Girls will be girls…

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I’ve watched small children for almost 40 years (as a Family Day Care Provider) and there are some “stereotypes” that, I must admit, are true.

Little girls and little boys are definitely “wired” differently.

This post is motivated by my anxiousness about the, soon to happen, summer school vacation. My 7-year-old granddaughter, her 6-year-old (girl) cousin and a 3 1/2-year-old girl, will be in my care every weekday throughout the summer.  I am still recovering from the week-long Spring break with this trio.

Throughout my day care years, I was blessed by groups with more boys than girls. Don’t get me wrong, little girls make the better companions when alone. They are much more verbal and enjoy engaging with adults, a bit more. But, put them in a group, and there is competition without limits.

My scientific curiosity, about human behavior, always stems from Nature and, our similarities to animals. Females compete for the reason of propagating the human species. It is simply hard-wired into their nature, in my opinion. This further explains the many girls who find keeping “male friends” much more satisfying and less complicated through their early years. For me, the valuing of female friendships didn’t appear until after I was married with children. The “drama” created by groups of females always detracted from the uncomplicated “rough and tumble” play that I enjoyed most.

Many may feel this post is terribly sexist…to those who think this, I say, “Men and women are different. Instead of ignoring this, I suggest we embrace and value those differences.”

I am speaking from years of experience. Personally, it’s been a life-long study with irrefutable results.

The competitiveness of girls seems to be, grounded in, their superb awareness of non-verbal clues and their delightful social abilities. One example that I remember clearly:

A 4-year-old girl was sitting in a pout over not getting her way. I asked a 4-year-old boy to offer her some apple slices for snack. The girl turned her head away from the offer, since she wasn’t yet over her disappointment. The boy reacted with a shrug and happily kept the extra portion for himself. Then I asked a 3-year-old girl to make the same offer to the “pouter”. (There was “bad blood” between these two girls from other competitive moments but I hoped it might be the first step in getting them to be friendlier with each other.) The 3-year-old, happily offered the girl some apples. Miss Pout rolled her eyes and folded her arms refusing the apples. Without hesitation, the younger girl threw the apple slices in her lap and stormed away.

The boy was not at all insulted…even at 3, the girl who was offering the apples, knew she had been snubbed and, furthermore, took it quite personally.

I find the experiment quite interesting and don’t think a world made, from all of either reaction, would be fun. The boy’s reaction was far easier for me though! The girls battled daily after that and to my distraction.

Of course, these reactions can happen from either sex. Some boys are wound tighter and some girls are not as easily insulted. I am just offering a well-studied norm for your consideration. Actually, being aware of this tendency has allowed me to avoid putting girls “at odds” with each other and has reminded me to offer boys more “How do you think they feel?” moments too.

So my plans for summer are many well thought out activities. There will be well-defined consequences for extreme bickering and rewards for showing good-sportsmanship and sharing. Keeping decisions fewer and options greater may be my only salvation!

My Thoughts… My Sympathies

English: the picture consist of articles on bu...
English: the picture consist of articles on bullying, I obtained it from public domain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since this blog is primarily a journal of my thoughts, I’m exploring my internal philosopher again and you are invited to listen and comment.

I had an energized discussion yesterday (on Facebook) over my previous post. Bullying is an emotionally charged subject that brought many varying opinions and experiences to light. While considering what I learned yesterday, I kept returning to my own life experiences. I’ve been very blessed by having positive role models in my life.

 There were many times that “bad” things happened to me, though. My reaction to them, seems to me, the only power I had then and to this day. It is a power we all have.
First, I do not believe in a pre-written design to anyone’s life.

Second, I have not had “troubles” any greater than others,in fact, I’ve been fortunate and my troubles have been lesser than most, so far.

My questions remain the same:

Do any of a person’s troubles come from their own attitude? Does any of their good fortune come from their own attitude?

I’d like to believe it does, otherwise, why bother to try? We would be without any responsibility in the direction of our journey. People would be like balls in a pinball arcade game, subject to only outside forces.

When I see a family of underprivileged kids and witness some of them “do well” and others get hopelessly lost, I ask myself, was it only because the forces of luck favored the successful ones or was it, in part, their own doing?

