Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Blogging from the Second Half of Childhood

I could say that I just don't know what has gotten into me, but that wouldn't really be true.  I know exactly what has gotten into me and why I haven't posted on my blog in over two years and have been ignoring fb for almost an equal amount of time and now I am "suddenly" back.  Three years ago this October, I made a career shift, I went from being a clinician to teaching clinical skills to graduate students in the speech and hearing sciences department at a major university.  I seem to have underestimated the amount of time that it would take me to get up to speed and how this career change would influence my entire social outlook. 

With the change in work came more time during the day spent on the computer and a huge amount of time teaching and editing students through the professional report writing process.  Needless to say, as I am highly sensitive to sensory overload, I avoided the computer at all cost during my down time.  Additionally, the energy spent directing the professional report writing process for students was in direct conflict with my creative writing process.  Since I can now toss out jokes during faculty meetings to which even senior faculty members chuckle, I am becoming very comfortable in this environment and am now feeling ready to push myself back into cyberspace for my own well-being.

At the time of my last post, my eldest child was entering middle school.  She graduates from middle school this Wednesday and enters high school next year.  During this time she has defied the national trend and continues to get better and better at math the older she gets, last state standardized test score for math, 565 out of 565, highest possible, "yes," I am proud.  She also transitioned from ballet into jazz and lyrical dance and auditioned for and got onto a competitive dance team in which she competed all last year.  Now she is set to try out for the high school drill team and is excited to wear her very high heeled sandals and fancy dress to her upcoming graduation ceremony.

My younger two will leave elementary school behind, as will I, thus the title of this blog post, I have officially moved to the "second half of childhood."  I consider this applicable to myself as well because I have gone through one rollicking middle age crisis in the last couple of years. 

Today I even thought that I might start a new blog, maybe one devoted to professional interests or parenting stories.  In my bio I know that I state parenting probably wouldn't be a part of my blog, but it is, and the older that my children get, the more it probably will be.  I am not longer in the phase of universal advise regarding developmental milestones by age, but am in the full throes of adolescence here in the hormone house.  More on that later.  So, I imagine I will be around from now on connecting from one side of childhood or the other.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Some Parents are Unbelievable

Today I went to a parent meeting at church regarding the middle school program. Since the beginning of school, the middle schoolers have alternated between sitting in the church service and meeting together as a group during the morning service that we traditionally attend. This is my daughter's first year in the middle school program and I have been quite satisfied with this change. For years now I have walked by the room where the middle schoolers meet and have seen nothing but chaos, loud music, and young leaders. Quite frankly, it didn't look like they were doing much of anything but mucking about. I came to the meeting today, newbie that I am, hopeful that other parents may be embracing this change as much as me and I couldn't have been more wrong.

They are up in arms, they want the old format back, well not everyone, but the few who talked...and talked...and talked again sure did. My view had been wrong they said, the kids did get some teaching the way that the group ran before. It came out slowly, over the course of the meeting that the Sunday mornings did not offer much in the way of teaching. Most of the parents claimed to have brought their children back for other kinds of meetings during the week. That doesn't really work for us, so I was glad to have much of the teaching concentrated on Sunday mornings and more of the fun during the week.

I must say that the minister in charge of this age group was extraordinarily professional and has a solid vision. Some of the more challenging parents referred to this as a "theory that doesn't apply well in practice." That depends, in my opinion, on what kind of parent you are. The resounding theme from the vocal group was, "my child doesn't want to come to church anymore." My thought is that they just shouldn't have a choice. Now don't get me wrong, I think that my children can have choices in many things, such as whether they want to bring or buy their lunch, who they invite to their birthday party, what they chose to wear on a given day as long as it is appropriate, but if your family value is that you go to church and you go to church together, then to church they should go. Sometimes church isn't fun. School often isn't fun, yet these parents do not give their children a choice about going or not going.

Maybe your family value is that each member decides for themselves whether they will go to church or not. It seemed that most of the parents present at the meeting today hold the value that they should all go to church together, but that they have middle schoolers who don't want to go because it isn't fun. This seems to be a child rearing method that I missed out on, even though these parents have children roughly the same age as mine, my husband and I just don't believe in letting the kids run the show. Good habits start at home. Every family should have traditions and values that all members participate in regardless of the desire factor, this sets the groundwork for children to learn delayed gratification and the long term value of sticking with something. Shame on these parents for using church as yet another entertainment medium.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Reflections on Great Women in History

Last week I had the most wonderful opportunity to attend a Martha Graham Dance Company production. I have heard Martha Graham's name bandied about over the years, but had never seen the dancers or learned much about Martha Graham. While billed as a modern dance company, the troupe is extremely fluid and the dancing dynamic (not jerky and stilted as I had expectd). There is almost a story with each movement. I learned more about Martha Graham too, because this production was documentary, using film and voice, as well as performance based. Martha Graham is quite simply the founder of modern dance. I am sure that I was not the only one in the audience thinking that the late, great Michael Jackson most certainly must have spent time studying her patterns of movement and putting his own spin on them.

