Thursday, September 14, 2006
  Making kids light up with joy
I was reading an article in a local paper here in West Chester, Ohio. The story told about a high school senior who spent her summer dancing in shows at nearby King's Island. Last year she danced next to SpongeBob in a parade; this year she reprieved that role and also danced in a School of Rock show. At one point in the article, she mentioned how good it made her feel when she saw how excited the little kids got.

Not to take away from her generous, caring spirit, but it made me sad to think that little kids are getting excited about Sponge Bob. Or Elmo. Or Mickey Mouse. Or Dora. Or any other TV character.

When I was a kid, I got excited over swallowtail butterflies, foxes, deer, especially deer with fawns, the view from the top of a mountain, the sounds and sights of a rushing creek. I was thrilled when I held a tiny tree frog in my palm, caught fireflies in the bluing dusk, or leaped into a rustling pile of crisp fall leaves. I loved to go apple picking and make fresh applesauce. I love kneading bread and watching it rise in a slow oven. I like sitting in our living room, listening to classical music while my mother, father and I read, or played Scrabble.

Almost all my best, fondest memories, my most excited moments center around nature, family and friends.

None of them feature commercial products/personalities like Sponge Bob or Mickey Mouse.

I'm pretty sure my kids memories are going to be similar to mine. I only hope the same can be said for the majority of their peers. I worry instead, that their lives have been commericialized from infancy, to the point that they won't be able to discriminate between things of value, and things that are designed simply to make money for someone else.
nuh-uh you did NOT go there! Dora and Spongebob ROCK.

On a side note, I would have been dern excited over Sesame Street Characters and the Thunder Cats, and I don't suffer much from either (except for the occasional "HOOOOO!")
I feel the same way. Granted, I didn't have the good fortune of growing up near a mountain, or a rushing creek. But the relatively urban setting of my own childhood did include about three acres of woods.

That meant a walk of but a few minutes would immerse me in those woods, and three acres were plenty big enough for a kid's imagination to go crazy. Most of my formative time was spent there.

We live in a regular neighborhood now, and it is much harder to be spontaneous with our quests into nature, but we try to do our best with our two kids.

Speaking of kids:

Joshua (our five-year-old) has actually started doing some semi-autonomous orienteering! I drew an O-map of our house and yard, complete with trees, fences, bushes, etc. Joshua understands what the various symbols represent, and can orient the map correctly (using his eyes - we're not using a compass) and can show me his approximate location on the map.

I started by hiding a baseball somewhere in the yard, and then coming back to Joshua and marking his map with a circle. Then he'd march off and find the baseball.

Then I tried giving him a actual "course", by hiding five baseballs, and marking circles and a sequence on the map. With some shadowing and coaching, he would make it through and find all the balls.

Granted, he's using his familiarity with our yard to help him understand what the map is trying to say (rather than the other way around), but I'm so proud of him.

Sorry about the tangent, but I figured you'd appreciate that story!
Hey Eric! It's great to hear from you and what a wonderful story about Joshua (who is still known around our house as Buj, from the days he was a toddler and answered every question put to him by my kids with the word "Buj.")

Anyway, that's a wonderful way to introduce a kid to orienteering. I'm a big believer in map reading, rather than compass work as the essential skill in orienteering. The compass should be a backup and a confirmer, rather than the primary tool. And how clever of you to use something he is excited about finding as a "control." Makes orienteering into a really fun game. I'm thinking you ought to write your experiences up for ONA or one of the other orienteering magazines.

Unfortunately, with this danged sprained ankle, it's going to be a while before I can investigate the Cincinnati orienterring scene. :(

Definitely agree about deemphasizing the compass work in teaching orienteering (and in practicing it, too!).

I just attended the OLOU meet at Cherokee Park this past Saturday, and they had five buses of JROTC cadets in attendance. More than once, I came upon a group of cadets at a control, only to see one (or more) of them in the same pose: one knee on the ground, map on other thigh, compass on map, squinting closely at compass while turning capsule to find a bearing.

It killed me to see them wasting all that time fiddling with toys, when they should have been using their eyes to see where to go next. In terrain as feature-laden as the midwest typically offers, there's no reason to rely on a compass to figure out how to exit a control.
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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