The Message is The Reason for the Season, NOT How Many Presents One Gets! Unrelated Memories from Bulling!!! Was this BULLING? What would you have done?

imageOne of the new things I guarantee is that before we know it, even long before we wish for it, Christmas music is played everywhere: In the stores, malls, subways, buses. Not sure they play it on buses but it sure seems this way. It seems like someone implanted a chip in my brain and it plays Here Comes Santa Claus non stop, until I don’t even care if I get presents. Stop IT already!!!
It is hard to believe that as a child, growing up in a communist country, I didn’t hear Christmas carols and wished for them! It is hard to separate the beauty of such Christmas carols and their magical message from the message imposed by the thousands of commercial entities, whose marketing research shows that the sooner they start, the more they sell, and this is the ultimate goal: $$$$$.
This explains in a nutshell my very personal and complex journey from wishing for Christmas celebration, to wishing less, to deciding to hide somewhere in a cave and come out when the bears who hibernate come out, to settling for ear plugs, the cheapest ones! After winding allover the place with my beliefs and what to do, I concluded to stick with the MESSAGE, not the commercialization of it!

Yeah… Holidays are not my favorite time of the year as “pretending” our lives are “perfect” is at an all year high in December, as we struggle to show just how politically correct we are! The truth is that in my humble observation, it has nothing to do with respect for other people’s beliefs, but again, with sales and money!

Also,unless one wishes to be banned off of Earth (that is the part of it which has clean water and food, and heat or air conditioning, DARE state there is a fate, dare say some events in life are sad and not in your total control!

I dare confess that I read and value Bright-Sided -How The Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Best Seller Nickel and Dimed. I also dare write about a “group of extreme positive thinkers who don’t have to worry about living, as do the humans in Africa and many right here, at home. I’m yet to understand why the “positive thinking” movement seem to belong to those who having a “life,” worry about stress and positive thinking and deny the existence of fate and luck!

To push the sad people on an even darker, hopeless path, because they didn’t THINK POSITIVE ENOUGH, let’s make sure they feel guilty because they didn’t think right! It is their fault, their lives are not perfect! The pressure to be positive is so great, at times I don’t dare “think,” all is not perfect, because, could I be sure someone doesn’t read my mind? So, as a way to ensure survival, we got it into “our heads” that we were happy, and if that illusionary God dared sneak into our brains a different idea, such as negative thinking, please push that useless thought in the basement of your mind! Even better, kick it out, somewhere where no one could see it, because we are at all times, no matter the hardships of life, positive thinkers! We manifest that which we think and why I didn’t win the lottery yet, is a mystery to me.
I took a break and now…
I’m re-reading my own post, and it is confusing. It jumps from one “lane to another,” mostly without a warning, but is’t this how real life “behaves?” amd we have to deal with it as if all is perfect and positive?

The truth is that long before “the positive thinking implant” was carefully installed into my brain, another one was permanently screwed in to make sure no matter the events offered by life, my mind stays “INQUISITIVE!” This quality of my mind” was developed under Communism, when I was a child forbidden to believe in God and ordered to say I see I black sock when in fact I saw a white sock! Those early, survival experiences, taught me that no matter how much I was forbidden to question, the more I should, but NOBODY should guess I did!

The truth is that no matter how overwhelmingly powerful the “positive thinking” trend is, it will never suffocate my good, old inquisitive brain, which is, I’d dare say, part of my “limbic brain,” the oldest and the most powerful because it is responsible for survival. Perhaps not the brightest, but the most useful.
It sure gets me out of trouble and if I have to decide on the spot whether to fight or flight, in the flash of a second I could take a decision and save myself!

Many times, I think of a childhood story, which I see as the possible root of “my style of making decisions.”
This is a true story. Short. At least this is my intention, now. By the end of reading it, perhaps you will make a life-changing decision.

Here’s the story:

When we were children, there was no Amber Alert and Community Watch. At times, perhaps the creepy lonely neighbor was the volunteer who “watched” us, the kids playing, and our parents were grateful, delighted at the kindness of mankind and its selflessness, never doubting! Many times, I wonder what journalists in other countries reported… We, in Romania, only watched and heard news about President/God Ceausescu and His Scientist/Godess, Elena, his wife. The perfection of this couple made the Gods in the Greek Legends pale, look like ridiculous charicatures in fairy tales made to impress five-year olds… may be!

Okay… my story is already winding off the main path. I promised it short. Back to the main path!
Instead of the last two paragraphs, I could have written: “When I was a child, we played outside unsupervised and we survived!

In one of the many days when we played across from our apartment complex, one of my playmates hit me jokingly. How did I know it was “jokingly?” She laughed, and so did the other kids. She hit me again the following day, and again…until there was a bruise at the site of the “crime,” my cheek.

