When does Summer start?

  • Astronomy: On the summer solstice, June 20th or 21st.
  • Meteorology: June 1.
  • Elementary through university: vary from early-May to mid-June.
  • Economists and rental prices: Memorial Day
Photo by Miriam Fischer on Pexels.com

This came up in the pre-meeting banter at work. Different parts of the country and even school districts vary on when they let out for the summer.

The local university has a 15 week term with finals a 16th week. A high school student taking some classes in addition to regular stuff would take the university finals and then have another couple weeks before taking the high school ones. And perhaps an advantage over peers just taking high school work because of the extra time.

Well, when does Summer end?

  • Astronomy: On the fall equinox September 20th or 21st.
  • Meteorology: September 1.
  • Elementary through university: vary from early-August to mid-September.
  • Economists and rental prices: Labor Day

Upcycling used diapers

An eye-opening experience for me as a new parent was how many diapers we went through. Light days were only a handful, but some days were a dozen.

I know people who use cloth diapers because the idea of millions of these things a year going into landfills was unconscionable. It weighed heavy on me to throw away the plastics, but we lacked the systems to make cloth viable for our family. Keeping up with just clothes was tough enough.

Actually, due to the Wisdom of Repugnance, Ada would have difficulty reclaiming many of the diapers. Fleur lost 2-3 dozens of articles of clothing after blowouts where we gave up on getting them clean.

So the idea from this article taking the materials for concrete sand intrigues me. I hope it becomes an industry standard because it sounds awesome.

Location, location, location

The Atlantic has an interesting piece on how much direct influence parents have. The research tells us not as much as we like to think. So, don’t beat yourself up too much for every small decision that in retrospect seems like a mistake with a child. Nor boast too much about how great your child fares. Your genes and parenting aren’t likely to cause too much success or failure.

The neighborhood one chooses to live apparently means much more to future education and salary for a child. Certain cities are the best and neighborhoods within them the best.

Three of the biggest predictors that a neighborhood will increase a child’s success are the percentage of households in which there are two parents, the percentage of residents who are college graduates, and the percentage of residents who return their census forms. These are neighborhoods, in other words, with many role models: adults who are smart, accomplished, engaged in their community, and committed to stable family lives.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, The One Parenting Decision That Really Matters, The Atlantic. May 7, 2022.

Realtors really need to start selling on percentage of households with two parents, residents with degrees, and Census return rates.

my neighborhood from Chris Dlugosz

The article mentioned a pretty cool tool called The Opportunity Atlas. I found playing around with it interesting. Based on parent income, Black race, and Female gender, Fleur can expect an annual income at age 35 after growing up at different familiar places to me:

  • our current address $46K/yr
  • where Ada lived before we met $50K/yr.
  • the house where I grew up $34K/yr
  • the house where my cousins lived $20K/yr
  • the neighborhood in the next county over where a coworker brags about the schools can’t predict because there isn’t enough data.

Should she be White passing race…

  • our current address $63K/yr
  • where Ada lived before we met $56K/yr.
  • the house where I grew up $66K/yr
  • the house where my cousins lived $61K/yr
  • the coworker’s neighborhood 55K/yr.

The 17K difference based on my current address and different races is startling, but so is the lack of a difference not far away. Even more so the 41K difference in my cousin’s neighborhood.

Brain games: Where’s the doll

Fleur does her part to keep me brain healthy. Whoever is the current favorite doll, not having that toy is a meltdown event.

She can go to school without the doll because she understands they are not allowed at school. However, she expects to have the doll at pickup.

We finally are at the sweet spot where she sometimes leaves the doll at home with the understanding I bring it with me to pickup.

That puts the onus on me to have it. And remember to get it. And remember to find it, and put it in my car ahead of time so that I will have it at pickup.

Thing is, it will be in random places.

  • Fleur’s bed.
  • The doll crib.
  • My bed.
  • The bathroom counter.
  • The kitchen table chair.

At first, when I discover it in some unexpected place, I rant about why she cannot just keep it in the same place and save everyone the trouble. But, then my psychology background kicks in and I remember this could be good for my brain health. This is “Where’s Waldo” for adults. Non-repetitive thinking challenges are what helps the brain. Every time I go looking in the places where I remember Fleur was last, then I end up accessing the hippocampus to pull up a mental map of the house and consider whether or not she was there to assess whether or not to look there. If I still have not found it, then I start thinking about hide-n-seek places. All of this is challenge territory.

I probably should look into other things, but I need more spoons.

When Fleur gets upset about the missing doll, I advise trying to make sure she keeps it in the same place. However, I have no expectations of this happening any time soon.

Feel Seen

Some television shows and movies make me feel like the writers wrote what they know: being a parent. Below are the ones that immediately came to mind. What are yours?

