The Kids Will Be All Right, Won’t They?

If there was one thing I did right in preparation for this summer,  it was getting a membership at http://www.care.com. I knew that regardless of how much fun I would have with my boys I would need to hand them over to a fun nanny for a couple of hours here and there. Not everyone could do so, though. You must have heard about the S. C. mom, who left her 9-year-old daughter at the park, while she was at work.  Since leaving a child this age unattended is illegal in S. C., the police was notified and the mother arrested. Apparently if you live in Illinois, you need to provide childcare even for a 13-year-old according to the law. Ironically, I know of many parents whose babysitters are this age.

I understand that it’s all about our children’s safety, but I also know that at that age I and all of my friends used to walk to school, stay at home, or play outside alone and nothing happened. Nothing happened to the S. C. girl either. Aren’t we all trying to over-supervise our children these days?

I was thinking about it the other day while at the park. My older son was busy on the play structure and my toddler was playing in the sand box with other children. I, just  the other moms or nannies, was sitting idly nearby watching the scene. Our only job was to monitor the kids that were doing perfectly fine without us staring at them non-stop. To be honest, I felt a bit silly. I could have brought a magazine or a book, but I didn’t, because I was supposed to watch the boys. I did have my phone though. The moment I took my eyes off of my boys,  my safely playing toddler was heading towards the street holding in his hand a “ball”, a.k.a. old dog poop.

I put my phone away and resumed my watching duty. I kept thinking though. Would my son have rushed into the street or come back to the sandbox without my intervention? What would he have done with his new “ball”?  As much as I’m curious, I’m glad I didn’t have to find out.

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Boo to Taboo?

We all know how hard it is to explain certain things to little children. War, cancer, divorce…  Ideally, we should wait with bridging those issues until the right age. But since we don’t have a full control over when our kids see and hear things, they  tend to ask before they are ready to understand our answer.  Even more, they ask before we have our answer ready. We have to say something though. Something simplified. But what?

I still remember my own “difficult” questions. Once I was watching news with my grandpa and I heard the word rape. Of course I asked what it meant. My poor grandpa tried hard to be as simplistic as accurate, but all I gathered from it was that it was some kind of forced surgery. I felt so well-informed that I gladly shared my knowledge with my girlfriends.

Now that I am the one to give answers to my children, I see how hard it is to find the right words.  When my husband’s grandfather passed away, our older son challenged us with lots of questions about death. Whatever we tried to say seemed to come across wrong and scary. In my son’s eyes, if one person can stop living NOW, everyone else can stop living NOW, including us. Even if we promised him to live until a 100, it wasn’t making him feel any better. 100 years is too abstract to grasp for a five-year old. As a result, we avoid talking about death in our house altogether and I can’t even mention that flowers in the vase died. I threw them away because they were no longer pretty.

Another word that has recently turned out taboo was, surprise, surprise, college. We mentioned it when our son wanted to have his room painted red. We  told him he could do it in college, when he would live by himself. What was supposed to be a thing to look forward to for our self-minded and independent boy turned out to be a serious threat. All he heard was that at some point he wouldn’t live with us anymore and why wouldn’t he?! Now he doesn’t even want to be a sport footwear designer anymore because he doesn’t want to go to college, because he doesn’t want to live by himself.

He still has 13 years to change his mind so I don’t worry about his education, but I do wonder what other words are going to disappear from our current conversations.  Divorce is one, for example. The other day my son pondered about our divorced neighbors, “Where is Sofia’s mom?”, I explained matter-of-factly that sometimes parents don’t get along and start living separately. I thought I handled it pretty well, until my son asked if me and his dad were going to live apart too. Obviously, planting a seed of doubt about the future of our family was not my goal.  Neither do I want to paint a perfect picture of the world, without death, homeless people and colleges. It’s misleading. But so is Santa Claus. What do I do? What do YOU do?

 

 

The More Books The Merrier!

Mission accomplished! Yesterday my boys marked the last spots in their reading logs. The 30 days of learning and reading was over. During that month we attended various interesting events at the library. It’s not everyday that you can see a raccoon or a circus there. We got to read and re-read many fun stories. My toddler enjoyed books about trains and trucks. My five-year old preferred wit and humor of Mo Willems or Oliver Jeffers and revisited lots of books which I used to read to him when he was younger. Now it was his turn to read to his brother and he did great!  It was time to rush to our library to get prizes. Yes, I must admit, the prizes were a great motivator in this wonderful summer literacy initiative. A simple raffle ticket or a pencil is likecarrot on the stick for young children. You can’t go without it.  Many thanks to the Peninsula Library System and  San Mateo County for organizing it and adding more books to our summer!

Summer Learning Program is truly a great thing to add your family summer activities. It’s more opportunity to do something together. Even if you read books at home day in an out as we do, the summer is usually when it’s hard to stick to routine. Between travels and camps, pools and parks, there are days when we devour a pile of reading treats and there are days when we starve the readers in us and fulfill other cravings. The reading program helps to keep reading a part of our daily routine. We all know what one book per day can do. Especially when read together.

Like me on Facebook!

Just kidding. I don’t have an account. I used to have one, though. Two, actually. I opened the first one hoping to stay in close touch with my friends in Europe. How naive of me. Facebook is nothing about staying in touch. It’s about keeping a distance. It’s like a Hyde Park corner. You just go there to say whatever you have to say for others to hear you out. Or not. I closed my account a few months later. I never got used to the feeling of being virtually stalked by the people I had invited to my circle of friends or who had invited me to theirs.

But I gave Facebook another try last week.  I was hoping it would help me to promote my books. I spent hours setting up my account, adjusting the privacy settings, adding pages, pictures, inviting friends, reading their timelines… And then it dawned on me that I don’t have time for this stuff! I don’t have time for posting pictures I don’t have time taking in the first place.  I don’t have time for bugging my friends to like me. I already spend enough hours querying agents and publishers to like my books. And I certainly have no intention of commenting on the most uneventful events in life, which I noticed is the most liked topic among this anti-social society of mutual admiration.

My biggest grudge, however, is about how bogus online networking. If your friends don’t give you thumbs up, you can pay total strangers to do so. You can get 1000 likes on your site for as little as 5 bucks! I just couldn’t do it. I closed my Facebook account the same day as I had opened it.

I have a Twitter account, though, in case someone demands to see a virtual proof of my existence. It can be equally disappointing as far as the content of the tweets goes. Do I really need to know that someone had just eaten half a melon or, even better, that someone doesn’t know what to tweet about? It’s the same Hyde Park, just a different corner. But it is pretty simple to use and last but not least, I don’t have to pretend I am friends with someone in order to follow them. Even if they are not leading me anywhere.

 

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