Friday, February 22, 2008

Executive Function and Urge to Slap Rising!

Scene: Dallas Airport at one of the many mini Starbucks in the American Airlines Hub. Ordering coffees at Starbucks, now nicknamed Fourbucks.

Actors: Myself, your friendly All Things Considered host; My Father, your half Italian, Pittsburgh Stealers fan, Magellan antithesis; A disheveled, angry faced mother and her two terrors; A very stylish, mid 40s woman.

What happens next clearly indicates the children are lacking in executive functions learned during old fashion child's play; "good self-regulation, able to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline." (stated by NPR's Alix Spiegel)Hear the report HERE.

In other words, these kids were loud, overly emotional, hitting each other and their mother, unable to resist the impulse to whine and had no self control or discipline.

Before I go on let me say that I dig kids. I love them. Want some of my own some day.

I wanted to smack these children.

We heard them coming before we saw them. The little girl, maybe 8, was screaming at her mother to give her a jacket. Then she would fake cry. Then her brother, maybe 9 or 10, shouted he wanted a mocha. When they turned the corner I saw two overly plump, Caucasian kids. The little girl grabbed the back of her mother's purse strings and pulled the woman to a hault!
"STOOPPP! I WANT IT NOOOWWW!" The little girl stomped her feet (so 1st grade darling!) and screamed...SCREAMED "IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE IT IS THEN YOU WILL BUY ME ANOTHER ONE FOR $100!" Then her brother punched her in the arm - she cried. He shouted to his mother, "I DON'T CARE. SHUT THE HELL UP!"

OMG. OMG. No he didn't. I looked at my father with eyes asking, "Did he just say that?"
My father whispered loudly in my ear, "Wonder who's fault that is?"
I said to him, "I am this close to going over there and talking to that little girl."
Dad: "Nah. Don't bother. It's none of your business."

We heard more screaming and whining while waiting for our coffees. We noticed the disgusted looks on everyone's faces. One woman looked at me and said, "That family needs to be on Nanny 911!"

As we left my Dad said, "I hope they're not on our plane!"

They were. With Grande Mocha Frappes and whipped cream.

So after I heard the report on Morning Edition about executive function and child's play...I thought of those two kids. Maybe unplug them from the video game console, open the door and tell them to play. With what? Their imagination. Have them make their own rules, follow them, learn some self regulation and contemplation.

Then offer some help to the mother.

Am I being too harsh here? My COMMENTS has taken a vacation...I'm looking into where it went so in the meantime, email me your thoughts for posting


About seven years ago I was in Tacoma visiting my best friends from college. At the time they had a four year old, Eva, and a two year old. Eva was on a play date with another little girl. Their youngest was napping upstairs. Lynn and I were sitting on the front porch when the mother drove up in her van with Eva and her little friend. Everyone got out of the van and congregated on the sidewalk for goodbyes. Everything was going swimmingly until Eva wanted her stuffed animal back. The other little girl then proceeded to pitch a fit of monumental proportions. Eva didn’t grab the toy, she didn’t punch the other little girl or scream at her she just wanted her toy back. The little girl would have none of it. Lynn and I stood there, almost transfixed, by what happened next.

First, the mother started pleading with the little girl. “_________, please, please, please give back the toy to Eva. Please listen to mommy, honey.” You get the idea. All the time the little girl is screaming her head off, crying and flailing around. The highlight came when she took off down the street carrying Eva’s toy with her mom chasing after her saying, “Honey, please stop. Please listen to Mommy. Please give Eva back her toy.” At this point, I had retreated to the safety of the porch to watch the horror unfold before me. Eventually, the girl was persuaded to give up the toy and persuaded to get in the van. It took quite some time.

After they left and Eva had calmed down and gone upstairs for a nap Lynn came back outside and sat down on the porch with me. There was a long silence. Then she said, “Robin, what do you think of what just happened?” I hesitated and finally said, “I’m not a parent, so I don’t feel qualified to say anything.” “I really want to know what you think,” replied Lynn. “Well,” I replied, I have a question. Who was in charge? Because it certainly wasn’t the mom.” I’ll never forget that mother following that child, pleading and literally begging for her cooperation.

I told Lynn that my mom was not perfect, but I know that I would never have been allowed to behave in that manner. My mom would have firmly grabbed my arm, pulled the toy away from me, told me in no uncertain terms that the toy was NOT mine, would have made ME give it back and if I’d whined and continued crying would have swatted me on the behind, put me in the car and driven away. My mother was in charge and I needed her to be in charge. I also needed her to teach me how to control myself, how to return borrowed objects and how to be respectful.

Okay, I feel better. J

By the way, my friend Lynn and her husband Jeff are excellent parents. They are loving, firm, compassionate and disciplined and are teaching these qualities to their children who are a pleasure to be around. Their Auntie Robin loves them dearly.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What Oil Do You Use? Beef.

