Kids These Days

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Children, School, Technology | Posted on 28-11-2016

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Kids these days. Sigh.

When I was a kid, I played with sticks.

Not really. Actually, I did. I would flip my Big Wheel upside down and move the pedals ’round and ’round until the wheel was moving so fast that I could sharpen sticks with it. Then I would poke my sister. Giggle.

Adults are always complaining about “kids these days.” How technology is corrupting them. Kids these days don’t even know how to tell time or write in cursive.

Actually, that is a fact. Some of the “basics” I grew up with aren’t taught in elementary schools anymore because the Common Core State Standards curriculum has replaced those skills with others. Once, the third grade teacher sent home the how-to-tell-time packet. Years later, I’m not so sure if my fourteen-year-old daughter can properly tell analog time. A quarter past two. Half past four. A quarter ’til three. But. She can program a video game because she took a coding class. And she knows all of the bones from head-to-toe.

Cursive is no longer taught in most U.S. elementary schools. My eleven-year-old doesn’t know how to properly sign his name. But. He has crazy keyboarding and video-editing skills. He makes hilarious-and-clever movies and uploads them to YouTube. And he knows how to add and multiply and reduce fractions. I didn’t learn how to do that until high school.

Parents will always find something to complain about. But look at all that is right with kids and their education these days.

If we stop complaining long enough to listen, we would learn a thing or two from our children. Because kids these days are so smart! Between my three, they can add negative numbers, analyze Catcher in the Rye and other literature, debate the pros and cons of each Presidential candidate’s platform, solve for x, y, and z, write a persuasive essay, read music and play the clarinet, explain the significance of the Bill of Rights, program a video game, cite the periodic table of elements, define each part of a cell, explain carbohydrates vs. proteins, and type a thesis without looking at the keyboard, then upload it to Google Drive.

Between school, peers, and their devices, kids are learning to analyze, rationalize, debate, articulate, appreciate, and communicate. There will be time to practice signatures at home. On their iPads. With a stylus. ūüôā

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Vote for Pippi

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Childhood, Confidence, School | Posted on 07-11-2016

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It was an election year. I was new to the school and decided to run for office. Seventh grade class vice president. I was smart, responsible, and peppy. What did I have to lose?

I campaigned. I researched. I spoke. I smiled. I won.

Genuinely interested in making an impact, my platform was to change the lunch menu, add more drinking fountains, and extend recess. Giggle. I painted posters and taped them on every wall in every hallway.

I clearly remember the speech. And being nervous as shit. Knees shaking. But I took control of my voice and into the microphone I began, “Friends, Seventh Graders, Countrymen, lend me your ears…”

Whaddya know? Lots of cheering and clapping! They picked me! I was elected and elated!

Though my efforts to change the school over the course of my vice presidency had little impact, the sense of accomplishment and confidence did wonders for my 12-year-old adolescent self.

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Ballooning

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Emotions, Encouragement, Milestones, Mother, Motherhood, Mothering, Parenting, School | Posted on 07-09-2016

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You know Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web? And how he protects Charlotte’s egg sac for months? The baby spiders finally hatch and he’s delighted! But then he’s suddenly devastated because they immediately fly away?

That’s exactly how I felt when my three kids went back to school this week. After such a fun summer being together and adventuring, then poof, they were gone.

Wilbur tearfully calls goodbye to each of them and is fraught with despair. That was me, but trying to hold back the tears, and be encouraging. You will do great!

According to Scientific American, Charlotte’s hatchlings were “ballooning,” the method that baby spiders use to disperse themselves through nature. In fact, most spiderlings, after emerging from the egg sac, spin a dragline and balloon away. I read that baby spiderlings have no wings, but can fly as high as the highest-flying insects and birds, depending on the air current and weather and such. I also learned that baby spiders are called spiderlings. ūüôā

Charlotte’s spiderlings are full of hope and are excited for what’s ahead. They are ready to launch, days after emerging from the egg sac.

