Girls will be girls…

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I’ve watched small children for almost 40 years (as a Family Day Care Provider) and there are some “stereotypes” that, I must admit, are true.

Little girls and little boys are definitely “wired” differently.

This post is motivated by my anxiousness about the, soon to happen, summer school vacation. My 7-year-old granddaughter, her 6-year-old (girl) cousin and a 3 1/2-year-old girl, will be in my care every weekday throughout the summer.  I am still recovering from the week-long Spring break with this trio.

Throughout my day care years, I was blessed by groups with more boys than girls. Don’t get me wrong, little girls make the better companions when alone. They are much more verbal and enjoy engaging with adults, a bit more. But, put them in a group, and there is competition without limits.

My scientific curiosity, about human behavior, always stems from Nature and, our similarities to animals. Females compete for the reason of propagating the human species. It is simply hard-wired into their nature, in my opinion. This further explains the many girls who find keeping “male friends” much more satisfying and less complicated through their early years. For me, the valuing of female friendships didn’t appear until after I was married with children. The “drama” created by groups of females always detracted from the uncomplicated “rough and tumble” play that I enjoyed most.

Many may feel this post is terribly sexist…to those who think this, I say, “Men and women are different. Instead of ignoring this, I suggest we embrace and value those differences.”

I am speaking from years of experience. Personally, it’s been a life-long study with irrefutable results.

The competitiveness of girls seems to be, grounded in, their superb awareness of non-verbal clues and their delightful social abilities. One example that I remember clearly:

A 4-year-old girl was sitting in a pout over not getting her way. I asked a 4-year-old boy to offer her some apple slices for snack. The girl turned her head away from the offer, since she wasn’t yet over her disappointment. The boy reacted with a shrug and happily kept the extra portion for himself. Then I asked a 3-year-old girl to make the same offer to the “pouter”. (There was “bad blood” between these two girls from other competitive moments but I hoped it might be the first step in getting them to be friendlier with each other.) The 3-year-old, happily offered the girl some apples. Miss Pout rolled her eyes and folded her arms refusing the apples. Without hesitation, the younger girl threw the apple slices in her lap and stormed away.

The boy was not at all insulted…even at 3, the girl who was offering the apples, knew she had been snubbed and, furthermore, took it quite personally.

I find the experiment quite interesting and don’t think a world made, from all of either reaction, would be fun. The boy’s reaction was far easier for me though! The girls battled daily after that and to my distraction.

Of course, these reactions can happen from either sex. Some boys are wound tighter and some girls are not as easily insulted. I am just offering a well-studied norm for your consideration. Actually, being aware of this tendency has allowed me to avoid putting girls “at odds” with each other and has reminded me to offer boys more “How do you think they feel?” moments too.

So my plans for summer are many well thought out activities. There will be well-defined consequences for extreme bickering and rewards for showing good-sportsmanship and sharing. Keeping decisions fewer and options greater may be my only salvation!

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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.

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Happy Valentine’s Day… whomever you are?

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. 🙂

Stand and Be Counted

I am a white American. My family history goes back to the American Revolution on one side and Early 20th Century immigration on the other.

I am tired of being blamed for slavery. I would help anyone without regard for their race,or sexual orientation. I love my country and our people.

I am one of many who refuses to be intimidated by accusations of racism and bias. I listen to Fox News ,as well as ,CNN and MSNBC. No one is 100% right or wrong but we are trying to make our nation live up to its promises of freedom and liberty.

I do not think the way to the future is big government who cares for those who will not try. All great ideas have their short comings. Welfare,social security and even FEMA are used and abused.

I do not believe our forefathers intended us to fight with each other or to accuse any citizens of unpatriotic behavior.

I do know that I am tired of supporting the lazy and their offspring.

Ashamed of those who believe we are an evil nation.

Proud of all who speak their mind without name calling.

I have been accused of being naive more than once but I believe in the American people and their votes will be counted in 2012.