Archives for January 2011

Self-Esteem is Way More Important Than Potty Training

Let me preface this: Potty training toddlers sucks. I’ve heard from more seasoned parents than myself that it’s the hardest thing you’ll teach your kid to do until they start learning to drive.

It was so traumatic training Thing 1 that I’m in no hurry to train Thing 2, even though her third birthday is rapidly approaching. At this rate, she’s going to have to beg to use the toilet.

“Please, Mommy! I’m starting kindergarten next week! I want to wipe my own hiney!”

Don’t judge me. Karma’s a bitch.

Anyway, since Thing 2 is not potty trained, she’s not enrolled in a preschool that requires her to use the restroom by herself. See how that works? Caring for trained vs. untrained little kids requires a completely different set-up at care facilities. Some take kids in diapers; others require the kids stay clean and dry on their own.

I snickered last night when I saw this headline: Three-year-old suspended from Arlington preschool for too many potty accidents.

This is news?

According to the Washington Post article:

Zoe Rosso, who is 3 years old, likes to bake brownies with her mom, go to tumbling class and make up elaborate worlds with tiny plastic animals and dolls. Like many children her age, she sometimes has difficulty making it to the toilet on time.

That’s why she was suspended from her preschool. For a month.

Arlington Public Schools’ Montessori preschool at Claremont Elementary “removed” Zoe in December, asking her parents not to bring her back to school for a month, or until the child learned not to have any more “accidents.”

The principal escorted Zoe and her mother, Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso, from the building on Dec. 3. “The principal told me that Zoe had had enough chances,” Rosso said. “That seemed absurd to me. It came as a total shock.”

What is absurd? The preschool had a rule about being potty trained. The kid wasn’t potty trained. Buh-bye! See you when you can keep your shorts clean!

The article inevitably gets into the Potty Wars, which revolves around the question of when to potty train your kid. One ‘expert’ says it’s ridiculous to require small children to use the toilet, and that it should not be used as a basis for discrimination.

Elizabeth Page, an early-childhood specialist and executive director of the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center, called the county’s removal policy “ridiculous.”

“Potty training is very, very individual, just like learning to walk and learning to read,” she said. “You can try to force a child to be potty-trained, but it’s like asking a pig to fly. It frustrates you and irritates the pig.”

Learning any new thing is difficult. Duh. And not everyone is going to learn something at the same age as someone else. Thank goodness we live in America, where there are options. If this kid isn’t ready to potty train, her mom needs to find her a preschool that accepts kids in diapers.

This will probably be the same mom that demands her daughter be passed from grade to grade without being able to read, because she’s just not ‘developmentally ready’ yet to learn how.


Ignorance Is Not Bliss in Egypt

Here’s the gist of it in Egypt:

  • President Hosni Mubarak has been in power for 30 years.
  • The people of Egypt don’t want Mubarak to be president anymore.
  • It’s illegal in Egypt to protest the government.
  • The Egyptians protested anyway, using social media like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to coordinate their efforts.
  • The Egyptian government promptly shut off all Internet and cell service in the country, shutting its citizens off from the world and each other.

I am not going to speculate on whether or not the Egyptians have a right to protest, or even if they should protest. I have no opinions to offer about the relationship between the United States and Egypt, because I’m not fully educated on the subject. A great writer once said, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

I do know that Egypt is supposedly one of our allies in the Middle East. Mostly because our mutual distrust of Iran unites us. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, or something like that.

The people of Egypt probably aren’t too keen on the United States right now, since their government is trying to end their protests partly with tear gas made in the USA. Ah, nothing like using American-made products to quell protesting citizens. No one better give Barney Frank any ideas, mmmkay?

I don’t know exactly what the end goal for the Egyptian protesters is. I get that they don’t like the current regime. But what’s their ultimate goal? Remember the Bolsheviks? They violently overthrew a corrupt government ‘for the people of Russia.’ That didn’t turn out so well … Remember Stalin? Super evil dude.

On the other hand, the Boston Tea Party led to the American Revolution, from which emerged a new nation that became the greatest and freest country in all of history.

I don’t know if the Egyptians are Bolsheviks or Patriots, and I would be an idiot to speculate. Of course I hope they want a truly free society, instead of replacing one oppressive government with their own oppressive government, but hope is not truth, and to blindly assume that the people of Egypt are purely good while the government is purely bad is naïve.

