UPDATE: on empathy and charity

A few months ago, I wrote about how to grow kind kids and how to talk to kids about current events. Here’s an update on how we’re working on putting these things into practice.

For a long time, we avoided mentioning many of the gloomier aspects of the world to the boyos because (1) it made them worry that those bad things would happen to them, and (2) it made them feel helpless to know about problems they could not solve.

Now that the tsunami of current events has been unleashed, we’ve been talking more and more about things going on in the news. One night, one of my boys asked about Osama bin Laden, and we ended up talking for awhile about justice, evil, September 11th, and, uh, Voldemort. While we were talking about the plane that went down in Pennsylvania, I found myself getting really choked up, and I realized that I had never talked to anyone about it out loud—old or young. On that morning in 2001, I had watched the towers come down when I was alone in a hotel room, and it took me days to get home because all the airports were closed. I had no idea that at the time, I wasn’t actually alone in that hotel. I was already a few weeks pregnant with two little boyos who must have felt ripples of the shock and sadness our entire nation felt that day.

(Interestingly, the boys took the news of bin Laden very much like our nation, too. Blaster was somber, sad, and worried. Xander, who came in later, heard the news and immediately started striking poses and doing fist pumps. As I watched him dance around the room, I wondered vaguely if I should teach him the chant he was looking for: USA! USA! USA!)

In addition to current events, we’ve also been talking more about life in other parts of the world. At night, we often thank God in our prayers, acknowledging that so many people don’t have the basic necessities that we so often take for granted. But if this seems like a faraway concept to us as adults, you can imagine how removed our children must be. Our kids have no concept of what it means to not have basic necessities like food, water, shelter, and family. They worry about how much money they can spend on Legos—not where their next meal will come from.



May 19, 2011. attitudes, nurture, systems. 1 comment.

WONDER: what happened to bad mommies?

A disturbing thing happened to me when I took the boyos to watch Tangled a few months ago. There we were in the $3 theater, watching (SPOILER ALERT) the wicked witch get her Disney comeuppance, and all the while, I was sitting there thinking, “Well, she wasn’t all THAT bad …” Weeks later, after watching it at home, I turned to Husband and said, “The witch wasn’t that bad, was she?” He looked at me like I was a lunatic. A few days later, we watched the DVD again with a good friend and her kids. “The witch wasn’t that bad, right?” I asked hopefully. My friend gave me a long look before saying, “No … She was pretty bad.”



May 4, 2011. attitudes, support, wonder. 1 comment.

FIND: $5 Disney Albums

Amazon has a bunch of Disneyish MP3 downloads on sale for $5 right now. I know that some parents abhor Disney and Pixar. Not me! If I had $25 to spend on this, I’d snap these babies right up:

  1. Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants
  2. Disney/Pixar Greatest
  3. Disney Princess Collection (I am a girl after all!)
  4. Tangled (I’m strangely addicted to this movie!)
  5. Phineas and Ferb (This is a lie. I wouldn’t buy this because we bought it years ago–although I wish we’d only paid $5 for it!)

Gitchee gitchee goo,


April 21, 2011. find. Leave a comment.

WONDER: should we encourage kids to do impossible things?

We got to bed late a few nights ago because the boyos were finishing up entries for a Lego contest. They each had to build an elaborate ninja vehicle suitable for crushing hordes of skeleton zombie warriors and then submit a photo for the chance to win $300 worth of games for a DS that they don’t own.

They saw the contest information months ago in their Lego magazine, but what with one thing or another, we waited till the last minute to enter. No, the boys are not procrastinators (yet), but their parents—who own the camera and printer—are. This is partly because there never seems to be enough time in the day to take photos of fleeing skeleton clowns. But more importantly, we weren’t in a big rush to watch our sons NOT win a contest.

These days, you can’t look watch tv, read magazines, or stare blankly at a cereal box without encountering some kind of contest targeted at kids. And the boys fall for it every time. They’ll gaze at a box of Froot Loops at the store and say, “Mom, if you buy this, I might already be a winner!” I’m torn. Part of me wants to say, “Hey, why not? You really might win!” But that’s a very small, not-fatalistically-Chinesey part of me. The REST of me wants to say, “Let’s face it. We all know that only kids from Grand Rapids, Michigan, win these contests. So why enter and get all disappointed?”


April 20, 2011. attitudes, wonder. Leave a comment.

FIND: whatever happened to white dresses with blue satin sashes?

It’s a dangerous time for me to be in department stores because little girls’ Easter dresses are everywhere. Seeing all those adorable pastel ribbons, lace ankle socks, and patent leather mary janes gives me heart palpitations.

On the flip side, here’s a great op-ed by LZ Granderson called “Parents, Don’t Dress Your Girls Like Tramps.” It’s currently the most popular story on CNN—which I take as a hopeful sign!

April 19, 2011. attitudes, find, nurture. Leave a comment.

SHARE: homeschooling Q&A with Beth, part 1

My dear friend, Beth, has homeschooled her daughter for five years. I asked Beth a few questions about her experiences, and some of her responses are below. (We’re saving some goodies for Part 2, so stay tuned!) You can also keep up with more of Beth’s day-to-day adventures and discoveries on her blog.

How did you decide to homeschool in the first place?

I enrolled my daughter for public school kindergarten but then didn’t send her. She did not seem ready emotionally although academically she seemed bright. My husband was in the process of getting his PhD, and the coming years would involve change. With homeschooling the curriculum remains the same, no missed schoolwork due to sickness, and our strengths were pretty good: he in math/science and foreign language, I in literature and writing. And I firmly believe in the incorporation of the spiritual in all of life, so it’s no good to deny that in the public schools. On the other hand my husband had doubts about Christian schools not being able to provide as much as public. We both liked the idea of homeschooling.


April 15, 2011. Tags: . homeschooling, learning, school, share, systems. 1 comment.

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