Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Comment

I cannot be the only one…who has logged into their blog on any random day only to be blindsided by a less-than-friendly comment left by a reader.  After reading the aggressively negative comment I find myself going through a range of emotions: First, I feel defensive, thinking to myself, “What did I do or say that caused such animosity,” secondly, I feel defeated, “Maybe I shouldn’t write anymore,” and lastly, I remind myself, “What I write is not for everyone…and obviously this particular post was not for the comment leaver.” 

I blog about a touchy subject, Parenting, with so many parents in the world, all with diverse parenting styles, it’s easy to understand how a parenting experience that I blogged about (that was so simple to me) could potentially cause negative feelings in another parent.  With this understanding in mind, I decided to create personal guidelines of how I want to deal with the negativity when it comes
The prickly feeling of an angry comment.
knocking on my blog’s doorstep, and here are my thoughts:

1.     ALWAYS respond.
I respond to the opposing comment by acknowledging their point and hopefully clarifying my point further.  If the person insulted me directly, well…I don’t step into that arena, mud slinging based on the opinion of others simply isn’t my thing, I am not that type of person, nor do I want to be.

If your choice of response is to really give it back to the commenter feel free, BUT know that when you put your opinion and thoughts out into the ether you are welcoming others opinions and thoughts back to you as well.  That is where the idea of an online “community” comes into play. Think of it this way, you couldn’t proclaim I hate pizza and not expect at least one person to think that you were crazy for doing so, and then proceed to explain to you why they think you are nuts.

2.     Let it GO!
I am not one for grudges, how terribly heavy it is to hold onto disappointment, annoyance, or anger, so when you receive a comment that is less than complimentary face it and let it go.  I don’t allow the negative comment to become the entire theme of my post by discussing it with other readers.  If another reader brings up the offending comment in their comments, address it calmly, and move on.

3.     Do NOT delete the comment.
Sure, I have the power to obliterate the comment, but I don’t. I leave the comment, respond to it, and make it known that I believe in what I have written, as well as, that I am open to discussing other points of views. 

I do have one caveat to this decision of to delete-or-not to delete and that is if the comment includes hateful or seriously dirty words, defined as, any words that I, myself, would not use in a post on my blog. If any of those Whoa-Mama type of words are included in a reader’s post, it would give me cause to delete the it.  With the deletion of the adverse comment I would submit a comment of my own explaining why I deleted the post, acknowledging that the comment was received and read, but I can’t, in good taste, allow certain words to be included in my daily rays of sunshine (aka: my blog).

4.     Feel GOOD that something I wrote moved someone (even if was in anger).
I began writing my blog because I was surprised how many of my thoughts on parenting were not reflected in the other mother’s around me.  I took to the Internet and was thrilled to find other honest, smart, and brilliant Mama’s who felt similarly, but I am not naive enough to think we are the only ones out there.  If my thought on a particular subject sparks something in someone, enough to have them comment with such passion, then I think it’s healthy for me to read it and try to see their angle, and hopefully I can get a different perspective.

These are just a few of the guidelines I have put in place for myself and my blog, these little rules make me feel better when faced with a challenging comment, and help me keep on track (instead of crying to the heavens, “Why….why?”).

Do you have any personal rules for dealing with a comment that is unflattering to yourself or your blog? If so, please share them with the rest of us, that way when we get those “kind” of comments we react with our level heads instead of our emotional ones.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sonny Boy's Library Picks

I cannot be the only one...who realizes that they sway even the most simplest of their child's decisions, whether it be making a healthier snack choice, "Not the cookies, what about the carrots?" or while scrutinizing the latest Lego sets at the toy store, "Why not look at the smaller sets of Lego's, then you can get more for your money?" But once we send our precious tykes off to the salt mill, otherwise known as elementary school, they are given opportunities to make choices minus our best efforts to lead them in a good direction, and their freedom of choice gives us the opportunity to see reflections of our lessons of making good choices and their budding personalities all rolled into one.

