Miscellaneous

46 Things I Love About Being 46

Today is my birthday. I am 46 years old (as of 4pm this afternoon).

I don’t typically make a ‘big deal’ of my birthday – other than perhaps dinner plans with friends or doing something fun for myself on the day, which is how I intend to spend this birthday as well as many others I’ve seen come in the past.

I don’t view getting ‘older’ as something to regret or bemoan. I view it as a gift I receive each and every year. The chance to tell people I love them, no matter how many times I’ve said it before. The chance to learn something new or try something I never thought I might. There are, to me, so many reasons to enjoy spending another year alive…whether they are things I’ve always known, or learned over time.

Therefore, I’ve decided to produce a list of 46 things I love about being 46.

1. The two most amazing little boys in the world call me ‘Daddy’ and give me a hug and kiss every day.
2. I have had the opportunity to apologize to those I feel I have wronged the most in my life.
3. I have lived long enough to be legally married to the person I choose.
4. I know myself better than I ever have.
5. I like myself better than I ever have.
6. I am comfortable pursuing the things I enjoy in life, no matter what others think of them.
7. I, rather than following trends, make my own style and stick with it.
8. I value the worthwhile things I have in my life.
9. I am able to look back upon mistakes I have made and work to not repeat them.
10. I have given and received true forgiveness.
11. I have made friends with former enemies, recognizing the changes in both of us over time.
12. I love all kinds of music, admittedly some more than others, but have favorites in every genre.
13. I know my strengths, and my weaknesses, and how to work with both.
14. I have learned to be somewhat better at asking for help when I need it.
15. I have learned that trying to harm another individual does more harm to me, to my soul, than to them.
16. I can say ‘I love you’ to someone without hesitation.
17. I have read some of the most revered classics in the world, and really enjoyed them.
18. I have enough self confidence to introduce myself to a stranger and try to get to know them.
19. I can cry without shame.
20. I know to handle rejection with grace rather than anger.
21. I can admit when I am wrong.
22. I can apologize without trying to justify my actions or words.
23. I don’t feel the need to apologize for who or what I am.
24. I don’t feel the need to try to make people like me, but rather feel grateful for those who do.
25. I feel no need to retaliate against people who say or do things that hurt me.
26. I keep confidences and don’t betray them when they are placed with me.
27. I feel truly happy for people who get things I’d like to have even when I don’t get them.
28. I have people I can call any hour of the day or night who would do absolutely anything I needed.
29. I have known true love.
30. I am not ashamed to admit my real age, and do nothing to try to appear ‘younger’ than I am.
31. I no longer try to be ‘perfect’ as it’s an impossible goal to achieve.
32. I know how to set boundaries with others based upon my needs and wants.
33. I have thanked a great many of the people who have most profoundly influenced my life.
34. I know to listen to what my body is telling me.
35. I feel that a hot cup of tea and a good book makes, for me, a better night than any club, concert, or party ever could.
36. I look forward to the things I can still do in my life rather than dwelling on things I’ve not yet done.
37. I am blessed with many, many wonderful friends that I have known for decades.
38. I appreciate compliments, but flattery is, to me, like insult…it doesn’t change how I feel about myself.
39. I know that I alone am responsible for my happiness.
40. I value all gestures, small or grand, that are made with love.
41. I stand up for myself when needed.
42. I remain true to my principles despite the opinions of others.
43. I enjoy simple pleasures as they are the easiest to come by.
44. I know the meaning of ‘to love another one must first love themselves’
45. I know that each relationship I’ve had, no matter how badly it might have ended, taught me something.
46. I know that I am loved.

I am a lucky man, and I know it. I have more, in 46 years, than many ever achieve no matter how long they live. For this, and for the opportunity to say it, I am very, very grateful.

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Miscellaneous, Reading

The Teachers We Have Influence The Teachers We Become

Just yesterday I made contact with one of my teachers from high school via social media. She has since retired from teaching, and my own days spent with her as both a freshman and as a senior in high school were long ago.