What I can speculate on is the power of social media and networking, and the danger of letting government regulate it. Whether or not these protesters are protesting for actually democracy or just another regime change is irrelevant to this point. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are basic human rights (we in America have legal rights to them as well, but the rest of world isn’t necessarily as lucky), and protesting one’s government falls under the whole ‘pursuit of happiness’ thing.

The people of Egypt used Twitter, Facebook, emails, texts, and more to coordinate their efforts. The initial manpower didn’t have to be huge. They didn’t need to send people out to knock on doors and share the information. They did it from home, blasting it to hundreds and thousands of others, who joined their ranks. They worked together, quickly and efficiently, to get the protests organized and to rally the people. Every person in the chain of communication felt like part of something; they might be just one link, but that chain needs them.

This is what we’ve seen over the past few years in our own country. A sense of camaraderie and partnership formed over the interwebs that was near impossible even just a decade ago. We have a free-flow of information and dialogue; first-hand accounts of events live-tweeted, speculated on, compared with other accounts, related to the past, and used to make predictions about the future.

Social media has been an integral component of the conservative uprising we’ve seen in America. We are no longer isolated – we have found each other and realized that there are more of us than the mainstream media wanted us to believe. We have organized rallies, we have cheered one another on, and we consoled each other when Jerry Brown was reelected Governor of California.

Watching the Egyptian government take away its people’s ability to communicate rapidly and efficiently makes me grateful to live in America. And fearful to ever let the authorities have any power to regulate our online access. The government should fear its people, not control them.

Social Security: It’s Time to Do Something About YOUR Money

Social Security is projected to run at a deficit in 2011 and beyond, with the coffers running dry by 2037. After all, there were an awful lot of babies born in the 1940s and ’50s, and they’re just beginning to reachretirement age. Starting this year, there will be more money paid out to these retirees than paid in by workers.

In the Land of Balanced Budgets, there are only two solutions: Cut benefits or raise taxes. Neither is very popular, which is probably why politicians don’t like addressing the Social Security thing.

Let’s do some retirement math. Let’s say you’re 30 years old and making a decent annual salary of $50,000. Right off the top, you have to put $3,100 into a forced retirement plan called Social Security. Your boss has to put another $3,100 into that account for you instead of giving it directly to you. Instead of having $6,200 in your hands to invest however you see fit, the government is now in charge of it.

Assume that you had instead invested that $6,200 in the marketplace with an 8% rate of return. When you are getting ready to retire at age 65, that $6,200 will have grown into $91,669.13, without any other additions (that’s the magic of compound interest). Assuming you added to your retirement account each year, as well as paid off your mortgage and all other loans, you should be financially fine in retirement.

Now let’s give the government that $6,200. How much will it be worth after 35 years? Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Read the rest at The Stir

Mom Jailed for Trying to Get Her Kid In a Better School

Raising our kids is probably the most important thing we moms will ever do in our lives. One of the biggest decisions we will ever make for our children is how they will beeducated.

We have a lot more options these days than our own parents did. Charter schools are popping up all over the country, and homeschooling is now seen as a viableeducation option. Of course, there are always private schools, but many parents can’t afford the expensive price tag that comes along with them.

This week is National School Choice Week, so there’s been a lot of talk in the blogosphere about different educational paths for our kids. Unfortunately, there still aren’t a ton of viable options out there for parents to choose from. Waiting lists for charter schools (if they’re even available) are notoriously long, private school may be financially out of reach, and homeschooling simply isn’t an option for some families. These limitations leave most kids at whatever public school they’re zoned for, no matter how crappy it is.

We’ve all known kids that have gotten transfers to different schools, and if your town was anything like my town growing up, there were a number of people that used a friend’s or relative’s address to claim residency in a better school district than their own.

One such Ohio woman was convicted of grand theft and sent to jail for using her father’s address toclaim residency in a top school district.

[Kelley] Williams-Bolar decided four years ago to send her daughters to a highly ranked school in neighboring Copley-Fairlawn School District.

But it wasn’t her Akron district of residence, so her children were ineligible to attend school there, even though her father lived within the district’s boundaries.

While her children are no longer attending schools in the Copley-Fairlawn District, school officials said she was cheating because her daughters received a quality education without paying taxes to fund it.

I was under the impression that schools were mostly funded by the state, so I didn’t really understand the ‘cheating’ aspect of it. Wouldn’t the school get extra money due to the kids’ attendance? Why then, would they complain?

