Friday, September 30, 2011

Life, Conscious Discipline, and other things

Oh its been a while.  Its not that I had nothing to say... its just sleep is so much more important sometimes.

This weekend we made bubble prints at the maker's market.  The turnout was low, as expected since it was pretty cold and overcast.  Yet, the activity was well suited, and everyone who came enjoyed it.  Also it was great having help from a mathematician who studies bubble stuff.  She was a lot of fun.

Today I finally turned in our first grant application- I had to go back and sign the thing.  Duh.  It's a bit ironic because there's not much of left of the planning committee, but yet, the organization is doing things... well, at least I am, and the planning committee did do some important things that are still really helping.  So, despite the lack of commitment byt the original team (or impossibility of their time), I think I can still make it happen.  I get this feeling people still want it to happen, and people on my list come up to me and say how they read all my emails, and that it sounds like its going well and that we are making progress- and this is true for me and the project, its just less true of the building the organization part.  I think I just have to assume having a space will make that part come together.

In other news- my new shoe/hiker/sneaker things are amazing.  I can run in them.  I can not get wet in the pouring rain with them.  They are comfortable.

My little star has resumed walking to playcare again.  This is good other than me not getting any time until 11 am.

I found a giant tomato hornworm in my garden, and my little star completely enjoyed watching it for several days.  We left it out in a plastic washtub with some tomato stalks (I've got plenty of extra cherry tomato plants to sacrifice).  His biggest happiness, I think, was watching the worm "poop".  After a few days we woke up one morning and something had killed it.  It was kind of gross, so I took it out to the compost before little star saw it.  I was afraid he'd want to touch it more.  I think touching it is gross even when its just alive and happy, but I'm willing to encourage him to get more in touch with bugs than I ever was.  I think the exploration is positive.  There's no good reason to be grossed out by it, and I'm glad he's not... as long as he doesn't touch wasps, bees, yellow jackets, fuzzy caterpillars, poisonous snakes, scorpions (OK, we don't have those around here)- and POISON IVY.  I'm lucky he still touches plants at all after my craziness about poison ivy.  I've think I've dissuaded him from touching prickers too... but not pricklies.

We've decided we need to get him "evaluated".  I believe that means, we get to see if the kid is "on the spectrum" or not.  That is- is he neurotypical and just a bit delayed or is he fundamentally different.   I get this feeling the mental health person who observed him is used to parents who don't like to be told their kid is different or needs help.  She seemed to spend a lot of time being pleased that we wanted early intervention that I gather she spends convincing parents there kids should have some.

We've been going to Conscious Discipline parenting classes.  I actually find I get more out of the book (probably because there are two fathers who seem to have an awful lot to say to the class so it goes a bit slowly).  However, I'm glad for the class, because who knows how long it would take my husband to get through the book.  We are already doing some of the thing the philosophy espouses, but there are a ton more I could be doing a lot better.

 It's partly geared toward parenting styles people like me think nobody uses anymore (I'm wrong of course- I can tell that by listening to the parents in the class- quite the education).  It talks about not parenting through fear, and I think, I'm not doing that!  But...that some of the things we have substituted for the old "bad" way of things, are also not the best, and perhaps also have fearful undertones.  Of course the book explains this better than I am going to.  But here are some things I am learning to do better.

I just read the chapter on how to talk to your child, and I can see that I fall under the "passive" rather than assertive category far too often.  I also speak aggressively rather than assertively sometimes as well.  At this point I am now hearing myself in these terms, and it will certainly take a while to change such ingrained patterns of speech.

I also need to learn to take that deep breath, get out of emotional before I make a decision.  This aspect of taking control is why its called conscious discipline- you think about what you are doing- and the book gives you tools for doing it.  I also have to learn to turn conflict into more teaching opportunities- its funny how I espouse this, but don't really do it.  The book has tools.

The interesting thing, to me about this parenting book is that its not 300 pages with basically one main point.  It's many many points and tools.  It looks at many common behaviors, thinks about why they occur, and what appropriate responses are that teach our kids to solve problems and make better decisions.  It's also a self help book to help parents gain self composure and make better decisions as well because its sees parenting as modeling.

Well, you can see I've got lots of work to do now.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gravity and first teeth cleaning

Did I mention the gravity incident?  Yesterday, or maybe a few days ago, my little star spilled some water.   I asked what had happened as I hadn't been watching very carefully.  He said "gravity pulled it down".   Well, a very accurate answer.  I really couldn't be upset with that.  I'm glad he's understanding gravity now.

