Tuesday, April 21, 2009

From Dad

My father sent me this email on Monday, and, with his permission, I share it here, hopefully for a good laugh. If it offends you greatly, it's his fault...


If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura, Kate and Sarah.
If Mike, Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla and Four-eyes.
When the bill arrives, Mike, Dave and John will each throw in $20, even though it's only for $32..50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back.
When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.
A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.
A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need but it's on sale.
A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel .
The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify more than 20 of these items.
A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.
A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.
A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
A successful woman is one who can find such a man.
A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does.
A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the trash, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail.
A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.
Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
Women somehow deteriorate during the night.
Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams.
A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY A married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing!

(My favorite part is the one about kids--vaguely aware of short people in the house! I'm always tripping over them and wondering who left them lying around.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Couple of Baseball Pieces

Here are two things I've found online recently related to the national pastime. First, on Slate, a contest to describe the great game in 150 words or less. I'm busy working on my own piece, and hope to post it here soon. Feel free to write your own and add it as a comment.

Second, an article from ESPN's Rick Reilly (whom I typically disdain)on the Arizona Diamondbacks' scholarship program. It's a feel-good story about a big business doing something positive for the community. And while season tickets are not nearly as crucial as food and shelter, they sure trump a lot of other things. I'd take season tickets to a big-league team (or even the local 'Topes) over a second car, cell phone, cable TV, or faster Internet connection. As luxuries go, it makes the top of my list...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Free-Range: It's Not Just For Poultry

Here's an interesting blog that I found recently. Free-Range Kids, run by columnist and mother Lenore Skenazy, operates under the assumption that those of us who are parents today were raised with the freedom to explore the world unsupervised, and that many of our safety-obsessed parenting methods limit that freedom and, ultimately, hurt our kids and their ability to grow into confident, capable adults.

In some ways, this takes me back to my most recent entry here and the idea of stepping back from my micromanaging parenting. If I were to not only allow my children a bit of sloppiness, but also encourage them in exploring the world around them, would they become more savvy and able to negotiate the world?

Taking this farther and into my professional life, I wonder if a lot of the young students I see—the ones who make poor decisions in their personal and academic lives, the ones who are surrounded by “helicopter parents,” the ones with severely stunted interpersonal skills–are the result of the kind of parenting Skenazy denounces. And is her argument validated by college students and young adults who don't leave home, go to college, get jobs, get married, start families, etc.?

This could also apply to the phenomenon of the “boomerang kids,” those young adults who, having left home for college or to start a career, return to their parents' home after graduation or at some sort of personal crisis and move into their old bedrooms and routines. I don't know if this trend has become more pronounced during the current recession (during the housing boom it happened why a new grad couldn't afford a house), but I would not be surprised if this is becoming even more common.

(As an aside, I realize there are many situations in which living with your parents for a short period is the right thing to do, and that everyone's situation is different, but the sheer scope of this is what troubles me. My generation's general fear of commitment appears to extend to committing to being grown-up and making the sacrifices involved in moving out and moving on.)

Finally, I am interested in the spiritual implications of this theory. In my efforts to teach my children and keep them from making the big mistakes that can ruin their lives, do I too often get overzealous and limit their ability to learn from the smaller mistakes? It seems I’ve heard of the approach that would ensure that everyone only made good decisions and never messed up, and I think I remember that plan being a bit of a failure…But I distinctly remember making a lot of miscues and saying and doing a lot of stupid, foolish, and reckless things in my formative years, and I often learned more from those experiences than I did from the (few) times when I did things right.

And while I think there is some validity to the argument that the world in which our children live is more complicated and (at least potentially) more dangerous than the one in which we grew up, I wonder to what extent that is a creation of mass media and a culture of shock and scandal. The threats our children face are in many ways the same as always, and those risks that are more pronounced may in fact necessitate the kind of street smarts that Free-Range Kids believes can be fostered through a more independence-minded approach to parenting.