Monthly Archives: July 2011

Is “Pretty” The Newest Bad Word???

I’m pretty sure I’ve established that I am politically incorrect.  If you’ve read earlier posts, you’ll know that I let my kids ride bikes helmet-less, they play with knives and soap bars and I let them play in the mud.  The newest offense that I engage in is telling them they are good-looking.

I really need to stop reading news and scientific studies.  The latest thing I read is how it is probably not good to tell your small daughters  that they are pretty  BLAH, BLAH, BLAHHHHHH…..

I tell my daughter that she is pretty.  She is.  I tell my son that he is handsome.  He is.  I also tell them that they are smart, that they have amazing reasoning skills and that they are kind.  I tell them when I’m proud and I tell them that they are capable of doing or being anything they WANT to do or be.  If I don’t tell them those things who will??  The kid in the next desk at school?  I don’t think so.  That kid is more likely to look at them and say, take your pick, “you’re weird, you’re stupid, you’re to0 fat/skinny/tall/short, you’re annoying, you’re boring, your butt is flat/fat/wide/narrow, you can’t play sports.  To that kid, I say, look in the mirror kid, what bounces off me sticks to you, or whatever that phrase is.

I was watching that twenty-five year-long afternoon pass-time, Oprah, a couple of years ago and saw Maria Shriver talking about her parents.  She said that when she was growing up, her parents lavished her with praise.  They told her she was beautiful and smart and they told her when they were proud and basically, they instilled self-confidence in her.  They didn’t rely on school, or other kids, or other people to make their daughter feel good about herself.  THEY gave her the confidence that she needed to succeed in the world, and from what I can tell, they did a good job.  She is successful, she seems to be a good mother and she has the strength to dump her cheating, baby daddy asshole of a husband.

I’m not saying that I don’t discipline my kids or that everything they do or say is cute or good.  They can be real stinkers at times and I let them know about it, but I also tell them how wonderful they are, because 99% of the time, they ARE wonderful.  If their father and I don’t tell them how awesome they are who will?  If they don’t think that their parents think they can be great, how will they know to try?

So, when my daughter makes videos to post on You Tube, or my son makes his 4,359th soap dragon with that sharp, sharp knife, you can bet your boots I’ll tell them how talented they are and that they should keep going.  And oh yeah, they look pretty doing it too 🙂

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Letting Kids Be Kids

I just read an article on some parenting blog about letting kids be kids.  For some reason I find it sad that modern parents need to be instructed in that.  It gave helpful tips like, let your kid play in the summer.  Send them outside.  Let them catch lightning bugs.  Limit extracurricular activities to no more than one or two per season.  Really?  People don’t already know that?

When I was a kid, my job was school.  I took dancing lessons, but my job was school.  My mom gave me plenty of time to just be.  I read a lot, and did art projects a lot.  My older brother dragged countless large refrigerator boxes home for me behind his bike, that he would promptly carve windows and doors into for me and presto-chango, I had my own house.  My grandma played cards with me and it’s a good thing that the money she provided for betting was pennies, otherwise she would’ve gone broke, because I was pretty good.

Summers were even better.  I ate breakfast, got on my bike and left.  Granted it was the 1970’s and the chances of someone stealing me from my small town were less than the chances of your kid being stolen by a pervert today, but when I say I left, I mean I left.  My mom told me to be back when the church bells rang 5:00 and that is when I went home.  I would eat dinner and go back out til about 11.  At night.  In the dark.  With friends.  It was AWESOME!!  I was skinny and tan and healthy.  My hair would be so blonde at the end of summer that I was accused of dyeing it from about the age of nine or ten.  We rode bikes, went to the pool, hung out in the cemetery (hey, it was pretty and shady and quiet, don’t judge me).  We played in the woods, looked for glass bottles to turn in at Green Valley to finance our snack jones and generally had a blast.

By the time school started I was excited to go back because I was bored.  I had participated in zero extracurricular activities, and had not seen a great number of my friends.  The friends that I did see lived in town, not in the country.  Going back to school was being reintroduced to everyone and everything.  I remember how excited I always was to bring my stack of books home to cover and show my mom.  We also didn’t start school til after Labor Day, so hot school days in the fall were limited, because well, it was almost fall, not the middle of summer.

