I remember writing this time last year about Apple Day, when a group of six local families, with children aged 5 to 15, got together with more apples than you could shake a stick at - or indeed, a whole tree - and chopped, milled and pressed for a whole day to produce an incredible amount of apple juice. Most of this apple juice would, naturally, become cider (and incredibly delicious it was too!)
This year we did it all again, with even more apples, but this blog isn't about the day, or the fun and comradeship or the immense glow of satisfaction we felt (together with blistered hands, aching shoulders and sore feet from standing all day) at our accomplishment. No, this is about something less pleasant.
You see, those among us who do Facebook, had, naturally, posted photos of the day and shared our plans for the apple juice. One of the team (I'll call her Susan) received some negative comments from a so called friend. This friend posted some remarks about the general undesirability of "normalising alcohol" for children.
Now, everyone has their own views on this, ranging from the "They're not touching a drop until they're eighteen!" to the "The French have got it right; it's a part of the meal; just water it down for the youngsters." And nobody likes to be criticised. My friend was, naturally, rather hurt.
But, just hold on for a moment. I polled my own children (12 and 10) about this. Were we "normalising alcohol for them"? I asked - and was met with blank stares. "Where was the alcohol?" asked the youngest, baffled; "It was apple juice!"
"Huh. You grownups all had beer and wine afterwards." sneered my 12 year old. "But then, you always do!" (She declares she is going to become teetotal just as soon as she's old enough.) "I know you're going to make cider with it. I only hope fermentation comes up for a science project because then I can study the process and get top marks." (Hmmm – unlikely school topic, Sunshine!).
So, discussing it with Susan, we came to the conclusion that this criticism was not about Susan and her choices; it was about the sensitivities of her friend. The best thing to do was to take a deep breath, consider the different cultural values and life experiences this person might have for them to hold those views and, if she posted anything back at all, just to say that they could agree to differ on the subject.
Because sometimes criticism isn't valid: it's not you, it really is just them.
A Moodscope member.