In her care I was introduced to one of my favorite authors, Charles Dickens. It would, in truth, take several years for me to say he was one of my favorites; and yet now, in my forties, I find myself parsing out his works over time whereas there will not be any ‘new releases’ unless some heretofore undiscovered treasure trove of unpublished works is found. I do not, however, hold out much hope for this.

I learned from her, also, to enjoy the art of writing. During her class students were tasked with developing stories both fictional and non-fictional and presenting them in class to a group of our peers for critique and feedback. It was, at this time, that I learned how to more fully express myself in writing whereas the spoken word often failed (and still fails) me and I could, by then putting pen to paper and now fingers to keyboard mine the deeper recesses of my conscience and release the stream of thoughts that flows there like a surging waterway begging for an outlet.

The gratitude I feel for both these gifts, a love of literature and a love of writing, that I received from her I am not sufficiently able to express. How does one explain to another person the soaring inside the soul and the mind one feels when one becomes enraptured by a clever storyline or a well-developed plot, or when a fictional character is so relatable to situations in one’s own life that it seems the author has some sort of direct access to your thoughts and feelings and has laid them out in black and white for you to examine as a sort of outsider looking in? How can a person properly thank someone for helping them to recognize that there are other venues to explore in the expression of those thoughts and feelings when it seems there is no one in the world who can possibly comprehend them as they stumble over the tongue, spoken in haste or anger, when the deeper, truer meaning of those words is something far more than a person has the words to express? How does a person properly convey to a teacher, despite the passage of time, ‘I listened…I learned…..I remember’….and thank them for their dedication to their craft?

Teachers face, day after day, the blank expressions and disinterest of many (perhaps most) of the students in their classrooms as they attempt to instill knowledge in those students that they will hopefully one day put to practical use in their adult lives. Teachers fight the ennui of children and teenagers who would prefer to scroll their social media news feed and take online quizzes and text their friends rather than immerse themselves in the brilliance of a classic author or develop their own inner voice and learn to reveal that voice to the world around them. Teachers attempt, each and every day of their careers, to present their students with a gift that may not be the ‘latest’ or ‘flashiest’ technology device and is not wrapped in eye-catching paper, nor festooned with ribbons and bows. Teachers give a gift that is not readily tangible and won’t sit on a shelf or a mantle for all who visit to admire and praise. Teachers give us knowledge. It is a gift more precious than anything ‘material’ that we can ever possess. It is a gift that we can keep our entire lives and no one else can ever lay claim to.

It is also a gift that we can bestow upon others.

I indulge, quite willingly and happily, in classic literature on a regular basis. I also read contemporary works, historical stories, and non-fiction written about subjects that pique my interest such as polar exploration, Greek mythology, natural disasters, and unsolved crimes. I never feel quite ‘right’ if I don’t have a book that I’m reading, even if it takes me a month or more to finish it. Books have become my most steadfast companions in life and to not have something I am currently reading is the only time I ever feel truly ‘alone’ in the world; a situation I correct quickly. Books are, to me, like old friends waiting to wrap me in warm memories and new friends waiting yet to be discovered.

My children watch me read…they see me settling into a comfortable chair and spending minutes that become hours soaking in word after word and sentence after sentence in rapt delight when I find a ‘gem’ to read. My children also, although they often would rather tune in and tune out with television or video games (which they are allowed to in moderation), are discovering the amazing world of entertainment and enlightenment that awaits them in books. They have asked me, more than once, why I love to read so much. I tell them that to read is, for me, a chance to learn, a chance to laugh, a chance to cry, and a chance to break through the confines of what my eyes see and explore my imagination instead, as the black and white words I read form colorful images in my mind and the scenes of the novel play out in my head like my own private picture show. I tell them that reading teaches me new words and new ways of speaking, it fills my mind with things I might never otherwise have known, and sometimes it takes me back to things I might have forgotten and reminds me of why I enjoyed them in the first place. I know they have listened, and have learned, and remember when I see them pick up a book, retreat to a comfortable spot of their own and sink into the pages of a good story which holds their attention. I see the subtle changes to their countenances when a word or an idea intrigues or pleases them. I see them thirsting for knowledge when some of those words are unfamiliar to them, and they ask the meaning of the words so that they might better understand what the author is trying to convey. I see them realizing for themselves what I have long known…that the universe of literature is a vast and wondrous place, a place to be explored and savored, and a place where they themselves can be or encounter anyone at all.

