Proof! That all my encouragement of Freethinking is paying off!

Okay, so The Wizard had some homework the other day.  His first grade class had been studying sea life, and he came home with a sheet about crabs that he was supposed to read, write a brief synopsis at the bottom, and then circle the answer-words to some questions.

So while he was reading it, he stopped and said “this is wrong.  This says crabs have 10 legs.  Crabs have 8 legs and 2 claws.”  When I asked him why the claws did not count as legs, he said that they used them for grabbing, not walking, therefor they were arms.  Checking his hypothesis, he went on line and googled “Do Crabs have 10 legs or 8?”  The answer?  Crabs are decapods.  They have 8 walking legs, and 2 claws.  so that is what he wrote on his paper.  he underlined the part that said “crabs have 10 legs” and drew an arrow down to where he wrote “8 walking legs and 2 claws”, and in the answer-circling section he crossed out the “ten” answer and wrote “8” by hand, and circled it.

…Did I break to him the information that Deca means “10”, and pod means “foot”?  No way!  It’s not his fault that the technical terminology is wrong!  Really, if they use their claws for grabbing, they’re more of arms, right?  …ahem.

So, anyway, I was worried that he would get discouraged for filling out his paper “incorrectly” when he brought it to school.  But instead, he was given a piece of candy for bringing up a valid point.  …candy.

At least he’s receiving his pavlovian rewards for standing up to authority figures.  I don’t think I’ll ever understand the public school system.

-Domestic Anarchist

reactions vrs. responses

The Domestic Anarchist here!  posts have been few and far between, dealing with maternal health issues (my mom was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a masectomy a few weeks ago), and some marital bumps (valentines day was a complete fiasco, but we got a do-over the following weekend, hurrah for sushi!), but I’ve still been studying life and parenting as I always do, and noticing things in my interactions with my children.

so.  Reactions vrs. responses.

when our child demonstrates any kind of behavior, we can A. react to it, or B. respond to it.

to refer to my trusty dictionary.com

a reaction is:  “a reverse movement or tendency; an action in a reverse direction or manner”

alternately, a response is defined as “an answer or reply, as in words or in some action.”

we react to situations, and respond to people.   a reaction is instinctive, mechanical, immediate, based on what’s going on with us.  a response is calculated, considered and evaluated, based on what’s going on with the other person.  as examples, I give you two instances from my week.

1.  The Squid, while playing on the floor, got into clean, folded laundry, and pulled out a bunch onto the floor.  I could have

a. reacted to the situation.  I was trying to clean the house, and folding the laundry was one of the few things that had been completed.  “oh my god, what are you doing?!  get out of that!  I can’t get anything done with you getting into everything!”

or.

b. responded to my child.  she is crawling very early, and exploring and learning.  obviously she doesn’t understand the difference between folded laundry or piled laundry, or even the difference between clean and dirty.  “oh, wow, look what you’ve found!  let’s find something else for you to explore.”

in this instance I chose b.  I responded to my child instead of reacting to the situation.  I put away my frustration at least til The Husband got home, and I could vent to him.  I made my child the priority.

responding to babies is much easier than children sometimes, since babies haven’t learned to hide their feelings.  children are already learning different ways to communicate.  The Wizard, when he feels nervous, ashamed or confronted, tends to first try and alleviate things through humor, joking and distraction.  he does realize when things are serious, he just prefers to pretend that they’re not, because it’s less stressful.

2.  I opened The Wizards backpack in the morning and realized he hadn’t done his homework while he’d been with his dad.  my choices:

a. react to the situation.  we didn’t have time do get anything done before the bus came, and I was stressed about all the extra work.  “dude!  this is rediculous.  did you do ANY of it?”

or

b. respond to my child.  “you’ve got extra homework.  let’s think of a way to make it fun so you don’t get frustrated with it.”

this time, sadly, I chose a.  my reaction led to a reaction from him, which was to deflect by acting like it was no big deal.   I reacted by stressing to him the importance of school, and telling him to tell his teacher he’d bring some in the next day.  he deflected by saying “if I remember”.  I took this as being a smart-ass.  and reacted with  “that’s not acceptable!  you’re going to do it if it takes all night.”  at which, he started crying, saying he didn’t want to go to school.  so once again I reacted, this time not to just the discomfort of my sons tears, but the sound of the encroaching bus, which was picking up kids one street over.  so, voila, in an effort to stop the tears, and keep my son from missing school.  “oh, I’m so sorry, it’s not your fault.  don’t worry about it.  if you go to school you can have a big bowl of ice cream when you get home!”  …oh lord.

it’s amazing the things that come out when we’re reacting to circumstance and situation, instead of responding to our kids.  during the day while he was at school, though, I did have an opportunity to think on things.  I went to our local game store, which remarkably has free three-day rentals of certain games, found one that The Wizard would like (which is amazing, and is going to make it on as my first video game review), and made up a sticker chart.  each extra piece of homework, earned him 15 mins of video game time.  I also called his teacher, forewarned her that she had a bit of an emotional crisis entering her classroom, and asked her to not mention homework to him.

so, in closing, just because we react, does not remove our ability to respond.  everyone reacts.  it’s impulsive.  it’s our ability to step back and examine the true issues, and respond to our children, which makes us good parents.

