Face It: Facebook is the New Sex Talk with Our Children

Face It: Facebook is the New Sex Talk with Our Children

In The Economist magazine’s June 9, 2012 issue there’s a short piece on page 18 entitled: “Facebook and children: Let the nippers network”. You should be able to read it at this link: http://www.economist.com/node/21556578  I will be quoting from this article in my blog post unless otherwise indicated.

The article can be boiled down to what it says at the start of the second paragraph: “There are two options. Facebook can either try harder to prevent children from joining, or it can let them in, but with safeguards.”  This is the new frontier for most of us parents, the age of social networking via cyberspace.  At a time when many of us are becoming parents for the first time and just barely catching our breath as we realized the responsibility of raising these boys and girls to be the adults of the future–we’re struck with a very real concern regarding what age is deemed appropriate for a child to begin interacting socially on the internet.

“Social networking does not cause cancer. There is no compelling reason why children should not socialise with each other online.  What is worrying is that those on Facebook  today are treated as if they were adults.”

While this statement has truth to it in its logical argument, I’m afraid it’s lacking the deeper problem that should be glaringly obvious.  Just because a child can use the technology and can respond/communicate on a social network online doesn’t mean it’s right for them to do unfettered or unsupervised.

This may seem like a leap of a correlation to make, however, this is eerily the same argument we face when discussing ad nauseam as to when is the right age for youngsters to engage in sexual activity.  So what if their bodies are physically able to engage starting from 10-14 years old, does that mean they should be allowed to carry on as if it’s their deserved rite of passage? Oh, but if we give them condoms and pills, that should take care of them just fine from preventing unwanted pregnancies–nevermind how this early sexual behavior may interfere with their physical, mental and emotional development.

“Far better to let children openly join Facebook and create a safer environment for them to socialise in.”

Understandably, we all understand that as long as we have rules there are those who will break them.  The response to the age requirement for alcohol consumption is to have those who will attain illegal IDs.  The current trend for those under-13s on Facebook is that they can enroll anyway when they lie about their age in the form.  But the notion that we should just “let children” go ahead and do Facebook anyways as long as it’s “safe” is preposterous.

Q: What Is Safe About The Internet? A: NOTHING

Here’s the reality: you are the parent/guardian of your child(ren), therefore you are the most powerful gatekeeper when it comes to all the gateway rites of passage for your fledgling humans.  I don’t expect Zuckerburg and his people at Facebook to be the shepherd of the social pasture online for our kids.  That sentiment extends to any of these social networking sites.

The fact remains that we are still learning lessons today about what has happened to us since most of us came of age with integrating usage of the World Wide Web in our personal and professional lives.  It’s aggravating  to witness this hasty resignation attitude reflected in The Economist and other publications when it comes to the idea of children participating in social networking.

One more note on the internet: please keep in mind that no matter what your “settings” are, NOTHING is private when you post on the internet. Consider that when you put photos or written word onto the internet in any form, it’s as if you just submitted them to the marquee at Times Square in New York City. Please think about this seriously in regards to your children-whether it is you or them posting such things.

Nightmare Fodder: “Facebook and other social networks already have millions of vulnerable, clandestine underage users. It is time to bring them into the light.”

Why do we feel that we have no relationship with our children after they hit 5 years old?  Statements like the above disturb my heart’s fabric because I don’t understand how it is that there are 10 year olds who are participating in social networking unbeknownst to their parents/caregivers while they have hardly cut their physical teeth in face-to-face contact with their peers and others.

Again, I admit that I wrestle within over my love-hate relationship with the media technology that our global society has exploded with since I was born.  At the same time, I also recognize that there is not a quick and decisive answer to this social networking debate.  We are on the ground floor of learning about it ourselves and how it affects us all, including our children.  The question you and I must ask is what is best for our child(ren) as individuals and that will be the start of finding what “light” it is we want them to be in.

R.V.S.Bean

iPicture This…What Does Your Child See?

