If you were a teacher or a principal of an elementary school facing an unruly student, when would you call in the police?
If an 8-year-old is staging a mega-temper tantrum, what would you do?
That is what school officials were confronted with at the LoveJoy Elementary School in Alton, Ill. when a child in their care began to act out and disrupt the rest of the class.
Eight-year-old Jmyha Rickmon, who is in a special behavior disorder class, threw a tantrum and reports say the girl was "out of control and tearing up two classrooms."
After officials called the Alton police, the girl was placed in handcuffs and taken to the police station and placed in a juvenile detention room to wait for her guardian to pick her up.
The girls’ uncle and guardian Nehemiah Keeton, who has cared for her since she was less than two-weeks-old, and also has two other daughters, arrived to pick up his niece two hours after being called. Keeton said, according to The Telegraph in Alton, Ill., that he had to leave his janitorial job in St. Louis – about 23 miles away – to pick her up.
By the time he arrived, "she had handcuffs on her wrists and legs. She asked to use the restroom several times but was denied. The police officer told her if she didn't stop kicking the seat of the car, he was not going to call me."
Alton school officials and police stand by their decision to place the 8-year-old in handcuffs and under arrest.
Jmyha stayed home from school on Wednesday, the day after the incident, because she was afraid. Keeton told The Telegraph, "I'm not sending her back. If she stays here, at least I know she will be safe. This is unacceptable; she woke up with nightmares." Keeton said he plans to file charges.
Kristie Baumgartner, assistant superintendent at the Alton School District, issued a statement about the incident Wednesday afternoon:
"I cannot comment on any specifics regarding the incident, as we protect the confidentiality of our students, and also will not comment of the Alton Police Department's involvement," her statement read. "In the extremely rare instance that a student demonstrates behaviors that are harmful to (the student) or others, our district procedure is to contact the parent immediately and require that they pick up their child after all school-based interventions have been provided.
"If a parent refuses, we then contact law enforcement for additional intervention, if needed," Baumgartner said. "Our first priority is the safety of students and staff, and this procedure is designed to protect everyone involved."
Keeton told KMOV.com in St. Louis that he had told school officials Tuesday that he was coming to pick up the girl, but said he thought school officials grew impatient and called the police. “I feel like if you can’t handle an 8-year-old without calling the police,” said Keeton, “to put fear in them like my child, you don’t need to work with kids.”
Jersey Shore reality star Snooki loses 42 pounds post-baby through a dedicated program at a $29.99 a month keep-it-real type Jersey gym, and this week she’s celebrated for her new body-image as a bikini-clad cover girl. What she should really be praised for on the covers of publications is choosing to heed her new parenting instincts by transforming herself from party girl to mommy-worthy example of healthy choices and hard work.
This week Snooki is on the cover of US Magazine, and explained her remarkable transformation by telling the Today Show, "When you have a baby, everything changes." It turns out this would be the first, but not the last time this week I find myself agreeing with someone nicknamed for what I always knew as a type of Floridian fish: snook.
I’m going to admit that as a former Jersey Shore girl myself, growing up just outside Asbury Park and later living on Long Beach Island, I was not a fan of the MTV’s old, pre-baby Jersey Shore reality series Nicole “Snooki” Pollizi and her endless summer, raunchy party style.
However, the new, improved fit, lower-drama mama Snooki got me to reevaluate my own lifestyle and how weight gain, poor eating habits, and lack of a fitness routine in my life is sending the wrong message to my kids.
I can’t believe I’m admitting this — I think I want to be more like Snooki, but without the tanning and hair color change. Her glossy, dark, straight hair was the thing I actually liked about the old Snooki.
According to John Cabiedes, manager of New Jersey’s Florham Park Fitness, where Snooki trains with personal coach Anthony Michael of Express Fitness service, “She’s changed completely and it was in only about two months after she started here.”
