Category Archives: Social Awareness

Toys for Boys? Toys for Girls? Why not just “Toys?”

This game has been the buzz item this season, at least it seems to me to be the buzz item.  For girls only though so boys, tough luck.  Go back to playing with your Legos, Kinnex, and Erector-sets (are those even still a thing?).

Last year, my step-mother-in-law, got this for the Daughter (who was almost 4 at the time).  While she was a little young to really get it, we have since played it together as she has gotten older and better able to understand the directions that have to be read in order to play.  Yes, it teaches her to put things together in a process and have an end result.  It allows her to experiment with different configurations and introduces the very basic functions of physics to her.  Overall, it’s an ok game for her to learn how to experiment and see what results she may get and then engineer a system to get the desired results which, for this game, include getting Katinka the ballerina dolphin in a pink tutu, to spin in a certain direction.

It is true that there is a disturbing, alarming, and frankly disheartening lack of women in science.  However, does that mean we need to “girly” up science for girls to get more involved and interested?  And then there’s the gender question – can something like engineering be turned into a girl toy or a boy toy?  Shouldn’t something like science (or any subject for that matter) be gender neutral?  Or even better yet…be ready to gasp, dear reader…shouldn’t all toys be gender neutral?

Let’s look again at GoldieBlox.  The game itself a good idea.  Get girls interested in creating something.  I just wish it wasn’t all cutesy with pink and silly characters.  I also think that it still kind of perpetuates the gender bias in toys with the colors of the pieces of the set (Pink ribbon, purple dowels and purple board) by insinuating that a girl will only play with it if it has pink and purple pieces and cute animals wearing clothing…but it’s a step.  I cannot deny that it is a step.  Though, as a kid, I played with Legos and really did love building all kinds of structures.  I always wished I had a Kinnex set just because it looked like fun to design and build stuff.

Lego also came under scrutiny recently when they launched a new line aimed specifically at girls.  They titled it “Lego Friends” and packaged it in purple boxes and made all the little Lego people women or girls.

girl legos

Again, can someone tell me when primary colors were deemed “boy” colors and that girls only like pink and purple?  Or when colors in general were deemed to have genders?  At any rate, they launched this product in the hopes to get more girls interested in architecture.  Apparently it is faring well because when you go into any toy store, you see rows of the stuff just on the shelves. But why?  Why did girls need to have this product line?  Why couldn’t they play with what was already out there?  It’s the same product, just different colors.  It’s the same concept, build a house or a castle or a wall or a tower or a whatever you imagine you have built and then play with it.  Why does it need to be specific for girls?

I know that I’m not a typical woman.  I do not wear a ton of make up or spend half an hour getting my hair to sit just right (if you know me, you know that my curls don’t like to behave anyway).  I know my fair share about cars.  I love watching the Science channel with my husband just because it’s interesting and the images are amazing on the nice pretty HD television.  I despise the color pink (please don’t revoke my woman card).  I don’t see a need for “girl” toys.  Does this factor in to my opinion of this game?  When my step-mother-in-law was explaining the GoldieBlox game, she said the creator made it because as a kid she didn’t have any toys like it to play with as a child.  At first, I probably reacted a bit rudely because sometimes, I can be a bit blunt with no filter (sorry step-MIL – didn’t mean to be rude at that moment), but seriously what did that even mean?  Didn’t she have access to Lincoln Logs or Legos?  Or was it that her parents didn’t buy those toys for her when she asked for them because she was a girl and her parents were stuck in a “this is a girl toy; this is a boy toy” mentality?

So, now let’s look at that idea – parents.  Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher.  Yes, we send our children to school to be educated and pass tests, and feel the pressure of pop quizzes, MCAS, SATs, PSATs, and ACTs.  But, as a parent, you can’t just rely on the school system to fully educate your child.  There are so many tests that the child must be taught to conform to.  There are so many guidelines that must be met in order to pass the child that parents need to have just as active an involvement in shaping their child.  Does that mean it’s easy?  NO.  Parents work a lot to maintain the basic life needs of a child (food, shelter, clothing) but, parents must also work to help their child explore their full potential.

That being said, isn’t it on the parents to introduce children to science in all forms and ultimately encourage the child to pursue what makes them happy no matter what that may be?  If your daughter wants Legos, buy her the Legos: Ninjago, Friends, Lord of the Rings…whatever.  If your son wants a kitchen set with pretend cupcakes and cakes, buy it for him. Haven’t you ever watched Ace of Cakes or the Cake Boss – those men are very manly and secure in themselves and HAPPY.  If your daughter wants dolls, get them.  If your son wants art sets, get them.  Do not tell your child, “Are you sure? Don’t you think that’s kind of girly/boyish?”  Do not perpetuate this idea that these inanimate objects have a gender specific target.  Let your child explore and discover what makes him or her happy.

