Emily had a great time on a riding trek this morning instead of an actual lesson. She’s doing so well and we’re really proud of her. Only problem is that all of the horses she’s had so far are incredibly stubborn, by the school’s own admission, so it’s very hard for her to keep them in trot — and by extension, very hard to progress to canter. When I learnt to ride, I don’t remember any of the horses I rode being stubborn to that extent, often literally refusing to move at all or walk any faster than a slow plod. I understand that riding school horses can sometimes become immune to commands because they’re ridden by so many learner riders who don’t get it quite right and they’re used to being kicked too hard …. I just wish that the school would give her a more responsive horse to ride.
The instructors all say that she’s done fantastically well so far and should be proud of herself, and from what I remember of my riding skills I think she’s doing everything right, so I don’t think it’s Emily. Does anyone reading this have children who’ve learnt to ride in a riding school? Did you have a similar problem? Will have to have words with them soon
Anyway, riding was one tick off the tick sheet 🙂 This afternoon, Emily did “double computer programming” for another two ticks, lol. She had “homework” from my Dad (currently away on holiday) so she tried very hard with that but got stuck in the end. I know absolutely nothing about ruby shoes programming, so I couldn’t help her at all and nor could Jon. Quite weird having her way beyond us on that level! The second part of her homework was to write up a report on how they created the number puzzle program I’ve previously blogged about; she got about a third of the way through the report.
While she was doing all that, I had to take Jon’s Dad to the doctors for his flu jab. Things there are rather fraught. Over the weekend, he took me to one side and told me that he doesn’t believe Jon goes to the gym every day or to the spiritualist church a couple of times a week, or to visit friends…. and that he’s having an affair instead. Okaaaaayyy. Leaving aside the fact that I know my husband too well to believe any of that crap, and leaving aside the fact that I know full well that he is where he says he is and there’s endless proof of it to boot …… I found his “helpful insight” extremely insulting: to Jon’s integrity, to our marriage and to my intelligence.
My immediate reaction was anger, which I certainly expressed, but thinking on my feet I decided that to stay angry would either a) give him what he wanted if he was deliberately trying to cause problems and b) probably make him think he’d been right all along. So I calmed down fast and approached it logically with him instead, pointing out all the various proof that made his theory look ridiculous. I can’t tell you how much I resented having to justify things like that. I was inwardly incensed. Finally, I finished up by making light of his concerns and telling him not to be such a silly billy. Whilst mentally cursing and counting to one thousand.
Boy oh boy, that man has issues. He’s been getting his knickers in a twist for a while about Jon going out more and (gasp) having a life. He thinks he should be at home with his family, like he (Grandad) was. Thereby totally ignoring the fact that Jon works from home and is around us all day, every day – and more importantly, ignoring the fact that even though Grandad was indeed at home in the evenings with his family, he was a crap husband and a selfish, mean spirited, cruel and callous father. The one thing of value he ever gave Jon, as far as I can see, was the cast iron determination not to be the same kind of father he was – which is probably why Jon’s the most wonderful Dad to Emily.
Getting back onto a vaguely educational front…. the weekend’s shenanigans with Grandad have had me thinking about morals, ethics, philosophy and the way we teach our children about these things. I’m constantly shocked and saddened at the knee jerk reactions exhibited in comments on news websites, for instance. As Christy Moore sang in the achingly poignant “Natives“, only the very safe can talk about wrong and right.
A lot of people seem to have extremely simplistic views of what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s moral and what’s not. I wish we could educate the next generation to understand that things are rarely black and white and neatly sorted. I’m “against animal testing”, for instance. Most people probably think they are. However, when Emily was born nine weeks prematurely and needed medication, I was not concerned whether the medication had involved animal testing or not. Should I have been? Does that make me a hypocrite? Likewise, should I or a member of my family need life saving drugs in the future, am I going to worry about animal testing or pharmaceutical ethics? Probably not. Does that make me a bad person? (Rhetorical questions, lol)
I wince slightly whenever I read about boycotting this or that or bringing children up to be firmly for or against whatever point of view/custom/lifestyle choice. There are at least two and often more sides to pretty much everything and it’s not my job as a parent to dictate to my daughter which side has the strongest case. It’s my job to show her both sides and talk to her about it. Sure, I can give my opinion, Jon can give his, we can even argue the case for our opinions….but surely a child old enough to reason, and who is not in danger, should be, must be given the freedom to work it out for themselves. All too often we confuse “child following parent’s lead because s/he’s been brought up that way” with “child actually agreeing with parent’s position after rational thought and of own free will” – not the same thing at all.
I found what I think is a very thought-provoking site with interactive philosophy/morality tests, games and exercises. Also, its sister site Philosophy Experiments – these are well worth having a look at with older children, imo, and cover anything from working out one’s opinion on whether murder can ever be justified, to abortion, to what is art, to whether one’s beliefs (or lack of them) about God are internally consistent. I’m all for anything which exposes holes in reasoning (including my own!) and helps kids to learn that a simple “this is right, this is wrong” approach to life is very misleading.