Friday, January 30, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Unfortunately, this throws a crimp in my weekend plans. I was going to clean the house top-to-bottom. We are having our house re-appraised so that we can get a lower mortgage interest rate, and I really need to get it semi-presentable. Moreover, we have company next weekend. A dear, dear friend of ours from all the way back to middle school (for Mike) and high school (for me) is flying up from MS on Saturday and staying until Tuesday. We can't wait! Mike is super-excited; this is his absolute best friend in the entire world (besides moi, of course!), so he's really looking forward to this. He's even taking Monday off from work so that they can go into NYC together. As much as I'd like to tag along, the thought of taking W as well just isn't very appealing, believe it or not.
So I don't know when things are going to get done around here. Our schedules are such that it's difficult to get ANYTHING done, to be honest. Sigh.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
There are some real crazies out there.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Oh, and was John Roberts not told that he was to give the oath of office? Seems to me that he should have practiced his lines a bit more...
Be sure to check out Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson's prayer from an inauguration event held yesterday--it truly says it all, in beautifully-chosen words.
In other news, W is sick. He has a temperature of just over 100. I'm keeping him home tomorrow. Poor him. He has a snotty nose and a bad cough. He's a good sport, though. Very cuddly and sweet.
Monday, January 19, 2009
On Friday afternoon, after school, W and I went to Market Fair, this mall that's nearby that has some fancier fare. We had fun in the toy store, where W played at the train table. W enjoyed a small bowl of sugar-free chocolate ice cream, which really is quite delicious. He got it all over his shirt, which really bothered him, but I was able to Shout! it out when we got home. It was super-cold; I think the high on Friday hovered around 17.
When we awoke on Saturday morning, our temperature gauge read "4.3". That's right. FOUR-POINT-THREE DEGREES. I immediately called my dad, a complete weather freak, to let him know about the cold. Seriously, I cannot remember actually being somewhere that got that cold. Even when I was at Smith I don't recall the temperature getting that low; I think I would have remembered that. So it didn't get much warmer on Saturday than it did on Friday, but we got out and about. We drove down to Hamilton because there is a Chick-Fil-A with a decent indoor play place. First, though, we went to the Barnes and Noble there; they have a really nice Thomas train table set-up. While W was playing at the train table, Mike and I switched off watching him and wandering around the bookstore. At one point, we smelled something a little (well, a lot) funky. Mike, angel that he is, volunteered to take W to the bathroom to change him. God bless him. Mike said it was the worst diaper he's experienced in a VERY long time. Very tenacious poop ALL OVER. I think he had to resort to dampening the paper towels, which W did NOT appreciate at all. Boy, was I glad I missed out on that one.
After that, and lunch, we did a quick trip into Wal-Mart to get some hygeine items for Levi Sunday. Once a year, our church has what we call "Levi Sunday". After a brief worship service, the congregation disperses and goes to different work stations to work on service projects for the Trenton area. There was a station for assembling lunches for TASK (Trenton-Area Soup Kitchen), one for putting together hygeine kits for folks and one for making cards for shut-in's, nursing home residents, and hospital patients. After working a while, we all enjoyed subs from Wa-Wa. Yum. Oh, and everyone wore jeans. Bonus, on a day as cold as it was. It's called Levi Sunday not because of the jeans, though. The Levites were set apart to do service in the ancient Temple; our church strives to avoid making a distinction between worship and mission/community work, or hearing and doing. I think it's so important to combine the two; too often, we think of a church building as THE PLACE to worship God. However, our worship of God should be evident in our daily lives and actions, not just for an hour on Sunday.
Anyway, after church, we went to a neighbor's house for their son's 2nd birthday party. It was really time for W's nap, so we didn't stay long, but it was fun nonetheless. I think W was a little done with celebrating birthdays, as we had been to another friend's child's 2nd birthday party the evening prior. He was a good sport, though. He's definitely a bit of a wall-flower, especially around big crowds and people he doesn't know, but so are his parents, so he gets it honestly.
We watched the playoff games yesterday. Can I be honest? I am SO GLAD the Eagles didn't win. Philly fans can be really obnoxious; it was bad enough that the Phillies won the World Series. I don't think any of us could have survived a Super Bowl victory! While watching the games, I managed to get some laundry done, as well as a draft "dodger" sewn for the bottom of our front door. The door just doesn't fit well, and even though we also have a storm door, the cold air comes in sometimes. So I got a little bit of corduroy fabric from the Red Tag section at Jo-Ann's and sewed a tube, filled it with bird seed (hope it doesn't attract critters!), and volia! Drafts dodged! We'll see how effective it is...