I also see them learning to express themselves more fully in writing. On occasion they bring home pieces of their classwork where they have been tasked with writing a story or composing a letter to someone. Often times the letters are to me, and the stories are about experiences we have shared. Rather than be just flattered by so often starring in their imaginations…I am forever grateful that these experiences and these moments that we share have made an impression upon them and embedded themselves in the boys’ memories…and they can relate them, in written word, and what their own understanding and enjoyment of these experiences were. The boys often see me sitting at my laptop, busily clacking away at the plastic keys, moving characters and situations along in the few stories I am working on. They ask me what the stories are about, and I share some of the details with them, and one of the boys has even offered suggestions of how he thinks the story should progress, showing me his capacity for imagination and thought.

I won’t take full credit for any of these things. I do feel my own enjoyment of reading and writing have influenced the boys, and yet I know from my own experience that the teachers they have during the school year play a sizable role in this as well. I reflect upon the lessons they presented and the impact this all had upon my life, and hope that in some future time the boys will reflect upon these same things and will understand and appreciate the significance of the teachers they had, and use that experience and influence in the raising of their own children, should they choose to follow the same wonderful path I have of being a father.

As the new school year approaches I look forward to meeting the teachers the boys will have for the following months. I look forward to seeing at the end of each day what they have imparted upon the boys while having charge of them and their eager, absorbent minds each school day. I hope to be able to impress upon them the value of what they are learning, and to have respect for the gifts they are being given, as well as for the givers, while they muddle through the drudgery that can accompany their school years. I look forward to watching the expansion of their minds encouraged by the teachers they have.

But most of all I look forward to one day seeing the teachers they will become.

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Miscellaneous

The Divine Art Of Forgiveness

In my lifetime I have learned a few things about forgiveness. I’ve learned, in ways, how important it is to grant and seek forgiveness for ourselves and others. I’ve learned, in ways, how to sort out what parts of myself come into play when someone does something and the end result is that I am hurt, frustrated, or angered by it. I’ve learned to not say someone ‘made me’ do or feel anything and take responsibility for my own choices and emotions. I’ve learned to not let others’ opinions of me define who I am or how I view myself. Somerset Maugham wrote in The Moon And Sixpence that people who say they don’t care what others think of them are just using that as a defense mechanism or a coping strategy. (paraphrasing). I disagree with him. I believe that others’ opinions of me are none of my business, and while I will speak out against blatant lies told about me and speak my truth, I never consciously try to change anyone’s opinion of me, good or bad. I’ve been liked, loved, disliked and hated in my lifetime. I’ve learned from them all.

I’ve learned to take stock of myself to a large degree, and hopefully assign a level of importance to situations and actions that truly befit them. I’ve learned to let certain things go very easily, and give second, and even third chances to people. I’ve been deceived by others from time to time, and I have ended friendships because of it. Not because I couldn’t forgive the person, but because I no longer felt I could trust them. I bear against them no ill will. I wish them nothing but happiness in their lives. I just don’t make a practice of surrounding myself with people I know that I cannot trust. I forgave them long ago.

There are many quotes available to be read about forgiveness. Authors have said that forgiveness is freeing….forgiveness is not about forgetting but about not letting something have a hold on you any longer. It’s about releasing whatever hurt, frustration, or anger you feel toward someone or something and experiencing the serenity that comes with that release. Some say that only the weak hold on to anger, that forgiveness requires true strength in a person. I suppose there’s a part of me that subscribes to that belief.

There’s also a part of me that holds onto anger at times. Part of me that keeps reliving an experience in my life that to this day can dominate my thoughts and raise feelings of sadness and hurt that I just don’t know what to do with. Knowing that I’ll never forget it I find it that much harder to forgive.