My three children have been nurtured a little longer than the spiderlings (ha!) and are each in different launch phases. My oldest son is now a senior in high school. My daughter is in the eighth grade. My youngest son just started sixth grade. We are done with elementary school with one and college is on the horizon for another…the other is in between. Each child is full of hope and excitement (and some angst) for what’s ahead. I am not worried about them adjusting and learning and experiencing. No doubt, it’s an exciting time! They are up for the challenges of academics and social–and everything in between. I feel confident that they are confident and prepared to launch. It’s just that their leaving makes me a little sad.

Janet Lehman, an author with Empowering Parents, emphasizes: “As parents, we really have to accept that our kids are growing into separate individuals. That’s a good thing, because that’s how they learn to function in the world.”

We want our baby spiders to “balloon,” don’t we? As parents, we want to instill in them love and support and encouragement that reinforce that they have the abilities and confidence to function, launch, and excel.

This is nature. Spiderlings venture off on their own. Each has its own path. So do humanlings. And they usually “balloon” on the first day of school. With backpacks.

Transitions are hard for me. One of the hardest is going from summer to fall. Summer, with its free-flowing fun and so much time with my children. Then, bam. Fall, with its schedules and rigidity and less time with my children. I can’t help it: I love to be with my children. Plus, who doesn’t like to eat ice cream and walk along the river and adventure in the city and play with Otis in the backyard shade?

My youngest saw my tears and said, “Mom, don’t cry. It’s not like I’m going to boarding school. I’ll be home later today!” He was right.

Chin up! As Charlotte would say.

Go, spiderlings, go! Fly free! (And I’ll see you at 3:00 p.m.!)

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Full of Pep

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Attitude, Confidence, Encouragement, Kindness, Life, Little Story, School, Teaching | Posted on 20-04-2016

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When I was in seventh grade, our teacher gave us a fun assignment. We were to write our names on a piece of paper then pass it around the classroom. Each student was to anonymously write something nice about each person: a trait, a compliment, what you like about that person. As the papers circulated, kindness filled the pages.

It was a great exercise to express the good in everyone and boost confidence. I still remember one phrase written about me:

Full of pep.

pep: noun energy and high spirits; liveliness.

I ran across this picture of me when I was in the seventh grade. Curly hair in braids, a big smile, heart-shaped sunglasses perched on my head. This was taken on our seventh grade camping trip in Yosemite. The same trip where I dared the boys to see who could stand in the freezing-cold river the longest. (Full of grit!)

The girl in the forefront is the one who wrote “full of pep.” (After we got our papers returned, she had leaned across her desk and whispered to me I wrote that. I still remember beaming back.)

Those three words written oh-so-long-ago had an impact on me and still make me smile. I will always remember my friend’s kindness and friendship…and…her accurate assessment. Wink!

Thirty four years later and still full of pep, I now have a daughter in the seventh grade. I showed her this picture and she was like, “Mom, are look the same!”

Some things never change.

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Stop and Help

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Safety, School | Posted on 12-04-2016

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There was a four-way stop¬†intersection¬†by my daughter’s middle school. Except one of the stop signs was placed really far from the corner, making it hard to see.

This resulted in many people not stopping at the corner, and blasting right through.

This put children at risk, right in front of their school.

I actually witnessed a few people running the stop sign. I once ran the stop too.

I took action. I was prepared to make a petition, attend community meetings, discuss this with my town’s politicians. Whatever it took.

I started by calling City Hall to state the problem: There needs to be a new stop sign installed by the school, placed where drivers can see it clearly, for the safety of the children.

Turns out the city department and the street department met immediately to discuss the problem. When I called back to follow up, I was reassured that this issue would be addressed.

And it was.

Within 10 days of my first call, a new stop sign was put in at the proper place at the corner. So that everyone could see it.

My daughter said I’m a hero.

Nah. I’m just trying to make the world a better place for one person. Or maybe more.

#kindness

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Turn Around…Let Me See Your Butt

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childrearing, Children, Parenting, School | Posted on 01-09-2015

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Clothes shopping. Back-to-school shopping.

When my children try on jeans, I always tug the waist to see if there’s room. Even if they are sixteen years old. I check the length to make sure they are long enough. Then.

Turn around. Let me see your butt. 