Yay! Dentist appointment is OVER.  Yes, I don't like going to the dentist... like most people.  Sometime a few months ago, I was all set to go to my dentist appointment when my son's school called and said he had a rash that was spreading, and yes I had to pick him up immediately.  I couldn't even send my husband to do it because we only have one car.  I had to cancel my appointment- and I don't think the dentist was too pleased, but they were understanding.

 I'm a big procrastinator (especially about things I really don't want to do anyway), so it took me a while to make a new appointment, and I remembered this time, that I was probably supposed to bring my little star- after all he's almost four, and he came with me last time to "watch".  Last time they had him sit in the chair and counted his teeth.  He did not like it much, and I had my husband to watch him while they did my teeth.

I do recognize that my son is a lot more mature, but I really was not sure how he was going to do both while I had my teeth cleaned, amusing himself, and when he was in the chair himself.  And of course, while I have a great dentist and hygienist, I still don't like it.  He said he wanted to color in a coloring book- something that he barely ever does, and doesn't usually do it for long.  I think perhaps he associates them with this type of appointment though he's been to very few doctor/dentist things.  Anyway, I realized we were running late, and threw in a coloring book and a tiny travel box of crayon's he'd never seen before.  I also put in some books for him to read.  I rushed him out the door, with only slight protest when I said he had to wear pants he didn't want to wear because I didn't have time to find his other ones.  That is, the boy was in a very cooperative mood.

So we got there and got him set up.  He was surprisingly uninterested in the x-rays they took of my teeth, but was luckily cooperative has he had to be out of the room when they did it.  I hadn't warned him of this because I had forgotten they might do it.
By then it was clear that it wasn't coloring he was going to do, it was pulling the paper off the crayons.  I figured this would occupy him for a long time... unless he needed help.

By the time the hygienist was finishing me he was getting mighty frustrated with something, and quite close to melt down.  It turned out that all he was trying to do was close the box... and it wasn't cooperating.

Anyway, then it was his turn.  The hygienist was magical, explaining and showing him everything, and he magically cooperated, had his teeth cleaned and even some tartar scraped off at the end.  The dentist counted his teeth and said his bite looked good and he had no cavities.  Maybe he has my husband's teeth.  I sure hope so!

They blew up a glove for him and made it look like a chicken.  He loved it, and played with it all the way home... until it unfortunately broke.  This of course upset him, but he did get over it.  I kept thinking it would be awfully easy to get him another one- and I felt so sad for him- I don't even think he was abusing it. He'd said he was cleaning the chicken's teeth before it broke.  It was adorable... and it was sort of  reward for dealing with the dentist.  But that kids are supposed to learn how to deal with disappointment.  I stuck the broken glove on a gourd for him- on of the intact fingers fit over the top nicely and I tied some of the other fingers together., so I think that helped him feel like all wasn't lost.

Anyway, I'm really happy the whole dentist thing is over for a while.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Parenting, early intervention for my little star

Last night we went to our first class on "Conscious Discipline".  It the form they use at my son's preschool, other head start classrooms, and several other day care's in the area.  Did I mention I like it?  But I don't really know how to do it, so that's why we attended the class.  Its a six week thing, so the first class is mostly introductions, and introducing their "brain" model.  The scientist in the family thought the model was not accurate, but that using Maslow's hierarchy of needs was perfectly reasonable.  

I was pleased to find one of her examples was exactly what I had done in that situation... but not exactly because I knew what I was doing.  And that's the point with this idea, you are conscious of what your are doing.  I began reading the book, and find the point really is to discipline yourself, and gain your own self control.  I think it will help- I really do get quite emotional at times in unhelpful ways.   Also, it does not contradict anything I already think- it just points out and explains what problems are and how we can respond to them better.  So, knowing what little I do, yes, I recommend this stuff because I really like what I see in the preschool.

Today, a mental health person for head start observed my child.  I believe she spent some effort on it, because unlike the last person (who admittedly had been observing the class, not my child specifically), she agreed that my son's speech is just fine.  She pointed out some nice things about my child that were my little star's strengths, and clearly she "got" him.  She mentioned his sweet spirit (or something like that- funny how she used the word spirit- I don't hear it very much), meaning really that he's not aggressive, like a lot of kids she had to work with.  I can see how my son would be nice to work with.

