I have the MOST serendipitous moments happen to me. I was driving my little car, top down, playing Manhattan Transfer’s song Operator (look it up) and got stopped at the stop light from hell in Southaven. (a three minute wait, every single time.) A car filled with teenage boys pulled up next to me. they had their windows down. When they got even, they all started singing along with the song. I was surprised 1. that they knew the song, and 2. that they had such great harmony. As the song ended the boy in the back seat leaned out and yelled, “call me!” I laughed and said, Honey, you just want me for my car! He fell over laughing and said, Dang, you got me! The light changed and they turned left while I went on my way. I LOVE MY CAR! I also LOVE MY MUSIC! Nothing like having worries taken away when I cruise in my lovely Posh!
Since we have had a four year old with us all summer, I have had the television on a channel she loves called Sprout during rest time after lunch. (We no longer call it nap time… melt down will ensue.) They have a theme going this summer about kindness.
Basically a good idea to teach about kindness. But they have the jingle they keep using that drives me nuts. “Kindness is a muscle.” Now, anyone who has raised young children know that between the ages of two to about six, everything they hear is taken literally. Sprout is designed for that age group. It didn’t take long for Addie to ask me which muscle on her body was her kindness muscle. (Picture me banging my head on the keyboard.)
So, I had to sit down with her and explain that there isn’t a muscle that makes you kind. Kindness is an act or a behavior that is brought on by compassion, love, and the way you are taught to treat others. It is something that is in your brain and emotions. Some people say from the heart, but that is even more confusing, so we left that for later. She got the concept, after several attempts to explain the kindness muscle.
Then the oddest thing happened, she decided that Sprout was lying to her, and that really ticked her off because she knows that lying is a VERY bad thing. It is unkind, and mean. (Okay, we are really strong about honesty in our house, deal with it.) It was good that she was able to grab the concept of kindness, and it was good that she was able to have an out let for her anger. When she hears that jingle, she gets in front of the television and shouts, “Kindness is NOT a muscles. You nitwit, Kindness is an ACTION!” (Nitwit is an acceptable word in our home too.)
Why an organization like Sprout, who is supposed to understand children who see the world literally would promote an out right lie is beyond me. That means parents who give a flip have to undo the confusion and help kids understand that to some people it isn’t a lie because they see an action as using some sort of muscle. Then explaining that you don’t know why they would say something so wrong, but that people are different and see the world differently. Not two to six year old kids, the world is literal, black and white, and straight forward.
Sprout shows are now recorded, after all, what would life be without Topsy and Time, Sarah and Duck, and Noddy? At least we can fast forward past the inane commercials and PSA nonsense. Back in the dark ages of television, we had Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans to explain our complicated world (rabbit is still a carrot stealing rascal). Life was so much easier then. No complex issues past learning to share and being good to others. I am so glad our little Addie Rose would rather read a book, paint a picture, or just play tea party, than sit in front of the television.
We only have her for one more week before we go back to seeing her every other weekend. I think we will just play all week long, to heck with television and nap… ahem… REST time!
It occurred to me, oh, several months ago, as I was organizing my Christmas list, that I wanted to give my grandchildren vintage toys. Well, remakes of vintage toys, the originals are far too pricey. I wanted them to have a Christmas where nothing they received from my husband and I needed a battery, cable, or plug in. It seems that we have overwhelmed our kids with things that beep, flash, talk, and require constant attention. It was time to get back to basics.
For my nine year old grandson, there were a set of stilts, modern and better made, but stilts, nonetheless. A honest to goodness wooden yoyo along with a trick book just like they had in the 1950’s, along with crazy straws, paddle balls, a board game, several joke books, and the Dangerous Book for Boys. I added a science project about gross things, and treats. Not one thing required any sort of power except boy power. He loved everything, and was working to master the yoyo when they went home.
