Share and share alike

popsicle

popsicle

There’s been a lot of talk about race relations lately, and here in Atlanta, you can’t turn on the television without being reminded of how unfairly certain segments of the population feel they’re being treated. Right or wrong, it’s a fact of life and one that I doubt we’ll ever see settled in my lifetime.

Regardless, there appears to be no end to the number of “experts” who have an opinion on what this group should do, or what that group should get as recompense, but it seems to me that society is overlooking perhaps THE most valuable resource we have when it comes to equality and living together peacefully — Parents.

Most notably, parents of similarly-aged, same sex children.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about here, the next time you’re out in public around families, I invite you to pull up a chair and watch the wonderment that is an intelligent parent successfully negotiating toys, snacks and general sharing with two little boys or girls:

Parent: “Here Mikey, here’s YOU a purple popsicle…”
Little Tommy: “But I wanted the purple popsicle!”
Parent: “Don’t worry Tommy, I have a purple popsicle for YOU too. See, you BOTH have a purple popsicle.”

You could remove “popsicle” and insert any number of nouns here–car, toothbrush, goldfish, you name it–and the scenario would similarly play out. Now true, not every parent is adept at this sort of negotiating, but just about any parent who runs a house based on discipline AND love, could show some of our nation’s negotiators a thing or two.

However, there are times when a parent has to tell one child or the other a simple, “No.” Maybe it’s because the child isn’t old enough, or mature enough for whatever it is his or her other sibling has, and that’s part of life too. Physically we may be all created equally, but we don’t mature equally and our life experiences don’t render us all equal at all moments of our lives. Just because a child thinks he’s ready for a slushy, doesn’t mean it won’t slip out of his little hands and end up a disasterous sticky mess on the floorboard of the car. And isn’t it better to just tell them “no” up-front rather than tan their hide later for something we shouldn’t have let them do in the first place?

There’s a lot of wisdom in good parenting. It’s a shame that such simple and straightforward dealing isn’t possible with adults. In many ways, petulant adults can be worse than kids when they don’t get their way. (And YES Lord, I realize you MAY be talking to me here too…)

P is for Pregnancy!

image It is neither my intention, or desire, to turn this blog into a 9-month “and today in our pregnancy we did so and so” novella; but, it IS inevitable that when you’re living and breathing it on a daily basis, that things occur to you that you just have to share with the wider world. So today I thought I’d be very topical and bring you the word “PREGNANCY” in all its glory:

P is for Privacy. Privacy is something I’m about to lose when the new baby comes. See, our guest room, when not acting as a “Guest” room, acts as my own personal man-sanctuary. Here, safely ensconced behind two locked doors, I can do my bid-ness in peace…and pull a Costanza with a library book.

Ris for Recreation. I’m going to have to find a new form of recreation as the boys get older. Currently, my only form of non-gym related recreation is golf. Golf, even at a cheap place around here, costs you $50 by the time you’re done. Multiply that times three (four if the next baby is a boy) and that’s just untenable. Hiking is sounding like a good (read: cheap) alternative.

E is for Energy. I think it’s very unfair for mother nature to so completely sap a woman’s energy for months prior to having a kid, only to suddenly give it all back to her in the form of “nesting” just before it’s born. I mean, it’s setting a completely unreal precedent! As if, once the baby’s here, you’ll be able to live on estrogen and adrenaline well enough to keep from falling over at every opportunity. Much more believable, would be to keep the mother (and father) awake for the last two months of the pregnancy, and to make them both allergic to showers, fine dining and television.

G – is for Gee. As CareerMom turned to me the other evening, after letting out a heartburn induced burp, “FOR REAL, no more. FOR REAL!” I turned to her and said, “Gee, I’m pretty sure I was pretty F’ing serious last time I said ‘No More’ too!”

N – is for Never. As in “never friggin’ again”

A is for Answers. Maybe by the time the third one asks me why God made his or her best friend’s skin brown, I’ll have an answer that sounds both intelligent and believable at the same time.

N – is for Nosey. Kids are the nosiest people. Daddy, what do you have in your mouth? Daddy, what are you doing? Daddy, what are you and mommy talking about? Daddy, why are you hiding from me?”

C Is for consistency. Which is the complete opposite of what you get when you’re pregnant. Last night it was in the low forties outside. We had the heater on and CareerMom had me turn the fan on in our bedroom because of her constantly changing body temp and hot flashes. Are you hungry? Are you nauseaus? Are you tired? Are you coming onto me? Are you crying? It never stops!

Y is for Youth. Because even in this crazy, crazy world of babies, and not enough time or money, when you’re out at a restaurant, like last night, and your littlest one stands up in a chair with a mouth full of brown, wet OREO that looks like a snuff of Skoal in his lip, and he yells out at the top of his lungs “BYE BYE” while waving to the crowd…you have to just smile. I just hope I remember the good stuff and forget the frustrations.