I try not to judge. I don’t know where all these moms and dads are coming from when they sit in the waiting room “watching” their kids go through their gymnastics class, play in the indoor playground facility or run around on the faux turf or mulch of the outside playgrounds.

I can’t deny what I see, however, and I am horrified at how “normal” it must seem to their children.  At least 8 out of 10 parents/caregivers have a phone attached to one of their hands.  I don’t know how it’s physically possible. Perhaps it’s superglued or stitched on. But there it is, constantly a source of engagement.

Let me make the disclaimer that I am terribly guilty of checking my own phone and taking or making calls from time to time—but I really am trying to work on doing that less as I am realizing what an unhealthy habit it is to constantly be immersed in these handheld gadgets when we are acting out the role of being an “active” parent.

I’m not the parenting expert but I want to just caution all of us (including myself) to be careful about how entrenched we become with these petty electronic iPhones, blackberries, what-have-you…remember that our children are growing up seeing that we are constantly into these things and what they see us do they will inevitably emulate.

Please also remember that these young years of our children and even when they are teenagers are fleeting and it is so very important to be all-there for them when they are around us.  Your phone will be there when they’re sleeping or not in your company.  Don’t make this phone seem more important to you than your kids–because even if you protest that of course that isn’t the case, our kids perceive that to be so when you’re not giving them your full attention even when sitting by while they play.

All the best,

R.V.S.Bean

Bathroom Rock Bottom: Mid-Year Musings

Bathroom Rock Bottom:  Mid-Year Musings

This morning while on the floor of the bathroom trying to organize and clean out the linen closet, drawers and cabinets I wondered aloud to myself why I had waited so long to do this task.  Isn’t it the way things go for many of us? We think about doing something, whether it is practical or not, and for various reasons we delay until the stagnation of doing nothing paralyzes us.

While everything in this humble bathroom looked like a small-scale tornado had come through and strewn random bits everywhere I decided I was not going to shy away, try to put some clutter away in a drawer for another day or throw everything out.  Why can’t we try to approach even our dreams with the same sort of devotion?  If you are interested in doing something like trying to play an instrument, why not do your research, find that instrument in your hands and a way to learn it whether on your own or with others?  What is it that keeps us from growing and pursuing those things?

Limits. How do we find ourselves within limits? Was it how we grew up, what high school we attended or dropped out of? I guess there are reasonable limits like I shouldn’t just jump off the roof right now because I crave the flight I enjoy in my night dreams.  But why are we saddling ourselves down with limits that really don’t exist?

Whether your current stage in life involves children of your own, spouses, partners or any sort of combination of factors, the only real obstacle remains yourself when it comes to continuing your path of learning, loving and contributing to others.

The silly thing about this bathroom train of thought is that it came about as I was attacking a ridiculous mess that I had allowed to get out of hand because of one thing or another.  It took the crisis of having a terrible case of food poisoning the other day to make me realize that I HAD to deal with this clutter because I couldn’t locate much needed pedialyte in the bathroom closet which helped lead to becoming so dehydrated I was taken to the emergency urgent care center down the road.

We shouldn’t wait until some crisis strikes like family discord, relationship difficulties be they platonic or romantic or an unexpected upheaval at the workplace for us to pay attention to the inclinations we have for certain goals and dreams.  If we follow our spirit’s drive (for those who believe in God, you may say the Holy Spirit, YHWH, Allah or Father/Mother God, et cetera) for what we do in our life one day at a time, it will not only benefit ourselves but our loved ones and others within the “ripple-effect” distance of us.

On a lesser philosophical note, if you haven’t cleaned out your bathroom lately I highly recommend it.  Great way to fleece all those expired over-the-counter medications as well as those prescription drugs no longer needed.  For most folks, the bathroom acts as the ready room or “green room” for the start of another crazy day–it’s nice to have a bit of order to it to assist as you prepare for the battle of living and loving life.

R.V.S.Bean

Why Fight? All Mamas Work!

