CALawMama's Blog


Experiences at the interface of life, law, and motherhood in Cali

The Overprotected Kid

I saw this article the other day, and I read through most of it. (Sorry to report that as a mom of 4, including one newborn, I don’t often have the opportunity to make it all the way to the end of a long form article these days.)

I often pay close attention to articles like this one, because I am by no means a free range parent. However, the farther I get away from law school, the less I see creeks running through parks as attractive nuisances, and the more I encourage my kids to climb trees as they please.

That being said, as I found myself nodding my head in agreement to much of it, one passage in particular struck me, and it was how this alleged overprotecting is affecting children, they are becoming:

less emotionally expressive, less energetic, less talkative and verbally expressive, less humorous, less imaginative, less unconventional, less lively and passionate, less perceptive, less apt to connect seemingly irrelevant things, less synthesizing, and less likely to see things from a different angle.

I thought to myself, all of those qualities are those in which my kids are off the charts. They are literally running around expressing themselves, and being creative and quirky all the time. Here’s the further irony, all of those qualities are things that may pose an issue in the increasingly overcrowded classrooms, where compliance is the goal. Which brings me to this piece, about the alleged over diagnosing of some 1 in 7 to 1 in 5 young boys with ADHD, and the resultant medicating. 

{As I do on facebook, I would like to take this opportunity to point out that I KNOW ADHD is real, I know there are legitimate diagnoses, and I am sure that some kids really do need it in their parents’ and medical providers’ opinions. My point has nothing to do with the legitimacy of these situations.}

The point is that the typical more physical and allegedly hyper “boy” behavior (while I have two boys, my oldest is not even 3, so I do not feel comfortable making any judgments on boy behavior, I speak merely from what I have heard/read) is increasingly being isolated as problematic, and resulting in alleged unnecessary drugging, thus removing the tendencies to express themselves in the “hyper” way.

So it appears there is a forced dilemma over whether to encourage physicality and this type of play, or whether to encourage more sedate behavior. You can’t have it both ways, so it seems.


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Questions from Kids: Why does baking soda react with vinegar?

chemistry experiments today…

Kentucky Chemistry

There’s something awesome about answering questions for kids.  Redditor HippySkippy noted that her 7-year-old son had recently developed a love for the wondrous world of chemistry.  However, like many books written for children, the books she’d been able to find often said to mix baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and vinegar (dilute acetic acid) to build an “at-home volcano.”  Many of us know that an acid (like vinegar) and a base (like baking soda) react.  But how many folks know why?  So, Little Joey (that’s your name now), allow me to explain.

What is an acid?  What is a base?

To determine if something is an acid or a base, the quickest method is to dissolve a little in water and then to test the pH with indicator.

Universal indicator is a mixture of substances which change color when exposed to acids or bases; tradition makes it such that acids are red…

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Late to The Frozen Game

So by now the market is fully saturated with everything Frozen. I’m sure I don’t have anything new to say on the topic, except that it is new to our family.

My girls have a friend who, like many other girls across the country, has been obsessed with the film since the first time she saw it. Due to a pronounced fear of the dark, and inability to remain still or quiet, we did not see it in theaters. And although there was a rumored digital copy on the internet, unfortunately as lawyers, we can’t very well claim ignorance of copyright infringement laws. So, we were waiting for the film to come out. Although the girls did recently see the “Let it Go” scene on YouTube, which they have been signing ad naseum ever since. In fact, on a trip to the Disney store a month or so ago, my oldest read a sign that said the release date was March 18, and essentially branded the date into memory. She would let anyone who wanted to hear know when it was coming out, and essentially counted down the days until the big release.

So, like the dutiful Disney watchers that we are, March 18 we headed to our favorite Target and picked up a copy. Once we brought it home, the four kids and myself squished to fit onto our couch, and watch in the closest thing to silence that my kids can muster.

I must say, eventhough I knew from the book we recently picked up that Hans was a “bad guy,” I really did not see that one coming. I recalled reading an article about how there was no “mustache twirling” to inform the viewers that he really had a hidden agenda. I imagine that would have been borderline devastating to my overly trusting and sensitive littles. But, they were anticipating he would be bad– in fact my 4 year old delights at the ending scene where Anna punches him in the face. I was personally so upset, that I actually understood the basis for this article, although I happen to fully disagree. I mean, at the end of the movie, Anna presumably is interested in Kristoff, and who knows what will happen to Elsa.

I also read an article/watched video of the ending scene of Let it Go, where the writer claims there was some upset among mothers of some sexy look or villianous situation with Elsa looking at the camera in a bad girl way. I didn’t get it in the clip, nor in the film. So whatever.

However, while I was warned of the snow monster, which luckily wasn’t a big deal on our small screen, and the parents dying (my kids still haven’t figured out that the ship scene signifies that), nobody warned me how God Damn SAD the beginning, and actually a large majority of the film was. As an only child, I always dreamed of having a sister, and the portrayal of how their relationship evolved made my heart hurt for my two girls as they watched. They understood what was going on, and I imagine the felt how sad it would be if that ever happened to either of them.

Sob story aside, I was interested to learn who portrayed the voices of the characters. Ever since we bought Tangled, and I figured out that Rapunzel’s voice was Mandy Moore, I’ve felt rather proud of myself for having figured that out. As it turns out, I was further correct that she is now voicing the lead character in the new series “Sheriff Callie.” And, while we are at listing my oh so important inferences, I was very surprised when I realized that the butler on Sophia the First is none other than Tim Gunn from project runway.

