Category Archives: Kids

Snow Days

I read an article yesterday that reported that increasing numbers of school districts are doing away with school cancellations due to bad weather by providing on-line assignments for students when they can’t get to school.  Teachers can also be available by computer for lessons, resources, and support. They can do video conferencing for group assignments.  These districts have to provide all students computer notebooks so they can access their homework when the weather keeps them at home.  I loved snow days when I was a child. I don’t know how I would have felt if I knew a snow day just meant doing school work at home.  A snow day always felt like a gift.

What are some memorable snow days (or other bad weather days) that you remember? What do you think of this new trend? 

Small Accomplishments

Our son informed us this week that our 7 month old grandson was pulling himself up to standing on the living room furniture.  “He looks so proud when he does it!” son reported. Oh, to be so proud for such a small (but essentially huge), accomplishment.

What small accomplishments are you proud of? When can small be huge?

 

Planned Obsolescence

I gave a lunchtime talk yesterday for our acute care department on how to treat separation anxiety in children.  My agency is severely understaffed for all sorts of therapists, and I am the only one who knows how to work with children.  We have an abundance of people seeking therapy for their children, and I can’t see all of them.  I plan to retire in two years, and it doesn’t look promising to find a replacement for me who knows how to do child therapy.  I need to make myself obsolete.

The dear folks in our acute care department are good social workers and counselors, but they are unaccountably terrified of treating children. They admit they are afraid of saying the wrong thing and ruining the child for life. That is irrational thinking on the staff’s part.  I decided that I need to train as many of them as I can before I leave so that they can feel comfortable treating children, and so that children’s services can continue after I leave. Separation anxiety is really easy to treat if you know how, and I thought it was a good place to start. They enjoyed the talk today, and want to know about Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct disorder next month.  I can hardly wait to give them the skinny on elimination disorders.

What would you like to teach people to do or to know about?

Epiphanies

Today’s post comes to us from Port Huron Steve.

I once considered writing a book of personal memoir. The title was going to be Epiphanies. Not everyone is familiar with that word, which comes to us from the ancient Greeks. Epiphanies are those moments of sudden understanding in which a nagging problem is solved or a blazing new perception reveals itself. A less fancy definition would be “aha moments.” The word has special relevance to Christians, referring to the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. My favorite example of epiphany in popular culture is that moment in The Miracle Worker when Anne Sullivan pumps water over the hands of little Helen Keller, teaching her how language is the key that will reveal the world to her.

For me, epiphanies are special, even magic. Of course, we all learn lessons as we experience our lives. Usually enlightenment appears after a slow, unremarkable, evolutionary process. Epiphanies, by contrast, surprise and shock us. Routine mental growth is like lighting a candle in the dark; epiphanies are more like skyrockets that explode to fill the skies with color and noise.

Epiphanies I experienced as a child are hard to date with precision. When I was a toddler—somewhere between three and five—my grandfather took me out for a treat. He bought us drumsticks, those ice cream novelties with wafer cones. Up until that moment delightful things seemed to appear and disappear randomly. But when Grandpa Clarence bought those drumsticks I realized that these and other treats existed all the time. They were part of the world. If you had this thing called money, you could exchange it for a drumstick. The world was more orderly and benign than I had understood before that moment.

I experienced an epiphany in third grade that I often remember. Our classroom had an American flag (just 48 stars back then). Large portraits of George Washington and Abe Lincoln hung on the walls. Our desks were bolted in place facing the teacher’s desk, which was mounted on a raised deck to allow her to look down on the little humans in her charge. Our teacher, Miss Maybe, called on a kid named Andy to deliver a report. Sitting in my desk on the right hand side of the classroom, halfway back, I grinned with relief. The voice in my head said, “Hey, that’s Andy up there, not you! He has to give a report and you do not. He’s Andy. You’re Steve. You aren’t Andy, and you don’t have to give a report!” I’ve always wondered if most people have a particular blazing moment when they realized they are a unique consciousness, not part of a larger group.