As a parent, introduce your child to science.  It can be simple things at home, that are totally free like a Nature walk, a night-time “Star Party” to name constellations, a pot of water boiling.  The internet is full of great “free” activities that you can do with your child at any age.  Read your local newspaper to find local events that feature science.

science_works_better

We are lucky to live where we do because there is almost always something scientific going on somewhere.  If you aren’t as fortunate to have events to go to, just talk about it.  Just talking about it and pointing things out can help pique that curiosity that is naturally in your child.  If science isn’t want excites them, find out what does.  Nurture it and then watch as your happy child does something wonderful with his or her life.

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Filed under Family, Gift Ideas, Social Awareness

Royal States of America?

Before you read on, dear reader, I have to say that this post takes on a bit of a political hot topic.  I didn’t really intend for that when I started writing but I just had to go with it because, apparently, it has been eating away at my soul for days.  It is not my intention to offend anyone.  It is just some thoughts and honest questions because I do want to have a conversation.  I hope that more conversations can be had on all levels so that some kind of solution to these issues can be achieved.  Again, I’m sorry if I offended you, it was not my intention. I respect your difference of opinion as long as you are polite about it.

So, we saw the newest member of the royal family leave the hospital yesterday.  I watched it via live feed at work.  They looked happy.  Not scared, not tired, not nervous.  Well maybe a little tired, based on the bags under her eyes.

While I love babies and think that nothing is a happier event than a new baby, I have to wonder why we as Americans are so enraptured by this royal bundle of joy.

So much is going on in our own country: fallout from the Zimmerman trial, Anthony Weiner’s wiener AGAIN, gun control, student loan interest rates, Congress still not doing anything, voters in North Carolina are on the verge of being disenfranchised, and then there’s the even more local stories like the fact that almost every other day for the past few weeks, Cape Cod has reported the death of someone either by drowning or by car accident.  Yet, we dropped everything to see this royal child.

Why?  Why can’t we care more about what is going on in our own backyard?  Why can’t we be outraged that Amazon.com sells a target that oozes blood when shot?  Why can’t we question the fact that the jurors in the Zimmerman trial had unsupervised visits with friends and family members that could have potentially swayed their opinion on the case and verdict?  Why can’t we realize that the fight against women is raging on and scarily trying to be passed in so many states that I fear for my daughter and her future.

I was never one to support abortion.  It’s a personal decision based on how I was raised and my faith.  However, I do not think that I have the right to tell other women what to do with their bodies.  Now that I have my own daughter, I have to think in a different way.  It’s not just my body I have to think about.  By that I mean, I have to make sure that procedures remain safe and available in the case that my own daughter feels there is no other option.

I know that a lot of it depends on my own parenting and the values I impress upon my daughter.  But who is to say that someday, she may find herself in a situation where she feels that she has no other choice.  What if she disagrees with the values that I hold dear?  I don’t want her to be forced to make a decision that is unsafe for either her or that child.  Again, I hope that this is all hypothetical and that I can impress upon her the values and morals that I was raised on but you never can be 100% sure that they will stick.  I know abortion is never an option for me personally but does that mean that it should be outlawed?  No! If you had asked me years ago what my thoughts on this were, people may have thought I would say yes.  But no, I never thought it should be outlawed.  What is happening in Texas is just as scary.   The scariest thing is the hypocrisy.  The fact that people want less government control but they want to say what people can and cannot do with their own bodies is laughable.  Isn’t that control in the most intimate form?  Also, if you tout a pro-life line, shouldn’t you be 100% pro-life and not advocate for the death penalty?  I’m just trying to understand, you see, because it doesn’t make sense to me.

So while His Royal Highness the Prince of Cambridge is enjoying the privileges of a family history that entitles him to the riches of England, I worry about the hundreds of thousands in America who are facing issues that should be the top news stories of the day.  The issues that should be causing conversations in America and calls to Congress and to our state houses – I hope that HRH’s generation, the ones born in America, can sort some of this out when they grow up.

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Filed under Culture, Social Awareness

A Good Argument for A Good Argument

First Lady Michelle Obama recently delivered the commencement speech to the 2013 graduating class at Eastern Kentucky University.  Now, let’s put politics aside for a moment and talk about one of the main themes of her speech.  She recommended that we find people with different beliefs and different life experiences and talk with them.  Go to them with an open mind and an open heart.  We may find common ground.  We may not.  But in the end, we will maybe be able to see things in a different way.  We will have grown a little from that experience.  She also said that we become more set in our ways when we only surround ourselves with like-minded people.

people talking clipart

I agree with the First Lady.  I believe that we all could benefit from more of these conversations.  I know I am strong in my own personal beliefs, whether they are political, religious, or just drawn on my own life experiences.  However, I am always open to talking to someone who has a different view from mine (as long as they are willing to talk and not just hurl insults or say people are worse than Hitler because, frankly, no one is worse than Hitler). Talking is easy.

