Monday, 11 November 2013

Sunday Surf (On a Monday)

Sunday Surf with Authentic Parenting and Hobo MamaI'm joining Authentic Parenting and Hobo Mama for Sunday Surf. Share your best reading of the week, and link up your post at either blog!
For more great reading, visit Hobo Mama or Authentic Parenting for the latest Sunday Surf and linky.
Happy Surfing!

Parenting, Adoption, Education
Kids give so much negative feedback, so much of the time (I won't / I didn't / I can't / I don't want to) that it's positively thrilling, at times, to know that there might be a tiny adult somewhere, inside my phone, who is going to say something encouraging to me, send me a nice email, do something that will make me laugh or maybe just give me ten seconds of respite so I don't yell. I need encouragement through my day, and often the place I get the most is through my phone. I don't think this is anything to be sneezed at.
And yet I've read and heard a few people saying some pretty judgy things about mothers who spend too much time on their phones, and it bothers me. I don't disagree that probably, lots of us could do a better job to get the balance right between boredom, engagement and distraction (I talked about pushing kids through the boredom barrier recently, and I'm all too aware that sometimes I use my phone as a way to avoid pushing through my own). However, this attitude always, always makes me uncomfortable, and not (just) because it makes me feel guilty.

I don't know. I think that most mothers who I see idly thumbing on their phones are probably bored; bored and tired and wondering how much longer they have to stay at the swings until they can legitimately claim it's time for dinner. And if you think they shouldn't be bored and tired, if you would prefer to see them engaging their children more actively, I have a solution - offer to babysit and give that mother a bit of time to herself. Yes, that's right - walk up to her and say 'hey there, mama, you look like you could do with a break. How about I push that swing for you while you take an hour or so to read a book in that coffee shop?'

Is this too weird? Is it impossible? Would nobody ever, ever, do it, because they would seem like some kind of crazy kidnapper, offering to look after a stranger's children? Well, maybe this is right, but my opinion is: if we don't know a person well enough to offer to babysit her kids, we don't know her well enough to judge the fact that she is on her cellphon 
Really interesting video about attempts to promote science in Japanese schools. I was particularly interested by one teacher's observations that kids don't like science because they just want to get the answer, they aren't interested in the process. They are used to, and expect, instant gratification.
In literary fiction, like Dostoyevsky, “there is no single, overarching authorial voice,” he said. “Each character presents a different version of reality, and they aren’t necessarily reliable. You have to participate as a reader in this dialectic, which is really something you have to do in real life.”
Dr. Castano added that, in many cases, “popular fiction seems to be more focused on the plot.”
“Characters can be interchangeable and usually more stereotypical in the way they are described,” he said.
With limited resources and the hospital an hour away, the family did not know what to do. They loved their granddaughter and wanted to find her help so they approached the leaders in their community about the situation. The leaders contacted some missionaries in town and told them about this family.
And just like that, this little girl was brought to an orphanage, where she would be separated from her family for the next 3 years.
The family wasn't offered transportation to the hospital, or advice on nutrition for a malnourished child, or high caloric foods or help paying hospital bills. The only option presented was the removal of their child.
So for the next three years a child with a family that loved her sat in an orphanage. She became one of many children cared for by multiple caregivers a day that came and went and picked up their paychecks at the end of the month. She got three nutritious meals a day and toys donated from America to play with and the occasional trip to town for ice cream, but she lacked a child's greatest need- a family to love her. She watched adoptive parents arrive to take their kids home and was left wondering where her family was and why she wasn't with them.
Essentially, an orphan had been created.
While this little girl wondered, an hour away a family in a village was left missing their daughter.
We—collectively, as a society—are teaching our kids the very thing that so many of us spend an entire adult lifetime trying to unlearn.

Sweets = happiness. Sugar = fun. Cupcakes = love.

The celebration hasn’t happened until we feel sick and our teeth are coated in sugar residue.

Our bodies naturally crave sweet things because of their easy energy content. Encouraging a psychological attachment to sweets as a shortcut to positive feelings is unwise. And yet, we reinforce this message constantly to our very young children with a flashing neon sign that says JUNK FOOD = FUN PARTY.

I can’t help but believe that in doing so we will pass on all of our negative patterns. When I’m sad, frustrated, depressed about the winter, cold, tired, or overwhelmed, I want SOMETHING CHOCOLATE WITH FROSTING. It’s a test of my will power not to eat crap when I feel strong negative emotions, searching for a certain level of happiness and satisfaction in sweets. I usually win, but it’s hard and I know I’m not alone. I see this kind of complaint posted everywhere.

We were taught that whether we want to admit it our not. That’s a lesson we learned at the knee of this idyllic childhood-party-sweets-holiday mentality. If we don’t want to raise kids who struggle with the food issues of our generation we need to stop the constant association of positive social events and sugar.
(Japanese only)