This has been the case with Sonny Boy's trips to the school library, where the kids are allowed to choose a book they are interested in, some of his classmates choose picture books or comic books, but Sonny Boy has developed a theme....and it is alright with me.

Dinosaur: DK Eyewitness Books
This was such a great choice!  The pictures are so detailed and the information is presented in a way that holds my kindergartner's attention (not always easy to do, I've lost him on much more kid-friendly books in the past).

This book covers the dinosaurs from scaly head to lengthy tail, it discusses who coined the term dinosaur, what environmental conditions the dinosaurs thrived in, the theories about what happened to the dinosaurs, and of course fossils.

The DK Dinosaur book is the kind of book that you and your kids will return to over and over again, while still finding something new to read and learn about those enormous extinct creatures that were the dinosaurs.

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Other recent choices hand picked by Sonny Boy

Tigers by Helen Frost 
This books was another good choice.  The pictures of these big cats are fantastic and the author gives the little ones a chance to understand where tigers live and what they do (hunt, take care of their babies, and swim of know, the usual).
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Ladybugs (Creepy Creatures) by Monica Hughes
Bugs...bugs...bugs. Not my choice of a little light reading, as I have a slightly huge fear of most creepy crawly critters, but still interesting all the same.  In this book, all about ladybugs, we learned about these little beauties hard and soft wings, how ladybugs eat other insects (later, aphids), and where baby ladybugs come from (don't get any big ideas about not having to breech this question again in the future...where ladybug babies come from is not similar enough to where human babies come from, sorry). 
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That is a small glimpse into the literary world in our home thanks to the elementary school library's great selection of books for our young readers. For more information on any of the books on Sonny Boy's Library Picks list click the covers and you'll be linked to

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Character Not Awarded

I cannot be the only one…who has found their child's first year of public Kindergarten trying at the best of times and down right frustrating the rest of the time. I’ve discussed my dismay at the entirely satisfactory report card (literally, all satisfactory marks) and the abundance of fundraising being pushed on us monthly, but my latest annoyance is in response to the Character Awards.

The Character Awards are a school wide ceremony held on the playground in the morning before the kids head off to their classrooms. Each teacher chooses four students from their class to acknowledge with an award, such as most improved, good sportsmanship, etc., and then the award is presented to the students by the school principal.

Sure, this all sounds friendly and inane enough, but the way the school goes about the award
This boy's character is boundless!
ceremony and the reasons Sonny Boy’s teacher doles out the awards is where my issues comes into play.

First, only the parents of the children receiving an award are alerted of the ceremony. The rest of us parents find out the morning of the ceremony when the parking lot is overflowing and well-dressed families are flooding onto the playground with cameras hanging from their necks. Why not let all the parents know about the award ceremony?

Secondly, some of the awards that have been issued to Sonny Boy’s classmates have been to children with behavioral problems who receive the “Shows Improvement” award, or the student with the broken arm during the first semester who was awarded “Good Sportsmanship” (I guess he had to sit on the bench while the other children played, which constitutes good sportsmanship).  These awards have been based on extraneous circumstances, how could another child compete for good sportsmanship unless he had a broken arm to NOT complain about, or how could they show improvement unless their frequent visits to the principals office have decreased recently?

Thirdly, the children who have not received an award, but watched politely and cheered for their peers while they were being recognized and awarded, are confused about what it takes to become one of those special kids.  Sonny Boy actually said to me after the most recent Character Awards ceremony, “I have to start trying a lot harder if I am ever going to get one of those awards.” Obviously, breaking my heart and forcing me to make up for his feelings of inadequacy with an impromptu trip to the frozen yogurt shop (and letting him load on his own toppings, an expensive way to show that I think he has character).

