Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Teaching L to Drive, Why Can't I.....? And A Friend's Funny Story

I often find myself fascinated by the things in life that appear small and insignificant but can turn out to be the opposite. 

This is something that comes through in my healing work - things (events, words, actions) that at the time appear insignificant and to have little or no effect, can work away inside a person, eating at their natural balance until, years later sometimes, they resurface, having had by then quite a mighty effect, and it is only when they are properly addressed that their impact fades or becomes negligible.

This theme popped up the other evening when M was searching the internet for an answer to the question "why can't I play a film on my Ipad through the TV?" He got as far as typing in "why can't" before google tried to complete the question for him with a range of helpful suggestions. 

The top five were: 
I Sleep?
We be friends?
I get pregnant?
I poop?
I lose weight?

I was struck by how these five simple questions must reflect common concerns held by so many. There was something very poignant in these pleas for help and understanding of simple everyday worries, made all the more so because they were to all intents and purposes silent and private, echoing only through the ether. 

This theme was still on my mind yesterday when my dear friend Mrs B came to visit. We took the dogs and our boys out for a much-needed tramp around Mottisfont Estate, across damp fields, through dripping woodlands and along puddly lanes. Everyone felt refreshed afterwards, even the boys, who managed most of the walk without repeatedly asking "how long now?" which has to be some kind of record. We even remembered to collect the bags of dog poo we'd tied to the fence opposite the Abbey (to avoid having to carry them with us the entire length of the walk), so brownie points were earnt there too (apologies for that Awful and Unintended pun).

The boys disappeared off to the Xbox as soon as we got home, the dogs promptly fell asleep in baskets and on the floor, and we put the kettle on, got the biscuit tin out and settled down for a Jolly Good Natter.

I've known Mrs B for years, our kids were at nursery together, so we know each other's life stories, responses and reactions to things pretty well. She has a heart of gold and is someone I could call at midnight for help if I needed it. She's also someone who seems to attract The Most Unbelievable situations, which, although we always have a giggle about them, can also be stressful for her at times.

Her Most Recent Encounter runs thusly.

Her daughter has been having music lessons but has also recently got into a school sports team and the two clashed so music got rearranged. On arrival for the first lesson at the new time she was informed by the teacher that she had no-one to look after her young child, so would Mrs B mind doing it for the duration of the lesson? Mrs B, somewhat taken aback, nevertheless agreed, because she is kind, and doubtless thought it would be a one off, and we all like to help each other out, particularly mums who know how hard it can be trying to find suitable childcare. 

But at the second lesson the same thing happened with the addition of the child having a stomach upset that required the use of the potty at regular intervals. Mrs B's kids are both at Secondary school so she is way past the potty and nappy stage and probably, like the rest of us, thought it would be many years before she revisited it with Grandchildren. At the end of the session, as per the time before, no reduction in the music lesson fee was offered by way of thanks.

At the third lesson the same thing happened and by now it was a bit difficult to say no without the whole thing seeming awkward. At the fourth the child had conjunctivitis which as we know is contagious. 
All this time there had been no mention of a reduction in lesson fees and Mrs B was starting to get a tad fed up with the situation. 
The fifth time Mrs B couldn't babysit so she offered her husband instead but was refused, so her daughter had to miss the lesson. At the seventh lesson the child had impetigo and she was told not to touch it's face because it was highly contagious. By now Mrs B was seriously wondering what she'd got herself into and how she could extricate herself without the whole thing becoming difficult.
At the ninth lesson the teacher asked if Mrs B could babysit past her own daughter's lesson and cover child care for someone else's!

In the middle of all of this, she was at the Launderette washing the family duvets when a hassled looking woman came in carrying a ten month old baby and dragging a two year old behind her. The launderette owner suggested to the woman she buy some detergent from the shop next door because the one the launderette supplied may be harsh on young skin, so the woman simply thrusts the baby at Mrs B, says "oh, would you mind...? Just for a minute while I go next door and get this soap?" And promptly exits the shop leaving Mrs B dangling a stranger's child on her lap.

Mrs B is by now wondering what on earth is going on with all these people she either barely knows or doesn't know at all depositing their children with her. This sort of thing never happens to me, so we decided, after having a good old laugh about it, that she must have an Open, Capable and Trustworthy face, while I clearly have the look of someone who eats other people's children for breakfast.

As she left yesterday she still hadn't decided what to do about the babysitting sessions. I suggested she was being made use of and at the very least ought to ask for a reduction in the fee, but it is a difficult situation. Most of us have the impulse to help one another out, but I do think this teacher is pushing her luck. It also struck me as very strange that some people should be so willing to leave their very young children in the hands of people they either know only a very little, or not at all. 

What has this to do with the Small Things I was talking about before? I guess it's about perception. Perhaps to the teacher asking Mrs B to care for her child was no big deal, and also for the lady in the launderette, but it is a big deal for Mrs B. These are exactly the small everyday things which, if left unsorted, grow into huge great big monsters that require painful extraction to get rid of.

Thought For The Day over, I shall move on to L's driving lesson this morning, which went swimmingly. 

