Follow up from “Stuck at School”

When you are new at a school, its not always easy to introduce yourself to people… there are so many new faces, teacher and students (even though you’ll have classes with only about 30 of them) that it can be hard to keep them all straight.

There are a few obvious ways. Facebook- befriend one, and strenuously go through their friends and add anyone in the same network as you or with their school added…

Or you could just try and strike up a conversation with them. When you’re new and they ask you what your name is, it normally helps to have an interesting (if annoying) name that might have a story or other to tell about it. People often ask me where mine came from. And of course my life’s story is far from dull…

I had one such experience today. I got to meet the nurse!

Yesterday evening, I experienced unbelievable pain in my hip. I immediately recognized that it must have been a ligament due to its location, the depth and the type of pain I was feeling. I’ve had many bone, muscle and ligament injuries and I think ligaments are by far the worst.

Anyways, stretching, nor a good bike ride did anything to relieve it (though on the upside, I broke my record of 32 km/h with an astonishing 36.5! Tour de France, here I come! :P) so when I got to school and it was still aching, i figured it was time to make one more introduction.

I put the heat pad on earlier this morning, for about half an hour during a spare period, and when the pain returned about an hour later, I was grateful to have another spare now (later in the afternoon). Gives me a moment to catch my breath and catch up with you guys!

Actually I should probably go off and try and choose a topic for my biology project now!

Hope you are all having a better start to the week, and year, than me!

Advertisements

Autumn Again

Well, it is nearly three weeks into the new school year, and I can honestly say I am nearly settled in:
to the new school
To the new house
to the new workload.

While it is all very intense here, and stressful being alone and without my sister at school with me, it is also very enjoyable.

And while boxes still speckle our house and homework dwells heavily in my mind, I decided to take two breaks today. One- to go apple picking. And another to share that experience with all of you.

Every couple of years my family and I would visit this orchard in the autumn to pick some apples and a few jugs of apple cider. This year, we went back for the last time. Next year, it will be more developments. After seventy years, the tractor rides will no longer go round the rows of trees.

So what better way to share with you, than with a poem I wrote while munching a fruit beneath the tree of Eden?

A Day In Tamed Wilderness
 
The day stretched ahead of us
Like the auburn carpeted path
Beneath our leather clad feet.
 
Memories, waiting to unfold
Hung-heavy- suspended
On weighted boughs.
 
The trees rear up to either side of us,
In contrast. One crimson, the other
Verdant still. Speckled with blood.
 
Fog looms up before us.
With a few, vigorous movements
It gleams in the sun once more.
 
A crunch. The tear of flesh.
And liquid life springs, dripping, from my lips
Along with a childish gleeful grin.
 
A plunk. A clank.
A shuffling scrape as the load rolls around
The still empty- soon to be bushel, basket.
 
A fire engine leers up before us.
Decisively and defensively he pulls out a switch blade
And slices into the juicy tissue.
 
There before us we see
A beautiful sight. One never seen before.
And never to be seen again.
 
A luminous star- startling black specks
On a striking, spotless white disk.
On a severed orb of scarlet silk.
 
We both take a half
Like an old fairy tale.
But this time, we both live.
 
We frolic and flit between the trees
Until another fruit lights up the sky.
With heavy hearts, we leave the orchard.
 
Knowing that if we return, next autumn,
This haven of tame wilderness,
Will be no more than more houses.
 
 

Resolute to Sun Bathe

Fore word: I’ve finally managed to nab a spot of internet away from crowds and my troublesome mates and I was just thoroughly motivated and I absolutely must share this in hopes that it might help someone else to gain their confidence as well.

I’ve decided. This year is going to be different. No more procrastinating, excuses, putting off things. No more disorganization and no more bad habits. But most importantly: No more shyness, insecurities and putting others before myself.

Yes, here comes the ages old refrain: I want to make changes in my life. I want to get closer to attaining my dreams and stop telling myself that I’m too young or too weak to do something or make a difference. No more letting myself get caught up in a whirlwind of life in New York. No more turning my room into a compressed version of Times Square after the ball drops. [Ok I’m not that messy, but its why I’ve become messy that I want to change and that’s simply not having the energy or the time. So I figure organising myself and setting my priorities will give me time.]

So what’s brought about this change? Someone made me see myself differently. This happened a few weeks ago on the Cycladic Isle of Paros. It was one of my first stops on a summer of touring the Islands with friends and family rather than just visiting our old familiar areas of Greece. My parents also agreed to letting my sister and I tour the islands with our friends alone, because of my dream. Most of you know that I want to be a Marine Biologist (or something along that line) despite my love of writing (and you might also know that I want to incorporate my love of writing and teaching into that career).  Ever since we spent those few years living in Athens, I wanted to visit all the Islands and Scuba dive off the coast of each. Our first summer here I got my first certificate on the Island of Crete with a local Padi dive shop.  Since then I had diven off the coast of Santorini, Zakynthos, Paros and in the North of Greece near Thessaloniki. But anyone who has seen a map of Greece knows that there are hundreds of Islands just begging to have their sandy shores discovered.

