Short Stuff

Jan 11, 2009

“I’m 4 years old and ready to get hair under my arms,” Chase stated proudly to his mom while putting on his pajamas this evening.

Mom hesitated.  “Who has hair under their arms?”

“Daddy.”  He paused. “And you.”

More than a few chuckles came from the computer room, quite possibly indicating some type of knowledge regarding the current miscommunication.

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Parents Do Matter

Jun 21, 2007

Over at the Freakonomics blog, the authors have again noted their stance on the subject of reading to your children. Notably, they say it doesn’t really help and they use a flashy headline to ask a question. Perhaps surprisingly, I agree with their points, even if I have some trouble with their wording.

Culture cramming may be a foundational belief of modern parenting but, according to the data, it doesn’t improve early childhood test scores.

Amen. The anecdotal evidence I’ve witnessed doesn’t support it. The aggregate test scores of our high schools don’t appear to show the improvements of this group of very intensely focused parents. Do the special schools and flash cards give your kids an important head start? I can’t say. My concern is that that the kid will learn something much worse than arithmetic. They’ll learn to hate learning, a problem that is incredibly difficult to teach away.

I want my kids to love to read. I’m not particularly concerned about the mechanics of reading at such an early age. I don’t have a spreadsheet to track their progress or a checklist where I record their accomplishments. I tend to keep the flash cards hidden within the case of that brightly colored alphabet work set.

I do, however, attempt to foster their interest in books, or magazines, or even the occasional map from an amusement park. I decode the writing below the occasional statue on the fields of Gettysburg just because they ask. I look forward to the days of comic books and secretly thank J.K. Rowling for a future where I can show my kids that reading is more than something that school forces you to do.

So, we’re on the same page, at least until their conclusion, which doesn’t need to be restated more than it needs to be reworded.

Parenting technique is highly overrated. When it comes to early test scores, it’s not so much what you do as a parent, it’s who you are.

Parenting is very much an attempt to pass on the good and acknowledge, and maybe contain, the bad. The most important lessons you teach your kids, you do as an example. In a sense, it’s very much about who I am. I want my kids to be like me — at least the good parts of me. But the X’s and O’s of reading, writing, and arithmetic come up when I play a different but related role, the role of a teacher. When we talk about who I am, and who I want them to be, it’s then that I’m being the parent.

If I’m reading things correctly, it sounds like I’m taking the right tact. I certainly dig propping the kids on my lap for a short story or two or three or four. More importantly, they seem to like it too.

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Shooting Stars

Sep 27, 2006

I spent some time tonight stargazing, an activity aided by a wonderful moonless night but slightly hindered by the shining lights of my lawn mower. I might not want to mow in the darkness but the light of the ancients were interesting company.

Those same stars weren’t as comforting for my oldest son. Our little chat on the front step of our home met with some apprehension as I turned off the porch lights. I wanted to point out the Milky Way. He wanted to express his sudden fear of shooting stars.

Apparently, they are huge. And they make lots of noise. And go, “shroom across the sky.” The wide eyed child that told me this story, complete with a wide wave with his hand, surely wanted no parts of these world ending objects.

I explained to him what little I know. I spoke of little rocks. I told him that shooting stars are silent and beautiful. I attempted to relate them to one of the things he dearly loves, rollercoasters.

My little man considered these facts but didn’t seem to believe me. My explanation did, however, seem to have an one effect. It created a story.

I learned that “when he was little” a shooting star once fell in front at his feet. He picked up this star and had a little conversation.

“Why are you here little star?”

I was told of its bouncing. I was told it returned to the sky. I learned that his story seemed to both comfort and delight him.

We both enjoyed the sky this evening. He used his imagination to help things along. I used some help from John Deere.

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Aug 2, 2006

Words you never want to hear, example 142:
“Mommy, pee pee just shot out my butt!”

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The Brown Stuff

Jul 23, 2006

Occasionally, a practical joke goes awry.

I spent the better part of a week placing a fake turd in various locations within my sister’s home during my recent vacation there. It’s a lot of fun. You should try it. They found it on their living room. It greeted them when they opened their fridge and peered into their microwave. That little piece of poo got around.

But the normal reaction to its visitation might need some work. It spends a lot of time roaming the Wootton household and the schtick has been honed to near perfection.

“Oh SHIT!,” you exclaim.

“What’s wrong? What happened?” is the reply.

In response, you simply display your brown discovery.

Why isn’t this perfect? When your youngest child, still far from his second birthday, comes upon the plastic sausage, picks it up, and proceeds to march around the house. Proudly, he announces his catch with every passing step.

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