I know that I am capable of forgiving…of truly forgiving…others; as well as myself. I have, and am grateful for, friends now that were ‘enemies’ of my youth. I have a relationship with my father because I was able to forgive him for many things that I didn’t think I ever would. I have forgiven myself for things that I did and choices that I made that were wrong, and hurtful, and ill-informed. I have apologized to the people that I feel I have ‘harmed’ most in my lifetime, sincerely apologized, and have received their forgiveness, for which I am very grateful.

I know the wonders of forgiveness. I know how exhilarating it feels to apologize to someone and have them accept your apology, or to have someone apologize to you and to accept their apology. I know how emancipating it is to look at yourself and your experiences critically, and do the work involved in understanding your role in (or lack of role in) things that have happened to you and forgive yourself. I know that to err is human but to forgive is divine. I know that even if we get so wrapped up in our anger and our resentment and our hurt and anguish that they become ingrained as a part of our personality we can still let it all go, sincerely let it go, and move forward with life. And yet there is still something I carry, something so deeply embedded in my psyche, that I just cannot seem to forgive it.

I believe that true forgiveness is possible. I also believe that there are things that happen that people just don’t really recover from if they are never apologized for or amends are never made. Sometimes the person you may wish to forgive is no longer in your life in one way or another, and there’s no means of talking to them. Sometimes they just cannot admit to the act/words that have angered or hurt another person. Sometimes they die without ever expressing any true remorse and therefore your opportunity to genuinely forgive dies along with them.  I’ve experienced that; to have a person die without ever really ‘hashing it out.’ I suppose I could have….but in the long run, their response would never have satisfied me, and therefore I choose to live with it being unforgiven.  It wasn’t just a body that was buried that day. It was the chance to receive an apology for all the anger, and pain, and humiliation, and grief, and torment, and self-doubt that remain lodged in my head. It was an apology I knew in advance I’d never receive.

But more than that; it was also the chance to speak my truth about it.

Maybe forgiving is too lofty a goal for me in this instance. Maybe I’ve just hoarded my anger and everything else I feel about it for so long that I’ve become in some ways addicted to it….anger is easier (not better) for me to feel than pain and anguish under the circumstances. Maybe I’m not able to forgive this because I’m not willing to let it go. Maybe I’m just afraid of what will come if the anger is no longer there to stand guard against it.

Forgiveness is a gift…both to give and to receive.  In so many cases, I’ve been able to experience this gift.  Perhaps one day I’ll let this last ‘unforgiven’ go as well.

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Miscellaneous

The Afternoon Knows What The Morning Never Suspected

Robert Frost said, ‘The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.’ I recall reading these words several years ago when perusing some of his works. They didn’t really impact me in any meaningful way back then. Time changes many things.

Watching my parents age is a very difficult thing.

I long ago accepted the fact that my parents will one day no longer be here. I am fortunate to have a wonderful assortment of friends and extended family members, and my own immediate family, and therefore don’t anticipate feeling ‘alone in the world’ when they pass. I will miss them, certainly…..I will mourn their passing. But I do know, full well, that it is an inevitability. Their death doesn’t ‘scare me’….their life as senior citizens, on the other hand, does.

My father had a stroke in 2006, as well as having dementia (he still knows who everyone is and where he is and why, but his self-care was in jeopardy) and has been in an assisted living facility ever since. He doesn’t really care for the facility, but without having planned for this time of his life in advance, he doesn’t really have other options. His well-being and safety are at stake, and he needs more ‘care’ than can be provided for him with either of his children. Irrespective of these facts, he is, at least with me, mostly upbeat and I always enjoy my visits with him. We speak of the past as well as the present, and he discusses each with equal acumen. I check in with the staff to question whether or not he is properly medicating himself (not that I’m an expert, I just notice changes in him that usually indicate either non-medicating or a need for adjustment), and while he may fight them on it, he usually listens to me, for whatever reason, when I explain to him the need to care for himself properly. Dad, for all the limitations that life now presents to him in terms of living independently and having things to fill his time, does ‘okay’ for himself. But I know he’d like to do, and have, more. I’ve watched him lose his (second) wife….his home….his freedom and independence. I’ve watched life take away more than it ever gave him. I’ve also watched it take away parts of his mind and memory. He does okay, but can’t ever live on his own again, nor can he live ‘unassisted.’