Cabiedes, who is also a new parent added, “I know where Snooki’s coming from with the lifestyle change too because I have a 4-month-old and I’ve never been so tired in my life! Also, I was a guy who thought nothing in life mattered and now, with a baby, you know everything matters. I see she knows that too.”
Snookie told the Today Show: "I mean I definitely partied for like three people my entire life. I feel like now, you know, I have a family, I have a baby now, and this is just like a new chapter in my life and I love it. I'm just so excited."
I hope the reality star’s change continues to hold through the upcoming “chapters” in her life. When it comes to fitness, I’ve found that with the first and even second baby, moms seem able to “get their body back.” Somehow, after four it seems much easier to get derailed, put you own body last, and set a bad example for your children.
Less than a year ago I was setting the right example, running, doing jiu-jitsu, and working out, until I got struck across both shins by a surfboard that got away from my husband as we were teaching our youngest the joys of wave riding. The board bruised the bones, causing complications that swept me off my feet and sank me deep into the couch potato and comfort food lifestyle.
Then the photos of Snooki and reports of how she’s taken the “GTL” philosophy, “Gym, Tan, Laundry,” to a new level, forcing me to reevaluate the level of effort I’m making to get my own reality show on the road. “GTL” was coined by Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino from MTV's Jersey Shore. An example sentence, via the Urban Dictionary: “You gotta GTL every day to make sure you're looking your best bro. If your shirt looks bad it makes the whole product look bad."
While nothing on this earth is ever going to make me want to be like Mike, I do feel motivated by Polizzi’s new situation. Today, thanks to a Snooki reality check, I am getting myself unplugged, going for my first run since June 2012, and I’m taking the kids with me.
According to published reports, Kate Middleton slipped up and nearly said the “D-word” – daughter, – when receiving a teddy bear from a fan at an appearance. If those perfect lips just sank the British ship of state’s most closely guarded secret, a new little princess means Middleton has the opportunity to change the world from gender-typed pink-think princess stereotypes to empowered regal ruler.
Apparently, when handed a teddy bear by a woman in Grimsby, England the Duchess of Cambridge said, “Oh thanks, I’ll save it for me daugh…baby.” To which the woman replied: “You were going to say daughter weren’t you?” The soon-to-be mom was mum from there on out, and now the palace isn’t telling either.
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As the mom of four boys who was told definitively that son No. 2 was going to be a daughter by an ultrasound technician, I’m not holding my breath. Also, I am so grateful for having boys it’s not even funny. Imagine the mega-princess trends that would result from a new royal girl.
If it is to be a princess, we had best brace for the onslaught of worldwide stereotyping getting a social bump for years to come. Every dress the child wears, each pair of shoes, hair style and accessory will become a coveted trend here, there and everywhere as moms of little girls bemoan the loss of any ground gained toward a gender-typing-free world.
Disney will have a field-day with this one if it’s a girl no matter what choices are made for the girl’s education. But I think that this could be the princess to end all princesses, an epic and transformative tale that plays out right before our eyes. She can wear the clothes and attend the traditional balls and still be the one to give princesses power to rule hearts and minds.
When a missing Massachusetts teen was found alive on Maine's Sugarloaf Mountain after going missing while skiing, we learned he did everything right to stay alive, including build a snow cave for survival, all of which he credited to knowledge gained by watching TV survival shows. The revelation can reassure parents that there actually is something valuable on television to engage teens’ critical thinking skills and yet motivate them to be outdoors.
Nicholas Joy, 17, was missing on Sugarloaf for nearly two days, but was found early Tuesday morning by a snowmobiler.
I spoke with Ethan Austin, Carabassett Valley Police’s communications director for Sugarloaf this morning, and he explained that the teen, who skied out of bounds off the Binder trail just after noon on Sunday, built a snow cave late that day when he realized he was lost, a skill he told his rescuers he learned from watching survival shows on TV.
