Friday, September 30, 2011

why you should read banned books to your kids

We're nearing the end of Banned Books Week, an appropriate time to introduce your child to Captain Underpants if you haven't already. Captain Underpants is the widely popular children's books series by awarded author Dav Pilkey. Diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia in elementary school, he was frequently reprimanded for his behavior in class and often sat at a desk in the school hallway where he created the Captain Underpants character: a superhero who is kind and nice to everyone, especially to children. In the book series, he is the alter ego of the evil principal hypnotized to think he is Captain Underpants.

Apparently, some think this sends too unruly of a message to kids. The series has been banned in some schools for encouraging children to disobey authority.

Friday, September 23, 2011

battle hymn of the troll mother

I finally got around to reading Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (2011), which caused the mama Blogosphere to explode in outrage against this über strict mother who denies her daughters all fun and play, forcing them instead to work hard at academics and music through constant monitoring, threats and punishment. I can see now how it struck such a nerve with people. Why? Because while in the US we take pride in our right to individual freedom and the pursuit of happiness, our culture nevertheless places an outrageously high price on accomplishment and success. Which is what Chua claims she ensured for her children through rigid enforcement of music practice and drilling for hours on end until excellence was achieved.

Friday, September 16, 2011

when all men are potential pedophiles: the park & rec board weighs in on "proper swimwear"

The hostility punched me in my gut as I entered the meeting room last night. I was there to talk about this summer's "pool attire" incident when I was told to put a top on my three-year-old daughter. I explained as I've already done to the pool manager and the pool manager's supervisor, that I find the request offensive in its sexualization of little girls. I also see the matter as beyond the pool staff's area of jurisdiction, which when you look at the pool rules has everything to to with the sanitariness and proper functioning of the pool water (swim diapers required for children not potty trained; no street wear like "cut-offs" and "t-shirts" whose fibers can clog pool filters; no spitting or blowing nose in the pool water; no infectious disease), and the physical safety of the pool patrons (no running, pushing, or alcohol; diving only in designated areas; and diving board and climbing walls only allowed for "good swimmers"). Otherwise, the safety of the child is the parent's responsibility: "children 8 years of age and under must be accompanied and supervised (within arms reach at all times) by responsible person 15 years of age or older." In other words, whether to have my daughter wear a top or not is my decision, which I make based on my child's level of comfort, and mine, and whatever other factor I deem wise to take into consideration.

This is proper swimwear (at the beach in Norway in June.)
In reality, I think the issue is moot. There is at this point not an upper age limit for toplessness stipulated in the rules at our local pool, and it's not like you're seeing girls or women strut around topfree over there when the pool's open. In our culture, a girl wants to wear a top. As many have said chiming in on this issue, any girl will require a top herself by the time she turns five. Even my Lilly wants to wear a top (to my dismay) because she wants to look like me. It's just that the top feels so uncomfortable, so she'll take if off (to my relief). But as she grows older, she'll want even more to look like her peers. And what they wear is limited by what's available in stores, much of which is made for kids to emulate pop stars. For heavens sake; they make bikinis with tops for babies a mere months old.

Friday, September 9, 2011

she wanted a little room for thinking: but she saw diapers steaming on the line

She wanted a little room for thinking:
but she saw diapers steaming on the line,
a doll slumped behind the door.

So she lugged a chair behind the garage
to sit out the children's naps.

Friday, September 2, 2011

walk therapy

A pause in the gazebo by the river
I remember reading about a California-based therapist who would take her clients on hikes during their sessions. The body moving helped the words flowing, she explained. But she also stressed the benefits of the endorphins released from the exercise, and the serenity of nature, soothing the soul.

I was reminded of this when out on one of our walks this week. We've both been down with the cold, and this particular day I felt my spirit heavy too. Lilly suggested a walk; perhaps liking the idea of lounging in the stroller. With my heavy head and runny nose it didn't sound too great of an idea. But off we went.

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