Monday 27 May 2013

Selling Puppies And Having The Courage To Say No

Sable - a wicked whippet saved!
Selling puppies and having the courage to say no are two things I hate doing. But do them I must.
Sometimes it’s easy, such as when the person on the other end of the telephone line or e-mail is asking for what you haven’t got, such as: “Do you have any Blue whippets?”
Er no the advert actually said: “Two black whippet puppies for sale” but no one said that the prospective owners’ had to be bright!
Gauging someone just via telephone is a difficult art and trying to work out what they are like via e-mail or on-line is virtually impossible. You have to go with your gut. Even though that is the most difficult thing in the world to do for a nicely brought up “middle class gel” – we are hard wired to always say yes!
I just feel so guilty about saying no!
But I remember the narrow escape I had the last time we had a litter of wicked whippets to sell and that nice sounding old lady on the other end of the telephone line who said all the right things and seemed to be a match made in heaven turned out to be an old harridan who clearly should never have a puppy, let alone a dog.
But back then it wasn’t me who decided to say no even though my gut was screaming at me to turn her away; it was her – Thank God.
So this time, I am determined to follow that gut wherever it leads, even if I land up with a few more wicked whippets that I originally anticipated!
Today my gut was roiling.
Going overtime in fact.
I get a call from a very smart sounding lady (why is it the posh ones lull us into such a false sense of security?). She wants to buy one of my puppies. At first she’s after the girl, but I tell her the girl’s gone and almost before I suggest it myself she says the boy will do.
The hairs on the back of my neck rise a bit.
I ask the usual things to get a sounding as I call it and with each answer my sense of unease mounts. They have a one acre garden, they go on long walks they have dogs and cats and horses - it sounds idyllic but she’s not had whippets before, she’s not going to puppy training; she doesn’t need to. She tells me she can’t see me tomorrow but will come round on round on Wednesday.
My hackles are straight up!
I tell her I am not about on either Wednesday or Thursday because of the local county show. I can tell she’s non-plussed. Maybe she can hear the reticence in my voice. Maybe my quiet forcefulness makes her think for a moment so she suddenly changes tack and she asks me if we know each other. I say no I don’t think so. I don’t recognise her name but the county is small so we may have crossed socially so to speak – I too can have a very posh voice when I want.
She tries to place me, build those social bridges that will make her acceptable to me so that she can have her way and so despite me being very uneasy we agree for her to come round on the Wednesday evening.
I twitch after I put the telephone down. I do NOT want her to have this puppy.
So I Google her and find her on Facebook and that alarmingly we have several connections in common – it always comes as a shock that.
So I call one of our mutual friends up and boy am I glad that I did! I got a very interesting low down and it makes the decision to call her up and say no thank you very easy to do indeed.
I wait an hour then call and lie like mad.There is no point being rude and saying it like it is but I think she knows I lie. She says through gritted teeth that she was willing to take the puppy that very evening, intimating that I am the one who has lost out on an easy sale. Even though I had said the puppy was now promosed to a very old family friend! I fear she hates to be thwarted.
And everything falls into place, my gut instinct was right!.
I say firmly and terribly politley as well, that I let no one take my puppies away straight away. I can tell she is more than shocked, she’s totally fazed. From her point of view it must be an anathema. Someone has got something to sell and she can’t have it immediately.
I explain that a 24 hour resting period between viewing a puppy and taking it home is a minimum. It’s not just that the new owner has to be sure that the puppy is the right one for them, the breeder, I say sweetly, has got to be sure that the prospective owner is suitable too.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Bringing Up Boys - it's not a 100m dash it's a marathon!

