Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: parenting

Sharing

The other day, I saw a story about a mother who told her child he didn’t have to share his toys with the other kids at the playground. I’ll admit, my first inclination was a knee-jerk one of “who does she think she is?”. Then I read the story and, not surprising, the headline had miscued what actual facts were. Color me not surprised.

The basic set up was that a mother took her young son to the park. Almost as soon as they arrived, a group of kids descended upon the child, wanting him to share his toys with them. That’s not so unusual. What the headline failed to note was that these were not kids he knew. They were strangers. So, when the little boy, obviously distressed at having to give up his toys to people he didn’t know, looked to his mother for guidance, she told him he didn’t have to share unless he wanted to.

There’s the key and what so many of those who are now criticizing the mother seem to overlook. She gave the child permission to wait until he was comfortable sharing with kids he didn’t know.

There’s something else I wondered that so many of the mother’s critics seem to have overlooked. Where were the parents of those kids wanting the little boy’s toys? Why weren’t they there making sure their children introduced themselves and perhaps offered the little boy their own toys to play with in exchange for playing with his?

But no. The criticism has all fallen on the mother who told her son he didn’t have to share with strangers if he didn’t feel comfortable doing so at that time.

I really hadn’t planned on blogging about this because it is so stupid, imo. The mother was well within her rights to tell her son he didn’t have to share with children he — and by implication she — didn’t know. But national media picked the story up and you would think this woman is the worst mother ever. This morning, on Good Morning America, they were going on and on about how wrong she had been in how she handled the situation (at least it seemed that way. I’ll admit, I do my best to tune the show out when my mother has it on)

Here’s the thing, if you are sitting in the park, enjoying a sandwich or cold drink and a stranger walks up and asks for what you are eating or drinking, would you give it to him? I’m not talking about someone who is obviously in distress and needs a helping hand. I’m talking someone much like you. They just happen to like what you have and want it.

Do you have any obligation to “share” your things with them?

Let’s take it a step further.

Say you have taken your drone out to the park. Are you going to let someone you don’t know play with it? What happens if they crash it or, worse in some ways, just leave with it?

How about your dog?

See where I’m going with this?

What this mother did was simple. She made her son feel less pressured to do something he wasn’t comfortable doing. I bet if we followed the story — something the media isn’t doing because there are more “exciting” things going on now — we would find that the kids are making friends with one another in subsequent visits to the park. They are sharing their toys and having fun. That’s what kids do — as long as adults don’t get involved. Which, unfortunately, is what happened here. Not with the mother initially saying her son didn’t have to share if he didn’t want to but with other parents condemning what she did and with the media picking up on it and attacking her.

As parents, our first duty is to make sure our kids are safe and cared for. That includes their mental and emotional well-being. This mother knew her son wasn’t comfortable and she did her best to diffuse the situation. Is it how any of us would have handled it? I don’t know. None of us do because we weren’t there and we didn’t see the look in that little boy’s eyes. We can guess and we can pontificate but we don’t know.

So, kudos to the mother for doing what she thought was best for her son. I hope that when they return to the park, the kids are allowed to get to know one another without the Big Brothers and Sisters of whatever getting involved.

For more, including the mother’s response to the dirty looks she got at the time, check this post.

Just Say No To Sanctimonious Rants – by Kate Paulk

(Kate is my sister from another mother. She is one of the nicest people I know — until she comes across someone climbing on their soapbox without doing adequate research. That is especially true when they are trying to talk about the evils of a bit of coding and they don’t take the time to research the topic. You see, Kate’s 9 – 5 job is to test coding and tell programmers where they’ve gone wrong. Add that to a healthy Aussie sense of humor and snark and you get the following post.)

For a variety of reasons I found myself over at the site with the jammies looking at one of their subleading lights (actually, this one, to judge by the quality of the prose and the abysmal excuse for research (no, it is not research if you pull it from parts of your anatomy best not mentioned in polite society) doesn’t even rate as a dim bulb) ranting about Pokemon Go in the guise of parental advice and concern for The Children.

So I decided, screw it, I’m going to fisk.

Original text is in italics. My commentary is not.

