Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Italia Rules! & I'm a Man!

I was in the bathroom with my 1st grader and he asked if my tattoo could be erased, I told it was permanent. He asked what it was, I told him it is rumored to be a caveman drawing of a man from a ring at Stonehenge. He pointed to the inside of my forearm and said, "You should get ITALIA RULES right there." I started cracking up and he got upset asking, "Why are you laughing at me?" I told him I was not laughing at him but that comment was so "him" (seeing how he is so into being Italian even though he is only half Italian) that it made me happy because I thought it was cute. He did not like being thought of as cute anymore than being laughed at.


A few weeks ago we went for a family bike ride. My 4th grader gets nervous a lot, and riding a bike is no different, he gets so worried that he is going to run into pedestrians that he has crashed rather than just going around them. We all wear helmets, but I also have him kitted out with knee and elbow pads, under his clothes so as not to embarrass him, so he can shake off any minor spills and get right back to riding. His anxiety often winds up having my wife and I splitting up on bike rides, she goes ahead with our overconfident type A 1st grader and I lag back with my little neurotic indie/emo/proto-goth boy.

After a ride around the local park we are heading home, the grown ups ride on the street and the kids are on the sidewalk, and a few blocks from our house our 1st grader takes a bad spill due to a broken sidewalk. My wife rushes to his aid and I stop and look back to make sure everything is okay. He looks shook up and about to burst into tears, my wife mentions something about medicine, and he focuses for a quick second and angrily yells out, "I don't need medicine I'M A MAN!" and jumps back on the bike and starts riding again.

I have never told him that men do not need medicine ... though I am sure I have implied it is better to not dwell on bumps and bruises and to dust yourself off and keep on going. I wonder if he is reacting to my trying to keep his brother from going into full melt down mood when he gets flustered? Children can have very different reactions to being raised in the same households, shows the strength of the nature part of the nature v nurture equation.

Verbally Squashing a Beef

My 4th grader has complained about his classmates calling each other gay. He knows that people are free to be and do what they want so someone being gay is no big deal, and he knows that kids are not suppose to be calling each other gay.
It was not that he was singled out to be picked on but his classmates and friends are now at an age where they are indiscriminately throwing that word around. His initial reaction was to say yes I am happy, but then kids would say, no the other kind of gay!
So then he stated saying, "There is nothing wrong with being gay," or  "Yeah I am gay so what." Which I commended him on but explained that saying he was gay may lead to kids picking on him. Unlike myself my son is not armed with the ability to have a quick and caustic verbal response so I decided to give him a little ammunition. He said, "I can't say that I will get sent to the principle's office."

A day or so later he comes home and says, "Guess what, you know that 3rd grade kid that got left back that is always annoying me on the bus? Well he called me gay and I said to him, 'oh like when you and your dad have sex?' He looked at me upset and confused and walked away. I am really scared that I am going to get in trouble."
I said, "I doubt he is going to tell anyone because he would have to tell them that he was calling you gay, if he does and you get in trouble I will come to school and deal with it."

The next day my son said, "The kid's 5th grade sister asked me why I said that to him, and I told her and she said that was still mean." A couple of weeks later I asked if that kid has bothered him anymore, "No he hasn't."
Mission accomplished.
Kids in the neighborhood I grew up in were extremely harsh with making fun of each other (we called it running or cracking on each other) usually it was in good fun but you had to be able to verbally defend yourself or you would become a target for constant abuse. If you could be particularly mean and cutting you could make it known that you would put up with any non-jovial abuse, and I am glad that my son is learning to verbally defend himself, he is shy and not extremely confident outside of soccer so I do not want anyone to think that he is their whipping boy, he does not need that kind of stress in his life.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My older son tried out for what I thought was an additional soccer program @ TSF, long story short I had filled out a registration form online, but they did not have our information when we showed up, so they had me fill out a paper registration form.
I bring this all up because on the form it did not ask for work contact information but requested the parent's profession and employer? WTF? Why would they need to know that? I did notice that none of the 40 kids there were African American, and only about 5 were non-white. Not an inclusive vibe to non-white / non-upper middle class potential families getting involved.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

After Spending Freely, Liberal Town Faces Fight on Frugality

The New York Times covers my town's local election.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

5 Things Parents Shouldn't Say to Their Kids

1) "I don't care.

I say this one way too much and I know it is wrong, it is usually followed by "about this right now," but I need to be more conscious and ask that they tell me what ever beautiful life affirming gems or asinine crap they were planning to share later when I am not so overwhelmed.

2) "Act your age!" 

I have basically said the same thing, "Come on man don't act like a baby," but have not said it very often. 

3) "Say you're sorry!"

Sorry, there ain't nothing wrong with this one so long as you have previously taught them why they need to say they are sorry in certain situations, then reinforce it when one of those situations comes up.

4) "Don't you get it?"

"What about this don't you get," is my version of this wrong thing to say to your children, usually when I am helping my 4th grader with math and have been explaining something for 20 minutes, then he gets real bitchy with me, then I get annoyed and stop helping him for a while, come back 1o minutes later go over it one more time and then he gets it, this happens once a week, I know he is eventually going to get it, but he seems to fight against understanding what I am helping him with until I get upset and stop helping. I have tried refusing to help, but then he starts to have an anxiety attack about not finishing his home work and becomes non-functioning.

5) "I'm going to leave without you!" 

I do not ever say this one, particularly if we are out of the house. If we have a problem at the store or elsewhere in public I just say, we are going to leave now if you do not stop, and if they do not stop we leave. The closest I ever did to this was when my oldest son was four years old and we were at a soccer camp/practice and he refused to separate from me and participate for the first half of the first two classes. At the third class I told him if he did not get out there and participate I was going to go for a walk until the end of class when I would come back and pick him up, then began walking away, which was really walking around the running track that surrounded the soccer field. After I got about 15 yards away he joined in the practice and I slowly walked back over where he was practicing and could see me, so I guess I walked away for about 45 seconds. I did make sure he knew I was coming back for him though. I guess I should be expecting a call from child services any minute now.