Tag Archives: reading

Notes On The Care And Feeding Of Teenaged Boys In The Wild

In his natural habitat, the teenaged boy is normally a sullen, yet somehow docile creature. He seems bent on quietly sleeping away as much free time as possible.

When spotted outside his designated sleeping area, sometimes known as the Pit of Despair or the Garbage Dump, the teenaged boy typically is attempting to sulk through the larger familial environment, speaking only when forced to do so, interacting to the least extent possible by a physical being, and foraging for food. It is this latter activity, consuming almost as much time as the teenaged boys’ attempt to sleep, which takes up the most time during the day.

It is thought by many, this author most definitely included, that teenaged boys have a hollow leg for storage of foraged foodstuffs. While not evident in most contemporary medical imaging technology, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.

Don’t test me on this. I mean it!

So, yes. The teenaged boy can use his hollow leg (It is there! It is!) for the majority of his time as a teen. Over time, the hollow space gradually withers away, becoming a vestigial, nearly invisible line between several leg muscles.

This, however, is what happens in the teenaged boys’ natural habitat. Despite their best intentions, family members will astonishingly forget previous experiences with forcing a teenaged boy out of this natural environment and into new, strange places which work against his natural tendencies. In other words, teenaged boys do, on occasion, get taken on vacation.

Often it is not a smooth week during the vacation time.

Some parental units will expect the teenaged boy to show excitement at the prospect of traveling to an exotic destination, there to interact with people different than himself, eat unfamiliar foods and attempt to sleep in beds that do not have mattresses conformed to his shape. These parental units are often the most disappointed following the paying of the cost of travel and accommodation for the vacation.

These parents, as many prefer to be called, face further disappointment if they expect the sullen teenaged boy to rise early, be excited and friendly, then go out and enrich themselves with cultural activities not available in its home range.

The typical teenaged boy will face the prospect of cultural enrichment with all the excitement and anticipation a normal person would have for a blunt-edge, sledhammer-assisted leg amputation.

While the idea of strange food normally is met with loud and repeated calls of, “This stinks! I hate this stuff! Why can’t I have a cheeseburger? Everybody hates me. I’m going to my room. Oh, wait. That’s right. I can’t go to my room, can I? Fine. I’ll just sit here and starve to death in front of you.”

Interestingly, at least interestingly to those not intimately involved, these exact words are repeated on an average of every five minutes while teenaged boys and parental units are sitting in a restaurant. Which is much more persistence than showcased by teenaged boys when forced to do, say, homework.

The frustration level of the parental unit will only increase when the teenaged boy decides that he will continue sleeping as late as he wants, no matter the distraction nor the din of people getting ready around him.However, the author of this paper believes he has come up with a method that could be useful to parental units forced to bring a teenaged boy outside of his natural habitat.

For starters, it is recommended that parental units adjust their expectations before leaving for the trip. Understand that teenaged boys have, at least in front of their parents, one facial expression that seems to be used the majority of the time. Teenaged boys spend a lot of time practicing that expression. However, this author has it on good authority, that actual human emotions do percolate beneath that stone-faced exterior.

Which is good, really, because you’d never know it to simply go by the exterior.

So, once parental units understand that smiling is a thing of the past and the future, but not the present, for teenaged boys, it enables them to move forward with their plans without suffering disappointment, frustration or anger. At least about the lack of a smile.

On a recent trip with his own teenaged boy, this author discovered what seemed to be the key to a successful temporary transplantation of a teenaged boy to a new environment. That key being disinterest. In this case, the author’s own.

Many parental units will pack a vacation chock full of wonderful events, fantastic sites and educational exhibits designed for the teenaged boy to enjoy and find elucidation. When these activities are met with surface disinterest by the teenaged boy, parents suffer.

The key, this author has found, is to use that disinterest to the parents’ advantage. While the teenaged boy insists on sleeping very late indeed, it is possible for the parents to go out into the new environment and seek out those stimuli which he or she enjoys and do so without the constant drag of a sullen teenaged boy.

Then, at a time agreed upon earlier, the parents simply return to the temporary sleeping territory of the teenaged boy and wake him up. As is the case with most wild animals, the first thing that should be done upon waking the teenaged boy is to feed him. This should take place as soon as possible.

Having been out enjoying themselves earlier in the morning, the parents will more easily have found a place that serves food they like and that still serves a breakfast-ish food for the teenaged boy. Once the food has been absorbed and the teenaged boy begins to reapproach what might, on a stretch, be called civility, then it’s time for the joint activity.

This author found that having one activity, outside of meals, per day to perform with the teenaged boy worked out just about right. Mostly because this author made sure there was another activity in the neighborhood of the first. That way, when the first activity was finished, it could be said with the appropriate degree of surprise and incredulity, “Oh, look. It turns out that (fill in the blank of another activity, this one less attractive to the teenaged boy) is right near here. Why don’t we just head over there for a couple of minutes? Wow. Isn’t this lucky?”

Admittedly, the author’s teenaged boy began to look at the author semi-suspiciously after the author repeated the above verbatim four days in a row, but it still had its desired effect. However, this could be something to watch out for on other vacations.

Finally, after the exhausting day’s events (exhausting to a teenager because it normally wouldn’t involve more sleeping or television) are finished, it is time for the next important step.

Once more feeding the teenaged boy. As this normally would be the dinner meal time, it is best to eat at a restaurant that is more filling for the parents. That way, when the teenaged boy begins the evening feeding frenzy a few hours later and begins turning every adult-aged stomach in the vicinity, the parents already will have eaten and can simply put in the earplugs purchased for just this purpose and turn away for the duration.

