March 27, 2015

Raising Smart Kids To Be Humble

As parents, it is natural to want our kids to be "smart." I admit that when my son's first-grade teacher told me she wanted him to be tested for the gifted program, I couldn't hold back a dopey grin. It strikes me as sort of odd, to be so proud of something that is really not my doing. It isn't as though I hand-selected his genes or take his spelling tests for him! But in a culture that values intelligence and achievement, it does feel good to know my kid has it covered.

But when Zip's teacher told me how kind he is to his classmates, how much they like him and how well he gets along with others, and that he doesn't flaunt his intelligence even though his peers recognize it - well, that is when I started crying. (Yes, braggy mom moment to kick off a post about humility - I do see the irony here!)

When push comes to shove, having a child who is well-liked and gets along with his peers is a thousand times more important to me than having a kid in the gifted program. I want my child to be happy, and research has shown over and over again that IQ isn't correlated with happiness - relationships are. 

March 13, 2015

Thoughts on #OUSAE & Teaching Kids About Race

I'm sharing my thoughts on the recent University of Oklahoma SAE scandal and what it means for parents over on BonBon Break. Below is an excerpt from the post, but head on over to BonBon to read it in full

Monday evening I sat around a table with a group of women, and we talked about race. We talked about the ways racism shows up – the big ways and the little ways – and we acknowledged how difficult and uncomfortable it can be to talk about when no one has ever shown us how.  When the conversation turned to the recent incident at The University of Oklahoma, the women around the table shared their shock and outrage. And, of course, the question we all had was: Why?
Why would a bus full of white college students sing – gleefully – about hanging Black people from trees and never letting n**** into their fraternity?
These Big Incidents keep happening, shining a spotlight on racism in America. One after another, fast and furious, they keep coming, urging us not to look away. Outrage is warranted. Understanding why these awful situations happen is important. Talking about how to prevent them is important.
But here is the thing (excuse me while I hop up on my soapbox here): Racism exists on a continuum.  It is not enough to tell our kids "don't use the n-word." We MUST go deeper than that...

March 9, 2015

Our Latest Favorite Picture Book Featuring Kids of Color

This post contains affiliate links.

On our last trip to the library, Bee insisted on checking out every Early Reader book about insects that he could find. Last night I found myself reading about cockroaches at bedtime. Yeah. Gross.

So while my little entomologist filled our book bag with his choices, I flipped through the bins hunting for a few storybooks. Searching for children's books this way always seems hit or miss. I'll spot a book with an intriguing title or beautiful cover, only to flip it open and...Oh...nah... The story is too wordy and complex for my 5-year-old, or too simple, or just too lame. I grab a few books that look promising and hope they'll be enjoyable reads (for me, as much as for Bee).

So when I find a book that we both end up loving, that has a fun storyline and is well-written and beautifully illustrated, it's like hitting the kidlit jackpot. Which was the case last week, when we brought home Jonathon and the Big Blue Boat by Philip C. Stead.

As we started to read, curled up on the couch, I had the same reaction as when we read Zephyr Takes Flight for the first time - that Oh, this is a wonderful book! feeling, which only comes along every few months (in spite of the bazillions of bedtime stories we read).

The story is about a little boy, Jonathon, whose parents trade his teddy bear for a toaster because he is getting big and, ya know, toasters are useful. Jonathon is lonely without his stuffed friend, so he heads out - on a big blue boat - to find him. The collage and acrylic illustrations full of blues and reds, are gorgeous and captivating.

The fact that the main character, Jonathon, just happens to have brown skin and my little guy can see himself reflected in the book is icing on the cake.

While Bee still insists on reading about walking sticks and spiders at bedtime, I know he loved the story as well because the next morning, when we sat down for breakfast, he had already told his daddy alllll about it and that evening insisted Daddy read it to him too.

What amazing story books have you read recently?

March 2, 2015

Is Worrying About My Kids' Screen Time Inevitable?

I have a confession.

Me - the mom who prides herself on having children who love books and nature and kickball; the mom who created a lovely little bubble in those early years where technology only occasionally made an appearance (usually in the form of Elmo's World); the mom who extols the virtues of limiting screen time and DVD free car rides...

My five-year-old is screen-obsessed. He recently morphed into an I-can't-get-enough-don't-tell-me-no tech junkie.

I'm concerned, friends. Concerned that the first thing he asks to do in the morning is not to get out play-dough or build Legos, but to play his iPad. Concerned that, if I suggest he play a while instead, he just follows me around asking, "How much longer?" instead of battling imaginary dragons. Concerned that he would be in front of a screen all day long, if I let him.

And, of course, I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out how or why this happened.

February 26, 2015

How We Manage Our Kids' Screen Time

I pride myself on being one of those mommas who carefully monitor her kids' screen time, trying to nurture their passion for books and nature and people over video games. But the truth is, as my boys get older, electronics are creeping into our family in ways I didn't expect.

Last year we gave both boys iPad minis for Christmas. Which led to what - I know -  are first world problems. Namely, I have been doing a very sad job enforcing my kids' screen time. Pathetic, in fact!

So it was rather fortuitous that just as I was wading through a swamp of mommy-guilt for letting my kids play Dragon City for waaaaaaaaaaay too long (and kicking myself for letting them download it in the first place), I came across a solution. I'm sharing our story on BonBon Break:

Screen Time: Not Until I Say So

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