9.05.2018

CHARACTER TRAITS | ADVENTURE.


A character trait we’re focusing on this month is Adventurous.

What does it mean to be adventurous; to have the spirit of an adventurer, to adventure into unknown or uncomfortable or dangerous territory? Can someone be adventurous in certain areas and not others?

Is it always a positive attribute? What other traits are related and often go hand-in-hand? And importantly: how do you KEEP AND BUILD a spirit of adventure throughout your life, not just childhood?

An embedded way of approaching life in every facet, not just in the ‘Jack London physical quest into untamed territory’ type? And who are good examples of adventurous spirits in cinema, literature, and history?

I am a big proponent of little ongoing and frequent adventures being as important as occasional bigger ones. Ones where you create, or explore, or discover something in a way that is exciting and unique and different than just approaching as a task to be completed. The road, the long winding road should be filled with wrong turns and side streets and abrupt stops.

Good thing I’m bad at directions.

___

FIRST DAY?

School Districts still on strike. No agreement yet. So no official first day at the alternative school 45 minutes away we commute to twice a week to join other families with similar educational investments in their children. 

I told the children today would be a soft start. Meaning we ran through a handful of items: 

  • Khan Academy overview
  • "About Me" posters. Always a highlight of the year. I love seeing the changes year to to year. They'll be working on them over the next couple weeks. I gave the first five items to include:
    • Name and grade
    • Animals
    • Foods, desserts, drinks
    • Future career
    • Type of home, house, hut, castle, van, etc. they want to someday live in
  • German and Latin. Jumping back into our explorations into Romance languages, which will also include a heavy dose of Greek prefixes, suffixes, and roots, and probably include more than a handful of stories ancient history, despite the fact that we're focusing on History of the Americas this year. :) 
  • Coding. Johannes will continue with block-based, Magdelana will be moving into Javascript right away. 
  • Photography. 
Of course their little brother is in the thick of it all. Off we go. Another year of adventure and exploration ahead!

8.22.2018

PEDESTALS ARE DANGEROUS.

I rarely rewatch things.* Especially television. But I finished rewatching Big Little Lies a few nights ago. This time with Becca. And it held up a second time. HBO's masterful seven-episode series about a murder in an upscale coastal California town touches on so many themes and dynamics that are most notably centered around a group of moms and their relationships with their children and husbands.

Hilarious, disturbing, spellbinding, suspenseful, and killer dialogue. Revolving around women, it also features a supporting cast of men who shine some uncomfortable light on character traits and attitudes indigenous to my gender. Uncomfortable, but also enlightening and entertaining.

The one big suspension of belief that must be taken...I think: parents, talk to and with your children. 

There's an idea running throughout of parents simply accepting that their six-year old children won't tell them something (a key plot point). It's a recurring idea; and unfortunately mirrors a lot of real life these days. The idea that we should be - or it's normal to be - scared of our children; that it's somehow our job to entertain them at all points and to help gain and preserve social status with their peers and that to respect them means that they get to do (almost) whatever they want...an idea that they get from...where?

Yes. Us.

source: www.vanityfair.com

I'm not scared of children. I'm not scared of saying No to children. I respect and dialog with children from the time they're born. I don't and won't talk down to them.

But I will not be cowed or scared of them.

That is the sad reality displayed frequently on BLL. A reality that kids are often running the show and it's our job to be at beck and call, to wait on hand and foot, to quickly forgive their lapses of conscience, character, behavior, and point the finger elsewhere; to put them on a pedestal.

Toys don't belong in glass cases.

And children don't belong on pedestals. 

They're human beings. Human beings with agency. Which means they make mistakes and we help them learn from them and move on. With kindness, with love, with respect.

And human beings, period, don't belong on pedestals.