I know not everyone can win an award, I don’t necessarily agree with the handing out of trophies just for participating, and I do think having our children learn to be graceful losers is an important life lesson, but at school it would be nice to level the playing field a little when acknowledging our little scholars for their displays of character.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Kids Love Camping & The Gear

I cannot be the only one...whose child is fond of accessories, the backpack, a pencil case, and when it comes to camping, forget it, he doesn't even know where to start with all the fun stuff. During our Spring Break we popped up the tent and camped for three days, giving Sonny Boy a chance to put all his camping accoutrements to use (he may have liked playing with the accessories more than he did roasting marshmallows or sleeping in a tent). Here is a list of a few of his favorite camping must haves:
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The Lantern: I mean, obviously the lantern is a necessity; a dark tent, stumbling around for pajama's, and making sure that stuffed rabbit that your kiddo just can't sleep without is somewhere in sight, are all reasons a lantern is a tent must have.

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The Sleeping Bag: Sleeping away from home is one thing, but sleeping in a nylon walled tent is another, and maximum comfort makes sleeping while camping a little easier.  A good, warm, and of course fun sleeping bag makes for a good siesta under the stars

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The Headlamp: It doesn't matter that you just took a trip down to the restroom before you zipped your family back up into the tent, that one last bathroom call will happen, and a headlamp is a cool hands free way to find your way back and forth from the bathroom once the stars are in the sky.

These are just a few of the items that made our family pilgrimage out into the wild (okay, so it wasn't so wild in the heart of San Diego) a smidgen more comfortable and fun.  Before you head out on your next camping trip double check your accessories (or gear, as my boys prefer call it) and make sure you have those little comforts that make for a happy trip.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Law of Spring Break

I cannot be the only one....who has been with a group of people when your child decides to show a less than polite side of their personality, leaving you laying down the law in a little tougher of fashion than usual, much to your chagrin.  This is exactly what happened while we were on our big family Spring Breakin' vacation.

The tent popped-up for three.
Allow me to set the stage for you, camping in San Diego, our little family of three hunkered down in a tent staked out next to the Grandparents RV. A noisy street and a flock of cawing crows making it difficult to sleep past four am, if there was any sleeping happening up to that point anyways, for three consecutive nights.  Tack no sleep up with sore backs from laying on air mattresses, the derailment from any semblance of our usual routine, and you get grumpy adults towing around a feisty kid.  

We took this lovely combo, of over tired adults and off kilter child, and decided to take a trip to the USS Midway Museum. The air craft carrier turned museum entails small spaces, narrow stairwells, and a few unfortunate mannequins, all of which caused Sonny Boy to decide he was finished with the museum and he didn't care who knew it. Sonny Boy stopped on the massive air craft carrier in an under sea level hallway, and told me, "I am done with this tour and I want out of here!" I looked ahead of us and saw no daylight breaking through anytime soon, I looked behind us and saw a long line of brightly dressed tourist holding cameras and audio tour devices, and I bent down to eye level with Sonny Boy and said, in my best impersonation of a mother not on the brink, "To bad, because you are finishing this tour."  This didn't go over well, Sonny Boy dug his heels in against the tide of well-traveled visitors to the USS Midway, making it clear he had no plans of moving, his visit was done, and that was it for him.
USS Midway...and a tourist.

As a Mama stuck between museum goers breathing down my neck and a stubborn six year old, I knew I had to put an end to this situation and do it fast.  I looked into Sonny Boys baby blue eyes and told him quietly, but sternly, that he would be moving his feet, he would stop being stubborn, and that people (including ourselves) had paid money to walk around inside this metal wonder docked off the coast of San Diego and he would NOT be ruining it for anyone, so buck up and start walking.

Surprisingly, it worked.  We kept the flow of tourism moving and eventually made it back to the flight deck and the glorious, glorious sunshine, at which point the Sonny Boy's interest was renewed with the wonder of the enormous ship and we lived the rest of the tour happily ever after.

I know there is a lot of parenting talk about not shaming or yelling at our children, but there are times when I have to shut down the behavior before it gets into full swing terror mode.  I don't like being "that" parent, I'd prefer to be fair, even tempered, and handle childhood with a fashionable flair, but sometimes sleep deprived, at the end of her patience, not-so tolerant-Mama has to step in and get the job done.

Sonny Boy back in the tour game.
I think there are times for rationalizing and making lemonade life lessons out of our children's lemon behavior, but I have to admit there are other times that "Because I say so" is the best way to handle my little person in the making.