So we started our summer in Paros- we have a property there and my parents agreed to let us all crash there and use it as a home base. Though its a humble island home, comprised of just three main rooms and two bathrooms, its airy when there’s the typical Parosian tempests.  Also, there is a rather large balcony/porch out side that is partially sheltered by the sun. We have a hamock and pool chair out there and all together- using the back area, the bed room, the couch, and the roof (we threw the tent kit up and then jumped onto our roof from our neighbours which is easy to get onto because the ground slopes…) we managed to sprawl comfortably in the heat… Well relatively comfortably. After spending a few days with Jynx in the desert near Saudi Arabia in Jordan, and enduring the scorching hot sands, muds and water(liquid salt) of the Dead Sea we made our peace with the heat during the breif, still nights knowing that we’d find relief in the beaches and depths of the water during the day.

So what does sun bathing, resolutions for change, and scuba diving all have to do with one another?

Earlier, while we were in Paros for the first time (a luscious five days of staying put!) I met a 22 year old English chap who would soon become one of my favourite dive partners. We are both easy going people who have an unbridled love for the water and the depths, so we naturally and effortlessly melded together in the water. Our dives were relaxing and stimulating and perfectly enjoyable. Everything would go smoothly and we’d get to discover the local environment. On deck we fell into easy conversation- me telling my complicated life’s story and explaining my name and etc. and him telling me about his voyages. He’s been out of school for four years traveling the globe. Jynx and mine’s adventures in Jordan and our henna struck him quite a bit as just this winter he had spent five months traveling and exploring India in Solitude. He was full of great anecdotes and the brevity of the boat rides to our dive sites was sorely accentuated. However, it didn’t take long for us to discover something else we had in common… We were both half Italian. I was shocked when he told me- I really didn’t see a millimeter past his strong british accent. However, despite his coppery blonde hair, whether from the traveling and the past month on the boat diving every day- he was tan enough to be Italian. See his skin tone didn’t match with the pale English stereotype.  So amongst our reminiscing about what our mothers were like in the kitchen (clean to the extreme, quick, efficient and not to mention talented making for a lovely and healthy child hood) he quick to comment on my paleness for someone of full Mediterranean descent.

Needless to say I got burnt that first day. I blamed it on my lack of vit. D in recent times- from staying inside to study rather than participate in sports and outings and staying relatively covered up in Jordan or inside to escape the heat. Fact of the matter is- every summer, no mater how much sunblock i put on, how often I put it on, or how high an SPF (UVA or B) I use… I still get burnt within the first few weeks of every summer. My skin just doesn’t have a lot of melanin in it 😦

So after his teasing about me being the only mediteranean to get sunburned- ever- I decided that bit by bit, every day I’d commit to sitting outside for half an hour or more, until I built up a tolerance to the sun (A.K.A. – a tan). A couple weeks in and I am fairly darker than I was at the begining of the summer. You can actually say I have a tan now. However I’m still not even half as dark as most of my friends who darken all but exponentially as soon as they are exposed to an ounce of sun. It’s like their skin is photo-reactive or something! But what happens to me is the opposite. My hair lightens rapidly in the summer- resulting in me being called blonde by all my family.

I find it very hard to waste my time. To just sit outside and do nothing- even though I tell myself I’m helping myself by getting a little bit of vitamin D and melanin into my system.  And part of that is the nagging feeling that by trying to make myself feel like a bigger part of the family by darkening my skin… I make myself seem even more alien by lightening my hair. And hats don’t help. Once it gets the slightest bit of sun I get blonde streaks from root to tip!

Another reason why I don’t like to sit out tanning is because its a boring activity. It’s hard to read one of the bulky books I have to read for school, and with no one to talk to I feel like time just draggs on- as a result I interpret 10 minutes as half an hour and get no where with my goal. It would undoubtably be easier if I had a friend or two willing to sit out in the sun with me instead of resting in the coolness of the water, so we could at least gab or gossip (though you know I don’t like to gossip every now and then Jynx’s twin brother  draws us into a gossip fest be jumping into the room, hopping onto her bed and twittering in a falscetto “Ok guys, now DISH!”)

But that doesn’t happen, and with my group of mixed friends who don’t all know eachother and without the stimulus of the socialites of school there isn’t much to gossip about. As a result, back in Paros for a few days, I took a small bowl of chips, a frigid glass of Iced tea and  one of my mom’s “O” magazines (and of course armed with my trusty Ipod and brassy tones to help keep self consciousness at bay) out to the chaise lounge to keep me company. I hoped the magazine would provide some uplifting and insightful- but light- summer reading.

Thankfully it was.

The issue I happened to pick up was (I believe) the most recent one. Dedicated to change (you’re starting to see how it all comes together now, aren’t you?) One of the cover stories immediately caught my eye. “What your body language is saying behind your back” I take a keen interest in what different action and movements mean when translated into the mind so I was curious to see what path this article would take. When the stage opened onto an overly apologetic, active mother I saw a glimpse of what my life would be like in ten years or so. My Canadian ‘side’ really shows through when it comes to my manners. I say sorry way to much-to the point of getting on people’s nerves or having them laugh at me- and I say thank you and please as if they were still a part of the modern vocabulary. Adults like that about me, as do people my age since it makes me a laughing stock.  However it makes me seem meek- a characteristic that my peers are all to eager to exploit- despite my stuborness and strong willed nature.  The way that this mother was able to change her life- even to the point of getting her daughter’s soft ball coach to put aside prejudices on the feild and give the weaker players a shot, as well as reading other articles in the mag about change- I thought it was time I tried some myself.

