Wednesday, March 5, 2008

NPR: My Companion, My Friend

I listen to a lot of National Public Radio. Or at least I used to. Now that Nels is old enough to understand the news, it's becoming inappropriate to listen to it all day. The impressive music collection that Shaun has amassed is superior in every way to anything I could listen to on the radio, but I like the spontaneity that radio provides, and the adult conversation, even if I am only listening in.

Anyhow, I was poking around at npr.org today and found many interesting things without even trying.

First, here's a story about kids' music. It features a diverse array of suggested albums, and includes a track from each. I was sure to sample these without my own kids in the room. With my luck the oddly lugubrious and mildly operatic rendition of "The Owl and the Pussycat" would be their favorite. I am relieved, however, that the boys have finally warmed to the children's music of They Might Be Giants (not mentioned in the article though worthy of mention.)

I was happy to find this story on the importance of imaginative play for a child's development, as I had caught only an intriguing bit of it on the radio. As it is my natural bent anyhow not to buy a lot of elaborate toys or "over program" my kids, it was a big relief to find that this is actually good for them. I am doing two things right! (If only two, and those out of cheapness/laziness.)

I'm sure I could do better, but I find that the imagination and creativity of my kids cannot be stifled even when they do play with "specific" toys. Willem got a tiny construction set for Christmas and Nels promptly fashioned the miniature traffic barriers into a Star Wars spaceship. The boys' plastic swords are always pirate swords, but plastic logs, real sticks, and even pencils are employed as swords as well. Willem has been wearing Nels' bicycle helmet and proclaiming himself a spaceman.

Nels' preschool offers a variety of short after-school enrichment classes: Spanish, science, tumbling, dance. I was feeling a little bad about not signing him up for any of them (my motivation for not doing so was mostly financial) but, after reading this article, I had a change of heart. Nels is a fantastic dancer...but at four years old, is a dance class really so superior to the spontaneous dance parties that break out at our house when Shaun plays something irresistible? Structured dance lessons for toddlers? Not necessarily bad, but, in our case, not necessary. Willem will bob his head and shimmy his shoulders in his high chair at dinner whenever the spirit moves him. That kid's gotta dance, lessons or no.

My final NPR pick of the day is unrelated, so, if you don't have kids, I hope you've stuck with me this far. It's a review (with possible spoilers) of Anne Rice's newest book, Road to Cana. The review contains plot details, so consider yourself warned. Both the book and the response to it promise to be provocative. I will admit that I haven't read any of Anne Rice's pre OR post-conversion books yet, but due to a favorable review of Road to Cana in First Things, I look forward to reading the Christ the Lord books and weighing in.

5 comments:

Nathan said...

Hi Gypsy!

I found the series on child's play so interesting, reassuring and kind of sad too...how did our culture get to the point of no "down time"?!

Anyway, this series made me feel like I was not alone- living in Chicago suburbia I constantly feel like I have to remind myself with the kind of kids (turning into young adults eventually) and childhood I want for them. It can be lonely, but I don't regret it a bit.

carol
(too lazy to sign up with blogger, so I have an Alias...Nathan)

Hillary said...

We have started a blog for our library branch, and both of these articles are GREAT for my part of it. SO, thanks! I guess since we didn't have much choice except to grow up in this way, I didn't quite realize how far the structured "play" goes for kids today. Many many parents and teachers tell me their kids can't come to the library because they have an after school program every single day. The poor kids are so stressed out. No wonder they want to veg out and play computer games when they do finally make it to the library.

Jen said...

Structured dance classes are definitely NOT superior to spontaneous dance parties. I live for those dance parties. There is nothing like witnessing a happy toddler dancing and clapping on her own to inspiring music--unless it is a happy toddler reaching for your hand to dance alongside her.

Gypmar said...

Carol, I appreciate the comment from someone going through the same thing. I find myself relieved that my kids have each other, since all the other kids are too busy to come play!

Hillary, I'm so glad that all of my mindless computer time has been of some benefit to someone. Man, not only are these kids too busy...I can't figure out how anyone can afford to do all that.

Jen, that is just sweet. You sound much nicer than we are. It's much more common to find us doubled over with laughter at the antics than it is to find us joining in :)

Jen said...

That's funny because George and I were just talking about how I appear so much nicer in print or online than I do in real life, haha! We do get a huge kick out of Eva for sure and now that Vince is laughing and sitting it just adds to it as you know. I am glad they will have each other also. The last thing I want to do is drive from activity to activity and have too many things on the calendar we "have" to do.