My mother is having a far more difficult time with the inevitability of aging. She fights it every step of the way, but not in a healthy manner with better eating, with focusing on what she still CAN do rather than CANNOT do any longer, and with trying to maintain a positive outlook on life. Her ‘golden years’ are tarnished, for her, by the greater difficulties she faces with ordinary, every day tasks like making a meal, cleaning her home, and getting out. It’s not that she doesn’t have people willing to help her. Her difficulty lies, seemingly, in allowing them to take care of her. We’ve talked at length about the ‘fear’ associated with relying on others and surrendering our well-being to them. I know, for myself, what it feels like to ask for or accept help from others….it’s daunting….it feels ‘weak’ and ‘vulnerable’ – despite being told for years now that admitting your weaknesses is a sign of strength. I’m getting there, little by little, but I’m putting the work into getting there. My mother, sadly, is not. Even more sadly, I see the onset of dementia for her as well, and I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult that will be for her to navigate as it will mean an even more heightened need for ‘surrender’ on her part to the care of others.

In both cases, even though my dad didn’t really prepare for this stage of living – and with the ‘basic’ preparations my mother made….it’s as if no matter what we build, no matter what we work for, no matter what fights we fight or dreams we achieve…eventually ‘Father Time’ is there to call in his marker. It’s not easy to watch. I hope I remember it all when it comes to my time, and that I find it less difficult to ‘go gentle into that good night.’

I admit that one of my shortcomings in all of this is patience. It isn’t that I don’t love them both, nor that I don’t want to help them both, or would do anything I could to make this part of their life easier. I see them both, I spend time with them both, I do what I can for them both. It’s easier with my dad, as he seems to have ‘acquiesced’ to his position in life, but not so with my mother. I try to be understanding and compassionate….and yet in the face of what amounts to verbal abuse and flat out refusal to even attempt to take better care of herself most times, it’s a level of frustration that I admit I cannot simply ‘put aside’ – and I find myself angered, exhausted, and weary of trying to find new strategies to ‘help’ her.

I don’t want to ‘force’ her to do things. I don’t want to ‘rob’ her of what little dignity she can maintain in her 80’s. I can see, and deep down I know she sees it too, that she needs help, much help, and yet the thing she needs the most, that help, seems to be the one thing she cannot accept, and it angers and frustrates her as well.

I know, without a doubt, that it’s not a profession I could get into – care of elders – and as my own parents age and struggle and I navigate that with them….I find myself more and more in awe and so much more respectful of those who do it day in and day out for others. They deserve far more praise and compensation for their efforts.

I know that the situation is only bound to worsen, not improve, for both my parents. I am hopeful that, for myself, I can find some way to better cope with it all. As I said, I don’t fear their deaths…I fear the interim, both for them and for myself.

I am, as I think I’ve displayed in other posts, an avid reader….anyone who could suggest literature to read about coping with aging parents, or more specifically with parents who have dementia, I would be most grateful.

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Parenting

Is Our World Becoming A Short Attention Span Theater?

First and foremost, let me apologize for the length of this blog post.  It might take more than three minutes to get through.  As I finish it up I realize there are more than 2000 words to this post.  If you are stout of heart…or at least of eyesight….please read on.

When I was a child in the 1970’s and 1980’s, pretty much the only i-anything we had was to be told that there was no ‘I’ in team.  There was no iPod, iPad, iPhone, iTouch…….computers were huge, warehouse filling equipment that no one could even dream of having room for in their home.  A tablet was something you used chalk on to figure out math problems.  A laptop was where you sat to have someone read you a story or give you a hug.  If you wanted to read a book you either went to a bookstore or borrowed it from the library.  Nothing was downloaded.  You didn’t worry about having enough ‘memory storage’ to obtain the story….you simply held it in your hands and read it, or had it read to you.

