Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lying Children?

Just read through this story from NPR and thought it is fantastic. Every parent should read it. It's a little long but well worth the read.

The author reviews studies about children and lying and gives some great advice about how and why it happens and how to deal with it as a parent.

If you are like me, you'll find that you are still doing lots of things that are encouraging lying. I was aware of the many ways that children consider that parents are lying - my children have called me on them - and I work hard to avoid lying to my children for any reason. Sometimes the way to avoid it is to be purposely vague when they ask for a promise of doing something in the future. Unless I'm absolutely certain I can do what they are asking, I usually just say, "Maybe. Sometime".

I know I have been frustrated at times by my inability to know whether or not my children are telling the truth. The article really gives me some tools to monitor my own behavior so that I am encouraging my children to be honest.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Guess what I saw this week right near my house? The city is working on sidewalks! This is an example of the work being done. It is repair work, no new sidewalks are being built, but I think it's a great step in the right direction. All down the length of this street from downtown almost to the turn to my house, these sidewalks are being repaired.

This is the opposite side of my house from the elementary school. I am still working on sidewalks to the school, but I'm encouraged now!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jeff Foxworthy on Capable Kids

I knew I really liked Jeff Foxworthy. Here's a quote from him in today's Parade Magazine:

I’ve learned a lot from working with the kids themselves. For starters, I’ve learned that they’re much more capable than we believe they are. We’re probably the most overprotective generation of parents that’s ever been on this planet, but I’ve found that if you turn a group of kids loose in the outdoors, they learn to work together. They learn how to build forts and solve problems, like, How do we cross this ditch or this creek? That’s how we all find out what we’re capable of. Best of all, they figure out how to entertain themselves without electricity. Amazing!

I have to agree. So, let's give them more freedom outside.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Please, please write a letter to include. This program provides money for infrastructure improves that otherwise could not happen. I can tell you from personal experience that trying to convince city officials to install speed limits signs, improve crosswalks, or build sidewalks is a hard enough proposition when you say, "I can get the money for it." If this program and its funds are taken away, it would be impossible.

Thank you!

Join the Safe Routes to School “Dear Congress” campaign

The federal Safe Routes to School program is all about making sure that children can safely and independently walk and bicycle to school. With Safe Routes to School funding—which is $612 million over 5 years—communities are building sidewalks, bike paths, crosswalks, and other infrastructure improvements to make sure children have safe routes to school, separate from traffic. Safe Routes to School funding also helps teach children safe behaviors when they are walking and bicycling, and encourages more families and children to get active on the way to and from school.

Congress is currently considering reauthorizing the federal Safe Routes to School program as part of the next transportation bill. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership wants Congress to hear from children, parents, Safe Routes to School staff and volunteers, and school and city leaders about why Safe Routes to School matters to individuals and communities.

Please take a moment to write a letter about how Safe Routes to School helps your child be “Free Range.” Quick instructions are below. Write a letter that addresses the following points:

  • Start your letter with “Dear Congress,”
  • Thank Congress for the Safe Routes to School program
  • Why it’s important to you, as a parent, that your children are able to walk and bicycle to school
  • How it is important that your children walk and bicycle to school every year, up through high school, to build healthy habits
  • (if applicable) How Safe Routes to School has helped make it safer or easier for your child to walk and bicycle to school
  • What kinds of infrastructure improvements are needed in your community to improve safety for your children on their way to school
  • See if your children want to participate – ask them to draw a picture or write a short letter (crayon is ok!) about why they love walking and bicycling to school.
  1. Make sure you put your mailing address on the letter so that it can be matched with your Congressional district.
  2. Send your letters to Margo Pedroso with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership by September 24, 2009. You can scan and email electronic versions to Or you can mail letters to: Margo Pedroso, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, P.O. Box 442328, Fort Washington, MD 20749.
  3. Do not send your letters directly to your Members of Congress; the Partnership will bundle your letters together with those from other families and deliver to Congress as a package to have the strongest impact.
  4. Pass the word to other individuals and organizations you know through e-mail chains and list-servs.

Thank you so much for your help in making sure that Safe Routes to School continues—and is able to get more children walking and bicycling to and from school! If you need additional information, please visit or contact Margo Pedroso with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership at .

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It’s a Miracle

The most amazing thing happened this morning. My 10-year-old woke me up at 6:30 to ask if I knew where his Sunday shoes were!

For years I have been giving my son instructions on how to get ready in the morning. School clothes he finally got down and so long as he gets up early enough, he can get himself completely dressed and ready to go. But, Sunday has been a different story.

I guess it's that his wardrobe is so different and since he only wears some of it once a week, if he left things sitting somewhere he shouldn't, after a week he doesn't remember where they are. Plus, Sunday mornings are much slower than weekly ones. During the week we have to leave the house by 7:30 am for school, so there's no leisure time. On Sunday, church doesn't start until 10:00 am. My kids enjoying playing around or watching TV and they are never in a hurry to get dressed. But, this morning at 6:30, my son had on dress pants, a white shirt (not ironed, of course, so he ended up having to take it off for ironing), a belt and black socks and was looking for his shoes! I thought I would fall out of bed.

Maybe this parenting thing does work after all. How many times have I had to follow him around on Sunday mornings reminding him to find clothes, find dark socks or his dress shoes? He's ten, so you do the math. A LOT of Sundays. For the first time today, I didn't have to.

So, maybe my children really will learn eventually to be responsible for themselves. Just one incident that will help me have more patience to wait for changes in my children's behavior.

