Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

Service of “I Wonder What Happened to…..”

Thursday, March 24th, 2022

I’ve rarely played this mind game. A recent conversation reminded me of a baby I once knew and I wondered what had become of him.

I babysat for him for a month in Boston the summer after my sophomore year. His parents lived in a beautiful home. I never saw his mother, a natural beauty, touch him. I’d arrive at my scheduled time–10:00 a.m.–and he’d be in his playpen wearing diapers from the night before. You can imagine the raw condition of his skin. Milk that had dribbled from his cup had begun to sour in the heat. She’d tell me to warm and feed him the same food for lunch day after day, usually leftover from a dinner party. He’d eat it, unless she came into the kitchen where his highchair was, and then he’d stop eating. She’d complain that he wouldn’t eat. He was an intelligent child but at two didn’t utter a word.

She’d reprimand me if I changed his damp clothes after his afternoon nap, before going to the park again. She didn’t like dealing with all that laundry even though I folded it while he slept. I’d bathe him before I left for the day unless his father came home early as he liked to give him his bath. The little one would run, joyfully, into his father’s arms when he opened the door.

She asked me to join them for a month where they were going to vacation. I used the excuse that I couldn’t leave the city. On my last day she told me she was pregnant.

I don’t remember their names or I’d look for him on Google.

Do you ever wonder what happened to someone?

 
Image by rafael1979 from Pixabay

Service of Thoughtless Actions and Words

Thursday, December 30th, 2021


Image by InspiredImages from Pixabay

I’ve opened my big mouth at times off-putting others, though I try so hard not to. A friend reprimanded me, after we moved to Manhattan from Brooklyn, because I told him that our apartment was on “the wrong side of Park Avenue.” He said I sounded arrogant. And I despise arrogance.

I witnessed a woman who didn’t think when she sailed out of the hair salon last week, wishing all and sundry a Merry Christmas following up in a voice that could have been heard across the street saying “Gotta run: I’m off to get my hair cut.” When I asked the salon owner if she thought the customer noticed people cutting hair all around her she shrugged and said “she gets her manicures here.”

The owner shared an incident that did broil her about a customer with severely dry hair. She showed her three products that would reverse the problem and explained how and when to use them. “Let me photograph them so I can buy them on Amazon,” said the customer who knew that the salon also sold the products. The owner added that Amazon didn’t have all the experience she’d shared with the woman and admitted that she didn’t say this to her.

A friend who owns a New England shop told me that a customer walked in recently, looked around and said, “Is this all there is?” Another day she found a 30-something photographing her greeting cards. “I want to text the images to my friends,” she said. The shop owner asked the woman to stop. Did the potential customer [who bought nothing] think she was in a museum?

mage by kaleido-dp from Pixabay  haircut

We’ve come a long way from the days my mother asked me to take supermarket groceries home before buying the bread my dad liked at the neighborhood deli. [Supermarket bread tasted like cotton.] She explained that it was rude to enter a business with purchases from another.

You be the judge if the point of Melinda Wenner Moyer’s New York Times article is pertinent to the subject. It was Thanksgiving, she wrote, and her seven year old ordered her grandfather, whom she rarely saw, to “stop taking pictures and put down your camera.” 

Wenner Moyers wrote: “Children who feel comfortable challenging their parents or grandparents about rules and expectations, who occasionally say sassy or rude things, are, in essence, kids who know they are loved and accepted for who they are.”

At the end of the article she added “Do I wish my daughter had been more polite in asking her grandpa to put down his camera? Absolutely. But I’m also proud that she’s brave enough to advocate for herself, and that she knows she has a voice within our family.”

It was fun to read the comments linking to this article “Why Your Kid’s Bad Behavior May Be a Good Thing: The safer children feel, the more they can show their true selves — warts and all — experts say. And that’s good for their development.” I didn’t read them all but starting at the top, many expressed concern about the kind of adults these children will turn out to be.

