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Sunday 23 October 2011

It takes all sorts...

"Between friends, differences in taste or opinion are irritating in direct proportion to their triviality."
W. H. Auden 

The world up is made up by many different people, all with interests, hobbies and even desires that I know will differ vastly from mine. The world would be a very boring place if all anyone ever did was knit, and nobody played music, or acted, or even played with model aircraft! We need people who are interested in quantum physics, even if the phrase itself causes the blankest look on my own face.

I also know that making assumptions about someone is the easiest thing in the world - I've certainly written about that often enough on this blog. Every now and then I have to hold a mirror up to myself and I don't necessarily see thoughts that are particularly charitable. I guess that's also (sadly?) pretty normal human behaviour.

There are some things, however, that to me personally are things that I take for granted that everybody should be interested in. It's therefore a surprise to come across someone who isn't. Take, for example, people who don't read. Now, I know not everyone does well at school. Literacy levels are not where they should be in a lot of cases. A love of books is not something that gets handed down in all families. I am, however, talking about someone who comes from what I would probably term similar social circles to myself, where the normal assumption would be that reading was something that happened in their home.
I once offered someone fitting this description a stack of magazines to get them through the boredom of the first few weeks with a newborn. The response, "I don't read - not even magazines. I prefer to watch tv". Nothing. Nada. We were not talking about the novels of Dostoevsky here either. I had offered things like Heat and OK, real high-brow stuff that really only involved looking at pictures...

The second thing I take for granted is that everyone should have a love of travel. This may sound ironic given a relatively recent post of mine about how I am happy staying at home, but I love travelling and seeing new sights and sounds. It's something I think shows a healthy curiosity about life, and certainly teaches many things you could never learn in a classroom. For someone to therefore recently announce that they really don't even like going on holiday surprised me, and I didn't know what to think. Should I have been jealous of the fact that this person's four walls were obviously so idyllic they didn't want to escape them every now and then? Or should I go with my first instinct to simply consider this person narrow-minded? I'm not expecting everyone to go backpacking around the world at the drop of a hat, but even a week on a beach must be something that is desirable?

Sunday 9 October 2011

Wait Until Your Father Gets Home...

...seems to be a phrase most of us remember our mothers uttering at one point or another. The dreaded "father as disciplinarian" is something I certainly remember from my own childhood (which is strange considering how much of a pussy cat he is now with his granddaughters...).

Whilst I would not go as far as saying that my husband and I have a good cop-bad cop thing going on when it comes to parenting, it is very true to say that the girls tend to respond to us differently on different occasions. For instance, I am normally better at cajoling them into getting ready for school in the mornings, while their dad has more luck with them at bedtime for some reason. Of course this is all very well and good when you are both around to take on your roles, but it only takes one of you not being around to throw the precarious equilibrium out of kilter.

Take Wednesdays, for instance. Wednesday is the day I officially start early (historically the day I have gone into the office, vs working from home), and him indoors therefore takes the kids to breakfast club. Or rather; it's the day they refuse to get dressed, howl like banshees over brushing their teeth and have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the car...

I like to think we have a more or less similar approach to disciplining our children, which I think is incredibly important. It's still funny, however, funny to see how our daughters still try that age old tactic enjoyed by generations of children, of playing one parent off against the other. Why do they think asking a different parent will get a different answer? At which age will they learn that the standard answer will always be "what did daddy/mummy say?" And at which age will they finally learn that, in general, we do not issue empty threats, but follow through on any threatened punishment...? (I suspect the answer, as with any questions related to children, is; when they reach 21... )


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