Psych-Out

Human psychology is so very curious.

On Facebook, there’s a game circulating which asks people to list some unknown facts about themselves. Immediately, I was struck by the different types of answers and that, some “private” people, just didn’t want to play.

As a person who shares her ideas and opinions (more often than many would care to hear), I find “private” people curious from the “get go”. This is not a judgement, at all. I just wonder what they are feeling and thinking? Since they aren’t inclined to share…I may never know.

That said, the answers, from those who wanted to play, fell into several categories.

1. Things that have happened to them.

2. Their personal tastes and preferences.

3. Accomplishments and choices they’ve made.

4. Ideas/philosophies

THIS is absolutely interesting to me.

While some, chose to reach into their childhood for tidbits, others stayed in a “real time” frame of reference… this also, was interesting.

I’m not a psychologist and we cannot be sure that “how?” people answered isn’t influenced by their own environment in that moment BUT it must, on some level, say a lot about their self-image.

Now, don’t expect me to draw conclusions. This blog post is just about pointing out something that I found curious and wanted to share ‘cuz sharing is what I do! LOL 😉

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Comedy: The Life and Times

2545117188_9b70af77e5_bWhat makes something or someone funny?

If we could “put our finger” on that, most of us would choose to become comedians. It is fun to be funny!

I was watching my 7 year old granddaughter make her 5 month old sister laugh. A delightful engaging scene. The first thing that I noticed and, had always known, slapstick comedy is ageless. Even infants know that falling on your face is funny and, the addition of surprise to that equation, makes it hilarious.

The puzzle that I am searching to solve is, how do some people make us laugh by their presence alone? I have a giggle reflex that starts when my sister enters the room. The same reflex happens with a few friends of mine too. The immediate solution seems to be that we have an on-going comedy act. Maybe a history of funnies that come to mind or, at least, are lurking in our subconsciousness. That might well be true BUT I have had the same comedic stirrings with new kids/babies in my day care program. One of my long remembered kids and I locked eyes for the very first time and laughed. We each just felt a bubbly energy when we were together.

Which now begs the question, where does that energy originate and what inspires it? Have you ever been in line at a grocery store and felt that connection with a complete stranger? I have. It always surprises and delights me. It’s often been said that dealing with the “public” is a chore. Yes, there are also people who can “put us off” at first glance. Is it their posture, lack of eye contact, facial expression? A fascinating psychological puzzle for sure.

Whatever the chemistry may be called, it makes the world a happier place knowing that comedy is alive and can be found when, and where, we least expect it. Surprise!

In The Lake of the Woods- Book Review

41E95Y1K45L._SS500_Just finished this book and I’m in the usual fog that follows. Gripping and disturbing are often adjectives applied to books. They fit completely in this case.

There are historical references, many of which I remember in real-time. The old understood fact, that society is forgetful, certainly has me reeling. I had also forgotten those events.

Forgetting is necessary in order to carry on after atrocities. But when we forget, do we place understanding in the hands of historians? Then again, there are some things, like the recent tragedy in a Connecticut school, that can never be understood. It will never be known how many people were wounded…scarred forever, and the lack of understanding of such events fester forever in our subconsciousness. Never Solved…Never Resolved…EVER.

So what do we do? We wait. Time doesn’t ever heal anything. It just allows for those scarred individuals to, one day, all turn to dust and, with them, the direct, hurtfulness of the unimaginable.

This book returns us to the time of the Vietnam War through the life of John Wade. It reintroduced atrocities that have yet, in 2013, to become dust. It skillfully asks the question, How can we forget? It produces characters that are directly and indirectly victims of things that they don’t understand. Most of those things, they don’t want to understand but the effects are real enough to destroy their lives. The horrific ripples are toxic and live on and keep destroying as if the horrors faced are living beasts attached by an umbilical to the witnesses.

Tim O’Brien obviously was/is one of those scarred by the war. He makes a case for living beyond personal nightmares, especially when they are the only ones faced in a lifetime. But John Wade has endured a piling on of nightmares. His hauntings intermingle and grow larger and fiercer with every attempt he makes to forget them. Not having answers, as an adult, is troubling. Needing answers, as a child, can leave a person hopelessly lost.

I couldn’t put this down. I was a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car. Some might say, the ending asks more questions than it gives answers. I believe this book was about the gray area between what is real and what we cannot understand. It certainly made me feel powerless to ever make things right. Happiness is an illusion after tragedy and the best survivors are merely “magicians”.

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.

Copycat!!!!