Read the rest at The Stir

RightOnline in San Diego

This weekend, Americans for Prosperity will be holding a regional RightOnline training seminar right here in my beautiful San Diego.

Join Americans for Prosperity Foundation for our regional RightOnline training seminar on January 28-29th at the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter. The training seminar will bring together an impressive lineup of America’s leading experts in new media, grassroots mobilization, and public policy for cutting edge training in online activism.

We’ll be joined by Conservative Commentator Andrew Breitbart, Talk Radio Host Roger Hedgecock, Fox News Contributor Stephen Kruiser, Conservative Blogger and Radio Host Ed Morrissey, and many other leading conservative voices.

Guess who one of those ‘leading conservative voices’ is? Some chick named Jenny Erikson. Hey, that’s me! I’ll be running a Social Media 101 session with guru James Hickey on Saturday morning from 10:00-10:45.

Tickets for the whole event (Friday evening through Saturday evening) are still available and only $40. Click here to find out more, and I hope to see you there!

PS- If you’ve never been to one of these, they are super fantastically fun.

PPS- Trust me, I know most of these people. They are not boring.

PPPs- One of them even has a mohawk. That is definitely not boring. Not even a little.

Tiger Mothers, Helicopter Parents, and Raising Responsible Adults

You’ve heard of Mama Grizzlies, now make way for Mama Tigers. Amy Chua is a Chinese-American mom who parents her two daughters with what she calls the Chinese way. It does not involve coddling. Or a self-esteem training course.

Mama Tigers have complete faith in their children to be extraordinary, and gosh darn it, extraordinary they will be! Criticism is harsh and approval is doled out sparingly, saved for the times when the child actually excels at something.

It’s a jarring juxtaposition to the hovering helicopter parent that many moms have become these days. But wait! Isn’t a tiger mother a helicopter parent, continually constructing their children’s’ world for them to ‘save’ them from outside influences or dangers?

Not exactly. A helicopter parent strives to make life as easy as possible for their children. They cut their food, resolve their playground disputes, and practically do their homework for them. A tiger mother says, “You will sit at that table until you cut your meat and eat it because it’s time for you to grow up a little bit.”

The helicopter mom says, “I’ll do it for you because I don’t believe you can do it.” The tiger mom says, “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course you can do it. I believe in you.” Which one screams love in your mind?

Perhaps our generation would be better off if more moms parented the Chinese way. Instead of perpetual children that stay on our parents’ health insurance until the age of 26, we’d have some functioning members of society. Even better, these kids of voting age might actually vote in some candidates that do more than promise them lollipops that they’ll never be able to deliver anyway.

Parents, you are not doing your children a favor by infantilizing them. Teach them the value of hard work and the sweet reward of triumph. Don’t pretend that good enough is the same as the best you can do.

Perhaps the tiger mother is too harsh for your tastes. That’s ok. There is no Parenting Rule Book, and there’s no exactly correct way to raise a child. That’s the beauty of America – we can pick and choose what we like and create our own lives outside of government oppression. If being poor and lazy seems like a better life than working your hiney off to improve your socioeconomic status, then by all means, please, live in your mom’s basement for the rest of your life. We all make choices, and all decisions have consequences.

Especially parenting decisions.

What about the poor, burdened kids raised in such strict, go-get-em homes? Are they scarred for life? It turns out they’re doing just fine, thank you very much.

Motherhood is political. Love your children, but teach them to be self-sufficient. They’ll thank you someday for it. By the way, Mom, if you’re reading this … Thank you.

Cross posted in the fabulous, newly-designed Smart Girl Nation.

The State of the Union and Bipartisanship

The State of the Union address is tonight, and in an effort to promote sacred unity, some Republicans and Democrats will sit together, instead of on their own sides of the aisle.

Kumbaya, my Lord Mother Gaia, kumbaya.

Democrats have been calling for greater bipartisanship since they got creamed last November, but they really ratcheted it up a few weeks ago during the Giffords massacre in Arizona. After the media got done blaming Sarah Palin (which, by the way, they still have not apologized for), a new tone for Congress was called for. Because, you know, using the term ‘Obamacare’ to describe Obama’s health care mandates might incite violence.

Days later, Democrat Representative Steve Cohen likened the GOP to both baby murderer Goebbels and the Nazis. He must have missed the ‘new tone’ memo.

Moving forward with this new tone/civility/bipartisanship stuff, some of our lawmakers are eschewing almost 100 years of traditional separate seating to join hands (figuratively speaking … I hope) in solidarity.