Cue the New York Times latest online: Strategist’s Comment Sets Off Fierce Political Debate On Role of Women http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/13/us/politics/hilary-rosens-ann-romney-comments-spark-campaign-debate.html

Forgive me as I’m far too exhausted from a humble day of raising two boys and helping family out to actually type out a properly written response to the latest “debate” in the race for our next President of the United States as we creep closer to the 2012 Fall election season. However, since my partner in life’s crime called me today from his “work” to tell me what Ms. Hilary Rosen had said and thereafter apologized for, I must try to say something back.

“never worked a day in her life”…maybe it’s my Greek philosophical blood or my spirit’s overall demeanor, I just don’t see how anyone can accuse a mother of not “working” if she decides to be a “stay-at-home” mother.  At the same time, I also don’t understand or subscribe to those who would dare demonize a mother who has children and also takes time to work “outside the home”–they actually impress me as they are juggling two careers and I am inspired to do more because of them and want to help where I can if possible.  In short, to all those who would make comments I kindly propose that they shut up.  Why fight over this? All parents work!

Given my history of working in politics and my inevitable future of dabbling again in this rough area of our society (e.g. campaigning and working for/as government-appointed or elected officials), I understand that campaigning can get a bit dirty and idiotic.  However, in this case, I’m glad that even our First Lady Michelle Obama made the concise comment on Twitter that, “every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected.”

As I was pulling weeds and harvesting our cabbage in my garden with my sons this afternoon I had the thought flash in my mind that there were countless women centuries before our time that were also working like us if not even harder and that was before we had social security, pay stubs, time clocks and wage wars–let alone “mommy wars”.  What really hurts about this latest mommy slur was that it was a woman who uttered the disdainful comment–as if we don’t already have enough to deal with in an obvious patriarchal society here.

Thank you for apologizing Ms. Hilary Rosen for a momentary lapse in judgement (we all have them, no doubt) and thanks to Mrs. Ann Romney for being honest that as much as us mamas love our children, it’s not easy work–it’s a labor of love beyond delivery/acceptance/adoption and whether or not we receive paychecks I truly believe that all mamas work.

R.V.S.B.

The What: Food and Money – The Tango Tangle

THE WHAT: FOOD AND MONEY  – THE TANGO TANGLE

My heart pinched inside my chest as I listened to the cashier’s announcement of the total price of my Publix grocery purchases.  “Absurd amount of money!” is the first reaction internally followed by a justification speech by the concerned mother/caretaker in me that knows it’s better to spend money on good food for my family even if it tightens the household budget in other areas.  This scenario repeats itself and the outcome is the same at least for me: I choose quality of food over cheapness and quantity any day.  What are the economic and environmental factors that any of us face today when making our food choices on a daily basis?

THE WHO

The perspective on who we’re buying food for obviously affects our choices.  Whether you’re single, married, living with roommates, with children, with elderly—all these groupings carry their respective needs, wants and overall themes.  Personally I can attest to the interesting blend of tastes I accommodate in my cooking and choosing of groceries as I have a husband, two boys under 4 years old (one an infant) and two octogenarians.  When I look around at many of my colleagues with children, it seems a majority of parents today are very sensitive to the question as to whether the produce they purchase is organic or not.  It turns out that there are some produce items that are more critical to buy organic like spinach and berries because of how porous the skin is and therefore easily absorbs pesticides.  Some websites you may find helpful for resource information:   www.organicconsumers.org , www.organic-center.org , www.non-gmoreport.com , www.healthychild.org , www.texasgrassfedbeef.com , www.centerforfoodsafety.org , www.chemicalfreekids.com , www.foodnavigator.com