If the jeans pass the waist-length-butt test, they win!

Then, it’s try-on-shoes time. Too short? Too long? Just right?

Run down the aisle! Jump! Are they comfortable? Do you like them?

My three are now ready to begin the school year with happy butts and feet.

Getting off on the right foot…

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In Like A Lamb, Out Like A Lion

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Metaphor, Mothering, Mothers and Sons, School, Sports | Posted on 12-06-2015

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Football practice at the high school started up a few weeks ago.

The soon-to-be incoming freshmen–still eighth graders–with their eager faces, thin bodies, adorned in Under Armour and Nike logos, get out of their Mama’s SUVs as they get dropped off for practice. These boys who are all big time in middle school get a reality check as they step onto high school grounds.

Their jaws sorta drop. Not so big time anymore.

As the boys look around, they are surrounded by men. Men who cut their t-shirts into tank tops to show off their muscles. Men with facial hair. Men who drive.

Hey freshmen! Meet the juniors and seniors!

Two years ago, I was one of the Mamas in a SUV who dropped off her eighth grader amidst confident young men ambling to practice, laughing and strutting. I remember thinking: whoa!

Now, my son¬†is one of those…one who¬†borrows his sister’s special fabric-cutting scissors to transform perfectly nice t-shirts.

Another season is upon us…

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If You Give A Child A Paintbrush

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Art, Children, Confidence, School | Posted on 20-05-2015

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If you give a child a paintbrush…

I had the pleasure of teaching an art lesson to a fourth grade class. The topic that day was: Impressionism. We learned about Claude Monet and his famous Water Lilies series.

Everyone is an artist! I beamed.

All you need is a paintbrush, five acrylic paints, a blank canvas (paper), an open mind, and a YouTube video.

What transpired that day? Creativity. Magic. Pride.

With paintbrushes in hand, the children made little brush strokes. Just like Monet. First the water, then the trees, then the lily pads, then the water lilies. The classroom was magically transformed into an art studio. The children were buzzing with ooohs and ahhhs, amazed at their creations.

There is no right or wrong way! You’re the artist! I encouraged.

In the end, each painting was different. Each one unique. Each was a masterpiece.

I, too, was bursting with pride. As the children cleaned up and lined up for lunch, I lingered over each painting to soak them all in.

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Something Borrowed, Something Purple

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Confidence, Connections, Family, Mothers and Sons, School | Posted on 23-04-2015

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My 10-year-old son completed a massive, it-takes-a-village-presentation on Bill Gates. He read a biography on him, wrote a book report, and prepared a poster board filled with images and facts and drawings.

It was a six-week project. And let me tell you, it was a doozy.

A little graphics assistance from Dad. A little editing assistance from Mom. A purple plaid shirt borrowed from Sister. And the only tie in the house?

A black satin mafia tie borrowed from Brother.

When my son presented to his classmates and to the parents at Open House, he was full of facts, full of enthusiasm, full of confidence. He nailed it! All by himself.

Bill Gates at open house. He nailed his presentation!

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The Road Not Taken

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Confidence, Memories, School | Posted on 11-02-2015

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When I was in sixth grade, everyone had to memorize a poem in front of the class. Mine was The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.

I had practiced. I had recited it to my stuffed animals several nights prior. I was ready.

The day I was to present, I wore a matching blouse and skirt, with parrots-and-tropical-flowers print, and white sandals. A perfect outfit for a confident young lady. My grandmother had bought it for me and I wore it proudly.

Except. When I stood in front of the classroom, I lost all confidence and nerves took over. I wiped my sweaty palms on my parrots skirt and took a deep breath.

My poem is The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, I began.

And then. Blank. No words. I had forgotten every line.

I looked at my teacher with tears welling up in my eyes. She let me sit down.

Fast forward several years later.

My daughter, who is in the sixth grade, presented her project on Egyptian Gods to her class. Dressed in a plaid hoodie and headband, she was ever-so-confident as she stood in front of her class. She took a deep breath and bam.

She nailed it.

Well, whaddya know. Two roads diverged in a wood…

My¬†daughter took a different road than I did. ūüôā

That girl…

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