*THE* (TED) Talk

Courtesy of my mom, this is the best (and shortest!) TED Talk I have ever watched.

Despite her best efforts, comedian Julia Sweeney is forced to tell a little white lie when her 8-year-old begins learning about frog reproduction — and starts to ask some very smart questions. (Recorded at TED2010, February 2010 in Long Beach, CA. Duration: 5:16)

[5 mins, 16 secs… with a little nonsequitor cartoon after that for some reason]

As I said to my mom, WOW.  Look where even really excellent parenting can lead you.

Speaking of which… today, Maria -my daughter’s childcare provider- kindly shared with me a “complaint” she had about ClaraJane.
She say: “ClaraJane no play con other children….” (She is Dominican, with a loud, velvety voice, and rolls her rrrrrrr’s like chocolate)  and she proceeded to demonstrate to me how instead of playing with the other children, ClaraJane regularly *chokes them.*  Except for the one baby there of course, whom she generally strangles.


“Um… I don’t know what to do about that,” I said, “But I will ask our family counselor!”

Lately I have become accustomed to saying this phrase in responses to reports of untoward conduct in our (almost 5 y/o) SON.  Now it is my (almost 2 y/o) daughter.   So… I guess it runs in the family?

Um… I don’t know what to do about that either.  But I will also ask our family counselor!

PS:  Check out the *comment* below to see my mom’s killer advice!

About circuskitchen

performing artist, mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, niece... just a regular extraordinary person
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2 Responses to *THE* (TED) Talk

  1. Today’s wisdom from my Mom, in response to the “Complaint”:
    I have more confidence saying this than I would have a few months ago.

    When I embarked on “feathers” with Gavin, it was you who mentioned the concept of “pre-emption” or “prevention,” and now when Gavin and I arrive at Windsor once I hear the pitter-patter of CJ’s feet I remind him — “We’re both going to be nice to ClaraJane and Dad this evening, right?” He says yes and ever since he has indeed been nice to ClaraJane all evening.

    A child deserves to be made clearly aware there is an expectation that he will treat others with kindness. I would suggest at drop-off you take CJ around to a few other kids and babies and demonstrate gentle engagement with them, gentle touching, cooing, smiling, and playing, and make it clear to her how you expect her to treat the other children. You can model it with dolls at home. Tell her plainly with dolls and at dropoff you expect her to treat other children and babies gently and never hit or choke, and that if she hits or chokes she’ll incur your disapproval. When you collect her, pick her up in your arms and have a discussion with Maria and ClaraJane about how ClaraJane treated other children today. Praise her for good reports and admonish her for bad ones. You know very well she understands everything you say.

    Frankly, when Gavin was much younger and began hitting and pushing other kids I did not see you discouraging him from this behavior. And I can’t recall hearing anyone telling ClaraJane “no, you can’t do that” about any inappropriate thing she does.

    What I have more confidence in saying now than I would have prior to my official campaign with Gavin is that children DO respond to the adults’ expectation for how they behave.

    Make your expectations clear, then make sure to evaluate their adherence to expectations, AND administer unpleasant consequences (your disapproval and disappointment) for bad behavior and pleasant consequences (your approval) for good behavior. Ask yourself how you’d respond if it was your helpless baby someone else’s toddler was strangling. I don’t think you’d be mild and forgiving. You should be the same way when your child is the perpetrator.

    Be the parent. Stop inappropriate behavior in ClaraJane before it becomes a habit as it has with Gavin.

    And speak softly and don’t be overbearing, as is appropriate for one-on-one communication. Sometimes it seems you act the same way in a one-on-one situation as you do when managing a roomful of 30 kids from a stage. Don’t make a speech. Make a short statement and encourage the child to respond, back and forth, back and forth. You don’t have to explain why for everything either. The reasons for behaving in a civilized manner are self-evident and they’ll get it. Even if they don’t, you still expect them to behave appropriately.

    Because you are in charge. And they are not.

    Whew! I am just so thankful I have undergone the training to be able to listen to this for what it is -AWESOME ADVICE- and not as a personal attack or anything. Thank you Mom, for trusting me enough to tell me this, for being there for me, and for continuing to impart incredible wisdom yet throughout my life! I agree with you and will do my best to implement what you have suggested. ~Jennifer

  2. Bubble Wow says:

    I’m glad too (that you can hear advice from “a family counselor” without taking it as a personal attack), which it certainly is not meant to be. I think you’re a great parent, as I’ve said many times, and not a perfect parent because such a thing does not exist. By the nature of reproduction, every parent is pretty much an amateur and has to learn on the job. In some ways I think today’s parents are at a disadvantage because of the almost unavoidable deluge of advice with which they are bombarded by self-appointed childcare careerists who need to make money by writing books and blogs to fill the “content hole” created by advertisement-driven columns and blogs. Common sense and your own instincts about your own individual child are still the best guide. IMHO. Teaching right from wrong isn’t rocket science, and one thing the best advisers agree on is that children are much more comfortable knowing you are in charge and will save them from themselves, than if you give them too much power. It’s kind, not cruel, to reward good behavior with your approval and bad behavior with your disapproval.
    Parenting is very hard. Grandparenting is a lot easier. And I wish I’d known as a parent some of the things I know now, and I wish I’d been a better parent.

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