Sunday, July 21, 2013

This is an essay I wrote years ago (maybe 4?), but have been looking for during the last 2 years.  So, I'm putting it here for you to enjoy and, so hopefully, I won't lose it again.

My Security

It's my fortress- it protects me from the stares of strangers in a restaurant, on a bus, or in a doctor's waiting room.  It protects me from boredom or an uncomfortable conversation.  I'll carry it even when I know there's no chance of my pulling it out of my purse, like when I go out to eat with my husband or to a friend's house for a 4th of July barbecue.  When I'm feeling really insecure, I carry more than one.  Who knows which one I will want when the time comes?  Better take two, just in case.  Then I'm really prepared.  I have a big purse.  I use them at traffic lights and while waiting in line.  I tell myself that it helps me be patient, and therefore I'm being virtuous.  I know I'm fooling myself when I say that.  I just feel better when I have a book.

As a kid, I never minded when my parents would send me to my room, or tell me I couldn't come out until it was clean.  That's where my books were.  I'd spend hours in there, and when my mom came in to find out if my room was done, I could at least tell her truthfully that I hadn't left the room.  I learned to walk home while reading, glancing just above the book every now and then to make sure I didn't walk into traffic.  Books kept me safe from bullies and the trauma of being a 7th grader.

The worst punishment my parents ever gave me was taking my books away.  For the second time, I had failed math, and for the second time, I had lied about it.  My teachers told my parents that part of the problem was my reading in class, instead of paying attention to the lessons.  So, in addition to being grounded for 6 weeks, all of my books were packed in boxes and put in the attic.  I remember standing in the pantry reading cereal boxes and the ingredients on canned goods to tide me over until the punishment ended.  My friends smuggles library books for me which I hid in me locker at school and under my mattress at home.  (Later, my mom told me how hard the punishment was for her to give.  She never thought she'd have to try and stop her child from reading.)

When I go on a trip, one of my biggest decisions is which books to take.  This one is serious, this one is lighter, this one is from an author I know, this one is an unknown.  What if I start reading one and then I don't like it?  What if my mood changes?  What if I finish that one and want another from the same author or series?  I guess I should just take them all.  Luckily they don't weigh carry-on luggage yet.  My husband laughs when I go to a bookstore while on a trip to buy more books to supplement the ones I brought with me.  One of my favorite trips was to Portland, Oregon, because that's where Powell's Books is located.  It's a bookstore that fills an entire city block.  How could you not love that?

Last summer, I had to go to the hospital (a 3 day stay for a minor surgery.)  I planned the 5 or 6 books to take with me very carefully.  They were engrossing, ones I'd been looking forward to reading for a while, so I knew they would keep me entertained while I was lying in bed.  I hadn't realized that being on morphine would make me sleep most of the time and make it hard to focus while I was awake.  So, instead of reading, I just held a book and that was close enough.

I've always known which books I will take to that desert island because they are the ones I can read over and over again.  Watership DownThe Lord of the Rings trilogy.  The Dark is Rising series.  Those went with me to Ecuador and Australia in high school and then to Europe in college.  They aren't the only books that made those trips, but they were the first ones I packed.  I'm not sure their stories are even the point any more.  Is till lost myself in the words and it's like coming home.

I might add more to the desert island list now- I think Harry Potter would be another that I like reading and re-reading.  Also, this was definitely written pre-kids- while I certainly do still carry books with me, I get much less chance of reading these days.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

It's hard to find children's entertainment with good parental figures.  The great majority of offerings out there seem to have absent parents, no parents at all, or disinterested ones.  This is especially true of dads.  This topic came up in a facebook conversation with some other moms I know, so I thought I'd create my own resources for future reference.

Books/ shows/ movies for young kids with good depictions of involved and caring dads:

Charlie and Lola- we love them!  It's a little weird to have them on the list (especially first) as neither mom nor dad are characters in the books (or tv show).  They are mentioned frequently, however (mom and dad took us to the park, dad helped build a guinea pig run, etc.) I also really like how positive the sibling relationship is here.  And, the characters and stories are fun, creative and engaging.

Richard Scarry's Busytown (any of the books or tv shows)- another favorite series around here.   They have lots of different family groupings- all showed in positive ways with parents who are involved and siblings who care about each other. 

The Babar books- I loved these books when I was little, but the boys haven't embraced them yet.  Babar and Celeste do a lot with their kids in a positive way.

Curious George (if you count the man with the yellow hat as a father figure- and there is also a tv show).   The only problems I have with the series is that George always gets into trouble (and that he 'solves' the trouble by running away) when the man leaves him alone in some area.  But, he obviously cares for George and is always present in the story.  (I like the original stories better than the new tv show ones, but that's just my preference.)

Bob the builder (tv show only- we haven't read any books).  2 factors here- Bob is grown, but he and his father have a good relationship and every so often they show a flashback of he and his dad working together from when Bob was younger.  Also, Bob is a type of father figure to all the vehicles- and my boys love construction!

The "How a dinosaur..." books by Jane Yolen.  They tend to show moms and dads in the books.

"The way I feel" books by Spelman- we have When I feel Jealous, Sad, Scared and Angry.  These are great books for a couple of reasons- first they deal with "negative" emotions in a good way, giving kids some positive ways to address them.  Second, they show moms and dads having the same emotions and dealing with their kids emotions in positive ways.

The Berenstain Bears- Again, I loved these as a kid, and my boys have found some that they like, but haven't fully jumped in.

Sparkle Stories- a recent find for me: It's an audio story service providing a story per week in subscriptions or you can also buy single episodes.  The Sleepytime stories we've heard so far all have good and caring parental models and the Marvin and Sylvia ones do, too.

Single books or movies:
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang- Dick Van Dyke's character is a great dad and it has a car that turns into a boat and a plane- the kids loved it!  Although, we did have to have the conversation that just because someone has candy, doesn't mean they are nice.

Tubby time by Leslie Patricelli- she has a number of books, but this is the only one we've actually read- mom and dad are giving the baby a bath- very fun.  Was THE favorite book around here for a while.

Guess how much I love you- could be mom or dad

Finding Nemo- still a little scary for my boys- we skipped the shark and jellyfish scenes completely and fast forwarded through a couple of parts.

Monsters, Inc.- Good father figures- haven't watched it with the boys yet, though.

Another mom mentioned these shows, but I haven't watched them yet, so can't really comment on them:
  • Caillou
  • Sid the Science Kid
  • Rescue Heroes
  • Dinosaur Train (I've heard really good things about this with a variety of reasons- we just haven't gotten around to watching it yet.)
  • Maya and Miguel
  • Liberty's Kids (generally positive male role models)

Some lists that are out there- I don't know much about most of the books listed:

Anyone know any others?