“All credit goes to Nicholas for keeping his wits about him and keeping himself alive using skills from the survival shows he said he likes to watch,” Officer Austin said. “Although he would have done a lot better if he’d worn a hat, remained with a partner [his dad Robert] and kept his cell phone with him.”
As a mom I just about shouted “Amen!” when Austin mentioned the ancient battle of all moms v. son battles, “Wear a hat!”
Austin added that this is not the first time he’s heard that watching TV survival shows has played a major role in the rescue of a skier. “Being involved with the ski industry I keep up with this kind of situation and I have seen a number of times where someone who was found talked about having used tips they learned from a show to get them home safe.”
While some critics argue that watching television survival skill shows may give viewers over confidence of their actual skill levels, thus leading them into danger, I think that if you choose the shows well, and watch with your kids, what you get is motivation.
Our family lived aboard a sailboat with our first two children and moved to land thereafter as weekend warriors who sail, surf, hike, bike and kayak with chess for rainy days. Strike that, we do all the aforementioned in all conditions and have played chess in the rain. My husband organizes a winter Laser sailboat Frostbite Series on Sundays for the community. My sons and I take turns as the race committee year-round, floating on the Elizabeth River in all kinds of conditions.
Yet despite all that, teens will be teens and mine still love long couch potato sessions with Gameboys or TV, sometimes simultaneously. So the boys and I struck a compromise and all four of my sons, ages 9, 14, 17, and 19 and I became devotees of survival shows.
Note: I am not talking about the show "Survivor"which is more about surviving at the expense of others and how it can bring out the worst in people than learning useful skills. For that we turn to The Discovery Channel which actually has a survival site complete with tool, tips, and videos to supplement what they learn on the programs.
We started with Edward Michael "Bear" Grylls, the British adventurer who has a show wherein he’s literally dropped, via plane, boat or chopper with nothing other than the clothes and perhaps parachute on his back.
Watching “Bear” led to other survival shows, with the current favorite of my teen sons being "Dual Survival," also on The Discovery Channel. On this program, people must work together in pairs, often with opposing methods in order to make it through the wild.
Perhaps, given Austin’s reminder to ski with a partner, "Dual Survival" is the better show for them to watch. “Having a partner in a survival situation can make a big difference because you have someone there to check your judgment.” I will add to that by saying that is doubly true if your partner is also your parent.
If surveys are correct, there may be 160,000 American kids avoiding school right now in an effort to dodge bullying. It’s a figure I came across as I contemplated the national news reports of a Pennsylvania boy’s death from alleged bullying and a Florida high school student suspended for allegedly disarming a student gunman. The bottom line is that we may have to cope with some heroes and innocents becoming ensnared in the finer net we must now cast over our schools in order to keep kids safe. As parents we’re caught between safety and justice.
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As a parent I seem to be spending a lot of time visiting www.BullyingStatistics.org and learning things like the stat on 160,000 kids avoiding bullies by avoiding their education. The more I read, the more I am in favor of taking danger out of the mix as quickly as possible by advocating the security blanket-approach some school districts take by suspending alleged violent offenders while details are sorted through. It’s not all that different from someone in the workplace being on “administrative leave” pending investigation of an alleged act of misconduct.
When it comes to school safety vs. justice, the reality is our kids are guilty until proven innocent in some districts, particularly where weapons are involved. While I hate that, I am having my view changed by the death of innocents in our public schools.
However, kids are dying and weapons are in the hands of students, so it’s time to err on the side of caution and go the extra miles to get convictions of brutal bullies.
Parents know how hard it is to get a straight story from a group of kids in the throes of a major meltdown. Given that realization, it’s not too hard to see how school and law enforcement officials have taken the security blanket-approach to being our kids’ parents when they are on the spot where we’re not. If a student is wrongfully taken out of school, then an apology as publicly made as the suspension, and a clean record, are in order from the school to the child.
It reminds me of being in a room full of kids at play and hearing something shatter. The kids all have the instinct to get away from the scene of the alleged crime, while as a mom my reaction is to holler, “Nobody move! Now, let’s sort this out.”