Pokemon Go is sweeping the nation. Millions of kids and adults are wandering around town staring at their phones (even more than usual) trying to capture Pokemon monsters, or something.

Two sentences and I know where this is going. Anyone unfortunate enough to read this piece is going to be subjected to a screaming hissy fit about the Evils of Gaming and – this being nominally a parenting column (it even has Parents: in the title) – a whole lot of raving For The Children!

For the interested: take note of the verbiage here. This is a classic piece of framing the narrative, first by the hyped claims about the popularity of the game, and then the way it’s being belittled. Now, I’m the first to admit that a parenting advice column is going to have a lot of opinion in it, but taking snide pot-shots at others is, in most venues, considered bad form (of course, for a fisking, it’s pretty much de-rigeur).

Parents are thrilled that kids are out walking the neighborhood instead of sitting in front of a screen (although one could argue that only the location has changed).

 Well, yes, one could argue that only the location has changed, but one would be committing a rather grave error in fact if one did. Walking is not the same as sitting, and no amount of opinion is going to change that. Clearly, our sage advice columnist isn’t quite sage enough to avoid the trap of the dangling participle – and it’s a bracketed participle at that, which makes the error even more egregious.

Yes, the location of the screen has changed. Is she saying that kids are out sitting the neighborhood with that parenthetical asside? (okay, that was a real typo, but too apt to edit out. So “asside” stays. If you don’t like it, this is my middle finger).

 And who am I to stand in the way of kids getting out and walking?

 Oh, dear. Dearie dearie me. Megan, sweetie, better writers than you have tried that rhetorical device and failed. You are not covering yourself with glory here – and I haven’t finished wading through your first paragraph yet.

 Satire sites are having a heyday with the new app, skewering Twitter posters who have sore legs for the first time in years from accidentally getting exercise. Seems harmless, even useful, right?

 What seems harmless or even useful? Skewing complaining Twitters (or is that Twits? I might have a Twitter account but the last time I used it was two or three computers ago, so I’m really not familiar with the thing. As you might guess, I’m a tad on the wordy side)? I’m sure that’s a lot of fun, but it doesn’t seem all that useful to me.

Yes, yes, all right. I know she meant that the game seems harmless or maybe even useful. But damn it, she’s getting paid for this: she could at least get the basic grammar right and not post crap with unclear antecedents.

 And so I downloaded it.

Which “it”? I’m risking the ultimate doom of every grammar snark (it being an unbreakable Rule that any snarking of grammar or spelling will have at least one egregious error), but ye gods. This isn’t an article or even an opinion piece. It’s got the same freaking cadence as the Nuremberg Rally, starting with apparently reasonable statements and ratcheting up the tension and paranoia at every turn. The address for the rally had a better speechwriter, though (and no, translations don’t do it justice. Something like that you need the cadence of the original language. Um. Excuse me while I go bludgeon my inner history nerd, my inner propaganda nerd, and my inner grammar nerd. They’re getting out of hand).

 I gave in to the peer pressure from every radio station DJ who said I had to have it.

 There is so much wrong with this sentence it transcends wrongitude. And if wrongitude isn’t a word it bloody well should be. What kind of mature adult gives into peer pressure from freaking radio DJs? I’ll concede the possibility that a lot of DJs were pushing the game (you know, Pokemon Go), either because they love it themselves or – more likely – their station was paid rather a lot to push Pokemon Go at every opportunity. I don’t listen to radio, so I wouldn’t know what’s being said.

However, on the rare occasions I find myself forced to watch or listen to ads, I am quite capable of resisting their siren call, taking said siren call and shoving it somewhere dark and uncomfortable for the advertiser. Metaphorically speaking. Methinks if the above is a factual statement, Fraulein Fox devotes a little too much time and attention to commercial media.

 My kids don’t have phones, but I thought maybe I would let them use my phone when we were out and about to capture a few Pokemon critters.

 Really? That sounds like a rather sad after the fact justification to me. You are allowed to admit you were just a teensy bit curious about this game that’s driving the whole country (to borrow your overblown rhetoric for a bit) wild, you know. People might actually have a bit more respect for you if you aren’t hiding behind a lame “oh, it’s for my kids” line.

 And shortly after installing it, I came to my senses.

