Ugly T-Rex & the Girl

Note: This story will contain accurate wording for male anatomy.  It’s how the story happened, so that’s what you get.  This is a friendly notice so you aren’t too surprised.

Before we really begin, there are a couple of ethical considerations that need to be noted.  This is a true accounting of events involving children, and that’s innately problematic.  Children cannot give consent for their story to be told, for their picture to be taken, or for you to chat about them at the coffee shop with your other mom-friends or co-workers.  I was there, and I can only tell you what I saw, but I’m still uncomfortable with the fact that the line of ethics is not clear.  This is my story, but not mine alone.

So here’s what I can do.  I’ve been working, volunteering, and observing in pre-schools, day-care centers, private homes, and schools for more than ten years.  In that time, I’ve spent time with thousands of children, and I defy anyone to figure out who I’m talking about.  In addition, I state my intent to change anything I want, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the  story itself.  I will change names, ages, setting, details, genders, family structure, and anything else I see fit in order to preserve anonymity.  I’m telling this story because I think it should be told.

Elliot was a boy I first met at age 2.  He was quiet, thoughtful, and friendly, with a mop of auburn hair that curled out in unmanageable cowlicks.  The first thing I remember saying to his mother was how impressed I was with Elliot’s empathy.  It’s a rare two year old that sincerely stops to comfort a crying friend, or cheer them up when they’re cranky.  By age 4, Elliot had dropped most of his toddler lisp, and had a habit of running his hands through his shoulder length hair or curling it around his fingers.  He was friends with everyone, and played dinosaur stampede with the guys, and chef in the play kitchen with the girls.  Elliot wore the same pair of sandals until he outgrew them, then came into school with a brand new, nearly identical pair, and his favorite yellow tee-shirt with a giant, smiling sun.

One day, when Elliot was still 4, he sat at the craft table surrounded by the chef crew, carefully coloring an entire page pink.  When he was finished, he colored each of his fingernails, then set about glueing feathers, beads, and copious amounts of glitter to the page until it was very wet.  Then he drew an orange dinosaur in one corner, but was disgusted it turned a brown-green shade over the pink.  “It’s ugly.” he said, gluing a feather over it.  When it dried, he wrote MOM in big, shaky letters on the front.  Before he went home I stopped him.

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Thesis-ing: The Multiple Intelligences Theory

I’m afraid I’m going to detour before I even start this post.  I’ve been in coffee shops for 8-10 hours every day for the past 5 days.  My thesis proposal is due next week, and precisely 12 days before I need to turn it in, we received the final requirements.  Twelve days.  It bears repeating.  So, that fateful last Thursday I realized the 4 page outline-like overview I’d been preparing with my advisor was going to be horrifyingly insufficient.  Six thousand words on methodology, rationale, ethics, epistemology and theoretical perspective simply don’t write themselves; thus coffee shops and extensive pastry and latte bribery.

5 times a day, everyday.

The good news is, I’m sitting at 4,000 words, and I’m careful when I write.  I’d rather get my thought out correctly the first time, so my editing will be minimal.  I’ll meet with my advisor tomorrow, and get much needed feedback on how I can’t mesh naturalist, objectivist, and subjectivist epistemology into one idea.  Fun (questionable word choice, very questionable) fact: I’ve yet to hear a single person effectively explain these giant words for ‘ways people think the world is organized’, i.e. epistemology, theoretical perspective, etc., and how they relate to each other.  Oh, many have tried, but they just move their hands a lot and search for words.  When words are found, it’s one of the few times I’ve ever completely empathized with the plight of a dog.  Why you ask?  All explanations sound remarkably like “Blah blah blah blah truth blah blah blah when one blah blah blah.  Blah blah blah blah clear, Bettina?”  I imagine it’s much like having an understanding of only 10-50 words, and everything else sounds like Charlie Brown adult “Whaaa whaaaaa” noises, no matter how hard you concentrate.  Here’s a nice presentation on epistemology and theoretical perspective if you’ve decided you desperately need more of that in your life (See slide 6), but I digress.

Here is my detour: hiding in coffee shops means I haven’t been overwhelmed by the media this week.  I’ve seen a couple article titles, the changing Facebook pictures, and have notifications in the hundreds for updated statuses and links to additional perspectives.  I read one overview on the 16th, and one today, but that’s all I can allow myself at the moment.  It is a luxury to know that I sit each day in complete safety.  It is a luxury to have safe friends and family.  It is a luxury to work on this proposal for my Masters thesis, researching and writing all day, each day, to meet this deadline.

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Queen Bee Bully

I don’t think I have any horrible childhood memories of being bullied.  I can honestly say that I gave a little, and got a little.  Children aren’t particularly kind hearted, after all, they’re trying to develop a sense personal identity, but my classrooms and schools were always fairly small, and I think I always fell into the same ‘outer-friendship’ ring throughout childhood.  I was seldom invited to come on an evening outing or weekend trip, and the few times I was, I found out later I had been a 2nd or 3rd choice.  I still enjoyed going.  At the same time, I was always included in every girl’s birthday party (and even a few boy’s), and not everyone was.

Is there always someone playing Queen Bee?

Thinking back I’m realizing that it was always the same 2 or 3 girls that didn’t get invited, and that’s definite exclusion, but when your parents say you can only invite 9 people (what parent wants more than 10 giggling girls over for a sleepover?), that means 3 people can’t come; it seems those three were always the same.  I noticed at the time, but it seemed logical.  I always invited the people who invited me, and if I couldn’t have everyone, I was definitely inviting girls who I wanted to be closer friends with.  Unfortunately, from an adult perspective I can see how hurtful that must have been for the same few classmates who seldom got invited.

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Theft or Dishonesty?

Some weeks ago I was sitting in a literature class, listening with half an ear as the professor went over the syllabus.

Classic lecture class, but mine has less math and more literature.

Attendance policy: Be here

Written assignments: Three

Plagiarism: Don’t do it

Materials: Pirate them from the internet

In class discussions: Participate

Last day of class: In November

Any questions about those?  You may have gone back to the same one I did, pirating class materials.  The instructor elaborated that course books could be found in the bookstore, but we’d also be watching all 8 matching films, and each student would be required to pirate them on their own time.  She clarified that as an instructor, she is not allowed to recommend we steal things, but she won’t be providing the material, and we will be required to watch it, so she suggests using X-website, Y-website or Z-website.

This is by no means a new experience for those of us in school during the last ten years.  I usually have 1 or 2 professors a year who have a required movie or text that you’ll need to acquire on your own. I also recently had the new experience of a professor who didn’t care about references when making an educational presentation.  She asked me to remove my links and text citations, because it took away from the attractiveness of the project.  I generally thought it shows research and credibility, but I’m not about to argue with the sole grading power.

It’s also worth commenting that the irony inherent in this situation is delicious.  When your instructor for Education and Ethics tells you to pirate a copy of a movie for class, what do you do with that?  Or a literature professor who tells you to steal the movies, and books if you can, of some of the great classics, works they profess to love.  A Research in Sustainability class that asks for no references, and doesn’t give credit to the researchers in question.  It seems they have all chosen…poorly.

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