Friday, May 25, 2007

In which much mundane inner monologue appears

Nothing exciting for you today. I managed to post on both the Farm Blog AND Blue's Blog* (I know you are shocked) but can't seem to get motivated a third time, lol.

So I thought I'd offer up a few recommendations.

I don't recommend stuff a lot. I need to, but I never seem to get around to it.

Some of the reasons are: I don't shop; I don't buy clothes, shoes, handbags, or baby stuff; I don't hardly ever buy retail at all. I'm a plain cook so I never offer recipes; I don't drink wine or frou-frou drinks; I don't watch telly so I can't suggest shows to watch. One has to be an obedient consumer in order to recommend things often and we all know how Blue echews rampant consumerism.

I do partake of some things, though, when I'm not beating my clothes on a rock in the stream or making 'possum jerky.

What I do consume new are films and books. But I go through these so quickly that I'm on to another before I get a chance to blog about the last one. EGH and I are film fanatics and it takes me about 48 hours to read the average novel (my beloved non-fiction authors like Richard Dawkins and Matt Ridley take me a bit longer). Subsequently I fail to gush about how cool "V for Vendetta" was and how pleased I was with Will Ferrell in the delightful "Stranger than Fiction' because I usually really hate his films or that "The Woman in the Water" was quite cool as long as you went into it with the understanding that it was a fairy tale and not a horror film.

So today, with absolutely nothing else to offer, I give you some recommendations!

First: food. As I said, I'm just a plain cook. I'm not terribly good at it and I don't like, nor do I feel like, preparing the sort of fancy stuff that Julia and Linda are capable of. I fix the same core Southern and British basics. When I see a new recipe, my first two thoughts are; "will I have to go buy some exotic crap to make it?" (bear in mind that 'exotic' to me is, like, olives) and "is it SIMPLE?"

So when I ran across this recipe from Zach and Brie's mom, I thought, "Hey, I could do that ... maybe".

I made it and it was FAB. We scarfed it before I could take a pic. Seriously.

Then, in my own pressed-for-time way I started thinking, "Hmmm ... could I make a version that was actually quicker and easier to make?" I don't generally have ham in the house and making a pie crust takes time (esp. with clean-up) so I came up with this version (Z&B's mom, please don't kill me for altering your wonderful recipe and then ... erm, blogging it. It's an homage!)


The quiche right out of the oven. I'm holding back the slavering horde just out of the picture.


Zach & Brie's mom's quiche - lazy cook version

Frozen pie crust in the aluminium tin

5 eggs

2 handfuls of cheese (we love cheese)

1/2 cup milk

Bacon bits (I use about a tb)

Sprinkle of dried onion

Pepper


Then follow her directions: Cover crust with foil and bake at 425 about 8 min, mix all remaining ingredients, turn oven down to 350, pour filling into hot pie crust, bake about 40 min. I cover my crust edges with strips of foil to keep them getting too brown. (Take the piece of foil you used prebaking the crust and tear it into four strips.)


After being hacked - EGH inhaled this piece.
Mmmmm, yum. Great now I'm hungry.

Ok, on to books!

Both are non-fiction and parenting-type reading. The first one is How to handle difficult parents (a teacher's survival guide), by Suzanne Tingley. I bought this book ostensibly for EGH, but I wanted to read it as well to give myself - a mom who is about to send her first to school - better insight into what a teacher sees when she looks at us parents.

I'm so glad I read it. Not just because it's funny and well written and dead-on in the types of parents discussed, but I saw a bit of myself in some of the descriptions.

If you are a teacher, know and love a teacher (this would make a perfect gift!), or are just a parent who is concerned with working with her children's teachers rather than against them, then you should try to pick up this book.

The next book is called The Power of Play by David Elkind and it discusses a subject about which I feel strongly. His basic premise is that it is healthiest for kids (mentally, emotionally, physically) to spend a great deal of time - especially children under 6 or 7 or so - engaging in self-initiated, unstructured play.

He laments the changes in the way kids play and details how he thinks it's harming our children.

