Example Rules

Al Sharpton

Al Sharpton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was remembering one of my first triumphs at school. It was an aptitude test on English grammar. In second grade, we were asked to choose the correct form of a word to plug into a sentence. Since we had no formal grammatical training before the test, I was very pleased to “ace” it.
Why did I have those skills at age eight? Simply because proper grammar was spoken in my home.
The English language has rules… not the kind meant to restrict our behavior, but those which apply in order to keep us on “the same page” and in the “same game”.
When I consider the modern distaste for rules, in general, and the emphasis on diversity, I realize many young parents are throwing an obstacle into their children’s education (and success) when they refuse to use proper grammar.
I understand that bilingual households are at a disadvantage automatically. All the more reason, in my opinion, for parents to school themselves in proper English.
Language has little to do with culture, so the clinging to slang and the blocking of the kids’ understanding of the rules of English grammar in the home, make no sense.
Al Sharpton is an intelligent man…Yet, he talks in a “street” dialect that, I assume, is an attempt to be “common” and endearing to the African American community. He “ain’t” helping anyone by confusing folks about English enunciation and grammar. Especially those people who have never lived in an environment where the rules of English were followed. Leading by example would be more helpful and honorable, in my opinion. Breaking other rules may gain a person attention and bravado but the rules of English language, once ignored, are terribly difficult to reclaim.
So, when parents consider helping their children’s efforts for a good education, the most important edge they can offer is the example of good grammar spoken at home.

Advertisements

Family Gathering

Deb and meMy mother organized a family gathering that we celebrated on June 1st. A collection of cousins, and their kids, some I had never met, came. Afterward, there was an unexpected let down. So many people and so little time to interact beyond small talk.

For the next few days , following the event, I’ve had a “woulda/shoulda/coulda” feeling. You see, if a person is presenting a party, they are busy with meeting the needs of guests instead of enjoying the people. Certainly, watching our children, and grandchildren, making brand new family friends was a joy. I was overwhelmed though, with people whom I was unable to fully appreciate and subjects I was unable (because of limited time) to talk about. My cousin, Debbie (pictured with me above), made a 5 hour trip and spent 5 hours returning home after our mingle.

For those an hour or less away, I had little time and I have a heavy heart about that fact. Although we live relatively close, we do not gather for years on end. A smaller, more intimate gathering would do us but to “make time” for those many smaller gatherings doesn’t seem doable. Work, and family duties are many and it’s a burden to ask too often. My sister suggested a catered event in the future which would lighten the load upon the party organizers to afford more real “visiting”.  I believe, with a family so large, there will be the inevitable regrets, even still. Some folks are going to be “left out” whenever there are so many. Having the duty (a wonderfully fun one) of photographing the event, also sadly, puts the “photographer” outside of the mingle. Next time, I believe buying disposable cameras for each family, might be a better way to get a more varied and complete “picture”.

I would love to hear suggestions about how to make a large party work without the extravagance of a wedding reception.

It was a fun day and, those who could not come, were missed.

Ha! If you had come, I probably would have ignored you guys too!  At least, the no-shows kept my regrets fewer. 😉

Cultural Dissolve

Homecoming "He's everything I hoped for a...

Homecoming  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No political correctness

No political correctness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a dissolve going on in our culture. Very few actions, that bear a burden of public shame, still exist. That fact, is clearly an alarming example of the erosion of our cultural foundation.

Consider what having a baby out-of-wedlock or being in tremendous debt used to mean. Our culture policed itself by frowning upon such things in years past. Now, those things have no stigma and, therefore, have become culturally acceptable.

The feminists were so zealous in their quest for workplace equality, that they ended up redefining the art of being a “lady” and the act of being a “gentleman”, which I maintain are still worthy titles. Strange how being thoughtful and polite are now viewed as weaknesses? A bad sign, me thinks.

The equal rights defenders have made the fight for justice such a racial endeavor, that it divides us, and distracts us, from our American oneness.

Fairness has replaced, justifiable, in every argument and there IS a difference. Things that seem “fair” quite often don’t justify the burden placed upon others to create such a utopia. Might I add, Utopian ideals belong in the land of unicorns where, I understand, there is no unemployment, debt or greed.

The steps to citizenship have turned into an elevator, with buttons labeled in 7 languages, rather than a goal worthy of being hard-earned.

We accept that all politicians lie, and justice is for sale, without “blinking an eye” while we squabble about semantics (political correctness) to the point of ignoring our common cultural erosion. There is not one problem, other than foreign terrorism, that cannot be explained by and blamed, partly, on our ailing culture.

We don’t recognize that by creating new laws, we also are defining new categories of criminals for an already over-burdened justice system and refuse to realize that the overburdened system, is the reason the current laws aren’t already enforced.