For example, in Florida, the law allows administrators to place anyone involved in such an incident on emergency suspension pending a hearing. UPI reports a 16-year-old Cypress Lake High School student in Fort Meyers, Florida, disarmed a football player on the bus ride home. The next day the school suspended him for three days.
The teen told ABC News he “wrestled a gun from a football player” during an altercation on a school bus, was suspended, and has been informed he can return to school Monday. The teen and his parents are baffled by this action, as are my own teenage sons, but I am starting to get the point.
However, when I called Cypress Lake High this morning I was told by Office Receptionist Jill Cornell, “The media is not reporting the full story in this case. The district will be putting out another release this afternoon and I think that will tell you what you need to know.”
All I know for is that news reports say a loaded .22 caliber RG-14 revolver was in the hands of one boy and then another. Under those circumstances, if it was a case of hot potato, and the police arrived and found a gun in a boy’s hands and an administrator had to make a snap decision, when in doubt take the time to sort it out.
In the case of Bailey O'Neill, who died Sunday morning, a day after he turned 12, his attackers have not been named. But according to a CBS News report, school officials were aware the alleged attacker of the boy who died had a history of bullying other children: He was suspended and subsequently returned to class.
CBS also reported, “Bailey told his mother, Jina Risoldi, that he was at recess when the boy, who was taller, challenged him to a fight. Risoldi said last month that her son declined to fight, saying he was worried about being suspended. She said a boy then pushed him from behind and he was struck in the head about five times.
"This is not a fight between two boys," Risoldi told CBS. "My son didn't fight back."
The suspension of the bully was too late to save O’Neill and Lord only knows if having that bully out of school may have saved another from a similar fate.
We couldn’t save O’Neill, and right now thousands of children are at home because they’re afraid of someone on a bus or in the school.
O’Neill suffered seizures that started nearly two weeks after being allegedly jumped by two classmates during recess at Darby Township School on Jan. 10, according to NBC News reports. The boy suffered a concussion as well as a broken nose in the fight. After the seizures began, doctors put the boy in a medically induced coma.
In a statement on the school’s website there is no mention of any identification or punishment of O’Neill’s attackers stating only, “The school district continues to work with local authorities in their investigation into the cause of Bailey’s death.”
What caused his death appears to be an epidemic of students who feel a kind of entitlement to vent their rage and gain their power by destroying other kids and our public schools. They may even feel a bit of untouchability.
It’s time to stop these domestic terrorists with the same level of community engagement and commitment we displayed after 911. Our children are at war and we need to break out the full arsenal of tactics to back them up.
The Bible, in addition to being the basis for various religious beliefs, is a fascinating historical conglomeration of stories that can teach us about the customs, times, travails, and conditions of the ancient Middle East that create a social context for modern day news, like the plague of locusts currently hitting Egypt. However "The Bible" miniseries on the History Channel so graphically depicts a predictably selective collection of the stories that some parents may not want kids to view it.
"The Bible" miniseries, for me, is less about what you believe and more about what you believe your family will take away from watching this series. After watching the first installment and trailers for upcoming episodes, I think that if you’re not willing to let your elementary-school child watch "300" and the "Twilight" series you should steer clear of this as a family viewing session.
Also, if you’re looking for lessons and emotional content this is a wash. It’s more of a highlights reel of the Bible. It covers the same shopworn scenes traditionally seen on television, adding nothing to the mix but more blood on the sands of time.
As a parent and a writer, I think that the sacred text is so woven into our social dialogue that you should share it for historical and social context even if you’re not a believer.
Without the Bible headlines and news stories, this past year would be doubly confusing since we have frequently pondered the apocalypse and news folks often use the word “biblical” to describe events. A case in point is the report today from The Atlantic Wire that reads, “As if we hadn't already seen enough Biblical events this year, a plague of over 30 million locusts swarmed over Egypt's cities and farms just three weeks before Passover begins.”
