Thursday, April 30, 2009

Another Gem

Four year old daughter is on a roll.

Out to dinner tonight. "I don't know what they have, but if one is chocolate, I'll take that one!"

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Quote of the Day

From 4 year-old daughter: "I can't share all of my secret thoughts with you!"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Boredom Cure

We rarely hear the "I'm bored" in our house these days. Because it is followed quickly by an offer of something to do. If a kid is really bored, she just might do one of the things I offer. If she is not interested in the job, she quickly finds a way to not be bored on her own.

Try these:

"I have some laundry to fold. You can help."

"It's a good time to go and pratice piano, then."

"Let's practice spelling."

"You can pick up the toys in the play room."

"You can put the books back on the shelf."

"You can help me put away the dishes."

I call it the magical boredom cure.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Past Few Days

Fever croupy cough,
Mama's milk the only cure,
All day and all night.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

You Know You're at a Homeschooling Event....

My eldest child was in a play recently, with a bunch of other homeschoolers. It's one of the community's favorite events because the kids get together to put on two very high production value plays - one for the older kids and one for the younger kids. It's fun to watch and fun to participate in the plays. A feel good event all around. The audience is full with young and old, friends, family, and other homeschoolers.

At the end, a friend came over and said, "You know you're at a homeschool event when there is a baby sitting on the potty." She was smiling and feeling nostalgic for the times when she carried around her kids with a potty everywhere they went.

She was far more committed to elimination communication (EC) than I am. I rarely bring a potty along and just let baby use the potty whenever she wants when we are home (which is more and more often). But at homeschool events, there is another baby, younger than my own, who always has her potty along. And because she is on the potty, my little one wants to do it as well.

So, imagine this scene at the play and consider whether it would happen at a school play.....

Two little ones - 14 and 18 months respectively - bottoms off and sitting on potties in the aisle while the kids put on a play on the stage.

Of course, my child refused to put her pants or diaper back on. Then she found that the shirt was superfluous. So, that came off as well. I didn't let her take off her shoes, insisting on some degree of decorum. Actually, I just didn't want her to step on anything dangerous in the dark theater.

We received a variety of reactions. Some know my little one and expect her to be running around with her pants off and the potty nearby. Some smiled at the cuteness of a naked baby. Some (all guests that I didn't recognize) looked a little less approving. Which made me realize this is probably not a mainstream experience - a naked baby in the audience.

I think that I could take my friend's observation a bit further and say, "You know you're at a homeschool event if there is a naked baby in the audience." Not every community would feel so comfortable about her way of learning to use the potty. (She almost never misses when she is naked, by the way.)

Note to self: Put her in a dress next time and hope she'll keep it on, even after the diaper comes off.

G's Story

From my middle child (and it harkens back to my skeleton joke last fall - amazing that she remembers):

A skeleton walks into a mop shop. He buys a lot of clothes, a mop, a bucket, and some beer. He put on the clothes, put the beer in the bucket, drank it up, used a mop to mop up the floor because it was dirty, and fell down dead.

The end.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

You Can Count On It

Children grow so fast. When you are a parent, there is one thing you can count on, and that is that whenever you get used to a new thing developmentally, you can expect it to change momentarily. Except for the things that really drive you crazy, and those seem to endure endlessly.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Gender and Media

I watched two films on gender and media this evening with a group of homeschoolers. Generation M - Misogyny and Media Culture and Killing Us Softly (3).

If you get a chance to watch these, please also rent Disney's The Little Mermaid. As this justifies my position on Disney movies, I particularly enjoyed having this example shared by the host of the evening!

In short, the whole exercise demonstrated that the media is pervasive and powerful, and that power is used in ways that are harmful to women and other minorities. Media tells our girls that they are to be passive, silent, victims whose appearance is key and who must strive to attain an impossible image of beauty. Girls are expected to be sexually attractive and accommodating. In contrast, media tells our boys that they are to be aggressive and violent. Boys are expected to be sexually dominant and aggressive. When media does recognize other minorities, the images are generally unflattering.

Sadly, the influence of media is so pervasive that it actually creates a culture that is difficult to extract from the media influence. Ultimately, that's my concern. I feel pretty good about my ability to protect my children from negative media influences. (Yet, I will admit that I am not perfect. For example, they know far more about Disney princesses than I would ever wish them to, and even have some Disney princess as well as Barbie books and toys given to them as gifts by others.) However, there is no way to shield them from the world, which is molded by these media influences.

Culture dictates that my girls get positive reinforcement for acting girl-y. And so they do. Subtle gender biased messages abound, even from well-meaning, loving intentions on the part of others.

We have all heard of the researchers who find that people assign masculine characteristics to a baby dressed in blue and assign feminine characteristics to the same baby dressed in pink. I wonder how much of our children's gender identity and gender-based characteristics are based on their biological differences and how much is based on subtle cultural messages. I know people who believe that a lot is biological. But I have such a hard time swallowing this. I really think that we are blind to nuances and don't give babies and children enough credit for absorbing every single detail.

Me, included. I try really hard to emphasize the strength and intelligence of my children over their appearance. I work to expose them to a variety of activities and experiences. Yet, I am very comfortable giving in to their desires for pretty dresses and dolls. I don't hesitate to sign them up for dance classes and don't fight too hard when they don't want to participate in a sports class.

I also don't think that everyone appreciates how deep gender bias runs in our culture. Most don't have concrete examples. Yet I know people who have been hired for jobs because they are attractive. (I have been in the meetings where the fact was discussed openly.) I have received lower compensation than my equivalently performing male colleagues (even when I arguably deserved more for my unprecedented contributions to my firm's income by generating one of the firm's biggest clients). I have observed supervising lawyers joking with a woman associate about her breasts. Sadly, I even know women lawyers who will manipulatively cry in a meeting with their peers because they know that is the only way they can win an argument.

As a result, I want to prepare my kids for the world where they will sometimes find themselves in these untenable situations. There is simply no way to protect them from it entirely, much as I would like to do so.

For now though, I am going to stick to my position on Disney movies.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool

I hate April Fool's Day. It just strikes me as mean to play tricks on others, and I personally don't feel good about doing it. It doesn't do anything for me.

But yesterday, someone taught my kids about April Fool's Day, and 6 year-old D was particularly enamoured of the idea. Her delight at the idea of tricks to play on others, her laughter at the stories told by her friends of tricks they have played or intend to play - it all reminded me of a time when I was her age and how much I loved April Fool's jokes. I remember perusing the novelty shops for fake vomit and cling bullet holes for the car window, whoopie cushions and plastic spiders. I, too, was delighted that I could make someone believe something that wasn't true. I loved the idea of having that kind of creating an illusion, of having that kind of power.

So, reluctantly, I agreed to both support my kid in playing a practical joke on someone. Moreover, I agreed that I would do an April Fool's trick on her. She begged. How could I resist?

Still, it's a difficult balance between doing something that is lame and something that is mean. I wish I would have had more time to plan. It's hard to creatively strike that balance in less than 24 hours.

I finally settled on something. This morning, when we were getting going for the day, I said, "Look! It's snowing!" It's April, right? Snow should be a surprise.

Her eyebrows raised, she ran to the window, and said, "Yep. It's snowing."

Can you believe it? Mother Nature must be playing a joke on me. It actually WAS snowing. I guess I'll have to be more creative next time. And only joke about things I can control!