About adrianablake

I'm a 40-something Christian, writer, multimedia artist, & former wheelchair occupant. A mom to two kids and one doggie. My life is busy, full, and quite blessed.

Running Horses

running horses, wild ideas, running amok

 “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Anita asked her seven year-old daughter.  

       Without a moment’s hesitation, I answered,

            “An author.  I want to be an author.” 

        “That’s a great goal.  You’d be very good at that.  I’ve seen your schoolwork and you already write well, spell like a champ, and you have quite an imagination,” Anita encouraged.

        I grabbed the yellow and brown crayons, and turned to illustrate my story about zoo animals.  Busily coloring in the giraffe, I smiled.  Mom believes I can do it.  All seemed right with the world, for the moment anyhow.

        “Why do grown-ups always ask kids what they want to be when they’re adults?” I wondered.  What’s the matter with asking what we want to be right now?  For me, the answer wouldn’t be any different today than another year far off in the future. 

        For me, books were an ever-changing landscape of wild adventures, offering endless challenges to think about, and feel.  I easily was lost in whatever I read or wrote. 

writing, girl, child, classroom, creative

        Mrs. Hillygus, my second-grade teacher, often gave our class dittoes with story prompts and little pictures at the top.  Her students were to continue the stories across the lined pages.  Within a minute or two after reading the prompt, my pencil rapidly ran amok.  It failed to stop at the bottom of the page, or on the back of it.  My story ran down the fronts and backs of at least three more pages. 

        If Mrs. Hillygus hadn’t stopped the writing activity then, likely my imagination would’ve continued twenty pages.  I looked around at my classmates and their papers.   No one else had stapled additional pages to their stories.  Some kids didn’t even make it to the bottom of the ditto.   I was secretly proud of my writing, and felt well on my way to becoming an author.

        The next afternoon, Mrs. Hillygus passed their graded stories back to her students.  Mine had a large red A+ in the top right corner.  Wait, there’s a note too!  Could this get any better? 

        I read my teacher’s note slowly to relish the compliments sure to come my way.  My heart fluttered excitedly.  The note said:

        “Very imaginative story!  You use your new vocabulary words so well, and your spelling and grammar is quite good too.  Please try to keep your stories to a page or two.  There are thirty other kids in this class, and I have to grade all these papers.  Yours takes three times as long as anyone else’s.”

        My heart sank as low as it had been high at the beginning of the note.  I leaned over, pretending to look hard inside my desk for some missing item, and stifled a sob.  A few tears chased each other down flushed cheeks in a race to drop off my chin first.

        I wanted so much to do whatever would please Mrs. Hillygus, but I had a herd of wild horses running inside my head.  Trying to stop these ideas from being free would be like attempting to hold the horses back with a strand of dental floss. 

        The next time a ditto with a story prompt landed on my desk, I tried to curtail the horses, but all I had on hand was a minty strand of floss.  It was out of my hands.  The horses dashed toward freedom as if their very lives depended on it.  I wasn’t big enough or old enough to restrain them.   Mrs. Hillygus didn’t write me any more notes, but she rolled her eyes in tired resignation when my stapled stack of a story reached her hands.  

      Eugenia Hillygus didn’t know what forces pushed so many words out of her pupil, or that these stories were amongst few times of sheer joy in my life.  Perhaps she didn’t continue trying to restrain my muses because she’d seen tears well up in my eyes after her note.  Or, maybe she recognized the talent and didn’t want to suppress the precocious voice and imagination.  Either way, I happily continued writing unabated, without notes that made my cheeks burn with salty tears.  Though I liked to see the red A’s and A+s on the top right of my paper, I missed the encouraging parts of that first note.

      On my frequent walks to the library,  I always stopped to pet the white equine on the corner of Rock and Oddie Boulevards.  I scooped handfuls of fallen hay and grass and invited the lone horse to nibble from my open palms.  The mare’s lips tickled my hands as it finished off the snack.  When I remembered, I brought the horse a left-over carrot or apple to munch.  This stop was as delightful as perusing the stacks of books in the library.  

equine, horse, pasture, standing     I imagined being astride this horse, riding her out of the small pasture and into my neighborhood, the envy of my friends and a few bullies.  All would certainly pause and look at me.  I’d have to settle for stroking the mare’s nose, in between its snorts of pleasure.  When the horse chewed the hay I offered, I saw green around the tops of the long front teeth.  “You really could use some floss, old girl!”