Not all epiphanies are so fun to remember. In the first year of my marriage, my erstwife and I spent a winter month housesitting the home of Arthur Naftalin, then the mayor of Minneapolis. On a sub-zero February afternoon my parents drove all the way in from their Orono home to visit us. After a delightful meal they left, walking down the steep driveway to where they had left their car parked on the street. I stood at a living room picture window to watch. When they turned up the sidewalk, my mother and father spotted me. As if they had rehearsed this move for weeks, they turned, smiled radiantly, raised their hands and waved goodbye, each one mirroring exactly the expression and movements of the other. Tears shot out of my eyes, and I staggered back into the privacy of the living room so my parents wouldn’t see me crying. Something about the moment—the crazy synchronicity of their goodbye waves—made me realize these two people I loved so much would someday exit my life forever. Of course, I had always known my parents would likely precede me in death. That abstract, dry fact became a moment of scorching awareness when they waved goodbye that afternoon.

Do you experience epiphanies? Can you share examples?

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is a straight up-homage to the day. Not the turkey and football filled day, not the sweet potatoes and pilgrim hat day.  For those of us who don’t practice thankfulness as often as we should (including me), today is a day to help us do just that – practice thankfulness.

You’ve heard it before – what are you grateful for?

 

Cleaning Up

I don’t like cleaning. Organizing yes but cleaning no.  When I was living in Milwaukee I audited a class at the University of Wisconsin called “The Politics of Housework”. This was a LONG time ago but one of the things I remember about the class material was that housework is deeply dissatisfying for almost everybody due to its repetitive nature.  The housework never stays done.  No matter how earnestly you mop the floor, the dogs are going to wipe their muddy paws on it, probably within an hour.  This theory was very validating to me.

When YA was little, a co-worker asked me once how I get everything done and I replied “my house is dirty”. She laughed until she realized I was serious.  Then she laughed some more.  Any time I have a list of things to do, I can guarantee that cleaning is at the very bottom.  One of the upsides of entertaining a lot is that I’m forced to face the cleaning so my house doesn’t become a reality tv series.

With Nonny arriving on Monday, we’re in the last couple of days of getting the house clean (again). YA and I have a pretty good catalog of chores and luckily she likes to clean more than I do.  But mopping is still at the bottom of the list.

How do you get yourself to do the housework?

Paper Drive

This weekend’s post comes to us from Bill.
Photo Credit:  Ann Arbor District Library

Here’s a stream of consciousness for you:

Today I bought a roll of sisal twine to have on hand when I bundle tree trimmings or flattened cardboard boxes for recycling and I reflected that sisal twine always makes me think of paper drives. Remember paper drives? When I was in grade school and when I was in Boy Scouts, paper drives were a common way of earning money for extra-budgetary purchases. I especially remember the  school ones. We would each be given some lengths of twine and then, singly or in groups we would pull a wagon around the neighborhood asking neighbors, door to door, if they had any stacks of old newspapers we could have. There must have been a competitive aspect to it but I can’t remember specifically how it was set up. I don’t think it was individual; more likely it was grade against grade to see who could collect the most. I don’t recall a reward for winning either, other than the pride of coming in first. Paper drives have gone away because recycling has reduced the value of scrap paper and nobody has stacks of old newspapers lying around anyway.

It seems like there were a lot of fundraising schemes back then, most of which involved going door to door and trying to sell some commonplace item, like light bulbs, at an inflated price. An easy albeit unimaginative solution for some group of PTA parents to foist upon hapless students as a means to raise funds. Presumably, your native charm and powers of persuasion were supposed to compensate for the poor value of the transaction. Usually what happened is that your parents and grandparents ended up with a stockpile of off-brand light bulbs they had purchased at a non-competitive price. The only party to the scheme that made any real money was the company that supplied the fundraising products.

Door-to-door sales is almost extinct, it seems. Gone are the Fuller Brush men and I can’t remember the last time a kid came around trying to sell something. Although I imagine that would be considered child endangerment these days, most of us had some experience with that kind of commerce. I briefly considered trying to sell waterless cookware when I was in college. I had picked up the sample case and tried out my spiel on some female friends. I was so inept and so unconvincing that they were in helpless tears of hilarity before I finished. I returned the sample case the next day.

How about you? What did you sell?