I figure if I make myself determined enough, and resolute enough, and guard myself against potential failures, Also if I commit myself to changing another aspect of my life as well (so self confidence along with organisation) any progress made in one area should stimulate me not to give up.

Also, that fact that we are moving houses and I’ll have a room to myslef, as well as a chance to re decorate and re organise all my stuff is going to help to set my life in order. I’ll have a space to work all of my own- rather than taking over the dining room table! Also, I feel that if I’m more organised, it will be easier to get things done quicker and in a more prioritized manner.

However there is one other thing that is motivating me to boost my self confidence. A few days ago I stayed up until 4 in the morning, online with a group of my friends, as we waited for the demand on the website we were all trying to acces- to drop. Results from some exams we had taken this year as part of a new program were to be released at midnight, but so many people were trying to get on the site at once that it wasn’t letting us get in.  For some three hours I repeatedly refreshed the page, re entered the webadress, re entered and double checked my login and passcode. One by one we heard the shouts of joy of our friends through the wires as their codes were finally accepted and those lovely letters that mean so much; popped onto the screen. Finally my results came. But my joy was dampened. The pleasantly stellar results I’d achieved were dulled by one of my low marks. The sad part is my lowest mark was an A, and though I was thrilled about the A I’d gotten in Art, the english language A was somewhat of a let down. I love to write and for the past year and a half, English Language was the one class where I really felt at home. The class where I had the support I needed, but not the pressure of an oversized class or overeager teacher. In the torture that school had become- days clouded by boring geography teachers and cramped, noisy classes; English was my haven- a room where I could retreat to, put on my music and just write with the help I needed, when i needed it.

When my friends started asking me how my grades were (we never ask for what just how pleased we are) and I responded with “ok” (because I knew they were good but I didn’t want to accept it) every one became concerned. When I finally told them what subject and the mark it was that was disheartening me, I became awash in congratulations and reassurances about my ‘skill’ as a writer. Soon even a couple of friends who only read this blog and don’t really know me other wise were participating in the charade. I would have been happy with an A in English Literature or any other subject (although I got an annoying full marks in Lit. that I didn’t want) what annoyed me was this: I got an A+ in two subjects where I thought I would get an A, but I just wanted to prove my Geography teacher and the history class bully wrong. I wanted to show our geo teacher that despite his not having taught us anything in the past year and a half and me sleeping during class and then having to learn the syllabus on my own in three months- that I could pull it off. I wanted to show a particularly annoying pupil in my history class that; though I didn’t care if he thought he was smarter than me; he shouldn’t be so arrogant. But the high mark in Language I wanted just to prove to myself that I actually can write (much like why I started the blog). I guess I suspected my teacher of baby-ing me, or giving me high marks just because i was a good student and we got along, or because she knew my ambitions to one day be a writer. like wise I suspect my friends of just telling me what they think I want to hear. so i thought an examiner would be truthful, and I honestly thought I could get a high mark in it. I felt a bit heart broken when I saw my predicted grades for the two english subjects reversed into reality. I kept looking back and rechecking them to make sure I wasn’t reading them wrong.  And I was about to close down this website with tears in my eyes when the words a close friend had said to me a few nights earlier, struck a chord with what my other friends were presently saying. He had said “don’t sell urself short…if u want to write and have a passion for it…i say..write♥” which was basically just saying to do whatever i want and had no allusions to talent or anything of the sort- which was why it appealed to me. He was telling me to just do what made me happy no matter what anyone else thought. And this bluntly honest, down to earth encouragement was what I needed to hear because its when friends start raving about a invisble ‘talent’ or ‘greatness’ of one sort or other that I lose faith because it seems so inscinsere and impossible.

And so with those words bouncing off my head I’ve also made up my mind- Come september I will audition (as a new kid in school) for the school musical in my new school. I’m moving to a school that has better options for me and will stimulate me more as well as give me more support in my dreams. Where as I’ve always sung in the choir as a supporting vioce with my sister braving center stage, I’ll try the spotlight on my voice and try to squeak out the bold tones that normally grace only my shower tiles.  Maybe the confidence in this arena is also coming from the fact that for the first time I will not be just, someone’s sister. I’ll be me. People won’t have to know i’m a twin until I’m ready for them to and they won’t be able to judge me compared to her or align us or confuse us. And so if my voice turns out to be crap, who gives a damn, they don’t know what hers is like and I won’t be tarnishing her reputation.

So I guess I want to say thank you to friends who know eachother well enough to be able to get past eachother’s fail safes against disapointment in times of crisis. ANd thank you to my friends for being there for me at  the lowest of low moment of an identity crisis.

Spring Reboot

Hey guys. Know I have been absent for a while. I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus (love that word). Which is to say that I promised my parents I would take a bit of a break from technology and the interwebz so as to focus on studying for a while. Unfortunately that included my Kindle, which, you should know, is my life line… being a biblioholic.

See I realized that I procrastinate by reading… more than usual. So I depleted it of battery and put it in a draw which was subsequently locked.

