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Archive for September, 2012

More and More Baffling…

September 6, 2012 1 comment

While building and expanding on his sense of self, my three-year-old absorbs and imitates all sorts of people. Mostly us. It’s scary sometimes. You don’t want to see your most funny mannerisms in your kid, or find out how many annoying phrases you tend to use in your imperfect everyday speech.  But what’s even worse is when you can’t even track down the  role-model for a specific behavior, or if you do, you know you can’t eliminate it from your life as it is simply part of the larger environment.

My son suddenly likes to pretend he is smoking. Now, I have never smoked a cigarette in my life, and my husband quit smoking a year before Andrei was born. Andrei doesn’t watch television, but we live in a big city and he has definitely seen numerous people on the street smoking. So now, he pretends he is smoking.

My husband and I tried to explain (as simply and clearly as possible) that this is a dangerous habit. We also tried to simply ignore it. Nonetheless, Andrei still “smokes” at times. And he definitely does a great job of imitating typical smokers’ mannerisms and “blowing the fire out” as he calls it. Read more…

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Rewards, Stickers, and Praise

September 6, 2012 3 comments

Sometime ago I wrote about my wish to instill internal motivation in my son. Indeed, it is so important to me to raise a kid with a strong sense of self, who will not spend his life looking for other people’s recognition of his abilities instead of simply enjoying those abilities and letting them lead him. And in this context, I try hard to reduce the amount of praise I offer to my son to force him to discover that place within himself that will feed him and offer him all the praise he needs.

But here is my problem. So many childrearing advice is based on some sort of a reward system.

You ate a good meal, you get to EAT/HAVE whatever.

You behaved well when we were out, you GET whatever.

You did your pee-pees in the potty, you GET whatever.

Read more…

Blowing Glass and Revising Stories

September 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Something else happened while I was away, sometime in early June: our friend Phil was in town. He was spending a day blowing glass in the East Falls glass-blowing studio and my husband, Andrei and I drove there to see him.

When we got to the studio, Phil was in the middle of blowing a vase. We positioned ourselves maybe five feet away from him and watched him work for a while. My husband was fairly familiar with the process, but I wasn’t. I had never seen anyone blow glass before. I don’t know why, but I was actually surprised to see the process included blowing in its most literal form. I was also surprised at how repetitive the process was. Put the glass into the fire, take it out, blow, back into the fire, out, blow, then all over again.

I watched the process in fascination. I sweated. It was maybe 120⁰F in the room that had several ovens. Phil was one with the vase, moving precisely the delicate vase-to-be, repeating the same steps over and over again.

I sweated and thought about my writing. More particularly, revision and editing. Over years, I’ve become less and less willing to work hard on revising my stories (or whatever else I write). Weighing every paragraph, every sentence, every word. I came to hate the repetition – read, read again, and again, until you are sick of it, then put it away, start all over again tomorrow.

I’ve become less patient. Less passionate about revising. More sloppy overall. More a fan of rawness.

I am not sure this is a good thing. I am pretty sure it’s not. At some point I thought this new phase of mine might be related to my first job as a trade magazine editor. We edited every piece so many times until we wrung the last drop of life out of it. The authors carried the by-line, but it was we editors in conjunction with the publisher who wrote the piece. At the time I believed we were on the mission to make every piece the best it could be. I was fresh out of school, quite used to getting feedback from my teachers and spending hours addressing their comments while trying to learn everything about writing I possibly could. (Later I realized my teachers were not teaching me how to write – nobody can teach you how to write – but they were teaching me how to revise and edit, and those were important skills and definitely a huge part of the writing process.) Read more…

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