     Once in front of the children’s section, I selected as many books as I could carry the four long blocks home.  My interests were so varied it wasn’t difficult to find books that piqued my insatiable curiosity.  I set the growing pile on the low table next to me, to see if there wasn’t another one or two books I had to get.  Without fail I read them all every time, and these book marathons were like private parties.  I snuck flashlights under my sheets to read after my parents turned off the lights. 

     Standing in front of the shelves of books spanning the entire northern window, I slipped into a daydream.  The clock ticked toward dinner time without my noticing.  All the books on the shelf nearest my eyes bore my name on their spines.  I couldn’t quite see the titles, but my name was clear.  One day, I would achieve this.  The librarian stood behind me, startled me when she spoke.

     “Can I help you, young lady?” the tiny woman asked.

     “Thank you,” I said, remembering the manners that had been drilled into her.

     “I have enough, I guess.  I better get home for dinner.  I’ll be doing good to get all these home.” 

girl, reading, books, stack

     “I’m Agnes Risley, the head librarian,” the kindly woman said.  “You let me know whenever I can help you.”
“Agnes Risley?  That’s the name on my school.  Wow! You must be really something to get a school named after you!” I enthusiastically exclaimed.

     “I don’t know about that, but I’ve lived in this town for a very long time, and been working at this library since it opened for the first time.” Mrs. Risley replied, humbly.

     “I’ve seen you come in here week after week, and you always get a lot of books.  I notice that you return them on time too.  Nothing warms a teacher or librarian’s heart like a child who loves books.” 

     “I’d read all day and all night if my mother let me,” I added. 

     “What do you want to be when you grow up?” the diminutive librarian asked.

      “I’m going to be an author and fill these shelves up with books that have my name on them!”  

      “I’m sure you will, young lady.  I’m sure you will.  With your love of reading, and attending such a fine school, you’re bound to reach your goal.” 

     Glancing at the clock, I decided to leave quickly, or risk being late for dinner. 

      “I better go!  I’ll see you next time Mrs. Risley.  It was so nice to meet you.”  I grabbed the unwieldy stack of slippery books and checked out. 

     “Good-bye young lady.  Happy reading!” Agnes softly called to the girl in her strongest library voice.

      Trudging home with books piled to my chin, I basked in the glow of another adult thinking I can become an author.  This one is a librarian.  If anyone knows what it takes to be an author, it had to be the head keeper of the magical pages!  I looked forward to my reading marathon.  Mom can’t fault me for picking entertainment that was educational, free, and doesn’t require her supervision.  She knew her daddy would like the “free” part even better.

     I arrived home in time for dinner, a hair’s breadth away from certain trouble.  My arms and shoulders ached from the weight of the books, but regretted nothing.  After dinner, I’d curl up with them, and wall out everything else.  My private party awaited.

girl, reading, enjoyment

     “You really ought to do something else besides reading all the time,” Anita chided, seeing her elder daughter’s nose behind a book yet again. 

     “What do you want to be when you grow up?” my mother asked for the second time in as many days.  Perhaps this question was spurred by my book loving ways, or she didn’t remember asking me such a short time ago. 

     “I’m going to be an author, and fill the shelves up with books that have my name on them,” I asserted. 

     “What makes you think you can do that?  You’re living in a fantasy world if you think you’ll ever achieve that!  It is just a silly pipe dream,” my mother said, walking away.   She went to the back of the house to retrieve the laundry from the dryer.  Anita didn’t hear the retort of her fearfully quiet but doggedly determined daughter.

     “I will too be an author.  Just you wait and see.  I’ll do just to spite you.”  My steely resolve didn’t deter the tear that was escaping, burning hot with humiliation.  Again.  Next time she asks this question, I hoped to remember not to answer.  It was a trick.  The lump in my throat hardened and widened. 

     I did grow up and become an author, forty-one years later.  I didn’t do it to spite my mother.  I had to set those running horses inside my mind, free.  I tame those horses when I enter writing contests with word count restrictions, and for most of my blogs.  I like to watch which direction my horses head, and their motions along the way.  They don’t like being harnessed.  While I’m not prolific yet, I’m on my way astride a tall equine, galloping away from the limited, barren pasture where I began her journey.

freedom, creativity, woman, horse, sunset

In memory of a sweet little librarian who knew how to encourage a young child in a significant way.  See you in heaven, Agnes Risley!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

 

 

       

       

 

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All I’m Grateful For……..

thanksgiving, snoopy, peanuts

There’s a wealth of things I’m grateful for, particularly this year.  I mentioned some of them in my last post on gratitude, but now I’d like to cover others, though there may be a little overlap.  For instance, today, I did my longest walk ever, since getting out of the wheelchair.  I did a 5 mile fundraiser.  I am so grateful to be able to do these!