*warning to parents- do not buy kindle or books for children who like to read or else they will find no other meaning in their lives!*(just to be clear- that’s a joke. My parents are probably the only ones in the UNIVERSE who get to complain about kids who read TOO much)

And don’t worry Blade, I’ve got a reply all written out to you’re comment on the post I wrote about parenting advice. I just wanted to make it good but think I spent a bit tooo much time on it 😛 It’ll be up soon though!

Anyways, I’ll be able to write again soon, once the exams start, on my down time. And to be frank, I CAN’T BLOODY WAIT! Writing anything for me is so… fulfilling. Almost as good as reading 😛

However, CClester had gotten me thinking a bit about my blog. Was I really approaching it in the correct way? I know there is no ‘right’ way to write a blog, but it had deviated from what I had intended it to be when I started it. So it’s time to get back on track. And I’m doing it with a bit of help!

Enter Jinx. My lovely friend who has made many digital art pieces for me, including the one that marked my thousandth view. She is soon to become my partner in crime! *applause*

We both have a lot in common and it’s no surprise we’ve become such good friends over the years. However we also have a lot of differences, so this should be interesting. Yet we are both really excited to have this new endeavour before us. So lets just look at what I want to happen next.

As you can see I’ve already changed my theme to signify this change. Looks kinda like you’re reading something off an old wooden desk, right? That’s the point!

The blog is going back to it’s roots of creative expression as well as a new addition. Jinx and I are going to be doing reviews, together, of literature, and movies! I’m really excited about this because we’ve been sharing books for a while, giving suggestions to one another and talking about them… something I’d always wanted in a friend before I met her.

And I’m sharing that with you guys. And throughout this, though, we are still going to be writing our views on various topics, world news, web news, etc. It’s just going to have less of a focus on me. 🙂 Which I’ve always wanted.

Also, this way, with both of us having busy schedules, we can alternate duty to alleviate the burden a bit. Plus it will just be more fun this way 😛

So bear with me while I change everything about this blog ;P Kinda.. Ok the name will be changed to accommodate us both. We have brainstorming to do there. We found a theme we both liked that worked for the blog as well. Now I need to remember where it was that I saw how to add a writer to the blog… Anyone know?

I know it’s possible since my brother has a blog with three other men.

Also, I have a few posts that I’ve wanted to put up but haven’t been able to because the photos weren’t uploading and they weren’t that important without the photos, so keep an eye out for those! I think it might have been the theme stopping me there.

So all in all this blog and I both are going to be undergoing a lot of changes and WE all hope to see you soon.

Now how about some spring cleaning?

Stuck at school

Well. What can I say?

 

A pipe burst this morning, a main water pipe. Unfortunately it was right around the time my family and I were getting onto the bus so we didn’t get the message before getting to school. They had to close all the water for the area and so the school has to close.  And now we are stranded here until more buses come to take us home. Its annoying because we could have been back at home now If we had just walked when we found out. Oh well. Well be getting on soon.

 

So now I’m listening to my music typing this. I also got to write for about an hour while everyone else was off in their own worlds.

Or so it seems. I was looking down at my book writing away in my own world, listening to my music and when next I looked up most of the 200 or so students from both the lower and upper school that had been stranded were gone. There were a few boys a couple grades below me left. And they were quite content playing basketball. So I know nothings happening until 10 to 10 when we will start assemblying for the buses and so I will continue writing away. Toodles!

Parenting advice? Really?

Guess who’s freaking out.

(if you had to ask who, get off this blog :P)

I was just on the MSN homepage taking a peak at the parenting section which I like to do every now and then seeing as I keep a journal of what I think my parents did well and not so well (and I think they are the best parents in the world, but everyone makes mistakes) because I want to be the best parent I can for my kids… Because I want kids. I’m 16 and I’ll say that- besides, knowing what irritated me at the age of 16 might help me not to irritate my kids, right? Cause we all know teachers and parents throw around that excuse, “I was a kid once, too, you know” to get us to emphasise with them but we don’t by it because… well when was the last time they were a kid? And we forget half of last years syllabus so we can only know how much they’ve forgotten or how much has changed about being a kid/ teen in the past 10-30 years. (you know I’ve often wondered if I should make this a parenting blog to get teens active with communicating with there parents… but I can’t stick to a theme so its an everything blog as you’ve probably realised)

Anywho, so I was looking to see if there was anything interesting, you know? Anything I might want to make note of.

AND LOOK AT WHAT I FOUND: “Why you shouldn’t tell your kids they’re smart”

article: http://www.embracethechaos.ca/2011/02/reform-your-praise-junkie-ways.html

You can probably understand why this has caught my eye- especially after my recently having written about my own insecurities about compliments and let me tell you Ms. Waverman, I think, sincerely and honestly and as nicely as I can possibly say this I am trying; that you are wrong. Simple as that.

Somebody please correct me if you think telling your kids that they are intelligent is a bad thing?

