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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lessons from the Nest


Mothers do not get enough credit. If you are a good mother you will certainly get nothing as far as accolades go. If you are a bad mother you might find yourself on the evening news.

Being a mom is not easy. I wish all the mothers I know would give themselves a pat on the back and then cut themselves some slack.

"It is soooooo  hard!" My girlfriends, my clients, I, all say..... we all have a tough task a head of us. Whether you have five children or are finding your way with your first, parenting is something we all must work at.

But here's my take on the deal - I often tell myself that it's not supposed to be easy. And just reminding myself of that fact, somehow takes a subconscious load off my back.

Thanks to Mrs. Y in the first grade, we came across this awesome, live *video feed of an eagles nest in Iowa. My entire family is captured by the mother eagle and her eggs (now eaglets as some are beginning to hatch).

Somedays we log in and see nothing more than mama eagle sitting in the nest. She often sits so still we wonder if somehow the feed has been paused.

Other times we've logged in and witness mama getting up only to promptly turn around and sit back down facing another direction. (riveting)

But there have been a handful of times we've seen her rearranging her nest or nudging the eggs around, fluffing them with her feet and most recently (gasp!) preparing a rabbit for dinner.

I'm pretty enthralled with this mama bird as well. A quick search online tells me that it can take about 2 months for eagle eggs to hatch.

For 2 months this mama eagle will sit.

And sit.
And rearrange.
And nudge.
And prepare dinner.
And sit.
And noone will thank her. Her eaglets will not burst forth from their eggs grateful for her time spent keeping them safe and warm. No, in fact the only thing on their mind will be food. They will chirp incessantly for food to be brought to them. She will have to tend to them, keep the now semi-mobile babies safe in the nest and eventually kick them out - teach them how to fly and be successful little National Symbols themselves.

So it is with us. It's hard, boring, thankless, kinda-dangerous work. But I don't do it for the praise. I do it because I believe the little babies in my nest will grow up someday and leave. And when they leave I want them to fly.

So yes, it is hard to parent. But it's not too hard. I only have to do it egg by egg ...er day by day. And speaking of - excuse me my little eagles are calling for breakfast ....as I wrap this up....


*Watch the eagle live w us http://www.ustream.tv/decoraheagles

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Terrorized by technology

My weekly Practical Parenting article for the Monmouth Daily Review Atlas is a bit of a rant against technology that a.) is constantly updating and b.) enticing my kids like a crack pipe. Sorry Ninentendo. It's nothing personal!
Terrorized by technology





Monday, March 28, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mothering

John Mayer sings: "Mothers be good to your daughters, cuz daughters will live what you do. Girls become lovers who grow into mothers so mothers be good to your daughters too."
or something like that....

at the onset of my daughter's high school career I had an incredible sense that my parenting journey was pretty complete. If I hadn't imparted to her what she needed to succeed...

work ethic, honesty, resonsiblity, trustworthiness, brains, power, self confidence....

it may be too late. She was 14, a baby still yes, but she was picking her own classes, doing or not doing her homework, choosing her friends, driving the drivers ed car. . . .

None of that I could do for her. I could influence her, sure, but I can't pick or choose or make her do anything. The foundations of her life have been set. It's time for her to begin choosing the floor plan of the life she intends to build.

And yet we had a moment this week.

My daughter is having a season where she feels hesitant, unsure, rejected. Her wants and dreams aren't being handed to her. I gather she is internally weighing the effort it's gonna take to get to where she wants to be.

High school is hard.

She sat on the couch. I sat in the chair. The t.v. blinking some randomly absurd sitcom. I watched her sulking. Feeling frustrated with her lack of bravery  - the one thing I wished she possessed more than anything  - I asked for her full attention.

"Look at me" I said. And amazingly she did. We locked eyes. I knew I had a chance, a moment to speak.

God help me be wise, I prayed.

"Listen to me, child I am going to tell you the truth. You're not supposed to know what you're good at today. You're supposed to take all of high school, all of college, and even all of your twenties to try and figure it out. You'll fail more than you'll succeed and that's ok. Find a way to make it all fun. Take all that time and then at the end of it, do what is good and right and fun. You'll figure out what you're good at then. Not now. Try everything if you want. Because that is what now is for." 

She was the first to break our gaze. She picked up her phone and her fingers began flying along the keyboard. I sighed in disappointment. But then a surprise, "Could you repeat that?" my daughter asked "I want to type that in the notes section of my phone".