Her contemporary, Coco Channel is another female great. She can be credited with such inventions as the business suit for women, the popularity of pearls, and the little black dress. Like Martha, Coco Channel took the road less travelled for women of her time and forever changed the fashion industry and the way that women dress. Over the years, I have often heard comments to the effect of "women don't invent anything," they do, you just have to look and pay attention. The next time that you see a dancer use a contract and expand movement or glance at a woman dressed gracefully in a black dress and pearls, think of the mothers of invention.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kids aren't Getting enough Sleep and Morning People Rule the World

Articles peppering me with the theme of kids not getting enough sleep are coming at me from all directions as of late. There is a consensus across the country that kids, especially adolescents, need more snooze time. Anyone who has been a teenager or lived in close proximity to one already knows this sans all of the research and hype. We know it to be true, but continue to schedule school start times that are more suitable for senior citizens than youth citizens. In work, in school, and in fun it seems like you just can't get away from it, morning people rule

I am not a morning person. In fact, I am probably as difficult to rouse now as I ever was when I was a teenager. My father is in his 70s and he is still a night owl with a strong aversion to mornings. It is likely that I am not going to change anytime soon no matter how desperately I would like to re-set my biological clock in order to fit in and be popular with those pesky early risers.

When I see all of this information regarding adolescents and sleep I know that for some of them at least, the inability to retire early and rise early will not change. So, should they just struggle through this stage of their lives tired as hell and try to get used to it, or should the world change and try and give them a break before real life after high school sets in?

Frankly, I can see both sides. Being forced to rise early certainly did not change me into an early riser. As an adult it was the job where I had to arrive at 7:00am each day that I used the most sick days. I didn't come home from that job and get things done either, I came home and slept. Sometimes I tried to go to bed early, nothing helped, I felt sick until my schedule changed. It is the same thing with trying to get up early to exercise, my muscles are so stiff and sore that I need to stretch for at least an hour and ingest a large cup of caffeine before hitting the gym.

I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that confirmed night owls such as myself certainly don't get much respect. If I over sleep it is usually because I was up late the night before doing something productive and not due to laziness for which I have sometimes been accused. I might add that going to bed earlier does not help, I still resist getting up. The sad fact is that my children are the same way. My husband is a night owl like me, so how could we expect anything different from our offspring?

More than likely my children will grow up to encounter the same problems that I have, the world is run by morning people who try and make us night owls feel lazy and unproductive because we are not giddy with the sunrise. When I think about adolescents and those of us who prefer the evening to the early morning hours, I think that what the world needs is less discrimination and more tolerance for all sleep types . The world is more colorful and interesting when we don't all arise at the break of day.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On Working Full-Time....

This is the first full-time job that I have had in eleven years and it is feeling pretty good thus far, midway through my first week. The thing that I am most thankful for is not to be running my children to and from activities after school each day. For some time, these car expeditions have not been the most productive and positive interactions with my children. Last night, because someone else was doing the schlepping, I was actually able to come home and prepare a very decent dinner. The job itself is shaping up, there is so much to learn and it has been a while since I have felt this ignorant. The family dynamics are changing a bit for the better and I hope that this continues. My husband is having to take up some of the duties that I used to be responsible for such as children's doctors appointments and taking children to and fro if our child minder is not available. Do I miss being away from home during the day? Not that much. It is often hard for me to get things done at home because I get caught up in cleaning or doing extra chores. Now I can bring things to do, like writing, in my down times at work and actually I have more time available to work on things that are important to me. Extra chores and housework can be saved for later in the day when I am no longer exerting my best energy to get them done. I will have to check in with my progress now and then. As I do enjoy this new work very much, I hope that it continues to be a good experience in regards to personal development and family dynamics. The sun is out, I may have to go for a walk.

Friday, October 1, 2010

To Think That It Happened In This Country...


This is the story of our Mothers and Grandmothers who lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

(Lucy Burns)
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

(Dora Lewis)
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

(Alice Paul)
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

(Berthe Arnold, Colorado A&M/CSU graduate)
My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco/Bingo night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

So, refresh MY memory. Some women won't vote this year because - Why, exactly?

We have carpool duties?
We have to get to work?
Our vote doesn't matter?
It's raining?
I'm so busy...I've got so much on my plate!
Shame on again what these women went through for you! Was all that suffering for nothing?

And for you men out there do not forget why this country was founded. The right to vote was hard fought for. So please do not take it for granted, get out and vote.