Learning begins at home. I am a staunch believer of that view point, and take my responsibility as my daughter’s first teacher very seriously. My husband and I try to fill our house with fun-yet-educational toys, lot of colorful books, and educational DVDs. Debbie is perfectly happy looking at her books or playing with her toys. She also has loads of time to play outdoors, and loves running around the house hollering and chasing a ball as much as playing a tame game of ‘cooking’ indoors.
She is also a BIG FAN of children’s videos on YouTube, and educational DVDs. She loves Baby Einstein videos, Sesame Street songs, Dora the Adventurer (her favorite!), and anything with lots of toys or animals, colors, and loud music! I admit that I have a very selfish reason for letting her watch them… that’s the only time I can get her to stop hating food long enough to eat it!! Don’t get me wrong, we do have really fun eating time, when we don’t watch TV and concentrate on finishing what’s on the plate. Debbie can feed herself, and she does enjoy doing it. But sometimes, she gets it into her head that she can live on love and fresh air! and there is nothing a mother can do to change her mind… other than switching on the computer or the television…
Apart from the obvious value of these videos and DVDs (!), I really believe they are useful to a child’s learning process. Which is why I was shocked at the study published by the University of Washington, that the Baby Einstein DVDs make children… dumb… (to be very blunt)! The study says:
The scientists found that for every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants understood an average of six to eight fewer words than infants who did not watch them. Baby DVDs and videos had no positive or negative effect on the vocabularies on toddlers 17 to 24 months of age.
Well, I don’t know about that. Baby Einstein videos have pictures of these large and colorful toys in the shape of animals and other shapes that a child needs to learn about. I think it is much better to let a child learn the names of shapes, animals, fruits, vegetables etc. through song, music and fun than through getting a book out, pointing at objects and loudly repeating the names!
And anyway, unless parents simply dump their children in front of a TV or computer for hours together, I don’t think these DVDs are going to do any major damage. If parents want to take the easy way out and let their children watch TV all day, I think the children were destined for limited intelligence, DVDs on not! As a parent, it is my responsibility to decide how much time my child watches videos, how much reading time she gets, and how she learns about the world. If I go wrong with my planning, I don’t think I have the right to blame any one else for my bad judgment.
The Baby Einstein Company seems to be doing something good for children across the world. They are parents too, so I am guessing they must possess some parenting experience! Give them a break! Come on!! They are normal parents who decided to make a fun video for their kids… we’re blaming them that they did not do their research?!!? Ok, so the scientists who made nuclear bombs do a lot of research, so I guess wiping away an entire country is acceptable… I mean, criticising their work is one thing, but thinking people deserve a refund!?!?! Really now!
Too many people now are looking to shift the blame on some one else for just about anything. If your baby is not an Einsten before he is 2, maybe that DVD is to blame; if your boy is roughing up classmates in school, maybe the teachers are to blame; if your child broke the law, maybe the society is to blame… when a person commits murder, maybe the people who ignored him at work are to blame…
When did mistakes stop depending on the wrong choices a person made, and start depending on everybody else’s behavior? When do WE take responsibility for our mistakes? And when will we teach our children that when they become adults, THEY are answerable for their mistakes, and that they cannot shift the blame?
I for one cannot believe that some DVD is being blamed for children’s lack of learning. What do you think?
Oh heck! Who am I kidding?! I am desperate to show off… So here are the rest of the poems…!
I will read the book that sits on my desk,
I will do the dishes promptly,
I will remember to get the groceries,
I will not forget the milk again, meanwhile.
I will smile at my child,
I will mean it.
I will not stare at the mirror,
And wonder where she went… I miss her.
I will stop picking at forgotten friends in forgotten memories,
I will forget the friends I forgot.
I will ignore the pain of those memories.
I will forget my singing voice,
I will sing to remember I can’t.
I will stop now…
I will make dinner.
Where The Lost Go…
The keys dropped onto the table
Something was wrong
It had been right that morning.
The table had been bare when she left,
Except for the half-drunk coffee,
And the ring left by a wet coffee mug.
Where are the coasters?
Why was it so quiet?
The shower is usually running at this time.
Where are the kids?
And why is the television not on?
