This post is as much for me as it might be for you, my patient readers.    These are things I am thinking about and mulling over- Things I’m playing with, and things I’d love to chat with others about, if only to get second opinions.

1.  How do we build relationships online that mirror what we have offline? I have a pretty good idea in the first few moments of meeting someone whether I like them or not.  It also gives me that gut feeling- like my brain does a quick calculation about a person versus my previous experiences and spits out an answer.  This is harder online, because I can’t synthesize the same amount of information from an online only experience.  It means developing a level of trust with a bit of a blind spot.  It can work out great, or you can get into a rough situation, based on never having someone pass the handshake test.

2.  How do I explain to people that learning is fundamentally important to each of us, especially understanding our own learning styles? Kids who are labelled learning disabled can often learn quite well, but their learning style is a mismatch for the environment in school.  These are the kids that vascillate from doing wildly well to wildly badly year to year, depending on the teacher, yet it’s the kid who is labelled as disabled, not the environment.  So sometimes, the kid is poorly adaptable to different teaching styles and tasks required in the classroom.  Yet, if we give up the name “learning disability” these kids who may learn in less traditional ways won’t get the help they need.  How do we balance matching kids to teachers, classrooms, and social groups where everyone can succeed (kind of a classroom community dating game, I guess) and making kids “suck it up” because sometimes, you get a greatboss, and sometimes, you don;t and you have to learn to deal with both extremes.  Yet it fundamentally seems pretty bad that we are creating school environments so inflexible, so intolerant, that more and more of our kids are seen as troubled and disabled, when it really may be a system or teaching disability.  (And this isn;t meant to malign teachers- they have the hardest job in the world.)

3.  How do we get parents to lighten up? After talking with Dr. Stuart Brown, I am convinced that we are sucking not only all the danger out of play, but all the learning and creativity out of it, but insisting that structured and supervised activities are the only marks of quality- when sometimes, kids learn more from free play and goofing around than from any adult structured project.  As much as we’re all scared to death of what could happen, (pedophiles, broken bones, name your horror here) most of this stuff is incredibly rare, and in the name of helicopter parent-like safety, we may actually be depriving our kids from learning the skills they need to be independent adults.  And if they don’t get safe practice as kids, they will be woefully underprepared for the real world.

4.  Why is everyone so afraid of lawsuits? Sure, they are expensive, but anyone can sue you for anything, anytime- they won’t win, but they can sue you regardless.  But if you mention the word “lawsuit” or “we could get sued”, the dynamic of every decision changes.  Lawyers aren’t executioners.  The law is about justice and fairness.  It’s not a hammer meant to punish innocent people, but people still fear it, more than they fear strict parents.  Often when someone says “but we could get sued” I may chirp in “Let them.”  But this balance is a cost/benefit risk analysis, and not everyone has risk tolerance.    People don’t sue as nearly as often as they threaten to- it’s a classic bullying tactic, and you have to be prepared to call the bluff, particularly if you know you have a valid stand.

5.  Why do we think debtors are fantastic and creditors are evil? I simply don’t get this.  You buy something on credit.  This is the same as taking a loan  out to buy something (even an ipod, or groceries) with the promise to pay it back when the bill comes.  Yet  if we don’t pay on time, and someone calls to say “Hey, Where’s my money?” then people feel all put upon and get pretty upset, like the person/bank calling about their money has SOME NERVE to ask for it.  In the meantime, you have, in essence, basically stolen the object(s), because you took it without paying for it.  We don’t look at ourselves as commiting theft in these cases, but essentially, that’s what’s happened.  Of course it’s hard to think that you have stolen something as big as a car or house, and the time differential between the purchase and payment on smaller items is usually long enough that we no longer associate the purchase with the bill.  But being a debtor should go back to being a sinful thing.  Creditors may have to consider whether interest rates on some credit cards make them much more like pawn brokers or mafiosos than upstanding memebrs of the community, it’s true.  But having trust and faith that you would pay for the stuff they leant you the money to get does not make them evil.  And for goodness sakes- don’t buy it if you can’t afford to pay for it in cash, and don;t buy more stuff until you’ve paid off the old stuff.  The money fairy is not coming to bail you out.

Silly things:

-Why do I still feel mentally about 25 although I am much older?  Why do our brains stay young while our bodies slowly start to play for another team?

-How amazing is it that you can make new people with stuff you have hanging around the house?

-I am always amazed by knitting- I can take a simple string and make it do my bidding- and I feel absolutely brilliant and talented every time I turn a sock heel.  That never seems to get old.

– With our latest dog, I now understand child development so much more, as I watch her go through stages much more rapidly that human kids do.  She’s in her toddler stage, and it will be great when she gets past her oral fixations.

-Why do people have such a hard time setting limits and boundaries for themselves?  My failure to say no gets me into more trouble than anything else.  I need to learn how to scale, and when a polite no, or not now is better than yes and stress.  No one needs this much coritsol, ever.

-I worry that the weather is on a roller coaster that’s not only messing with my garden, but my mood and metabolism as well.

That’s it for now- thanks for listening to this random dump.