Punishment Or Training?

There is nothing more that I would like to post here than that I was a wonderful, perfect parent. That would be such a lie. I was young, intelligent, but uneducated, and married to a man who was young, intelligent, uneducated, and an abusive alcoholic  to top it all.

It’s a damn wonder any of my children survived to be successful adults. Some people, upon hearing of the success of my children have congratulated me on being a wonderful parent. So uninformed they are! My children are successes despite my parenting more than because of it.

Though… I did have a few good points here and there. I was not evil, and never did anything designed to beget failure. I was just, for the most part, not aware that what I was doing might hurt them. I was aware of never wanting to hurt them… but unaware that things I thought “good” for them might not be.

Razib, of Gene Expression highlights research that spanking is detrimental to children. He also highlights that the spanking tends to occur when the chilren are of the more incorrigible type and the parents less intelligent, aggressive and lacking impulse control.

Those who commented on Razib’s take give an interesting but certainly not homogenous take on the issue.  

There are numerous alternatives to spanking for training and discipline and one I’ve become fond of is “time-out”. It’s the new version of sitting in the corner, and I’ve witnessed it’s success. However, there are now psychologists and sociologist who are saying this is also detrimental.

When a Parent’s ‘I Love You’ Means ‘Do as I Say’ is a disturbing essay which ultimately suggests (IMHO) no discipline at all.

Apparently I was spanked at a fairly young age. Relatives have told me that once when I was squirming and being a pain during church, that I was repeatedly threatened with being “taken outside to be spanked” until finally I requested (in an apparently loud voice) to be taken outside and spanked”.  Though no one has specifically told me so, I suspect I did not get spanked on that occasion.

The first few spankings I do remember were half-heartedly administered along the lines of “now that I know you are safe and though I’ve thought of killing you for the suffering you put me through, this spanking will have to suffice for both of us.”

When I was older and deliberately disobeyed or ignored rules, I was also spanked, but not until I’d received the full lecture. My father was definitely the strong type, but not silent. He was eloquent in describing my failings. He could describe fluently how I’d disappointed him and made my mother sad. He could do this for hours without actually repeating himself. It was a talent. After 30 – 45 minutes of this, I was sobbing and begging for a beating because that would be so much less painful.

The “beating” was usually sort of half-hearted and never managed to assuage my guilt.

I am not defending true beatings which far too many children have been subjected to. I’m merely stating that parents have psychological weapons that far surpass a mere spanking. A mere spanking is NOT equal to a beating.

Any form of punishment can become abuse, even time-out. Somewhere recently I read that Rose Kennedy would put her children in a dark closet for an equivalent of time out. To me, that’s abuse, but it was probably not considered so at the time.

Now… back to the post title. Whether a parent swats, spanks, puts the kid in time-out, or lectures him to numbness, the effectiveness will be determined mostly by the parents’ intent: are they training or punishing? It’s my opinion that an intent to punish will, regardless the method used, do little good while an intent to train will be very effective.

Intentions, though paving the road to you know where, do have meaning.

What I’ve Been Doing The Last Two Weeks

Obviously, I haven’t been posting.

My grandchild was here for a few days. She’s 2 1/2 and very energetic. Her favorite game is “Get me” which involves first chasing her a bit then tickling her. Step two is her chasing you and “getting” you. Repeat for however many times the adult involved can stand it. The child seemingly never tires of it.

She’s a bit like her grandma in that she doesn’t wake up in the best mood. She needs a little time to adjust and I’d have offered her coffee, but figured her parents would object. When she’s getting tired, I find it amusing that she begins to refer to either of her parents as “MommyDaddy”. Either will do, as they represent a unit of comfort and safety for her. I’ve witnessed this before, but noticed it especially when she asked me to look at pictures with her.

She was, of course, fascinated by pictures of herself. I’d ask her to identify the other people in the picture. She was almost always correct. But this was often a “quiet” time activity just before her nap or bedtime and as she got tired, she began to refer to any picture of her mother or father as “MommyDaddy”. 

She’s certainly not confused as to which is which. When she meets a new person (as she did a few times when our friends dropped by while she was here), her first interaction with them is to point out who is her Momma and who is her Daddy.

One of the things I noticed is that she is quite capable of entertaining herself. This makes me quite proud.

We have a cable strung between two large pine trees in our front yard for tethering our dogs. Since my daughter’s dog, Daisy, was staying with us while they visited New Orleans, this was very useful. She’s 11 or 12 years old (got her from the pound, so no one is sure) and it just didn’t seem a good idea to house her with our two young male dogs who are larger than she is.

Daisy was indoors and my granddaughter, Issie, was outdoors with me, my husband, and a friend of his. She began playing with the cables. I was a bit nervous about this because I am an over-protective motherly type and was concerned that she’d strangle herself.

