Education

Are The Kids Alright?

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The senseless act of violence against innocent people in Boston this week, once again leaves us mourning the loss of lives, worrying about the injured, and asking hard questions – Why? Who? What will happen next?

I jump every time the phone rings. Both my kids live in the Boston area. One has been in lock down twice this week…phone lines down…afraid to go outside. And like so many, I’m finding the heartbreaking stories and images of the bombings at the Boston Marathon difficult to view and comprehend. Yet, who can look away?

What about the children? How do we explain such unimaginable tragedy to children? How do they process an event that in our wildest dreams we could not even imagine happening? How do we help kids cope?

“It’s very difficult. The first thing you do is check in with your own emotions. Because you can guarantee whatever you’re feeling, your kids are feeling as well.” ~ Dr. Janet Taylor, community psychiatrist, Clinical Instructor of Psychiatry at Harlem Hospital

One of the most valuable lessons I learned as a teacher after 9/11 was that children develop a deep sense of empathy when they are given the tools to cope with difficult circumstances.

There may not be one prescribed road map to reassure children that they are safe, but here are 5 wonderful resources leading the way:

1. National Association of School Psychologists: A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope

2. American Psychological Association: Helping Your Kids Manage Stress In The Aftermath

3. Boston Mamas: Five Certainties Following The Boston Marathon Bombings

4. Parents: Boston Marathon Explosions: Be In Control of What Your Child Will Hear and See

5. Boston.com: After the Boston Marathon Explosions, What Parents Should Do

Our kids live in a difficult world right now. While they may not experience physical injuries, emotional wounds can run deep. Let’s take this horrific tragedy and encourage our kids to deepen their feelings of empathy…and please give your kids a hug.

Free To Be

Marlo Thomas with children of Free To Be writers and performers in a 1972 publicity photo.

Forty years ago, Free to Be…You and Me was released. The children’s platinum-winning record (remember those?) and book was created to expel gender and racial stereotypes of the era. Marlo Thomas described why she created the collaborative classic:

“Our mission was simple: to convince children that their dreams were not only boundless, but achievable.”

Free To Be was wedged between school and my not-so “That Girl” work life. I took notice of Marlo fanning the feminist flame because as a teacher of young children, I was becoming well acquainted with the Free To Be demographic.

Me on the cover of a Vassar College brochure when I was teaching at the college’s campus school.

When I was studying to be a teacher in the ’70’s, I wrote a paper based on a passage in the Dr. Seuss book, And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street. My feminism was in full bloom, and my professor scrolled across the top of the paper in red marker, “a provocative title.” I titled the paper, “Dr. Seuss Is A Sexist.” Braless, long-haired, Earth Shoe wearing young women from Long Island were weaned on the good Doctor, and I was shocked when I unearthed so many perpetuated stereotypes…like this one:

“Say – anyone could think of that.
Jack or Fred or Nat
Say – even Jane could think of that.”

Of course, despite being caught up in the sexist rhyme of the time, I loved, and still love Dr. Seuss. He mastered the art of empowering confident children. So throwing the baby out with the bathwater was a futile, but informative exercise because noticing pushes the needle in the right direction.

Realizing the power of the potential of children is something we must continue to value and nurture. The reality of our children and their children’s future will require them to muster up an activism that can only come from being educated and engaged citizens.

Kurt Vonnegut may have touched the future when he wrote in the afterword for the Free To Be book,

“I’ve often thought there ought to be a manual to hand to little kids, telling them what kind of planet they’re on, why they don’t fall off it, how to avoid poison ivy, and so on.”

Mobile Greenhouse Teaches Kids To Grow Food

“If you can grow food in the back of a truck, viagra you can grow it anywhere!” ~ Compass Green

Prepare to be inspired by this sustainable farming/teaching project:

via: Treehugger

No Resolutions

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As we flip the calendar page to a new year, it’s nice to mark its beginnings in a meaningful way. Each time I sit down to write a New Year’s post, I bump up against what I am beginning to consider a highly overused word, Resolutions. Believe me, I’ve used and abused the “r” word, and its derivative, resolve, many times. In my mind, committing to resolutions seems…well, so 2011ish.

What’s the issue with resolutions? For one, I poked around and have not found any insightful end of the year round-up type articles about whether or not we fulfilled our resolutions from last year.

New Old Resolutions

I did find a lot of lists. This list from Earthshare includes simple rrrrresolutions (see, it’s not even rolling off my tongue comfortably).

Resolve to eat healthier.
Resolve to lose weight and get in shape.
Resolve to spend more quality time with my family and loved ones.
Resolve to manage my money and spend less.
Resolve to give back.

Don’t you think those were some nice New Year resolutions for our pristine new year? I do, but they leave me asking…

Who holds whom accountable for resolutions?

I guess it is the person making the resolutions. That seems like a set up…for failure.

Old New Rulin’s

The second list comes from Woody Guthrie. Yes, you read that right. This land is your land, this land is my land, and this land was made for making rulin’s (as Woody calls ‘em). In 1942, Woody Guthrie penned this list (click here to view list larger):

Wake Up And Fight

To me, Woody’s rulin’s are not resolutions. They are intentions. Number 33: Wake Up And Fight seems like it could have been written today about so many burning issues. The 99%ers are waking up the masses to inequalities in our social financial system. And many of us are waking up to climate change, food safety issues, how we educate our children and how best to protect our environment against polluters.

So, I’m turning away from resolutions that are made and broken, and moving on to intentions that are positive and hopeful. As new agey as this may seem, an intention embodies a feeling of noticing a new purpose. My hope is that my finest intentions will continue to lead to action.

I hold no ill will towards those who make remarkable resolutions. I’m all for a demarcation and promise of a fabulous year ahead with its vast amount of newness and wonder. I’m just dropping the “r” word from my New Year’s vocabulary, and diving into 2012 with intention…and maybe a few rulin’s.

Where will the new year lead you?

Photo Credits: ffffound, Boing Boing

So You Want To Be An Artist

Life is so busy right now that posting has succumbed to “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Can you tell that from my last post? There’s so many posts in my head that I would like to grab a cup of tea (or wine), sit by the fire and write and write for hours. That time will come, but not now.

Both my kids are artists. My daughter is a graphic designer and my son is a musician. When I saw this poster, I could not contain my hysterics.

My dad would have gotten a kick out of this. He was an artist too.