The world today is full of wonderful opportunities.  We are all much more connected to each other and to the rest of humanity than we ever have been before.  There are more ways to make a living, more tv channels, more electronic gadgets and more ways to learn to dance or play soccer or volleyball or football.  On the flip side, kids are fatter, bullying is now impossible to escape because it is on the internet, we have no privacy because everyone carries a camera with them in their phones everywhere they go, we can’t get away from the world because we are always connected via those phones and we are constantly bombarded by news.  The twenty-four hour news cycle has driven everyone crazy.

Here’s my idea.  In the summer, no extracurriculars.  No special lessons for elementary kids, and limited stuff for older kids.  Face it mom and dad, your kid, in all likelihood is not Micheal Jordan, or insert famous person name here.  Let them enjoy being kids.  Let them get bored.  Give them time to read for pleasure (and it’s ok if it’s a comic book).  Let them play cowboys and indians, or war, or house, or pioneers or Harry Potter.  Read them old stories and take them places that will stimulate their imaginations.  Give them a big plastic box full of paint, markers, paper, glue and stuff to create with and let them go to town.  Give them cap guns and Barbies.  Cap guns won’t make them murderers and Barbie won’t give them bulemia.  Give them their dad’s old army backpack, a jar of water and a sleeve of saltines (with salt on them) and let them go crawl through the mud on their bellies to win WW II or kill terrorists.  Let them play.  Let them imagine the world and the future.  Play is how kids learn to be.  It’s how they gain independence.  Structured, adult led lessons, do not give kids the chance to expand their minds and learn how to think.  It makes them think and be what the adults want them to be and think.  Adult life is hard, let them be carefree for as long as they can.  School is hard.  Let them decompress over the summer.  They are not going to end up in the projects if you don’t make them do homework all summer.   If you burn them out when they’re little, when it really counts, they won’t be able to function.

I have to stop writing now, because I have to put together a bug out kit for my son.  There are rumors that there are coyotes roaming the ten feet of woods in my back yard and he needs to go vanquish the varmints.  One last thing.  Get your kid a big dog or two and let them bond.  Dogs seem to enjoy playing interesting games too.  It’s summer, relax and catch the lightning bugs and remember the first bit of water out of the hose is not fit for drinking because it is hot.  Let it run for a minute or so, the environment will survive and so will you AND your kids.

See Ya Later Harry Potter

Magic at the Harry Potter Festival in Wilmington 2007

I saw the final Harry Potter film today with my fifteen year old daughter.  I started reading the books to her when she was three or four, so they and their characters have been part of her life, for practically ALL of her life.  While I was watching today, I had some thoughts about the stories and characters that I decided I wanted to share.

When the books first came out, I bought /Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone/ for myself.  I thought it looked good, but I couldn’t tell if it was for adults or kids.  That should have been my first clue as to the universality of the stories.  I read it, then I read it again and then I thought about it for a long time before I decided to share it with my daughter and husband.  I decided that there were some valuable lessons for my daughter in it, so we sat night after night on the “biggie bed” and read Harry.  My husband loved it, my daughter loved it, I loved it, and none of us could wait for the next one to come out.

After we fell completely in love with Harry and his friends, I started hearing about adults who would not let their kids read the books because they thought that they would influence their children to go toward Satan.  I even had one mom that I knew well and who I respected, tell me that her church had told it’s congregation to boycott the books because of the themes of witchcraft and wizardry.  I asked the mom if she had read any of the books and she said no, that her entire decision was based on what her pastor told her to do.  I begged her to read the first one.  I explained to her that good always triumphs over evil and that there were a lot of valuable social lessons for kids.  She read the first book, then went out and bought all the books and gave them to her daughter.  Harry Potter gave one mom the strength to think for herself and not rely on the opinions of others.

As the series evolved, Harry behaved like a brat in one book, a hero in another and just a boy, just Harry, in all of them.  His friends loved him and were loyal.  His enemies were evil of course, but they were also like every mean girl in school.  He handled it all with the help of his friends.  He didn’t have much of a family, but he made his OWN family from his circle of friends and they were just as important to him as any blood family could’ve been.  Harry’s friend family made another mom I know very well, feel that her lack of a big family is ok because she has made another, just as real family for herself , of people who love her.

The stories teach forgiveness, and nowhere is that more obvious than when Harry chooses to save Draco Malfoy’s (his own-age arch-enemy) life.  They teach that you never really know what is going on in someone else’s life or heart to make them the way they are, Severus Snape anyone?  Love lasts beyond death, evil will come for you where you least expect it, people die and it’s hard to get over the bad things that happen to you in life.  You WILL have your feelings hurt, you WILL be the hero at some point and and you may hang your head in defeat or shame the next day.