Our media takes advantage of our busy distractions and choreograph our outrage by carefully choosing or boycotting information according to their own tastes and addiction to sensationalism.

Parenting used to be a cultural obligation to our children. Parents who did not take their roles seriously were treated as deadbeats.  Look around, parenting has become a choice according to personal comforts, decided after kids are born. There is no backlash, no stigma, any more.

Look at our current culture and ask, “Is there no shame?”

Seems to me, that pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

Within Reason 2: A Conservative Opinion

Tulips

Tulips (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New England, and anywhere, where the seasons change, is a place which offers a microcosm of life in general. The lessons learned in this climate, are quite valuable to those who recognize them.

Again, my conservative leaning is influenced by Nature. My own opinion of  liberalism is that it is weighed down by a too generous amount of emotion and ,in their extremes, both liberals and conservatives are inhibited by their own opinions that they somehow know exactly what is correct. Knowing everything definitely puts a hitch in the listening and learning and the solving process, no matter who you are.

When we consider a surgeon for a delicate corrective surgery. We do hope that he/she cares about the patient but I would have a great deal more faith in one who was cautious and analytical than one who was moved to tears at the sight of blood or the anticipation of pain. Some people might translate the surgeon’s calm as evidence that he/she didn’t care but calmness and forethought are necessary for success and the assumption that the finely tuned surgeon doesn’t care has no merit. Also, as much as anyone wants the operation to be over and the healing to begin, no individual wants the surgeon rushing through the procedure.

In New England, we learn how quickly change happens. The New England gardener/ farmer has to plan ahead because they’ve suffered every time they have gotten caught up in one season to the point of not preparing for the next.

Do overs just don’t work as well as preplanned, especially in Nature.

I noticed some lovely outdoor tulip pots at a local supermarket, a few days ago. They contained forced tulips for the gardeners who hoped to have a lovely spring garden but did not plant bulbs the previous Fall. I remember the Fall assortment that was passed by while folks were planning for Halloween. Those who did buy the bulbs are now casually passing by those forced tulips with a confidence that their garden has the better chance of success. The people buying up the potted tulips want a tulip garden, just as much, as the bulb planters but the forced tulips are counting on events beyond anyone’s control for their success. The weather must warm, the plants must adapt and the ground must soften. Timing is critical to the success of this year’s tulip garden for the unprepared. I want everyone to have gardening success and I’ll bet the gardeners with the potted tulips will be unhappy if things don’t work out. Personal responsibility is owned by those bulb planters and cry, as the late gardeners may, many won’t understand that they had had other choices.

Wanting success is everyone’s goal but setting ourselves up for success takes a calm, analytical approach and the firm belief that just wanting something does not outweigh the power of figuring out how best to get it.

What’s in a Name?

This is for you guys out there. Something that you may not have considered.

This was inspired by my Facebook connection to my High School graduating class of 1974, since, the women are much harder to identify. It reminded me of something.

The social convention of women taking their husband’s last name is common and seems quite mundane, especially to the husband.

It wasn’t really easy for me, and I suspect, it hasn’t been easy for many women. We create an individuality, a reputation and a persona as we grow up then our “identity” is renamed, changed, in one day.

At first, my biggest fear was accidentally misspelling this name but it felt like I was hiding my true identity for years. Soon, came the ordinary questions from locals about this family, which I really had no history with. Few asked about my “maiden” family because it was hidden but I had been THAT former person all of my life. There was a brand new persona that was in its infancy and I felt a little lost.

In my case, we lived (and still do) in a small city where our families had an equal recognizability. I was not as much an alien, as a bipolar person. For years, I was introduced with two names, by folks who were “in the know”. The old person and this new one…I hadn’t changed a bit though. Creepy when you really get down to it.

I realized that this was a sore point for years, when I uncharacteristically made a snipe at friend of my husband’s family. About two years into our marriage, our first child was born. My husband’s family friend was admiring our beautiful daughter and commented, in jest, “You should had named her Edwina after her father.”

I felt flushed for a moment, then said, “Why would I? She already has HIS last name!”

The rush of resentful emotion startled me, as much as, the poor woman.

Now, I’ve been married for 34 years and I’m no longer the “maiden”. I have built one fine new reputation and persona and I’m comfortable. But when I try to relate to friends who knew me by an ancient name, there’s still a pinch…a moment of mourning, about that not so mundane name change long ago.

23612_411477303827_530328827_5007867_4476253_nSusan

Happy Valentine’s Day… whomever you are?