-Domestic Anarchist

National Indoctrination Day and the Folly of Being “More PC Than Thou”

On Sept. 8th (starting the school year off right!) Obama is doing a speech especially for the school children of the U.S.

this is not a speech on TV where you can tune in and watch with your kids and have a discussion if you so choose.  this is a mandatory viewing that will take place in public schools, with teachers who have government funding, and who are told ahead of time how and what to discuss with their students.

questio0ns such as:

“what is my civic duty?”  and “what does President Obama want from me?  can I do it?”

this offends the fuck out of me.  I don’t indoctrinate my kid with my political beliefs and no one else should either.

the supposed purpose of our public schools is education.  not political programming.

children are extremely sensitive to political programming.  this has been proven, both through the development of the Communist Red Party in China, and by Hitler Youth in Germany.

don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling Obama either a communist or a Nazi.  odds are he honestly has the best of intentions to ‘reach out to the youth of America’.  and if he did want to do it through a format that parents would have the option of viewing and discussing with their children, I wouldn’t have such a big  problem with it.

but political programming of children?  children already have pressure to be what the schools want them to be, what their peers want them to be, what their parents want them to be.  now their government?

my son is 6 years old.  there’s no way he should be wondering what the president wants of him, or what his civic duty is.

and why are more people not up in arms about this?  when Bush pulled something similar in 1991, many democrats were pissed about it.  not just about indoctrinating kids, but for using tax-payer money to pay for political advertising.

now, however, since the democrats voted him in, it’s okay?  no matter what the setting is, no matter what president is doing it, this isn’t a positive direction for our schools or country to be moving in.  it’s as though people feel like since they voted for the man, they can’t disagree with him.

and on top of it, we have the race factor.  now.  there was  people I talked to before the election who were honestly racist, who said that the biggest reason they weren’t voting for Obama was that he was black.  on the other hand, there were alot of people who did vote for Obama on the basis that he was black.

personally, if I voted, I would have voted Obama.  not because he’s black, but because John McCain was a terrifying man with one foot in the grave.  I agree with Obama on more issues than McCain by a long shot.

I think it’s awesome that we finally have some racial variety in the white house.  culturally, a huge step.  does this make Obama a figure of great historical relevance?  of course it does!

however, does the fact that he’s a living historical figure mean that we should stop questioning anything he does?  hell no.  come on, people.

I live on the west coast.  more specifically, I live in the Pacific Northwest, just outside Washington’s capital city, Olympia.  now, Olympia is known for being a very politically correct and  green area, moreso even than much of the state.   it’s largely populated by college students who attend Evergreen State College, who we fondly refer to as ‘Greeners’, a title worn with pride by most of them.

now, there are obviously HUGE upsides to living in this area.  (ease of recycling, awesome farmers markets, kickass parades,  pretty good music scene, et cettera.)  however, I’ve noticed a tendency in this area that I call the “More PC Than Thou” complex.  the irony is that much of political correctness, is based on the theme of non-judgmentalism.

HOWEVER, when being “PC” is turned into a competition, it ends up being incredibly judgemental.  “You recycle?  Well, not only do I recycle everything, I don’t buy anything that’s not second-hand.”  “You breastfed your kid for a year?  Well, I breastfed mine til she was three.”  “You montessori school?  Well, I homeschool.”  “You’re a vegetarian?  Well, I’m an organic vegan.”  Everything is a one-up.  I realized this when I was 17 and I got shot down from expressing my political beliefs at a party by a Greener who called me an Oogle and essentially said my opinions didn’t count.

ah-ha.  the neo-hippie strikes again.

often, people it seems, are so afraid of being declared ‘not PC’, they are afraid to express their opinions.  disagreeing with Obama might imply that you have a problem with him as a person, which could mean you’re racist!  disagreeing with partial-birth abortion might imply you have a problem with women’s rights, which could mean you’re sexist!

and if you don’t like queen, that probably means you’re a homophobe too.

plus, it’s a lose-lose situation.  if you’re caucasian, and you disagree with Obama, you’re afraid people might think you’re racist.  if you’re a minority, and you disagree with Obama, people might think you don’t appreciate what he’s doing for minorities just by being president.  the un-PCness of racial betrayal looms before you.

…we can’t be afraid to question the decisions or actions of the president, just because A. we wanted him in office, or B. we don’t want to be accused of a lack of political correctness.  otherwise, we’re putting ourselves in a very bad position.  we should not blindly accept the words or actions of anyone, no matter who they are. 

there has been lots of great men and women in history, but that doesn’t mean we should blindly accept anything they say.

so… if you have kids in school, I urge you to look at this more closely.  figure out how you feel about it, where you stand on it, talk to your childrens school and find out what alternatives they have, and don’t be afraid to disagree with someone because of their political party or their race.

if my son’s school will be showing the speech in his classroom, he likely won’t go to school that day.  if I can get a copy of it, we might watch it at home, in an environment free from pressure or teachers with a political agenda.

do you really want the schools directing your childrens political beliefs?  think about it.  would you be okay with a religious leader getting piped in and giving a speech to the schools?  there’s little difference.  the schools should not be in charge of our childrens religious, moral or political beliefs.

-Domestic Anarchist