Anna from Disney's Frozen as a Mandalorian trooper
  • The Mandalorian
  • Bluey
  • Incredibles 2, specifically Jack-Jack with powers

In the Mandalorian, it is the exasperation of Din-Jarin when The Child, aka Baby Yoda aka “Toy” Yoda via Fleur, does something unexpected or against the directive.

In Bluey, it is the wildness of make believe games the dad gets roped into playing. When they kids name certain games, he gives that fatherly sigh I know so well.

In the Incredibles 2, during our worst sleep deprived state, we would watch Bob’s much worse lack of shut eye and not feel so bad for ourselves.

Trading War Stories

Got a “Nice shirt” comment from a guy in the grocery store. He looked vaguely familiar. I asked how he was doing as he had that look of… fatherly rough.

Photo by Mark Neal on Pexels.com

He pointed down the aisle to his wife and daughter. And said they had emergency dental surgery this morning. They were playing last night and the kid fell into the dollhouse and chipped a tooth.

I traded that story about last week Fleur had a stomach bug, so she stayed home from school. She was better by 10 am, but that just meant I was home alone with her going stir crazy and hyper. Couldn’t take her to the park because she might still be contagious.

We were like two veterans of a combat zone sharing stories about The Suck. “Oh, you think that bad? Check this out…”

Scarred but not yet broken.

String Theory

I have a teeshirt from a friend. It portrays a cat playing with a ball of string. It says “String Theory Research.”

Fleur asked: What does that say?

So, I read it. It didn’t register, so I started to explain:

Everything we touch and feel are made up of these teeny, tiny so small no one can even see them strings…

She changed the subject.

This interaction reminded me of a saying that if you cannot explain something to a 6 year old, then you do not really understand it. Some claim Einstein said. He said a certain topic was not teachable to undergraduates. Feynman was closer in saying if can’t explain in very simple terms, you don’t understand it.

25 years ago, I did some work in a classroom assisting the teacher. After teaching the Solar System, she lamented that I wasn’t doing Elementary Education because I was gifted at helping others understand. Others have said similar.

I love to explain things. So Fleur will roll her eyes. But some things will get through.

Random toy noise

Back when before Fleur was born, Ada and I were shopping a store’s closing sale. Some of the toys were things she would not get until she was a year-ish.

A few things I resisted were noisy toys. My stance was: The adults in her life are going to get her those kinds of toys, so we don’t need to add to it. Aunts, uncles, and close friends will give her the unicorn that sings the most annoying song ever when you hit the button. Grandma will give her the karaoke Elsa. We won’t have to.

One thing to regret life because of others. Another because of ourselves.

That said, it hasn’t been too bad so far. Fleur plays with the thing hard for less than a week. She then returns to it for a small amount of time, diminishing over time.

From the stories my parents told and my vague recollections, I held on the noisy fire siren on a fireman’s hat my uncle gave me for weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeks. I even replaced the batteries, so my father glued that compartment shut. (I haven’t taught Fleur about batteries.)

The weirdest thing are that these toys wake up on their own. The karaoke Elsa, will ask if Fleur if wants to sing with her if the play stops. Putting the laundry basked on the couch squeezed the paw of Pandy, who started with the Gabby’s Dollhouse intro music. My home is a mine-field of things making noise.

Social development

I love watching Fleur work through challenging behavior with others. It reminds me how much more I need to work on myself.

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com
  • Spending time with her older cousins, she doesn’t accept their unfair behavior.
  • She used to just cry. A year ago, she would tell me “no, sir!” Or sometimes just cry. Now often she has the vocabulary to tell me after getting over the crying. We have work to do getting to the point of expressing the need instead of crying. Baby steps.
  • There is also this sense of not wanting to disappoint us. So, when she does something wrong, she experiments with deceptions. Some of my favorites:
    • The stuffie did it.
    • The stuffie told me to do it.
    • It was her cousin.

There is also the good:

  • Organizing play dates. When Fleur and Lyra (the best friend from the Friendship post) get picked up at the same time, they emerge from the building, they tell both parents their plan. It might be dinner or the park.

Adding ABCs

The Dr. Seuss ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book! is a fun tongue twister to read to Fleur.

Since she is starting to read, I wanted to help associate the letters with things more… tangible.

So, when it returned to a bedtime reading staple the other day, I included her name in the appropriate letter. She commented about it, so the next time I included her cousin. She commented about both.

Now, I as I read, I am trying to anticipate the next letter and include for her a person’s name in the appropriate letter. The reaction tells me she is engaged more than when I read it without the personal connection.

Hopefully, that game is the kind of brain game appropriate to staving off my own impending dementia? I’m multi-tasking reading and also searching for names.