It adds, “But put your apocalyptic fears to rest. This happens every year as part of the locusts' natural migration pattern, though this year's swarm is especially large. That doesn't mean Egyptians aren't freaked the heck out by millions of nasty bugs buzzing through the air at all hours of day and night, possibly descending upon the agriculture fields where they're known to destroy entire crops, just like in the actual Passover story.”
My father was Jewish and my mother Roman Catholic, yet both read the same biblical highlight stories we see in the new mini-series. Despite their religious differences, they each agreed on what stories are child-friendly: the Garden of Eden, Cain and Abel, David and Goliath, Passover (which scared the daylights out of me as the first born in my family), Sodom and Gomorrah, Noah’s Ark, Moses and the plagues on Egypt/the Ten Commandments, and selections from the New Testament, which included the birth of Jesus and the Easter stories.
However, when a parent reads a Bible story to a child, the parent frequently simplifies the language and finds a lesson in the story being read.
The History Channel series created by Mark Burnett and his wife, "Touched By An Angel" star Roma Downey, appears to have gone for the ratings with graphic blood-and-gorey smiting, special effects, and black and red clad “angels” that bear more of a resemblance to the Vulturi clan of vampires in the "Twilight" films than anything I ever pictured as a child.
In the Hollywood Reporter review of "The Bible" miniseries the critic writes, “Sometimes it stays true to scripture, but then does things like adds angels with ninja skills to spice things up. That's one thing the Bible itself really doesn't need — it's a complex and lyrical work full of prophecies and call-backs and a sense of being one, organic, intertwined story. Unfortunately, "The Bible" is fractious and overwrought.”
My concern is that I don’t want my child to be “overwrought” by the History Channel’s sensational book to movie adaptation of what is often referred to as “the greatest story ever told.”
Perhaps that’s the parenting answer to this incarnation of biblical tales: Avoid the History Channel version and go right on telling them to your kids.
Some bullies never grow up, they just transfer their search for dominance from school to the workplace and other venues like the Internet. As parents we have a game plan for helping our kids cope, but what are we to do when Mommy gets bullied at work and comes home carrying the weight of that stress?
In the work place, bullying is like a vampire that drains victims of morale and self-confidence, sapping away their productive energy and increasing employee turnover. Which is pretty much what it does to our kids when it happens in the schoolyard or on the bus.
According to The Associated Press: “Half the employers in a 2011 survey by the management association reported incidents of bullying in their workplace, and about a fourth of human resource professionals themselves said they had been bullied.”
The website BullyingStatistics.org explains bullying as, “purposeful attempts to control another person through verbal abuse — which can be in tone of voice or in content such as teasing or threats — exclusion, or physical bullying or violence, which the victim does not want.”
The site adds, “Cyber bullying can take many forms: Sending mean messages or threats to a person's email account or cell phone. Spreading rumors online or through texts and posting hurtful or threatening messages on social networking sites or web pages.”
"It's usually the manager or senior executive who's just a complete out-of-control jerk," Margaret Fiester, who experienced workplace bullying, told the AP. "Everyone's going to be walking around on eggshells around somebody like that. You're afraid to make mistakes, you're afraid to speak up, you're afraid to challenge."
More than a dozen states have considered anti-bullying laws in the past year that would allow litigants to pursue lost wages, benefits, and medical expenses, and compel employers to prevent an "abusive work environment," according to the AP report.
Unfortunately, while we wait for legislation, we still face the bully every day and then come home to our kids and look them in the eye and tell them and ourselves, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”
As Poet Shane Koyczan's “To This Day” video project showed the world last week, the scars of bullying don't fade, they deepen. Workers get gun shy, feel less valuable, and perhaps even fall into the same patterns they had if they were bullied as children: shrink, fade, try to be invisible in order to survive another day at the office.
