So, I taught the fifth- and sixth-grade girls about nouns and pronouns, then I gave them a sample sentence:
Molly rode the horse.Then I had students plug in pronouns to replace the nouns. They figured out "she" for the subject, but trying to decide on a pronoun for the direct object "horse" stumped them. One called out "him." I explained that we don't know the gender of the horse, and the horse is not being personified (like in a story with talking animals). I asked again, but nobody answered. Then I glanced down and realized my son had scurried around the podium and was patting my leg.
"Mommy, it's 'it'!" he said in a loud whisper and flashed me a huge smile.
I love that little boy. Being a parent is the most difficult job I've ever had, but I wouldn't give up that boy or his sister for anything.