Thursday, September 30, 2010

Slow Down and Let Them Learn

I need to slow down and leave enough time to let the kids make mistakes. Just as people I know let there kids act up and then cave into them because they, "Don't get to see them much, so they don't want their time together to be spent in conflict, with the kids unhappy and crying," which I see as either a lack of will on the parents part, laziness on the the parents part, or at least the wrong way with dealing with the time crunch that all seem to unnecessarily have in our post-modern lives. Me not making my kids learn how to properly tie their shoes or having them use cups with lids because I don't have time to clean up spills in the morning or afternoon or at dinner, expresses more about me than there ability to complete those tasks.

Both of my children are perfectionists and part of that may be genetic, but I know my wife has a tendency to couch things about school in a way that would lead to kids not feeling comfortable with possibility of failing, but I have to recognize that some of my actions in trying to make life run smoothly also does not allow them to go through the process of attempting / failing / learning / and eventual mastery of a task, which teaches them it's better not to try, or let Dad to it for me because I must not be able to do it.

Nothing builds confidence like overcoming an obstacle or mastering a task.

Friday, September 24, 2010


There is a 2 year and 8 months difference in age between my two sons, aged five and eight.
So they are almost in the same age group, at least close enough that the younger one feels he can do what ever the older one can.

I noticed during the summer that they we having more problems getting along, as if my older son had grown into a new stage of development, basically he's not a little guy any more and his brother is. This is both physically and mentally, he has little tolerance for his little brother's stories, or his inability to keep up in Lego Star Wars for PlayStation 2, and pretty much dominates him in all forms of competition. This results in a lot of crying by the five year-old, because he never wins at chess, or any games that take strategy, and not only loses at sports but often gets hurt while playing those sports. This takes place even when his older brother is NOT trying to hurt him due to the older son's strength.

The frustration of the Kindergartner often leads to him starting conflict (arguing and whining as well as hitting and kicking) with his older brother, which had been resulting in physical retaliation from the 3rd grader. After a number of punishments my oldest son realized that he was getting into trouble on a regular basis even though he was usually only 25% to blame for the conflicts and it has finally dawned on him that telling on his brother is a much more effective way of dealing with the little guy's anger and frustration than hitting him.

This has not only resulted in them trying to get each other in trouble* all the time, but the younger son being punished much more often than he is use to. The five year-old is usually very confident, happy and positive, and does not get into trouble very often, so he sometimes seems incapable of dealing with being in the wrong. He was use to being the "good one" and when he was not he could goad his brother into getting in trouble with him or in his stead by tricking his parents with his wails of pain.

When he was an infant/young toddler he would bang his head when he was upset, which I "cured" by using the doggy training method of locking him outside in a shed, only kidding, I would smack a rolled up newspaper next to him as I saw him getting ready to bag his head and it would startle him. He would get made because he would be half way through his wind up to bang his head, get startled and look at me confused and try again, "whack" newspaper next to him again, and repeat until he gave up on the self harming action. Well now he has taken to criticizing himself, using terms that neither his mother or I use, "I am stupid/bad, I hate myself, etc." I have talked to my therapist about this, and even though they are now diagnosing very young children with depression since he does not show any other signs of being depressed this is most likely an attempt to get a parent to soothe him and tell him his is good etc. Which of course the first five or so times I did, so he learned that the way to get out of trouble is to be verbally critical of himself. Subsequently I just tell him that I have never said he was (whatever negative thing he just said) that his family loves him, but that does not change the fact that he smacked his brother in the face after loosing at FIFA soccer on PlayStation. That he is upset and or angry and that is okay but hitting is not allowed, he can go be alone scream or lay down, or punch a pillow but hitting is not an appropriate way to deal with being upset.

He is one of the happiest, pleasant to be around people I have ever known in my whole life, but the 5 to 10% of the time he is upset, man his anger is violent and something I will have to keep an eye on.

Not that I am interested in skipping any stages of their development, I have enjoyed all of them, but I look forward to when they are seven and nine and back in the same age group. Of course until the bigger one turns ten and becomes a tween!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Youth Soccer Slaves

I saw this last documentary last week, didn't really raise my view of humanity.
Agents are getting Sub Saharan African families to pay them to take their teenaged boys to Europe to be seen by pro soccer scouts and either dumping them in Morocco and just keeping the money, or getting them to Europe and abandoning them if they do not get signed. To the point where whole youth teams have been abandoned after playing in tournaments in Europe. There are approx 20,000 young African footballers that are stranded, most from families without the means to get them home.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Preggers vs Boozers

Whilst reading the first few chapters of my Social Work text book I am surprisingly learning all kinds of things about pregnancy, like fetal alcohol syndrome is the number one cause worldwide for mental retardation. Also alcohol is tied with heroin for the most negative fetal effects caused by commonly used recreational drugs. So don't listen to the old lady who tells you oh in my day we all had a few drinks and are babies were no worse off for it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Starting over kind of sucks

I am trying to get my reading completed for my first week of school, and I am just so damn slow, it's really frustrating! I am barely finished with my first chapter and I have another one and like five articles to read that I have to download off of the University website, but I have to get a NetID account which I have not done yet. My wife was like, that sounds better than having to buy an old Kinko's packet of copied text, and responded no way, I'd rather have everything in front of me so I can highlight it and read it anywhere rather than being tied to the computer.
Anyway I am afraid to blow through the reading like I would a novel of fiction because I really want to retain everything, but at this rate I will be weeks behind if I don't pick up the pace.

I just stepped outside and smoked a cigarillo while shooting some baskets on my kids mini hoop, which actually worked to chill me out, but not sure if that will help my reading tempo and comprehension.