Do you think there’s a connection between unfiltered words and actions and upbringing or is it more of a personality thing? Have you witnessed thoughtless speech or behavior?  Do you agree that a child’s bad behavior is a positive thing and is good for their development?

Service of the Child in All of Us

Monday, April 26th, 2021

Photo: amazon.com

Scott Simon, NPR, interviewed Sandra Boynton and Yo-Yo Ma on “Weekend Edition” this Saturday about their collaboration for toddlers: “Jungle Night,” printed on thick paperboard. It comes with a downloadable recording that in addition to narration features a variety of animal snore noises–made by instruments–and includes a lullaby, “Jungle Gymnopédie No. 1.” The music is a combination of Ma playing Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1 backed by Ron Block on guitar, and Kevin MacLeod on drums.

Yo-Yo Ma Photo: limelightmagazine.com.au

During the interview Ma–and I quote loosely–said “I have the mind of a child. Every time I perform it has to be as though on a clean chalkboard; I start new every time. I’m not doing something because I did it yesterday.” He said his performances require a beginner’s mind and described a sandcastle at the beach that is different every day because the tide wipes out the previous one.

I imagine that a successful stage actor who plays the same role week after week must go about it similarly as did cookbook author/TV personality Julia Child. She worked on recipes countless times until she got them right nevertheless showed such joy and a feeling of discovery when she shared her tips on her TV show.

Many approach their creative jobs in the opposite way. A comment made by a former colleague, when I was at the intermediate level in the PR business, was a head scratcher. How the boss didn’t fire him when he was asked, “Why are you suggesting XYZ tactic for the client?” and he responded, “Because we’ve always done that,” was a mystery.  In another example, a client asked “why can’t we send out the same press release for each collection launch–just change the title?” The client wasn’t on the design side fortunately and would not have understood Ma.

Some of the best public speakers and many people others like having around share a youthful spirit and energy–a joie de vivre which has little to do with their age or lack of fame. A great aunt and my mother lived into their 90s. They were blessed with the spark. Neither were the slightest bit childish, nor is cellist Ma. There’s a difference.

Do you know people who approach their work and life with the freshness and enthusiasm of a child–often backed by study and hard work–resulting in magnificence? For what projects do you evoke the child that was in you?

Julia Child Photo: today.com

Service of Fraternity Behavior During a Pandemic: The Winner Loses

Monday, July 13th, 2020

Photo: thefraternityadvisor.com

Some adults never grow up. That can be good if they keep the enthusiasm of discovery and optimism of youth and discard the foolhardy aspects.

When I first heard about covid parties I thought “fraternity behavior.”  The winner of a Covid-19 party is the first person to become infected by the virus after one sick person joins a room full of healthy ones. The “honor” often comes with cash if each guest puts money in a pot for the prize.

The tragedy is that a 30 year old died of coronavirus contracted at such a party. “‘He didn’t really believe, he thought the disease was a hoax. He thought he was young and he was invincible and wouldn’t get affected by the disease,’ [Dr. Jane] Appleby told KSAT.” Dr. Appleby is chief medical officer at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio.

Photo: nomadicmatt.com

The concept of such a party is nothing new–just the winner who loses part is. In my 20s I was invited to parties that took place on winter Fridays after work where each couple put money in a pot to cover the cost of a weekend for two on a tropical island–flight and hotel paid for by the money collected. Couples with kids made arrangements for their care should they win. There was a drawing early enough in the evening for the winners to get to the airport with a small satchel filled with summer clothes that they’d brought with them. The losers stayed to enjoy the rest of the party.

How can the message about the dangers of a pandemic get so lost and misunderstood? Did covid party goers not notice sheltering at home that must have happened for some reason? Or how it has impacted their lives and the economy? I’ve witnessed apathy about politics with acquaintances throughout my life but ignoring or dismissing this virus as no biggie would be like going on a tap water diet before Flint Michigan addressed the poison coming out of its faucets.

