Tag Archives: dinosaurs

Tutoring Tales

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The very warmest of salutations to you, lovely reader, on this long-awaited day of Fri.  On an unrelated note, my brain is very fuzzy and I am in desperate need of coffee.  Would you like anything from the kettle?

To supplement my rock ‘n’ roll writer’s lifestyle (ahem), I tutor some kids in English and Maths.  The kids are aged between six and ten, and I love them all to bits.  Some of them have their “challenging” moments, and to be perfectly honest I’m not always in the mood to rehash the five times table, but there’s no question that I love my job.

I also love the bizarre (but usually fairly sound) wisdom that my students come out with.  Here are some of the funniest, sweetest and weirdest things my little ones have said during lessons.  (By the way, I put a couple of these on Facebook as and when they occurred, so apologies for the repetition.)

1) The would-be dinosaur owner

Child: did the dinosaurs go to heaven?
Me: oh, yeah, definitely.
Child: do people in heaven get to have dinosaur pets?
Me: probably.
Child: you’ll go to heaven before me, because I’m only six and you’re about a hundred. Will you save me a dinosaur?

Yes, you evil little legend. Yes I will.  Although I should point out that I am twenty-five, which is A LOT nearer to six than it is to a hundred.  I wouldn’t usually mind too much about something like that, but we were at the ends of a Maths lesson…

2) The future feminist

Me: So what kind of characters do you usually find in fairy stories?
Child: Baddies and witches and a Prince Charming.
Pause.
Child: Why isn’t there a Princess Charming?
Me: I don’t know. Why?
Child: Because us guys are sometimes stupid and we need girls to help us.

The cutest thing about this one is that the kid genuinely wanted to know.  It was obvious to him that men need saving as much as women do, and he was baffled by the notion that men didn’t get a chance to swoon and women to ride in and kill the dragon.  Feminists, rejoice and be glad: this kid is a winner.

3) The paranoid artist

Child: I can’t finish colouring this picture in.
Me: ‘Course you can.
Child: No.  No, I can’t.
Me: Why not?
Child: I’ve been poisoned.
Me: …with what?
Child: Poison.
Me: Ok.  Who poisoned you?
Pause.
Child: Robert Mugabe.

Either this kid has been watching too much evening news, or he is an incredibly well-disguised political enemy of Zimbabwe’s current government.  I sort of hope it’s the second one.

4) The sibling swapper

Child: My brother is so annoying.  Do you have a brother?
Me: Yep.
Child: Do you get annoyed with him?
Me: Nah.  We used to wind each other up when we were your age, but we’re very close friends now.
Child: Is he nice to you?
Me: Yeah, he’s very nice.
Child: Can I borrow him sometimes?  You can borrow mine.

Seems fair, doesn’t it?  No?  I’m not allowed to abduct a six year-old boy who can burp the alphabet in exchange for my twenty-three year-old brother (who is pretty busy with his degree but would totally be up for this because it’s an excuse to play with Lego)?  Well, I wish someone’d said.  

5) The one who won’t be fooled

Child: Mum says I need to know about Maths for when I’m a grown up.
Me: She’s absolutely right.
Child: She says if I don’t know Maths no one will talk to me and I’ll have to wear a big pink badge saying “I don’t know Maths” and people will laugh at me.
Me: …
Child: I don’t really believe that, though.  I think I just need it for looking after my money and stuff.

God bless that mother, trying so hard to capture her son’s imagination when all she had to do was tell him the truth.  Apparently, six year-olds are ok with their future financial responsibilities.  Who knew?

Have a glorious Friday, you lovely thing.

Where’s Seamus?

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Hello, lovely reader.  Are you enjoying your Tuesday so far?

Sometimes the universe is very quirky.  There are things that we know are not logically possible, but sort of believe in anyway.  Derren Brown has shown us how seemingly impossible feats can be put down to illusion and trickery (although less honest Channel 4 stars like Troy and Dynamo would have us thinking otherwise).  As children we discover the fallacy of Father Christmas, and as students we realise the horrors of budgeting.  Life is full of unwelcome truths.

If we are honest with ourselves, we sort of knew all along.  The Father Christmas thing; the WHOLE world in ONE night?  Even taking the time zone thing into consideration?  No way.  We don’t always like to be shaken out of our delusions, but once we’re out we’re definitely out.

I think that everybody has their own personal mythology to contend with, too: some people don’t step on cracks in the pavement, and some people have to turn light switches on and off a certain numbers of times.  I personally think that specific items of clothing affect my day: when I’m wearing a certain pair of shoes I always seem to be grumpier than usual; when I wear my green top I always get more drunk than I mean to.  (When I tried to explain this little oddity to my house mate she said “I’ve got some dresses that make me slutty.”  I’m not sure she quite got what I was talking about.)  We know deep down that these little idiosyncrasies don’t really mean anything, but as grown-ups we scramble to find a shred of a belief system that can comfort us in the absence of childhood fantasies.

Is that necessarily a bad thing?  Are we allowed to keep our bizarre beliefs because we can’t cling on to the old ones (without looking weird to other people)?  Is it better to have funny little habits than live completely in the real world?  I wouldn’t know, because I secretly think that leprechauns are probably real.  But if you are the kind of person who lives completely in the real world, do you think it’s better your way, or do you wish you could still believe in unicorns?  (Seriously.  It’s not that big of an evolutionary jump from horses.)

I think that it’s ok to have your own slightly odd belief system, as long as it’s not hurting anyone else or in complete defiance of fact.  If I said that I didn’t believe in dinosaurs, that would be stupid, and science would bitch slap me.  If I said that I didn’t believe in gay marriage, that would be stupid and wrong and my friends would bitch slap me.  (American politicians seem to get away with both of those quite a lot, by the way.  Someone over there be a dear and do some bitch slapping for the rest of us.)

I’m obviously not completely serious about the leprechauns and unicorns, but there is a part of me that thinks “well, why not?”  It may be wishful thinking, or it could be that the world is a big place and there must be thousands of undiscovered things in it, but who’s to say that bizarre things like that don’t actually exist?

OK, I know I’m being a bit silly.  But as an adult it’s my right to believe in whatever I want to, and as a fairly childish adult I’m going to choose mythological creatures.  If there is such a thing as leprechauns, I absolutely want to be friends with one.  His name will be Seamus, he will be an excellent Irish dancer and he will smoke a pipe.