Random Word Story #29~Humble Pie in your Eye

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random words generated by randomwordgenerator.net

wordplay…scrubland…kinswoman…pill…irratatingly

Here’s my story:

It’s a common occurrence  in families. Doctors come from a long line of doctors…teachers seem to be generated within blood lines too. So when Jillian decided to become a water witch she suspected that she was the “fly in the ointment” of her scientific family.

Jillian spent her Thanksgiving reunion in a silent fuddle. Her Dad, the physicist, tipped his head toward her with a raised eyebrow and asked, “So how are those studies going?” He emphasized studies in a way that she was familiar. He could irritatingly infer that she was a kook even when his interest seemed genuine. No one else had been informed of her career choice so the introduction of the subject stung a bit.

She’d spent 6 months in a desert scrubland with no positive results and was beginning to question her skills and whether or not she just might fit the kook label after all. Failure was a hard pill to swallow in her family, especially hard for a deviant from science like herself. She had a dozen successes under her belt. That certainly wasn’t a shabby record. Jillian had stepped in when “scientists” had failed more than once.

Dowsers use divining rods attempting to find water. The practice was ancient and had saved many a farm from dust and despair. Not knowing every reason for a practice certainly cannot preclude it from being scientific. Jillian stiffened her posture.

Dad continued to poke fun, “Jillian, dear, it would be divine if you’d pass the gravy.”

With that, Jillian decided to “come out of her mystic closet”. Dad’s wordplay was getting to her, big time. Suddenly her shame was from hiding her beloved profession.

“So, has everyone heard about my studies? I’m a water witch. A darn good one too!”

Heads lifted. Aunt Barbara condescendingly snickered into her napkin while cousin Frank, the legally blind entomologist, squinted at her through “coke-bottle” glasses. Jillian had always wondered why he didn’t study BIG creatures. What a joke!

Great-grandmother was the only accepting face at the table. She was also the only one who spoke.

“It appears you have a tough crowd to please, Jilly. I’ll bet they don’t know about a fine kinswoman who made her life as a dowser. My great-grandmother worked for Abraham Lincoln himself don’t ya know. She’d be so very proud.”

Every face fell.

Jillian felt redeemed and raised an eyebrow directly at her father.

“Hey Dad, want some humble pie with that gravy?”

Hot Tomatoes

I’m sure you have heard the statement,”It’s all in your head.” It’s a common phrase which begs for the answer,”What’s your point?”.

Psychology doesn’t always explain everything and our taste buds are a fine example.

When I was a child, I used to watch my sister gobble the garden-fresh fruit of the tomato plant with a passion. One summer, she consumed enough of them to break out in hives. They became forbidden to her for much of that season. I ,on the other hand (or tongue), could not stand their taste. I practiced taking bites of the eye-appealing delicacy, with the same intoxicated look that my sister always had, only to retch and spit it out.

I finally found them palatable when they were hot. My “tomato war” lasted many years until I had one on a hamburger. I was in my teens and rejoiced that I could finally taste the “good” in them. You may think rejoicing is a bit “over the top” but my silent war with my taste buds was a bitter one. All that time, I did enjoy ketchup and other tomato products but never tomato juice or fresh fruit.

I have had a similar struggle with carrots. It was in an opposite delivery. Cooked carrots ruined many a stew for me yet eating them raw has always been one of my favorite snacks.

The varied tastes people have, scientifically, must have to be from our individual abilities to taste chemicals that are present. I’ve read that some of us(me included) cannot enjoy a glass of orange juice when it immediately follows brushing our teeth. Others have no idea what we are experiencing. This would be one of those,”It’s all in your head.” moments from their perspective. My answer is,”Where ever it comes from, it remains yucky!”

When realizing how varied peoples tasting skills are, it makes me all the wiser when it comes to tolerance of their ideas. How varied we are in experiences and views! It is very exasperating when someone cannot seem to grasp what you are saying. It would be easy to call them dumb or stubborn and sometimes that is exactly what they are. But, I propose we all keep our taste buds in mind the next time we connect with people. There are many ways to “taste” life. None of them are wrong but they are, oh, so varied.

The Weight of Parenthood

I came across and old photo of my son. It reminded me of some “heavy” criticism that I received while he was growing up. Parents are a particularly susceptible group when it comes to criticism , in general, but I had my reasons and here’s my story:

My son was a difficult child from the start.(Actually, three weeks before he was born, he kicked me hard enough to bruise me internally.) They call it ADD but I am aware that many folks use that diagnosis as a ball park term for naughty kids too. Anyway, he never seemed to foresee consequences and danger.

It started with a toddler who walked at 9 months old. That boy could literally get burned and go back for more. He’d walk off the end of a dock into a lake. He’d climb to the top of a playground slide and throw his hands up, drop his weight and holler, “Watch this Mommy!”