She did seem to think he needed some help on "connecting" to people, a description that really does describe what he seems to need help with, so I was pleased that she seemed to get what the issue might be.  She spoke of some interventions they can do with parallel play, and some things we might do at home- I imagine we'll find out details at a meeting next week.  Anyway, these seem to be the interventions I thought might be helpful, but I didn't know what they were (professionals are useful!).

She also did suggest we get him evaluated to see what, if any, spectrum he might be on.  I didn't really know there were other spectrums other than autistic, but I suppose there could be... or she was just using a euphemism.  But again, this is not shocking news, and I think early intervention, if there is a need, is a good way to go.  The professional implied that some parents were not nearly as interested in working on things early- probably they are afraid of labeling their children.  I can see that- especially labeling about IQ.

The professional was quick to let me know that my son did not seem to have any learning disabilities and she implied that he seemed to know and understand quite a lot- perhaps more than expected.  How could you not know a lot when you spent every second of your time exploring everything to its fullest? I think she wanted to reassure me that he would not be labeled in that way. I wasn't concerned about those particular labels, but I suppose labeling can be a concern.  But I think early intervention is more important- before there gets to be a bigger problem.

I have to thank a friend of mine for helping me think about this- before it was a concern.  She writes a blog about her family and life, but one of the aspects is that her son has Asbergers that was diagnosed in primary school.  The blog really made me think that even though my son is not a problem child right now- his meltdown, whiny, issues are like other three year olds, there might be problems when he gets older. If he's not neurotypical problems may crop up, and be worse we have not addressed them early enough... if they can be addressed.  So I supposed I'm just relieved to have a professional agree that yes, there might be an issue, and yes we should get it checked out.  And, yes, here are some things we will start doing.

I guess its too bad that when he was two and in the early intervention class (as a typically developing kid) nobody suggested intervention with him though we already wondered if there was some concern.  I think then we thought, well, he's  just a bit slow at social development, kids develop at different rates, and his father was late on some things.

Did I mention my little star has lately been answering  or even asking "how are you?" with  very deliberate eye contact and clear answer.  It's like he's been coached (it seems very deliberate), but we are not sure who taught him so we say, must be his grandparents.  We also assume they taught him what a whole note is.  Thank you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Apple picking

We went apple picking today... sort of.  Its a bit nostalgic for me- I haven't ben apple picking since I worked at a research orchard almost a decade ago.  Anyway, this wasn't quite like that.  One of the moms owns a farm with apple trees lining the long drive up to the barn.  The farm was only about three miles away, so that was nice too.  The trees are old style trees, so the apples are high- which is a bit of a challenge without picking ladders.  She had some really tall ladders, but they were very hard to maneuver into the trees.  Still, we got some apples picked.

The apples will be good for applesauce- though I was very impressed with the kids who showed no qualms in eating quite blemished apples.  The most blemished and small we threw to the horses who's pasture bordered the apple trees.  The kids just needed to put them over the fence.  My little star loved watching the horses eat the apples.

The mom gave all the kids who wanted them pony rides, but my little star didn't want to.  I was only slightly surprised.  I figured now that he liked the carousel he'd be ready for a little pony, but perhaps he needs to watch people riding for a few years first.  I was a bit disappointed because how many times do you get to do your own personal pony riding without paying or waiting in a very long line?

Anyway, it was a pleasant morning, hanging out, picking a few apples, watching really cute kids and horses.  And did I mention, it was a fall day- sort of damp, but the rain was over, and it was not very cold.

Typing seems to be really bothering my tendonitus, so that's all for today.

Monday, September 19, 2011

New shoes

I got new shoes today!!  You are wondering why I am so excited.  Its a been a long time since I bought shoes (not counting the shoes my mother in law got me for the wedding)... at least six years-I know I bought some in Maryland when we used to live there.
I attempted to buy some in CA, but I couldn't quite find the replacement for the shoes I love that I used for everything- walking, lifting weights, slipping on... well, their main limitation was not being warm, and not being suitable for running... or heavy hiking.  So I really couldn't find the shoes meant for EVERYTHING except snow, allow for orthotics and still slip on your feet.  However, I was pleased to find hiking/sneaker shoes, so they should be good for most things even if they don't slip on.  I think they actually FIT me with orthotics... they might need to be broken in a little.  And they were cheap- NOT, I was just kidding, but seriously I don't expect good shoes to be cheap... I'd probably be suspicious if they were.  However, I did find a local shoe store, that I didn't know existed- its only been here for two years.  It had Clarks (used to be a great shoe... but it used to be made in England), and Merrills- a brand I've had good luck with. Well you know how often I buy myself shoes!  Maybe I can even by my son some shoes at that store.