The time for looking beyond the partisan divide was January 8, when our nation should have joined together to mourn the deadly actions of an insane man. Instead, liberals pointed fingers at the right. Now they want to play ‘peace and love’? It doesn’t jive.

Read the rest at The Stir

Anti-American Song Played at White House State Dinner

Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the White House last week. He probably wanted to inspect the country to make sure we’ll be able to pay back the $900 billion or so that we owe China.

On January 19, there was a big fancy-schmancy dinner to honor the visiting delegates. As part of the entertainment, Chinese pianist Lang Lang played anti-American propaganda song.

Let me repeat that: As part of the entertainment at a White House state dinner to honor the President of China, a well known, anti-American song was played.

At the White House State dinner on Jan. 19, about six minutes into his set, Lang Lang began tapping out a famous anti-American propaganda melody from the Korean War: the theme song to the movie “Battle on Shangganling Mountain.”

The movie and the tune are widely known among Chinese, and the song has been a leading piece of anti-American propaganda by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for decades. CCP propaganda has always referred to the Korean War as the “movement to resist America and help [North] Korea.” The message of the propaganda is that the United States is an enemy—in fighting in the Korean War the United States’ real goal was said to be to invade and conquer China.

The rest of the world is laughing in our faces and all our president can do is bow to them.

MTV, Skins, and Total Depravity

I kept seeing Skins mentioned on Twitter. From the context of the tweets, I figured it was another Jersey Shore, which I’ve never bothered watching. I’d rather do dishes, and that’s saying something.

This morning, I saw a bunch of news articles saying that MTV stepped over the line with the show; it amounted to pedophilia, etc. So, knowing nothing about it other than what I’ve mentioned, I found the episode online at MTV’s website.

40 minutes of my life I dearly wish I could get back.

I wouldn’t say that it amounted to pedophilia, since even though the actors were portraying 16-year-olds, they looked like they were in their mid-20s. At least. But the depravity, oh the depravity.

The entire premise of the show was a group of high school kids trying to get the virgin in their group laid. Oh, and make money for narcotics by selling pot.

Other observations:

  • An eccentric teen over-doses on pills, then wakes up like it was no big deal
  • Grand theft auto of an SUV at the ‘Rich Kids’ party, which they then accidentally drive into a lake
  • They all come up from the drowned SUV, which is highly unlikely due to their drugged up, liquored up, up-all-night state. (Also, that link totally takes you to MythBusters)
  • Glamorization of promiscuity at every level, even showing some gussied up lesbian hookers
  • Goodness and honor and truth are portrayed as undesirable qualities in every scene

That’s just off the top of my head. It was awful, awful, awful, and the few cuss words that were bleeped out made me snort in derision. It’s ok to show a teen attempting suicide and treating it like a joke, but we can’t hear the f-word? Give me a break.

MTV’s rationalization for this show is that these are issues that kids are dealing with. If that’s true, which I’m sure it’s not, then we’re screwed. The parents were irrational yelling machines, the teachers had no authority over anything, and the kids were celebrating depravity and debauchery Sodom & Gomorrah style.

If MTV were really concerned about helping kids with these issues, they would be establishing a program to mentor kids in juvie. Because that is where undisciplined little hellions end up … if they’re lucky.

The unlucky ones end up dead in the gutter.

PS- I have officially, for the 400th time, become my mom by using the phrase ‘dead in the gutter.’

PPS- I am, for the 400th time, ok with that.

School Choice Will Improve Education

Next week, January 23-29, is School Choice Week. What is school choice?

School choice isn’t about raising oneeducational model above all others. It’s not about doing away with public schools. It’s about making them better, and giving families the freedom to choose the school — public, private, charter, religious, secular — that will help their children learn and grow. Above all, it’s about reforming the system so that every parent has the freedom to choose the education that’s best for their individual child.

It’s about putting parents in control of their children’seducation and their future. When did we decide that families should be limited to the specific school their neighborhood was zoned for?

Our public education system is a mess, and the U.S. is falling further behind other developed countries. Something is obviously broken, and we have a responsibility as parents to figure out what it is and how to fix it.

Is money the problem? Is a lack of funds preventing schools from academically challenging our kids? If this were the case, public schools in the DC district would be churning out little Einsteins and Curies, as they spend nearly $25,000 per studentFunding doesn’t seem to be the issue.

Read the rest at The Stir