If you wanted to know something, or simply ‘more’ about a subject, you asked someone who (hopefully) knew, and listened to their answer….or you consulted the encyclopedia.  Certainly there were ‘informative’ television shows and documentaries where you could learn as you were entertained, and the one night per week that Disney was on (yes, one night per week only back in the stone age of my childhood), broadcast on one of the four channels (yes, only four channels were available prior to my teens), you could be treated to a wonderful visual exploration of a faraway land that you might otherwise never get to see.  Hunters explored the plains of Africa…..divers brought the undersea kingdom to vivid life, polar bears were four feet from your face, rather than four thousand miles away…..and children like me sat and stared in amazement at what was being presented to them.  We watched the channel we had selected, because otherwise you had to get up and go to the television to change the channel manually.  There was such a thing as a remote control to change your station (the first ones were made in the 1950’s and were called ‘lazy bones’)  but they were not included with every television (of which most families were lucky to own even one) so channel surfing and multi window t.v. screens to view four shows at once were not yet thought of, and there was no DVR to record one show while you watched another, nor any ‘on demand’ programming to watch whenever you had the chance.  If you missed something you wanted to see, you hoped it would be repeated, and sometimes you were lucky; but most often you were not.

There are days when I worship the almighty WWW and the advancement of technology that I have witnessed in my lifetime.  I can carry hundreds and hundreds of photos and videos of my kids with me in a four by six inch device that weighs less than two pounds.  Due to this device (a smart phone) I am never without something to ‘fill my time’ if I am meeting a friend for dinner and they are running late.  I can carry on a conversation with my mother on the phone and move to any room in my home during this conversation and am not restricted by reaching the end of a cord and risking ripping the phone out of the wall (yes, my childhood home phone used to hang on the wall and I couldn’t get more than four feet from it to carry on a conversation).  Even though I am not an avid viewer of television programming, if I do want to sit down and wile away an hour or two, I have thousands and thousands of titles to choose from in just about any genre I could possibly imagine……horror films, documentaries, war reenactments, dating programs, dance competitions, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.

By the time I reached high school I was ‘forced’ to read my first Charles Dickens novel….David Copperfield.   The book is (depending on the size of the edition you select) at least 800 pages long.  This was presented to 12/13 years old children and required reading (at least in my school).  I managed to get through it, but it was a chore, even being an avid reader myself.  In the early 2000’s I wrote an email (what has been referred to as the downfall of the U.S. postal system) to my freshman English/Literature teacher thanking her for the foundation given to me back then of one of my (adult) favorite authors…Charles Dickens.  She replied to me and I found that sometime in the 20 year span since my freshman year of high school and our present day exchange….David Copperfield was no longer the book that was made required reading for freshman…..Great Expectations (my favorite Dickens novel) had replaced it (400/500 pages) over time as Copperfield was simply too ‘long’ a book for the freshman attention span.

Over time our society has become flooded with information…..in large part thanks to technology.  No longer do you wait 20 years, 20 days, or 20 minutes even for a political scandal to become public knowledge. No longer do people wait for their photos to be developed and returned to them.  One hour photo, a HUGE ‘step forward’ in my younger days, has become one second photo….you don’t get back 20 blurry shots and 3 good ones any longer…you simply delete the blurry ones and take a few more.

Technology and information are a wonderful thing.  But like all ‘advancements’ we make as a society and as a people…..how closely are we monitoring the ‘cost’ of these advancements, and the impact on future generations?  How do we teach ‘patience’ to people when virtually anything they want is available to them in under one minute? How do we develop any kind of a rapport with others when we spend the majority of our time bent over our ‘devices’ rather than interacting with others face to face?  How do we entice people to focus and ‘pay attention’ when they can subversively slip their phone out of their pocket and start scrolling through their social media news feed?  What kind of absorption of information can happen when there are fifteen pop-up advertisements on either side of the news story and hyperlinks between every paragraph enticing us to learn more and more and more information about unrelated subjects?

Back in 1977, the Nobel-winning economist Herbert Simon said that ‘…information consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.’  The more information we are bombarded with and the more devices we have to get/get to this information, what are we cultivating for future generations?

California’s 2011 state budget brought a 50% cut to public library funding.   The United Kingdom lost more than 200 libraries in 2012.

