It Seems Like It’s Disappearing

What makes a childhood?  I’ve been giving that question a lot of thought since the day I first read Neil Postman’s The Disappearance of Childhood. That thinking took on an urgency once becoming a parent.

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Sweetgirl had a playdate for the girls in her new classroom last week. As I eavesdropped (because, MOM) on their conversations, I heard one eight year old exclaim to another that so-and-so in their class asked her out. One girl squealed, another put her hand to her heart and sighed (I kid you not), and another asked if it was The So-And-So from their classroom.

Wait.

Back that train up a sec.

HE ASKED HER OUT?!?!

She’s EIGHT YEARS OLD.

Yes, I am yelling.

Before I get an onslaught of negativity about not taking their little conversations so seriously and they are just testing out this growing up thing, SHE PRODUCED A PHONE NUMBER! He apparently wrote his phone number down and said, “Call me sometime.”

Full up stop.

Just stop.

Because, childhood? It seems like it’s disappearing.

When I was eight, the only adult things missing from my social life were teeth.

Neil Postman wrote about the phenomenon I was witnessing in his book.

More, and more frequently, I am struck by how we are losing our social idea of children as separate from adults. The divide between what experiences a child should have and what experiences we encounter as adults is shrinking.

It bothers me.

Does it bother anyone else?

Of television Postman writes,

“The six-year-old and the sixty-year-old are equally qualified to experience what television has to offer…For in speaking, we may always whisper so that the children will not hear. Or we may use words they may not understand. But television cannot whisper, and its pictures are both concrete and self-explanatory. The children see everything it shows.”

Television isn’t the root of all evil. (We all know money is, right?) But, what the t.v. does is “eliminate the exclusivity of worldly knowledge and, therefore, [eliminate] on of the principal differences between childhood and adulthood.

Right?

I mean, take a look at any current cartoon geared towards “children” and you will hear plenty of adult humor peppered throughout.

Reading this book opened my eyes to the ways in which media can negatively impact our children’s ability to have an actual childhood. And while it won’t leave you with warm fuzzies, it will open your eyes to the realities of the techno-world we live in.

Parenting is full of pitfalls and epic fails. I’m thankful for Postman’s ability to draw my eyes to the places where it can get especially holey. It helps me be more aware.

And I’ll take all the help I can get. Yes indeedy.

We’re winding down here in the Write 31 Days Challenge. If you’ve missed any of my other posts in the Best Books Ever series, click the button below. (They’re not all this heavy!)

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Through the Trees

A singing waiter, a girl who loves to read (and who fights for her education), and a bad girl who only wants to be a mama were three of my favorite storylines in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

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Taking place in the beginning decades of the 20th century, Smith brilliantly captures the plight of over-comers. In this case, the Nolan women. From the deepest desire of motherhood in Katie’s sister to the deepest desire to rise above, in Francie, this book allowed me a birds-eye view through the trees. I felt like I was given an inside track on the themes that run through many women’s hearts, even now in 2016.

The main character, Francie Nolan encountered something that felt relatable to me. Mostly, the idea of being a girl in a boys world. That Neely was loved more because he was a boy made me mad. And that Katie had to work extra hard to overcome her husband’s weaknesses didn’t help either. This book was, I believe, an ode to feminism.

But above all it’s all about the books. The love of All The Books. Of Francie, Smith writes,

“The world was hers for the reading.”

Indeed it was.

So, of course, this was one of my favorites characters in a story. And this book, one of my favorites.

Catch up with all of the other books in my Best Books Ever series for the Write 31 Days Challenge. Click the button below to see what others were on my list.

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Outside Looking In

Any book that references Dairy Queen is a book I’m going to love. And it was certainly true for The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton. 

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Oh Dally, Pony, Sodapop, Darry… your names, alone, slay me. I’ve been on the outside looking in. Plenty.

And writing really has been the catharsis to the angst that brings.

It was for Ponyboy, too.  “Stay gold,” Pony.

There were quotes upon quotes that moved me in this story of East side greasers versus West side Socs.

“Nothing sparkly can stay.”  Now, that one was a lie. As a parent, I now know that glitter can stay. Glitter ALWAYS stays.

Hinton packed a ton of wisdom into this short novel about outsiders looking in. “There isn’t any real good reason for fighting except self-defense,” is there?

But his insights into our common humanity, well… even in High School, I was desperately seeking the commonalities.

“It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.”

As years become decades, I’ve realized how beautiful it can be to acknowledge that we all see the same sunset. There is comfort to be found in that, isn’t there?

Yes indeedy.

Only a handful of days remain. If you’ve missed any of the posts in my Best Books Ever series, click the button below. I am writing these as part of the Write 31 Days Challenge.

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Rooting for the Underdog

I’m assuming that my heart for the underdog is why God gave me a quirky kid.

I’m also assuming my fervent desire for any underdog to succeed is rooted in my own underdog underpinnings.

That’s a lot of under.

I like to be out from under, though.

And Frodo Baggins, one of my favorite underdogs in all of book history (next to Zaccheus in the Bible), struggled mightily to come out from under his circumstances.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is quite possibly one of the best stories of all time. Any age can read it (or at least have it read to them). I can’t imagine a life circumstance that isn’t dealt with in the book. And there are any number of “giants” to be overcome.

