Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Children Need to Play

This piece on Children and Play was on NBC Today Show yesterday and it's interesting to me on many levels. First of all, my daughter and I participated in this exact study the Temple University Infant Lab. I ended up on their mailing list and they would periodically call when there was a study for her age group. So, she was about 3 or 4 when we went to the lab for this one. We read a normal Dora book and then we read an electronic Dora book, as we were filmed. I received a note this was going to be on TV, so I definitely watched. It's great to see this study come to fruition.

The other reason I was engaged in this story was because I am trying to figure out activities for my daughter in this fall. I only do weekend classes, never a weeknight due to work and school. I'd rather run around Saturday morning because we need that time at home during the week. We hardly have that much time to do homework, dinner and relax. So, I say no to playdates during the week, too.

We already have violin lessons (to supplement the school lessons). She'll have her Indian classes on Sunday afternoon, which requires time and homework. Do I put her in singing/dancing class again?What about focusing on singing lessons? (I can't tell you how many people have been pushing me for that once they hear her belt out Miley Cyrus song.) But, she wants the singing/dancing. What about ice skating? She enjoyed skating that last winter, but they didn't have classes available. Just a few weeks of lessons will help her get some confidence on the ice. She's not in any competitive sports or activities? Should she be? My husband keeps talking about Kumon classes (that's a blog by itself!)

I watched this episode. Breathe, baby, breathe.

I haven't made any decisions yet. I need to think about this some more. The benefits to these activities is there. She has friends at these classes and she's got a bit of pride. "I play violin!" "I was in a show!" She still talks about knowing karate from a free month we did at a karate school 2 or 3 years ago. I will admit, the language classes are the only she has a problem with, but that's a separate issue.

The only decision I can make now is that we need to talk as a family on what we want to do.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Zen Shorts Review

Jon J. Muth's book "Zen Shorts" is one of the most amazing children's books that I've come across.
It's beautifully illustrated with simple water colors, and it's about a large panda bear who befriends three children. There are three stories with stories within each one. The panda relates life lessons in a simple way. There's such a slowness and serenity, which stands out from the hectic hysteria of a Dr Seuss book.
They touch the values of simplicity (we're rich because we have the moon, not materials), letting go of bitterness and understanding life's every changing plan. The stories are illustrated with animals as the lead characters.
We picked this book from the library, and I started quoting those parables to my husband in an effort to pass along some of the wisdom. That's the beauty of this book - it's not just for children.
When I had a chance to buy the book, I snatched it up. When I'm in Barnes & Noble and I see someone looking for a book to buy for a new baby or young child, I always recommend "Zen Shorts" as a keepsake.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Behind Every Olympic Hero is a Mom or Dad..

The other night, Michael Phelps climbed out of the pool after breaking his own records and said to the reporter that he was looking for his mom. She's waving frantically from the stands trying to get his attention.

Beach volleyballer Misty May sprinkled her mom's ashes on the sands in Athens when she won her Gold medal. She plans to do the same this time because she shares that moment with her. Her mother was a beach Her father was watching her play from the stands, teeth clenched and watching every move to discuss afterwards.

Shawn Johnson's parents supposedly mortgaged their home twice to make sure she had coaching. There are dozens of other athletes and parents who had to move closer to the training facilities.

The commitment of fathers of the Williams sisters and Tiger Woods are legendary.

Athletes don't get to the Olympic stadium by themselves. There's a mom who's been driving to every swim meet, practice and championship event. She's been out selling cookies and wrapping paper to raise funds for the team's new uniforms. Let's not forget the financial commitment for lessons, equipment and general registration fees. Who's going to pick up? Who can drop off?

I'm not raising an Olympic athlete, and I'm exhausted!

This article in the New York Times about Deborah Phelps was absolutely moving. It's critical for a parent to find the potential in a child and channel that talent. As a single mother, she had to believe in herself and her son when all the experts were telling her the opposite.

I saw her on the Today show where she pointed out that she's not the manager, not the coach, but the mother. That is the key to success.

Remember, there's only one letter between "mothering" and "smothering"! There are plenty of sports moms and dads who are entangled in their child's wins and defeats. And, pressuring their children unbelievably. However, it seems the key is to know what your role is and to assure your child that you are there no matter what the final score is.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl - What the..!?

I finished Phillipa Gregory's "The Other Boleyn Girl" and was just irritated throughout the book. I only finished it to see how far she would go with this story.

I splurged on this book a few months ago - I find my literary treasures on the clearance table or at the library. Since I have such a Tudor obsession, let's go for it! Plus, there's an Eric Bana movie and I wanted to read it before the movie. (Wait for me, Eric!)
Within the first few pages, I was running to my Antonia Fraser book to look up timelines and events. When I checked online, I was happy to see that I wasn't the only one who spotted all the historical inaccuracies.
I can appreciate Phillipa Gregory's desire to bring alive a person who was forgotten by history. However, in trying to elevate Mary, the rest of the family became caricatures! Anne wasn't smart and strong, but extremely manipulative and heartless. She added modern sentiments to Mary - such as the desire to be with and raise her own children, much like Princess Diana.
I haven't seen the movie, but my father had. He was shaking his head about the story and how the Boleyn family had manipulated and used Mary and Anne as pawns. However, this was part of the author's artistic license. And, to your average viewer/reader (i.e., someone who is not going to check biographical references from 16th c.), these portrayals and stories become "factual." This novel also glossed over all the political and religious upheavals in the country.
To close with Dorothy Parker's famous words:
This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.