 Success is defined, in this context, as leading lives of good citizenship, harming no one and pursuing happiness. We discussed that bullies often come from bad environments. Why don’t all kids from “bad environments” become bullies? My search for these answers is often mistaken as an insensitivity to the problem. I am looking for answers because I believe there are solutions to discover and we are capable of affecting changes. I also believe we (people) can only control our own actions and reactions in any situation. Sorry, making laws, rules, regulations don’t cure problems…murders are illegal, ya know.

Yes, I do have sympathy for bullies, as well as, victims of bullies. Once I state that bullies are created not born (sociopaths excluded), don’t they deserve my sympathy? I don’t understand why my sympathy for the abuser takes away from my wishes to protect the victims?

There is an extraordinary effort to reduce bullying in schools. Victims of bullies become scarred for life and there is not one moment that it should be tolerated!
My cause is to make victims harder for bullies to locate and maintain. One way, is to arm kids with skills to ward off bullies.I will call these skills “social”.

“To behaviorists, social skills are learned behavior that allow people to achieve social reinforcement.”

Labeling every kid who hits, or says something cruel, or takes part in a group motivated unkindness, as a bully, is as detrimental to the effort as ignoring that bullies DO exist. I think the “over labeling” is a real, imminent, threat in schools. Over-crowded and understaffed, schools have little time to investigate every report and will have to err in favor of the “victims”. It’s the only choice.

I’m convinced that the gusto and emotion this problem invokes will cause another problem if we aren’t careful. I’ll call it “free-range victimship”.

What do all kids want…attention. They learn very early that attention is most swiftly attained when they are wronged or believe to have been wronged. I hope adults will weigh each and every complaint carefully. Wouldn’t want to end up like our court system which we all know is overflowing with “victims”.

What IS a bully?

English: A Bully Free Zone sign - School in Be...
English: A Bully Free Zone sign – School in Berea, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My sister and I just had a conversation about bullying which made me realize what a complex subject it is. The discussion began, as most bullying discussions do, with a specific example of a kid she knows who is a “victim” of bullying.

Now, you may ask why I put victim in quotation marks? Well, it seems in cases of bullying often there are many players and the victim just may not be easily identified. Don’t shake your head. It isn’t always the big scruffy kid and it rarely is totally one-sided.

No, it is not alright to pursue and badger someone incessantly.

No, it is never okay to hit someone.

How can we be sure that they, the “bullier” and the bullied, are victims of the purest form? Are we to believe that in our society the preponderance of bullying involves one weak, unsuspecting victim and one mean spirited person who picked them at random?

C’mon.

There’s a quote from the 60s TV show Adam-12 that seems appropriate here. The two hero/police officers are standing beside their police cruiser after a day of crime fighting. One turns to the other and says, “The only thing that is black and white in our job is this car.”

Kids who are small, girls who cry, people of minority status, people with physical infirmities, etc. start off with the sympathy barometer needle tipped on their side, and they are aware of it. It shouldn’t matter that much because we are all aware of their “edge” but it has become a powerful tool in our modern, politically correct society.

Example:

Once upon a time, if Earl was an unfriendly sort of kid who tormented others, Earl would not get invited to Birthday Parties or be asked to play games. Earl just might have a chance to see the error of his ways by the natural course of things and learn to play nicely.

Nowadays, Earl must be included. Many Kindergarten classes insist that all kids are invited to play, no exceptions. The natural order of consequences are disturbed and Earl realizes he need not get-along at all. If anyone attempts to straighten Earl out, and Earl has a special need, he realizes he is ALL powerful because, after all, the kids are automatically (Get the black and white deal?) discriminating against him. Earl is not stupid and learns that he need not even try as long as he can use the “D” word. Ah, discrimination is the most powerful word.

I know! All you can imagine are poor special need kids or minority kids huddled in a corner abused and forgotten. We must make sure that they are treated fairly! No we don’t. Their siblings and friends will be there. The only kids who need protecting are those with the inability to learn social lessons, such as, autistic kids.

Little kids are not like that and I maintain, the Big kids without compassion were once little kids who never learned the social lessons. I trust little kids more than anyone else (except for dogs) to have compassion. Small children almost always like anyone who plays nicely. Don’t forget, minority and special needs kids are capable of being brats. Being excluded for bad behavior would be the best medicine for any and all brats. Besides, the perceived weaklings are more than their disadvantage alone. By considering them disadvantaged we label them as disadvantaged!

