Archive for December 11th, 2007

Ethics 101

DSCN1210 We’ve been doing a lot of reading around here lately. It’s lovely. Cold outside, warm and snuggly inside, all lined up on the couch. One reading the Narnia series, one deep in the pioneer world of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and me happily embarking on whatever I have in front of me.

Even though we’re a family of independent readers, the two youngest still love being read to, so every day before lunch, I read out loud. Right now I’m reading from The Kite Rider, a book set in 13th century China, around the time of Kublai Khan. Lots of wordy descriptions, and endless examples of similes, full of luscious language. Today the main character, the boy who is sent up in the air strapped to a kite, realizes that the circus he performs with cheats the public out of money by allowing them to believe that the kite rider brings messages to the spirits of their ancestors. The leader of the circus justifies his actions by saying that the villagers may be lied to, but that the lies make them happy, so in essence, everyone wins.

I asked the kids what they thought. Were the lies justifiable? Are lies ever justifiable?

It was an interesting discussion that went on through lunch, and led to talk of the moral implications of all sorts of actions. By the time we headed off to knitting, I was telling them about Mahatma Ghandi.

One book chapter, one question, and 2 hours of impassioned debate.

Homeschooling rocks.

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Bedtime Battle

Tonight, I was absolutely insistent that Tee and Jay get to bed right pronto as soon as possible after diving. Which meant around 8:30. No problem for little Miss J, whose eyes were closed by the time she was struggling into her pyjamas. Tee, however, resisted. He wanted to read some more. He wasn’t tired. He couldn’t sleep. I said No problem, you don’t have to sleep. Just lie there. When I went back upstairs, his light was on, and he was reading. I felt my anger rising. I’d had a long, irritating day. He and Jay had been tired after a busy weekend, and it was clear that they both needed sleep. I snapped off the light. He glowered mutinously at me, and said that he wanted to read, that he wasn’t tired, that it wasn’t fair, that I had no right to tell him he had to go to sleep, and then….he switched the light on again.

I sat on his bed, staring at him. He stared right back.

I almost snapped the light off again, but didn’t. I just about started off on a long-winded tirade about ungrateful, rude, bratty little boys and their long-suffering mothers, but stopped myself. I could just imagine the scene. The two of us fighting over the light switch. Off, on, off, on, until I lost my temper and won the battle by threatening some dreadful punishment. Him crying, me angry, him certainly no closer to sleeping, me feeling as if I had failed in some way.

So I just shrugged, and said Okay.

We stared at each other in surprise for a few seconds.

I told him that he was right, that I couldn’t really make him do anything. I also said that I sometimes needed reminding that he was growing up, and that he could make responsible decisions. I told him that he could choose when to switch off the light, but that if he was tired and grumpy and made things difficult for me tomorrow, that he would be sent to bed at bedtime and not be given the option to stay up later reading.

He was happy, I felt calm, and that was that. Big developing drama averted.

I guess we’ll see how it works out. I strongly felt that I should, as a responsible parent, enforce what I thought was a proper bed time. I really felt like it was the right thing to do. It was almost like I felt like the Parenting Gods in the Sky were grading my efforts. I had to force myself to step back and disengage from the issue at hand in order to recognize that my relationship with this child is more important than winning the bedtime battle.


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Plumbing School


What the kids learned today:

  • how to hold a hairdryer to a frozen pipe
  • what it looks like behind the dishwasher
  • what it looks like when the back wall of a kitchen cabinet has a hole sawed in it
  • how mama looks with putrid drain pipe water sprayed in her face
  • where the water main turn off is

What I learned today:

  • not to procrastinate, and let a situation go from bad to worse. In this case, I had ample warning. First the cold water wouldn’t work (oh well, at least there’s still the hot), then the hot water pipe froze (darn it, I guess I’ll have to lug hot water up from the laundry sink and do the dishes by hand) and then I woke up to a frozen kitchen drainpipe. No getting around that one. Can’t really leave greasy drain water in the sink till spring.

Postscript: I am really angry at the previous owner of this house, a PLUMBER, who sold it to me KNOWING he had plumbed it with the kitchen water lines on an outside wall. Very bad karma.

Thanks for the little heater O & O. It came in very handy today.

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