Wednesday, June 29, 2005

New Love

Several evenings over the past several weeks, DOB has gotten home quite late. I know where he's been. He's been taking one of them out again.

He has their pictures stashed around the house. Every so often he gets them out and admires them, maybe even tells me about this one's or that one's finer qualities. But the truth is, I don't have much to say. So mostly he mulls it over to himself. When we're together in the evenings I've seen his eyes glaze over and known he was daydreaming about them again.

In typical form, he even made a spreadsheet comparing the good points and bad points of each one to decide which one was the most worthy of his attention. And finally, last week, he decided.

So this morning, after he kisses me goodbye, he'll walk out into the arms of a . . . cinnamon 2006 Hyundai Sonata LX. I wish them all the best.

And I'm looking forward to getting a ride. ;-)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

New motivational technique

DOB and I have both had need of working on our attitude towards the labors of the day at various times in the past few months. DOB at last hit upon a method that ought to cure me of ever bewailing the amount of work I had facing me again:

"I know!" he said, "Every time you start complaining I'll put a dollar in a fund to buy you a motivational poster from Successories!"

I guess this method would only work for someone who hates motivational posters as much as I do.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Homeschooling: What worked and what didn't

All homeschooling parents will happily talk for hours on the things that worked or didn't work--from their perspective as the teacher. Soon I will join their ranks. But before I do, I want to reflect on the things that worked from my perspective as a student. That is, what things, looking back, can I now see resulted in learning or good character? And what things shut down learning and turned me into a student bureaucrat?

Didn't work: 95% of textbooks and workbooks, when used as designed
Worked: Lots of books lying around the house and lots of time to read them
Sometimes I think my mom's most effective homeschooling method was filling the house with books and then taking a nap. (Since she had narcolepsy, she did the latter pretty often.) Given free rein and mostly quality books to read, we really did gravitate towards book that exposed us to new ideas, and we really did remember what we read. Forced to complete the mind-numbingly boring questions at the end of a section, our brains shut off altogether.

There were cases when textbooks and workbooks worked. A lot of history and literature textbooks, especially high school level, were read for their own sake, as long as we could avoid those dreaded questions. (I don't recall ever reading a science textbook for fun, but we had many far more interesting science books around to read.) And there were a few cases where a text I got to select myself, or one that hit on a particular interest, was actually worth working through a page at a time. But those were definitely the exception.

Didn't work: We have to study X now, because X is the next thing on the list
Worked: I am obsessed with X, don't you want to hear about it?
John Holt talks a lot about the uselessness of unrequested teaching. I think there is an exception, though, and that is where someone tries to tell someone else about something that is deeply interesting to them. The worst that can happen when the "teacher" really does care about the subject matter is that the "student" dismisses the "teacher" as a harmless but entertaining lunatic; at least they will have caught a glimpse of the beauty of loving learning. We always rolled our eyes (and gagged) when Mom wanted to examine our latest specimen from the back of the fridge under the microscope--but we certainly didn't thereby grow to hate organic chemistry. I am afraid insistence on sentence diagrams for the sake of sentence diagrams did not have the same effect.

Didn't work: Complete a 3-page report (which no one will ever voluntarily read) on subject X (in which you have no interest whatsoever).
Worked: You were the one who wanted to start this project, so we need to see it through to the end.
I think adults think assignments of the first variety will, even if they don't result in learning (they don't) will build character necessary for adult life, since after all, adults often have to do work they don't like to do. But unpleasant tasks in adult life generally fall into two categories: tasks that are a necessary part of an overall purpose which you have freely chosen and which you highly value; and tasks that are at least necessary for life. I may not enjoy doing the dishes, but I do need to have room to cook the next meal and dishes to eat it on.

There are adult situations where one must do meaningless tasks which one has not freely chosen, but since I do not aspire for my children to be slaves, prisoners, or Dilberts, I see no point in training them to submit to meaningless work merely for the sake of keeping out of trouble.