Bullying that comes to you upon your daily route to earning a living is no less distracting and harmful than when it happens to you as a child. Our kids know that school is their job and they have no alternative to getting on the school bus where a bully waits or going to recess where bullies make their lives a misery.
When I was bullied in the workplace, in a non journalistic setting, by a man who physically towered over me and routinely shouted at and demeaned workers to get his way. I ended up quitting my full-time job and moving my workplace to cyberspace.
However, I discovered this week that the issue of bullying can get even worse when you have an online job, such as being a journalist, and run into the occupational hazard of cyber-bullies.
Unlike a tangible work environment where I would have a chance of either standing up to the bully or reporting the person to a higher authority, Internet Trolls lurk in the shadows, using false names, dummy email and social media accounts, and have a legion of equally invisible, hostile, untouchable cronies behind them.
I learned this week there are few effective laws in place to try to fight people we can't see or even put a name to. Unless the bully actually threatens physical harm or openly tells others to do something destructive, you pretty much have to sit back and ignore it until it plays itself out.
I have been instructed not to respond to emails, tweets, and an entire web page and YouTube video recorded by cyber bullies trying to harass, defame, and intimidate me out of my profession and volunteer work with African American children. The group zeroed-in on the religion of my ancestors and the fact that the children I help through a chess program are largely African American.
Free speech is essential and something that makes our nation great, until someone generates hate out of thin air and on a thinner premise.
I'm a mom, though. Moms find solutions, work-arounds. I'm also a chess player and we like to look at the board and our opponent from all angles, so I tried to look at the board from my opponent's side. On the other side of the board from me is someone who's still thinking like a child. A bully.
This adult knows the rules, or lack thereof, and uses them to their advantage to bully with impunity. I can get behind that kind of strategy. Knowing it's completely legal to generate hate means it is just as legal to spread love and tolerance.
So I'm facing my bully in the workplace right here and now, where we first met, to tell him a few important things:
“I don't hate you. I'm not angry or frightened. I understand you feel the need to promote your mission to build a level of fear, intolerance, race, and religion hating and that's your constitutional right. I am sorry that I have to continue to make you angry and frustrated by being the daughter of a Jewish man. It's just not something I can control, nor would I ever hide it. Women still take their husband's name when they get married. Also, my great-grandfather was the magnificent Yiddish “Poet of the Ghetto” Morris Rosenfeld and I am incredibly blessed and proud to be part of his legacy.
I understand my belief, that race, skin tone, and religion are not something by which we should judge others in the year 2013, is making you grind your teeth. On the bright side, my being here to rage against has given you something to make profitable YouTube videos about and so that kind of makes me part of your income stream. It makes me very happy knowing that you need me much more than I need your bullying.”
I'm not going to lie, the last two paragraphs felt gorgeous.
I was driven from one job by a bully and will not make that mistake again. It's a recession out there folks and if you are in a job with a bully for a boss or co-worker it's time to take back your confidence, pride, and power by supporting anti-bullying legislation. Until it comes through you have to remember the person you are at home with your kids and take that feeling to work with you.
As my husband is fond of saying, “When the Mom's not happy, nobody's happy.” Time for the bullies everywhere to know that too.
If LEGOs for girls took us a step in the right direction to help little girls make smarter toy choices that empower them to create, Skechers shoe company just tripped up teens with its high-heeled Daddy's Money sneakers (and they spell it Daddy$). The whole campaign is pretty sketchy, driving a wedge between girls and the belief that money is earned via work and not feminine wiles.
The new commercial, which appears on a host of channels, including kids' HUB channel, is filled with teenage girls striking coy, come-hither poses as the ka-ching sound punctuates the catch phrase, "Get spoiled with Daddy's money, ultra cool shoes that will put you in the spotlight."
Also, the blinged-out, often cheesy animal print shoes have lifts inside that form the “wedge," promising to make girls two-inches taller.