As he grew, his careless nature did not mature. I still think he may have other emotional disorders. But, in my day, that was considered bunk and he is now 30 years old and therefore was never diagnosed.

There was a time, that he became very “chunky”. Actually, he was quite overweight. This added to teasing at school and compounded every attempt to get his self-esteem lifted but he was alive.

Yes, it was THAT simple. His snacking and sedentary habits were, in my mind, a trade-off for his life.

We lived on a busy street next to a river and railroad tracks. To encourage my son to “go out and play” was too big a risk because I understood his inability to sense danger. Video games kept him happily occupied and he felt successful and proud of his gaming prowess. He had so little to feel proud of himself for. At school, he’d sought negative attention because he was unable to accomplish normal goals in a classroom. He became a chronic “bad boy” and hated school which hated him back. One foot note from a teacher described him as a good kid, at heart, but a trouble maker, just enough, to be disruptive.

Childhood obesity is a real problem in our country. I’m “on board” with kids becoming more active and taking in fewer calories. But I want folks to realize that letting kids go out and play isn’t like it used to be. Child predators and dangers are out there. Parents are busier trying to make ends meet and not available for supervision in many cases. Even healthy foods in large quantities can add weight when kids sit around. My son visited the refrigerator as an activity. We had yogurt. grapes, whole wheat bread and he ate them all. To this day, he will not eat a fatty piece of meat and chicken is his favorite meat.

Well, there I go explaining again. I heard many comments, secondhand sometimes, they all came down to,”Why did she allow him to get fat?”. (BTW-He is a trim and fit adult now.)

My answer…because I loved him, that’s why.

Next time you feel like criticizing an obviously attentive parent. Remember this post, and, please, keep it to yourself. They just may have their own reasons. 🙂

Kids are people too!

Katherine (age 6) was bewildered and frightened when asked not to get on her bus,as usual, yesterday. My daughter called her school and told them that Kat’s dad was going to pick her up for a change. Ellen specifically asked them to inform Katherine that her Daddy was coming.

The school office called Kat’s classroom and told her teacher to send Kat to the “walkers” exit. She was not to get on the bus. NO ONE TOLD KAT WHY. She was whimpering to herself until she saw her Dad. The change of plans without an explanation had her bewildered. THAT makes me angry!

It reminded me of my own experience the day President Kennedy was shot. I was just a little older than Katherine when I saw teachers congregating in our school hallway. They were crying. A voice came over the school intercom saying that we were all to go home immediately. This was almost an hour before ordinary dismissal. I ran home with my heart pounding and my eyes filled with tears. WHAT could be going on?

We had been schooled in the threat of nuclear attacks during the sixties and you can only imagine the possible scenarios that filled my head!

This is a post with a big message attached. Kids are people too! They are not mindless amoebas that litter a room. Tell them what’s going on you arrogant educators!

Whew…I feel better now. Have a nice day. 🙂

What’s the BIG DEAL?

The Big Deal (TV channel)

The Big Deal (TV channel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kids are, by nature, defiant. Check.

Kids will, one day, find out you are not able to supervise them every minute. Check.

Kids, especially preschoolers, function primarily on reverse psychology. Check.

These are universal truths that I am proclaiming, (and believe), in order to continue this train of thought.

It is a wonderful event when a parent embraces their role. I say,”Lucky kids.”

So what’s the BIG deal? Parents who make a BIG deal over little things.

  • Mom at bank counter raising her eyebrows and voice over the offering of a sugary treat to her child.
  • Dad becoming visibly shocked when baby daughter disrobes in front of boys.
  • A parent’s agony over the third word added to their child’s vocabulary. ( The word is “NO!” soon to be replaced by “why?”.)

Making a BIG deal over small, innocent events make them BIG deals. Big deals play badly with defiant, devious persons who specialize in rebellion. The knowledge that these things bother their parents gives little kids magnificent power. The BIG DEAL making improves the odds that kids will remember and use them again.

Case #567

I have a day care parent who wisely supervises her 5-year-old child’s TV viewing. The parent does not want her daughter concerned with the dating and teenage antics on Teen Nick programs. Again, great parenting philosophy that I agree with!

This parent has scoffed and sputtered about the subject in front of the 5-year-old on a regular basis. That 5-year-old is the only kid who changes my TV channel specifically to Teen Nick. Even the older kids, in my charge, ignore that the programming even exists. I rest my case…

In summary, being a diligent parent of young children, does not require the “making a Big Deal” attitude. In fact, you may be undermining your own goals.

BTW- Parents will have plenty of BIG DEAL opportunities when their kids become teenagers.