Why is the bedroom door closed?
It seems so Final.
Where are the shoes?
Who was in the closet?
(And the baseball bat is missing).
His clothes are missing…
He left one of his socks behind,
(She saw the little white dots where,
She spent an entire Sunday afternoon,
Mending his clothes… buttons, tears, holes for toes to peek out).
The lounge was gone…
He loved it.
His cologne was missing…
His smell was gone
He was gone…
The bar round the corner was always open…
The keys on the table were picked up… again.
Outside it is 40 degrees
Sunlight glares off everything
Car windshields, reading glasses, display windows,
Switch on the stove,
And it just got hotter.
Steam does something for your skin,
But that doesn’t help the knot in your brain.
Sweat can run down any way it wants,
But it flows into your eyes.
And salt always stings.
The shower can wash the sting away,
But the sun is more persistent.
More scalding than warm…
I could use a cool drink.
I don’t; I have a reason.
You could leave all this behind,
And step in to the office,
Where swinging doors let in the cool breeze,
Of recycled carbon dioxide.
I don’t care, it’s cool inside; freezing cold…
I’m glad I didn’t take that cool drink!
It Was My Idea
It was a bad idea,
To look her in the eye,
To pick up the hint,
To return the touch.
It was a bad idea,
To shake that hand,
To tell the secret,
To loan him the money.
It was a bad idea,
To buy those flowers,
To unlock the door,
To see what I saw.
It was a bad idea…
To introduce them.
Beware of Signs
Do not trespass here,
There is nothing to see.
Keep to the bright side of the street,
Don’t stare at the dark side.
Beware of low-hanging grief,
Hard metal can knock you out cold.
Watch out for the poison envy,
It can turn you blue… or green.
This coffee is scalding hot,
Do not spill on self.
Do not speak,
It is too revealing.
Flush after use,
No one wants to see your past.
Keep It Simple, Stupid,
I am seeing others too.
You are Back?
Out of Sight,
Out of Mind.
When you left,
I didn’t die.
Work was tough,
Pay was good.
We can live.
You should leave.
Close the door,
Don’t look back.
Note to self :
Do Not Cry.
There was a time, long ago (at least that’s how it seems), when I used to write poetry.
And I was told I was good…by published and popular poets, no less.
And then, life
happened. And I was too busy living it to write about it. Sometime, in the silence of the kitchen, with just the sizzle of sauteing vegetables in the background, the memories would come creeping back – of all those poetry workshops and those pages of poetry stashed away in some forgotten shelf. And I would wonder if I could even write poetry anymore, whether my mind was still unfettered and potent enough to put thoughts to words.
It was then that I came across this wonderful blog on writing (Thank you Google Reader…I love you!). It’s called PoeWar.com, and written by a brilliant writer called John Hewitt. The most fascinating thing about his blog is the 30 Poems in 30 Days series. The writer gives the readers creative prompts, and also writes his own poem based on the prompt. And I tell you, the prompts are really innovative! It certainly helped shake up some very sleepy and demotivated gray cells in my upper chamber!! So, I took the plunge, and wrote some poems of my own. Whether I was any good, remains to be seen! Tell me what you think…
Here’s the first one…
The pattern does not matter,
As long as it is how it is
To the very end.
Color in the dotted lines,
And be done with it.
You don’t have to replace spots with lines,
It is not normal, they said.
Just do it, follow the pattern.
Make it look like you know how,
Like your mother taught you right.
Follow the pattern,
And you’ll be alright.
— Jane Hamilton
…and another one for good measure…
I have a secret,
A part of me I willingly forget.
Then I remember, and loathe it.
My secret festers,
Guilt buzzes around it in dark clouds,
Settling briefly on little white incidents that led to it –
The thing that I will not speak about.
Sometimes, it smells.
Intrudes the little tunnels that lead
To gray cells, and dark thoughts,
Every time I gasp for breath,
When a kind word is offered,
Kindness I don’t deserve.
I look away, “Look, there’s a nice spot!”
Walk away, hold hands with Happiness,
Cover the secret with a smile… Forget.
But, it wafts back, now and then,
To cloud a picture-perfect view,
With the Secret.
— Jane Hamilton