I just bought him some new shoes online, but I have a feeling this might be the last time I can do that.  This is the first time ever he WORE out the shoes before he grew out of them- the inside was falling apart, though the soles were only worn thin in a few strange places.  I think he has weird feet based on the strange way he wore them out.  They were not cheap shoes (though in looking for replacement I was surprised to find they were not the most expensive shoes either- I had thought I was buying him really expensive shoes and that perhaps that was kind of stupid) The brand I usually buy him (buying the same brand assures me that the next size will fit him and that I like the style) seems to be either going out of business, or if we are lucky, being taken over by the parent company (basically the same shoes, just smaller).  In any case I seem to have bought the only size 11 shoes made by either company last week.  I just wish they'd offer brighter colors for the boys.

I still like the styles they offered better than any competitor.  Velcro fastening (excuse me "hook and loop"), relatively flat- so it won't hit any arches in a funny way, good soles, leather- so it was water resistant.  I figure if I take my little star shoe shopping, not only won't he really know if they fit right, but he certainly won't be able to tell me.  And he probably won't want high quality shoes- like most kids, he'll certainly go on pretty appearance rather than how well it fits, price, how long it will last... How could a preschooler have a clue on these things?

And the rest of the day... I went to the gym, bought groceries, and went to the library to arrange a meeting room, and get some books for my little star.  A slow day with accomplishements.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Time Banks

OK, I read another article (below) and thought- how cool is that?

Published: September 15, 2011
In this time of high unemployment, time banks, which let people exchange skills and services, are more valuable than ever.
Maybe we could set one up here, in addition to a toy library at the science play space I want to create.  Its not completely a new idea (equivalent time for different types of work) for me, but its a new way of carrying it out- and much simpler than Ithaca-hours.  Ithaca-hours are quite similar in that each hour (equivalent to $10- at least when I left) represents and hour of work. All types of work are equivalent, and represented by and Ithaca-hour- an actual form of legal currency  with an exchange rate.  Most businesses in Ithaca will only accept a certain percentage of their price in them, and not all accept it.  

The time bank is a much simpler system- ie no currency, no exchange with real money, so it seems MUCH easier to set up.  I was trying to think about the Ithaca hours system when figuring out how much time a membership to a science play space should cost.  Perhaps a time bank system could be incorporated into the scheme.... thus making it incomprehensible to to people who are not used to such thing.  Still I could see some people having skills that would be really useful to the space, or having a lot of time, while others might have other skills- or things they would rather be doing with their volunteer time.  So like, if you'd rather volunteer for something else, but someone else would rather work at the space, they could exchange.

I just love a new idea.

About my little star:  well he said he didn't want to wear a diaper at night, so I let him try it.  I put him in a bunch of clothing because it was quite cold last night- the first time its dropped below 40F this year, and had him wear his wearable fleece blanket.  So despite being soaking wet in the morning, he managed to sleep all night and not get his bed wet.  Still... I think he's not ready to give up diapers at night yet.
He's barely ready in the day- still not telling me when to go, still having lot of accidents, and still resistant at times.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thinking about education and character development

I was up a little late last night having a discussion with my husband about an article I sent him from the NYT:

Published: September 14, 2011
Why our children’s success — and happiness — may depend less on perfect performance than on learning how to deal with failure.
(Read the article so the post below won't be confusing- the headline is not very descriptive of what is actually in the article)
I read it and thought that the way they have framed the ideas is interesting.   They way they have defined character education, as well, is intriguing.  And, most interesting is the way they talked about implementing the same ideas in two very different schools and demographics.  The ideas- that some kids seem to know how to deal with adversity and stick to things- the "successful kids", and some kids don't seem to, is not really new, but trying to implement a system to help kids learn these skills might be.  (I'm greatly simplifying here).  One of the schools is a KIPP school- and while I'm always exited to hear that these schools are working well for certain kids, I'm always slightly horrified by the methods. Still, I never realized exactly why I had this gut reaction.  I think our discussion on the article will help me articulate my thoughts-and I'll just focus on the KIPP school because, the article didn't really articulate much about how the wealthy private school was going to implement the ideas. The private school thought that having report cards on these aspects of character was never going to fly, so did not do it.
The KIPP school measures everything, so they were going to try to measure GRIT and some other aspects of character that seemed to differentiate the ones who went to college and finished it after graduating from the KIPP schools and those that didn't.
The idea in the article is that we have figured out what kids seem to need to do well in our system- the system where you go to college and become part of the elite.  So we think our job is to make kids this way.  That's the premise.  And, being part of this college educated/educator class, I immediately didn't even notice the premise and certainly did not question it... until we had our discussion. 
Here are some questions we considered: Are we training kids to be "cogs in the wheel"?  Is it a good wheel?  Can all kids be in the "elite college educated class"?  Do we want everyone to accept the system? How much of our population do we need to be always questioning the system?  Should we be training them as well?  How?  Have we ever asked the kids what they want?  Why don't they get any say in this?  Are they qualified to have any say in this? Maybe they  are, ala Kohlbeg (people do gain moral reasoning as they age).  Additionally it seems that  peer influence  can be more important than grown-up influence in forming values.  That is, peers are capable of deciding what is moral and valuable, and making choices. 
In the KIPP system (as I understand it- not claiming I have had direct experience, so this is as its portrayed in the media), the school seems to take a very top down approach- this is the way things are, and you need to learn the code, and this is how your are going to do it.  And of course kids who don't know the code (the way white college educated people interact), need the opportunity to learn it- that's what I've always admired about the KIPP approach.  What always made me nervous as the top down, almost military way of going about it. Now I'm seeing maybe my concern is the focus on being part of the elite system- not like there's anything wrong with being given the tools to be in that class- but there is something to be said for questioning the system, given tools for other paths, ... its hard to articulate, but it just seems that something is missing.  Perhaps that thing is giving students more choices and asking their opinions- more akin to those schools that are run democratically.
And perhaps this asking students for their say in things is also missing from more elitist schools.  These students are also part of the system, college is a given, and they already know the social cues they will need.  But they also are put on a particular path to uphold and hold a particular place in the current system.  The school also is telling them how to take their place there.
This post is about ideas and thing to think about. I'm sure my conclusions will change over time as I think more about education from this perspective.  We did touch on this in my teacher educations classes, but over time, when you are embedded in a particular system you forget how to think about it as an outsider.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why has parenting changed?

I've read a lot about "modern" parenting (at least of that of the people who are not near the poverty line).  I'm not sure what proportion of the population I speaking to here, but its people like me who waited until our thirties to have kids, who have at least a college degree, and expect our spouses to change diapers.  Most of my high school class at our 20 year reunion had a child (their first) under 5 years old. We are people who think very carefully about how we going to be a parent (or at least read about in the NYT and talk to our friends about it).  We all know things have changed- unlike in the past, we make sure our kids are more safe (no wandering the neighborhood- now we have play dates; playgrounds are safer, we use car seats, etc.)  We parent in ways that are less like how our parents did it- ie we are more lenient and less authoritarian (at least that's how its perceived).  We try not to say "NO" and tell our kids what they can do, give our kids choices rather than relying on reward and punishment.   I could make this list longer, but you can add your own stuff.

I used to think this was all about that some of us (OK, me) chose to have children, and we want to take on the responsibility of our choice- we want to do it right.  We might only have one of them, as well.  In other words, we invest a lot of emotion and often research into doing it "right".

I know parenting is always changing, and often we think of the changes as reactions to the generation before.  There is some of that, but I don't think that's really what is going on here.  Some people (like myself) are not really unhappy with the way they were raised, but still they expect that life is different now, and the ideals for child raising are changing.  What is different?

Are we more judgmental?  It sounds like we are.  But why is that?  Is it because we realize that we all pay the costs as society for poor parenting? I don't think so.  If we did we would support programs that support good parenting and make sure kids are safe, healthy, and not hungry.  Is it because we are more concerned about our children's peers?  Perhaps, but I think that has always been a concern- that is why we send our kids to the "right school" or live in the "right neighborhood" if we can.  And at the same time, we are less judgmental about certain things- religion, race, gender....we are more tolerant of differences here.