I’m just going to list here the rest of the things I’m grateful for, and I’ll do this periodically through the year.  Being grateful is a daily thing for me.  Admittedly, I have days when I find it challenging to feel that way.  At this point in my life though, my grateful days far outnumber those less so.  Here’s what I’m feeling thankful for today:

  • God—for without Him, my ship would be sunk.
  • Fall leaves in their brilliant colors, dancing around in the air.   fall leaves, splendor, color, trees
  • Stormy afternoons watching the elements change the sky in exciting displays.
  • Hot flavorful teas warming me to my core.
  • Memories of raking leaves, running, and jumping in them with reckless abandon.
  •  Thanksgiving traditions—having relatives and friends over; remembering helping to cook the feast, and running in to watch the Macy’s parade in between tasks; and putting olives on each of our fingers, and eating them off one at a time.

hunger, nourishment, freedom, gratitude

  • That I know how fortunate I am to have the funds to put turkey and all the trimmings on my table, and the ability to cook it all myself; and how blessed I am that I can feed myself every day of the year and help others.
  • That I have a sister, special cousins, and an aunt who are squarely in my corner, and who love me!
  • Having a husband-type and a beloved dog to share my home and my holidays, giving me laughs on a daily basis, love me and get love from me.
  • The gift of many wonderful friends online and off!
  • My renewed health.
  • Getting into a size 14 for the first time since high school!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Learning a ton of new things in social media to help me market my book.
  • Being alive!
  • Music to make my heart sing.
  • Getting off pain meds for the first time in close to a decade, completely.
  • A brighter future.
  • The presidential win!
  • My friend Mary’s remission from cancer continues.
  • Incredible therapists who helped me get well for a long time, one of whom did so for a decade without pay!  She’s my angel, though now I have more than one of these I dub “earth angels.”

I’m sure if I sit here long enough, I can make this list so much longer, but I figure you all get the point.  I encourage you to make your own list of what you’re grateful for, help your kids make their lists, and read all of these at your Thanksgiving feast.  These lists will not only help you and your family feel connected to all their blessings, when they hear what you’re grateful for, they will feel closer to you as a person too, and know you more fully.  Have a fabulous day of thanks!  Refer to your list any day you find difficult, and it will likely put things in perspective.

Gratefully yours!

Adriana

author, regular gal, portland, saturday market

A host of new books to peruse!

Note:  Ordinarily, I won’t promote the books of celebrities, as they have the power to market their own, and don’t need my help.  However, this time I’m reviewing two, deciding it is more important to put the messages of these particular books before you, so you can share them with your children.

The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric

Couric shares in this book, an extremely important message about children lending compassion and kindness to other kids who are singled out for their differences and bullied.  It is a great launch for parent-child discussions, building empathy, and constructing bridges instead of walls with others.  There is an amusing rhyme scheme that children love!  Who hasn’t experienced the anxiety of being new to an environment, and seen other people being criticized or left out because they were somehow different from the rest of the group?  The illustrations by Marjorie Priceman are fun, quirky, and cute!  I’d love to see this basic story adapted to middle and high schoolers, where acceptance and empathy are so intensely needed.

dreaming, achieving, becoming, feelingDream Big Little Pig by Kristi Yamaguchi

This is a delightful book that encourages children to dream about what they want to do with their lives.  Most children dream of becoming something important.  Poppy the pig is no exception.  In this book, she dreams of being a big star, and tries out singing, dancing, and modeling.  Her family loves and supports her unconditionally through these different endeavors.  Those in charge of her activities though, discourage her from these pursuits.  Poppy persists though, until she finds success in something she loves.  When she finds her activity, Poppy fails at first.  Then she practices diligently, develops her skills, and succeeds.   I think it is so important to show kids that dreams, as great as they are, don’t just happen magically, even when they have gifts or talents.  Everything worth having is worth working towards.  A must-read with wonderful illustrations by Tim Bowers.

naughtiness, obedience, dogs, burglars, foiled plansPinkerton, Behave! by Steven Kellogg