They're brilliant - aren't they?
It's dreadful isn't it when you have a higher sense of the worthiness of your child than the teachers and you don't even believe that you're really that biased. 
Of course you are aware he's a bubbly personality who's always on the move  but compared to your eldest he's a positive genius. Surely he HAS to be doing well?
But doing well is a relative issue.
As I said my youngest is a genius compared to his brother but compared to the other hot house flowers...he, as I found out, and by extension I, am sadly wanting.
It was all supposed to be so good. 
"Right Mrs B, Bog Boy!" she says it so brightly that I am totalling unprepared for the first cut. "Not the brightest chap, is he"
What? Well of course he is...he's a genius. He's always telling me so.
She pats my knee sympathetically and smiles. "He's not going to be top of the class..."
Oh, really, OK then...
"Reading - he is a bit behind and as for his writing..."
His writing is great it's already better than his brother's writing and Bog Boy is left handed
"His writing development is slow but it is better than The Boy's - I know I used to take him for extra English." she smiles again.
Oh Brilliant! Get two with one blow why don't you! I really don't like her smile...
"He hasn't really grasped punctuation and although he can be helped with capital letters, his spelling really lets him down."
Oh good grief! My hackles are up and I try to rally but that is my fatal mistake...
"I don't  really concentrate on his spellings as such, " I say  in what I think sounds like worldly authority. "I rather have my hands full with my eldest and trying to help him. I don't feel Bog Boy needs to be rushed at it so, as yet." 
But I am up against a master - I forget she's already retired twice...
"What a refreshing attitude," she chirrups, smiling again; "and you're quite right a child should be a child for as long as possible, it goes so quickly...."
My hackles are smoothed and I soften up.
"Perhaps you could bring mathematics into his play life with measuring, and weights and money" she says it as she would to a small defiant child and I swear she's about to pat me on the head as well.
Oh god I walked onto that one didn't I?
I begin to panic and hyperventilate and I feel suddenly very uncomfortable on the small blue plastic chair. She, of course, is sitting on a normal chair bolstering her position of ultimate superiority. I fluster.
"But he'll be OK to go into Year 3 won't he?"
"Yes, yes," I am told, "he'll be fine just not up there with the top of the class!" she says with another sympathetic pat on my knee.
And before I know it I am dismissed.
I leave in a daze and it's not until I am halfway home that I start to get enough life in me to get angry. "Right!" I think, "that's it. I'll show her, my kids are brilliant!"
I should have metaphorically ripped her to shreds.
"HOW DARE SHE!!! How dare she say that crap to me, how dare she pronounce via her crystal ball that my kids are not going to make it. I am determined to push my kids to the utmost throughout the holidays so that they are perfect in all their lessons when the new year academic year begins."
My dander is up. I know my kids can do it...
"Right no TV, no sweeties, no no no anything nice until work is done. Every Day! Two hours a day..
well maybe 45 minutes, children cannot concentrate for more than 45 minutes I remembered from somwehre. Music lessons. Extra sports coaching. Tutor?"
It's all beginning to sound very expensive and very time consuming.
I try not to think about the essay I saw that one of Bog Boy's chums had written and which I espied when I was waiting in the Year 2 Classroom. A whole page about a boy going on holiday with proper punctuation - even speech marks! And all joined up and it made sense.
"Oh heck! Even my eldest cannot do that!!!"
By the time I reach home all of 20 minutes later I am a gibbering wreck as I look with clear eye at the enormity of what I am trying to achieve.
And then I remember what they said about Winston Churchill being backward and at the bottom of the class - and he got the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 as well as being Prime Minister! (oh they don't make them like they used to, do they!)
One has to hold firm and not panic the bringing up of boys is not a 100m dash, it is rather a marathon - just one I wish I didn't have to run too!

Monday 20 May 2013

Bringing up boys: When age starts to count...(the quest to have his own puppy continues)

The Puppy In Question...

God I am so undecided!
Has he really done enough to earn one? Is he really mature enough to cope?
Half of me says: “Let him rise to the challenge even if you are unsure!” The other half says: “No Way! This is going to be a total disaster!
While I may be unsure, I do know that he has tried his very best. He has been helpful. He has cleared up when I asked without a murmur and under very trying circumstances, for while he is busy being good and doing all and sundry, his younger brother is allowed to get away with doing very little and that irks.
It irks, badly.
“It’s Not Fair!” is the refrain.
And I have to keep reminding him what he is doing it all for. Sometimes I think he wishes he wasn’t trying to earn a puppy. Sometimes
I think he just wants to forget it all and be allowed to go back to being able to just hang out.
It has been particularly hard now that they are back at school. For my eldest has homework that takes over and hour to do each evening while the younger boy just has to do a bit of reading and a few spelling – all of 10 minutes. I hate to inform my eldest but that is not going to change for quite some time.
I think he forgets that he IS three years’ older than his brother and now the difference in age seems enormous as my eldest really starts to grow-up.
It’s a combination of finally coming off his epilepsy drugs and just being 10 years’ old. Suddenly he can think clearly, concentrate, see and hear without anything getting in his way, he is more co-ordinated, able to take on instructions without us having to hover over him to make sure he gets it right. He’s more trustworthy – most of the time.
I’d like to say my youngest is taking everything in his stride too – but life isn’t that tidy.
Bog Boy is at his brother night and day making life difficult and I do know why. Suddenly he’s not the one who gets everything right, suddenly he’s not the one making great leaps and bounds in learning and sport and most anything you can imagine. He’s not the top dog he thought he was and he’s just a tad envious too of all the attention his brother is garnering.
It makes for an exciting household, car journeys, meal times, bedtimes, bath times….and it is so very difficult to be mature and ignore your pesky younger brother – and doesn’t your younger brother know it!
And that is where the rub is – can I say my eldest is mature enough to have a puppy when he gets so wound up by his younger brother that he thumps him? Screeches at him? Wails that life is unfair? Albeit with extreme provocation?
The coin is being tossed….

Go on you know you want to...


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