Let me explain. Emma Waverman here states that by telling your kids that they are smart, you are setting them up to only want to appear as smart. And  are going to raise them to be a ‘praise junkie’ and so on. She draws a parallel to children’s art and claims you shouldn’t say its beautiful but instead, INSTEAD what you should say is “”Wow, what a picture! I can see how hard you worked on the drawing five fingers on that person” and maybe you aren’t aware of something but, kids DO know the difference between praise and condescending tone. If someone had said that to me I would have been reduced to a sniveling inconsolable heap, unable to understand why I was being approached in this negative way!  By telling your child this, you are basically telling your child “Good Job! You are an idiot, but you know what? You managed to notice how many fingers you have!”

Don’t get me wrong and let me further explain. At my school, for the past few years one of the art projects for the grade 9 class was to draw a picture of their hands… a study of hands. Because they are great for proportions like that your middle finger is the same length as your palm. They start off looking at said proportions, doing traces, looking at different gestures and shapes and their connotations, and then, at the end of 2 months or so produce a finished compositional piece with a story to it and everything. When I did mine, it was of a person holding a lighter at a Rolling Stones concert  reminicent of when my father took us kids to see them at Madison Square Garden when my sister and I were 7 years old (yes, he’s a good dad. We wore heavy dutty earplugs he put in us himself- don’t worry. Oh and I’m a violin player and have the sharpest ears of the family- beyond normal for any human and none of us have hearing loss so they obviously know what they are doing).

Anyways thats a tangent and my point is, there were kids then, grade 9. Jr. High students, who drew their final pieces with 7 fingers on one hand, and 4 fingers on the other. This was a piano player who drew their piece of a piano player. If they had drawn something as a child, with the wrong number of fingers and someone said THAT to them I would feel, quite honestly, like shit!

Let me tell you something. When a child seeks praise, why is it?

1. They want the attention.

2. The genuinely think they are good at something and want validation. They want to make sure its not just imagining it.

Lets look evaluate both cases.

In the first scenario, you aren’t giving them attention, causing them to try and attract it through unhealthy means and will lead to, not a praise junkie, but bully and class disturber in the making.  When a child comes running to you just having finished a drawing it doesn’t mean all they want is praise! Especially if the child drew this for you, which most often is the case, you shouldn’t be approaching them with a condescending tone, or treating them like they ‘tried their best’ which, frankly, is synonymous with “you worked hard, but its still not that good” which can be immeasurably detrimental if they actually think its good.

Anyways, the art topic is just too deep and I don’t want to get stuck just on that because there is so much more to this.  The second alternative she gave was to say “There is a lot of stuff going on, tell me about your picture!” And as a baby sitter I can honestly say I’ve used this line a lot. Because with younger kids who haven’t perfected fine motor skills yet, they simply can’t control the marker not that they’re a bad artist. It comes with time. Even the most languidly stepping ballerina once stumbled about as a toddler. Now, when a kid has drawn something, and you can’t exactly figure it out, compliment them, yes! Because if you just say something like “wow thats interesting” they know something’s wrong.  Say that you like the colours they chose, or a certain line. When they start to tell you about what they drew, engage in conversation- this much Waverman got right- but treat them as an adult. You would talk to an adult about their work of art (be it written, lyrical, visual or musical) so you want to talk to them. Becasue they draw everything for a reason. Even colour choice is specific. Why do you think kids rarely draw in black and white? Because they are so much more in touch with the connotations, or at least their personal connotations, to colours. Each aspect is significant so when you are asking them what their drawing is of, they tell you the story to it. I know a five year old, for example who loves the Shrek series and, more recently, Gnomeo and Juliet and Tangled. I watch her and her neighbour every morning while their parents get ready for work. for about half an hour, and seeing as their dad is the art teacher at my school, they normally draw. She often draws a scene from one of these movies and will explain everything about it, down to the bow in the hair. Detail wise she is amaizing and I can normally get it right what shes talking about. OUr other neighbour though- not so much. As a boy he tends to draw spiderman (I even did his facepaint as spiderman for halloween), aliens, monsters, or spaceships. I feign fright at his aliens and mosters and tell him how I want a trip on his spaceship. Sometimes though, amidst the scribbles its hard to see what he’s chosen that day. So I ask, using the line mentions or some variant. And I figure out, once hes told me whats going on and I can tell him what I like. That the bright yellow of the alien looks like it would glow in the dark, and that I think that is what has been under my bed these past few days, or that they 1157th (so he claims there are) eye of the monster is particularly spooky. Never would I tell him that he tried hard- but failed; no matter how backhandedly. Like mature adults they ask me every morning what I think of their Princes or super hero and I reply honestly, because for kids they are pretty good. Though its not them but their parent’s I worry about.

Just before I go on to reiterate what I think about something else let me make one last quote “Notice how the encouragement draws the child into a conversation about their work, and how you actually have to pay attention to the work so you can talk about it? That’s because encouragement is about the child, not about you. It sets up self-motivation, not external motivation.”

How is telling a kid they are smart, about you? While I might agree that when kids reach a certain age they should be able to steam themselves forward, 3 year old, and even 5 year old don’t exactly understand that. They do what they want to do and are the best examples of zen and living in the now that we could look for. They live to please their parents. It isn’t until they reach middle school or grade school at the lowest (and older grades at that) that they can adequately motivate themselves, because frankly how can you expect them to when they don’t even understand the word yet? Anything you want your kid to do, they have to undesrtand. It needs to be a part of their vocabulary. Eat. Sleep. Poop. Get attention. Those are things that are pre-programed into them through evolution. You can’t wipe one of those out and just replace it instantaneously.