THE WHY

Organic, non-genetically modified and local are some of the current buzz food words.  The term organic always makes me chuckle for a nanosecond as there’s hundreds of years of human evolution coursing through my blood that reminds me all food was once “organic” without the labeling.  It’s just that in the last century or so that our civilized societies started to meddle beyond what hybrid practices were in place already in agriculture.  It is interesting to note that recently many farmers are returning to using more natural methods in their crop and livestock management—part of it could be the increased consumer demand for organic products and another part may be that it has been found more cost-effective to use better sustainability practices on the environment when cultivating the Earth or animal stocks.  Again, my own battle is complicated when it comes to whether I buy organic, conventional or local food products.  I prefer organic but it’s not always available or cost-effective.  Local produce is desirable because I like supporting the farmers in Florida and it’s fresher with less gas emissions spent on its transport to my kitchen.  At the same time, a pint of blueberries from Peru may be farmed with the best ecological-friendly practices and taste better than the pesticide-laden ones from a few counties away.  Here are a few more resources that may be helpful:  www.farmigo.com , www.localharvest.org , www.slowfoodusa.org , http://foodnews.org/ , www.foodnavigator.com , www.environmentalhealthnews.org , www.biointegrity.org , www.localfoodswheel.com , www.greenling.com

THE WHEN

Sometimes I wish I were ignorant and just went to the store and was able to buy the cheapest of everything to feed my household.  The truth is irreversible once attained; I know what is best for my family’s situation and it happens to be a diet that contains the freshest fruit, vegetables, dairy, legumes, meats and then on to the grains, pastas and et cetera.  Making the conscious choice to use less canned products and other foods that contain more harmful ingredients in process/preservation means that our grocery bill is higher than it would be if I blindly chose based solely on cheap economics.  Not everyone thinks through what they buy when at the grocery store but it’s only a matter of time when many if not most of us will realize that how we eat is like a form of preventative medicine for our bodies.  The cost you may incur now can serve to defray future medical costs after years of eating products that can slowly sabotage your body’s ability to fight off infection and other illnesses.   Then there’s the question of the effect on our environment by our agricultural practices and that factors into many people’s choices of food economics.  Social impact in the form of “fair trade” practices is yet another factor weaving into our ethos as consumers of groceries for ourselves.  Some more websites for your personal research:  www.fairtradeusa.org , www.greenamerica.org , www.fairtraderesource.org , www.kidsorganics.com , www.rodaleinstitute.org , www.opensecrets.org , www.allergykids.com  , www.usda.gov , www.fda.gov

This blog post is woefully inadequate in addressing all the various facets involved in the economic and social challenge we face in our food purchases as the commodity prices continue to rise on a monthly basis.  I hope it at least helps in starting a conversation or a journey for information as this is an issue that will continue to grow in importance as we face upcoming agricultural changes and trade practices that can affect both the quality and quantity of our food in America particularly.

RVSB

 

Please…Listen to Me

“I’m discovering something new right now at the playground. Why won’t mommy come over to me when I call for her? I want to know what this thing is called. I need to learn why it does this thing? Where is mommy? Why is she looking at that little thing in her hand and stroking it with her finger? I just called for her again but she’s telling me to wait without looking at me. Why is that thing in her hand so important? Does mommy not like being with me? I want to be with her but she wants to be with that thingy…iphone is it called?”

Okay, to be fair, the above thought process may seem a bit advanced for a toddler/preschooler…however, the emotions and visual recognition of the theme are not.

I think I hit my limit earlier today when I took my children to a local museum and observed both a mother and a grandmother totally engrossed in their handheld devices as their two boys were playing with a train set that required coordination of assembling more tracks. After witnessing these boys ask multiple times from their “mom” and “nana” to assist them and outright invite them to play with them, I knelt down with my baby carrier and assisted them myself as I often do with my own children daily.

It makes me sad not just for the children ignored by their parents while they’re pecking away at their awesome technology. I grieve for these parents that will one day reap what they sow because children aren’t stupid, they notice EVERYTHING–especially about their parents’ behavior as it relates to them.

I’m not saying we can totally disavow ourselves as users of our present-day mode of communication. What I am urging is moderation and especially careful usage when raising young children who rely on their caregivers to give them nourishing time as they grow in these critical years that shape them for the remainder of their lives.