I guess I still have a little parenting to do.

us Mother's Day 2009

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Language Learning

(This article originally appeared in the March 22, 2011 edition of The Daily Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series)

Much to every mother’s chagrin the first word her baby will probably say is "da-da". Daddy’s ego is no doubt stroked with this initial jargon but what neither parent understands is that the "duh duh duh" sound is the first and easiest utterance all baby’s make. Sorry daddies, it’s really not about you!

Language is not easy to learn. Children, who are born not knowing one single word, will have mastered almost 500 words by their third birthday. This number doubles in children whose parents hold professional jobs. Curious how this happens? So was Betty Hart, a graduate student in child development working at a preschool in Kansas City. She recognized a difference amongst four year olds in the school and decided to measure the amount of words children who live in low income homes hear versus the vocabulary of children living with professional parents. According to her research, the average child in a welfare home heard about 600 words an hour while a child in a professional home heard 2,100.

That difference is astounding. And it’s not fair.

Before children can read, they learn all their language one way: they hear it. A two year old will never say "encyclopedia" if he never hears the word. (this also applies to swear words by the way!). That is why baby’s first words are usually mama, dada, bottle and the name of the family pet. Those are the words they hear over and over again all day long.

 Interestingly, studies indicate that children are most attuned to words they hear live, from a real person. That means television viewing will not advance a child’s vocabulary – no matter how educational it may or may not be. The brain is not initially wired to gather information from a blinking box that makes noise. Our minds are created to desire personal interaction and stimulation. The screens in our home will fail at teaching our child language skills. Turn off the boob tube.

Parents who want their child to develop good language skills would do best to engage them in a conversation, a daunting task when you are dealing with a toddler, I know. Many adults speak to children as if life is nothing more than a constant pop quiz; what color is that? what letter is that? and what sound does that make? While there is value in teaching your children about letters and colors this is not the way to create conversation. If you want your child to have good language skills ask them open-ended questions. Ask what are they doing. Invite a child to explain what they are creating. Then ask them what comes next. The point is to avoid asking questions with one right answer. Rephrase questions to invoke curiosity and then wait. Yes, pause! This is the cadence of conversation. Wait three, even ten seconds before filling in the silence. Give children a chance to hear what you say, process the information and formulate an answer. This is how language is built!

In addition it is imperative that parents read to their children. Experts say that there really are only 100 words that we regularly use every day. Reading aloud introduces your child to a wide variety of new and interesting words. Pay attention the next time you snuggle up with a good book. You’ll be amazed at all the uncommon words you observe in the story.

 Take a typical nursery rhyme book. You’ll read words like hubbard, nimble, fiddle, candle stick, quite contrary and buckle. I feel pretty confident that none of us have found a relevant context to use any of these words in conversation today! When you pick up a book you literally open your child up to an exponential language lesson. This is how vocabulary is built!

The good news about these best practices for good language skills is that none of it requires a college degree or finances. Modeling conversation, reading books and reciting nursery rhymes are available to all families regardless of what side of the poverty line they live. Children are sponges for language. Let us as parents and loving caregivers give them the best start for a successful education experience. Let’s give them the language foundations they need! Talk to your child today, Why? Because I’m the mom and I said so! That’s why!

Parents who would like more information on how to increase their child’s language skills can contact Stephanie at Lincoln Early Childhood School (309)734-2222.

Chocolate & Conversations




I have a PhD.........in playing.

I've been leading playgroups and parent child activities for 12 years and without any doubt, babygroup is my favorite of all the activities I have the pleasure of hosting. It's as much about "mommy time" as it is the babies!

Today's group didn't disappoint.

We began discussing the frustration we feel now that our babies are turning into busy toddlers.

"My kid is into every cabinet! She found my chocolate stash!" one mom complained "Lindor chocolate!"

The women gasped.
"I love that chocolate!"
"Oh I know its the best"
"Have you tried the white chocolate?"
"No is it good?"
"Oh I love nutrageous bars. Those do it for me!"
"What's a nutrageous?"
"Only a perfect blend of chocolate, caramel and Reeses peanut butter"
"Reeses? Reeses is the best!"
"Oh for sure. The eggs are out now. The peanut better to chocolate ratio is perfect!"
"I love Reese's too!"
"Not me I'm a sucker for Cadbury eggs!"
"Easter candy makes spring my favorite time of the year!"
"I love Easter. The resurection and candy eggs."

