Thursday, August 16, 2018
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Image via Wikipedia When my sons were toddlers, before they could talk, I experimented with another way to talk to them, without words, by humming, or using nonsense syllables in place of real words. Since I used the same rise and fall of my voice as if I had used real words, they could always understand me. I wanted to give them a different set of clues about how language works, to give them a richer language understanding. And, I wanted to see how much of language we convey without words. For someone studying these things, it is called linguistics. Linguistics is the study of how we learn... (Read More ...)

Image via Wikipedia The most poplar post this week was: When Did Squirrel Disappear from American Cookbooks? The most popular post this month was: Kapla. Blocks. How Do You Build with Kapla Blocks? Coming up next week, look for: Monday: Microfiber. How to Clean Microfiber Furniture? It looks like suede. Will water hurt it? Oil and grease? What else can you do with microfiber? Tuesday: Hum. Talking Without Words. What Is Linguistics? Will an infant understand if you don’t talk to them in words? Can you turn a sentence into a drumming sequence? What is beatboxing? Wednesday: Air. Recycling.... (Read More ...)

Image via Wikipedia Vanessa Van Petten, a 25-year-old, has assembled a network of 120 teenage guest bloggers to tell parents how to parent teenagers. It’s a fascinating concept. From time to time, she invites others to guest blog, and recently, she invited Granny-Guru. The beginning of the post is below. Parents – don’t worry so much about your teenagers. Perhaps we should have been warned the first time one of our little angels broke out with a swear word. We didn’t think we swore around them, but they used it with perfect emphasis, at exactly the right time, and... (Read More ...)

Image via Wikipedia When my mother and father were 12, they each lost a parent under embarrassing circumstances, my grandfather to syphilis, my grandmother to suicide. I tell this story because when I found out about it, in my 40s, it helped me understand why my parents showed very little emotion, something I had picked up. As all children do, of course, I thought my family was normal and adults just did not show anger, sadness, or hurt. This certainly affected how I raised my children, ignoring their angry outbursts, rather than engaging them in a discussion about the cause and strategizing... (Read More ...)

USS Enterprise A “profound lack of good judgment” was the reason given for removing Captain Honors from his command of the USS. Enterprise, which was weeks away from deploying to Afghanistan, after videos surfaced pantomiming gay activities aboard ship, produced by Honors several years before. I don’t know what Army drill sergeants do now when they are trying to get a rise out of Boot Camp recruits, which used to involve calling them such insulting names as “p…y,” or “f.g”. With women in the military and gay rights a recently-institutionalized part of the military’s culture, they... (Read More ...)

Image via Wikipedia I remember flying somewhere once when my son was an infant. I explained the noises he heard on the plane, what was happening as we were taking off, what he could see outside the window. I spoke to him, pretty much non-stop, the entire flight. I thought it would soothe him, and I thought it a rich environment for him to learn something entirely different from his normal days. The passenger next to me clearly wanted to talk with me. Normally, I would enjoy passing the time with a seatmate, but this time I was annoyed. Couldn’t he see I was talking to my baby? Didn’t... (Read More ...)

Santa Claus We were in Argentina for a year. My son was seven. My Spanish teacher asked if he knew about Santa Claus yet. I said I didn’t think so. “You have to tell him. When he gets back home to the United States, everyone else will already know, either because they figured it out or because older brothers and sisters will have told them. You don’t want him to be embarrassed when his classmates find out he doesn’t know.” Her argument made  sense. In a foreign culture, you often miss the clues that seem so obvious in your own. From that perspective, he was in suspended animation for... (Read More ...)

Ipecac Syrup We had a poisoning incident when our granddaughter was visiting recently. Cleaning fluid left in a drinking glass. Call poison control. They said it might upset her stomach a little, but was not serious. No need for Ipecac or the hospital. Our granddaughter, having been through this routine once before (daffodil bulbs may look like garlic bulbs, but they are poisonous, even when cooked), got out a trash can to throw up in. As it happened, stomach rumbling was the only result. But, while we were waiting to see what would happen, she asked me if this had ever happened to her cousin.... (Read More ...)

Image via Wikipedia I was out at a restaurant recently and noticed a young mother changing a diaper in the women’s room. While setting up the diaper on the changing table, she was gently jiggling her baby up and down in her arms. What a long-ago familiar gesture that is. Many things have changed in raising children. Changing tables in restaurant restrooms, for one. Even in some men’s rooms, I’m told. But, this is one that has not. To soothe a restless baby, gently jiggle them up and down. Not so hard that their heads flop. In fact, either they should be old enough to support their... (Read More ...)

Image via Wikipedia This trick still works for a very sleepy child. Not everything still works, or is still recommended. But, this one does. At least, for a four-year-old. Our grandson fell asleep in the car on the 10-minute drive home from school, excited about celebrating his dog’s birthday that evening and the new table and chairs waiting in the box delivered to his doorstep when we got home. Even naptime books were not enough to calm him down for a nap. After he had gotten up twice, and was sent back to bed twice, I tried the trick that had worked for such rare occasions on his father.... (Read More ...)