Please, don’t take me as a self-righteous judge of all parents…just ask yourself if you can dial it back a little if you find that you check your device more than 5-10 times an hour. Do you really need to check Facebook that often? Can that texting or long phone call wait until naptime?

I’m not saying it’s easy and I’m guilty of sometimes relying on my device too much…I used to be able to hide texting but now my one child is at an age that he notices a lot and I’d rather just go without than teach him that this is the only way to socialize.

To those that say the devices help them feel connected to the world, I say remember that you are in the world with your children now and you’re their teacher as to how they should interact with everyone in the world. These handheld devices are great tools but they should not replace the precious time with our children, tomorrow they’ll be adults and perhaps our caregivers as well.

R.V.S.B.

WHY BOTHER? FOOD AND RELIGON FOR THOUGHT

WHY BOTHER? FOOD AND RELIGON FOR THOUGHT

As I wrestled last week with my very hyper older son while trying to hold on to my squirming infant son in our Greek Orthodox church pew during worship service, I thought: Why bother? The same question pops into my mind when in the middle of a grocery aisle with two restless little souls while trying to decide which dry food good is healthier for my family’s pantry. It seems there are a couple items I’m quite passionate about when raising our children, one rooted in spiritual sustenance for their souls and the other being physical fuel for their bodies. I’m guessing that I’m not the only mom out there in any given country that feels the same way.

WHAT’S IT ALL FOR? Sense of Incense and Icons

So back to last week: As I chased the rabbit in my mind who was screaming “why bother?”, I reminded myself to look around and remember why I do bother, along with my husband, to go through our weekly ritual of attending our Greek Orthodox church. I cannot speak for other faiths such as Jews, Muslim, Hinduism, et cetera—but in my faith, besides the obvious theological tie to the miraculous belief of the Trinity and Christ’s Resurrection…I appreciate the hope of things to come and that while we’re going through the rumble-tumble ride that life can be, we can find ways to help and love each other. There are so many things about our world and the creation beyond our atmosphere that I don’t know that I’m in awe of the God force behind it all and I’m grateful for the chance to live and participate. If I can share this with my children in a way that inspires them to embrace life, love and respect for others then I will be at peace at the end of my journey here. This can be a tough philosophy to re-enact when dealing with a temper tantrum or a tired-tot meltdown, however, I encourage perseverance if not to help you remember what’s important to your belief system in your practicing faith. My husband and I do agree that ultimately if our hearts are not in it, then it does our children no good and it would be a moot point for us to attend church if we are only bitter shells of ourselves in the congregation.

FOOD IS FOOD, RIGHT? Discerning What’s Best

The ridiculous part about this food subject is that many of in the “civilized” world have way too many choices. It’s sort of like how women hundreds of years ago didn’t have so many choices when it came to family planning but now are sort of paralyzed sometimes in whether or not to have children. When it comes to planning our family’s menu day to day, I make countless choices in the lead up to the final product that arrives on the table for the main meals and snack times. For my own crazy methodology, I like to seek out organic and locally fresh ingredients when possible. Organic and even local can mean very high prices: in those instances I may purchase conventional or just skip that type of meal until later. It helps to educate one’s self on the foods you and your family prefer to eat so as to know if you want to make a concession or not. But don’t peg me for a purist, either. I often tell family and friends that in the end there’s a reason I give thanks and pray before every meal, especially when eating out at a restaurant: I can’t control every single ingredient sometimes and as we’re finding out in recent news, I may unknowingly purchase something under a false label or omission of vital information (Google search the recent news on meat labeling for items such as poultry and pork-evidently many of those meats are injected with solutions like water, broth and other things to plump them up and they’re not currently mandated to be labeled as such). Let’s not forget-for some of us, fixing food is our way of loving our family and friends, so it’s worth the hassle even with the “bewitching hour” for parents (I highly recommend Crockpots!)