**Giggles**

-Pause-

"So does your baby get in your bathroom drawers too?"
I love my job!


this and more personal blogs are on the Tribe's website @ www(dot)sikorski7(dot)webs.com

Monday, March 21, 2011

Watch What You Ask


Just because you are a grown up doesn't make you right.

A small child was in trouble at school recently. It was obvious as he was sitting, head hung, feet swinging in an oversized chair in the office.

My heart always breaks for these kids. Especially the ones who are repeat offenders. This is precisely why I didn't go into social work by the way - my heart can't the misjustice of a child. Remeber Jurassic Park, by chance? I walked out of it. Not because I was scared, I was mortified at how badly the children were being treated by the dinosaurs.

So what?? I'm a softie!

but I digress....

Back to small child:
adult stands over child, points finger and asks "How would YOU like it if someone talked to you THAT way?"
small child responds but
angry adult shouts "I don't want to hear it!"

small child attempts response again but

an even angrier adult shouts louder "I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT!"

ok, this is wrong on so many levels....

Firstly, angry adult asked a question but then cut small child off when the expected or approriate answer wasn't given. How disrespectful!! How can a child learn to be respectful if the grown ups in his or her life don't model it for them?

Secondly, don't ask a child a question that you may not want the answer to.

BAD IDEA: "Don'tcha wanna finish your chicken mcnuggets? (pause) Well, I won't bring you here again if you're not a good eater!"
GOOD IDEA: "I see you've not eaten any chicken mcnuggets. Please eat."

I suspect in the school scenario angry adult wants to the small child to understand ...(click here to continue reading)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bumper sticker. I really thought of this one: Write On!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Marshmallows and the Power of No!

(this article originally appeard as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series for the Daily Review Atlas in Monmouth, IL)


We literally live in a culture that fosters getting any and everything we want fast, easy and free with little or no money down! It’s no wonder then that parents have a difficult time telling their children no. Yet saying no to our kids can be one of the best parenting strategies in raising self disciplined, successful individuals. Don’t believe me? Ask a marshmallow.

In the late 1960’s Dr. Mischel of Stanford University recruited 400 four year old children and individually sat them down at a small table with nothing in front of them but a marshmallow. He explained that if they wanted to eat the marshmallow they could but if they choose to wait the fifteen minutes until he returned he would bring them a second marshmallow and then they could eat two. Some children could barely wait for the test to begin before devouring the marshmallow. Other children turned around in their chair or covered their eyes so didn’t have to face the temptation and yet others held, smelled and licked the marshmallow clearly agonizing over their decision to indulge or wait and double their bounty.

 If it sounds delightful it is. You can do a quick internet search and find some adorable, laugh out loud videos of children debating whether or not to eat a little air puffed ball of corn syrup. It’s funny until you understand the ramifications of the experiment.

The study followed the children for eighteen years and found that the youngsters who delayed their gratification had a remarkably higher success rate in school. Further research has since revealed that waiting to eat a marshmallow is a strong predictor of many quality characteristics including the ability to successfully deal with change, obtain happiness and develop high levels of maturity. What this means is the depth of a person’s self discipline is a huge factor in determining future success.

Seems clear and cut to me until we factor in the parent’s feelings. We don’t like to tell our children no. It is uncomfortable and it hurts our tender hearts. We don’t want them to experience the agony of waiting, especially if we have the means to give them what they want. However, those good intentions are very well thwarting our efforts to give them a good life.   

Listen, it’s a kid’s job to push against the boundaries. It is a parent’s job to set the boundaries. When we give into our children’s demands it might seem like sweet relief but it is very short lived. We will pay a long term price. Since self discipline is a key to children’s success (and some research says it is twice as strong a predictor of school success as intelligence) our kids need it to harness and balance their powerful emotional drives, delay gratification, learn the benefits of sacrifice, and build their powers of concentration and perseverance. Without self discipline they can become lazy, self indulgent and self centered. This is precisely what we don’t want for our children. Let’s face it – the world is a cruel place to maneuver. Are we giving them the tools they will need to navigate their future when it comes time for them to leave the nest?  
I’m not advocating we never tell our children yes. I love when I am able to give my child something they want but there are times when no is appropriate as well. “No, I won’t buy you junk food!  No, I’m not buying you whatever you want when you want it! No you can’t stay up past your bedtime/curfew!”

