Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category
NPR used to be a morning ritual for me. Wake up, make coffee, turn on NPR. But for the last few months I have vacated that part of the radio dial, tuning in only occasionally, often when I’m alone in my car.
I was at the Boston Children’s Museum with my family on December 14, when I learned about the Sandy Hook shooting. Checking Twitter absent-mindedly while waiting in line, I saw the first tweets and news reports filling my stream. I looked up from my phone to a cacophony of kids laughing and playing around me, many of whom were the same age as the kids who were killed just minutes earlier.
On the drive home that day my wife and I were careful not to turn on NPR in the car with our two boys in the back seat. Since then, we’ve listened to a lot less public radio in our house. The Sandy Hook shooting coincided with my son turning four. While I’m sure he’s been aware of the media and discussions around him up to this point, recently he’s been a sponge for everything he hears.
For a lot of us who have children around the age of the Sandy Hook victims, that tragedy shook us to the core. But the endless media coverage of the event created new challenges as we tried to shield our kids from news of the tragedy.
This morning when I woke up, I made coffee and turned on the radio – it was tuned to NPR. My son was already eating his breakfast in the kitchen and before I could reach the dial words like “explosion” and “dead” came tumbling out. The devastation of Boston was brought into our little house so quickly. I changed the channel, I don’t think he noticed, but I don’t know. When I went to get the newspaper on my front steps images of the Boston marathon tragedy filled the front page. I folded it up and hid it from view. Read the rest of this entry »
I took advantage of my holiday time off to catch up on my Instapaper read later list. As I read I try to tweet out the best articles, or key ideas I’m grappling with, but some pieces demand more than a tweet (but less than a full blog post). Here are three articles whose ideas I’m still mulling over and that I think deserve more attention.
Washington Post – Stop guessing whether a bill will work. Instead, test it.
Political reporter Dylan Matthews proposes a federal agency dedicated to running experiments on public policy proposals before legislation is adopted. The idea here is to test what will and won’t work in the real world and bring that research to bear on political debates. While I like Matthews’ idea of testing legislation, I also wonder how this might be built into solutions journalism that would be dedicated to helping us address wiked problems. This idea also seems like a powerful way to counteract the trend of hindsight journalism. It may not be an either/or, I’d like to see both governments and news organizations taking up some of these ideas and challenges and adopting a model of creating legislation that looks a bit more like agile development and participatory community planning.
Reporters’ Lab – Creating a newsroom ‘answer machine’
I’ve long been deeply interested in how news organizations can better leverage their archives to help serve the public, add context to current events, and drive new traffic to their site. Tyler Dukes’ proposal for using news organizations’ archives to help create a newsroom “answer machine” is superb, while not without its challenges. He focuses on how this type of project could help improve reporting but I can see wonderful applications of this kind of app in politics and education as well. For another great project focused on better using media archives be sure to check out the recently launched Pop Up Radio Archive.
Designing for Diversity – Designing Creative Technology Playgrounds for Families
I have been thinking about the role of play in my own work as well as in the lives of my two sons. My life has been animated by a healthy tension between my fascination with technology and my affinity for wilderness and the outdoors. Where these two passions intersect is in the realm of play and exploration. Whether it was dismantling kitchen appliances and putting them back together or building wilderness shelters and treehouses, I loved to make things and engage actively in the world – both natural and manmade. I want to nurture that same passion in my sons, regardless of what their interests are – music or machines, art or airplanes, trees or technology – I hope they’ll approach it all with playfulness and a sense of wonder. This post, a summary of a discussion at MozFest in London, touches on some of those themes.
I believe that people have a right to demand better media, a responsibility to fight for better media and the capacity to help create better media.
And I believe this fight is critical to every other issue we care about, from education to the environment, but it is also critical to our democracy. If we believe in a government of the people, for the people and by the people, we need a media that can help make that possible.