FOOD AND RELIGION, IS THAT ALL? The Countless Other Things

As a lover, mother, daughter, sister, friend and wife that I am these days, there are many other things that I strive each day to share and instill in my children. I know that I’m not perfect and many times can be hypocritical in my beliefs—sometimes even changing my views on what I thought was my solid opinion beforehand. What’s most important must be how we love each other and when it comes to our children that’s truly what they need the most is our unconditional love, all the rest of the countless other things we try to give/share with them are just the details of life that make us all unique.

RVSB

The New Extreme Sport and Other MMBs

THE BIG THREE: 3 Mom Media Bites (MMBs)

As the mother now of two sons, both now 3 years old and 3 months respectively, I have been navigating this new season as a Northern Atlantic fisherman’s boat tries to keep from top-sizing in hurricane strength swells. The writer in me has been posting “tweets” of countless questioning thoughts and resulting conclusions to my mind’s running page but never on paper, or as in the case of this post, in digital form. So in my humble attempt to disperse some of this philosophical and reflective backup, here are a few of my latest ramblings for your entertainment or information:

Road-Tripping with Tots: The New Extreme Sport

About a month ago, I embarked on a road trip with my sons that included stops in three different states. The goal was to make it to a very important event for one in my closest circle and it became an opportunity to visit other friends and family along the way as well. I did consider the plan ahead of time and certainly realized there were many calculations to be made in order for this trip solo with the boys to be successful. An energetic toddler and an unpredictable newborn were quite the duo to consider, mapping the actual driving route was the easiest consideration. In retrospect, I was best able to explain the trip as an “extreme sport”. I had to make clear plans like what time of day to depart, how to ensure that total driving time each day wasn’t more than 4-5 hours and coupling nursing stops with bathroom breaks, et cetera. At the same time I had to continually accept the fact that I needed to allow for unexpected delays, stops (especially with a nursing infant) and changes in plans of activities or driving. For instance, there was about a 2 hour stretch in the middle of nowhere-Georgia land that I just had to keep my cool with a few factors pulling at me including the fact that I missed a turn and was on a country road where there farms and churches but no gas stations. It ended up being a 10 day trip that went relatively smoothly and I was exhausted upon arrival home but felt that my relationship with the boys had actually hit some great milestones.

Weiner-gate and Foley Redux

In recent weeks the cable news and print media has had the gift of a story that keeps giving in the reporting of soon-to-be-resigned U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner’s revealing photos being “tweeted” via Twitter to women other than his wife. Last week I was able to watch some of the coverage and came to the Fox News channel that had Mark Foley in an interview with Sean Hannity. I hadn’t seen my ex-boss on national television in an interview since his political fall from grace in the fall of 2006 and it was a little jarring to my system. Couldn’t believe the sheer irony of it all—here was my ex-boss who had his Congressional career crumpled by his misuse of time as a Florida representative with the AOL instant messenger service and here now is Congressman Anthony Weiner “tweeting” photos of himself actually IN his Congressional office to his countless lady friends while married to a high profile government aid. Sadly, many of us are still surprised that history evidently teaches us nothing as in the case of Mr. Weiner. I thought that what Foley was punished for was seared in the minds of active politicians; a stern warning to stay off of the digital highway whether by personal computer, laptop, cell phone, Ipad or whatever is next when it comes to the personal indiscretions. It seems that the more we advance in this information age, the more impulsive our actions become that truly blurs our decision-making. In the case of these two gentleman and countless others, we’ve forgotten that privacy is not insured when communicating through cyber/digital hardware—we ought to assume that everything could at any time be posted on the screens in Times Square in New York City.