In Frozen, however, I was unable to place any of the voices. After looking at Wikipedia, the only actress I recognized, was Kristen Bell, who apparently can and does sing in the film, as Anna. What was more surprising, however, was that the actress who voices Elsa, Idina Menzel, was also one of the leads in Rent and Wicked–which I am unable to link for you as my 3 week old is calling. Check out the Wiki entry on Frozen to learn some cool info about the film, including how they studied Snow and culture to build the scenery, etc. The “A Mighty Girl” page on facebook also stated that it was the first film directed by a woman to break a billion dollars in revenue. Pretty cool!

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Return to Charlotte Mason

As a bibliophile, it’s only natural that I attempt to instill a love of books in my children. In order to accomplish this, in addition to having a good selection of books at their every day avail, we also make trips to the library as often as possible. Additionally, because our library trips are typically true to form of this blogger, and categorical of a mother of four, due to our library’s amazing terms of 50 items per library card, I attempt to check out as many materials as possible so that we will be set for a long period of time. I am also infatuated with the idea of strewing (see also), and so I check out some interesting books in the hopes that the kids will be interested.

So anyway, on our first chaotic trip to the library (our last happened to be little boy’s due date), our first time as a mom with four kids, the kids were surprisingly not gathering almost any books. Which was frustrating because we have to pay for parking to go to this awesome library, so I mean we need books on principle! lol. Anyway, we ended up getting much less than usual, but since the kids were near the media area, I decided to check out the CD selection, and I found Heigh Ho Mozart.

After we took everything home, it turns out the kids loved the HHM, and we ended up talking about the composer study from AO. I had fully intended to keep with it, but it was one of the things that went to the way side. Now, however, we fully intend to pick up again, and I am hoping that we will be able to get the kids to focus more, particularly on the art study. 

I feel like homeschool is all about symbiosis and cycling through things that hold interest. Have you rediscovered something that you wanted to introduce your kids to?

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4 Year Olds and Pinterest

I’m not sure how it happened, but some time in the past few months, I realized that my 4.5 year old had a real visual interest in baked goods and desserts in general. Naturally, I somehow came to the realization that she might enjoy looking at pictures on pinterest. Only, she didn’t just want to look, she wanted to pin, too. So I made her her own board. Any now she has her own followers, like out of my 20 something boards they only follow hers. And she wants to “pin” everything. 

Today, I opened my laptop, and this site was open.

What’s further somewhat funny to me, is that because my 6 year old has some conception of how the computer works, I’ve instructed her how to search for educational activities on pinterest (remember we homeschool), so she pins things that she’d like to do on her board. Only, because she knows how to type her own name, she has like 3 separate boards with various pins strewn amongst them.

I didn’t even learn to type until like fourth grade. Kids these days!

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Time in Slow Motion

Baby #4 joined our family at the end of last month, and ever since, it seems as though everything moves in slow motion, except for his growth, which is too quickly!

It seriously takes forever to get anything done or go anywhere. The upside is that it requires all of us to be a little more patient, but the down side is I don’t anticipate ever being on time anywhere ever again.

In the vein of posting smaller topics that are piquing my interest, this morning I came across this article by the New York Times. Essentially, it expands on this fact:

Of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just 93 were about black people, according to a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin.

Although I had the pleasure of taking a Multicultural Literature class as an undergraduate (offered through CSUMB–which I highly recommend, great prof and great selections), these days, perhaps obviously, more than a substantial proportion of my time is spent in reading (or being read to by my 6 year old) children’s books.

We do make an effort to check out a wide variety of books, in fact our amazing library system allows each cardholder to check out a total of 50 materials per visit. Due to the insanity that is a trip to the library, I try to stock up, so to speak.

That being said, unless we deliberately check out materials on particular holidays, celebrations, cultural events, or historical events, the cultural monotony is blatantly obvious. We have the blessing of being a part of the PJ Library, so that our children each receive a free Jewish themed book, or occasional CD/DVD every month, otherwise even Jewish characters are noticeably absent. Although, I suppose one could argue that absent a Jewish themed storyline, Jewish characters don’t necessarily have an obvious outward appearance to suggest that they are not merely Caucasian. I will say, Abuelo y Los Tres Osos is one of my kids favorites, but I’d venture to guess that it’s a rare non-Hispanic family that owns or checks out from the library Spanish language children’s books–Huevos Verdes con Jamon non withstanding.

My guess as to why there are so few characters of color, and I am assuming that this study means not only African Americans, but also Latinos, Asians, Middle Easterners, etc., is that the authors and publishers are most likely predominantly white. I have zero evidence to back up this guess, but it is my gut feeling. It would make sense, from a self identification perspective, that authors and illustrators draw the characters that they most closely identify with. I would also venture to guess that those types of authors may be accused of lacking the cultural sensitivities necessary to convey stories representing a particular group with which they are unfamiliar with. I believe this is one of the criticisms regarding cross racial adoption. Speaking honestly, the issues that families and individuals face ARE different, and I don’t claim to dispute that.

So what is the solution to this pandemic lack of diverse characters? I suppose it is like any other shortage, we need a more diverse audience producing the books themselves. That sounds naive, even as I type it. I know the publishing industry is a corporate stronghold, and probably incredibly difficult to get a publishing deal– I would further guess that unless you are Mo Willems or Eric Litwin, children’s books aren’t incredibly lucrative.

However, it does matter. This particular article reminds me incredibly of the argument in NurtureShock, of attempting to “insulate” our children from racism by completely neglecting to recognize differences in appearance, in the hopes of making them more culturally sensitive. The problem is that this method typically backfires because kids DO see the difference, and based on their developmental stage may automatically assume that that those who don’t look like them MUST be different, because they have not been told that appearance is not an indicator of really anything other than outward anatomy.


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