Posted February 18th, 2012 | Permalink
It’s been eight years since I’ve owned a cell phone. Yes, that’s right; I have not had a cell phone for the last eight years.
My kids don’t have phones.
My husband has the simplest cell phone on the market; bare bones, pay-as-you-go. He only has it because he does a lot of free-lance design work and having a “work number” is important. It isn’t used for anything else. It’s always at home.
We don’t live in a commune. We don’t milk our own cow and we have running water. Cell phones are the only technology we don’t have. We’re completely hip with the IPods, the laptops, the suped-up dvr and all that. Our kids text their friends, Skype and FB all they want. We have three computers in the house, plus a laptop, for a family of four. I feel the need to defend.
We’re just land-lined.
The main reason we don’t have phones is the cost. Beyond that, there are oodles of reasons. My soapbox is getting a new coat of paint, so I won’t prattle on about the ways cell phones annoy me. Instead, I’m focusing today on the secondary reason my KIDS don’t have phones (secondary only to cost, mind you): PROBLEM SOLVING.
In the past few months, I’ve witnessed the following uses of cell phones by teenagers:
- A group of friends are hanging out at the park and don’t know what to do with themselves. They call their parents on their phones to ask, “We’re bored. What should we do?”
- Three teens are sitting on the couch, having a heated debate about a particular professional sports team record. There are several computers in the house, and newspapers. They use a cell phone to call a friend to ask him to solve the debate. The kid on the other end of the phone looks up the answer on his computer and reports his findings into the phone.
- Two teens are walking home from school and it begins to sprinkle. They are 3 blocks from home. They use their phone to call their working parents for a ride.
- Three college juniors are on a road trip. They’re on their way to an airport to pick up a fourth friend. They’re stuck in heavy traffic and wonder if there’s an alternate route they can take. The teens put their heads together and decide to use one of their cell phones to call a parent at work, ask the parent to find their location on MapQuest, and then find and explain an alternate route to the airport.
- A group of teens are planning for a trip they’d like to take together. They are in a meeting with an adult mentor and have been asked to brainstorm some good ideas for fundraisers. One teen pipes up excitedly and says, holding her phone in the air, “I can call my aunt! She has great ideas and she’s just driving in her car right now! She’s not doing anything!”
Are you following me here?
Are you thinking to yourself, “What would I have done in those situations when I was a kid?” What would you have done? You didn’t have a cell phone.
I’ll tell you what you would have done. You would have stopped, thought hard, solved the problem, moved on. The solution might have required that you get up and seek information, or it might have required a map (or the GPS on your phone), or perhaps it would require you to be creative and inventive. Perhaps it would even have required a small towel to dry your hair. Shudder.
I want my kids to be able to solve problems on their own. I want them to be independent and confident. I want them to be comfortable making decisions.
Now, think about this. You stop in the grocery store on your way home from work to pick up ingredients for cupcakes for your son’s 2nd grade class party tomorrow. “Vanilla, chocolate or strawberry with sprinkles?” you ask yourself as you stand in front of the shelves.
Do you have to call him to ask? Or can you make that decision on your own? Sorry, just asking.
Tags: Out and About posted in: Home
Posted September 21st, 2011 | Permalink
By the time you were twelve how many community events did you organize? How many fundraisers did you plan and execute? How many budget related decisions did you make and how many local business people did you know by name (not counting family and family friends)?
Yeah, me either.
And before you were in sixth grade, had you travelled hundreds of miles on an overnight train, with a group of close friends, to a state where you’d never been, to visit a living museum and submerge yourself in the history of our early colonies?
When you were twelve, did you think you were capable of any of these things? Did you think you’d be allowed and trusted to accomplish any of these things? Think about it – did you even have reason to ponder any of this?
Twelve years old is 6th or 7th grade.
I know a group of 10 girls, twelve years old, who have done these things already. Who know the owners and managers of many of the businesses in their town by name and aren’t afraid to talk to them in passing in the market. Who have imagined and planned events to benefit organizations in their local community. Who have volunteered their time to help out with festivals in their town, or to serve food at the local “community dinner.” Who have travelled afar to learn, and who have begun to think on a very wide, very worldly scale.
They are the Girl Scout troop that I help to lead.
Yes, Girl Scouts.
I know it.
When I was in 5th grade, I gave up Girl Scouts. Well, why not? It’s not as if we ever DID anything. We met once a week, brought our 50¢ dues, sat on our sit-upons in the dim living room of our troop leader, ate a snack of cookies and juice and, I guess, talked about school and whatever was on our mind. I think in the years I was a Girl Scout, I earned 3 badges. We never went camping, we never did any community service, we never traveled or learned new skills. I think we did some crafts, but I don’t remember any of them. By the time we were in 5th grade, other kids looked at us funny when we said we were still Girl Scouts. We were too old then – too old to be Girl Scouts and still be cool.
So as my co-leader and I have worked with these girls over the years (most of the troop has been together since first grade) we’ve made it our mission to make Girl Scouts what we think it should be: the growth of future leaders, of girls who are not afraid, who are creative, who are individuals, who think wide-open, who will be assets to their communities and proud of themselves because of who they’ve become.
In order to achieve that, we first have to have as our foremost mission to make Girl Scouts what they think it should be. It has to be enjoyable and meaningful for the girls. It has to be their Girl Scouts, not ours. It has to be about what they want to learn, what they want to do, what they want to accomplish. It has to be something they’re proud to say they’re a part of.
In order to accomplish all this, you’d really have to be passionate about it, wouldn’t you? I mean, you couldn’t just show up to a troop meeting with some doilies and glue and expect the girls to transform into world leaders.
It’s hard work.