For some unknown reason, my husband had tied a length of rope on the cable. (I do not question why my husband does some things.) This rope was just out of Issie’s reach. She jumped, but could not grab it.

I was amazed when she returned to the middle of the cable where the cable leash for the dogs was attached and pulled the main cable down where she reach it and “walked” with her hands to the rope, pulling it down where she could reach it. I wish we’d taken a video of this, but I didn’t have my camera handy.

I’ve got to say that I am impressed with her problem solving skills. Perhaps I shouldn’t be, since her father is an engineer and her mother a mathematician. It’s also possible that I’m biased. But not really that likely… :-)

Also, I can announce to the world now, since my daughter has posted it on Facebook, that they are expecting another child. Needless to say I am thrilled! 

I have three other grandchildren that I do not get to see so often (as if twice a year is often) and it is my goal to somehow remedy that.

Who Is Your Cousin?

And how? I got the following info from a 1998 posting to a DuBose Forum:

First cousins share a common Grandparent.
Second cousins share a common Great Grandparent.
Third cousins share a common Great Great Grandparent.
Fourth cousins share a common three times Great Grandparent.
Fifth cousins share a common four times Great Grandparent.
Etc., etc.

1st cousins share a common Grandparent.
1st cousins once removed are children of your 1st cousins.
1st cousins 2 times removed are children of your 1st cousins once removed.
1st cousins 3 times removed are children of your 1st cousins 2 times removed.
1st cousins 4 times removed are children of your 1st cousins 3 times removed.
Etc., etc.

2nd cousins share a common Great Grandparent.
2nd cousins once removed are children of your 2nd cousins.
2nd cousins 2 times removed are children of your 2nd cousins once removed.
2nd cousins 3 times removed are children of your 2nd cousins 2 times removed.
2nd cousins 4 times removed are children of your 2nd cousins 3 times removed.
Etc., etc.

This Cousin Tree from Wikipedia is a nice graphic version that helps a lot. If those don’t help you, this is even less likely to: Cousin Chart from the State Library of North Carolina.  

I certainly hope that one of these can settle the argument of how my husband’s brother’s grandchild is related to my husband’s daughter and her children.  

UPDATE: Here’s an even better family relationship chart.

Also, it should be noted that my husband remains unconvinced that any of this is factual and currently considers me and all other genealogists to be out of our minds.

This Is Not A Serious Blog

“Opinions, about almost anything” is my theme for this blog. Nowhere does that imply that I must be seriously profound in my opinions. Nor does that imply that I must post about seriously profound subjects.

That also does not imply that I am not deadly serious when I say I have the cutest, most awesomest grandchildren ever (pictorial proof will be provided!)

There are occasionally subjects about which I choose to be very serious. If you are of normal intelligence, you will be able to distinguish these by their tone and a faint semblance of formal argument.

I’m Back! And Now I Know My ABC’s

The entire blogosphere has been on pins and needles waiting breathlessly for my safe return, I’m sure. Well, worry no more! My knees survived the 13 hour trip there and the 13 hour trip back. My son-in-law did have to prop me up for a few steps when I tried to stand after the last leg of the return trip.

Everyone should be proud of my son-in-law (and my daughter) for not getting upset with either me or my 22 month old granddaughter when it was time to get back in the car after each fill-up and potty stop. We both whined, but I wasn’t physically able to kick and scream like I really wanted to.

In fact, my granddaughter was pretty much an angel. This is in part due to the backseat video player. I’m up on a lot of kid stuff I didn’t know about before. We found Nemo twice and I know all about Elmo’s World. The best video was Leap Frog’s Letter Factory. It’s funny, colorful, and I enjoyed it as much as my granddaughter did. We had a fantastic time watching it and saying the sounds together.

The DVD has a 5-star rating on Amazon with over 500 reviews. That’s astounding. I can see why. It was actually a nice refresher course in basic phonics for me. Consider how many years it’s probably been since I was taught phonics. Just consider it, don’t dwell on it. That number is rather depressing.

It was, as always, the best Christmas ever. I can’t wait ’til next year.

Child-proofing and Dog-proofing

My granddaughter will be here this weekend, so I’m giving thought to a bit of child-proofing. It’s only overnight as we’re all leaving for South Carolina the next day. Yet, I think I’ll move my blood pressure medicine to a higher shelf.

What I don’t really have to worry about with the granddaughter is making sure that chocolate, potatoes, bananas, and onions are out of her reach. So far tonight, Maverick, our Great Pyrenees puppy, has eaten a square of chocolate, obliterated an onion and potato and was last seen heading for the bananas. (He is not sleeping inside tonight.)

We measured him tonight and he’s 29″ tall at the front withers (at 9 months old). He was 26″ on Oct. 4. The dog is  huge. Whatever is on the table within a foot of the edge is easily reached without any straining. If he stands and stretches, nothing is out of his reach.