In 2013 Barnes and Noble Booksellers announced that at least 20 stores per year would be closed every year for the next decade. That means the fine art of browsing for books and being able to hold them in your hands and admire the craftsmanship that goes into producing them (even if it’s mass-production) will go by the wayside for many, many people who will find it too far to travel to purchase a new read.

In 2011 the US Postal Service experienced a 5.1 billion dollar loss….largely due to decrease in volume of mail….and 21,000 workers were either eliminated or found their hours reduced as more rural facilities were faced with either fewer hours of operation or complete shuttering.

The community theater in my town, where I had hoped to introduce my kids to participating in the wonders of live performance, which can teach them valuable presentation skills and accountability and the fine art of developing a rapport with another living, breathing human being, closed (although the ‘theater company’ will continue to exist) earlier this year.

So many things are falling victim to the glut of information and ‘digital’ means we have of acquiring it.

But in case this all just seems like a ‘gloom and doom’ post……not everything is on the decline…..some things are increasing.

The number of  children in the United States diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit And Hyperactivity Disorder) increased 3% between 1997 and 2006.

Between 2005 and 2011, the increase in ADHD diagnoses was 5%.

(The above ‘data’ is courtesy of the CDC).

Lest I seem a hypocrite – my kids both have an ADHD diagnosis.  They both receive classroom ‘accommodations’ for this diagnosis that include sitting nearer the teacher (or the front of the room), more time to complete tasks, and frequent ‘sensory’ breaks. I am grateful for this, whereas it does seem to be showing an improvement in their ability to learn.  But it does lead me to wonder……’if’ the glut of information and the means by which we presently acquire it IS in part ‘responsible’ for the decreased attention span of our children…what happens when EVERY child in EVERY classroom is so impacted by this deficit of attention that ALL of them require ‘preferential seating’ and ‘more time’ and ‘sensory breaks’?  Will each child get their own individual teacher to sit near?  Will classroom education become ‘seating in the round’ with the instructor in the middle of the room so that no one is more than two feet from her/him at any time?  Will school days be extended from six/seven hours to eight or ten, to model the work/commute life that most full-time employees experience?  What happens when the world is so flooded with information and side-bars and pop ups and hyperlinks and no one can retain what they are learning because they are unable to invest the time to relegate it to their short term memory?  Has ADHD really become THAT big an ‘issue’ in our country, or have we ‘forced’ it to be an issue by bombarding children with far more information than their young minds can really handle and commit to memory and pushing them into become multi-taskers before they can hold a fork in their hand?  More and more I see advertisements for products to ‘teach your child to read by age 2’. What’s next? Teach your child to read while still in the womb?

To be fair, I wrote this post on my computer and looked up information to support what I was writing about on the same device. I didn’t make a trip to the library, nor pick up the phone and speak to any live person….I gathered the information in under a few minutes. I do not purport to be an expert on the subject matter.  I wouldn’t even call myself an informed amateur on it…..I know a tiny bit about what I am writing about…..and hopefully I’ll be able to retain the knowledge I have today acquired.

I am also not trying to convert anyone to being less of a ‘techie’ and adopting the habits of yesteryear.  I simply wrote this to ‘point out’ information to anyone who has invested the time to read through it (courtesy of their electronic device of choice), and perhaps present a different perspective on the topic. I admit that I spend a portion of nearly every day on the computer or some other electronic device.  I also spend a great deal of time reading books…real, tangible,  hardcover books. I get out to a local walking path with as much frequency as time and weather allow.   I see friends, face to face, as schedules accommodate, but it’s not nearly enough.  Sometimes I hand write cards and letters to people still.  And sometimes I just sit and stare at the walls and think about everything I have seen/learned during the day and how it affected me.

What do I believe for myself in terms of how much time I spend with or on any one thing?  I find that I still place much stock in the words that are credited to Socrates from more than 2500 years ago.

‘Everything in moderation. Nothing in excess.’

Socrates believed that people needed to learn to choose the ‘mean’ in all things and avoid the extremes (either complete devotion or complete avoidance) on either side.

To me it sounds like good advice that still applies to the world today.

 

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