It requires a lot of thought, even some agonizing now and then, lots of time. It requires finesse – we’re talking about pre-teen girls here (think roller coaster, on a hot day, with storm clouds). It requires the kind of patience that you don’t hang from a hook at the end of a day. And as they get older, it requires more and more and more of you.
But the rewards are greater and greater and greater.
And so, in the last two years especially, as our girls have accomplished far more than I ever thought possible; as we’ve watched them gain skills, confidence, character; as we’ve seen them form a team, always watching each other’s backs; and as we’ve watched them blossoming as individuals; I’ve come to realize that I no longer do this just because I’m a troop Mom with a daughter in the gang, or because I’m buried knee-deep in it. I don’t do it just because my co-leader is a dear friend. I do it because I believe in it. I believe in these girls. I believe they can do whatever they set their minds to, and I believe in helping them set their minds to huge things. I believe in helping them over the stepping stones to bigger and bigger.
All this believing. I think that’s called passion.
Tags: Just thinking... posted in: Home
Posted July 17th, 2011 | Permalink
Have you heard about Architect Barbie yet?
Yep, she’s an architect now. I’ve been following the introduction of Architect Barbie since she was first announced this past winter. I came across the announcement through the AIA website (American Institute of Architects). The AIA helped Mattel create an Architect Barbie that is “authentic to the career”.
Mattel says it created Architect Barbie so girls can imagine designing their own dream house. In its marketing messaging for the doll, Mattel calls Barbie ‘’ready to tackle the daily responsibilities of a real architect in or out of the office.’’ (AIA)
Since then, the AIA created a competition for architects: design Architect Barbie’s dream home. The requirements for the design were pretty clear:
A sleek, smart home office is important for any doll. With more than 125 careers, I need a spacious office that can accommodate my hi-tech gadgets for meetings, client visits and presentations.
I love to entertain so I need living and dining areas that are open and connected allowing for mingling and easy entertaining from one room to the other.
The kitchen should be functional and fabulous with top-of-the-line appliances—large countertops and lots of space to cook. I also love natural light in my kitchen so windows are critical. I am quite the chef you know!
As the original “fashionista,” you can imagine how large my closet needs to be! I have unlimited fashions and accessories, so I need lots of shelving, shoe racks and a closet that can be easily organized – getting ready can’t be a chore every day.
My dream bathroom: a large, stylish space accessible from the master bedroom and other areas.
I love animals and I have as many as five pets (including a giraffe) around at any given time. A big backyard is very important so they can roam and play!
As the ultimate “California girl” from Malibu, I am all about location, location, location! My house must have fantastic views of my fabulous backyard and overlook the ocean.
Architects were asked to create a home with 5-6 rooms and provide 1 data page, 2 floor plans, 1 elevation and 1 section through the body of the house.
The AIA received almost 30 entries. They have now narrowed the choice to 5 submissions and have put the final vote out to the public. I reviewed them all very carefully today. In order to follow along with me, you’ll have to use the individual links I’ve created with the submission #’s. Then you can view them all here to place your official vote (voting ends Aug 1).
Here are my thoughts on the 5 designs. I won’t tell you which one got my vote. I’d love to know which gets yours though!
I love the dramatic, glass staircase. I love the photovoltaic panels shaped like lily pads. Really, I think I like anything shaped like a lily pad. How friendly. My fave thing about this submission is the research that obviously went into it; using the initial 1959 swimsuit for inspiration, the use of pink and turquoise, dresses designed by a 14 year old, specific paintings on the walls. Who wouldn’t want a “vegetation wall” full of herbs in the kitchen?
The catwalk hallway is also very cool. Okay, the big plastic funnels in the yard are just weird. “Dream pink, live green”
I think of all, this one impressed me the least. I like the shape of the house and all of the “green” elements. I like the gardens and bike parking. I like the stairway – it looks glamorous. But, the bedroom and bathroom look quite small and ordinary. I think the saltwater pool will wreak havoc on Barbie’s luscious locks. And where does the giraffe live?
I LOVE that this person actually designed Barbie’s Dream House – a dollhouse! I love that they thought through the packaging and the set up and how a little girl could play with it. This is the quintessential Barbie toy.
I like that the little owner actually has to ‘build’ Barbie’s house and she can do it in several ways. I like the “B” frames (earthquake safety) and the “Velcro-backed art on the “fuzzy” pink walls.” Who doesn’t want fuzzy pink walls? This one stands out to me because they thought to make a toy, and it’s a well-designed and super appropriate toy.
Whoa. Cool. This could be made into a toy too, don’t you think? It could be built to split in half, just as it’s shown, opening on hinges. No need for dressers here; Barbie has this wild, huge, rotating, computerized, column closet thing. Neat. She has a library. That’s good. Is that a Thos. Moser bench I see in the living room being used as a coffee table? She only has a scooter, eh? No driveway or parking? I think she needs one parking space for Ken and friends. I love that Barbie is shown in all her best duds. I love that she is described as “powerful”. We all know she’s bigger than Oprah.
Okay, I had a little trouble sorting this one out, but once I got it, I liked it.
I like the idea of the long driveway “intensifying the experience of arrival.”
I dig the runway, the movie screen curtains, the two-story closet and the slides to the pool. I also really like the overall look of the exterior of this building, and the site itself. I think I could live here. Even though I’m not Barbie. I’m not sure where my giraffe would live though.
What’s your favorite? Which one would you choose? Are you in love with the idea that you could touch a button and your outfit would arrive at your door, ready to wear? Do you want to have a full herb garden in your kitchen every day? Maybe you think designing a toy was the wrong way to go? Or was that the only submission that did it right? Can’t wait to hear what you have to think?