It was a nice way to start off a Sunday morning.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

NY Times Article about Walking to School

Here it is. This is an article that will appear in Sunday's NY Times and includes my story. I think the reporter, Jan Hoffman, did a great job on it! Please read and forward to anyone you think might be interested.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Teaching Respect

As a child growing up in the south, we were taught never to call an adult by his or her first name without attaching a title. My grandmother's neighbor across the street was Aunt Emma to my dad and his sisters as well as all the grandchildren. Now, we more commonly attached "Miss" to a first name for our friends. I am "Miss Lori" to the children of most of my friends. For adults, I'm not one who is overly worried about using titles, but I think it very appropriate for children. Children should learn respect for others, especially those in an authority position.

We should all show respect to those around us. I'm not talking about the military style "if you outrank me I have to do everything you say kind of obedience" but basic respect. There have been too many examples of late of problems in our country relating to lack of respect. Dr. Gates, the Harvard professor arrested at his home, could have avoided a big mess had he shown more respect for the police officer. Yes, the police officer was acting inappropriately, but he's still a police officer. Getting in his face isn't going to help the situation. My encounter with a police officer after my son walked to soccer practice was similar. I was fairly upset by what he said to me, but I didn't let my emotions get the best of me at the time. I respectfully listened to his tirade and then a day later, contacted the chief of police for clarification. So, by "respect" I don't mean just lie down and take abuse of power, just handle the conflict differently.

Another poor example is parents' refusal to allow their children to watch an address by the President of the United States. This country has always been divided on political views, but it seems to be getting much worse lately. Agree or not with the President, he is the President, elected fairly and through the same process we have used for over 200 years. Government only functions when citizens have faith in it.

Lose respect for our elected leaders and our country will fall in anarchy. I'm serious about that. I've disagreed with many elected officials before and I'm not afraid to tell them so. But, I respect the position that they hold and I know it's not easy being in a job where making even half the people happy is success. We need to teach our children to have respect for the President. Not everyone voted for him, but for the next four years, he is the President for every citizen of the United States. Our children should see us set the example of respect, not learn distain for authority from us.

Lastly, I want to comment on Rep. Wilson's outburst during the President's speech last night. I think everyone agrees it was in bad taste, but I would argue that it's the natural outgrowth of this disrespect we are exhibiting for our President and other elected officials. We need to lead our children by example in showing respect for our elected officials, the police, our children's teachers and anyone else in an authority role. If we don't, how do we expect our children to behave? I don't want to live in a world like that.

I teach my children to respect others.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Child Catcher

A friend related an incident to me recently about letting her children walk to school and having a woman in a van stop to talk with them. A police officer saw them, was concerned about them "talking to a stranger" and came over to investigate. He ended up escorting them to school and then finding their mother to report that her children had been talking to strangers.

Since when are nice ladies talking to children a danger? I know, I know, an abductor can be anyone. But really. Everyone isn't dangerous. I'm sure had she seemed creepy or asked them to get in her car, the children would have run the other direction. When my son walked to soccer practice one woman in a van spoke to him to see that he was ok. It didn't even dawn on me to be worried that he answered her. We should teach our children not to GO anywhere with strangers, not teach them that it's inappropriate to talk to anyone you haven't met. My Grandpa talked to strangers all the time. I talk to people I don't know. I find that they are really nice. Sometimes they become my friends.

As I was thinking about this incident, I thought of the movie "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". In the movie a family flies in a car to some foreign country. They enter town with two children, who are immediately rushed out of sight into a shop by a toy maker. It is dangerous for them to be on the street. You see, in this country, the queen hates children and employs a "child catcher" to round up any children he sees and then takes them prisoner in the castle. So, any children in the town are always hidden away inside, in cellars and behind hidden doors. Are we getting to that point? Do we think that just by being outside our children are in danger?

I try not to think that way, but I wonder about when we do and what harm we do to our children. The children in this story had no lives. Our children won't either if we don't learn to be afraid of realities and not possibilities.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Walking to School

It was a goal of mine this school year for my girls to walk to their elementary school from our house. Several things need to happen before we will be there, and we are making progress towards that goal. We live one mile from the elementary school in a residential neighborhood and my daughters are in the first and third grade.

I am car-pooling with a neighbor who has one child in middle school with mine and one in the elementary school with my daughters. On the mornings I take the elementary school route, she takes my son to the middle school, thus giving me enough time to walk with my girls and her son. So far, we have driven to where the sidewalk begins and walked from there (about another block from her house). That has worked out nicely, but I am still walking with them. I don't really mind – I enjoy the walk – but it would be nice for them to walk alone.

Part of the issue is making sure that my friend is comfortable with her son walking. We aren't quite sure we totally trust our children to walk straight to school in a timely manner, which is why I'm walking with them for now. I assume that after awhile I won't need to keep reminding them how we are supposed to walk.

Secondly, though, is the entrance to the school. The sidewalk to the school is very safe and the few streets it crosses are very little traveled. But, the sidewalk ends at the edge of the schoolyard and the only way from there to the school entrance is across car traffic with no crossing guards. I hate to ask the school to provide a crossing guard if my children are the only ones walking, so I keep going with them. There is an assistant principal who watches out for them, but he is positioned across the yard from them. Maybe if I can convince more people to walk, we might get a real crossing guard. One other friend that I know of is now walking from the end of the sidewalk. Maybe in time others will join us.

I am also working with the city to improve the safety of walking along the street without a sidewalk. There is a stretch of about one block that doesn't have a sidewalk or even much of a side to the street and is on a fairly well-traveled road. I have spoken with city officials about a speed limit sign. The next step would be a better crosswalk. There are two hotels in development another block down the road and the city engineer is supposed to be getting back to me so that I can see what the plans are for road changes for that development and to see how we can make improvements for safe walking part of it.

Another obstacle is the weather. It's still too hot to attempt to walk home and not every morning is cool enough to walk, but some are. I enjoy those mornings when we do walk and lots of parents see us and wave on the street.

But, we are making progress and I'm glad that we are.