Ok. Lets just step back away from my personal views for another second (had about 400 more words written properly explaining this all, but it wasn’t saved when the internet decided to make a software up date). Waverman has another link on her article for those of us who “think telling our kids how inteligent they are is good for them” here it is:http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/index

Now lets look at what his article has to say. It says, and rather clearly too if a teenager can figure it out- that telling your kids how smart they are is bad for them. What has Waverman interpreted this onto? Complimenting and praising your kids is bad for them. Does no one else see the difference?

And again I want to stress the tried and true saying “Everything in moderation” Praise your child on a good mark in a test. Tell them that a straight A report card is good. Because what happens if you dont? They try and over achieve and burn out. If you get straight A’s and no one seems to think its any good but you think it is, what does that do to you? It demoralizes you. When you’ve put all your effort into something and you get a good result and Your parents take Ms. Waverman’s advice and implies that their best isn’t good enough… I’ll be surprised if the amount of kids being found running away from home increases.

Ms. Waverman claims she is able to justify her views because she is a praise junkie.

Shall I tell you my story?

Most of you know I don’t like getting compliments, because I feel they are insincere most of the time. Why? Because I got them often. Not that they were bad, because I was generally pretty good at things.  Like the kid in Ms. Waverman’s link- Thomas, I’m a horrible speller (I thank whoever invented spell checkers) and though spelling tests were always a source of embarrassment for me, I tried really hard on them- and got negative results. So when my mother would be working with my on my spelling list when I was in grade school, and I was getting every word wrong, every night, she would try to encourage me. And I worked on them. Everynight. When I managed to get one right, that I had gotten repeatedly wrong during the week, she would praise me. Not on the overall poor mark, but on that specific word and achievement. Like Thomas I achieved far beyond average scores, embarrassingly beyond averages scores, on standardized tests like the sats (not the American SAT’s) that I would refuse to tell my siblings. Even try to hide it from my parents, because I didn’t want to be a source of attention or a source of comparison for my siblings. You can’t compare us. One of us is a musical genius, the other a sports god, my sister is- well the radiant, beautiful, dancer and socialite, and I’m me. For a long time it seemed I was only good at school- when I started doing my brother’s maths hw with them at the age of  5 despite that they were 3 and 4 years older than me.

I never found what I was really good at. And you might ask how that can be, when it seems I’m smart. lets look at Thomas again. His praise on intelligence led him to not want to try at anything he wasn’t good at.  He gave up on spelling, and I, who was just like him didn’t. Because I had positive reinforcement from my parents- not just praise, but praise on improvements, not things I was naturally good at so that the difference was made and the emphasise put on the effort.

Ex? I was really bad at running. Always loosing when the four of us raced. So I started to run every chance I got. What happened? I became a good sprinter. Not soo good at long distance and I would have to drop out of a race after about 5 minutes (but thats because I couldn’t understand not putting my all in it). But I still was a great runner.

I had an awful experience nearly drowning in a big wave one vacation in North Carolina. I started swimming more than just playing at the pool doing laps and coming up with games with my sister that would involve the most swimming.  Rather than never going to the beach again and now I want to be a marine biologist (yeah, go ahead and think I’m crazy. Half the world does).

I got 16 out of 30 on some new standardized test they came up with in New York state when I was in third grade. The test tracked progress over the year and took info from 3 separate tests. The second one I was up to 20/30 and guess what I got on the last? 30/30. Yeah, I remember my fear over those tests. Spelling was a big part of them and the rest was basic English such as  big:small::large:little… I can’t remember what these exercises are called any more. But I still had a phenomenal development and spent a phenomenal amount of time working on them.

I used to think I was horrible at art because I had an Irish art teacher (not that its important, I just remember that she was Irish) who picked favourites with a girl who used to bully me. She drew really good cartoons, but everything she did was anime. I put effort in. I did tone and shadding and cross hatching before this girl even knew they existed. I remember trying so hard and the teacher would just turn to me saying that it was wrong and I needed to go back and do it again, when I didn’t even- hadn’t even been told- what was wrong. Instead she would hold up a white, line drawing of a girl with bubly eyes saying it was superb, tell the rest of us to use tone and such, when her example hadn’t even done it. What happened? I ws disheartened and ready to give up art the first chance I got. (I still hadn’t found what I was good at) Two years later, right before I was about to give up, I found my saint. A new teacher at school who was praising me from the moment I did my mock ‘artistic scrawl’ of my name across my folder in cursive… (Oh yeah, and I have horrible penmanship- something I thought was a downfall until I read an article which claimed that a messy hand indicates a creative mind- though thats worrysome for the scientist in me :P). He then continued to praise what I had been doing the previous years with no explanation as to what was wrong- and I learnt I wasn’t the one that was wrong. So I wasn’t crazy and I was drawing shadow. I was drawing proportions and perception. I was an artist. Now I’m taking art as a GCSE subject.