I agree 100%. Kids don't get to be kids any more. They no longer get to just run, jump, dig in the dirt (and eat it!), socialise with each other unfettered, build forts, pretend ...

Today kids - even tiny children - are dragged to classes and organised sports, drilled with flash cards, pushed in front of 'educational' videos, given 'educational' electronic no-comprehension-required toys, and loaded down with homework. They're not allowed to get dirty, they're not allowed to go outside, not allowed to fail, to fall, to imagine, to learn on their own, to think on their own.

I often fret that my children, who have never been institutionalised, have never been to gymboree or a play date, might be socially inept. I can't say until they start school, but I will say this: they have learned from birth how to socialize with their peers (each other) without my meddling hand.

I do not hover over my kids. I don't micromanage their days. They play how they want to play, whatever they want, whenever they want, so long as it doesn't break anything or harm anybody. If the boys want to put their hair up in ponytails, so be it. If they all want to run about pretending forked sticks are guns and they're shooting bad guys, fine. If they want to sit quietly all day reading books or drawing: no problem.

I have never once announced that it was now time for crafts or that we were all going outside to play a specific game. The only thing I initiate is reading. My kids are read to - several books at a sitting - minimum, twice a day: once by me and once by their father at bedtime.

I've noticed in my limited experience with other moms with kids the same age as mine, that they (the moms) are the playmates. Almost all the play is adult initiated and the games are strictly organised with rules. I've also noted the parents' tendency to keep a running, encouraging commentary: "Great try, Graycee! You almost had it! Ooops! Try again! Oh no, you fell down! Jump up and get the ball!"

These kids seem - to me - to have two traits as a result. They can't seem to just make up their own games, for one. When confronted by free time, they seem to have no idea what to do, and tend to get up to mischief (and complain loudly of being bored). They also can't seem to engage in anything without their parent's input. If my child initiates a game and they participate, they get distracted if the parent isn't right there approving and commenting and run to find her.

Elkind also discusses the points in a child's development at which they are capable of doing certain things (like comprehending complex game rules). For example, my Dad just recently worried that EGH was not throwing the ball with Boy (he is apparently fearful for my sons' masculinity. He called Bulk a 'momma's boy'.) I didn't bother to tell him that before age 6 or so, throwing, catching, and batting a ball are difficult (that's why they invented T-Ball), and that I felt that the kids were doing plenty of self-initiated interactive things to improve coordination.

I wasn't able to keep quiet when he mentioned how wonderful he thought the youth football (soccer) programmes were. Uh, nope. Don't think so. Preschoolers driven to fields where they are told to play, and how to play, (and to have fun!) by a crowd of adults?

No.

Ok, that's it for recommendation (and rants). Here are some of my Brood engaging in some self-initiated, imaginative play:

No sexual stereotyping in my house. Guinevere has a lovely flowery veil and a big honkin' sword.


Bat Boy and Playa Bulk (they were calling him "Doctor Bulk", not sure what the connection was.) Yes, those are girly glasses. He also has a wee ponytail in back. Be afraid, Dad.


And finally my own Bad Little Mother Sucker doing some adult initiated grinning. Yes that's one of the onesies from my store (*shameless plug*) and may be had here.


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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 5:58 am   8 comments

8 Comments:

At 2:07 pm, Anonymous mrschili said...

I have much the same sort of child-initiated play going on here, too, though Punkin' has gotten to the age (ten) where she wants to participate in things that her friends do, so she joined the elementary school band (she plays the flute). I'm going to let the girls decide when they want to partake in organized activities; we're doing fine being free-range for the moment.

 
At 2:47 pm, Anonymous AeroDog said...

So what happens if little Johnny sees the neighbor kids engaged in an organized sport and says "Gee, Mom. That looks like fun. I'd like to try it"? Is it the permissible because it's "self initiated"?

 
At 3:11 pm, Blogger HomeFireBlue said...

Well, yeah, ADog, that's the point.

If my kids want to play football or tball or interperative dance, then that's cool. They CHOOSE to participate.

I'm not saying; "OK, Johnny, you're two now, in order for mummy to feel like a better parent I'm signing you up for all these sports/activities and I expect you to really apply yourself ... oh, and have a good time!"