 This statement is either a lie or delusional. Possibly both. You see, it’s quite possible to tell before you download and install a game what permissions it wants. You don’t have to install the thing to discover it requires you to sacrifice your first-born… Oh, in your next sentence you say it didn’t ask for your first born as a blood sacrifice, just your soul. Lame. No first-rate game asks for so little: every game company knows souls aren’t worth the effort these days. They’re all pre-mortgaged to caffeine.

 The app wants total control over my camera, my video, my GPS, my Google account, my emails, my photos, my soul and God knows what else.

Witness, all, the attempt at humorous hyperbole landing smack on its face because of the simple factual error in the first five words. The app does not want anything. In order to function as programmed, the application requires certain permissions. Those permissions do not amount to “total control” of anything. Honestly, folks, if you have to pontificate about something, it really helps to know what the heck you’re talking about, or you’ll just make yourself look like a complete idiot to anyone who does know the facts.

And while you – and everyone else – have every right to your opinion, however ludicrous it may be, you do not have the right to your very own set of facts. Reality is a bitch that way.

 Why are we all voluntarily signing up to be tracked everywhere we go?

 Ah, yes. I was right. This is indeed a Nuremberg Rally style deal, and we’re moving into the frothing hysteria. Of course, Freulein Fox doesn’t have the ability to make her audience come on the spot (yes, this is allegedly something that happened at those big swastika-enhanced dos), so instead it comes out kind of shrill and silly.

Oh, and the answer to the question? Some people think that what they’re getting in return for letting applications track them via GPS is worth the loss of privacy. You know, the everyone benefits thing that happens in a free market? Theoretically, anyway, since the only free markets around right now are kind of… er… black.

 Not only are we laying bare our every move to who knows who, it is every pedophile’s dream come true.

 Wow. I’m impressed. It took this long to bring out the pedophile bogeyman.

The who knows who part, if the app has been written properly, its data collection is limited to some kind of installation identifier that has zero connection to the person using the phone. It should communicate with every other app it uses (and the phone hardware) by a little bit of arcane software magic called an API.

And, sweetie, APIs are everywhere. They’re only insecure if they’re badly written, and they’re not about “laying bare our every move to who knows who” (incidentally, ‘who’ is likely to be ‘nobody’ unless, again, it’s written badly. Even Google’s location service doesn’t know who is holding the phone. It only knows where the phone has been. If it was turned on in the first place).

 Already teens are being lured into abandoned parking lots where they are then robbed.

 And this is different from a normal day how?

 Other outlets are reporting zombie-like people, not paying attention to anything but their phones, wandering onto private property without realizing it, blocking driveways and scaring people.

Apparently there are some pretty wussy people out there, if someone obsessed with a phone is scary. Oh, and this is different from a normal day how?

 (In Texas, Missouri, Arizona and anywhere else with castle laws, this could be a deadly activity since homeowners have the right to use deadly force on trespassers.)

 Error of fact. And a damn great big one, at that. Every state with a castle law has this concept called “reasonable force”, and killing trespassers who aren’t brandishing a weapon at you and posing an imminent threat doesn’t count as ‘reasonable’ anywhere that actually has a functioning rule of law (I am aware this rules out much of Chicago, Detroit, and a variable and ever-expanding radius around certain politicians).

False assertions work against propagandizing, Freulein. There needs to be enough fact underpinning your claims to make them believable. This particular little gem fails on every count and is likely to be believed only by raving leftists and paranoiacs. Maybe. If they’re having a particularly bad day.

 Kids don’t need Pokemon Go to get exercise because they should be spending their days up trees and at the beach and hiking in the woods.

 So just what is the difference between spending your day up trees and at the beach and hiking in the woods while playing a game on your phone and doing exactly the same thing while not playing a game on your phone? In terms of exercise gained, buggerall. In terms of interaction with like-minded souls, well… Sweetie, not all kids have the good fortune to have friends in their neighborhood. Are you going to keep them from interacting with their friends who live hundreds of miles away because you believe this game is a bad thing?

If you are – and the whole damn article is nothing but a badly disguised rant on the topic of “phone games Bad. For The Children!Eleventy!” – then you should fit right in with everyone else trying to force the rest of the world to follow their enlightened ways because “It’s for your own good”.