“That's not the child I'm raising,” Amanda Cole Hill, a Norfolk, Va. PTA mom with two boys ages 13 and 11 and an 8-year-old daughter, tells The Christian Science Monitor. “My daughter won't be getting those and I am pretty sure we won't be buying Skechers anymore either. I am very disappointed in the Skechers company for taking this direction.”
Skechers went all the way down the rabbit hole of bad judgment on this campaign, giving names to the shoes themselves: "Gimme Wicked" (a leopard-print), "Gimme Kisses" (a lip-print), "Gimme Starry Skies" (a star-print), and just plain "Gimme" (a flower-print).
Also, I would not want to be around a mom the first time her daughter sashays up to her father and actually uses the word, “Gimme!”
“I think the whole idea of mommy's money vs. daddy's money is dumb,” Ms. Hill said of the marketing. “ But, 'Gimme?' That's truly at the core of what bothers me, is 'Gimme!' It plays into the whole entitlement generation.”
Norfolk's Commissioner of the Revenue agreed that as the mother of girls she was not likely to increase Skechers' coffers with her personal money anytime soon.
“Women have worked so hard for so long to get where we are and then ads like this just bring all of us down,” Sharon McDonald said. “They [Daddy's Money shoes] are insulting and degrading and definitely send the wrong message to teenaged girls.”
It sounds to me like Skechers really put its foot in its mouth with this campaign. I have boys and it looks like Skechers will be off the budget line for us too.
Weather the money is Daddy's or Mommy's, the kids belong to both of us and we are not stepping into something that smells as bad as this idea.
LEGO, the maker of the famous children's building toys, has gone pink during the last 14 months, changing the sex of its figures from all male to female in some sets, gender-typed further with a “dream house” and was rewarded with a 25 percent boost in sales. All that is annoying to those fighting against gender typing, but what many don't realize is that the toys may help girls get past body image issues and focus on seeing themselves in typically male-dominated roles in science, technology, engineering, and math, known as the STEM fields.
While it's true that the toy manufacturer has played to the gender-typing via color and an initial offering of LEGO Friends sets that included Barbie-like scenarios like a beauty parlor, the LEGOs in the pink and purple boxes also offer options for girls to imagine themselves in the roles of scientist, teacher, and veterinarian.
I agree it's pretty minimal, but change has to start somewhere and LEGO is taking kids in a different direction that can, if encouraged by consumers, make our children focus on critical thinking instead of being “Pretty in Pink.”
Not having a daughter myself – mom of four boys here – I fully expected Nicole Newsome executive director of The Geekettes Club, to dislike the LEGOs for their stereotypical pink and beauty shop themes, but she loves them. She has a 10-year-old son, Vance, and a 7-year-old daughter, Kinzee.
“My daughter has them and loves them because they're finally hers, and I love them because finally she's reaching for a scientist in a lab coat and not Barbie in a bikini with a disfigured body image,” Ms. Newsome, of Norfolk, Va. said this morning.
Indeed, LEGO has inadvertently leveled the playing field of body types, leaving girls free to be “Imagineers” who concentrate on building dreams of being grown-up Geekettes instead of imagining ways to reengineer their bodies to fit an impossible image. LEGOs body shapes are more realistically proportioned and less revealing. Compared to a Barbie, they’re universes apart.
The Geekettes Club was founded in 2009 by Sonya Schweitzer to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment in which members help women and girls engage in educational and professional opportunities.
According to The Associated Press, LEGO, the new girl-focused product released in January 2012 has helped sales of the Denmark-based company increase 25 percent. The privately owned company generaed $4.2 billion in revenue last yea, and much of that was due to a simple gender flip for the toys.
The Oscars are over but the apologies continue to eclipse the accolades, with Anne Hathaway’s hand-wringing, repeated apologies for a red carpet dress choice, while The Onion continues an equally hand-wringing “sorry” for bashing a child star on Twitter. These very public choices made me think about how many times my kids use the word “sorry” and reevaluate in what context apologies really belong.