When you must say no to your child, please stick to your word. Don’t negotiate. You must teach your child that no does, in fact, actually mean no. If you say, “I’m not buying you anything in the store today” but purchase a candy bar in the check-out lane you’ve successfully redefined the word no.  You’ve taught your child that no actually means escalate until you get what you want. You’ve encouraged them to get louder, be more disrespectful and throw temper tantrums!  You’re child is left wondering if you really mean what you say because the last time you said no they cried and got what they wanted.  (And if you think a two year old can throw a fit, honey, just wait till she’s fifteen!)

The agony of waiting for a marshmallow, candy bar, the latest video game, cell phone or car might actually help your child. We all know that life is full of frustrations and disappointments. We all want our children to be able to handle those challenges right? Well how will they if they don’t get to practice? So the next time you tell your child no, mentally pat yourself on the back. Good things do come to those who wait. Why? Because I’m the mom and I said so! That’s why! 

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Power of a Dream


Dreams are good.
Dreams give one the motivation required for action.
Dreams are even how the brave use their imagination.

But dreams are invisible. Nothing tangible. Just a web of beautifully spun mental hopes and wishes.
I wonder who reaches their dreams. Is it the lucky? or maybe those with the best work ethic?
Can you make your dreams come true?
Haven't some labored and fallen short?
or were they dreaming the wrong dream?

In entering the world of blogging I've discovered a lot ... about myself, about how much I don't know, about how far removed I really am from the world of writing....

But this I know .... dreams are good.
Mine gives me the motivation I need to move.
Reaching for my dream makes me feel brave and yet
moving forward with my dreams reveals just how far I am away from the goal and destination.
And that's not always an easy revelation to acknowledge.
But the reach is worth it.
The mark is set.
And inch by inch, bird by bird (Anne LaMott) I will run after it.


What about you? What are your dreams and what emotion did you experience when taking a step toward reaching it?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chapter 4, Big Ideas, Exercise Six: Bumper Stickers

I have not forgot about the book.
THE book.
da BOOK.
The book that started this blog has not been mentioned for at least 5 entries.
Why?
Oh, well thanks for asking.
It's because I'm stumped ... again.
I rather enjoyed the lessons on exposition.(I'm lying)
Author Roorbach says, High Exposition has a quality of grand truth, of universal application.
Different kinds of exposition include:
Informational Exposition - facts
Exposition of Opinion - columns, polemics
Observational Exposition - description
Personal Exposition - speaking for myself
Narrative Exposition  - what happened over periods of time

The last exercise encouraged use of exposition; high exposition language. A great way to practice using expostion is to practice creating bumper stickers.

Nice. Short. Clever. Sarcastic. Funny. Phrases.
ok that's a problem for me on so many levels but mainly because I'm wordy. Really wordy. And I like starting sentences with the word and. And I love to repeat myself using the Thesauras to make my point. Because I usually preface what I am going to say with an explanation as to why I believe what I haven't even said yet.
And that's the way my brain works. And I'm trying to write well while being true to my unique voice.

Literally for two weeks I've been trying to come up with bumper sticker worthy. I thought "10 phrases isn't a lot" but it is. I can't sleep at night thinking about this.
And then I think I could at least think of 5 phrases.
But I can't do that.
I kinda have one. Only one phrase and it's not even good:

Were you Left? Turn right!

I don't even know what that means!

Instead I googled some bumper stickers and I'll just include them here and get on with the next exercise. I'll chalk this one up to a big, fat FAIL.

I found:
Write here! Write now!
Will Write for food!
I'd rather be Writing!
It's my novel and I'll write if I want to
I've got the write stuff
Lit happens
I'm Write. You're Wrong.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Untitled (cuz I hate title-ing my work)

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I chewed my nails down to a nub this week over the "This is America...we speak English" article and you know what? I got nothing but love for it.
No crosses burned in my yard.
The ground didn't shake under my feet.
No one pointed and laughed.



And while I realize saying those things make me sound like a narsasistic individual who thinks 'it's all about me' ... I'm not. I'm just a novice writer suffering from the dreaded lack-of-confidence-syndrome.

It was mostly my friends who took the time to tell me that they enjoyed or appreciated my article. I got an email and a text and some Facebook notes.
My friends weren't silent.
And it meant a lot to me.
Alot.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tackled it!