What happened to limiting screen time as much as possible?

 It turned out that, like everything, balance works better. You know, mixing it up a bit.

 It’s not good for human brains!

 Someone would appear to have mixed up the problems that come from passively soaking up the content of the idiot box (which, again, is perfectly fine in moderation, and doesn’t even need to be rationed as long as there are plenty of other enjoyable activities around) and having no parental discussion of said content with the rather more engaged processes that go with computer games of all flavors.

 Study after study shows this is true.

 Then why, my dear, did you neglect to reference more than one or two rather sub-par articles about such studies?

Electronics interfere with sleep cycles, are connected to depression, and contribute to the general malaise plaguing children who can’t seem to get off the couch.

And yet you rant against a game that works to get children up off their duffs and outside in the debatably fresh air. Which is just the beginning of the things wrong with your assertions.

To start with, those studies you’re referencing are looking at excess or outright stupidity. Of course if you leave an electronic device that lights up (however dimly) in your bedroom you’re going to affect your sleep pattern. In the immortal words of damn near every teenage girl ever, “Duh”.

As for the connection to depression, it’s rather clear you’re not actually reading it, Megan. Otherwise you’d have realized that the researchers don’t know if the connection is causal, much less which direction the cause runs. In smaller words, that means depressed people could be playing games to distract themselves. You know, the same way in times past depressed people would do things like read?

As for the “general malaise” claim, believing everything someone on the internet says is a really bad idea. Honestly, this sentence reads more like the kind of scam that uses links to scary-sounding articles to convince some sucker… customer to buy the kool-aid.

 Have parents abandoned their inherent distrust of screens? When did that happen?

Let’s do a little word replacement exercise here, shall we? On second thoughts, let’s not. Just imagine what it would look like if you replaced “parents” with “Germans” or “blacks” or “whites”. And “screens” with “Jews” or “whites” or “blacks”. If you still think this isn’t hysterical ranting, you need remedial English.

 Now, the newest electronic craze seems sure to send your child directly into harm’s way.

 Hardly. Kids who were glued to their phone screen before Pokemon Go will do the same dumb stuff as they did before installing the game. And that’s before applying the commonsense filter of “the media will link anything they can to the hot new craze to get clicks” otherwise known as exactly what our good author is doing here: using the game in a title as clickbait for an otherwise bald and unconvincing tirade.

 If you still think Pokemon is a must have for this summer, think again.

 Oh, the assumptions buried in this one sentence. The judgment. The rancid, unmitigated superiority. Ye dogs, the poor perv this author found jacking off to porn in a public library (not something I would normally approve of – or ever, really) should have withered and melted under her steely glare. Or something.

 Do your kids a favor and give them a 1985-style summer.

 Someone’s got to say it. Judging by the tone of the article, this should be a 1984-style summer, under the benevolent, watchful gaze of Big Sister.

Drink out of the hose, ride your bike just for the pleasure of the wind in your face, and leave the phones at home.

These are my middle fingers. I will do what I think is appropriate, and you madam, can take your sanctimonious pap and shove it right beside that massive stick you have up your fundamental orifice.

 (For the curious – the original article can be found at https://archive.is/mVtNX)

***

Amanda here, now.

I wanted to add a quick counterpoint to the original article as well. What the author seems to overlook is that Pokemon Go! can and is being used as a socialization tool. Families that weren’t spending all that much time together, and especially not outside, are now going on hunts together. Communities are putting together activities for all ages so they can hunt those ever elusive Pokemon, find Pokemon gyms, etc. Yes, there are some areas asking you not to hunt on their grounds and I have no problem with it. But zoos, parks, even some museums are greeting those who are using the app with open arms and encouraging them to attend events at their locations.

In other words, as with everything, the key is educating yourself and your kids and using common sense.

One more quick note, for those of you who don’t know, Kate is also an author with a wicked sense of humor. The series we are all after her to write more in is her Con series. I’ve linked to the first book in the series below.

