compassion and social distancing

For a while there, the public health professionals were trying to amend the term “social distancing” and replace it with “physical distancing”. This was an acknowledgement of the fact that we are inherently social l’il mammals and we needed to prioritise our emotional bonds even as we severed physical ones.

Anyway, I’m very physically distanced from the pain in the USA and simultaneously socially tied and connected. My husband was born there, my daughters are hybrid citizens. One of my dearest mama friends is Minnesotan, we danced and laughed in Minneapolis when I was 23. I had no idea, then, how advantageous my fair complexion was as I moved through the world. I wouldn’t hear the phrase “white privilege” until 1999, which was years later.

Party over, oops … out of time.

As a sidenote, all hail the Program for Infant Toddler Care in California. I was lucky enough to do their training in the late 90s. I remember a photocopied handout, “unpacking the invisible backpack of white privilege”, a solid 10-15 years before the concept began to be explored in the wider world. Early childhood teachers have long been the avant garde practitioners of that which will prove to be even more important than we could have quantified.

Anyway, so I”m rambling on because I’m in pain and a bit muddled.

Here’s what I think we could do. And by “we” I mean the work-from-home mums, the mums on the opposite side of the world to the protests.

If we can afford it, we can chip in a few bucks to help one of the organisations supporting those making a stand for justice in the USA. Here is a link to fundraising campaigns supporting bail for protestors in these various cities. This is the Action Center on Race & the Economy, they highlight issues of racial injustice, highlighting the need for wall st. accountability. Just a couple of options.

And if you are someone who works with kids (or if you have kids), be even more ready than usual to have some conversations with them about race. This is an awesome resource from the National Museum of African American History & Culture, and here’s some more ideas, … um … y’know … that’s us.

Then we gotta surf that line between staying informed about the world’s events, (even if via satirical works that are brilliant and hilarious and tragic … like THIS heartbreaking, knee-slapping McSweeney’s gem. Or THIS one)(or, for flip’s sake, THIS ONE) and keeping a lid on telly, internet, smartphone for reasons of self preservation. If no news is good news, how much time should we really devote to the news?

(not to mention the fact that we are still having our data mined, pandemic or no, race riots nonewithstanding. The world might be on fire, but too much time on devices is still messing with kids’ minds. In fact, it’s arguably worse, because so many kids are online even more during lockdowns all over the world – homeschooling or recreating. This has led to a terrifying increase in online sexual exploitation of children , among other ills. And we cannot really trust them (tech companies), because they keep proving themselves to be such snakes. ) Sigh.

Mind our influences. Listen to beautiful music, watch some stand up comedy, go for a blimmin walk. Support your favourite online physical (& therefore mental!) health expert. I love this local gal, and I love this local gal, and this one, all of whom have made switches to some kind of online delivery to support their communities. AND I love this international practitioner of strength, who has always had an online community! Thanks to all the people helping people to keep moving! You too, Adriene!

But yeah, if you can, donate.

on mites, lice, and COVID-19

Kia Ora lovelies. What a time to be alive, eh? Lessons a-plenty, as seen here in this bit of deliciousness showcasing the work of the awesome Bagshaws. (And Lyndon Puffin, no less!)

I’ve been putting my faith in Dr Bloomfield and Ms Adern, which was easy when we were on full on lockdown (I heart home) but it’s been a test today … sending kids back to school … YIKES.

Part of the reason for my trepidation is my first hand experience with what happens when one gets too lax, too fast, about controlling a vile outbreak. During lockdown, I had to sort lice from a child’s head and mites in my henhouse. Lemme tell you: you gotta keep your foot on the gas or outbreaks return without regard. Ya hear me, Ministry of Education? Did you SEE this proposed future, laid out by NZ Geographic? We gotta be careful!

Trusting you, Dr Bloomfield. Trusting you …

Some more links now, some COVID resources from Bruce Perry & pals, and this article from Reuters is about the need for green solutions in the rebooting of economies. There is lots we can do as individuals, too … like these inspiring ideas from Retrosuburbia.

Meanwhile, here is a post from Sensible Screen Use which reminds us that all this online education is experimental, this is an important portal to thinking about digital use and wellbeing at the mo, thanks be to the Center for Humane Tech, because let’s not forget: too much tech isn’t great for kids. It’s like the mites: they don’t care if there’s a pandemic on. It’s like the potential for damage to my dear wee liver because of excessive alcohol consumption … it still counts, pandemic or no.

Finally, here is an article from the NY Times which explains how and why Zoom can feel so unsatisfactory.