First let me say that I couldn't have planned the timing of my vacation any better. I hear you had a lot of snow while I was gone? Grocery store roofs collapsing, WSU closed, 6 hours shoveling snow off driveways! But when I drive is all melting; Seems I brought some warm weather back with me!

Second, I would like to give a shout out to my new friends in Walla Walla! I will write about my visit with the Walla Walla Chamber and Canoe winery later.

Now, let's get crazy like the Kiwis!

Cement Luge. Check it out! You have to do this and be careful to not hit the little children on the way down. Instead, aim for the screaming adult my highly competitive traveling partner did. Here's the scene. You wait patiently in line with a hundred kids, sprinkle in some parents and Asian tourists.

NOTE: Not all Asian tourists in NZ are tourists...they are Kiwis! As my mother says, "Koreans are everywhere. I am not surprised. Kiwis need Kim chi too!"

Grap your black, three wheeled, motor less cart. Prove to the 16 year old safety guard that you know how to use the brakes...shimmy your way to one of three lanes; scenic, intermediate, advanced and GO!

Scenic was nice and....scenic. Took a long time and this is where most of the parents with kids on their laps drive. Weaving in and out of them was a breeze! Ha Ha Suckers! Intermediate was a nice test of your new driving skills...just don't let go of the handles or your cart brakes COLD and you go flying. Didn't happen to me but I was told it does sometimes. Advanced: Now we're talkin! I totally kicked some 5year old's butt on this run! You should have seen him screaming at me! Let off the break little dude and you MIGHT catch up!

Then you take a ski lift all the way up the mountain to do it again. This time I would race my friends down the advance. I was in second place...passing my HIGHLY COMPETETIVE TRAVEL PARTNER, who will be known as Jerk for the rest of this blog. There I was, spotting the end...going for the silver when I look behind me and see Jerk speeding up. He ignored the SLOW DOWN NOW sign because, well, let's be honest! It's like a red light in Italy - a suggestion.

Here comes Jerk and the lanes are merging and BAM! He squeezes me out of the lane! I am ejected from my cart and forced to use my bum as the brakes!

I got back in the saddle and limped my way to the finish line. I was laughing because it must have been a ridiculous site. Jerk was mortified when I showed him my raspberry. Then he felt so bad...I milked it the whole rest of the trip! I won't tell you how I scraped the same spot while riding the SCENIC luge; no one to blame for that but myself!

On to ZORB: This is where they throw you in a plastic, human sized, hamster ball and push you down a hill! GREAT FUN! I highly recommend you try this with water. When I did it there was a water shortage at the site. (Global issue huh?) So I did the dry run and that was fun...but the water allows more people in the ball with you! On second thought that could mean elbow in the face and after the luge I am done bleeding.

Then Swing Catapult! Good rush!

Then Rally Car Race. Am I tired? NO! But I have to admit that I cried in the rally car because the driver was insane. Which must be the point.

NOTE: Idaho farm boys have learned a variety of ways to entertain themselves with speed, engines and B.B. guns. Give them a bike, a cliff and near death experience and you have a friend for life.

When it was my turn to drive an evil sensation swept over me as I gained speed. I felt the inner Sue-animal emerge! I am gonna make this Sucker CRY!!! And I detected a wee little tear as he learned I had the fastest overall time! He may have had the fastest LAP but technique ruled the race that day!

Cave tubing was amazing! The 16 year old guide (they have a lot of them employed here) gave us directions.

Kiwi: Yeah. All right everyone. I'm Chris that that guy over theh is Mike. Give a wave Mike. Yeah. Uh. Mike doesn’t like you to pee in the wet suits. It's very bad smell and hard to clean. Right Mike? Yeah. See he's noddin yeah. So please do not pee in your wetsuit. The pee will be trapped in and you will essentially be marinated in your own urine. Not very appealin.

We were off! Glow worms are really cannibalistic mosquito grubs with glowing poop. But that is not as cute as GLOW WORM! They are beautiful and all activities at the Waitomo caves are highly recommended! After the 2 hour caving/tubing/water jumping run you get a hot shower and soup!

Geothermal parks are everywhere and a must see. In some parts of Rotorura the Earth let's you know she's alive with her perfume sulfur scent and steam. I was in awe of the mineral pools, lakes and streams. The variety of colors - gold, highlighter yellow, sky blue, Ana Sui Spring collection 2002 green, and the mud! How the mud bubbles up and farts! So many giggles and thoughts of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

The landscape of New Zealand is both romantic Jane Austen novel, Jurrassic Park 1 and yes...Lord of the Rings. I am at a loss for words.

The fish and chips in NZ were delicious! Last year a student got scurvy because he only ate fish and chips. Cheap and good...why blame him? Guess he didn't like tomato sauce (ketchup in Kiwi talk with a clove flavor). When I asked the fish and chips guy what oil he used for frying he looked at me like I was strange.

"Beef" the man said.

"I love your country Sir! I'll take the number 2!"