There are plenty of tasks in life that are meaningful and important, though not necessarily fun, to teach persevering in a task. And if our children inherit one-tenth of our capacity for dreaming up new projects to tackle, we will have plenty of opportunities to teach them to see things through with valuable work of their own choosing.

Didn't work: Parental scrutiny
Worked: Parental supervision
Kids do need someone keeping an eye on them and making sure they don't do anything too awful. And I certainly always felt better knowing there was someone handy in case of emergency. On the other hand, no one ought to have to explain their every thought and movement to an authority. And this is especially difficult when one is trying to accomplish a task. It's easy for all of us to think we have the One Right Way to do something, and then insist that those under us do it in that One Right Way, but it makes it well-nigh impossible for the person performing the task to actually figure it out and get it done.

When I was a child, I hated writing. Hated, hated, hated it. One night I skipped pizza (a rare treat) rather than complete a writing assignment. It was too personal and it hurt too much to have it read, much less corrected. Scrutinized writing assignments with their rough drafts and rewrites and grades just made me hate it worse.

But I also had a pile of half-used notebooks that I squirreled away in my bedroom. In them, I could write whatever I wanted, rewrite or not as I felt inclined, and rest secure in the knowledge that no one would read them--or at least if they did, I wouldn't have to know about it. After several years of this, I not only had more courage to write for others to read, I was also a good enough writer to critique other people's writing--and then receiving their critiques was not nearly so painful. Which leads to the next point:

Didn't Work: I know all about things, so you, in your ignorance, must listen to me.
Worked: I know some things you don't know, and you know some things I don't know, so let's tell each other about them.
I should probably clarify that I don't remember the former ever occurring in our house, but it's implied in a lot of schooling. At our house it was generally understood that everybody was a specialist in different things, and one might start being the consulted expert in some particular area at a very early age.

Nobody likes a know-it-all, and nobody likes feeling stupid. Parents have such an intrinsic advantage in knowledge over kids, I think they need to take special steps to make sure that they don't come across as know-it-alls. That's why I hope my children start knowing things I don't know about as soon as possible. Then learning becomes a joint adventure, not something I impose. Once they start reading, this will be easy. But even before then, they may well have the advantage over me in observation and memory, and I need to be ready to catch that and appreciate it.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Rant on cartoons

Why is almost everything designed for use by babies and toddlers adorned with crudely-drawn cartoons? What makes people think these are appreciated by or beneficial for very small children?

Imagine you are living in the forest where things have no names, and someone comes to you and points to a small, fuzzy white thing and says, "Dog." Sometime later they point to a big, rough, white thing and say, "Dog," and then apply the same word to a medium-sized brown thing. Then they point to a smear of blue ink on paper that bears no resemblance to any of them and call that a dog. It doesn't seem like it would help one in figuring out what kind of a category this was.

I notice that D1 gets much more enthusiastic about books with photos or realistic drawings than she does about books with cartoons. And who doesn't think that a one-year-old would rather look at a card with a photo of an animal or a flower or construction equipment, than with a fuzzy pastel symbol of one? (Notwithstanding the cheesy pastel butterflies, however, D1 was quite thrilled at having her own card and read over it for as long as she played with her new blocks.)

It really bothers me when it comes to Bible stories. Almost all the Bible story books meant for the youngest children have cartoon illustrations. Surely if we want to impress children who are still learning the difference between reality and fantasy that these stories are about something real, the illustrations should look real. But they hardly ever do. And they should also be true to the actual story, which is why I hate pretty much all "Bible" cartoon videos ever made. I spent a lot of time teaching 4s and 5s explaining that whatever they may have seen on their TV, the Bible indicated that thus-and-so happened. A lot of the books are no better. We did find one that looks pretty good, though . . . My First Bible in Pictures by Kenneth Taylor, which has realistic drawings and one-page stories.