Mike took W on the train this morning. This is sort of a weekly outing for them. Since Mike has a monthly parking and train pass for his NYC commute, it doesn't cost a dime for them to take a little ride. They ride from Hamilton up to New Brunswick, get Dunkin' Donuts, and ride back. W loves the train, and Mike adores the alone time they get. I get to vacuum and catch up on whatever else needs doing. Everyone wins!
Back to the grind tomorrow. But really, I love my job. It IS work, but I enjoy it so much, it doesn't feel like "work". I know how fortunate I am to have my child in such a wonderfully nurturing environment, especially since I am in the same building with him and can sneak peeks into his classroom every once in a while! It really is a dream-come-true.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Cranky Old Man: Hey! You just bumped your cart into my G-D leg! Watch where you're going!
Me: Oh, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to.
COM: (sarcastically) Yeah, I know you didn't. Why don't you think about what you're doing and watch where you're going. Get your head out of the clouds. Pay attention to other people.
Me: silent; staring in disbelief
COM: walking away, mumbling various insults
Did that really just happen? I mean, he sort of took it over the line with the foul language. If I hadn't been so shocked, I might have said something snappy back to him, such as, "Excuse me, please don't use that language in front of my child" or something to that effect. Mike says I should have gotten the store manager to kick him out for his profanity.
On the way home, still not believing what had happened, I got to thinking about the guy. What a miserable person he must be to speak in such a manner to a complete stranger. I mean, if that's how he talks to people he doesn't know, can you imagine how he acts towards people he does know? I said a little prayer for the guy. I really did. Even if he did act like a turd.
On a completely different note, the weather outside is frightful. It's 18 degrees out right now. Tonight's low will be 7. That's not a typo--it will be 7 degrees tonight. Tomorrow's high will be 17. Brrrrrrrr!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
It's really a shame that manners aren't stressed more these days. My mother, herself a big proponent of manners, would borrow a phrase she had heard from her own mother,"pretty is as pretty does," when teaching me the basic tenets of being polite. Another favorite, borrowed from Mammy in Gone With the Wind, was, "If it ain't fittin', it just ain't fittin'." I see too many kids, and adults, for that matter, that just don't have the basics when it comes to manners. I know, I know, it's un-couth to discuss another person's lack of couth. Since I'm not naming names, but rather bemoaning the general state of things, I am giving myself a pass here. I encounter folks at work, church, the grocery store, etc, that wouldn't know common courtesy if it whacked them on the head. I came across this article on the NYT website this evening and thought I'd share, since it concerns this very topic, with specific reference to the decline in manners in today's children.
For years, I took care of a very rude child. When he was 3, I called him rambunctious — and I talked to his mother about “setting limits.” At 4, I called him “demanding.” At 5, he was still screaming at his mother if she didn’t do what he wanted, he still swatted me whenever I tried to examine him, and his mother asked me worriedly if I thought he was ready for kindergarten.
I could go on (he didn’t have an easy time in school), but it would sound like a Victorian tale: The Rude Boy. I never used the word “rude” or even “manners” when I spoke to his mother. I don’t describe my patients as rude or polite in the medical record. But I do pass judgment, and so does every pediatrician I know.
It’s always popular — and easy — to bewail the deterioration of manners; there is an often quoted (and often disputed) story about Socrates’ complaining that the young Athenians have “bad manners, contempt for authority.” Sure, certain social rubrics have broken down or blurred, and sure, electronic communication seems to have given adults as well as children new ways to be rude. But the age-old parental job remains.
And that job is to start with a being who has no thought for the feelings of others, no code of behavior beyond its own needs and comforts — and, guided by love and duty, to do your best to transform that being into what your grandmother (or Socrates) might call a mensch. To use a term that has fallen out of favor, your assignment is to “civilize” the object of your affections.
My favorite child-rearing book is “Miss Manners’ Guide to Rearing Perfect Children,” by Judith Martin, who takes the view that manners are at the heart of the whole parental enterprise. I called her to ask why.
“Every infant is born adorable but selfish and the center of the universe,” she replied. It’s a parent’s job to teach that “there are other people, and other people have feelings.”
The conversations that every pediatrician has, over and over, about “limit setting” and “consistently praising good behavior” are conversations about manners. And when you are in the exam room with a child who seems to have none, you begin to wonder what is going on at home and at school, and questions of family dysfunction or neurodevelopmental problems begin to cross your mind.
Dr. Barbara Howard, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and an expert on behavior and development, told me that a child’s manners were a perfectly appropriate topic to raise at a pediatric visit.