I enjoyed this book, being a dog lover!  I have a cocker spaniel who is sometimes inclined toward naughtiness.  She chases cats off her property at every opportunity, and dashes across the street in hot pursuit without watching for cars. She worries me so when she does that!  Everyone who’s had a pet can relate to this story. Pinkerton makes a habit of doing the opposite thing his family wants him to do.  He even flunked out of obedience school!  However, his oppositional ways really come in handy when an intruder dares to break in the family’s home.  The illustrations are great, and portray this loveable mutt as he is–big, sloppy, friendly, and a bit of a nuisance, but a loved one!.  There was a real Pinkerton.  This is a book from the way back machine—1979!  Some of you may remember Pinkerton from your own childhoods.

cycle of life, butterflies, returning, love, gentlenessButterfly House by Eve Bunting

A lovely story with fabulous illustrations by Greg Shed, printed from paintings.  A young girl saves a larva and her grandfather helps her raise it, and keep it safe through its metamorphosis, until the beautiful butterfly is freed.  Then she gets a gift she never imagined.  I’m not going to spoil the surprise!  It is perhaps a metaphor for good karma.  The end of the book also shows kids how to raise a larva.  Any book that inspires gentleness in anyone is wonderful in my book!

        Weird Parents by Audrey Wood

An interesting read!  A boy wishes his parents weren’t so weird.  He feels embarrassed by them clowning around, but doesn’t realize other people enjoy the fun they create.  Then he wishes all parents were this weird, but realizes it isn’t possible, as this would make the weirdness common, and therefore, no longer weird.  This book is unique—the lead character is simply referred to as “a boy” or “my son.”  He hasn’t a proper name.  I’m guessing this was done to keep his story more universal to readers.  Naming him would make it a story about “Jimmy” or “Peter” and his weird parents.   Not naming him lets it be about anyone.  Feeling one’s parents are weird is not extraordinary.  Probably every kid feels that way at some point.  The illustrations are oddly fun.  This boy realizes he enjoys aspects of their weirdness, and loves and accepts his parents as they are.

orphans, wolves, rearing, detectives, mysteryThe Wolf Girls by Jane Yolen and Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple

This was an intriguing book, aimed at the 6 and up crowd.  It is written from the perspective of a young girl who is trying to solve a mystery from the 1920’s in India.  Her father is a detective.  The illustrations are quite nicely done by Roger Roth.  Two tiny girls are brought to an orphanage in India.  The girls are thought to have been raised by wolves.  They walk on all fours, and have other wolf type characteristics.  Though the missionary man who takes the girls in to his orphanage seems to have good intentions, he does exploit them for profit.  There is a wealth of new vocabulary words to learn. These words are well-explained.  The harm of gossip is portrayed, and ethical problems are brought up, but not expounded on.  The issues may provide a good discussion with kids.

My only qualm with this book is that it introduces topics I think are too emotionally loaded for kids who are under 9 or 10 years old.  There is enough tragedy and hard things that go on in the world, and the media blasts these across televisions on a daily basis.  I find myself wanting to protect children from these things as long as possible. Kids today have enough to contend with in our world.  Additonally, children being raised by wolves, isn’t a necessary evil to require a cautionary tale.  Your kids aren’t going to run up against children with this problem in their schools, on playdates, or anywhere else.  The only value I can see in subjecting younger children to this story, is to evoke empathy in them towards others who have been greatly disadvantaged.  It is a painful story that is quite tragic.

Stay tuned!  More book reviews coming very soon!  The next group are all artistically inclined…………….

Gratefully!

As soon as November begins, I find myself automatically thinking about Thanksgiving, and gratitude.  However, I think of gratitude on more days than not, across the span of the year.  I have so much to be thankful for, and now more than ever!

This last year has been an incredible one for me!  I was in a wheelchair for 17 years, and over the course of the past sixteen months, I’ve gone from a sitting position, to swimming, riding a bike, and in the last three months, competing in 5k walks!  It is nothing short of miraculous!  I did my 2nd 5k walk yesterday.  In two weeks, I’m ratcheting this up to a 10k! disability, recovery, movement, mobility

Also, in 2011, I had gastric bypass surgery (weight loss), and have lost a stunning 134 pounds!  This put my diabetes in remission, got me from 8 medications down to 1, and eliminated my sleep apnea!  I’m in awe of my new mobility, and love to exercise it, and me!

What does my story have to do with parenting?  Well, it is about gratitude.  I know every single day, how blessed I am to be out of the wheelchair and healthy.  I know what a tremendous gift this is!  For me, it is my relationship with God that ultimately healed my spirit, and then my body.