 
At 11:14 pm, Anonymous Heather said...

Those are great reasons why I love homeschooling. My kids play the way they want and with other kids who are allowed the same freedoms. I very rarely see any arguments with the kids we have homeschool playgroups with. The kids are all using their imaginations and they often end up so dirty I want to strap them to the roof rather than let them sit in the car, lol.

 
At 9:18 am, Blogger Tilly Cat & Pip-Squeak said...

Hmmm... As seems to often be the case, your post really made me think. How's that for organised/free play? We live in a small house, with a tiny garden that only recently became suitable for a toddler (I'm talking steps with loose and wobbly slabs.)So, mostly she plays inside the house. I AM often her playmate, because she doesn't have any siblings old enough to act as playmates (although Philip substitutes for a dolly lately.)But she is the one that usually initiates the game, and decides what it will be, and tells me what to do. She does read a lot, and brings me books through the day. If I need her to be quiet for a bit, I will some times suggest reading a book or watching some television, but I don't decide it's time for it, I just ask her if she wants to read/watch tv. Some times she doesn't, and that's ok. She seems to go around the house making up her own games and playing quite a lot, and I don't think I hover or instruct her, although sometimes I will offer a passing comment ("Oh, are you feeding your dolly? That's nice, she looked hungry.")I'm more relaxed about her climbing/falling etc than all of the people I know in real life, bar one. She DOES do activities during the week, that are scheduled (set time) but they're not structured. Swimming and singing groups, but they're not LESSONS, they're just lots of toddlers floating around in the pool, and lots of toddlers listening to songs (and she LOVES LOVES LOVES that one. She asks for it during the week.) I suppose I only take her to things she's showing me that she enjoys, but if I hadn't taken her to singing or swimming in the first place, I wouldn't know she enjoys them... I won't ever pressure her to go somewhere if she doesn't want to, or wake her up because "it's play date time," but she does go to some form of organised activity almost every day. I don't know, what do you think, is this too much? Too little? About right?

 
At 12:53 pm, Blogger Michele said...

Great post and I look forward to reading the book too.

Other than when we read to them, which we do every day, my kids pretty much only have self-directed play. I would like to take credit for it but the fact is they are twins, so they entertain each other and have rarely needed my husband or me to keep them entertained. Plus, I admit I suck at trying to come up with cool things for 2 yr olds to do so they lead the way. Basically I take the stuff out (crayons, balls, trikes, etc.) and let them have at it. And keep them off the balcony and out of the street. The world is their playground and I just stand by with sunblock and water bottles. For now.
I hope they do want to play some kind of organized sports someday, but that will be their choice. For now I just marvel at what they can do.

 
At 11:12 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was all about the unstructured play when I was your kids' age. When I got older - 8, 9, etc. - I started doing the team sports/group activities thing. I think there's room for both, but I think STARTING with unstructured play, as you're doing, is great. Kids need to use their imaginations.

And while we're on the subjects of sproglets and books, I'm thinking all of yours might appreciate _The Dangerous Book for Boys_. They might be a LITTLE young for some of the book, but that will change soon! I suck at using HTML tags, so I can't put a link to the book's Amazon page here, but you can just search on the site for "dangerous book boys" and it'll pop right up. A similar book for girls is in the works, but it sounds as though your kids don't kowtow to traditional gender rules, so the whole "boy" thing in the title shouldn't be an issue...

 
At 4:41 pm, Anonymous queenmommy911 said...

Go Blue! I am not alone in the shunning of organized play for littles! Woohoo!

I also have a fun book your bunch would enjoy - http://www.amazon.com/Jillian-Jiggs-Phoebe-Gilman/dp/0590413406/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-2105330-5195300?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1180643523&sr=1-1. Don't know if that will make it through...Jillian Jiggs by Phoebe Gilman. Our copy is in rough shape after so many years/babies, but the kids still love to see the fun things Jillian and her friends think up and the crazy ways her baby sister tries to play along. Absolutely hilarious!

 

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