A Profound Look Back at the Week: August 17-23

The amount, gravity, and diversity of problems people around the world  have is staggering and not a little depressing. One of the things I am truly grateful for in life is that my problems tend to be of the insignificant variety most of the time. Which probably means I’m due some serious trouble soon but who knows. The universe may be napping and if this is the case may it nap until I die, thank you.

All that fruit

It has happened every year for the last three years. One of the fruit trees in the garden decides to outdo itself and buries us in fruit we don’t know what to do with. Three years ago, it was the apricot. Too stupid at the time to think about donating most of the fruit to a children’s home in town we ate as much as we could until we turned orange, I made some jam and the rest I made into apricot wine. It didn’t turn out too bad.

Last year, it was the pear trees. We definitely had pears to spare and I know this is a pathetic wordplay but I couldn’t help it. Not enough to donate but more than we could eat ourselves. This time, the solution to the problem was neighbours. We shared the wealth around. Same with the persimmons. They’re a bit weird and I guess an acquired taste but we managed to force them onto the few households we communicate with.

This year, it’s figs. And figs are mean. They did not all ripen at the same time so we could pick them, put them in crates, drive to town and just leave the bloody fruit for everyone to take some. No. They are ripening a dozen at a time, which, come to think of it, makes it easier to cope with eating most of them. But nowhere near easy enough. I’m not making any more jams — nobody eats them but me and I eat jam once a year.

There is nothing else I can make with figs. They will have to be eaten and yes, I’m munching on one right now, one torn into two because Little C said she will have one yesterday, tore it and changed her mind. It’s all her fault. When I was little my parents had nothing to worry about with fruit — I was a fruit hoover. Not Little C. She’d rather eat bread than a piece of fruit. And this is the extent of my most recent problems. Hello, anxiety, long time no see. We’re really due some accident or other, aren’t we?

Oh, look, a new game

Browsing through Twitter yesterday I came across news about the release of the latest Assassin’s Creed game. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Below is the conversation that followed.

Me: Hon, did you know there’s a new Assassin’s Creed game out?

Big C. (slaving away in the heat to clear the street from several tonnes of tree branches courtesy of the local power utility): Yeah, it’s out.

Me: So when can I watch it?

I have zero patience with playing video games, especially complex, intricate, slow video games such as Assassin’s Creed. I’m a little bit sorry about it but, well. I’ve got books instead (aaand I just had this idea I could maybe read the Assassin’s Creed books. That’s why people write books based on video games!). But I do like to watch Big C. play and nowadays, I like watching both father and daughter play. He’s educating her on being a smart gamer. We’re being pre-emptive.

I find watching someone else play a video game to be one of the most senseless ways to waste your time. But, and this is important, I only find it senseless if the watcher doesn’t actually enjoy the game or any video games. Me, I would love to be able to play the games Big C. plays but they require skills I lack, namely the above-mentioned patience and a sharp alertness to detail. Also the willingness to play a scene again and again, and again, and continue playing it until you beat the monsters. No way I’m wasting hours on that when I can read or watch Parks and Rec for the umpteenth time. What? We all have our quirks.

I play games vicariously. I can enjoy the quality of the graphics, the music, and possibly the plot while the player labours on. It may be unfair but it hurts nobody so I’m not stopping. I can’t wait to see the new Assassin’s Creed installment. I really like Norse mythology.

(27:3) + (5×6) =

I had ambitious plans for Little C. for the summer. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it. While we got lucky with the remote classes, with brilliant teachers and a good platform, I wanted to make sure C. didn’t forget everything she’d learned this year until the next one. Yeah, I actually had that plan before the world went remote. Why? Because I didn’t want her to have to re-learn everything again come September. I wanted to make it all easier on her and on us.

I was remarkably serious about it, not at all my usual attitude to things. I actually stuck to something like a schedule: maths on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, dictations Tuesdays and Thursdays because spelling is important. Reading every day, she’s used to that. And, for those of a more liberal parenting frame of mind, it’s not like I had her chained to the table for six hours every day. Half an hour was normally enough, unless we count C.’s attempts to bargain her way out of it which added another hour in total.

What became clear this summer was something we’d already been suspecting. C’s more into maths than she is into literature. That’s certainly fine, so fine I’m fluttering with happiness. The world needs more engineers than graduates in anything that ends in “studies”. But maths is hard. I knew that. Big C. knew that. Little C. is discovering it right now. And, shockingly, she is not giving up.

Me, I was quick to give up at her age. Everything was easy at first and the moment it stopped being easy I lost interest in it. That’s the crappiest attitude one could have towards anything. But not my precious, darling, golden, I-m-out-of-soppy-adjectives girl, no. She was dead set on learning the multiplication table.

After realising (with some help from us because that’s what parents are for) it won’t happen by just glancing at the table and calling it a day, she got to work and she did learn it well enough so we could move on to the practice-makes-perfect stage. She’s a lot more confident about it now even though it bears a couple of hundred more exercises.

It’s hard. Not the multiplication table, maths as a whole. She has trouble understanding the word problems, mostly because she doesn’t concentrate fully on understanding them. But she only said “I want to read now and do maths later” once for the last six months.

She keeps at it despite my almost complete inability to explain a problem without getting annoyed. She doesn’t get discouraged by the mistakes she makes. She keeps at it and gets better. Which is pretty much all I could wish for her. I wish a lot of adults could have the same attitude to life and its many challenges. Me, I’m learning it from her and practising. This blog is my proof.

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