Race, Privilege, Social Issues
I’ve written before that I grew up in the south, in an area intensely battling racism and homophobia. The area is odd. At the “yamboree” as we called the county fair, the Ku Klux Klan had a booth each year, and also sometimes the Ku Klux Klan would parade down town and give out candy to all the kids.
When I was five I was put in a different school because there was an ESL (English as a Second Language) program there. You may be wondering, “what’s wrong with that?” Well, for starters, I was born in Ohio and English was my native tongue. I was reading novels by kindergarten (totally spelled that wrong the first time, fail) and I prided myself on the fact that I had an extensive vocabulary for a toddler. I had been speaking English with exquisite finesse up to that point in my life (okay, that may all be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point). So I didn’t know why I was being put in an ESL program, but I didn’t argue because who’s going to listen to a five year old? At that age, you don’t question things, you just accept. I carried forth with my days throwing raisins at the teacher and drawing cartoon characters on the desks. It wasn’t until later in life I tried to analyze the situation and came to this conclusion: I was put in that program for one reason, I was a shy Asian girl and everyone jumped to the conclusion that I couldn’t speak English. I know I tend to joke about this story, but there’s a lesson to be learned.
As a young child, I didn’t understand race or skin color. I assumed everyone was white, including me. I hope I can speak for most Asian-Americans here, but there is that earth-shatterning [sic] moment in our childhood when we realize we’re not white.
It isn’t a scarcity of whales that is bringing down the curtain, or even the complicated politics of whaling. It is something far more prosaic and inexorable: Norwegian children, even those who grow up in the seafaring stronghold of Lofoten, simply do not want to become whalers any more. Nor do they want to brave storm-tossed winter seas to net fortunes in cod, as their forebears have done for centuries. Instead, they aspire to safer, salaried jobs in distant cities or with the offshore oil industry, and they have been leaving their island communities in droves.
What a legacy Japan could achieve if it not only celebrates the things that make Japan distinct and unique but openly looks to share that with the world and in the process widen the definition of what it is to be Japanese to include the best of other cultures too. Because some of those other cultures are already here, they are already making significant contributions to Japanese life. They raise families, they participate in the local community and they contribute in myriad untold ways to the growth of the nation.
In 2020 Japan will seek to introduce itself to the world.
Hopefully it’ll be an honest introduction.
And unlike Britain the rest of the World will be welcome for more than just the summer.
It seems to me that a lot of the worst homophobia stems from looking at a gay person and seeing the “disgusting” sex they have, rather than seeing a person, a person with passions and interests and likes and dislikes and dreams and, well, a life. So much of the discussion of “the homosexual lifestyle” centers on this idea that gay people spend their lives obsessed with going from bar to bar for sex rather than, well, having a range of interests and forming a range of relationships.

Animals, Linguistics (The first link should explain why those are together today!)
...according to recent studies, animals really do have regional accents. Yes, that’s right. Dogs generally tend to have a different pitch, tone, and display a variety of vocal mechanisms depending on where they are from. The Canine Behavioiur Centre in Cumbria explained that Scottish dogs bark somewhat more lightly than dogs in Liverpool, for example. It gives me unspeakable pleasure to envision a dog speaking with a brogue.
Cows were also found to have regional dialects by John Well, professor of phonetics at the University of London. This is interesting, as in English they tend to be capable of producing one consonant. In Mongolia and parts of India they are capable of producing complex plosives by bursting forth with a gutteral umboo in Mongolian and hambaa in Bengali.
Unfortunately, this theory does not hold water across the animal kingdom. Cats make a sound very similar to meow around the world. In France they go miao, in China they go mao, in Sweden they go mjau, and in Turkish mijyav. Could this be attributed to cats’ universal not-giving-a-fuckage? Probable.
Naoto Matsumura and his elder parents lived on a rice farm in Tomioka, a coastal town in Fukushima prefecture, known for having one of the longest cherry blossom tunnels in Japan.

After hearing the hydrogen explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, eight miles away from their home, the Matsumuras  attempted to evacuate. However, they were turned away from a relative in Iwaki, a coastal town in southern Fukushima prefecture.  She feared they had been radioactively contaminated.  Afterwards, they were turned away from a shelter because it was full.

So they returned to their home, where his parents stayed until his mother became ill in April 2011. She then moved  to her daughter's home in Shizuoka where there was no room for the Matsumura's animals.  Therefore, Naoto Matsumura decided to stay—to take care of them.

He told filmmakers Jeffrey Jousan and Ivan Kovac that he gradually took on the task of caring for cattle, pigs, cats, dogs, and an ostrich (the sole survivor of a flock of 30 birds) throughout Tomioka, all left behind by owners who were initially told the evacuation would be temporary and short-term: 
Our dogs didn’t get fed for the first few days. When I did eventually feed them, the neighbors’ dogs started going crazy. I went over to check on them and found that they were all still tied up.

Everyone in town left thinking they would be back home in a week or so, I guess. From then on, I fed all the cats and dogs every day. They couldn’t stand the wait, so they’d all gather around barking up a storm as soon as they heard my truck. Everywhere I went there was always barking. Like, ‘we’re thirsty’ or, ‘we don’t have any food.’ So I just kept making the rounds.
Over a thousand cattle and hundreds of thousands of caged chickens died from starvation in Tomioka. Then on May 12, 2011, the Kan administration ordered the euthanasia of surviving cattle. But a bright spot for animal survivors was that Japanese authorities have allowed Matsumura to remain to care for animals since the return of the town's other 15,000 residents is unlikely.
You do not necessarily punish a dog by ignoring it.  If a dog wants you to go away, ignoring them is a carrot.  Even the happiest married couples probably realize it’s nice to see your spouse leave so you can have a bubble bath.  Love you – go away – come back later.  Do not assume your presence is always a gift to the universe.  You’re special, but not THAT special.  None of us is.
The point being that in order to aspire to compassionate – to be more humane and kinder, we need to stop talking so much and we need to start listening.
We listen by watching the dog’s reaction.  When you reach to pat a dog on the head and see that slight ducking and shying away, then take note.  Look for escape and avoidance behaviours.  They can be hard to spot.  Relief can look oddly similar to joy.
Avoid a technique-centric approach and choose communication.  When you stop – really stop – and listen, you realize that all dogs respond to positive reinforcement.  Unfortunately, too often, the human thinks they are being positive and the dog firmly disagrees.  You must truly hear what the dog is saying.
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  1. Really enjoying reading through these links — thanks for sharing!


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