The Beach: Still the Best Village to Raise Children

Living in South Florida affords me the luxury of going to the beach often and I never take it for granted after residing in other states for several years. What I love about the salty air and sticky sand is that there is a general lack of other stimuli. Most people who routinely go to the beach are there to enjoy the raw nature of two major elements of our planet coming together: land and sea. It is also the thrill of that ebbing dance that draws me to bring my children there a few times a week. I hope to teach them about their environment while also giving them the freedom to run, dance, shout and becoming caked with sand and salt ruthlessly. Running into other parents and their children has also been refreshing and disappointing at times but I’m grateful for the experiences regardless. My children have the opportunity to interact with others, they learn to share and when to walk away. The parents get to small talk and swap ideas on raising children without any commitment to follow-up. I have also met some of my current friends at the shoreline (both Pacific and Atlantic) and strengthened existing friendships there that help enrich my life and thereby my children’s lives.

R.V.S.B.

“Nature-Deficit Disorder”: The Real Child Epidemic That Should Concern Us

In the few weeks following my second son D.A.’s birth, I was well aware that my first son T.A. needed more stimulation that just a crying newborn brother in the confines of four walls. Empowered by the nursing privacy and versatility of a sling for the baby, I loaded my two boys in the car and headed for the local Palm Beach Zoo.

I was glad to be outside and although I would love to do more activity with my sons, the newborn’s needs and my healing process will have to delay those desires. As I pushed my older son in a stroller through the manicured trail of the zoo, we came upon a small group of adults huddled around a speaking podium. My verbal toddler didn’t want to stick around but I gently admonished him in Greek that we were going to wait and see what this was about. I’m ever so glad we did.

It turned out this fateful morning that the Palm Beach Zoo leaders and the neighboring South Florida Science Museum were hosting a small talk and news conference for the visiting bestselling author Richard Louv. His most recent publication is “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder”. It was during his speech that I had already determined I was going to purchase this book as he spoke how our zoos and parks should be the “gateway” for our children and their interaction with nature.

I had heard about this author before while reading a magazine in the past where his writings were mentioned. I’m surprised I hadn’t read his material earlier as I believe I’ve had a parallel passion for the fight to make sure our future generations don’t become so engrossed with the ever-encompassing digital age that they lose touch with actual reality in our true 3-D natural surroundings.

Let me share a quote from Mr. Louv’s Introduction in his book “Last Child in the Woods”:
“’One evening when my boys were younger, Matthew, then ten, looked at me from across a restaurant table and said quite seriously, ‘Dad, how come it was more fun when you were a kid?’… He was right. Americans around my age, baby boomers or older, enjoyed a kind of free, natural play that seems, in the era of kid pagers, instant messaging, and Nintendo, like a quaint artifact.”

His book covers a wide variety of ways to approach what he calls the emergence of a “nature-deficit disorder” among children today. He astutely conveys that in our efforts to keep our children safe, for instance, we have made nature a dangerous, off-limits place that is best appreciated through video or virtual reality. My favorite quote based on Mr. Louv’s childhood love for climbing trees: “The woods were my Ritalin”.

The most interesting point that Mr. Louv has made in this book (I have yet to finish it but am close to it as I read it during night feedings) is that our culture has made “saving the environment” such an important mantra for the education of our children. Yet, at the same time, we have made it increasingly difficult to allow our youth to really know and experience the very environment we preach to them is so critical to maintain. From Mr. Louv : “Parents, educators, other adults, institutions—the culture itself—may say one thing to children about nature’s gifts, but so many of our actions and messages—especially the ones we cannot hear ourselves deliver—are different. And children hear very well.”

If you are able to spare the time to read this book, I strongly recommend it. Louv brings up the fact that time spent in nature is very therapeutic not only for young ones but for adults as well. There is something healing about the wind, the plants, the animals, and the time that is not set by boundaries of software or physical hardware.

RVSB

NEWBORN BLUR AND BLISS: SHARING A SNAPSHOT

For my friends and family reading this: thank you for the countless thoughts and prayers as on March 9, 2011 at 4:03am I safely delivered our second son D.A. joining his proud big brother T.A. and making our cozy brood feel blessed as a family of four.