I mean, thank you Zoom, you’ve been helpful, but y’ain’t face to face. You can’t help it.

OH … by the way … today’s picture shows the latest issue of OHbaby!, which features an article I wrote. It’s about Growing Great Flatmates, and i hope you will enjoy it 😉

OldTryCovidPosters-01Kia Ora e hoa ma, g’day mates. Here is another lovely image from the talented folk at The Old Try.  Free to download!  If you’ve a printer, put one on your fridge!

We have at-home schooling starting in NZ today – I’ve tried to put some reasonable guardrails in place for my two. Sorry to say, but there are still a great many reasons to be cautious about tech.  I know people are all jazz-hands about online learning, but let’s not forget that kids’ data is still being harvested, that children need our protection from online sexual predation (MORE THAN EVER), or that we learn best hands-on, pen & paper, face to face.  And we gotta get outside to play!

Not to be all Captain Bringdown … just speaking truths that are STILL TRUE.

Here’s some lovely stuff, to counteract the grimness … some beautiful tips from a zen master for staying sane in challenging times are here, and this is a cool little video clip about making it out of lockdown without murdering anyone in one’s bubble. Here are some cool ideas for families from the excellent Sparklers website, and darlings: make space for your grief.

Another tech caution is HERE, in an article I wrote for OHbaby!, and here is a lil’l something from the brilliant Bruce Perry about responses to trauma (which I suspect an unprecedented number of people will be relating to, right now!) and if that all has you feeling a little verklempt try moving your body! Take it away Sam Shorkey!

Or try a little meditation, thank you Adriene 😉

Love y’all x xx take care x x x arohanui x x x

 

look for the helpers

flatten curveKia Ora my friends.The beautiful image to the left is one of the series of free, lovely downloads from the awesome people at The Old Try.

You know what awesome Fred Rogers is quoted as saying? “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.””

Oh, bless you Mr. Rogers.

Look for the helpers, my friends.

Like here: in Singapore. And here: Yoga with Adriene.

 

And look for the beauty – like those aforementioned prints, like these phenomenal cross stitch patterns, and like this bit of amazing news about the return of swans and dolphins to the canals of Venice.  And how lovely to witness adults being playful, as in this collection of lockdown vids from Huff Po. I know … it’s confusing.  The ‘net is both blessing and curse.

A couple of COVID specific screen time resources here, for all the kids spending extra time at home …there is a well-timed webinar coming right up from our friends at the Children’s Screen Time Action Network, and Common Sense Media will help you tread a little more carefully in the digital world, and I humbly offer an article I wrote some months (years!) ago, with some info about offline play for little ‘uns. 

Also: cut yourself a little slack, in the meantime! Good enough parenting, darlingsFeel those feels and let the kidlets feel theirs too!  

We still gotta be careful about all the time online, pals. This is an article from the Guardian about how YouTube is an agent of radicalisation (if you didn’t hear this episode of the Undivided Attention podcast interviewing Guillaume Chaslot, it explains this notion v. well).

What else? Gotta bring it on home so I can go meet little girl off school bus.  Yup, still running in NZ.

Here is a guest post I wrote, about screen free week in NZ.  

And finally: RIP Ron Lally.  He was a tireless advocate for children and he helped change my professional trajectory.  He was kind and decent to me, we hung out both here and in Cali, and we in the field have lost a giant.

I only recently learned of his death, and I wept.

many links for geeky friends

Kia Ora e hoa ma,

Many amazing things for you to read, coming right up.

First, from the World Health Organisation, about the needs of li’l kids.  I love how they cut through the dross and tell it like it is!  Here is a gift from the folks at New Dream, about being an effective change maker in 2020.

And now … a bunch of tech links.  Cos I gotta.  The first comes from MIT, the prestigious technology based university.  I highlight that source, because you cannot accuse them of being anti tech!  And if they are concerned about use of tech in the classroom, we oughta be concerned. From NZ, now, a summary of research that led to some recommendations for classrooms. Thanks, Sensible Screen Use!

 

(I wrote this piece a few years back: for OHbaby! about school readiness … might have to pitch another one with an emphasis on countering the over-technification of too many of our classrooms!)  I would begin by sharing the NEW ACTION KIT from the Children’s Screen Time Action Network. 

Outside the classroom: here’s a write up of an initiative to get kids to put down their phones, and here is a link to that initiative (“Look Up”). Kids can function just fine without phones, enjoy this story from the NY Times as evidence!

We do need to be a little more nuanced in our thinking about all this … the Human Screenome Project is one interesting example. 