Gosh, I remember being protected from getting hurt on a baseball field because I was a girl. I thought our society was interested in equality. Wearing labels just works contrary to that, don’t you think?

As for bullying, this blanket protection of the crying and weak has a direct hand in the increasing incidences. To step in when kids are “at odds” keeps them from learning the social lessons they will need. Which are:

  • play fair and consider the feelings of others or you will not get along and have friends.
  • being too sensitive doesn’t work and it’s your own job to get along. (Just this morning, one day care child kept telling me another wasn’t “being nice” to her. Upon investigating the crime, I realized, the child who was complaining just wanted the other one’s attention. My answer was, “Well, invite her nicely to play.”)
  • a person’s character is who they are, not any other variable.
  • Everything is NOT always fair and that is a fact.

While I am making this old-fashioned and controversial presentation, I want to add another insult to the politically correct utopians. Yes, there are varying degrees of being a victim too.

WHAT? <GASP> A victim is a victim!

No…a person who leaves his/her keys in their car and has it stolen is less of a victim than one who has their car hot wired and stolen. Stealing IS wrong and shouldn’t happen. NEWS FLASH…it does happen.Take some responsibility people.

And if you swim in a canal in Florida, there’s a chance an alligator may bite you too. What a world, what a world! 🙂

First things First

That old familiar excitement has begun.  The Katydids are singing in the night and just a few maple trees are blushing with changing leaves. Back-to-school ads, preseason football, cooler nights, my Autumn “juices” are stirring.

The only thing I’m dreading is my first Christmas catalog. I realize that there is a tight schedule on advertising and stocking shelves in stores BUT this ritual really bothers me. Why is everybody rushing around? I feel dizzy half the time!

When did everything get so fast paced? I wonder if it is the embodiment of adulthood to race around outside the moment? Kids live in the moment. Funny though, it used to seem like Christmas took years in coming when I was a kid. Now, well, even I have considered starting to shop for it.

Time has always been a fascinating subject to me. Scientists tell us that it is constant but I don’t believe it. I have experienced many moments when it stood still. The morning that my granddaughter was born, I stood outside the grasp of time. I felt as though I was inside a snow globe, unreachable, silent, and calm.

My first kiss, first day of school, first time standing in a graveyard sending off a loved one, all these events stood outside of time in a place where, I assume, everyone has been.

Seems the way anyone can stay young and grounded is by keeping their experiences fresh and to continue to find “firsts” in everyday.

The Three Stooges

It has been said many times that in order to thoroughly enjoy the comedy of the The Three Stooges you must be a man. Boy, do I disagree because their slapstick has always been one of my personal favorites!

I added a random clip because choosing my favorite would have been impossible.Not only are they my best remedy for the blues but such a glimpse into a time which I never experienced. References to Nazis and the Depression, make me feel like I am in a time capsule. Shining shoes in order to eat or waiting in job lines are scenes that today’s youth should see.

If I were to choose the single biggest danger to our society today it would be that our youth has very little knowledge of our nation’s history. The saying, “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” is absolutely applicable.

I cannot blame the schools entirely for the absence of historical knowledge. Although I do blame them. History class and Geography class became social studies, and since, today’s youth have little idea about where we came from OR where we are in the world.

I remember my parents and grandparents telling stories about their lives. If anyone thinks that life used to be simple and carefree, then they must have had social studies. How many people today?:

  • mend their clothes because buying new ones is not an option and have to make those clothes last to be handed down to siblings.
  • really don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
  • have discrimination for their sex, race and lifestyle the over baring reality in each day, all day.
  • have to stand in LONG lines for sugar, butter or gasoline.
  • own only one pair of shoes.
  • butcher their own meat.
  • have their prosperity for the whole year count upon the weather and crops.

I’m sure my mother could add many better examples because forgetting the past is something each generation experiences to their own degree. THAT is exactly why American History must play as large a role in our education as Math and English (which from the grammar these days, I assume is no longer being taught.)

Instead of being ridiculously opposed to your kids seeing slapstick and learning to “hit”, I think they might do better to have a glimpse of another time and learn to ask questions.