Photo: yourdictionary.com

Service of The Perfect Balance of Digital Technology for Kids in Schools & At Home

Monday, November 12th, 2018

Photo: mytechdecisions.com

What amount of screen time is best for children in school and at home? Some feel that being comfortable using internet-connected devices is the best way to stay current and be job-ready when the time comes. Others fear that too much screen time is a damaging distraction.

Photo: france24.com

As of this September, French children from three through 15 must turn off or leave at home their smartphones, tablets and other devices when in school. CNN’s Rory Smith reported that it’s up to each school whether older school children have the same restrictions. The French education minister said that the law, which passed by 62 votes to one, is to keep kids from the “phenomenon of screen addiction…. to protect children and adolescents.”

Lucille Grippo, who lives an hour and a half north of NYC, has three school aged children. She wrote me: “Our school district had a viewing of the movie ‘Screenagers.’ As a parent of teens it was eye-opening. I am one of the few that wish there was less tech in schools. It’s a double edged sword. It certainly makes life easier for teachers and students alike but I wonder about the affect on the brain of so much screen time.”

Photo: drbeurkens.com

Lucille has learned how fragile brains can be from firsthand experience. If her name is familiar it’s because in January I re-posted a blog she’d written, “Why a Calendar is so Important to Me” in my post, “Service of Calendars and Miracles.” This young mother had suffered cardiac arrest out of the blue. At first, due to cortical blindness, she couldn’t see numbers and days on a calendar. Aphasia blocked connections that deciphered what appeared to be strange symbols. She also couldn’t read emails and posts on a computer screen..

After fierce physical, occupational and speech therapies and ferocious determination, her eyesight returned and today she even drives. When circumstances beyond her control forced her away from the “screen” and “offline” she realized how easy it was to step away. Reluctantly returning to her iPhone, tablet and laptop she recognized how the world around her operates on a paperless, electronic, and digital way. Sometimes her brain still has screen time overload.

Back to the documentary. Filmmaker Delaney Ruston, MD’s “Screenagers” synopsis begins: “Are you watching kids scroll through life, with their rapid-fire thumbs and a six-second attention span?” She wonders about the impact and friction at home and in school over the some 6.5 hours/day children spend looking at screens. The film explores “struggles over social media, video games, academics and internet addiction.” It includes “insights from authors, psychologists, and brain scientists and reveals how tech time impacts kids’ development and offers solutions on how adults can empower kids to best navigate the digital world and find balance.”

Photo: independent.co.uk

Dr. Ruston writes the blog Tech Talk Tuesday. In a recent issue she reported: “Fact: Schools experience pressure to have tech on their campuses from tech companies, administration, and others. Schools want to do well by their students and tech has been sold as a quick fix. For example, schools keep hearing from tech and curriculum companies that ways to ‘personalize and customize learning’ is right around the corner.

“Unfortunately, it has been a very long corner with no impressive results yet,” she added referring to a New York Times article, “The Digital Gap Between the Rich and Poor Kids is Not What We Expected.” The Times reported that Utah, with no funding for a traditional program, has 10 thousand children enrolled in an online preschool. “…one can see how the screen has stepped in,” she wrote.

Her research showed that grades and emotional well being were improved when schools had stringent policies restricting cell phones. The devices were permitted by 66 percent of public middle schools vs. 34 percent of private schools in her study.

Do you think a child restricted from free access to online devices will fall behind his/her peers? Will eliminating the distraction help children focus on school? Might there be less online bullying? Are you distracted by your phone and the siren call of checking what’s up on social media and your email box?

Photo: neonnettle.com

Service of Family: No Marriage, No Children=No Family & Unfit to Serve?

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

Photo: motivationpt.com

I was at an auto dealership in upstate New York last weekend speaking with an insurance company customer service rep. Our salesman was arranging for the transfer of our insurance to a new car and when done, he passed me the phone.

After “Hello”—I’d expected a quick “confirming that you’re Jeanne Byington leasing a car,”–but instead the rep bombarded me with questions starting with “What’s your PIN number?” I panicked, looked at my husband and we spat out a few options. The rep interrupted me and then asked, “What is the name of your child?” I answered: “I don’t have one.” He said, “You have to call back. I’ve been logged out.” Click.