ConVent (The Vampire Con Series Book 1)

A vampire, a werewolf, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. Whoever picked this team to save the world wasn’t thinking of sending the very best. But then, since this particular threat to the universe and everything good is being staged in science fiction conventions, amid people in costume, misfits and creative geniuses, any convetional hero would have stood out. Now Jim, the vampire, and his unlikely sidekicks have to beat the clock to find out who’s sacrificing con goers before all hell breaks loose — literally.

ConVent is proof that Kate Paulk’s brain works in wonderfully mysterious ways. A sarcastic vampire, his werewolf best buddy, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. The “Save the world” department really messed it up this time.

Raising boys

You can thank Yahoo and a link I saw there much too early this morning for this post. (Of course, now I can’t find the link.) It was with a great deal of trepidation that I clicked on the link. Anything that basically says “Here are X-number of rules for raising boys” sets off my internal alarms. As the mother of a grown son, I’ve already raised my “boy” and, if I do say so myself, he didn’t turn out badly at all. Still, I am always curious to see what the current thought is.

For the most part, the advice was solid — and could be applied to boys or girls. I’ll try to remember each of the points, or at least most of them. Of course, my own opinions will be added.

1. There will be bathroom problems.

Well duh. There are always potty training problems with kids. Some will fight bring potty trained. Others will take to it like a gem but will have accidents because they refuse to go anywhere but their own potty. Still others will forget to go and will then strip off their training pants/diapers and go commando. Their poor parent won’t know it until they get flashed or they find — usually by stepping on it barefoot — the discarded wet, or worse, diaper. Sure there are a few boy-only issues but they are to be expected.

2. Boys won’t automatically love to read.

Again, duh, but that applies to both boys and girls. Most children need to have the love of reading modeled for them. If they see their parents reading, if their parents read to them on a regular basis and if reading is framed as something that is fun, boys will love to read just as much as girls do. To imply that boys automatically don’t love to read, or that they love to read less than girls do, is to paint with much too broad a brush.

Now, as boys get older and start looking for books that interest them, well, that’s where another problem might arise. There simply aren’t as many good books for boys, especially middle grade boys, as there are for girls. Then there is the fact that most books being pushed by schools right now are all about the current issue or social stance du jour. Boys, usually, want the derring-do or books about heroes they can identify with. Beyond that, most kids don’t want to read to be depressed or to have a negative world painted for them. Heck, most adults don’t want that.

3. Find an outlet for competition.

Once again, this applies to girls as well as boys. This simply illustrates my problem with lists like this. They make it seem like boys are the only ones who are competitive. Far from it. So, as parents — even as teachers — we have to find a way to channel that competition in ways that will help the child mature and learn to deal with victories as well as defeats.

4. Teach a boy to be compassionate — by letting him play with dolls.

Ooo-kay, this is where my head exploded. My first thought was, “Sure, let little Junior play with dolls and see how often he gets picked on at school.” My second was that was not the way to teach compassion. You teach it by modeling it for you child, boy or girl. You show through your actions and words what it is to care for yourself and for others. You set the example and, when you see your child not behaving in a compassionate manner, you let him know what he did wrong and what the proper response should have been. Simply putting a doll in your child’s hands — again, boy or girl — and letting them play will not teach compassion.

5. Don’t fret over toy guns.

Thank you! At last a note of reason. Toy guns can be used as a teaching opportunity as well. It gives you a chance to talk to your child about proper gun handling and safety, etc. You can teach them the proper respect for a firearm. Hell, let’s face it, we didn’t have generations of mass murderers that almost killed off our species because they played with make-believe guns or other weapons. It’s a modern concern, a false concern in my mind.

6. Don’t buy into the “boys will be boys” excuse.

I’m torn on this one. Yes, boys will be boys in that most are more active and often more “adventurous” than a lot of girls. But excusing bad behavior simply because he’s a boy doesn’t work, at least not with me. However, we do have to recognize that boys are different from girls. Oooh, I know, I know. We aren’t supposed to admit that but it is the truth and I, for one, am glad.

There were others but I can’t remember them right now.

Look, the best way to raise your son is to model good behavior for them. Be there for them. Talk to them and read to them and teach them that there are consequences to their actions. That latter is especially important since our schools, including our colleges, are failing where that is concerned.

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