Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Warning - I'm Bringin' Sexy Back

Yep. This post is about exactly what you think it is. Sex education: How to handle this topic with the kids. That is what you were thinking, right?

Like many parents I was a bit nervous about all of this. Not because I didn't want to talk about it but because I didn't know how much to talk about. I didn't want to freak them out. (Maddy), or give them any ideas (Blake).

So, after much consideration we've decided to let pop culture do the teaching.

Fine. We'll just let their friends do it then.

How about their teachers? Well, it turns out that is an option. I do agree that to learn about it somewhere regulated is better than from Fergie, Snoop Dog, and kid-in-my-class (who learned everything from his teenage brother, who in turn learned everything he knows from MTV). So, if school class is the only place they get The Talk then I would concede that it is better than nothing.

We chose to opt out of the school chat and handle things at home instead. Why? 'Cuz it's fun to talk about.

Here are a couple of other reasons:

1) One-on-one is more better.

Group forum challenges:
  • Different knowledge/maturity levels/learning methods of the kids.
  • Group environment doesn't encourage open dialogue or sensitive questions.
  • Inability to read each child's comfort level, interest, understanding as information is given
  • The larger the group of kids, the lower the collective maturity = Not good for this discussion

2) I want to be there when The Talk happens. That way I can determine the tone, forum, and refreshments and make sure they jive with my own values and parenting style. Plus it tells the kids it's important enough of a topic that I am handling it myself. Of course, I may botch things up horribly but they are used to that by now.

3) The Event vs. A Series of (Unfortunate?) Events.

I remember my dad sitting me down when I was around 7 or 8 and having the Talk. All I remember is thinking, "Dad, I am way ahead you here." Not his fault but I just happened to have learned it by then. That was it. One talk. So I thought I'd take a multiple session, a little-at-a-time approach starting a little sooner. This seems to have worked pretty well for the following reasons:

  • It is driven by the child and not by the parent. The first time I spoke with Blake, I thought I'd cover what I deemed "the basics". Well, after going over just a few things I felt prompted to stop, so I did. Since then we've gone into more depth on a couple of other occasions. These sessions went much better. Natural. He was interested and it brought us closer as father and son. I actually look forward to these talks now.

  • Multiple discussions make it less formal and a natural part of a normal American kid's life. Like math. Or soccer. Or Socialism. This allows them to feel that intimacy is also natural and comfortable. Not something to fear or to avoid discussing, but something to respect, to prepare for, and to look forward to some day - like when they are 40.

Finally, in David Letterman style here is my Top 5 advantages for sex education at home:

5) Now they can watch Rated R movies and understand all the bad stuff. Research.

4) I don't have to skip all the bad songs in my iTunes library anymore when they're in the car. Research.

3) They can be kid-in-my-class-at-school with all the answers.

2) Maybe this will give Blake some ideas for his Science Project.

1) It's fun to talk about.

One last note: It could be worse. I noticed when reading a bit about school sponsored sex education programs, schools in Germany require 20-30 hours of sex ed per year as part of their core curicullum.

What in the world do they talk about?

Maybe they use flip charts and let the kids color anatomy pictures to pass the time. Or play that Operation game...

Wait, isn't Dr. Ruth from Germany? No wonder she knows so much.

The end.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Parenting Advice - Volume #1

Since we are perfect parents I thought I would share the secret to our success with our kids. You may have seen this floating around. It is my idea completely. Don't try to steal the rights or I'll sue. (Unless you are my sister Taunna. Then just thanks for forwarding this to me.)

Here it is:

Tough Love vs. Spanking - Good Argument

Most people think it improper to spank children, so I have tried other methods to control my kids when they have one of 'those moments.' One that I found effective is for me to just take the child for a car ride and talk. Some say it's the vibration from the car, others say it's the time away from any distractions such as TV, Video Games, Computer, iPod, etc. Either way, my kids usually calm down and stop misbehaving after our car ride together. Eye to eye contact helps a lot too. I've included a photo below of one of my sessions with my son, in case you would like to use the technique.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why I love sports

OK Cade. This one's for you.

So, one of the greatest experiences of my life has the been the chance to participate in competitive sports. From the time I was 7 or 8 I have played sports. Soccer then basketball (till I realized that a 5' 7" center isn't that desireable later in life), then wrestling, and football.

Here, in no necessary order, are the top 9 things I love about sports and mostly football because it is the best sport. (There is no debating this, by the way. Any attempts will fall on deaf ears.)

1 - I have a hidden aggression that can come out in sports. Where else can you launch yourself into someone at full speed with the express intent of knocking them on their head. Then, in a show of gentlemanly sportsmanship, you help pick them up off the ground but with the clear understanding that, given the opportunity, you are going to do the exact same thing to them in about...30 seconds. And the harder you hit them, the better it is (except of course for the person you just knocked unconscious). And they know all this but strangely they do it anyway, with the hope that maybe they'll get you first next time. Talk about therapy!

2 - There is no better place to learn how to win. Graciousness, humility, gratitude, feeling of accomplishment/triumph, learning to trust oneself, learning to trust others, succeeding at something difficult. It's not the winning that matters, it's what you learn from winning. Unless it's the Utes. Then winning is enough. Two years and counting...

3 - There is no better place to learn how to lose. Graciousness, sportsmanship, accountability, fairness, getting up and trying again. I still go back to the championship wrestling match I lost and am grateful for it.

4 - Learning to be a part of a team. Giving praise and credit to others, learning to recognize strengths and weaknesses in ourselves and surrounding ourselves with others who can complement us, not blaming others - even when it is their fault.

5 - Thrill of the competition. It just is cool to pit your best against anothers' best. There is no clearer challenge. And it's fun to trash talk.