This is not to say I think cartoons are intrinsically evil; I just think they make more sense to and are better enjoyed by children who are a little older and who can understand what's going on.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Snapshot at One

Right now her whole energy is focused on learning to walk. She can spend hours pulling up, letting go, sitting down, and doing it all over again, interspersed with cruising around the room. Toys hold almost no interest for her, except as things to reach for. I think her language development has paused a bit, too. Right now it's all about moving.

It occurred to me last night that, although she has a fair number of words, none of them really seem to be nouns. Even ones that you would think are, like "num-num" or "da-da" pertain more to situations and seem to mean "Hey, it's time to eat now!" or "Here's someone to play with me!" She never points and uses them, even though she understands pointing. She does point when she says "Guy!" which we think generally means something along the lines of "Let's go outside." She will make the sign for "bird," but hasn't tried to say it more than once or twice.

Most late afternoons you will find us on the lawn. It's the only sure-fire way to help her wait for supper. Fortunately we've been having an unbelievably lovely June. Since our deck is a bare concrete slab and we have no outdoor furniture yet, I'll usually be sitting on the grass, reading, while D1 climbs up, lets go, and sits down, over and over again. Sometimes she looks at leaves and sticks and thinks about chewing on them.

We went through weaning this week. I'm not sure who to blame for it. I was kind of hoping to go longer, but she was making it increasingly clear that she just wasn't that interested anymore. So I tried not offering, and sure enough, she never asked. She'd rather eat an extra bowl of oatmeal and applesauce and yogurt. She never was a comfort nurser and I suspect supply was starting to run low. But I miss it, even if she doesn't.

I still can't come to terms with how much she eats. If a one-year-old girl eats this much, how will we ever afford to feed teenage boys?

And now it's time to go get up my . . . not-a-baby anymore.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Going for more.

Strawberry girl.

Practicing the piano. Note what great form she has already.

Labor Day

Today I'm celebrating Labor Day, since tomorrow is D1's birthday. Actually I spent most of the day, despite more or less regular contractions, convinced that D1 was going to celebrate her high school graduation in utero, while DOB's mom cut out VBS crafts and made arrangements for someone else to teach her class that night because she was pretty sure we were going to be in the hospital by then. She was right. (It seems that one of the key emotional signs of imminent delivery is the conviction that the child will never, ever, ever be born.)

DOB is probably trying not to remember since the process was, on the whole, more painful and exhausting for him than for me. Maybe if I hadn't insisted on counter-pressure on the back for every contraction he would have had an easier time of it. Anyway, I've never gotten to pull the "Yes, but I gave birth" line on him, nor has he ever apologized.

We apparently went to the wrong birthing class. We were the only ones who both made it through naturally and hoped to repeat the process one day, and we didn't have it that easy. According to our teacher, the next class all had four-hour labors and thought it was a breeze. Maybe she says that to every class.

Notwithstanding, I never did beg for painkillers. Maybe it's a Norwegian thing. In fact, I realized about halfway through that if I'd had an epidural I wouldn't be able to get up and, uh, attend to personal matters, as soon as I wanted to after the birth, and I was more horrified at the thought than ever. I'd far rather be in pain than be immobilized.

I did beg for a rest midway through pushing, but the doctor just smirked and said, "Oh, you can try to rest, but you're not going to feel any better until you get this baby out." She was right, alas.

But D1 did eventually decide she was willing to come out. She was absolutely silent at first, which worried us for a minute. I thought a scream was a necessary indicator of health. I guess she wanted to assess the situation before commenting. She waited to exercise her lungs until they were washing her up. Then she was quite certain she objected.

Enough of this kind of stuff. Later, if I get inspired, I'll see if I got any good strawberry-picking pictures today.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Get me the dictionary

As D1 adds new words to her vocabulary, it's evident that she is using a different dictionary than the one I am accustomed to. For instance, one of her favorites is "all done." (OK, to you it would probably sound like "ai-duh."

Now, when she's eating, I think this ought to mean, "I've had all I want, Mommy, please wash me up and set me down." She seems to think it means, "Hey! This is an empty bowl! Get me another one!"