From a speech language perspective, this is for parents about their own tech use, and this is about the need for sharing books with babies … books made of paper, not digital ones.

Children in NZ also need us to pay attention to the fact that so many of them are living in poverty, they need our support in getting outdoors and being a little free range, and let’s not forget the emotional development or the magical glial cells!

Finally, cos I gotta go drive a carload of kids to some swimming sports … I am coveting this.  Is that shallow or WHAT?

a love letter to my wrinkles

Photo on 27-01-20 at 1.52 PM #4Dear Wrinkles,

I like how when I gently separate the smile lines around my eyes, it reveals little pale stripes. This tells me that the summer (and my life!) has involved so much laughter and amusement that it has altered our landscape, creating little white valley floors.  Cute!

And as for that monstrous chasm between my eyebrows (aka my “MacGyver line“), I kinda love you too.  You exist like a sheer cliff face because you reflect the depth of my care, my concern, my outrage. With so much trouble in the world, none of us oughta have an unfurrowed brow.

Babies in cages? Languages dying? Planet heating?  …Until we can sort out a thing or two, there is too much to frown about.

Yikes, just today I have learned about the untimely death of poor Kobe Bryant & his little girl. Consider their surviving family … right there is grounds for a compassionate frown!

Other things that are frown-worthy: the increasing concerns surrounding smartphone use in the presence of our babies, that previous link from the NZ Herald, and over here in a professional setting from the good folk at The Conversation: same, same.

Anyway, Just letting a couple of things off my chest before January runs away on me.

And she’s a big one, e hoa ma. January 2020. New decade.

Oh, George Michael sang it beautifully back in the day:

Now everybody’s talking about this
New decade
Like you say the magic numbers
Then just say goodbye to
The stupid mistakes you made
Oh my memory serves me far too well

That was released in 1990, which does not seem that long ago to me! I still think that album sounds totally relevant. Current. But realistically, heaps of things have changed. It was 30 frickin years ago. I was 15. Now I’m a motherless mother of 2, a wife and homeowner. I can still dance to George Michael but let’s make it snappy cos I’ve got to get dinner ready.

Life changes. Which brings me back to the love letter to my wrinkles. …

My vestige of valleys. The creasy crew, the liney lot. You are a series of stories on my face, and I wouldn’t be without any of you. The longer I live, the more of you there shall be.  So, while I’ll continue to wear sunscreen everyday and slather on the moisturiser at night, I’ll welcome each of your entrenchments as evidence of a life lived fully.

Love,

mm x x x

PS, In other news, here is an article I wrote for OHbaby! a while ago about looking after our beautiful bodies, this is an article from Scientific American about the brain’s penchant for our bodies being exercised, and – similarly – HOLLER to the other peeps who are enjoying Adriene’s 30 day yoga programme = HOME. I’m about to do day 24! No frowning there.

’tis the season …

IMG_0570Kia Ora friends,

Here is a picture of me reading the latest OHbaby! under the Christmas tree… because
’tis the season for a link dump, fa la la la laaaaaa…

This excellent summer issue of OHbaby! holds an article I wrote, and many I didn’t!  All good though!

With apologies for having abandoned this faithful blog in recent weeks, I return with a plethora of interesting reading for the geekily inclined.

First up, hot off the (virtual) press: Here is an excellent piece from the NY Times, written by Tristan Harris (he of Center for Humane Tech fame).  It’s about our dear wee Paleolithic brains dealing with the Godlike capacities of tech. Then you might read this article from vox.com, it challenges the idea that our relationships with tech are aligned with evolution.

Some interesting stuff here about the youth: this piece from our pals at Sensible Screen Use is about the potential legal ramifications for schools & boards if children are harmed by their tech use while at school, here is an article linking teen smartphone use with ADHD, and this is an article from Ed Week about how bad kids are at spotting fake news, and LOOK! You can counter that by sharing this awesome resource about fact checking skills for students (thanks, Mike Caulfield!).

Let’s just ask the question, then: does educational technology really help students learn?

Check out the flash new website of the magnificent Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, and then ponder this article, which alleges that parents only spend 24 more minutes per day with their kids than they do with their phones.

A couple of gorgeous links here celebrating PLAY and specifically loose parts play. Loose Parts were all the rage in ECE circles toward the end of last century, and I”m happy to see discussion of their awesomeness again. THIS is an article from Penn State University, about observing children during such play, and this is from closer to home, from Education HQ.

Here is a report which confirms what you probably already instinctively knew: Work-Life conflict is stressing us out, and this is a report from Common Sense Media about youth screen use in 2019.