Newly minted parents can either enjoy every precious moment of their newborn’s first hours and days or they can feel like a tossed vessel in a Northern Atlantic storm at sea as the lack of sleep and constant need of a helpless human in their stewardship drains them relentlessly. Hopefully, it’s a healthy mixture of the two with some sort of recording going on like photos, video or written word. For seasoned parents, the second and any children thereafter may seem “easier” in comparison during those early newborn weeks and perhaps they are able to better relish the fleeting moments of all their child’s firsts.

When I had my first child, I had just vacated my roaring twenties still drenched with politics and vivid memories of working at the Department of Treasury for Secretary Henry Paulson and, prior to that, in the House of Representatives as a legislative aide. After a hurried and traumatic induction I delivered our first son in June 2008 and crash-landed into my thirties with no clue how to navigate this new “normal”. The result was a bumpy postpartum road that felt as if I had taken a sabbatical to a country where I neither knew the language, nor recognized the landscape and hardly knew the reflection in mirror looking at me.

Approaching and surpassing the due date of my second child’s of March 3rd, I was increasingly overwhelmed with a deep, cave-like undercurrent river of concern as I wondered what this new shift in my life season would render. I had tried to prepare by defending my right as a healthy woman to allow nature to take its course- waiving cervical checks until after the due date passed, writing a birth request sheet that included items like wearing what I wanted to instead of a hospital sheet and to hand my newborn child to me immediately upon entry and waiting to prod him until we were ready, preparing our son by talking to him about what was about to come, nesting as best as possible in a unique situation as boomerang children ourselves and the list goes on frantically and as thoroughly as I could conjure up in the pregnant months leading up to last week’s culmination.

After a long early labor stage of nearly 10 days, I was blessed with the classic sign of “my water broke” on the evening of Tuesday, March 8th. In less than an hour we arrived and checked in at the medical center, labor came into full force and I traveleded the raw journey with a mixture of awe, comedy (yes, you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of what our bodies do!) and a high respect for all women before me and with me that very night laboring around the world to bring new life through alive.

Five hours later and the doctor on call barely made it to my room in time during the final minutes from the announcement that I was “9.5 cm” as my doula, mother, sister, nurse and husband were all trying to encourage me to “blow it away” (all the while I can feel my son trying to kick his way out and me wondering who was going to catch him!).

There are no words to describe the very moment you see your child make it through that unknown passage of time from safe womb to all-bets-are-off-Earth with their first breath. Relief, tears and overwhelming love are just a few emotions and physical reactions that can help measure that moment. I believe the combination of numerous emotions, reactions and such allow a mother to be ignorant of the after-birth, of any pain felt moments earlier or complications that may arise. For instance, I lost over a pint of my life blood after he was safe in my arms but thankfully I was not affected in a catastrophic manner except for my weakness that is to be expected until I recover fully in coming weeks.

I am amazed at how small he is and yet how strong. My first son has embraced his little brother with a tenderness and automatic acceptance that I couldn’t have hoped for in my loftiest dreams. Feeding him and sustaining him has been a physical feat that is laced with enjoyment and gratitude all while trying to savor his tender first days and weeks as he blossoms through growth and development.

The newborn blur has been blissful for me this time around as it has also healed and forgiven for me those emotional scars that had haunted me from my first newborn blur in 2008. I am grateful for both experiences now as they carve my personal character and I have insight that allows me to know what it’s like on both the positive and negative sides of the newborn blur.

R.V.S.B.

AFTERTHOUGHT: Having had a medicated birth prior and now an un-medicated one I can say with no reservation that going the old-fashioned way (as long as all is healthy and well) is by the far the BEST way to give birth as a woman. We were designed for this, we are strong beyond belief and being pregnant is NOT an illness, it is merely one of the many life passages that we are capable as women. And even if a c-section is required for valid reasons, women are still birthing partipants as their body delivers life through pregnancy, birth and the nuturing thereafter! For any of my family or friends that want a detailed rundown of my birth experiences, you know how to reach me~

Wyoming Life

"God bless it and keep it wild"