It's not been a typical week as last weekend we journeyed to see family in Norfolk - grandma, aunts/uncles/inlaws, and cousins/nephews/nieces. My wife's first husband's family is large but fortunately many of them live in the same place. I have been accepted into the family as if I was one of their own and I'm very grateful for this. So my learning log reflected three days of travelling and being with family - which was fundamentally about renewing our bonds and reaffirming our relationships as members of the same family. It was great listening to grandma talk about her childhood growing up in London in the 1920's-30's and outlining the background to the families fruit and veg business and then tracing the family roots through the west country and the channel islands to Normandy. The older I get the more I appreciate our ancestry and this connects to my research into my own families history. In fact when I got back waiting for me in the post was my own grandfather's marriage certificate which someone helping me at UKinfo helped me locate. It proved his father's name was Tom which until now I had only been able to infer from my searches on Ancestry.com. It gave me confidence in the other inferences I have made about my grandfather's ancestors.
My activity log this week also reflects the time I spent with my own daughter's children. Its half term so I looked after all three grandchildren on my child care day. I don't mind admitting that it is hard work to have sole responsibility for them between 8am to 5pm but it's also a great joy. I also had my older grandson for a sleepover, swimming and generally being together. It's rare that we spend 1:1 time together so for me it's a real treat to do so.
I did other things this week but looking back these acts of being a member of the families to which I belong and acting as father, step-father, grandfather, brother in law and uncle was by far the most important thing I did. It seemed to me that this was another manifestation of commitment drawn from long lasting relationships with people I care about and love who I want to influence and be influenced by. Who are willing to involve me in their lives.
Through commitment we do things for each other. We stay connected and we listen and appreciate each other's stories of how our lives are unfolding and how our past histories contribute to who we are and to the existence of our offspring. The commitment to family means that we can stay connected to our children and help them in the caring and development of their own children. And it is deeply satisfying to see our children learn the value of extended family and continue this process of commitment that binds us all together. Family is an important dimension of our wellbeing and the cause of unhappiness when there is discord or conflict. Family This is one of the important ways we grow into our village and help our children and grandchildren grow into their village.
Returning to my visit to Southampton, I was pleased with the way the simple aid to recording and reflecting on the way a week of life unfolds provided the basis for a good conversation about what was important and meaningful in the students' lives. Interestingly, they also extracted far more meaning and personal significance in the things they had done, than the learning they had gained from their activities. Perhaps that is a fair reflection of their relative importance in everyday life.