Friday, April 8, 2011

I am the alpha dog

My daughter had a friend over from school that I hadn't met before except briefly when I volunteered in the classroom. His mom is from Mexico and his dad is from Puerto Rico and they only speak Spanish at home. It never ceases to amaze me when a 7 year old child flips from one language to another completely fluent and with a perfect accent in each language. What a gift for children who grow up with parents who speak two languages! It is inspiring. Especially when her friend ran out to the car when his parents picked him up and yelled to his dad, "Tienen dos gatos!" and I actually understood him and said, "Si, negro y naranja." Which probably made his mom raise her eyebrows at my horrible pronunciation. I'm excited to meet his family because his dad is really into horses and rode a lot back in Puerto Rico (my daughter's friend said his dad also had a wolf when he was a kid) so I may have another family to be horse crazy with me. My neighbor's daughter who just turned three is also horse crazy and wants to come over to my house all the time because she apparently does not understand my horse does not come here (or she thinks I'll take her back to the horse).

I talked to my instructor about my plan to teach preschool/kindergarteners horsemanship and beginning riding skills and she thought it was a good idea. I asked her if she'd go over the curriculum with me sometime and told her just the basics - that I'm going to make a coloring book with instructions in it and games to play with safety rules. And the riding would be all lead line until they were five years old, playing games like Simon Says and working on their seat. I was surprised when my instructor said she'd talk to me more about possibly using Tiny with my neighbor's 3 year old daughter after I get my teaching certification. I've got a board game brewing in my head about safety rules and horsemanship skills and a doll set to help see proper posture. All good ways for preschool kids to learn stuff and really get it into their heads. I feel really strongly that young children need to learn horsemanship skills and safety skills early because I've seen too many teenage girls (and some adults!) who ride ok but don't have basic horsemanship down.

Speaking of children and horses, our instructor wanted to reschedule our lessons this afternoon because she had something personal to attend to and her other lesson, S. from yesterday canceled because she's too sore to ride today. But she said my daughter could go practice riding on Tiny, the bratty Shetland pony. Tiny was being a real brat today though and my daughter got frustrated really quickly with her. She was definitely pushing the boundaries because our instructor wasn't there. So, I put her on the lunge line and lunged her a bit and she was trying very hard to get me to back down and let her be in charge. It never ceases to amaze me though that when I stood up to her (not hard when it's a teeny little fluffy pony that looks like a fuzzy, rotund dog) she got more snuggly and happy with me.

Tiny was giving my daughter such a hard time - standing still and refusing to move, then bucking when my daughter gave her a swift kick - and I'm a terrible teacher for my daughter because she just fights with me and doesn't want me to tell her what to do. So I decided we would play Simon Says and I led my daughter around and she worked on her seat. We just went around at a walk and I said things like "Simon says put your arms straight up in the air" "Simon says put you hands on your helmet" etc. She seemed to really enjoy that.

When she and her friend were playing this morning they got all excited about something and talked back to me and I said, "Don't challenge me. I'm alpha dog in this house," and her friend loved that idea. I swear a good portion of my parenting skills come from training dogs. I imagine that is something that will come up in therapy for my daughter in twenty years. Sigh.

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