 First, adjust the driving position, because actually being able to see out of the car is considered a bonus when driving

Second, ensure your appreciative audience is in place

Third, drive! 
With no hiccuping, bunny hopping or stalling. How impressive is that? Not bad at nearly 12, and  completely different to your mother who spent at least seven hours stalling, hiccuping and bunny hopping like mad the first time she got behind a wheel at the age of 17

Fourth, collect your Gran and take her for a spin

 Fifth drive off into the sunset (or in reality, to the field shelter)

He did incredibly well, put me to shame as I was no-where near as competent at 17 as he is at 11! But then he has been driving tractors since he was seven and last year was happily behind the wheel of my automatic landy taking it for a spin independent of me round the fields and up the farm tracks. Next stop, second gear!

To finish off with, we have just bought a new chess set, because L has been playing it with a friend at school who has some form of ADHD and therefore spends a lot of his time in the Inclusion Unit (which should more properly be called the Exclusion Unit). This friend is Very Good At Chess, and has taught L how to play, which just goes to show that giving a child a label like ADHD doesn't convey all their talents fairly.
Here is our new board, complete with wooden pieces. L will now have to re-teach me because it's years since I used to play with my Pa.

And even more to finish with, a pic I forgot to post before of Daddy Chaffinch feeding his Rather Adorable Child....


 Have a good afternoon and evening all,

CT :-)


  1. Some people do behave in bizarre ways - poor Mrs B. I hope it all sorts itself out for her. Good to see L getting to grips with driving. My husband learnt to drive on his family's farm when he was quite young - it is useful experience (unlike me who had my first lesson in my twenties in a busy and unsympathetic central London)
    The Chaffinches are very sweet!

    1. She's way more patient that I would be so I guess this woman is taking advantage of her kind nature :-(

      Cripes, learning to drive in London doesn't bear thinking about!

  2. I think that teacher is really, REALLY taking the mickey. Your lovely, kind and obliging friend is subsidising this teacher's earning capacity through the goodness of her heart and this teacher is surely cognisant of this.

    Of course, and I have long thought this, the energy of the world is balanced by givers and takers. Your friend is in possession of a sterling heart and kind and gentle soul. Bless her! I am certain the situation will resolve itself in a way that is fair and honest to all.

    I, too, learned to drive on a tractor, raised as I was on a market garden farm. I picked up the nasty habit of double de-clutching! And my brother tried to teach me to play chess, but kept changing the rules when it looked like I was close to winning. At least, that was my perception as a ten year old!

    1. Karma would suggest the brownie points here all belong to Mrs B, but all the same I also think the teacher is not being fair. I'm quite intrigued to see how it rights itself.

      I was very aware of trying not to teach L all my bad habits yesterday! M also learnt on a tractor and spent several lessons at 17 unlearning all the things he'd been doing wrong since 11

      I won our first round of chess last night, but what worries me is the application of logic, formulas and strategy L is already applying. It won't be long before he leaves me in the dust. He usually beats me at games- witness connect 4 and snakes and ladders which he is a demon at- so I am savouring this one small victory while it lasts.

  3. Do feel so sorry for your friend Mrs B - do hope she finds a solution to a very difficult situation soon.

    Great way for L to learn the basics away from traffic and mad car drivers :)

    Good luck with the chess - as soon as I had taught my son the basics he was beating me!!!!!

    1. I'm seeing her next fri so will get an update then...

      I was so very impressed with his driving yest- very calm and thoughtful.

      And chess, yes, I also suspect he'll be beating me before long :-)

  4. Hi Ct Well that saga about Mrs B and the way you wrote about it, made me laugh. It is always good to help others out but the teacher is really stretching this. If Mrs B does not mind looking after this kid if she had a reduction in fees, then, very nicely she should say this to the teacher. It will be then up to the teacher to make that decision. If she declines Mrs B's offer, then has will have to pay for a child minder!!

    1. Yup- taking advantage of a good nature is never a great way to behave. I would be soooo embarrassed if someone were looking after my child for me and I'd offered nothing in return. I think she should prepare a bill for childminding and present that when the music lesson fees become due! Funny how some folks minds work :-)

  5. Poor Mrs B, I would send the teacher the child minding bill! Some people are very strange, I'm not sure anyone would give me their child to hold!

    1. It's such a strange way to do things, especially when you look at it from outside the situation. I think I'd send the bill too, or probably change teacher! :-)

  6. Your posts always make me smile! Poor Mrs B I can't believe that she does that to other customers too or is Mrs B's daughter the only one she teaches? You might not have all strangers handing your children but the animals and insects seem to know that you will give them such care.
    Sarah x

    1. I think it's only Mrs B who gets that treatment. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes isn't it?
      Ah bless you re the wild things- maybe it's because they know I prefer them to other people's children (oops- did I say that out loud?!) x

  7. Well what a very odd situation for your friend to be put in! I do hope she is able to find a solution soon.

    I am very impressed with L's driving lesson! I only passed my test in March and I still stall occasionally. I wish someone had taught me the basics of driving at 11, maybe it wouldn't have cost me quite so much to learn now!

    I totally agree with your comment about labelling kids with ADHD, my cousin has it and through school was often just regarded as naughty, when in fact the teachers were probably just bad at handling certain situations.

    Chess is a game, gets you using your logistic mind. I used to play a lot with my Dad!

    1. I will find out more when I see her next week, and will point her in the direction of the comments here if she needs some support to get it sorted!

      This friend of L's is also a computer genius, brilliant at writing programme codes, which I find staggering as it's all double dutch to me! I think the school is better than most at seeing the kids an individuals and acting accordingly, but it must be very tough if you're in a place that doesn't do that.


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x