Seven Quick Takes (Am I Actually Doing This?)

1.

As the #1 daughter pursues adventures in college, the #2 daughter, 15, has taken up the culinary mantle:

050 054

Top pic is of Day 4’s entry into the Lemon Curd and Scones extravaganza, with the variation that, on that day, she made some sort of coconut sweet bread in place of the scones. Bottom pic is a chocolate cream pie she just whipped up to she if she could.

Not to exclude male offspring – the #2 son, 17, made bacon-mushroom-blue cheese burgers for son #3’s 9th birthday today.

Why, yes, I am overweight. Why do you ask?

2.

Speaking of daughters, wrote recently What do we tell our daughters? Because we are sending them out into a world that very much does not have their happiness in mind, yet is very much interested in influencing how they see themselves and what they do. I’m thinking about if what it is we tell our sons should be any different – I think not.

All I would add is that we should teach our sons and daughters to respect, honor and support the roles other sons and daughters have honorably embraced. Example is not only the best, but most likely the only teacher here.

3.

Today’s conundrum: I can really understand how a certain friend of mine came to identify himself as a Liberal (Note: I’m of the ‘A Pox on Both Your Houses’ party). I mean, when you parents and grand parents, your ethnic group in America, your city, your friends and business associates have been liberal Democrats for your entire life, and have united around the unshakeable conviction that your team is the good guys and the other team is the bad guys – well, that’s hard to shake. But, by the same token, I’ve watched another good friend slowly come to grips with what the party of his loyal affiliation (same story as my first friend – parents, ethnic group, friends and coworkers, etc, have almost exclusively been liberal democrats, and he’s lived in worked in San Francisco his entire life) actually DO and support, and tried to square that with being Catholic, and run into some serious difficulties.

This is not to condemn either friend or even either party – it’s to condemn the idea of party loyalty. Sure, in the old days, as an immigrant, if you wanted a job in a place like San Francisco or Chicago, it sure helped to hitch your fortunes to the Democratic party. Political machines are always friends of the people – if the people play along. But now, that cultural and historic loyalty keeps many Catholics in line when there party does things like assert the right to assassinate Americans on American soil (It’s all theory! It’s not gonna happen! ) attack religious freedom (hey, even Catholics don’t agree on birth control) and promote free and unhindered access to abortion as the essential, rock bottom basis of any civil rights program for women (um…). My liberal catholic Democratic friends only very timidly offer even the slightest resistance to these ideas – because vigorous criticism, including the ultimate criticism of refusing to vote for candidates who espouse these ideas, is not only disloyal, but, as is pounded into them relentlessly, is a vote for the other guys. Who, by the way, are irredeemably EVIL.

How about we take a deep breath, and say – with feeling – ‘it’s a free country’ – and MEAN it? In the form of making it publicly known that if a candidate wants our vote, there are certain positions he or she must not take?

4.

That was heavy. On a lighter note:

This is my youngest son’s corn snake. He’s (she’s?) about 20″ long now, and, in a most moving ‘circle of life’ way, devours 2 little newborn mice alive every week. It perhaps says something about human nature how fast this fact went from ‘horrifying’ to ‘fascinating’.

Further, speaking of Darwin and all that, it is likewise informative how people react to snakes. Some people have a deep reflexive fear, almost loathing, of snakes. Other, like me, are surprised at how much we like them, once we actually see them and hold them. This snake here is a totally beautiful animal, and watching it move is fascinating. Yet, even though I know it’s harmless, I practically jump out of my skin when it feigns striking at me – guess the evolutionary wiring is still intact.

The real learning curve is getting my son to be calm and patient with holding the snake, which, as a still small and young snake, is still very skittish about being picked up – the boy, understandably, get nervous and wants to put him down immediately. But the snake will have a hard time getting used to being handled if we don’t calmly handle him. Progress is being made.

5.

Greek is really hard. But fun. Had a discussion with the professor at the end of the last class about Aristotle’s notion that ‘a This’ is something that separates itself out from the background and presents itself as a unit to our senses, perception and understanding. I offered that this concept contains within itself the rebuttal to the mind-body ‘problem’ – we would know nothing if a ratio did not exist between the thing understood and the understanding logically prior to the act of perception. This notion is lost from Descartes up through Kant, and then shrouded in epic mystery by Hegel, who cements the fog by removing logic as a method of clearing it.

But I digress. And I need to get those noun declensions down.

6.

Speaking of learning: as both my loyal readers are aware, our 5 kids attended no classes of any kind until they chose to attend classes a the local community college. We put no pressure on them to learn anything. First two learned to read, do math, and got into 4 year colleges with little difficulty. Next three are still in process, but look to be doing well. 9 year old just now getting around to learning to read.

So, why do this? Why horrify friends and family, and bring opprobrium onto ourselves and our children? What’s so bad about cracking the whip a little, any way?

– we can set aside ‘they won’t learn!’ as manifestly and demonstrably false.

– we can set aside ‘how will they learn discipline if they always get to choose for themselves?’ as manifestly false as well. Note how many children of ‘helicopter parents’, kids who did all the homework, took all the AP classes, had their lives completely structured for them are now social cripples of one sort or another, waiting around for somebody else to tell them what to do or, conversely, refusing to do anything anybody wants.

– That whole teen-age rebellion thing? Guess what – it’s not natural and inevitable. We had 4 teenagers at once in our house for a couple years, and – we all got along great. That time will be a happy memory for me – and, I trust, for the kids – until I die.  What, after all, would they be rebelling against? They have always been trusted to do the right thing, to choose their own paths. Our household rules are few, reasonable, clearly defined and consistently applied: we all go to Mass on Sunday – non-negotiable. We all help with the cleaning and cooking and laundry. We tell people where we’re going, and show up when we say we will.

Now it could be that we got a batch of freakishly well-behaved kids by some wholly unmerited extraordinary blessing. But I tend to think not. One fatal flaw I often see: telling kids they are responsible and trusted, but not really meaning it. Kids will see through that *instantly* and push back in a variety of inventive ways.

–  by avoiding homework (except for college-level self chosen stuff – and we aren’t enforcing that), we reduce tension, free up time for family, and help the kids learn the difference between busywork imposed by little conformity droids and real learning – a valuable life lesson.

7.

More Quick Takes at Conversion Diary. This is a girl thing, isn’t it? I’m like loosing serious guy points for doing this. It’s OK, I can take it. But it is a girl thing, right?

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Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

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