Hooked on Phonics, Worked for me!

readingMLI is coming up on five years old and is therefore, in pre-K. In addition to the twice-weekly Spanish classes (Spanish at 5 years old?), they are also learning how to read. Each night he comes home with this little sheet of words that he is working on and last week, he even came home with a rhyme that he read–something to the effect of, “Nan pats the cat. The Cat can pat Nan.” etc. It didn’t get much more difficult.

Thing is, they are learning to read by learning the sight of words. So, they learn that “STOP” reads “Stop.” They are not learning to sound the word out, “Sssss…ta…ta…ah…pa…pa…SssTaPa…STOP!”

We had a small debate over at CareerMom’s parent’s house the other night as to the appropriateness of this method of teaching. CareerMom’s mother is a teacher, and sitting around the table were several highly educated people, who each thought he or she knew better than the other which way of teaching a child to read was better.

It was my MIL who postulated that the child isn’t really learning to read this way; while one of her daughters (who went to a very expensive private university, then transferred out west to get a Masters in Music and who is now doing a Jr. level job at a pharma company), claimed, “Well, once you’re older, aren’t you reading by recognizing the words anyway?”

A good point to be sure, but I’m of the opinion that a child should learn to add manually before using a calculator. However, being the “outlaw” at the table, and one who understands the value of a free, home-cooked meal, I kept my mouth shut.

Last night while trying to come up with a low-key way to kill the last 30 minutes before the kid’s bedtime, I sat down with MLI and asked him to read me “Go Dog Go.” Doesn’t everyone know this book?

Well, he knew the first couple of pages…by heart. Once we got past his “sight words” vocabulary, it was a frustrating thing for him to sound the words out. This cemented my belief that learning to read by sight words is a waste of time! I mean, if a kid has a photographic memory, then fine. Eventually, the kid can read Webster’s and be good to go, but for the rest of us, we really need to learn how to figure things out on our own.

Unfortunately, patience does not run on my side of the family (Bio-mom excluded), and MLI quickly became frustrated with my attempts at helping him. And to my credit, I think I was very patient! (Yaah me!).  All in all, I’m not too worried about him reading or not reading right now. In Kindergarten, I was in the “Remedial Reading Group” until I figured it out and then I was into it like gangbusters. I still spend a substantial amount of money each year on books and I have no doubt that my kids will follow suit.

But, for you parents out there with school-age kids; what did you/do you have to do to help your kids read? And how did they learn? Did the “sight word” method work for you?

Childhood stories…then, and now

Some of my favorites books from my childhood were contained within a set my brother received in 1974, which I held onto and now claim as my own. They were titled, “The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls.”

In all, I believe my set included approximately ten books, on all manner of subjects, art, science, etc.; but, my favorites were the stories. These, along with another book of Fairy Tales, kept me reading whenever my brother would run off with his friends, or when I just needed some alone time.

Nursery Rhymes and Stories

We’ve recently started reading them to MLI, because his imagination is finally outgrowing Curious George and Dingo…sorry, I mean Diego. And he seems to like them a lot; although I had forgotten how violent some of them were.

Just last night, I was reading the story about the little Tin Soldier. You’ll recall, he only had one leg and he fell in love with a little paper ballerina. But, fate stole him away from her where he then rode a paper boat into the sewers, only to be eaten by a fish, and finally returned back home when someone in the house went to the local market and purchased the fish that ate him. Unfortunately, just as the Tin Soldier and his lady were to be reunited, the Tin Man was blown into the fire where he melted.

Yeah…I had gotten too far into the ending before I realized his fate. I had forgotten that, like many REAL fairy tales, the Tin Soldier was not to have a happy ending.

This got me to thinking about how parenting has changed and I was delighted to find, in the preface of the book titled, “Folk and Fairy Tales” from my set, a forward by one of the editors. It was delightfully candid (if a tad sexist), but I found the honesty of yesterday refreshing:

“Once upon a time parents had to bring up their children without graded reading plans. The children got either little sermons with the moral sticking out like a red flag or the fairy and folk tales that have come down to us from the feudal Middle Ages. Many children had these stories read to them, together with Mother Goose, while they were still in their perambulators.

Some of today’s psychologists shake their heads over the effect this literary diet may have had on the children too young to cope with such strong doses of morality and immortality.

But most children can stand a good deal more than adults think they can. Besides, some mothers have always been blessed with common sense. If they saw that some gruesome tale induced nightmares, they stopped reading it and made up, instead, little stories about ordinary children and animals within a child’s understanding.”

The normal healthy-minded child is not harmed by fairy tales, but it is unwise indeed to expose a child to them before he is emotionally ready to accept them as fantasy. The child whose life is generally satisfying and secure, and who is mature enough, will take the most gruesome fairy tales in his stride, as he does the blood-and-thunder shows he sees on television.”

Isn’t that great! Imagine, parents—not organizations or the government—deciding what is best for their children. Wow.

But see…a tad sexist…but not surprising considering the gender roles at play. I wonder what they would have thought about today’s video games?