of sundry public order control techniques.
It was many years later I remember discussing those events with her,as I now had kids of my own and she was babysitting. I joked that I would be checking her knitting bag for grenades and molotov cocktails.
Just in case…
She was genuinely surprised I had remembered the story. Her own memory of those events was vivid and she told me how she really feared that the conflict could escalate and come to Scotland.
Then she told me her tears at the time were for all those poor mothers in Derry and Belfast!
Her eyes were filling again.
This time, I knew to look away…then give her a huge hug.
30 years later emotions were still raw.
God bless all our wee mums. The wisest people on earth.
Guest article by Saltires en Sevilla.
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