Thursday, January 21, 2016

Life lessons from pop culture

Sometimes I feel like I live in the car.

Other times I love all of the driving of my kids everywhere, because cars are actually a pretty good place for conversations. They can't walk away, and there are very few distractions.

Here is a conversation that happened today. (A friend named Bobby was in the car with us.)

Bobby, Daniel, and Jill jumped in the car.

Jill: "Mom! Don't tell Bobby and Danny, because I know you know the answer."
Me: "Um . . . okay."
Jill: "Bobby! Daniel! Do you know what a dictionary is? Agh. No! Not a dictionary! What is it called??!!"
Me: ". . . do you mean a diccionario?"
Jill: "No! What is it called?!"
Me: ". . . do you mean a thesaurus?"
Jill: "No! I can't remember."
Bobby: "Do you mean Jurassic Park?!"
Me: (laughing)
Jill: "No, no, no. You write in it, and Marisela had hers at school today."
Me: "Oh, do you mean a journal or a diary?"
Jill: "Yes! Bobby, Danny, do you know what a diary is?"
Bobby: "I do! A diary is when if you have a basilisk tooth, and then you stab a page in a diary with the tooth, someone dies!!"
(silence in the car.)
Me: "Well, yes, that happened in Harry Potter, but Jill means a regular diary or journal where someone would write secrets or hopes and dreams."
Bobby: "Oh."

Clearly a normal, Muggle diary is a huge let down.

Jill really wants a diary right now. She also looked through our bookshelves and found my old diaries. Eek! I might have to hide my teenage and married life ones from her. Maybe I can find some of my earliest ones to let her see.

I've been thinking about that conversation in my car, and it makes me wonder. When I read Harry Potter, I was already in middle or high school. (I don't remember when I started reading them, but the first one was published when I was in sixth grade, I think.) I already knew what a diary was. 

I told a friend that thought, and she wondered aloud how many children have only heard of phone booths due to Dr. Who. What if there is a generation of children who have no concept of using a telephone booth to make a phone call but think they are time traveling devices?

I've always loved fantasy and science fiction novels, so I'm not advocating to keep them away from children, but it did make me wonder. We're reading Harry Potter to our kids right now. We're in the second book. When I read I actually sensor out all of the shut ups and whenever someone says they hate something I change it to don't like. Am I doing a disservice to my kids? I don't know. But I've never heard my kids say shut up (and since they go to school in Spanish, they aren't learning it at school), and I could probably count on one hand how many times my kids have said they hated something. I just don't want them to learn from Harry Potter that you can hate a person. Even if that person is a bully. There is already too much hate in this world for me to be teaching my kids about it. There will, unfortunately, be plenty of time in the future for that.

Before reading the book to a six year old and four year old, it never occurred to me I would sensor parts of Harry Potter.

Sometimes I wonder if censoring the book is robbing me of teaching opportunities. Again, I hope I have plenty of time for teaching opportunities when they're a little bit older. 

Thoughts? Advice? Have you encountered this with your children? Or do you remember from your childhood something you learned (perhaps incorrectly) due to pop culture?

That reminds me of something my friend overheard in her car while transporting girls to gymnastics. Jill and her friends love Taylor Swift, and her friends had a very serious discussion as to whether Taylor Swift really had the power to turn bad boys good for a weekend. They ultimately decided that only God had that particular power.

In other news, Daniel turned five!

His birthday week was crazy. I made a cake for his birthday at home with family, cupcakes for his party at preschool, cupcakes for his birthday party with friends, and a chocoflan for a baby shower. Lots of chocolate baking! 
(It's crazy that we've been here a year already!)

I recently taught Jill how to use the telephone. 
(She already knew how to FaceTime. She learned how to do that when she was four.) 
She still has a little trouble with dialing (holding the buttons too long, not waiting too long in between numbers, etc.). But when she gets through to one of her friends, she is thrilled!)

PiƱatas here are HUGE!

Someone thinks he is a big boy! Gah. He's going to be walking soon!


  1. Finally catching up on your blog!! What to choose NOT to expose your kids to and what to use as an opportunity for discussion is such a tricky thing. And sometimes we don't have much choice. I'd really rather girls as young as ours not be singing along with lyrics like Taylor Swift's, but it's nearly impossible for them to not encounter that stuff, and so it has to be a teaching opportunity (although at this point their innocence seems to be winning out!) As they get older it gets trickier, but I always think of a good friend of mine who was my boss in my first job out of college. He has four kids, the oldest of whom is now in his late 20s, all of whom seem to have become wonderful adults. He always talked about he and his wife creating a situation for their kids where they started out in a very sheltered world with clear boundaries, filled with their family's faith and values and that those limits could be expanded and eventually removed as the kids grew - so that rather than giving kids unlimited freedom when they're small and trying to force restrictions on them once they're teenagers, it was more a process of helping their kids see that they could trust themselves and their faith out in the world as they grew, and the values they'd learned in that sheltered childhood could guide them in the "real world" they came to know as they became adults. I think as young as your kids are, it makes sense to seriously limit their exposure. Now that my oldest is 12 I feel like he's at an age where he can think really critically about things I'd never dream of exposing my 8-year-old to. One of many tricky parts of parenting. But I think you're doing a great job!

  2. I read that (perhaps incorrectly) as "poop culture" initially.. Hah —Galtzo

  3. We're on Book 4 right now- I censor some things (swearing mostly), but the dynamics between characters have been great talking points with the boys about things like the truth, trying to get others in trouble, how to express feelings when we don't like something, what hate really means (you can't have love in the series without the pure evil and hatred of Voldemort), bullying, and how diaries are only relevant if they are possessed by dark magic and serve as a horcrux that needs to be destroyed by a basilisk fang, among other things. It also prompted a good discussion about abuse and appropriate relationships and love in a family (Matilda also does this).

    In other news, Abhisneha cannot wait for Jill's call. I taught her to text two years ago and that led to some pretty funny memories between her and family, but phone calls with friends will be new territory. —Alicia

  4. Que guapos. —Rosa


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