And I think its all related.  One of my friends told me how she wished we'd been told to really consider our spouse's family life/expectations and experiences before we married them.  A lot of people are now raising children with people who had utterly different experiences of culture, discipline, wealth... growing up, and thus somehow they have to find common ground to raise children.  I think this quest to raise children with somebody who might not share your expectations for how children should be raised brings on this questing to find the "best" way to raise a child, and to invest a lot of effort into figuring it out.  You not only have to convince yourself and your parents that you are doing it right, but you have to convince that spouse that didn't grow up like you did.  And if you've put in all this effort to figure it, out, you might feel that you have some grounds for judging others.

In older generations, mixing of class, race, etc was less common, and even when it happened, generally, the women was seen as the primary caregiver who made the decisions about child rearing.  People seemed to be more invested in community (church, and other civics), and shared more values and norms that did not have to be discussed.  They were clear and obvious.  Even if you didn't do them, you knew what you were supposed to do.

Now we are mixing across sub cultures more than ever, we don't necessarily share values and norms with our neighbors.  Additionally, the father is supposed to be included in the decision making.  Its a recipe for conflict, but also for spending the time and energy to think very carefully about what we are doing, and what really is best for the child.  Parents are also older now, so that they have had a lot more time to think about everything.  Perhaps they are wiser, perhaps not, but their world view is that of a thirty-something than than a 20-something year old. Combine the mixing of cultures with an awareness of how important the physical environment is to your child's health (now we know that lead and other chemicals or nutrition can have serious effects), and smaller families that allow more effort to be focused on one or two children, its no wonder we raise our children differently than our parents did.  We've had to think more carefully about it, make different compromises with our spouses, are aware of many more dangers than we used to be, and are investing in a much smaller number of children.

On an unrelated note: my science play space project just lost its possible free space-  the people we were supposed to share the building with just decided to close their business.  This development might have advantages...depends on what other space we get.  We could use the time to build our base, so its not really horrible. One of our grant deadlines got extended a lot (unrelated, but welcome, since the deadline was tomorrow!)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Diaries, games, and sports

I just said I had nothing to post.  Well, I just spent a little time putting my most recent blog posts into my new diary writing program.  I like it. Its much better organized than a blog.  I decided to put the blog posts in the program.  I sometimes back up the blog, but realized the back-up is entirely dependent on google's blog software.  Its not like it exports into a text file or something.  I don't like that.  I expect software to change over time, and I don't want to lose access because google decides someday not to support it.  So I figure, but putting posts in my diary (since they are journal entries anyway), I'll have access to them no matter what.  The journal can export to RTF format, so when that software goes away (its free after all), I'll still have the stuff.

I noticed a blog post really is different than a diary post.  I really say different things, and I imagine I think harder about my blog posts.

I realized I had a semi-interesting conversation with my husband today.  I took my son to a party at the neighbors.  The birthday boy was turning six- quite a bit older than my little star, and most of the friends were aged 5-7, so they did games that were advanced for my little star- which is why I stayed at the party with him.

At one point they did this game with water balloons where each child had to carry it with a big spoon (they were small).  My son didn't really get a turn, but I got him a water balloon at the end, and a ladle.  He was quite enjoying himself as the other kids were all popping the balloons.  Then one of the bigger kids came to him and somehow asked for his balloon...or maybe took it- it was the last unpopped balloon that kid had access to.  And then the kid played with it and threw it so it popped.  My son just looked confused and a bit sad, but didn't say anything.  I felt so bad for not intervening, but I wasn't sure if I should have intervened.  I felt sad- my little star was really enjoying that balloon... but he didn't even cry, so maybe I'm just putting my thoughts on him.  I would have been really upset.  Then again, I would never have let the other boy take the balloon in the first place.

So I noticed that a lot of the games involved kids lining up and competing with the kid at the head of the other line. It involved a lot of waiting around for most kids.  I thought this is kind of stupid for a birthday party, but then I thought maybe they are learning an important skill- to watch others be the center of attention, and wait their turn.  The older kids were good at it and enjoyed it.  They were not bored.

I asked my husband what he thought about sports where there is a lot of waiting around like that.  He didn't give me a clear answer, but I think I decided there was some merit to it... but perhaps a sport like Soccer where maybe you don't get the ball, but you are still active could be good.  Sports, I remind myself, are about more than just physical activity- and they do have their merits.

short note

In case anyone is wondering about my silence... I've had nothing to say.  I started to write an entry and it was just too boring. It was like... I got up I went on a walk, my little star napped  in his BED (which I admit is pretty exciting to me at least), ... and not much else.
So no entry means, nothing worth writing... or at least nothing I'm willing to share with you.
In fact, I got a free diary application today, so I can write things I can't share with you.  I was really pissed off at some unnamed person today...this weekend.
Sorry about that.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Science: Some thoughts

The highlight of the last few days was doing a table on Magnetism at our First Friday event.  We didn't have quite as many kids as last time, but the ones who came to our table stayed and played for a bit.  We had some cool stuff from the college to show them- an electromagnet, a magnetometer, and some very strong magnets, and my son's preschool let us borrow not only the magnatiles but some other magnetic stuff.  The little kids liked fishing for magnetic fish.  In September it gets dark earlier, and I had to start cleaning up while I could still see things.