Becca and I tell our kids, over and over:

You don't need to be perfect. 
Forget perfection. 
We expect two things from you when you're learning or doing something new and challenging:

1. We expect that you will bring your best
2. We expect you to improve in a linear fashion. Steady improvement. 

We help them in encouraging and positive ways...and also constructive and challenging ways. And we give them the gift of knowing that while they're children, we are running the show. We will listen, will answer any and every question the best we can, given that they are asked in respectful and relevant ways, and we will love them with all of our being. All.

So when something comes along that might affect our young child's safety, we do not accept the answer:

"I can't talk about it. I can't tell you. I promised I wouldn't tell."

Nope.

We talk. We hold conversation. We dialogue. Every day. About little, little things, over and over, so when the occasional big and tough conversations come along, we have a pattern and foundation for how to talk.

Endless conversation, endless questions from us to them and them to us and Becca to me and me to her and all of us to each other. We have set a roadmap of neo-Socratic discourse that is our course, for better or for worse.

As they get older, there will be a time for secrets; that is part of breaking away and creating a separate identity.

But ideally, no place for lies. Big or little.

In the meantime, we talk. With each other.

We do the best we can, parents across the world, to keep our children safe. To give them a life that is first of all, has safety and love, and second of all, is filled with curiosity, joy, and a core understanding that they don't exist to be served. Part of their existence is to fill their part of the world with goodness, with love, and with their special skills and talents and interests.

To recognize there is a bigger world out there than their little group of friends and acquaintances and that they have a mandate, as a human being, to help look out for each other.

That should be our aim.




___







*the are approximately two exceptions:
1) the long list of films we have been rewatching over time with our children, as certain ones become age-appropriate and relevant (i.e. no Pulp Fiction...yet),

and

2) rewatching for educational value when I'm working on curriculum and pulling examples from cinema or art for students to learn from,

and

3) rewatching for bonding, for example, a viewing of MacGruber with my brothers,

or

4) certain films just because they're super good for rewatching, such as Hugo.

8.15.2018

DAY IN A LIFE, FAST FORWARD.

Woke, tired.
Big bed made small by so many, so many big little children sprawled out with their children stench.

Water, granola, coffee.
Down to dungeon to work.
Whatta commute. Seventeen stairs.

Duke Ellington, Dizzy going upstairs.
I retouch, erase Nike logos, make text invisible, curse the branded apparel of triathletes and runners and cyclists and...why can’t they just wear plain old clothes?

I work, and then a child needs help getting the sewing machine going. Thirty minutes helping him; he finishes his project five minutes after I leave and is done.

Shortly, there is commotion, arguing, anger,
I head up to mediate disagreement over who should bake what, and there are tears and I make one lie down, he does, angrily, and shows me his rage by falling asleep in his closet fort.

Another cop of coffee, thanks Becca.

I listen to bits on Socrates, Plato, Goethe.
Goethe is especially good. One of our son’s namesakes.
I didn’t know he was no fan of Isaac Newton.

The kids bake.
I work, break for some watermelon and cashews and delicacies - cake, peanut butter oatmeal bars.

Kings of Leon, the Antlers, the Kills, Ash, Bob Dylan.

Salad for supper, a good one. At the table. We head outside; Ejvindr and I mosey to neighbors to chit chat and inspect their new roof in process.

Grandma and a cousin wander over. Football, chasing, Becca squirts water on one of them.

Brush, sing, worship, 20 minutes of hilarious Steve Martin Pink Panther remake that makes me laugh, kids to bed.

Twenty minutes of workout for us, along with the premier episode of Sacha Baron Cohen’s This Is America. 

Then back to the Dungeon to work. I am 41.

12.37pm
I am going to bed.
6am comes fast.

8.09.2018

INSPIRATIONS | Billions "Only a coward, only a fool..."

Only a fool doesn't look at the downside.

But only a coward allows it to dissuade him from doing what he must do.

Billions / "The Wrong Maria Gonzalez"



Only a fool doesn't look at the downside.  But only a coward allows it to dissuade him from doing what he must do.