The Meaning of Friendship

I suppose it’s the political climate right now, but lately I’ve seen more than one post saying it’s impossible to remain friend with someone who has a fundamentally opposed view from you. I disagree. To me, a friend is someone you enjoy being around, but it doesn’t mean you agree on everything, even the major things. I don’t think I have a friend with whom I agree 100% on everything, but we’re still friends.

I enjoy the company of my friends, and just avoid certain topics with them if I don’t want an argument. If I don’t avoid those topics, we discuss it without rancor, and probably end up agreeing to disagree, but we remain friends. Yes, even on major topics. I have friends and family who disagree with me on abortion, gun control, refugees, contraception, euthanasia, that Marvel is better than DC, IVF, economics, health care, parental leave, minimum wage, homosexuality, politics, and even friends who think Cyclops isn’t annoying. I know, that last one is a doozy, but somehow we still manage to be friends.

I suppose if someone told me he couldn’t be my friend because of my views, I’d be saddened. I wouldn’t change my views to keep the friend, but I would try to see if we could remain friends even with our disagreements. Obviously our relationships/friendships change over time, and we’ll find we’re closer to some people at certain points in our lives than others. This is normal and natural, but I see no reason to stop being friends with people even when we have some huge differences in opinion.

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Unschooling So Far

When I started homeschooling, I was drawn to the Sudbury model. While I do not completely follow that model, I do like that they let learner interest drive instruction, and that they divorce mastery of reading from success in all subjects. Where most schools drill reading earlier and earlier (despite research showing this isn’t the best policy), Sudbury model schools allow the child to learn to read at his own pace, with lots of exposure. In most schools, a child who has not mastered reading also will not do well in math, science, history, etc. In a Sudbury school, a child who cannot read can still excel in math, science, history, etc., because those subjects are taught in such a way that reading mastery isn’t required for success.

So I *gasp* didn’t drill reading from an early age. I read to my children all the time, so the exposure is there, but my eldest didn’t read early. By age, he’s now in 3rd grade, and is just now reading confidently. Yet he did well with other subjects, because he didn’t have to read well to do well in other subjects.

There were times when I second-guessed my decision not to drill reading from that early age. But every time I tried to push more, it made both of us frustrated and neither of us enjoyed it. Not only that, but he became self-conscious about it, which never helps with learning something. So I backed off and continued with exposure, but didn’t push if it was too much. He went at his own pace, often learning on his own without me with him. If he’d been in a public school, he probably would’ve been tagged for intervention. But there was nothing wrong, and now, if I  can’t find him, I know he’s probably reading a book.

Moral of the story: I’ll continue doing things this way unless and until it no longer works.

15 Years

Has it really been 15 years? 15 years since I got on a computer after class at Harlaxton and chatted with a friend back in the States who told me a plane had hit the Twin Towers. She had to go to class and logged off, so I went back to my room, not thinking anything of it. Both of us assumed it was a freak accident, certainly not intentional.

Has it been 15 years since the dean then knocked on my door, telling me a plane had hit the tower? I was confused about why she was telling me this and simply said, “I know.” She was confused why I wasn’t freaking out and told me it was on the television downstairs. So I went.

15 years ago, I watched the second plane hit in disbelief. The few of us in the common room tried joking because we couldn’t take in what was happening. We couldn’t process it, and I knew if I did, I’d cry and I didn’t want to cry in front of others.

Then there was the one that hit the Pentagon. Has it been 15 years since that happened? I knew my parents were in D.C., and my brother works near the city. I didn’t know how to get in touch with them. My sister was in FL, wondering about them and about me, overseas for the first time. I’d only just arrived in the UK a few weeks before.

15 years ago, everything changed. When I flew to the UK, my parents went to the gate with me, I had my knitting in my carry-on bag, I wore my Heelys through the security check-point, I didn’t have to take my computer out of the bag. When I came back, only 4 months later, I couldn’t wear my shoes, I had to take out and turn on my computer, I couldn’t take my knitting needles in the carry-on, I had to take off my shoes. When I arrived, my parents weren’t at the gate, and I didn’t understand, because I didn’t know they were no longer allowed to go back to the gate to meet me.

For the past 15 years, we’ve been at war, and heightened security levels. Everything has changed. I mourn for those killed on 9/11, and all those after. Never forget.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? After falsely warning the villagers of a wolf a few times, they wouldn’t believe him when there was actual danger.

Sometimes I feel the news media need to read that story. It’s been almost 11 years since a hurricane hit Florida. Nearly every year since then (or maybe every year), our newspaper has warned of an active hurricane season with dire warnings of the damage the storms will cause the state. Any time a storm is predicted to even come close, we’re given serious warnings about how to prepare and told what all the damage could be.

Now, on the one hand, it is good to be prepared. There could always be a surprise where the storm hits harder than expected, or changes course, or whatnot, and it would be better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. However, I’m afraid the overly dire warnings have the opposite effect. After so many times of being warned with nothing bad actually happening, I think people see the news in the same way as the boy who cried wolf and just ignore a lot of the warnings.

I could be wrong. Maybe people do take the warnings more seriously than I think. Or if they don’t, maybe it’s because a storm hasn’t hit in so long and so people don’t remember the reality of a hurricane making landfall while still a full hurricane.

Or maybe it’s just that Floridians prefer to prepare by throwing hurricane parties. Off to check and see if TS Hermine will become a hurricane before it makes landfall. . .

Thoughts on the Rhythm Method

Have you ever noticed how the societal views on the Rhythm Method are rather contradictory? They rightly point out its flaws and highish failure rate (roughly 25%, though I should point out that it actually can be quite effective for a woman with a very regular cycle. It is unlikely to be able to be used throughout all of her reproductive years, though, since teens and perimenopausal women have irregular cycles). In the next breath, though, they seem to think it is accurate enough to use to calculate a due date (due dates are calculated from LMP and assume that ovulation and conception always happen on day 14; if that were true, then the rhythm method would work nearly 100% of the time).

I get irritated at modern methods of NFP being conflated with the Rhythm Method so people can deride NFP, despite the fact that modern FABM (fertility awareness based methods) are very effective at either achieving or avoiding pregnancy. At the same time, there are a plethora of apps out there that are said to be great for tracking your cycle. And guess what? They’re basically the Rhythm Method. So is the rhythm method outdated, or a hip new app?

I honestly think the plethora of apps for tracking cycles are a sign of something good. It shows that women want to know their bodies more and are trying to take ownership of that knowledge. However, until girls and women are better educated about their bodies, that sense of knowledge and power is more an illusion than reality. When we do try to learn more and apply it, we’re often dismissed by others who say we cannot possibly know our bodies. The tide is slowly turning, but there’s a long way to go to dispel all the misinformation out there.