What are you grateful for?  Do you share your appreciation of life with your children?  How better to inspire them to be grateful, than to express your gratitude with them, regularly?  Doing so, you model gratitude for your kids.  It is a habit you can practice, and they will likely imitate you.

talking, sharing, gratitudeGratitude does not require everything in your life to be going well either. It is about selecting the parts of your struggles that you are happy aren’t worse, and recognizing pieces that are improving with time.  Doing this will inevitably help your own emotional well-being too, and show your kids how to dissect a difficulty to find the positive in it. This helps everyone be more resilient when hard things happen in your lives.

Appreciative words can be said in whispers and coos to babies; shared in moments with toddlers; talked about with pre-schoolers (like having a daily ritual of sharing the best parts of the day); and can get more complex with older children.  With little ones, it can be as easy as asking what they liked best about the day.  This is a great time to share how their being in your life enriches you, no matter how old your child is!  For instance, Benjamin Bear’s mother could say, “Benjamin, I just love your smile, and you make me smile every day, both with my mouth and my heart!”

bonding time, sharing, loving, appreciating child, appreciating life

With older kids, gratitude can begin evolving discussions about where these gifts and blessings come from, according to your own faith or belief system.  The shared nuggets of gratefulness can feed into all kinds of wonderful discussions, and even action, such as volunteering in the community.  Adapt the discussion or ritual to the age and comprehension of your child.

Sharing appreciation and gratitude for all you have, is helpful to your child in so many ways.  Here are some examples.  It helps them:

  1.  Focus on positive aspects of their lives.
  2. Connect to you in positive ways, and promotes bonding.
  3. Understand where you are coming from, intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally.  (even if they don’t understand these levels of being yet).
  4. Prepares them for a bigger spiritual life.
  5. Connect emotionally to the needs of others.
  6. Feel happier.
  7. Observe things in their world, and sample the worlds of others.
  8. Be more prosocial in their environments (school, church, communities).  Want to help more because they are realizing how fortunate they are, and seeing others don’t always have it as easy.
  9. Experience nature, seeing the beauty in creation, and knowing the best things in life are free (smiles, hugs, rainbows, etc.)
  10. Talking such things over, helps verbal expressions, and leads to higher levels of thinking.

Practicing gratitude, even keeping a journal of what you’re grateful for, not only helps you model it to your children, it helps you keep positive and feel more content and peaceful, even if you’re experiencing difficulties.

kids, volunteering, gratitude

The Sensory Experience of the Forest

When was the last time you took your children camping, particularly in the forest?  I bet many of you did this over the recent summer.  Have you ever thought of the forest in terms of a full-on sensory experience for your kids?  The forest ranks as my second favorite place to be on earth, topped only by the ocean.

There are so many things in forests to appreciate with all of your senses, and even the youngest children can take these in and enjoy them, even if they’re too young to verbalize what they are learning!  Let’s take them sense by sense, in a no non-sense kind of way!

children, experience, forests, visual

Visual:  Point out the vast expanse of skies, at any time of day.  What do they see?  If they’re too young to answer, they can learn by what you verbalize to them.  It is a good time for the youngest to learn the names of colors, whether they are the simple names or the colorful ones that might be found in crayon boxes.  If you have crayons along, you might ask your toddlers and pre-schoolers to pick out the colors that best match the sky at the moment.

For older children, the night sky can be a time to learn about astronomy.  If you don’t know much on the subject, pick up a kid’s book on it at the library, and see if your family can find the Big Dipper, or any other constellation.   During the day, pre-schoolers can look at clouds and imagine what their shapes look like.  There’s no wrong answer!  They will cherish this quality time you’re sharing with them, and who knows, it could foster a life-long love of nature, or even an occupation down the line.  Autumn is a wonderful season to spy brilliant colors.

autumn, fall, forest, visual

Hearing:  Crows, hawks, bluejays, all have varying calling cards.  Can your older kids guess from the sounds, which noise belongs to which bird?  What other noises might you hear in the forest?  The rustling of a deer stepping through the brush?  Frogs croaking in a creek?  In my area of forest, there are free-range cows and some horses, so we’re equally likely to hear mooing or whinnying.  It is a great opportunity for toddlers and pre-schoolers to identify animal sounds and match them to the animal who made them.  What about hearing a stream gurgling?  Can you all find it as a family?  A child in elementary school can learn the proper name for the noises she’s hearing, like whinnying, neighing, and lowing, and learn how to spell these terms.