Oddly, this author found that being earplugged and facing away from his teenaged boy made for a remarkably enjoyable reading experience. As long as the author kept his eyes focused away from the carnage happening near the previously purchased snack foods.

It is hoped that this author’s travails with his teenaged boy can help other parents survive any temporary relocation of their own teenaged boy.

First published: On Charlotte Parent website.

April 14, 2015 8:33 am
Written by: Richard E.D. Jones


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Maybe The Handwriting Isn’t On The Wall After All

Our brain must understand that each possible iteration of, say, an “a” is the same, no matter how we see it written. Being able to decipher the messiness of each “a” may be more helpful in establishing that eventual representation than seeing the same result repeatedly.

The same research also notes that there could be a difference in the brains of young learners between those who only know how to print block letters (Hello! I’m mostly one of those. Long story.) and those who learn how to write in cursive.

In dysgraphia, a condition where the ability to write is impaired, sometimes after brain injury, the deficit can take on a curious form: In some people, cursive writing remains relatively unimpaired, while in others, printing does.

In alexia, or impaired reading ability, some individuals who are unable to process print can still read cursive, and vice versa — suggesting that the two writing modes activate separate brain networks and engage more cognitive resources than would be the case with a single approach.

That might not be all that much of a big deal, if it weren’t for the fact that cursive writing is disappearing as a subject being taught to the little dudes and dudettes in school. My youngest, Hyper Lad, really only had cursive for about a single year.

He had to learn the letters, try to put them together, and then was forced to write his spelling sentences in cursive each week for the rest of the year. And, really, that was it.

Now it’s years later and, because he didn’t get cursive reinforced in school and because his dad didn’t get a chance to really learn cursive his ownself, I now have to do the reading for him when it comes to cursive notes written by his oldest relatives. Annoying, but also, apparently, only the smallest of problems relating to not knowing cursive.

It turns out, the benefits of learning both handwriting and cursive will last through childhood and into adulthood. Most adults know how to type and consider it an efficient method for taking notes, certainly above using a messy handwriting. However, the very efficiency of typing could be working against adults trying to assimilate new information.

Two psychologists, Pam A. Mueller of Princeton and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles, have reported that in both laboratory settings and real-world classrooms, students learn better when they take notes by hand than when they type on a keyboard. Contrary to earlier studies attributing the difference to the distracting effects of computers, the new research suggests that writing by hand allows the student to process a lecture’s contents and reframe it — a process of reflection and manipulation that can lead to better understanding and memory encoding.

All of which means . . . what?

I’m not going to say that you must emphasize handwriting in the young dudes and dudettes, but it’s looking like it might be a good idea.

Heck, even just having them handwrite the really important bits from their notes might offer a significant improvement in their ability to assimilate new information. Definitely something to think about as you sit down for your . . . erm. . . their homework come fall.

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Word Of Mouth

How do you know that what you want to buy is any good?

If you’re buying something from a nearby brick-and-mortar store, you simply go there, take a look at it, heft it in your hands and get a feel for the object.

Then you go back home and do the same thing you’d do if you were buying the object, sight unseen, from a store on the internet: you look it up and start reading reviews.

I realize that there are some folks out there who are making a mockery of the review system, in that they are either hiring people to write glowing reviews of their product or scathing reviews of the competitor’s product, but I can’t think of a better system — when it’s not being gamed — for getting the unvarnished truth about a product.

Purchaser reviews are like talking over the backyard fence to your neighbor about her new lawn mower, or asking your cubicle-mate at work what he thought about that new Ethiopian restaurant downtown. You get to hear what each dude or dudette really thinks about the purchase or the food or the service.

You know that the person you asked isn’t being paid to speak only in glowing terms about the new nose-hair trimmer she just purchased. If you trust her, then you’ll trust her opinion of the nose-hair trimmer.

The internet, however, is a bit bigger than only your neighborhood. Odds are, you won’t know who the person recommending a product is, but you can be reasonably certain they are reviewing this under their own initiative, not because it’s their job to shill for Company X.

This came to mind last night, when I received a note from Amazon.Com that my review had helped another customer decide to purchase an item I got for Hyper Lad. It made me glad because, for a long while, I’d been reading reviews, but leaving hardly any.

That is just bad form.

See, you might recall that I’m a writer. (See A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook by Richard Jones and Barry Robert Ozer, on sale at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Powells.com and fine brick-and-mortar stores everywhere for proof.)

Since the book came out, I’ve been begging people to read it and then leave a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or anywhere they think others will see the review. The more reviews we get, the more people will see it, the more people will buy it, the better I’ll feel about the whole thing. (Which might not be all that important to you, but is oddly high on my list.)

I still don’t think we have enough reviews, but as I was brooding over that, I realized that I wasn’t holding up my end of the bargain. That is, I wanted reviews, but I wasn’t giving reviews.

Now, I understand there’s no big review toteboard up in the sky that ensures if you leave a review, you’ll get a review. But I thought maybe it was time to practice what I preached.

So I’ve been going back and leaving reviews for most of the items I’ve purchased from Amazon.com and other places. It’s taking a long, long, long, long, long (I like to buy things on the internet instead of searching for them IRL), long, long time. But I’m sticking with it.

And I think you should as well. I know you dudes and dudettes have read the reviews others have left, but have you left one in return? If folks don’t keep leaving reviews, the system breaks down and then we have to depend on the paid flacks for their not-so-honest answers.

No one wins when that happens.

Do your part, dudes. Buy a product? Write a review. Read a book? Write a review. Watch a movie? Write a review.

It only takes a couple of minutes. You’ll be glad you did.

You can always start here, reviewing A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook by Richard Jones and Barry Robert Ozer. Just a thought.

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