All of these things are found in Harry’s story.  You also see that when that evil comes for you, you have to fight it and that although the struggle may be long and hard and you may lose some things along the way, in the end, good will win, light will overcome the darkness.  You can and will find your place in the world and sometimes the most timid, awkward person you know (Neville Longbottom) becomes a hero.  The Harry Potter stories are universal because they offer us hope.  No matter how outnumbered we are, no matter how bad things seem to be, if we screw up our courage and walk in the light, we will win.

I love you Harry Potter and all your friends too.  You’ve helped countless people see themselves and their trials in you, and you’ve helped those same people realize that life can be good again.  It is with a great deal of wistfulness that I say goodbye to Harry.  I hope that JK Rowling writes some more books about him, but if she doesn’t, these fictional characters who have become so real to so many, will continue to keep us company every time we crack open the books or watch one of the films.  Thank you Harry for reminding us that hope, love and courage are the three most important things in the world.

Lucky Bastards Abound

Well, it’s been quite a week.  Spent last night catching up with one of my oldest friends.  My son turned ten, my daughter turned fifteen and we saw Cars 2 and Monte Carlo on their respective birthdays.  Cars was cute, but I’m really sick of message, aka,  brainwashing movies for kids; Monte Carlo made me want to go to Europe.  My phone modem went out and I couldn’t find it and of course my technical support, my husband, is in Austin Texas.  Trying to introduce a new rescued cat into the family and Lordy that takes FOREVER.  It’s hot, humid and sunny, basically, the weather is behaving like summer.  I’m more of an autumn girl.  Warmish days, cool nights, bright blue skies and fluffy white clouds, interspersed with gray rainy days that make the fall leaves well, fall.  Let’s see, what else, we had the Fourth of July, love that, and Casey Anthony got off.  And that I guess, is where this is going.

I didn’t watch the whole trial.  Bits and pieces only.  I got burned out on OJ years ago and still have not recovered.  I don’t know every bit of evidence that was presented.  I DO know though that the jury is instructed by the judge on how to proceed.  They are told what they are to consider and how they are to consider it.  They have rules called laws that they have to follow.  I think Casey Anthony is as guilty as sin.  I think she is maybe a little bit mentally disturbed and I think she wanted to be free.  I think she killed that baby and disposed of her like she was a dead family pet.  THAT being said however, if the prosecution was unable to prove its case, she walks.  The defense in a criminal trial has to prove NOTHING.  The burden is on the prosecution.  Although some days I wonder about my next sentence, this is still the United States of America and you are innocent until PROVEN guilty.  It seems to me to be very difficult to prove anything when all of your evidence is circumstantial.  THAT being said however, go talk to Vincent Doan, a man here in Ohio who was convicted and given a life sentence in the murder of his girlfriend a number of years ago.  A girlfriend who disappeared, whose body was never found and whose case was largely circumstantial.  Honestly, we don’t even know if she’s really dead.  What’s gonna happen if she shows up in ten or fifteen or fifty years and says “HERE I AM!!”  What about the guy in prison?  What will be said to him?  Probably something like “oops, sorry dude.”

The only thing the defense has to do is provide some reasonable doubt.  By throwing in everything but the kitchen sink, that is exactly what Casey’s lawyer did.  He muddled and confused and obfuscated the issues to the point where to say there was certainty was impossible.  The seemingly bumbling lawyer did his job and apparently, the prosecutor did not.

This is not over for Casey.  Sure, she’s already been offered a job in a porno and I’m sure there will be a book and a movie.  All the money she makes will go to the lawyers and anyone who sues her in a civil action.  She WILL end up like her fellow lucky bastard OJ Simpson, and end up in trouble and perhaps in prison somewhere down the line and will reap what she has sown.  Is what happened fair?  It doesn’t seem to be, but if I’m ever accused of something I didn’t do or did do for that matter, I sure hope the prosecution still has to PROVE my guilt.  Sometimes, monsters go free.  More often than not however, justice is served, the laws are adhered to and criminals get their just desserts.  It may not come today, it may not come tomorrow or even in this lifetime, but if Casey Anthony killed that little girl, and I think she did, she will be made to answer for her actions.  God will take care of it ultimately.  In the meantime, lets not buy her book, or watch her movies, or give her anymore attention.  Boycott any and all things to do with making Casey Anthony any money.  Obscurity is where she belongs.  Isolation should be her fate. 

Rest in Peace little Caylee.