On the other hand, when picking up toys, I think it ought to mean, "All the toys are in the box now." She thinks it means, "OK, that was fun, putting those two toys in the box. Now let's do something else."

A very recent new word is "quack." Now, I thought this meant "noise a duck makes" and should be interpreted as a request to read a book about ducks or, most likely, sing "Five Little Ducks," which is her favorite song right now. She likes to join in with the "quacks" on the chorus.

But I think she's reasoned from this that "quack" is an appropriate lyric for any song. On Sunday morning she added "quack, quack" into whatever song was being sung. "Oh, victory in Jesus (quack quack), My Savior forever (quack, quack, quack)."

Friday, June 17, 2005

Counting the Cost

Ben's Mom has a great post on one of those weeks when one doesn't feel like doing it anymore. And one of the posters asks questions I also get from time to time from single people (and was asking myself a few years ago): Is it really worth it? Won't I regret my old life too much? Do the rewards really outweigh the pain?

But those sort of struggles don't come just from being a housewife. They're the struggles of being a Christian, or even just an adult. They belong to anyone who's ever started a business, written a book, begun a ministry, or done anything that requires trading in short-term pleasures for long-term gains. Sure, there are great pleasures that go along with the temporary struggles, but they're not what it's all about.

Long-term investments pay off better than short-term ones. High-risk investments get greater returns (if they work out) than low-risk ones. The most valuable thing in the world is the souls of people. Is it any wonder that investing in them is a difficult, risky, and often painful business? Is it any wonder that you often have to wait a long, long time before you see the payoff?

There are plenty of short-term rewards of course. Often the short-term rewards of marriage and family are well worth it even here and now. Then again, is the delight of a child’s first discoveries and the pleasure of having someone to curl up with at night worth the pain of being sleep-deprived, five months pregnant, and spending eleven hours alone with a teething toddler? Um . . . sure. Thank you for not asking me that on Tuesday.

What I do this week isn’t about me, and it isn’t about this week. It’s about five years from now when we see our children growing in understanding and character. It’s about fifty years from now when we see the life choices our grandchildren make. It’s about five hundred years from now when we see our great-great-grandchildren standing before the throne of God.

It’s not going to be as fun as living for now and living for yourself. It’s good to count the cost before you start to build the tower. But when you look at the bill, don’t forget that it’s a tower you’re building, not a sand castle. A tower in an eternal city.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Totally Random

On Whales: Did you know male sperm whales live near the poles while female sperm whales live near the equator? I guess that does away with toilet-seat arguments. Also, baby blue whales are the size of an elephant when born. Of course, their mamas are the size of a 737 so it's not too bad. Mother elephant seals do not eat at all while nursing their babies (for about a month). So they really do lose weight from breast feeding.

On Fathers: This is an interesting article on the effects of parental church attendance on their children. In brief, when mothers attend but fathers stay home, 2% of the kids wind up attending church as adults. When both parents attend, 33% grow up to attend church. But when only the father attends, 44% of the children grow up to attend church.

The article, while making the obvious point that the father's leadership is by far the most important, doesn't speculate on why the solo fathers have the best record. But I like to speculate. My guess is, the category of both parents attending includes a fair number of men dragged to church more or less against their will. The surveyors have no way of measuring this, but the children know. And I bet if they could divide them out, fathers hauled to church by mom would no more encourage their children's future attendance than fathers reading the paper on Sunday morning. Whereas where both parents were willing attenders, the percent of future church attenders would probably top 50%.

Mouth-Eye Coordination

Until one spends several hours a day watching a baby, one never realizes just how much there is to learn in the world.

In the last month, D1 has progressed to the point where she can feed herself, with occasional help to shovel the food out of her bib and back into the bowl. At the beginning of this process, like all babies, she relied more on her mouth than on her eyes. She knew the spoon had to go into her mouth, so she would stick it in. If it didn't have food on it, well, take it out, rub it in the bowl again, and have another go at it.