A few more tech links, now: this is a link to Richard Freed’s blog.  His latest piece reminds people about the parallels between the tech industry and the tobacco industry, blaming the individual user for becoming addicted (rather than amending the addictive nature of the products…).\ HERE is a story about learning to think (without the internet) again, and THIS is from the Guardian in the UK, another little something about the immorality of Facebook as they count alcohol and gambling amongst childrens’ interests. Nice! (not).  Which is worse?  That nonsense, or THIS spying by the period tracker app and the pushing of antenatal products by FB advertisers?

How about some yumminess to close … I LOVE this, from Scientific American … what can we learn from the advice we’d give our younger selves? (My advice: frown less & smile more, and always always always with the sunscreen!) here is a wonderful article from Simplicity Parenting about knife skills for kids (I’m so into it!) AND from New Dream.org … ideas for simplifying the holidays.  

Arohanui, y’all x x x

I ruin parties!

Kia Ora ladies and gentlegeeks,

How to ruin a party, in two easy steps.

1) introduce yourself to a small group

2) explain that you’re researching the impact of parental distraction by smartphones on the parent:infant relationship.

That’s kinda why I call myself Captain Buzzkill.  Because I can’t sit and pretend everything is OK while babies are having their caregivers seduced and distracted by the dopamine machines.

Because I can’t switch this off!  A staunch child advocate knows no rest! The other night hubby and I were out on a Saturday night (that previous link is an awesome song but it is a YouTube video … RESIST – do not click on recommended videos, and here is why.)

ANYWAY we were attempting to both rock and roll to a visiting musician’s best efforts, and he was riling up the crowd with “it doesn’t matter who you are, we all get a say” kind of messages, and instead of anything resembling a “woooo – hooooo!” the best I can do is lean into husband’s ear and say “not babies, though.  They need advocates”.

So edgy and cool am I!

Last night I had the great privilege of a rant and a talk with a group of whānau in my own neck of the woods. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again I LOVE PLAYCENTRE

This coming hard on the heels of a joyful Saturday, getting to hang out in a roomful of loving professionals associated with Homebased childcare in New Zealand.

Lovely, lovely!

I was grateful for someone’s question last night about my imagined and desired guidelines for families to support them in making wise digital choices in the presence of babies. Off the top of my brain I came up with three good ones, and I’ve since thought of another worth including. These are based on the months and months of reading, writing & thinking I’ve done about tech and the years and years of reading, learning, writing, thinking & teaching about child development, families, relationships, attachment, behaviour, etc!

You get it, I am a baby geek.

Anyway.  The guidelines so far look like this:

  1. Save it till they Sleep
  2. If you must use tech, say “excuse me”
  3. Keep your phone in your bag in the next room
  4. Make routines (food, sleep, dressing) device free

Each of these can use some explanation and unpacking, but not now my friends.  I have to go do some domestic stuff before the evening shift begins!

Some of the resources we talked about were

Captain Bringdown

Kia Ora, ladies and gentlegeeks

It’s been a while since I came and geeked out over here and shared some links (aka cleared some tabs) and it’s a joy and a privilege to have a moment to do just that!

Small one due home from school in a jiff and I will switch from office brain to domesticity. But for now I want to pause and breathe in and out together, perhaps grounding through all four corners of the feet and rolling the shoulders.  AMEN!

And then I wanna say … mate it’s hard sometimes.  So much of the news is bad and the threats are real. The wisdom of what to do to protect ourselves (and provide an umbrella for others) can be increasingly hard to tune into when we are surrounded by outrage machines.

YA KNOW?

Oh, Nature, we need you!

Oh, attention span, I miss you!

Oh, movement! I love you!

Anyway, busy time for this geek, learning heaps of new bits as I try and get a study through an ethics committee (my first go). Also attempting to wrestle a literature review into submission.  Winning, but JUST. Lots of family stuff too, of course. And if you’re planting with the lunar cycles (and why wouldn’t you, I’d like to know? Might as well, right?) then this forthcoming weekend is the time to get your seeds started under cover.  Well, if you live near Canterbury, NZ.

Why don’t we do a link dump now, my friends, and I will see you on the flip side.

Let’s start with something from Business Insider (I love a diverse perspective!) on evidence Apple shareholders used to show smartphones are addictive for kids. While we’re talking about kids and phones (which I do an awful lot of, these days.  JEEZ I’M BORING) here is something from Wait til 8th (from US … as in 8th grade aka kiwi year 10 aka 14 years old … they promote waiting till that age till parents get their kids a smartphone) ANYWAY here’s something from them about screen use in schools.   And here’s a pretty great opinion piece about screens in schools.