I suppose it’s genetic that I enjoy a good argument.  I don’t mean the kind of arguments that go back and forth over baseball teams.  I mean the kind of arguments that require intelligent conversations, points and counterpoints, examples that can maybe help someone stand in another’s shoes for a minute.

Calvin and Suzie knew how to argue!

Calvin and Susie knew how to argue!

Yes, these conversations can sometimes be difficult to have.  Both people may come to the conversation with their own stubborn ideas that they are convinced will never be changed.  One may think that the other person can’t possibly know what they are talking about.  But if we approach these situations with an open mind, even if it’s just cracked open, there is a chance for a conversation.  There is a chance for people being able to maybe see the path to a compromise.  There is a chance for people being able to maybe see a way that one person can make a difference.

I also think it’s important that we remember that we should have friends who have different beliefs (on some levels) because a person’s political or religious beliefs should not dictate who that person truly is.  Yes it may be a big part of who they are and yes it may have a very strong influence on his or her world view, but these should not determine them entirely as a friend and as a person.  I have many friends who do not have even remotely close to the same political beliefs.  Does that mean I cannot be friends with them?  No.  Does that mean I can overlook everything they say without getting a little annoyed.  No.  But do I let it affect my friendship? How could I?  Those people are a wonderful chance for me to try to understand the other side and maybe give them a chance to understand my side.  I’m not saying I’m out to convert them to the dark side of the force, or am I on the Jedi side, I don’t know…

Jefferson quote

Ultimately, you should talk to people, get to know them.  As you get to know them, you’ll know them as a person.  Don’t look at them as a Red Stater or a Blue Stater; A Christian or an Athiest; a Man or a Woman; look at them as a person who is an equal member (at least theortically) of this amazing country we live in.  It may be uncomfortable at times, when those arguments happen, but just remember that the argument does not define the person.  It is their right to their opinion and it is your right to your opinion.  What you do with that opinion and what you do to learn about the opinion of others is the more important step.

Today’s blog is part of the May NaBloPoMo.  The theme this month is Comfort.  Today’s prompt was “Frank Clark said: “We find comfort among those who agree with us – growth among those who don’t.” Agree or disagree?”

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Filed under NaBloPoMo, Social Awareness

Can I Sleep on a Cloud?

My bedding is no joke.  I need specific things to ensure a quality night sleep.

The sheets must be a certain thread count in addition to being cotton.  I need a nice cotton blanket.  I need my feather down comforter.  But, above all else, I need to have my perfectly filled feather down pillows.

I never realized how much I was spoiling myself.  When we went on our last vacation, I was able to overlook the lesser thread count sheets used by most hotels.  I was able to deal with the cheaper blanket that was more polyester than anything.  I was able to overlook the heavy and rather flat comforter that slid off the polyester blanket and inevitably ended up on the floor.

I was not, however, able to overlook the flat, foam-filled, rectangles they were trying to pass off as pillows.

That's how I feel when I sleep on strange pillows.

That’s how I feel when I sleep on strange pillows.

I tried using extra pillows.  I tried rolling the pillow up, because sadly, I was able to roll it.  I tried forgoing the pillow altogether. I tried sleeping on my back, my side, my stomach.  Nothing.  Nothing was comfortable.  The first night on vacation, I woke up with a headache, one that was caused by the sub-par pillows (at least that is what I convinced myself).  I eventually adjusted to these flattened pieces of fabric that they were passing off as pillows.

But that first night home, that first sleep, was heaven. It was like sleeping on a cloud.  My head sank to the appropriate depth.  No rolling required.  No tossing and turning to figure out the best position to attempt to sleep.

It totally is a first world problem.  Half way through writing this, I found myself thinking about people who don’t even have beds or flat pillows to sleep on – People in America who have to sleep in their cars or outside; People in other countries that worry their pillows might be blown up in an air raid or an insurgent attack; People who just cannot understand the joy of a feather down pillow.

feather pillows

I feel silly now blubbering on about a feather pillow, no matter how nice it may be.  Maybe it’s time to talk about how I can help someone else get a good night’s sleep, improve upon their current conditions, make them a little more comfortable.

Everyone should be able to know the comfort of sleeping on a fantastic pillow or have a cozy blanket (if that’s what they want).  Shelters in your area (yes, even if you don’t see them on the streets there are pretty good chances there are homeless people and people in need in your own area) are almost always looking for donations of blankets, pillows, and bed linens.  Why not go out and, if you can spare a little extra this week, get  a blanket and donate it.  Get a pillow and donate it.  Make someone else as comfortable as you are.

This post was written as part of the May NaBloPoMo.  The theme this month is comfort and the post for today was “Which would you rather have: a super-soft pillow or a warm, fuzzy blanket?”  

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Filed under NaBloPoMo, Social Awareness