But now she can look at the spoon and realize whether it has food on it or not. If the food falls off, she patiently chases it around the bowl until the spoon is fully loaded.

Then she turns it sideways on the way up to her mouth and half of it falls off. Apparently she hasn't developed an eye for quantity yet, nor for which way around the spoon should go.

Yesterday I tried to find her some shot glasses, because the sippy cup is not working for us. I could only find two varieties. One had a flared rim, which while it may not be a problem while inebriated, probably would be unduly difficult when one is learning to drink for the first time. The others were covered with ads for hard liquor, which didn't seem to strike quite the right note either. So I will keep looking.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Toddler Shower: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Last Sunday I was caught off guard by as inquiry as to when I was to have a baby shower for the new baby. Not only was I raised to understand that the recipient was to have nothing to do with applying for gifts (nor was their family, but all the showers lately seem to be thrown by family members, so I guess that rule has expired), I couldn't imagine what on earth anyone would give me at a baby shower that I needed. D1 was not particularly destructive on things as a newborn, and nobody gives you any clothes bigger than 3-6 months.

Then it occurred to me that what I really could use was a toddler shower. I really do need a stool for the bathroom, a child-sized table and chair (wooden, please, NOT Little Tikes), and it wouldn't hurt to have some new clothes, as hand-me-downs are starting to get slimmer pickings now that their former wearers were big enough to feed themselves and play in the mud. But it seems rather unfair to give D1 two showers and none for D2, I suppose.

DOB suggested that a double stroller could do for both, but I'm not sure a double stroller would work in our neighborhood. It only has sidewalks every so often and they terminate in very inaccessible ways, so I spend a lot of time dragging the stroller over curbs and grass. I'm not sure that's doable with a double stroller. (Then again, it may not be any easier with a single stroller and a baby in a front pack.)

Anyway, I'll probably successfully avoid all such dilemmas by following the rules of etiquette and refusing to get involved.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Choosing Books

Our local library had an extra book sale this year on Saturday, so of course we went. DOB went through the history and biography section and indulged in a few Louis L'Amours, while I went through children's fiction and D1 sat on the floor checking out a shiny book about racecars.

The main trouble with the library book sale is paring down the selection. In ordinary purchases, cost alone is a sufficient factor to keep our library from growing too exponentially (although it currently has outgrown not only the bookshelves but also the closet). But at $.25 a book, that's not enough. I can pass up the 73 copies of the Babysitter's Club well enough, along with Bert and Ernie Learn Numbers, but choosing which among the ones I might actually want my children to read are worth having around the house is a more difficult matter.

There are certain fiction authors I know by long experience are hard to find and worth picking up whenever you find them. I also figure it's worthwhile to make sure we have on hand paperback copies of classics I think they might actually want to read for fun, like Huckleberry Finn, even if we already have a bound edition. If I don't think a book looks likely to deserve a second read-through, I don't need to own a copy.

Non-fiction is even tougher. Who knows whether this very cool book on whales will ever appeal to any of them? And chances are there will be plenty of books on whales available at the library if any of them ever does get interested in whales. So I tried to limit myself to ones that had beautiful illustrations and that introduced a more general subject--like the desert, say, versus lizards. (But I did get the whale book.)

How do you all choose what books are worthy of owning and which should just be borrowed?

More than you ever wanted to know

I found a file on how to remove strawberry stains. And every other stain under the sun. It contains a complete list of all solvents one might use to remove stains, plus a list of stain removal methods by category. First you look up your particular stain and find out what category it falls into (berries are a "Tannin and Glucose" stain), then you consult the procedures for that category, then you go back to the solvent list to find out how to mix the appropriate solvent. By this time you've already jettisoned the "deal with stains promptly" advice.

And they think homemaking is a brainless job.

Actually, the stains still came out pretty much as usual. Some came out by magic. Some came out by bleach. And some still haven't come out yet.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Picking Strawberries

June exists primarily to produce strawberries. Last June, unfortunately, I didn't have the nerve or spare energy to go in search of real strawberries. This June D1 and I set out to change that. Not that we had to look very far, as some friends of ours live on a strawberry farm just outside of town.