I was disappointed that there seemed to be less people at the event, but I suppose that is because school has started now, and it was very hot and humid that evening.  I was also disappointed that we didn't see any students- after all it was labeled as a college night, and we do have two, and perhaps three (not sure if the third one has its facility ready yet) of them.  We had been placed with all the other kid stuff, so I figure either college students didn't come, or they didn't come to that area.

Lately we seem to hit parents that homeschool and are part of the local Christian home schooling association.  They are very interested in our project for a science play space.  I want to work with them and have their kids participate, but at the same time it worries me.  Will they get in the way of anything scientific that might conflict with a literal interpretation of the bible?  I'm banking on the hope that they won't, and I know that most of them are dedicated to giving their children a good education that they feel schools will not get them for one reason or another. People home school for many reasons, and if you were to do it, you would probably join the local organization no matter what your views on science were.  If you are home schooling, your children still have to know science even if they don't "believe" in some conclusions scientists have drawn from data.  The idea of a science play space is, for the most part to familiarize with scientific tools and methods through play, not to teach any particular science.  Familiarity with tools and methods will require actually learning some science and drawing some conclusions or at least knowing what they are.  That's the nature of it. However, its not the plan to indoctrinate or alienate people who know the world best in ways that are not scientific.  There are many ways of  knowing: science can only tell you about the natural world, not how to be ethical.

In any case it was nice to talk to the parents and see the kids enjoying their explorations.
The event kind of took my energy- organizing, doing it, and yesterday I was just so tired all day.   That may be related to going to the gym yesterday as well. And perhaps I am fighting off my son's cold.  He came down with this evil cold a few days ago. I almsot didn't send him to playcare, but I needed the time, and I was sure he got it there anyway.  They let kids come with runny noses- and he wasn't the only one.

Perhaps it was the 90+ heat in SEPTEMBER.  I overhead this guy on the radio professing that he didn't "believe" in global warming, but football games were never played in that kind of heat.  Maybe he'll start "believing?".  is this like "believing" in evolution?  Its not about belief... according to scientists.  Its what scientific evidence concludes.  If you "believe" in all the amazing medical advances and technology, then you should not have trouble "believing" in other things that scientists have figured out.  Global climate change and evolution are not exactly crackpot fringe scientific theories.  They are backed by a LOT of evidence amassed over a lot of time (Evolution longer than global climate change).  In fact, perhaps that's the problem, both theories are backed by an understanding of geologic time, and changes that have occurred in both the climate and the biology (the biogeochemistry) of the planet over that time.

 Accepting a scientific conclusion is not like "believing" in something that you cannot share/replicate with others (a personal spiritual experience).  With science, its  not about personal experience- in science the experience HAS to be shared. It HAS to be repeatable.  You can interpret it in many ways, but eventually scientist start agreeing with a particular interpretation and continue gaining data to support it.  Its our best guess so far.  So, if you want to say, I have enough training to understand the evidence for this well supported theory, I've studied it for a long time, and now I don't agree with it- I have an alternative theory that explains the data better, and I've explained it to some other scientists and somebody published a paper on it in a respected journal- well, then it would be worth listening to.  But... "I don't believe it" really doesn't cut it scientifically.

On a (slightly) less judgmental note- we know that its really really hard to change our beliefs and world view, and it takes something pretty earth shattering and repeated to do it even when evidence is clearly against it.  We fit what we hear to our preconceived notions as best we can until its completely impossible to continue.  A spiritual experience can certainly change a worldview. Perhaps the continuing really weird weather will help change our notions as well.

Last night we were woken up in the middle of the night with thunderstorms.  I am NOT making up that we have had a LOT more storms lately than in the past and 93 degree heat in September is almost unheard of here.  However, five years is not long enough to draw conclusions.  But long term data is, and scientists have studied it.