But thats not the only place where my eagerness to succeed has kept me going- against all odds it seems- into trying new things. Things I wasn’t initially good at. Waverman says that kids who recieve praise give up once they aren’t good at something? What about me and trampoline? and other sports? And dance? I’ll say it. I’m pretty good at most sports. I might not be the fastest runner due to my short legs. I might not last the longest. I might not have the most homeruns… but my technique is solid and I’m  pretty good at them anyways. Hence I’m often an example. Hence I’m actually teaching trampoline to the younger grades.

I only just recently did my first flips completely alone (without someone there to turn me if I was too slow or kipping me) But my technique in all of it is good and I understand how to do the skills like seat drops and so I’m trusted to teach five, six, seven year olds. I’m not teaching them to do flips. I never would trust myself with that. But I show them how to do pikes, straddles, seat drops and half twists. I explain to them so they understand. And let me tell you, every one of them can do each skill now. Even after just our first lesson I can notice a difference. I can notice they jump higher, more sure. And let me tell you something else. I praise them. I sometimes ask a younger girl to show me a seat drop or a pike and she will tell me she doesn’t remember. I show her, or explain to her, which the jump is, and she does it. Some times we have to work on it for a while, doing the same skill for five, 8, 10 tries until they do it perfectly because they are  young and don’t have all the motor skills yet, but by the time they are my age they will be unbelievable. And I tell them that when they get fed up, unable to do what I’ve told them. When they get it right, I praise the,m. Tel them to remember what it felt like. The way their body was, the way their muscles worked. When next they get on the tramp and they have a harder time with a move they mastered the week before I tell them remember that. Remember what it felt like? remember what I told you? Corrections and praise. And they remember- because I remember- and if they don’t- I’ve remind them. And they remember it and they do it. And I praise them again and the next week they don’t make the same mistake.

Oh- and trampoline isn’t something I’m naturally good at (though ballet has helped it)

So.

I’m a kid. (practically still)

And if you don’t think I am- I was just 6 years ago.

And if thats not enough. I’m teaching them and I’m seeing results and I’m with them every day, and working with them.

Oh and I just remembered something I wanted to write- I still haven’t found my talent. I think writing might be it, or else scuba diving.

Oh and another thing I just remembered that I hadn’t been able fit earlier. Why it was that I didn’t like compliments? I think I’ve figured out my real problem and it brings me back to my message of Everything in moderation All around me, when I changed school and met kids with their parents for the first time, there were parents who sugarcoated their children lives. Who would say that they were brilliant genii. Great athletes. Great Dancers. Great artists. Would you believe most of them weren’t? I couldn’t believe that people who could speak so passionately and so effortlessly about their childrens’ A plus reports could have children who didn’t get a single A and who were benched at the soccer games or so on. I wondered, when my parents told me they were proud, or when I over heard them at a dinner party saying that I was intelligent, or so on or so on- that they were just like any other parent. Showing me off. I didn’t like the idea of being showed off even if I was (I think I had an aunt who told me continuously when I was little that we would make great trophy wives…).  I love my parents, and I’m coming to terms with- though with difficulty- that I am not just average with certain things (and this blog has greatly helped with the writing- though I still think that I’m not that good at writing reply’s :P)

SOOOO Prais your kids on their effort- thats the best form of encouragement. Make sure they understand that they are good at something that they are good at. Don’t tell them that they are stars- or you are setting them up for deflating.  Help them to improve- encourage them to step outside their comfort zones.

But take your own instincts and logic when you raise your kids. At the end of the day- they are your kids and no one can tell you how to raise them properly.

And I spent 2 hours writing this- so appreciate it.

AND REMEMBER- EVERYTHING IN MODERATION!

Words under my eyelids

Me again.

I’ve gotten an awful knot in my back that I can not seem to get rid of. Probably from sleeping upright or curled in a ball…

After my last post, I tried to get up and do something with my life, alas I could not… I was just too uncomfortable, so I came back to my trusty nook and took to reading some, browsing the web, and reading freshly pressed. It seems I can not focus on anything. I spend the hours aimlessly lumbering around the house, wincing with every step, breath and cough.

One thing, however, on the freshly pressed page, caught my attention and I keep going back to it.

http://theelementarycircle.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/so-am-i-an-author-yet

Beautiful words there. Truly inspirational and motivational.  They kept coming back to me in a jumbles of ways, especially guilt at the stories I’ve left as barely finished word files on my documents in a special folder titled literature (everyone assumes its English Literature coursework and doesn’t bother to look there for anything juicy- so shhhh!)

So I ask, what keeps you going? What burns and fuels the story onwards? Whats the secret to giving a story a plausible spark of life?

That seems to be my problem. I’ll be working on something just fine, burning up the pages and pens, or the keyboard (wherever I happen to be writing, and I’ve found projects last longer when I work on paper and then copy into word files but always putting new text first on actual paper.) However, as soon as I show it to someone, it drains. It becomes a pail with a hole; a leaking balloon; a cracked window pane in the dead of winter… letting all the good stuff out. Where first I’ll have perceived a spark of life, sharing the story with others seems to steal that. I don’t know if its just in my head, if I get bored of it, or if I drop it because lately there just isn’t enough hours in the day… Whatever it is, I’d like to put a stop to it. I have 6 pieces on my laptop that I’ve worked on, off and on, since August.