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And more than all of that, it is the smallest among us, the ones we think will be least effective, both for change and against evil, who end up being most useful and helpful.

It was the character Galadriel who said,

“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”

Indeed.

Who instilled hope in all of humanity?

A baby.

Who was most instrumental in winning the battle for The Ring?

Hobbits.

The smallest of All.

Oooh, I love me a good underdog story!

Adding to my love for this series? J.R.R. Tolkien was besties with C.S. Lewis. Oh yes they were!

It just doesn’t get better than that.

The movies were fantastic, but these books were rich in detail and painted a picture of good versus evil that I no reader can soon forget.  And it left me rooting for the underdog, once again.

Yes indeedy.

Click the little button to see other books I’m writing about in this Write 31 Days series.

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Can’t Handle the Tooth

In honor of the incredible toothache pain I’m in right this very minute, I’m going to share a quote by one of my favorite authors of all time (and then a book of his, too). Or maybe two books of his. Or three. Or…

“If only this toothache would go away, I could write another chapter on the problem of pain.” -C.S. Lewis

That guy, up there, wrote exceedingly well about the God. And life. And pain. And love.

And friendship.

I like what he wrote about friendship so very much.

The first book of C.S. Lewis’ that I read was “The Four Loves”. Although still hovering over Christianity as though it were a possibility, I was still too full of Bertrand Russell and Friedrich Nietzsche to land.  And as I read Lewis’ take on charity, eros, philia, and storge, I realized there were enough “thinkers” in this Christianity gig to make it a pretty sure thing.

And then, I got to the part about friendship and I exhaled. Because, exactly.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

But, then in The Abolition of Man, Lewis brought me down to my knees. I thought I saw through all that religiosity and hypocrisy.

“You cannot go on ‘seeing through’ things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it.”

Oh boy! He had my number. And as I speed read every book I could get my hands on (because, BOOKS!), I realized that there was no more denying God.

So I didn’t.

Ultimately, C.S. Lewis, turned my eyes outward and upward.

And they are ever upward.

Even as I sit here feeling like I can’t handle the tooth (pain). 

Yes indeedy.

If you are hovering over Christianity, grab a copy of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. Or, The Great Divorce. Or, if you are more fantasy fiction leaning, The Chronicles of Narnia series. (And no, it’s not just for youth. I daresay you get far more out of it as an adult!)

And then, if you missed any of my previous posts on the Best Books Ever, click the button below. I am writing this series as part of the Write 31 Days Challenge.

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Missed It By This Much

Do you know what happens when perfectionist tendencies crash into ordinary realities?

Opportunities happen.

More specifically, growth opportunities.

The kind of opportunity that allows a human to make the choice to forgive oneself for “not getting to it” or “not getting it done perfectly”.

Or not.

I choose to let it go.

That Elsa… she gained some valuable wisdom through her ice crisis.

Today’s Best Book Ever is going to take a page from Elsa’s book.

Or, rather, her story’s author.

Hans Christian Andersen wrote more fairy tales than a person can know what to do with. Each tale was woven with lessons humans are constantly experiencing. I have a favorite, though. And that’s the book for today. (It was also my favorite Disney movie of all time.)

The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen was a fairytale I read as an adult because I was so taken with the Disney movie.

Being a Fisherman’s daughter, I was raised in and on the water. If you’ve read around here for any length of time, you know that the Ocean is woven throughout all aspects of my life: my favorite place to be, where I find solace, part of my identity, my awe of its power, just to name a few.

Babysitting during my summers home from college provided me the opportunity to watch a lot of Disney movies. The summer I watched The Little Mermaid, though, was different. I wanted to know more about where this story came from.

Mr. Google was not a fixture in our culture yet, so I resorted to Mrs. Google, a.k.a. The Librarian at our public library.

When she pointed me toward the Hans Christian Andersen section, I couldn’t wait to read the original.

The most notable differences in the animated movie version and the story, as written by Andersen, are the Sea Witch and the ending (heartbreaking). 

The Little Mermaid is never actually given a name in Andersen’s original, but her fascination with the human world and her love for the prince remain the same.

One element of the original story that drew me in, though, was the little mermaid’s fervent desire for a human soul that goes to Heaven.

And on that intriguing note (as I hope you’ll pick it up for yourself, if you haven’t read it yet), I leave you with this quote:

“She laughed and danced with the thought of death in her heart.”

Indeed.

If you’ve missed other posts in my Best Books Ever series for the Write 31 Days Challenge, click the button below. 

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Where Your Treasure Is

Ah, Santiago… searching for the elusive “treasure”.

It’s always where we least expect it, isn’t it?

And, you know what the Bible says… “Your heart will be where your treasure is.” -Matthew 6:21

Yeah. Tis true.

Tonight, I leave you with a line from a book that will always be considered one of the Best Books Ever, The Alchemistby Paulo Coelho.

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Oh that humanity would strive for this:

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

Indeed.

To read other posts on the Best Books Ever series I’m writing for the Write 31 Days Challenge, click the button below.

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