I must have been 9 or 10 years old. I’m now assuming, in my culture, I was considered old enough to take care of such problems of no real significance. The word bulling wasn’t “in” yet, but my black cheek was prove it existed! On the other hand, the entire incident and how it was handled could have been my mother’s personal “mothering style.”

I guess I knew First Aide, because I made a cold compress and applied it on my cheek.
In silence, Mom examined my cheek.
“Mom, Cristina hit me!”
“Who hit first?”
“She did, Mom! I didn’t hit her at all!”
Mom’s eyes pierced my bruised cheek:
“So… Cristina hit you…because you said something to her? A lie?”
“No, Mom, I didn’t say anything! We were playing and she hit me and they all laughed!”

My Mother’s eyes pierced my bruised cheek again and it hurt as much as the laughter of my playmates!

“Why are you telling me this story?” Mom spoke at last.” Cristina hit you for no reason. People laughed at you! They didn’t laugh at me. Solve your own problems if someone attacks you but never start a fight!”

The next day, Cristina hit me again.
Without a word, I made a fist and hit her in her solar plexus. Oh, no, at the time, I had no idea just how dangerous that was!
Cristina leaned against the wall. We stopped playing. She was very pale… more like bluish, as I recall. She and her sister left.
After that scary incident, new, unspoken rules seemed to be in place. The hitting stopped and we found other ways to laugh together.

I hope this post was short enough and didn’t put you to sleep. I also hope my mother had a message for more than just me.
However, even if I was the only beneficiary of her parenting skills, it was a lesson well learned: Never start a fight, solve your own problems. How one decides to solve a problem could start a debate.
If you were the parent, in today’s world, how would you advice your kid?
In the age of bulling and violence, I don’t think that my mother’s response was the best… but what would be?
Please share your thoughts with us. As always, we learn by sharing.
Have a blessed weekend!

School Recess To Be Eliminated?!!! Really????

Should school recess be eliminated in favor of more teaching time?” What do you think?

I was still half asleep this morning, as my dogs were trying to make me get out of bed and into the cold of the outside, when the above question on NBC’s “Today’s Show,” made me wake up and wonder if I was still dreaming… I pinched myself (gently) and since the news was repeated and detailed  throughout the morning news I concluded it was for real.

Details were provided and apparently, 20 schools in Orlando were cited as having already taken this measure.   Is this good for children or bad? A poll was taken by NBC and 99% of respondends said NO –BAD IDEA and 1% answered YES–GOOD IDEA!!!???

My first thought was that the ones who answered good idea were the ones trying to implement this change.

Let’s try to be unemotional and try to understand the real motivation behind this idea.

Traditionally, recess is a time when children socialize, hopefully go outside and breathe fresh air (if the pollution levels are okay) and most importantly, take a break from focusing on learning abstract concepts.  Even in college, a 15 minute break is taken after one and a half hour of attending a lecture or a class. If we, as adults need a break, how is it right to take it away from children?

That brings me to another question:

When I was growing up recess was  mostly fun. We played ball, told one another little secrets mostly about our latest crushes on a boys or girls, and even “observed” guys  and gals from upper classes, which was totally innocent but fun. What else were we doing? Some times, we finished in a rush homework  for the class that was to follow.

The above paragraph is perhaps an idealized description, as bulling  or other potential or illegal acts were not mentioned. Did they exist? Sure, some people were going in the bathrooms to smoke. In those times the biggest problem!

Times have changed, the world has changed and in today’s reality our children are attached to a smart phone and texting. They already eat dinner with one hand as the other one is texting: “How r u?”  “IDK!!!” comes back the response, may be.

The young generation’s social skills are already impaired, so while I understand that it might be difficult for teachers to supervise children during recess and monitor the potential bulling incidences, but  research shows  the brain needs a BREAK. There is a point when  the maturing brain of a child must REST in order to continue to be efficient.  

There must be a better alternative,  to avoid the downfalls of recess, for example having organized fun activities.

Some children are more physical. Provide them with an opportunity to kick ball. Some love art. Provide them with play dough and coloring pencils and paper. Others might love to sing. Give them instruments. Whatever you, as teachers do, please  encourage true socialization and communication among our children!!!  By taking away recess, and the opportunity to socialize, so essential to integration and success in life,  the younger generation’s chances to be successful people is being cut short. I see this decision as having bad long term consequences. Here’s a story…

When my children were in elementary school, somehow, it was decided  at high levels, to experiment on our children “invented spelling.” What did it mean? In K and 1st grade, they WROTE as they HEARD words, however, after their brain was already conditioned to spell a word wrong, it was hard to UNLEARN and switch to the correct spelling. As a result of the “invented spelling experiment,” one of my, now adult daughters, still mixes “there” and “their.”

If our schools teach invented spelling, please expect invented spelling on college papers and resumes. By the same rule, if you take away school recess, expect generations of poorly socialized people.

There is a good reason why 99% of those asked responded RECESS MUST BE KEPT. It really is a matter of common sense and the pros far out weight the cons.