I have no idea what he weighs now (58 lbs in August), but I’m glad he’s a gentle and loving pup. I also hope that square of chocolate is not going to hurt him, though I was miffed that it was the last square of chocolate in the house. Darned dog. 

Defining What I Want From Genealogy Research

A comment from Don Michel on this post about the rewarding, but frustrating, hobby of genealogy:

It sounds as though you have not defined what you want from genealogy, that is what is your real objective. Is it to gather lots of names and dates, or is it to know you ancestors as real people, how and where they lived, did they have unusual hobbies or personalities? Doing this will help you develop a reasearch plan and strategy and keep you from frenetic activity and then the periods of burnout that you seem to be experiencing.

I admit, he’s right. I don’t have a plan and even when I have an immediate goal I am far too easily distracted. I do, however, have an ultimate goal and it’s time I made a plan to accomplish it.

My ultimate goal is a book for my grandchildren. I envision it as a way for them to know their great-grandparents – only two are still living and some of my grandchildren haven’t even been born yet!

I also envision it as way for them (and me) to learn how their family before them fit into this nation and the world — I want them to know where they came from. I want them know the history that was the present when their gggg-grandmother was alive and how she might have spent her days.

What better way to illustrate the Civil War than with stories of their ancestors’ battles? In my family tree, there are Union and Confederate soldiers, as well as one poor man who fought for both sides, was imprisoned by both sides and died in Andersonville.

I want a history of the migrations. Maps. The groups of families that traveled together and intermarried. And photos.

I want it all, which is quite a lot. And if I’m going to accomplish it, I certainly do need a plan.

Thus I need HELP! Planning is not my forte. Or even my pianissimo.

But here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. Capture now what might disappear. We have recordings of my father, my mother, my grandmother, my aunt. There are three other aunts and a great-aunt I need to interview soon. You’d think I would have learned by now to not put this stuff off.
  2. (actually, no. 1, part a., but I’m not that good with html) Scan photos belonging to my aunts, cousins, etc. Decide on a way to label and organize them. Back them up in more than one place. UPDATE: Include old recordings, voice and movies in the preservation.
  3. Get documents for the generation before me. It did not occur to me until considering joining DAR that I needed documentation for people I knew. Like my mother. My grandmothers. I knew them, why would I need any documentation!

HELP! I am open to any… all suggestions.

Colorado Family Reunion Trip

So it took me a few days instead of just one to recover from our decision to drive home without stopping. My dear husband and I are too old for that.

The best part of the trip was my grandchildren. This is the first time we’ve ever had all four of them together and it was awesome. The best part of the grandchildren part was the birth of #4 happening while we were there.

Baby AddieBaby Addie, as she’s called by her big brothers, was born Aug 1, 2008. In this photo she’s about 3 1/2 hours old. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, I’m here to tell you that there’s nothing quite comparable to cradling a sleepy and content newborn in your arms.

Janson waiting for the throw

My goal was to get a photograph of all four grandchildren together. That never got off the ground because it was hard enough getting the older three in the same room at the same time, much less facing the camera.

Here’s Addie’s big brother, Janson, waiting for his Papa to throw the ball to the sky. He’s 19 months old and quite a rambunctious character.

Addie’s bigger brother, Aidan, is really more interested in monsters and superheroes than baseball, but I think he’s got potential. If becoming a superhero or baseball star doesn’t work out, he’s got considerable heavy equipment operating experience to fall back on. He’s a first rate wielder of crayons too.

Aidan hits a homerun

Their cousin, 18 month old Isabelle, was totally uncooperative in having Nonna get a nice still shot of her that day. Too many new toys, too many new cousins and way too much to do. This shot of her is a couple of days later at a picnic in the mountains.

In a later post, I’ll have several more pictures of this location. It is the first place I lived as a child that I have actual memories of.

Curious Issie

Off To Colorado

Family Reunion Time! This year, instead of Arkansas in August, we got smarter and decided to get together in southwest Colorado. Since most of the family is still located in the Ark-La-Tex, there won’t be as many attending. The Colorado branch has made many trips to Arkansas, and this year they don’t have to travel.

Since our newest granddaughter is due any minute now, the timing is perfect. It’s been too long since I saw her two older brothers too. And it’s been too long since I got to cuddle a newborn. My other granddaughter will be there too. It will be the first time I will have had them all together. I’m pretty excited about that.

There’s one son-in-law in Iraq, but hopefully he can join us by webcam once or twice. Isn’t technology wonderful?

I may, or may not, post while I’m there. Of course, I’m taking my laptop but I’ll be pretty busy chatting, enjoying the cool dryness and the wonderful scenery. There will be photos when I get back.

In the meantime, check out what Baldilocks has planned. I hope to be able to help her with that when I get back in about two weeks.