Photo: datagenetics.com

So we called back, this time logging in with a PIN number, which worked thank goodness, and we reached a pleasant woman who took the information she needed from the salesman and she then asked me: “What’s your child’s birthday and year of birth?” I told her I don’t have children, but decided to share the birth info of my stepdaughter to move things along. That was the right answer. The company, its staff or computer had assumed that everyone has a kid and that my husband’s daughter–he uses the same company for a range of services—was also mine.

I immediately thought of a comment I read on Twitter by author Father James Martin, @JamesMartinSJ,  regarding the replacement of the fired House of Representatives Chaplain Father Patrick J. Conroy: “The idea that a priest can’t be House chaplain because he’s not a ‘family man’ is absurd and borderline anti-Catholic. Priests have families: mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews. Also, by that yardstick, Jesus Christ wouldn’t qualify.”

Father James Martin. Photo: ncregister.com

He was responding to a remark by Mark Walker, a Republican representative from North Carolina who is on a committee to find a new chaplain. According to The Hill, Walker said: “I’m looking for somebody who has a little age, that has adult children, that kind of can connect with the bulk of the body here, Republicans and Democrats who are going through, back home the wife, the family—that has some counseling experience…”

I take Walker’s comment a step beyond religion: Is Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor unable to do her job appropriately because she never married nor had children yet her judgments impact citizens?

Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Nobody knows for sure why the Chaplain was fired. According to America Magazine’s Michael J. O’Loughlin who wrote “House Republicans rebuff investigation into firing of Jesuit chaplain,” New York Representative Joe Crowley noted that “Mr. Ryan and other Republican members of Congress were unhappy with the chaplain for delivering a prayer in November they viewed as partisan.” Father Conroy reported to The New York Times that after he offered the prayer on taxes, Mr. Ryan told him, “Padre, you just got to stay out of politics.”  While the Republican tax bill was on the table Father Conroy had urged the planners not to create “winners and losers.”

O’Loughlin wrote that “Mr. Ryan told Republican colleagues on Friday that some lawmakers felt Father Conroy was not providing appropriate pastoral care to House members.” I heard Representative Peter King from Long Island, NY disagree on TV news with this allegation.

So why did it take the House seven years to react if this was so? In his work as pastor at numerous churches as well as chaplain at Georgetown and Seattle Universities, for how many people had he provided pastoral care without complaint?

In a subsequent interview with Walker, Scott Wong reported in The Hill in “Conservative leader: Next House chaplain should have a family” that the congressman said “When you walk the journey of having a kid back home that’s struggling or made some bad decisions, or when you have a separation situation or your wife’s not understanding the [congressional] schedule, having somebody who’s walked in those shoes allows you to immediately related a little bit more than others.”

To be effective, must a grade school teacher have children; a female psychiatrist counsel women exclusively, or an obstetrician be female? Is an unmarried man or woman or a couple with no children, regardless of religion, without family? Is a doctor who doesn’t suffer from his/her specialty unqualified to treat that disease? Are there certain jobs unmarried or childless people are ill-equipped to have?

Father Patrick Conroy. Photo: youtube.com

 

Service of Losing to Win Time: Do Kids Benefit?

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

 

Photo: atlantaparent.com

Five years ago I wrote about toys and board games “light,” called “snack toys” by the industry because they are rigged to take less time for parents to play with their children than traditional Monopoly, Parcheesi and other games. Time continues to be a premium along with patience.

Today some parents cheat so their kids will win quickly or turn to technology to accelerate the process. Greg Bensinger wrote in The Wall Street Journal that parents “are palming cards, strategically adding pieces when the children aren’t looking and sometimes outright lying. Not without irony, some parents have used technology to make games go faster.”

In “Parents Rig Board Games To Lose Faster,” Bensinger reported that “Sales of games and puzzles in the U.S. grew 27% between 2015 and last year, hitting $2.09 billion, according to NPD Group Inc., far outpacing sales growth for all toys.”