Sometimes as a child care provider, I feel more like a referee than an educator. The most frequent complaint from kids is,”They are copying me!”. Seems that every single child, at one time or another, has that complaint.

In my opinion, the old kid game of repeating every spoken word another kid says in order to irritate them is the only example of copying that requires a complaint. Ever wonder what makes the young (sometimes old ) human being feel it has to be original? I do.

We all remember hearing from our parents and telling our kids, “copying is a form of flattery.”. The indignancy of being copied is still prevalent in the immature mind, in spite of that wisdom. Certainly being original is great. Without valuing originality, where would innovation and invention be?

We don’t want to have kids become sheep, but this morning’s example of the copycat complaint speaks to something that I find baffling.

Child A and Child B interrupt my bathroom visit (as usual) both claiming an urgency to use the facilities. Child A is extremely agitated by the fact that Child B is copying her request to use the bathroom. Child B is new to toileting and once she decides to go, there is a finite amount of time for success. Child B’s request to use the bathroom may well have started as a copycat behavior but it is obvious that the need has become real. I place Child B on the toilet while Child A screams the indignity of being copied and not getting first use.

Some kids have a greater sensitivity to the “copycat offense”. Amusingly, those same kids are the ones who do the greater amount of “copycatting” and serves as one fine example of the art of projection. “I do it, so you must also be doing it.” Liars think everyone is lying, thieves are quicker to think a lost item has been stolen…and so on. This isn’t always true and should not be accepted as a unanimous fact but sometimes it really shows where a person’s head is.

The view of innate emotions that I get from watching kids, is fascinating. I think we can learn so much from kids. Their innocence is refreshing and even their, less than stunning moments, give us so much to consider.

One prime example of a great idea that backfired: I convinced my daughter (when she was about 7) that trying to be first in my day care line-ups was boring. (I was only attempting to ease the “I’m first!” bickering.) So, she started asking to be last. Well, before long, everyone wanted to be last…Lining up is impossible without someone going first!!! I’m sure there is a wonderful lesson in that debacle. HA!!! 🙂

Bunk and Positive Reinforcement: I need a vacation!

It’s two days before my summer vacation. I’ve been doing child day care since 1975 and my 56-year-old self is tattered and tired. The release of kids from school has added a new dynamic to my daily schedule. Big and little kids are battling for their place in the group. I’d like to say that I have everything under control and all’s well. It’s not.

My first instinct is to devise a chart for my current charges to accumulate “stars” upon. You know, those same charts that parents use for positive reinforcement. They would earn stars for “good” behavior. Accumulating a predetermined amount would allow the little cherubs to turn them in for prizes. BUNK! This whole philosophy seems wrong.

What is the overall complaint about our modern society? No one seems to fear nor anticipate consequences for their bad behavior. Kids are not exempt from this. All this happy, Barney the Dinosaur, atmosphere makes me ill. I couldn’t put my finger on why it bothered me until I considered a chart system that I believe may have better results.

The positive reinforcement Star Chart system is flawed when you consider that the whole premise is based upon the kids being considered already “naughty”. The kids have to work their way UP.  That seems as though our expectations are low for them from the “get go”. I’d rather assume they are good and “nip” the bad behavior when it happens.

My system, which I will implement right after vacation, will expect the kids to know their manners and will reduce their “stars” upon each and every infraction. They will START with 10 stars. Screeching and bickering (for example) will result in an automatic loss of a star. The consequence will therefore happen in that moment. Stars can be earned for kind and mannerly behavior of an exceptional nature too. At the end of the week, those who have a 7 star, or better, average will receive a prize. The kids, who have been schooled with the first star chart, adopt an, “I’ll just make it up later.” attitude or “It’s only Monday. Why worry?”

When you consider the way a mother wolf teaches her pups, my chart is more natural. The wolf mother reprimands her young immediately. This lesson lasts longer. We can learn so very much from animal parents.

My method will be using punishment that is immediate. Yes, punishment. Our society has attached such a bad “taste” to the word or if you’d rather, consequences. I think my method may have good results.

Ever ask yourself how folks without jobs afford tattoos, cell phones and jewelry? I suspect it is because the “check” is in the mail and therefore their “star chart” remains perpetually full.

On one more note, I wonder sometimes when I stopped being an authority figure and became a waitress. Seems the kids play happily until they find me idle then demands for snack time etc. start. I know I’ve created this environment. Heck, their parents love happy, indulged, little people at day’s end. My livelihood is based upon the happy parent. I’m too old to tread lightly and submissively any more. If the kids go home and complain about my rules…so be it.

Vacation time is beckoning, don’t you think? 🙂