At Free Press my work is focused on fostering press freedom, protecting public media, supporting nonprofit journalism and fighting media consolidation. Those are grand aspirations, but on a day-to-day basis a lot of the work I do is inspired my by two sons. Read the rest of this entry »
For all its joys, parenting can be painful. After the birth of my two sons, who are three and a half years apart, I went through very different kinds of pain. The pain that accompanied my first son was very physical, whereas the experience of my second son has been much more emotionally challenging. Even now, after a few months of being a family of four, I’m still struck by the dynamic between these two types of pain. Read the rest of this entry »
Not long after my son was born, a friend and fellow parent said that in parenting the only constant is change. At the time, I took her comment to mean something akin to “Oh they grow up so quick.” But as the years go on, I realize that she was saying something much more profound and important.
As a parent, the persistence of change cuts both ways. It can inspire great relief and great regret. It can help you let go on a rough day, and can make you want to hold on with all your might on a good day. It dulls the aching of long toddler tantrums, and amplifies the strength of big bear hugs. There is nothing like parenting to remind us that all of this is fleeting.
The notion of ever-present change comes at least in part from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who is said to have written, “You can not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing over you.” These fleeting moments, this constant flow, should somehow make us feel hopeless, and sometimes it does. But most parents I talk to don’t feel that way. Instead, change just becomes a part of who we are and how we move through the world. Like a sailboat, tacking against the wind, back and forth, cutting across the current and moving steadily upstream. Read the rest of this entry »
This is a follow up on my last post regarding storytelling. If you haven’t read that one yet, it’s worth glancing at it as context for this post.
We probably read between five and ten books a day with my son. A few when he wakes up, a few before dinner or nap time, a few before bed. He is rarely happier than when he is curled up with a book, even if he’s just looking at the pictures.
Recently he’s started telling us his own stories. Sometimes he’ll pick up a book as if to read it and make up a story, other times he’ll be playing with his trains or dolls and enacting some drama, sometimes he just asks if we want to hear a story and makes something up off the top of his head.
Here is one of this recent stories: “Once upon a time there was a muscle man an a rhinoceros swimming in the water. They saw something fly over their heads. It was a soccer ball. They wanted to fly on it – so they climbed a ladder and got on. And the soccer ball went like this: zoom!” Read the rest of this entry »
Our back yard slopes down and away from the house. It is a former river bed, and has been carved gently over time. Decades ago, the town of Easthampton rerouted the river, bending it dramatically away from our property. What remains behind my house is a little stream, a minor tributary, a ribbon of still water winding through a young forest and a think tangle of wetlands.
From our kitchen window, which faces southwest, we have seen wild turkeys wading through three feet of snow, young deer with their white spots shining in the morning light and rabbits that bolt almost as soon as you set eyes on them. We’ve had a mother bear and cubs walk alongside our house and down through the yard, and at night we often hear coyotes, the young cubs’ howls sound like screams. Squirrels leave husks from our walnut tree around the yard and moles twist long tunnels beneath the grass. Birds fill the morning thick with song. Sparrows, bluejays, and crows tumble through the air, chasing each other from branch to branch, while herons sail with slow grace through the trees and huge hawks circle above watching it all.
My wife and I lift our young son up onto the kitchen counter, where he kneels with his hands pressed against the window, looking out across our wild backyard. Sometimes he responds with bright glee bubbling up, pointing and babbling with excitement. Other times he just stares in quiet awe, studying the animals as they move across our yard and disappear into the shadowy forest. Holding him there, my hands on his knees, his small back pressed up against my chest, I feel his heart beat and his deep breaths expand and contract. Through his eyes I see the world anew and share in the wonder of those moments. Read the rest of this entry »
In college there was a gang of about ten of my friends who taught each other to solve the Rubik’s Cube. At our most competitive, we’d race each other to see who could solve the puzzle the fastest. Some of us went as far as to spray WD-40 in the cracks to make it spin faster. Other time, when we were feeling more philosophical, we’d sit around twisting the cube into complex patterns and talk about the satisfaction of picking up a mixed up cube and solving it. It was an opportunity to fix something, to create order out of chaos.
These days, my house is a Rubik’s Cube – everyday, creating order out of chaos. Read the rest of this entry »
Ninety percent of the time my son falls asleep with little fanfare or fuss, but occasionally as my wife or I walk out the door he’ll stand up in his crib with his stuffed dog in his arms and cry for us. And sometimes this crying escalates to a wail. It never last long, three or four minutes max, but those few moments are devastating.