The pricing at the field was confusing: you could buy them already picked for $3.50/quart, or you could pick your own for $1.50/lb. I went on the assumption that they must be paying the pickers something and decided to see how long D1 would cooperate with me picking my own.

Naturally preferring to be outside, D1 was perfectly happy to sit in the row and watch me pick. Contentment turned to ecstasy when she discovered the red things in the bushes were tasty and mushable. I considered briefly whether I should forbid them to her, as I had not yet decided she was old enough to start strawberries, but then I considered that I could either spend the next half-hour teaching her not to eat strawberries, or I could spend it picking strawberries, and decided it was time to start on a new food.

We made it up to five pounds of berries before I decided she'd had enough sun and strawberries, though she was not yet berry-colored anywhere but her clothes. Trust a first-time mother to put a child in the cute "Little Farmer" overalls to go picking berries instead of in something that's already stained. Anybody know how to get berry juice out?

The berries are good. Much more berryish than the ones in the supermarket ($1.50/pt.). Not as sweet as those exquisite tiny ones we grew in our garden when I was younger, but nothing ever is.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The depths of mercy

DOB and I were discussing a horrible local news story, about a man taken to jail for abuse of his seven-week-old daughter. We couldn't imagine how anyone could do the things he did.

"And just think," DOB said, "God can forgive that sin as easily as He can forgive any other."


I have a deep-seated abhorrence for self-help books. This article on bad work habits is a perfect example. It lists several problematic behaviors with a "cure" for each one. But what's the cure? Just stop doing that!

Cluttered desk? Get organized! Procrastinator? Prioritize and meet deadlines! Duh. People with cluttered desks know they should be more organized; it's really not helpful to beat them over the head with it. And even if you tell them how, they don't have the habits of life that are conducive to keeping things organized, so it wouldn't do much good.

I think self-help materials are of two types: people who are already perfect at something browbeating everybody else for not being likewise; and people who have figured out their own particular quirks explaining how everyone else should do the same. The first category is just depressing. If I ever found a book by someone with my particular quirks, it might help, but I'd rather spend my time trying things out for myself than getting depressed by other people's success stories that wouldn't apply to me.

And I am starting to have a bit more energy and get some organization done. So far I've organized half the dining room and half the bedroom, and they've stayed clean. This is progress. Very slow progress, but progress.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Cutest thing on the planet, and don't I know it.

Please, no autographs.

Even pictures, too

Yes, now there are pictures, thanks to Jeremy. (I don't think I've taken a picture in almost two months.) Exceedingly large amounts of cuteness available here.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

We do dishes

A D1 post must be very overdue, at least according to certain relations, I'm sure. Truth is, she's changing so fast I can't pick out few enough things to blog about. In the space of a month, she learned to sit up, crawl, pull herself up, and cruise. She can say about half a dozen words that I can make out--her favorite being "all done!" which she now believes will cause a termination of whatever activity she is getting tired of, including a two-hour car ride. She is learning to feed herself with a spoon, a skill which was progressing quite well until her ability to scoop the food up overran her ability to keep it on the spoon. She is convinced that if she can find her hat she will get to go outside.

Next to going outside, though, her favorite new activity is doing the dishes. This started from, I confess, the basest of parental motives--I wanted to keep her quiet so I could finish the job. But it's working very well. She has figured out that the activity involves transferring dishes from the counter into the sink, so she sets herself to this task while I wash and load the dishwasher. Naturally I have to make sure that only lightweight, non-breakable dishes are within reach. We are also learning that one does not put any stray food items one finds in the dirty dishes into one's mouth.

I'm not so naive to assume that she will always come racing from her play giggling with glee when I announce it's time to do the dishes, but I do have hopes that she'll view it as a normal and not-unpleasant part of life. In the meantime, I enjoy doing the dishes a lot more with company. And I'm a lot more consistent in doing them right after the meal since I know she'll be disappointed if I don't.

