The Dishes

I know this has already been said, but hasn’t every story been told? I was mentally complaining today about the pile of dirty dishes that needed to be washed. I’ve hurt my back, and when Rick suggested I do yoga to help with that, my response was, “When?! What should I drop in order to take up yoga?” Then I remembered that a bunch of dirty dishes means you have food to eat and a family to feed. I remembered how I used to think cooking was pointless with only me to eat it. I actually resented food because it kept me alive so I could go to a job I didn’t like and come home to a lonely apartment with fickle neighbors. I’m much happier now.

Reaction to the Hunger Games Series

I’ve always liked young adult literature, as a child, as a young adult, and still now. I recently read a popular series, The Hunger Games. When I first heard that it was about kids fighting to the death, my first reaction was, “That doesn’t sound like something I would like.” But I read it because my nieces could not stop talking about it, and I had to see what they meant. And now it’s one of my favorites. Even with the violence, the politics, and the war, it was a beautiful story–about war and peace, and about love.

One of the saddest parts of the story to my nieces was Prim’s death. She was their age, and it’s understandable that it would hit them the hardest. What hit me about Prim’s death was her seeming destiny to die. She was the one picked at the Reaping, not Katniss. Katniss volunteered to go to the Hunger Games to save her sister’s life. She volunteered to die for her. But in the end it was Prim who died, Katniss who survived–against all odds. What irony.

Another part that stuck out to me was at the end, the conversation between Plutarch and Katniss:

“Are you preparing for another war, Plutarch?” I ask.

“Oh, not now. Now we’re in that sweet period where everyone agrees that our recent horrors should never be repeated,” he says. “But collected thinking is usually short-lived. We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction. Although who knows? Maybe this will be it, Katniss.”

“What?” I ask.

“The time it sticks. Maybe we are witnessing the evolution of the human race. Think about that.”

I doubt it. I have heard that the human race will be destroyed, and only those who chose to follow God will be saved. No, this cycle of war and peace will continue until God decides the end has come. God forbid my children should have to live through any war. But there’s no guarantee. I try not to think about what horrors my descendants will have to endure. It doesn’t do any good to dwell on that. I remember ten years ago how afraid I was to give birth, and how guilty I felt after I did. I didn’t want to bring a child into this world where one thing is guaranteed – that they will suffer. But something else won out, and I’m glad it did. In the epilogue of Mockingjay is a song that Katniss and Peeta’s children take for granted:

“Deep in the meadow, under the willow

A bed of grass, a soft green pillow

Lay down your head, and close your sleepy eyes

And when again they open, the sun will rise.

Here it’s safe, here it’s warm

Here the daisies guard you from every harm

Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true

Here is the place where I love you.”

My children take that song for granted too. At least for now. And I am so grateful for that.

My favorite part of the book is when Katniss and Peeta finally get together. It’s what I was hoping for, but I did not know what would happen. When he whispers to her, “You love me. Real or not real?” and she tells him, “Real,” it’s so romantic! My husband is going to tease me for that, but I don’t care! I am a girl, after all.

I have heard some criticism on The Hunger Games series – that they are trash, that the violence was gratuitous, that no one should read them or allow their children to read them. On careful reflection I have to disagree. I don’t criticize the opinion, I just don’t agree. I am a very sensitive person and when something is not right, I can FEEL it. And I did not feel that these books were trash or that I should put them down. Yes, war is horrible, and I think only older children, usually teenagers, are mature enough to read about it like this. The author admits that it’s for older kids, and says she tried hard to not make the violence gratuitous. War is an important subject for people to learn about. We can’t just turn away because the topic is hard. The story of Jesus’s torture and death is horribly violent, but I certainly teach my children about it. The awful details are saved for when they’re old enough, but the story is still told. So I’ll hold on to these books to share with my sons in a few years, the same way I’m just beginning to share the also-highly-criticized Harry Potter series.

I’m always grateful for a good story. Any recommendations?

Kids and Extracurricular Activities

Five-year-old Julian loves baseball. He always wants me to play baseball in the backyard with him. By his own rules, of course. He can’t strike out; only I can. Any pitch he misses is automatically a bad pitch. And why does he still cry when he doesn’t win?! But I decided it was more important to have fun with him than to play by the rules, so I relaxed a little and just enjoyed our game.

“Would you like to play baseball at the Y?” I asked him.

“I don’t want to!” he said.

“Why not? You love baseball!”

“Because I don’t understand the real rules.”

“Playing with a team will help you understand the rules.”

“No.”

I wonder: Should I make him play? He’s quite coordinated and pretty fast, considering how short his little legs are. Usually with my kids, anything you suggest, they say they don’t want to do, but then they end up having a good time with it. Like Roman with tae-kwon-do last summer. He went through a phase when he wanted to quit. He was frustrated with his difficult pattern but refused to practice it. He always seemed to have a good time in class, but he never wanted to stop what he was doing to go. Especially if he was watching TV or playing video games. So we had him take a break for the summer. In the fall, when he went back to tae-kwon-do, he loved it. He looked forward to class and enjoyed play-sparring at home. He needed a break, then a little push. Maybe Julian will love baseball like that if I make him play.

I believe you should find something your kids are good at, and spend a lot of time there. That gives them self-esteem and something to do that they like and are good at when they get older. Of course, you should work on their weaknesses too, if it’s important. That’s why I gave my lifeblood to help Roman improve his social skills when he was in preschool. But generally, why put forth much time and effort at something you have no talent in and don’t enjoy? If math and science are your thing, why spend too much time on art and music? That’s why Roman is doing summer science workshops at the Discovery Center and we put him in Mad Science in February (he loved it). Like me, he isn’t crazy about sports, so I don’t push it too much, as long as he can do the basics and stays in shape. Julian is a good reader. He taught himself to read when he was four and now that he’s in Kindergarten, he’s reading chapter books several levels above where he’s “supposed to be.” So we read a lot.

Then there’s the issue of over-scheduling your kids. They need time to just BE. Being the type who becomes overwhelmed and overstimulated easily, I know better than to give the boys more than they can handle. During the school year they do one activity other than school or church. In the summer we do more, including swimming lessons, because that’s a safety issue.

It’s time for your opinions – How do you handle your kids’ activities? How do you know when to push them and when to let them be?