Friday, October 25, 2013

Color blindness

When I look at my growing up experiences, I've always thought of myself as growing up "color blind". Meaning, I had friends of all kinds of nationalities and races, but they never really seemed that different to me.  I kind of patted myself on the back for not really thinking my friends whose parents were from Korea were any different than my friends who were half-Puerto Rican or African-American.  This kind of goes along with the idea of America being a giant melting pot. (Too much Schoolhouse Rock as a kid, I know).

As I've gotten older and looked at it and tried to teach my children, I've realized I've kind of missed out. I've had Jewish friends, Iranian friends, and Indian friends, but by trying to treat them all the same, I really missed out on understanding who they were and learning more about their cultures.  My kids will make a comment about someone like "They have a brown face and black hair", and I'll say "Yep. They do.  And you have blonde hair.  Everybody has different color skin and hair, don't they?" Really, though, isn't it okay to acknowledge that someone is different and say, we should learn more about the country Venezuela where our neighbor just moved from, rather than just saying, we're all the same? I guess that's the idea of America being more like a giant beef stew rather than a melting pot.

I don't want my children to be rascist by any means, but I think that if we learn a little more about each other and where we came from, there's a lot more understanding and appreciation for differences rather than just being completely color blind.

Friday, October 18, 2013


I never really had a BFF.  I had lots of good friends growing up, but I was never really a "best friend" type of person.  I was always more comfortable with having lots of different friends, even if we weren't really that close, than I was with having a "best" friend.  Part of this has to do with the fact that I switched schools several times growing up.  I switched in 3rd grade, and luckily 2 of my friends switched along with me.  I switched again in 7th grade, going back to school with some of those from 1st and 2nd grade.  However, my junior high was shutdown after 7th grade, so I ended up back with friends from 3rd-6th grade.  The school boundaries then changed, but I wanted to stay at the same school as my older siblings, so once again, I switched back to friends from 7th grade. This also means that my neighborhood friends went to the new high school. And, last but not least, my parents moved right before my junior year of high school, so my neighbors/church friends changed, but I got to stay at the same high school.  Of course, amidst all of this, other kids were moving in and out of my schools, and high school brought along friends that had gone to a different "feeder" school that I had never met.

I contrast this a bit with my husband's schooling experience.  I'm pretty sure that almost everyone that went to his elementary school also went to the same junior high and then the same high school together.  In fact, I don't think there was a 2nd junior high, so really, it was mostly the exact same group of kids that went to school together from 1st through 12th grade.  Wow.

Now that I've reconnected with friends from high school, junior high, and even elementary school on Facebook, sometimes I'm a little jealous when I read their comments about knowing each other's families or funny things from their early childhood they experienced together.  I don't really get it.  There are very few people in my life that were consistently around for my entire childhood.  One more reason to be thankful for a family of 6 children, where my brothers and sisters were always there and could be my "best friends".

I started thinking about this when I went to an assembly for my 2nd grader.  All the 2nd grade classes put on a Folk Song Festival.  My 2nd grader has a "best friend".  Actually, I think sometimes they fight as much as they get along, but she's still her "best friend".  I looked at all of those kids there lined up in classes and realized that, if we didn't move and lots of those kids stuck around, they could really end up going to all of elementary school, junior high and high school together.  That's such a foreign concept to me.  Having the same good friend consistently for 12 years.  Wow.  I have an older sister that experienced that, but not me. One more thing I will learn from my children, I guess: How to keep a consistent friendship going through all that life throws at you throughout your childhood and teenage years. How to be and have a BFF.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Zoning out - kid style

We all need time to zone out every once in a while.  You know, when you're brain dead, and feel like you want to just sit on the couch and stare at the wall for an hour - preferably in silence, which isn't going to happen when you have kids around.

I've learned that kids need this sometimes, too.  My kids have learned to say "I need my alone time", when they just need some space and quiet to unwind.  Or, sometimes I tell them to go have some alone time, when the fighting has reached too high of a level.  My 4 year old will play Barbies by herself for alone time.  My 5 year old will do Legos.  My 7 year old will usually go read.  A few weeks ago, though, my 7 year old, pulled out Bop-It for her alone time.  I wasn't as happy with that, and not just because it's an obnoxious game.

I confess that video/computer games scare me a little.  Not because I think there's anything inherently wrong with them.  We mainly don't have them because my kids are little and I think it's easier and better for them to play games together or that involve them using their creativity.  And, I have a fear of turning my children into Zombies who don't know how to entertain themselves.  As my 7 year old sat and played Bop-It for her alone time, I could totally see her zoning out.  I know it's okay to zone out every now and then, but I think that addictive behaviors sometimes start because we need to zone out and we're looking for something that doesn't require our mind to think.

I know.  I sound completely paranoid as if my 7 year old is going to be an addict to something because she plays Bop-It.  That's not really it.  It just made me think about teaching my children to zone out productively, if that makes sense.  I'd much rather they sit and read or play music or draw when they need to zone out rather than rely on electronics.  I know that for me, it's much more refreshing to zone out by playing the piano or reading a book, than watching TV or going through Facebook. What do you think? Am I being paranoid? Or is there really such a thing as teaching children to productively zone out?