I think I’ve finally learned not to begin doing something unless I am willing to keep doing that same thing for the rest of my life. About 7 or 8 years ago, I started a tradition that has me staying up late at night, working all weekend, and generally running around like a chicken with its head cut off. A very stressed out headless chicken. And yet, I keep doing the same thing every year — because my in-laws say it’s the best gift they get.
Archive for November, 2010
I’m pretty strict about not exposing my kids to any more violence than I absolutely have to. For us, that has meant that Disney films are for older kids and Harry Potter is right out. But how old do kids need to be before they can handle some violence? We’ve hit a situation that is testing our resolve to avoid what we think are inappropriate films. You see, as surprising as it might be, not everyone feels the same way we do.
Growing up, we had a number of dogs over the years, from dachshunds to a loveable schipperke to a couple of dumb-as-doorknob borzois and never had any problems with them. When she was an adult, however, my sister adopted an Australian shepherd and the dog bit a number of people. That was an expensive lesson. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt, but that’s not always the case.
Remember way back when, when kids actually made ornaments to decorate the tree this time of year? In my day, we strung popcorn on thread and made chains of brightly colored paper rings. There were the clay ornaments brought home from school shaped and colored by each child’s hand along with cut-out and colored paper snowflakes and macaroni-and-too-much-glue works of art. Perhaps it is, once again, time to restore crafts and art to das tannenbaum. After seeing this tree, I think I’m sold.
Soda, it’s pretty well agreed, isn’t good for kids, especially the younger ones. It rots teeth and, generally, contains caffeine, not to mention being a huge source of empty calories. Milk, well, it does a body good, but it too can be fattening — something, sadly, I know from personal experience. Of course, no one would recommend coffee for kids and, in the US at least, beer, wine, and other “adult” beverages are right out. So what’s left, if your kids want something other than water? Juice is one option — except that even that has problems now.
While we were on holiday this past summer, I noticed an advert playing in heavy rotation on whatever kids’ television station they had on in the dining room of the hotel where they served the free breakfast each morning. At the time, it seemed like one of those annoying, over-priced, “as seen on TV” products that we’re all used to being disappointed by, should we be foolish enough to purchase one. Fast forward to the advent of the year-end begging-for-toys season and I’m dreaming of the relative peace of blaring television ads. Yes, my kids want Pillow Pets.
I try hard to avoid gender stereotypes with my kids. I know full well that my career over the last 30 years as a computer programmer was made possible by a woman. I also know that one the most hardcore overland adventurers I know is a woman. There seem to be a lot more male chefs on TV than women. And my daughter continually amazes me with her Herculean strength, even as my son impresses me with his empathy. And yet, it seems, children pick up on stereotypes as early as preschool even from the most innocent comments. Yes, it turns out that even “Good morning, boys and girls” is enough to induce gender awareness in preschoolers.
Just because your teens aren’t hanging out at the mall, don’t presume they can’t run up your credit card bill. In fact, it may very well be that they are part of the population of online virtual worlds racking up a whopping — dare I say mind-blowing? — 7 billion dollars in sales of virtual goods in 2010 alone. Yes, you read that right — in the midst of a huge economic crisis, people have spent 7 billion (with a “B”) dollars on stuff that isn’t even real.
By now, I’m sure just about everyone has heard about the three-year-old that was “hand-searched” by TSA agents after she got upset about having her teddy bear taken away. It turned out that the girl’s father was a TV reporter; he pulled out his cellphone and recorded the search. (The video has since been removed from YouTube due to copyright infringement.)
As you might expect, the opinions on this are all over the place, ranging from “this is sexual molestation of children!” to “if we don’t search children, the terrorists will put bombs in their diapers!” I think reality is somewhere in the middle — I suspect the parents could have done better job of preparing their child for the process but I also think the TSA is probably ill-prepared and poorly-trained to handle such situations.
Four years ago, the city of Philadelphia realized that they were giving a huge subsidy to a community organization to help them serve the citizens of the City of Brotherly Love even though that group systematically discriminated against a large part of the population. So the city told the Boy Scouts of America’s Cradle of Liberty council that they would either have to change their anti-LGBT policies or begin paying fair-market rent for the city-owned, half-acre property that the group had been using as their headquarters for nearly 80 years. Not surprisingly, the Boy Scouts didn’t like that.