If our minds are so systemized, why can't we keep track of the bank papers?

So some fellow researching brains divides the human brain into two components, the Empathizing Quotient (EQ)--ability to understand and relate to other people--and the Systemizing Quotient (SQ)--ability to understand and analyze systems--and observes that on average women score higher on EQ and men score higher on SQ. He has a test you can take to find your score and the type of brain you have.

DOB and I both score average on EQ for our sex, and above average on SQ, which makes DOB's brain very "male" according to the chart and my brain balanced (so take that, all you who have thought I was mentally unbalanced). We both scored high on SQ for opposite reasons, though, with DOB's score due to his intuitive understanding of things like maps and insistence on knowing the technical specifications of everything he buys, while mine was due to wanting to know what everything is called and how it works. Neither skill seems to be helping us in keeping the desk organized.

The research ultimately relates to autism, though, with the theory being that autism-spectrum disorders are characterized by a high SQ with a lack of EQ. The researcher notes that there should be a corollary disorder of someone with a high EQ but lack of SQ, but says there is no clinical term for such a condition.

Well, they may not know what to call it in the UK, or in clinics, but out here, we call it blonde.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Hmmm . . .

Happened to click on a random link off someone's bloglist today and discovered . . . another Duke! Not only that, but he is a (a) Protestant Christian; (b) Conservative Republican; (c) Lives in the Cincinnati area; and (d) is endorsing the same candidate among the four or five running for a hotly contested Congressional seat as DOB is.

Have I stumbled across DOB's alter ego or something? The one that actually has time to comment on politics?

The only thing is, this guy has been married for five years, not almost-two. And the evidence is pretty strong that DOB couldn't have been maintaining another wife for that long. (Or if he was, she must be exceedingly patient and unsuspicious.) So it must just be an uncanny coincidence.

Here I Stand

Because my feet are on little plastic posts. The life of Luther in Lego. Includes throwing inkwell at devil.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A follow-up

I have told DOB in the past that I do not recall ever personally being spanked. DOB mentioned this to my younger brother, Toolboy, when we were visiting my family last month.

Toolboy rolled his eyes. "Oh, I remember you being spanked. Mostly for beating up on me."

Hmmm. Notwithstanding Jeremy's analysis, I don't know that these spankings did much to convince me of the evils of violence. (Nor, as far as I can tell, did they do much to reinforce it.) What caused my violent side to gradually decline was discovering far greater talents of moral persuasion and argument. What put a stop to it altogether was when Toolboy grew eight inches taller than me and doubled my body weight.

I'm not sure what the moral of that is.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Teaching about violence

The vast majority of arguments I have heard against spanking boil down to one thing: if you use force against children, they will learn to be violent.

But the last time I checked, false imprisonment and taking of property were considered violent acts just as much as battery was. So is medical treatment to which one does not personally consent. I suppose the subconscious thought is that children can hit their parents, but they can't forcibly restrain or vaccinate them. But surely if receiving violence will build a violent temperament, it does not matter whether the child has the immediate power to act in precisely the same way as the violence he observes.

Unless you are willing to forgo all forms of discipline, which are by nature coercive, as well as all medical treatment and perhaps even locks on the doors, until your child willingly consents to them, I don't see how you can raise a child without resorting to force in some degree. And if that is so, then it becomes clear that there is no particular reason to arbitrarily cut out one of many forms of force, but more difficultly a matter of figuring out which forms and degrees of force are appropriate under which circumstance for which child.

The whole violence-is-evil argument might make more sense if I really believed violence was always evil. But I don't. A soldier in a just war; a peace officer enforcing just laws; people acting in defense of self or others against unjustified violence--all of these are properly entitled to use force within certain limits. If what I want my children to learn, instead of that violence is evil, is that force is something to be very carefully used under very limited circumstances by people with the proper authority, then there is no reason why they should not see that modeled in my treatment of them.