It’s an age-old battle we as parents must continue to fight to teach our kids to take responsibility for their actions and words, making the apologies heartfelt, meaningful, and appropriate to the alleged crime. We try and prompt a child’s understanding of their impact on others, asking, “How do you think that made _____ feel when you did that?”
A Japanese pop star recently shaved her head and made a YouTube video apologizing for going out on a date. Minami Minegishi of AKB48 appears in a tearful mea culpa on YouTube after breaking her band's strict rules on dating, according to The Associated Press. Part of that is rooted in cultural tradition, but it is no less shocking to see the variation in how kids and adults apologize.
We might well ask ourselves how our approach to teaching children to apologize makes them feel. How scary are we when we’re demanding they realize their mistakes and then apologize? How much of our delivery makes them really understand, versus training them to apologize by rote?
Also, do we remember to teach our kids not to apologize for the wrong things like their race, religion, and body type? Do we teach them not to apologize to placate people who are angry with them for things they didn’t do wrong?
Some kids blurt the word ‘sorry’ over and over again in the course of a day to the point where the word is more like a sentence punctuation than an event.
I realized last night while shopping that my kids get their apologist natures from me. A woman bumped into me from behind with her cart as she concentrated on the shelf and not the way ahead. I turned around and blurted, “Oh, sorry!” She said, “No problem.”
Something is definitely not adding up here, I thought. Why did I apologize for getting bumped into? If I do that around my child what’s the message or lesson I’m passing on?
My 9-year-old son cried when a kid was mean to him. He recounted the incident and said, “Sorry. Sorry. Sorry,” while wiping away tears. He was apologizing for crying because someone at school told him big boys don’t cry. That’s not something he should be apologizing for. I have friends who say "sorry" to me about everything and anything to the point where the word has little meaning.
Yahoo’s Oscars blog has a link on it that reads “Anne Hathaway Dress Crisis,” leading to a featured article with the actress pleading forgiveness for wearing a pink Prada gown the critics had picked on in place of the Valentino she’d planned. That’s a good example of a case where apology is made as a shield against our critics rather than something we should actually be sorry for.
No doubt Hathaway is sorry because she’s been whipped in the social stocks for her dress being “a disappointment to fans.” It then spun out of control into the assumption the actress had “snubbed” designer friend Valentino, according to Yahoo News’ Oscar Blog.
Oh, and by the way, she won an Oscar that night, too.
There are times when we really must say "sorry," but only when we actually do something mean, nasty, unethical, abusive, bullying, or harmful to another.
A case in point is a tweet by The Onion, a satirical paper, on Oscar night. According to the AP, The Onion posted a tweet calling the 9-year-old star of "Beasts of the Southern Wild" a vulgar and offensive name on Twitter.
The Onion referred to Quvenzhané Wallis with an expletive intended to denigrate women, the AP reported. "It was crude and offensive — not to mention inconsistent with The Onion's commitment to parody and satire, however biting," The Onion CEO Steve Hannah wrote on Facebook. "No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire. Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry."
At least The Onion got the apology right, whereas Dov Hikind, a New York state assemblyman, apologized for wearing blackface to a Purim party at his house after at first defending it, the AP reported.
He defended it with rationalizations worthy of a child forced by parental pressure (in this case it was the public and media being the parents) to say “sorry” to someone when he clearly feels put out by having to make the gesture.
Last night’s Daily Show had Jon Stewart running clips of Hikind’s irritated scowl as he tried to rationalize away his choice as something “everybody does” when they dress up for the Jewish holiday. Stewart noted people are intended to dress up as Biblical figures.
The one thing that is hardest for us to handle as parents may be the times we owe our kids an apology. I found a great guide for parents on how and when to say “sorry” to your child here.
It tells you to try and see your action from the child’s point of view and imagine how your child felt when you said something that may have hurt their feelings. After all, a really good apology is about the other person and how we make them feel.