Tactile:  This is the fancy word for touch.  What can your child touch in the forest, to get a fuller idea of the complexity of this environment?  How about the bark of different trees?  A crayon and paper can be rubbed gently over the bark, to see the differences in various trees.  An older baby can hold a pinecone, a pine needle, or a tuft of grass, while you tell them about it.  A pre-schooler or toddler can lay on their bellies on the grass, and feel its lushness, or wave their arms through a stream.  Older kids can rub their hands across different kinds of rocks, to determine which types are smooth, and which are rough.  If they have cameras of their own, they can take pictures of a range of different rocks, and compare them with a geology book later, to see what they’d found.

Smell:  The forests can be full of different smells that usually are pleasant to the olfactory sense.  Out here in Central Oregon, the juniper trees have a wonderful scent that is like sage but sweeter.  Pine can also have a pungent, great smell.  If there are free-ranging cows in your forest, don’t inhale too much!

Taste:  This one is tougher.  I don’t recommend drinking the water from streams, especially if cows are nearby!  There can be a host of micro-organisms or E-coli in there, that can make you sick.  This is particularly true with young children in tow, whose bodies aren’t ready to fight such things.  But hey, let’s leave the tasting to the delectable meals you can fix while camping or having picnics in the forest.  There’s nothing like the gooey deliciousness of roasted marshmallows.

You don’t have to wait for great weather to have these outings.  You can have autumn picnics!  Or, have a night drive out to see a lunar eclipse, or go star-gazing!  Of course, there’s little as magical as a snowy night in a forest!  Just make sure you have extra blankets, food, water, and chains!  Just in case!  That’s a whole other sensory experience! The coldness, the moon shining on the snow and making it look all sparkly, the pointiness of icicles….and so on!

magical, forest, sensory experiences, children

The Benefits and Costs of Kids and Electronics

There are so many electronic devices for kids in our modern world. What are the benefits and costs of children using them? How much should you allow your kids to engage electronically?

sesame street, electronics

Perhaps an equally important question is: What activities are your children passing up while they are hooked up to the two-dimensional world of the internet, video games, and the rest of the gamut of electronic devices out there?  Are there social opportunities, quality family times, or access to the outdoors, fresh air and exercise, that are missed because your child is mesmerized by the bells and whistles of their devices?

Socrates had a great idea!  Everything in moderation.  Setting time limits on your child’s engagement with their devices, appears to be the best way to strike a healthy balance.  This balance should reflect your child’s age and take into account the time she spends in various pursuits, left to her own devices!  If your daughter or son is entertaining friends, into sports, and has a full life with a number of interests, it is fine to allow more time with the computer, X-box, etc.  However, if you have to drag your child (symbolically, of course) away from the gadgets, a shorter span of time allotted for the electronics is in order.  Instead of having a power struggle with your child about this, set firm time limits on the devices, and stick  to them.  Then, when your kid is widening her world with other activities, it is okay to reward her with small amounts of extra time on her favorite device, or play with her!

girl, cell phone

There are definite advantages to most electronics.  For instance, the Leap Pad is full of learning games, reading, and math options, and will very likely give a child a huge boost on their school work.  (No, I’m not a paid spokesman for the product!)  Video games accelerate hand-eye coordination, mental acuity, and can lengthen attention spans.  Cell phones are potential life-savers if a child is in a dangerous position and needs help.  Having a few devices is also a boon to your child’s social development.  Other kids are likely to have at least one electronic gadget, and if your child doesn’t have any, there’s one less bridge between them.  Video games, cell phones, and other electronics provide a shared activity for kids.  There’s only a problem when kids are too focused on the gadgets, or their plugged-in pursuits include violent or adult themes.

The internet (with appropriate filters) can help with academic work, and expose your child to an enormous amount of information that will expand your child’s intellectual world a thousand-fold, and give your child a cultural passport to anywhere in the planet, or to the galaxies for that matter.

safeguards, kids, internet

Naturally, safeguards have to be put in place, to protect your children from  online predators.  For instance, having the computer in a common area, rather than your child’s bedroom is essential.  Checking the history on the computer, and lettting your child know that you will do this routinely, reduces temptations to meander into forbidden territories.  Teaching your kids what information is okay to share online, and what they should never say there, is crucial.  It is of utmost import though, that you also instruct them to NEVER arrange to meet anyone, without your express permission and accompaniment.  This can save their lives!  This is a topic that should be an ongoing dialogue rather than a one-time discussion.

In conclusion, electronic devices can add to our lives, and our children’s lives, but if they too often replace or make us miss real life and precious moments too often, then the gadgets can steal from us.  The devices are representative of a two-dimensional, and frequently smaller world than what can be experienced while we’re unplugged.  How are our habits with electronics either adding to our lives with our children, or taking from them and us?