I don’t know…

When you are working on something, and excited about it, do you share it? or wait until its complete? I always try to wait until the story is somewhat underway so that when/if I show it to other people, their opinions and thoughts won’t distract where I feel it taking me.

Another issue, another reason why I think it looses life for me, is, something I’ve mentioned before.

I hate compliments. I know, I know. It’s stupid. I mean who doesn’t like having something nice said to their face? provided its sincere that is. But that’s just it! No compliment is truly sincere! (or at least I don’t feel they are). When someone says they like your outfit, or shoes, or says that you are good at something- how often can you be sure its not hollow? That they aren’t just saying it to have you say the same thing back? I mean how often do we go around our lives and here someone compliment someone on (again) their hair, or shoes, or clothes (ok, so maybe I’m being a typical girl here, and this is just another reason why I envy guys because they don’t have all this put on them- I dont think) only to get the smile dripping, automatic reply of “Thanks, me to!” or whatever is fitting. I always feel that I’m put in an awkward position when receiving a compliment. There are three different cases:

1. From a peer: in which case all I can think is “Do I say thank you and walk off? Do I smile and compliment them? Do I compliment their hair, shoes, purse, shirt? WHat is it that they feel proud of that they want to flaunt? Or what is it that they feel insecure about and want validation for? (I’m normally pretty trustworthy- I think)

2. From a guy friend: which are the easiest because they don’t normally double twist meanings and go through the expense of complimenting a person just to have their own ego stoked. Still they aren’t always truthful so depending on who its coming from Ill either ignore it completely or smile and say thanks. None of this stupid girly, hair twirling ” Really? You thinks so?” -SOOOO passe!

3. From an adult/teacher: If its about something they have to do with, like if I did well in the recent show, I always feel compelled to explain how much thanks I owe to them for making it so wonderful or whatever. Its true, but I still feel awkward and compelled to do so. So I normally try to get that in before they can give me a compliment so that I know whether theirs is true or not. When its from an adult I get along well with, someone I consider more of a peer, its again a no problem zone. Then, the compliments are mature, and not gushy like, and i can take them in stride and bank them.

I know. I’m paranoid. What can I say? the thing is no matter where you look, people lie to you. You can’t trust family, because they have to love you no matter what, so I never show anything to my mom because she will either discourage me from it or say how wonderful it is, depending on what it is. I don’t show it to my dad because he probably wouldn’t care. I don’t show it to my brothers because they would just twist it around to make fun of me (*sigh*boiz) I’ll sometimes show it to my sister, but just because I know her so well and, well also because I’d feel bad ‘hiding’ something from her.

Friends? Please. Their worthless- when it comes to honesty that is. I’ve got one or two that I sometimes feel I can get the truth from, but when I get what they think is true and its good… well no one is that perfect… So I move on. It’s just, no mater what, they aren’t going to want to hurt you, especially when they know you well enough to see, even trying to hide it, how excited you are about something. So when my friend requests updates on every chapter I’ve written for a story I made the mistake of showing her… it feels like its just a pattern. SHe started reading it and now she can’t stop or else it would show that she doesn’t like it. Or that its not good. Not that she absolutely feels that way, but when its anybody but yourself how can you be sure?

I can’t very well show it to a teacher. who would care besides an English teacher, right? She’s very supportive of me, and I don’t always doubt she would lie to me. She is good at sugar coating constructive criticism though. But still, she doesn’t exactly have time for it. i wouldn’t want to bother her with it.

I guess in the end I just get too bogged down thinking its automatically rubbish and that everyone is lying to me (yes, yes I know! I sound completely paranoid, and maybe I am, but I’m getting by… oh sod what other people think of it, Ill keep writing) but in the end I lose sense of that life. Or maybe its that the hysteria people show towards it, that I loose sense of the meager spark of life my characters once had, in comparison to the blaze they put on for show. The stories always end up seeming somewhat dead to me, I think. Oh ok, I’m getting lost in my own rabbit holes of my mind… And this is long enough anyways.

SO point is: Motivational blog post by CClester convincing me to keep writing regardless of what other people think. 🙂

Edit addition: OH and btw, just thought I’d let the world know: I’ve finally filled up a notebook! Its a small notebook, plastic bound, but its a good one to be the start. Next are my ancient, attic found, leather bound ones, which i should go through quickly seeing as I’ve recently taken to writting in fine crayola markers. Though the leather bound already has the startings of one short story and another novella and the notebook had many other poems and short short stories in it, the piece i’m working on now, is , I think, my longest lasting piece so far. so YAY! And heres to hoping it continues! (I’ve been writting it all on paper first- yes with marker, and only one person has read a substantial amount and only one other person has read the prologue and first chapter… Lets see if it works, shall we?

btw, if anyone reads this, and has any suggestionf for names? I need a Nordic/ scandinavia (possibly sweedish, icelandic, or danish) boys name, and last name, and a girl’s name. I’ve named her sister Amy for some reason… its a name I’ve never thought much of. And Im kinda leaning towards Laura or lauren for her… But I like to go with not over done names which can portray the character well. But not too obscure either… So if anyone has any suggestions because I normally leave the main characters as hes, shes, and its until the book is substantially developed because I can never decide on anything… But I really should go and do something with my life!