“It has a huge impact on people’s lives — why wouldn’t you bring it up?” she said. “Do they look you in the eye? If you stick your hand out do they shake it? How do they interact with the parents; do they interrupt, do they ask for things, do they open Mommy’s purse and take things out?”
Dr. Howard suggested that the whole “manners” concept might seem a little out of date — until you recast it as “social skills,” a very hot term these days. Social skills are necessary for school success, she pointed out; they affect how you do on the playground, in the classroom, in the workplace.
We also think of social skills as a profound set of challenges that complicate the lives of children — and adults — on what is now called the autism spectrum. Children with autism, whether mild or severe, have great difficulty learning social codes, deciphering subtle body language or tone of voice, and catching on to the rules of the game.
Therapy for these children can include systematic training in social skills, sometimes using scripts for common human interactions. And one lesson, Dr. Howard said, “is that you can teach this stuff, and we maybe aren’t teaching it as well as we should be to children who are developing normally.”
And of course, one of the long-term consequences of being a rude child is being a rude adult — even a rude doctor. There are bullies on the playground and bullies in the workplace; it can be quite disconcerting to encounter a mature adult with 20 or so years of education under his belt who still sees the world only in terms of his own wants, needs and emotions: I want that so give it to me; I am angry so I need to hit; I am wounded so I must howl.
I like Miss Manners’ approach because it lets a parent respect a child’s intellectual and emotional privacy: I’m not telling you to like your teacher; I’m telling you to treat her with courtesy. I’m not telling you that you can’t hate Tommy; I’m telling you that you can’t hit Tommy. Your feelings are your own private business; your behavior is public.
But that first big counterintuitive lesson — that there are other people out there whose feelings must be considered — affects a child’s most basic moral development. For a child, as for an adult, manners represent a strategy for getting along in life, but also a successful intellectual engagement with the business of being human.
I did not enjoy visits with my rude patient. Despite his generally good health and his normal developmental milestones, I couldn’t help feeling that the adult world had failed to guide and protect him. He was loud and demanding and insistent, but one of his basic needs had not been met: no one had taught him manners.As a pediatrician, I worry about the trajectories of children’s growth and development: measuring a baby’s head size, weighing a toddler, asking about the language skills of a preschooler. Manners are another side of the journey every child makes from helplessness to autonomy. And a child who learns to manage a little courtesy, even under the pressure of a visit to the doctor, is a child who is operating well in the world, a child with a positive prognosis.
Whew. I'm glad I'm not the only one who had noticed this! At school, we are very adamant about manners. We afford children the same courtesies that we, as adults, expect. We say "please" and "thank you" and make every effort to be as respectful of the child as possible. In return, we get respect back 99% of the time. It's amazing how a kind word, tone of voice, deed or note can really have a positive impact.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
As we looked at the selection tonight, we noticed that they have "Waking Ned Devine" right now. I saw this movie about a year ago and thought it was absolutely wonderful.
I didn't share, but I had several warm, wonderful memories floating around my head as we stood there. I think my favorite, and oldest, memory is from when I was 4 years old. It was the first time I really remember going over to Sut and Posey's house; they lived in north Jackson, off of Old Canton Road, for decades before moving to a retirement community just a few years ago. Anyway, they had a big backyard complete with muscadine vines and fruit trees. There were wooden swings hanging from a tree, as well as a wooden picnic table set. We were over there for dinner, sitting outside at the picnic table. Like any 4 year old, I was fidgity, and scooting myself all over the benches. Bad idea. I wound up with dozens of splinters in my backside. Dinner was delayed as we all went inside to "operate" on my bottom. The Smith's and my parents laid me out, facedown, on a couch and positioned Posey's magnification/reading light over my bottom. As Mom, Dad and Posey plucked the splinters out, Mr. Sut fed me delicious strawberries to try to distract me. That was just him. The sweetness that was so welcome. I love that memory.
I also remember staying overnight with them when my parents would go out of town, spending the day with them when school was out for the summer, going to Swensen's for sandwiches and ice cream and going to church dinners with them at Galloway. I remember them being at my high school and college graduations (yes, they made the trek to Smith!). They sat as "honorary grandparents" at our wedding. As I said in a previous post, he and Posey are truly grandparents to me--I am truly blessed.
So yes, we are back in Jersey. We were all excited for snow today, but it really hasn't done much. I think W and I jinxed ourselves by going out to get a sled yesterday. We were supposed to have between 4-7 inches, but it's hardly covered all the grass. Darn.