Our house is small enough that we don’t need a baby monitor. We stand together at the bottom of the stairs, and hold each other’s hand while he blows off a little steam at the end of the day. Even though we know there is nothing we can do about it, we always go through it together.
My wife and I spend a lot of time parenting together. It doesn’t make a lot of sense really. We could divide and conquer, and sometimes we do. One person doing bath while the other cleans up from dinner. One person reading stories while the other has a moment of quiet time to themselves. It happens occasionally, but more often than not we both hang out in our small bathroom together while our son has his bath, and we all sit together on the floor and read stories. Read the rest of this entry »
When I was learning to drive, one of the first things my dad taught me to do was to let go of the wheel a little bit.
When you first get behind the wheel of a car the temptation is to wrap your fingers around the steering wheel and hold on tight. As you begin to drive, feeling the weight and momentum of the car around you, it is easy to feel out of control. You tense up, feet poised over the pedals, legs bent rigidly under the wheel. You brake too hard and turn too sharply. You do whatever you can to keep the car going straight.
But before long you realize that driving is not about holding the wheel steady and staying on course. Instead, it’s about constant adjustment. A million forces tug and pull at the car as you drive – road conditions, traffic, tire pressure, wind, rain, etc. You are always responding, always adjusting. Driving demands an incredible amount of attention and the ability to endlessly take in information, act and react. There is really no way to learn to do it well, except by just doing it.
Driving and parenting share this quality. At first, we are floored by the weight and responsibility of becoming a parent. Instead of thousands of pounds of rubber and steel, we hold in our arms a few slight pounds of flesh and bones. But the emotions can feel remarkably similar. We feel out of control, humbled by our child’s cries, their smiles, their strength and simultaneously their fragility. Read the rest of this entry »
This post was auto-generated by the WordPress statistics machine, but I liked it, so I thought I would share it here. Jump down for a list of my most popular posts this year.
A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2010. That’s about 26 full 747s.
In 2010, there were 50 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 192 posts.
The busiest day of the year was September 7th with 280 views. The most popular post that day was What the Arcade Fire’s Wilderness Downtown Experiment Can Teach Journalism.
Where did they come from?
The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, facebook.com, reddit.com, shirky.com, and pearltrees.com.
Some visitors came searching, mostly for arcade fire wilderness, arcade fire wilderness downtown, kids hip hop songs, what is the wilderness downtown, and tina fey.
Attractions in 2010
These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve had an idea for a blog post rattling around in my head for awhile. As I have been thinking it over, I have been collecting little pieces – scraps of ideas and slowly been trying to weave them together. But after a few attempts to string these individual snapshots into a narrative, I haven’t been able to nail it. So, instead, I’m just going to list the different elements here and let you see what you will see. Perhaps the juxtaposition of these ideas will spark something in you the way it sparked something in me. And if it does, I hope you’ll add your thoughts in the comment section.
Part 1 – Go Long
In college I played ultimate frisbee. When we wanted to move the disc as far down the field as possible we’d yell “Go long!” sending our teammates sprinting out ahead of us. Their sprint was in part an act of faith. They knew roughly who had a good arm and who didn’t. They knew which way the wind was blowing. They could see how heavily guarded the thrower was. But in the end they were guessing where the frisbee would land.
I realized recently that parenting is a lot like going long. Sprinting out across the field, looking over my shoulder, adjusting as I go. I don’t know quite where I’m headed, but am giving everything I got to get there. Read the rest of this entry »
When my wife went back to work half-time I rearranged my schedule so that I could spend one morning a week at home with my son. My wife stayed home with our baby for the first year and we were both excited about the idea of me having more time with my son. It was a chance for me to be an even greater part of raising him, and came with the added benefit of saving us an extra day of daycare.
This week, my wife’s work schedule got shuffled and so I got to stay home for a full day. I packed my son into the car first thing in the morning and headed out to a local state park to spend the morning hiking the trails and splashing in the lake. For an hour or so, we were the only people there and I enjoyed sharing the solitude of that place with him as he explored shoreline of the lake.
Inevitably he got soaked playing in the water, and so, it was about mid morning, just as other people started to arrive at the park, that I propped him up on a nearby picnic table to change him into dry clothes. As I put on a new diaper a woman walked by and with a smile said, “Are you playing Mr. Mom today?” Read the rest of this entry »