Photo: poki.com

Data analyst Ethan Markowitz’s son can’t get enough of Chutes and Ladders. He “says there are nine ladders and 10 chutes, ‘which means a bias toward losing.’ So he programmed a simulation of 10,000 two-player games, which showed the dreariness could last as many as 146 turns. His solution was to tape a new ladder to the board between space 47 and 72. That lowered the longest game to 110 moves.”

Another father, Barry Wise, president of a data analytics company, “suggests eliminating the longest chute, spanning square 87 to 24.” He “ran his own simulations of the popular games 200,000 times.” Wise recommends “avoiding Candy Land, with its 3.4% chance of running longer than 75 moves (compared with 0.76% for Chutes and Ladders), or eliminating the rule of sending pieces backward.”

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

One mother in the article hesitates to let her daughter win all the time as it doesn’t prepare her for life, though she admits to “miscounting spaces” to her daughter’s advantage to get the game to end sooner. Another told her teenage kids that she’d cheated when they were small, hiding the best cards and giving them to each during the game. She resorted to this because otherwise the “one quick game before bed” lasted endlessly so she felt forced to find a shortcut. Her kids don’t let her forget it.

“Hasbro Inc. plans this June to release a Cheaters Edition of Monopoly….The new edition will reward players who can, say, move a rival’s piece without notice or collect rent for an opponent’s property.” The impetus for this version wrote the reporter: More than half of respondents to a survey admitted to cheating at the game.

According to Bensinger, Candy Land “stands apart as the patron saint of board-game monotony.” Hasbro encourages people to change the rules as they see fit.

When you were a kid, what were your favorite games? Did you play mostly with your parents, siblings or friends? Do you think adults have always cheated to end games faster or to let a child win? Did you cheat when playing with kids? Do you think you should always let a kid win or only sometimes? Are you surprised at the resurgence of popularity of traditional games?

Photo: pinterest.com

Service of Goofy Things Kids Do: Overnight Challenges in Stores & Restaurants

Monday, April 9th, 2018

Photo: guff.com

We made silly phone calls and tossed paper bags filled with water out the window into a courtyard to make a crashing sound to scare the neighbors. One Christmas Eve, kids–I assume it was kids–broke windows on the sidewalk side of every car parked outside the Brooklyn Museum. Ours was one. Kids who have no financial constraints steal candy and small items from stores for sport.

Photo: flickr.com

Jennifer Levitz, in “Where’s Your Teen Sleeping?” wrote about what some kids are up to these days. According to the sub-head of her Wall Street Journal story, they are “Adventure seekers hiding overnight in stores for ‘24-hour challenge’—and are really, really bored.” They hide in fast-food restaurants and big-box stores that close at night or hang out for 24 hours or more in those that stay open.

She wrote about the adventures of a few teens at a McDonald’s: “After the initial thrill of escaping detection, they passed the time by going down the small slide, flipping water bottles and filming themselves whispering in the dark.” Sleeping was hard. One tried to do so in a toy car.

“Young people boast of holding the overnight challenges in trampoline parks, bowling alleys, home improvement stores and supermarkets, too. Companies mostly seem perplexed,” Levitz reported.

What nutty things did you do when you were a kid and what wacky things do your children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren do today?

Photo: tripadvisor.com

Service of Backwards

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

 

Backwards is nothing new to me. I passed economics in college by figuring out the answer and writing the opposite in exams. Long before that, at camp Frog Hollow Farm, we celebrated backwards day.

Hit On for Off

My husband’s printer—an oldie but sturdy–has been acting up. To get it to work I disconnected it from electricity. I was reprimanded by instructions on the little screen when I turned it back on [and it worked again]. The printer told me that I’d turned it off incorrectly and warned me not to unplug the printer from electricity again before first turning it off by hitting ON.