For my six year old granddaughter, we got an art set. A real, honest to goodness set with everything from paints to pencils and everything to go with it. She is really into drawing and such. Several coloring books joined the set, along with lots and lots of paper. She also go the crazy straws and paddle balls, but girl stuff too, like a pair of shoes and an out fit. She got the Daring Book for Girls, that matched Nick’s for boys. And hair pretties along with a grooming kit. Nothing needed power other than the power of a girl. She was over the moon, and spent hours drawing.
And our little Addie? Her favorite toys is a small felt dolly I picked up for a buck at the dollar store. Who would have though!? We also got her a tent to play in, and to help corral her when we need to have our hands free for something. She loves that too, along with the drum, and soft toys she got. She was really having more fun with with the paper and boxes than anything.
It is easy to go on line and pick out things that beep and buzz for kids. It is much harder to think of the way their minds work and come up with innovative ways to entertain them. It is easy to let a machine entertain them, but it is, in my opinion, to encourage them to explore, invent, create, and study the world around them. Making them the center of the play, not the machine, will stretch their minds, help them create, and encourage exploration in all manners of topics.
Next year is going to be a challenge, but I am already doing research, and I expect something will come to mind. Like Jax and a jump rope for Bella, and some sort of cool science experiment for Nick. I’m thinking mad scientist, cool stuff. Addie will be easy, everything from toys to clothes . . . and boxes and paper.
I love being a Nana.
Some people go to the movies because they are bored. Some people go because the kids are driving them crazy and it is too hot to send them outside, or they refuse to go outside. Some people, especially teenagers, go to hang out with friends and to see the hottest, new movie. Not that they actually watch the movie with all the socialization going on between them. Some people go to the cinema out of habit, and some because it is a particular genre they enjoy. There are some people who actually go just to be entertained. There is, however, a breed of cinema goers who are in a class all their own.
These are the people who have a true passion for movies. Some of them are passionate about certain actors, making it their business to know all the statistics about each and every one in every movie they see. They can recite chapter and verse about all their favorite actor’s parts and quote, line for line, the dialogue from their favorite scenes. They are fanatic about every detail of the character, and will argue endlessly about what scene in what movie was the best scene for the actor they adore.
Another group passionate about the movies is the technical fanatics. They love to go to the movies and pick apart the special effects, point out the obvious continuity flaws, pour over the scenes and pick out tiny mistakes on the set, or, in some cases, huge flaws. In this group is the sub groups of Sci/Fi technical fanatics who have read every book in a series, like Lord of the Rings, and love to note what scenes have been left out, combined, or changed beyond all recognition. They are passionate about the story, but also the way in which technology was used to create the movie. They will sit and watch the credits to the bitter end to see who did what in the movie.
There are people who are passionate about the whole movie experience, regardless of the genre or the technology. These are people, of which I am one, who have grown up in the cinema all their lives. Going to the movies is as much a part of who we are as anything else in our lives. Some of us can quote favorite lines from movies, know every word to every song from the musicals of our youth, and have favorite actors, but aren’t fanatic about them. Children of the cinema love the ambiance of a large screen, dark auditorium, and the expectation of the movie bursting on to the screen with sound and color. We are the people who get annoyed at the whisperers, bag rattlers, ice crunchers, and crying kids because it ruins the show for us.
The children of the cinema have certain rituals that must be observed. Buying the ticket, the popcorn, the soda, and sometimes candy are an important part of the process. We can hardly wait for the previews of coming attractions so we can plan for future cinema experiences. We wait with excitement for a new movie to come out so we can find ourselves involved in a new story that will make us laugh, cry, jump in fear, or feel romantic. The cinema is an escape, a place where we can leave our worries of real life behind and live in a fantasy world for a few hours. Knowing, however, that soon we will be back to dealing with life as usual.
Even leaving the theatre is something of a ritual. Waiting for the final credits to roll, the last note of music to fade, we gather our detritus, and depart as the lights come up in the room, are all part of the encounter. Children of the cinema blink in the bright lights of the lobby as we make our way out into the real world, already dissecting the movie, and comparing it to others that we have seen as we plan the next sojourn into the magic that is our passion.