6 - Getting it out of your system. Since I started coaching my son's football team I have been grateful that I played sports myself. I can relate to him and his challenges. I can understand his highs and lows. I have a degree of respect from him because I did it too. And, I don't have to live my life through him. He may be great. He may be good enough. Or he may decide to be good at something else altogether. Either way, that's ok with me (usually) since I am happy with the life I have now and with the one I already finished.

7 - Hard work. Sports is a great place to learn that any worthy goal is going to take a lot of hard work. And it will be worth it.

8 - Saturdays just fit. There is something about Saturdays in the fall, and hotdogs, and stadiums, and fans, and football that just fits. One of my simple pleasures. Like a sunset. Or prescription drugs.

9 - Brotherhood. Or sisterhood if you are a girl, or want to be. That bond created through a shared goal is a cool thing and prepares you for later experiences in life like missions, quorums, marriage, book club...

I leave you with my favorite sports quote: "If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter."


Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Power of Music

As all three of my readers know, I was raised in a musical home, around talented people, who sing, dance, play instruments, record music of their own, etc. I was brought up to believe that music is not only a good thing - but a cool thing. I'm grateful that The Thing to be a part of (along with sports and all the normal stuff) at my high school was choir. I learned to read music, play piano, perform in front of others. Much to the chagrin of my dear, unenlightened wife, I travelled with an award winning show choir, singin' and dancin' - I know hard to imagine. I sang and played in a rock band, was featured on two classical albums and performed a solo in front of thousands at a world-class concert hall. I still love to sing.

Over time I have become more of a listener and less of a performer. I believe that one of the 7 technological wonders of our time is the iPod - followed closely by iTunes. Whenever I go there I feel the same thrill I get when I walk into a book store. It's like the Wonka Factory for grownups.
One reason I love music is that it has such a powerful emotional effect on me. Have you noticed how many of your happy experiences are tied to music? Romances, trips, friends, school, prison...It seems that most of life's memories can be conjured by a familiar song.

So, in honor of the power of music, I give you my top 11 musical memories in order of appearance. I'd love to hear yours as well.

1) Turn Around - You know the song about a boy and a girl growing up and moving away from home? Once, when I was "an old" 7 or 8, I had my mom sit with me in the rocking chair and sing that song to me over and over when I was feeling sad. I love her for that.

2) My Heavenly Father Loves Me - My favorite Primary song. Even now. Comforting.

3) My brother was my hero growing up. Whatever he did was cool. I remember sneaking into his room when he was gone, putting one of his Aerosmith 8-track cassettes into his player, stuffing the matchbook in underneath the cassette (you old-timers know what I'm talking about) so the sound wouldn't warp and the tape wouldn't get eaten by the monster inside the stereo. Then I'd kick back on his bed looking up at posters he had hung all over his asbestos encrusted sparkley ceiling: Peter Frampton (this actual picture), Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, BMX racers, and that famous picture of Farrah Fawcett. Good times.

4) My first purchased album:

I remember the pride I felt in 8th Grade at having "discovered" Lionel before everyone else did. Pretenders. And the first popular song I ever learned on the piano? "Hello", by Lionel. (Although that music video of him with the blind girl doing a sculpture of him was creepy. And is there a better afro/mullet than "He Who Dances On the Ceiling"? I think not.)

5) Friday Night Videos - Come on all you '80's junkies, you know what I'm talking about: Domino's pizza, jr. high sleep overs and FNV. I think there were about 10 videos out and they played them all every week. Huey Lewis (the one where he opens all those doors in the house and there's a weird movie scene going on inside); The Cars (where the lead singer is a bug flying around the bathroom); The Police (where Sting is in a circle of candles and then he cuts them all down in slow motion. That one is still pretty cool, actually; The Eurythmics (singing in the field of cows - never got it).

6) I don't know what it is, but some music really sounds good echoing through the canyons of Lake Powell. Some of my favorite memories of growing up were at Lake Powell with my friends. Favorites: U2, The Cars, Depeche Mode, Cheap Trick, and my favorite of all time...

7) In high school I sang Si Tra'i Ceppi (sp?), an Italian aria, for a state music competition and got a Superior rating from the judges. Cool and scary. Mostly cool. Before the finals, to help with the nerves, my choir director thought it would be a good idea to sing the song in front of the women's choir during class. Sounded good. Practice in front of an audience, plus 300 girls all to myself and chicks do dig the arias, am I right ladies?

One problem: 1st period class = voice not warmed up yet = voice cracked like a 7th grader going through puberty. Result: Backfire.

8) I served my mission in Guatemala so we rode the bus everywhere. You either got Mexican cantina music - which I hate - or occasionally American rock music, which I love. As you may know, missionaries don't listen to rock music as it detracts from the spirit of the mission - unless, by chance, you hear it on the bus by no fault of your own. Then you can sit back and enjoy every glorious second. So I'm on the bus with chickens, sweaty people and dust and just before our bus stop "Sacrifice" by Elton John comes on the radio. Three things: 1) I do love me some Elton John; 2) This was a new song I had never heard before; 3) I hadn't heard english, much less American music, in months. It was like a cold drink of water during a walk in the desert. Delicious.

We missed our bus stop - and the next 5 after that. 100 Fascists with guns couldn't have gotten me off that bus before my song ended. We were late to our meeting. Worth every second.

9) I serenaded Trish with "She's Got A Way" by Billy Joel at our wedding reception. One of my favorite memories of our wedding. Trish was just bawling. It was awesome. (Then I noticed other people were bawling too - and covering their ears. That made me wonder a bit...)

10) Dancing Queen - for my Maddy. Just fits.

11) Blake shares my love of rock music. He's cool like that. One day we were in the car and he started humming Steve Miller to himself. How cool is that?