OK, one more screen site: this is a list reason of physics-based reasons that too much screen stuff is bad for us, from Fair Observer AND this is a piece about an important bit of legislation in coming up for discussion in the US, to make infinite scrolling and autoplay not the default setting anymore.  Sorry if that sentence didn’t make sense.  School bus is here gotta go

Back.  Nearly done with screeniac links. THIS is from Scientific American, and it’s about rebuilding social media to support empathy. They’ll need to read this manifesto from the Center (Centre!) for Humane Tech, about avoiding human downgrading. 

THIS from the Conversation is about the need for diversity in children’s books,  and speaking of books, here is a piece encouraging paper not screen, and enjoy this webinar from our pals at the Children’s Screen Time Action Network … it’s about reading aloud.  Hooray.  I absolutely get how getting your kid comfy listening to stories on the iPad while you get a meal going can feel like a win, but imagine a world where you could consistently BE the iPad in that scenario!  I miss curling up with warm little kids and reading them stories.  I think that my dearth of snuggly reading means I must be outta whack.  I blame the literature review.  And the excessive amounts of pine pollen in my atmosphere!

See what I mean about the attention span?  Where was I?

Here is a cool thing from Scientific American about babies’ sense of justice, and speaking of justice, won’t you please sign this petition. Then, as dessert, check out these gems from my man Rick Hansen, to lower stress. Oh, and speaking of dessert! How gross is this marketing of diets to children? NO Thank you.

Now I’m stressed out again and I’ll just head back to Rick Hansen for some deep dreaths and inner smiles.

Arohanui,  y’all x x x

death bed

OK, so it may be a cliché, but don’t they tend to exist for a reason?  Mate, we absolutely have to measure time with half an eye on an awareness of our mortality.

Yesterday I went to the funeral of a dear family friend.  I went with my one surviving brother and my widowed dad, along with some ghosts.  Two out of the three of us wore jaunty hats, and every piece of my outfit was chosen with care: my late mum’s jacket, my late grandmother’s brooch, a belt given to me by my late brother when I was 14 (it’s my most prized physical possession on the earth!), my stompiest boots.

In the car on the way to the airport, Radiohead.  The beautiful song “Videotape” was made all the more poignant by my destination.  The ceremony was held at a beautiful location, and this South Islander definitely took a moment to buzz out on the sound of tui from surrounding bush.

While there, I witnessed raw emotion.  Respect, regret, sadness, loss, gratitude.  And Love.  Lots of love.

The music at that service was exquisite, and among our discussions my brother and I kept leaning on music to make sense of pain, grief. loss.  How to explain my weirdly peaceful feelings about death? I’ll let Sufjan Stevens do that.  Yes!  He shared one of his wife’s favourite songs with a very similar message, albeit slightly more cheerily presented. Thanks Flaming Lips. Buddhists will tell you to meditate in a cemetery.  Why?  Cos an acceptance of mortality will set you free to be truly in the present.

Maybe time running out is a gift” … so sings Jason Isbell in the beautiful song If We Were Vampires, with his wife right there singing too.  (How do they not cry?)

So yeah, music helps, and acceptance of death helps.  But none of that changes the notion that time DOES run out, and if we are to see it as a gift we have got to be deliberate about how we spend it.  We must make it time well spent.

Which is why it was extra cosmic that the podcast I was listening to on my drive home from the airport – episode 4 of Your Undivided Attention – used the deathbed metaphor as it made friends with the concept of YouTube at the end of a pretty damning exploration of their ways and methods (*irony acknowledged: I used their links repeatedly in the sharing of my musical montage. Please: SWITCH OFF AUTOPLAY and DO NOT REACT TO RECOMMENDATIONS!)

The podcast hosts were wise enough to contrast the way a person might feel on their deathbed reflecting on the time they spent on YouTube learning to play an instrument (well spent) … but lost hours spent watching conspiracy videos, being led to anti vax nonsense or otherwise not noticing how we are being manipulated by asymmetric algorithms that “tilt the entire ant colony toward crazytown” … those are not hours we will reflect kindly upon as we warm our deathbeds.

I won’t regret a moment of my time doing Yoga with Adriene,  I won’t regret watching this amazing conception to birth video over and over. I won’t regret the time I have taken over the past decade to play on this website.

I won’t regret time spent with family and friends.  (Well, hardly any of it has been regretful, thus far.) I won’t regret any of the sunsets or sunrises I’ve witnessed.

And I won’t regret a second that I got to spend with the dear man we farewelled yesterday.  What a privilege.  Arohanui. x