Don’t Walk the Dog

New York is a walker’s city. It’s the best way to get many places quickly as traffic on sidewalks is usually easily negotiated unless you’re passing a Broadway theater when audiences convene or exit or around famous museums on Sunday afternoon. Tourists walk at a slower pace than most New Yorkers while rush hour foot traffic generally moves swiftly.

That said, I can’t get over the number of dogs that are carried in arms and in conveyances when out for “walks.” There are suddenly too many of them to explain it as the graying of the dog population in need of assistance. Exercise is as essential for dogs as it is for people.

“Wrong Way” Signs Ignored by Bicycles

Bicycles are invading the city—racing by on sidewalks now. And bikers pay zero attention to signs on one way avenues informing them that they are going the wrong way [photo top, center taken this week]. To think tax dollars paid for the printing and installation of signs that exclaim the obvious and are ignored! At least one friend was knocked down by a bike that was bucking the tide on a major avenue.

Growing Taste Sensations

A conversation with a 5 year old took a surprising turn. She told me that when she was young, she liked to eat everything but not anymore. There’s a lot she doesn’t care for now, she said. And here I thought people’s tastes expand as they “age.”

Can you share any examples of backwards or counterintuitive behavior that you’ve seen or heard?

Photo: ecigadvanced.com

Service of When the Tail Wags the Dog: Over-Empowered Kids

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Photo: tcw.com

Picture this: It’s 2030 and an intern where you work slams her phone on a table, demands that the company summer outing be at an amusement park, not at the venue described in the text she just received, and flounces out of the boss’ office. Or maybe a nubie objects to the upcoming move and complains loudly to management that the new location is inconvenient for her.

“Fat chance,” you predict.

If some of the scenarios Jennifer Breheny Wallace described in her Wall Street Journal article are accurate, these instances could happen when the children she wrote about are let loose on the world as young adults. The days of “the tail doesn’t wag the dog,” no longer apply in some families whose kids rule every aspect of the roost.

Photo: educateempowerkids.com

Wallace warns that a democratic approach—where every member of the family, regardless of age or experience, has an equal vote in major decisions–isn’t such a good idea. [You think?]

In “Children Should Be Heard, but Only So Much–Children now have much more influence over family decisions, but parents need to be wary of giving them too much sway,” Wallace writes about one set of parents who put the purchase of an apartment on hold until they could get the approval of their six year old. Kids in other families determine where the family goes on vacation.

“‘Modern parents want their kids to feel included and empowered, so nearly every purchase is now a family decision,’ says branding strategist Bill Goodwin. In a recent National Retail Federation survey of more than 1,000 parents of Gen Zers (the generation born after 1995), 67% said that they solicit their child’s opinion before making family purchases, and 59% said that they won’t buy something if their child doesn’t approve of it,” wrote Wallace.

Photo: 510families.com

Richard Weissbourd of the Harvard Graduate School of Education told Wallace that there are benefits to letting kids know parents value their opinions such as in picking a restaurant. “But when it comes to making major purchases (such as a house) or determining family priorities (such as deciding whether to travel to see extended family or go to Disneyland), he says that a parent’s wisdom should prevail.”

Weissbourd observed: “Unfortunately, some parents now rely on their kids to fill the void of where a friend should be.”

Photo: modernmom.com

Wallace continued: “Children need to be taught to make sacrifices and not to assume that others will organize their lives around them, which can lead to entitlement, says Dr. Weissbourd. For example, if Saturdays are spent engaging in a child’s activity, then on Sundays, bring your child on family errands,” she wrote.

“Empowering children to make decisions about their own lives teaches them valuable life skills, such as how to take responsibility for themselves,” psychologist Laura Markham told Wallace. She referred to picking a sport or clothes. “However, when it comes to decisions that affect the overall family, “Parents should have the last word.”

Parents who hand over the reins to young children mean well but can it end well? Do you know families that operate in this way? Has the age of reason moved to six from 13—recognized by major religions–and isn’t 13 on the young side to know the best place to live or vacation?

Photo: ca.news.yahoo.com

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