It's not really in me to enjoy controversial issues. I don't like disharmony. It's usually not in me to speak up if we disagree about a matter. Mostly because I don't really care that you disagree with me. I think you can think what ever you want about a thing. It doesn't bother me at all if you don't see it the way I do. I don't need to be the loudest voice in the room. I don't have to be right. So for me to tackle my Practical Parenting article yesterday with such a hot button topic - - well let's just say I really struggled to get it written.

What was published was soooo not my first draft. I asked my darling husband to preview my draft for me and he absolutely ix-nayed-on-the-original-a.
(I have no idea how to spell Pig Latin.)
((I have no idea how to speak in Pig Latin))

The first draft was much, much more controversial. I used a term "good mother". I referred to myself as a "good mother". I used "quotes" to convey that it was a tongue-in-cheek term. Just like when you are having a conversation with someone and they raise their hands and move their fingers in the air when they say a word sarcastically. My hubby said it wasn't translating sarcastically in the piece. He said I sounded like I was making a point as if I was better than a reader who might disagree with me.

Again, I don't care if you disagree with me. (Oh! we've already been through this...)

But I will say that I really like being liked. So while I am unconcerned about whether we agree on a subject matter I do quite care whether or not you will find me likable. Seems to me those characteristics shouldn't be packaged up in the same person....and yet here I am.

Needless to say, when I hit send on the email to my editor yesterday my heart was a-pounding. At school, I saw my principal reading the article on her computer screen and my heart was pounding. I checked the comment section of the newspaper's website a trillion times worried about the backlash - all with my heart pounding.

There's been no controversy (yet) and nothing but positive comments from other parents (whew!). When I wrote on the Amy Chua's book The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother a few weeks back, and just recently got sucked into the well anticipated Rob Bell book Love Wins, I said note to myself: write something controversial.

Good Lord! I don't think my lil' overworked pumping heart can stand the pressure of controversy.

It's actually quite a big deal to me that I wrote and published yesterday's article. If for no other reason, if nothing good comes out of it, I did it for me. I was brave enough to hit send. Kinda proud of myself.



QUESTION: How do you handle little controversial issues? Seriously, I think I could learn to handle them better. Quiet isn't always the right behavior, but isn't it important to be respectful? How do you do both?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Parent's Rude Outburst sets Bad Example

(this article originally appeared in the 3/8/11 edition of The Monmouth Daily Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting Series)

Being a parent is very time consuming.

It's so much more than babysitting. Parents supervise homework, provide nutritious meals, keep their kids healthy and safe, teach values like honesty, schedule appointments, run their kids all over town without complaining and attend oodles of extracurricular activities. (Sometimes I think I go to work just to get a break from it all!)

Your calendar no doubt, looks a lot like mine. Our schedule is crammed full and I have to confess... I hate it. I love parenting but I don't love sitting on bleachers. I don't like being gone all day and all night. I don't enjoy my life being dictated by a calendar full of ball games, piano practice, scholastic bees, parent meetings, music contests and play dates.
But I do it.
I go and do all the extra stuff when I don't want to. I go and I don't complain. I go and I smile and I support my kids because that is what parents do.

I recognize not all parents feel this way. You might like hanging out in gymnasiums. Maybe you love eating dinner from a concession stand. It's possible, unlikely, but quite possible you're comfortable sitting there on your portable bleacher cushion (I really gotta get me one of those). But I'm not. I've got five kids and even if each child only did one extra thing a week that's one extra thing every night!!

I'm well aware, I brought this upon myself. It is the genetics of having a large family. We have a heck of a lot fun (because more is merrier) but we also generate more work than the average family. So it is during overbooked weeks, like this last one in particular, that all the extracurricular activities feel more like a burden than anything else.

Nonetheless I found myself settling in at a parent meeting last Thursday. While I sat down and mentally prepared to give the presenter my attention I couln't have expected what happened next. After the speaker made her introductions she began to ask if anyone in the room would like Spanish translation when a man sitting next to me shouts, "This is America! We speak English here!"

Wait! (insert screeching noise) What?!

For a nanosecond you could hear a pin drop as the disruption hovered in the room like a storm cloud. No one responded to the outburst and maybe it was for the best. I suspect a firestorm could have erupted sidetracking the entire purpose of the meeting. Yet I looked around expecting John QuioĊ„ones of ABC Primetime:What Would You Do?  to appear and announce we were all on hidden cameras.

The meeting continued but I remained quite distracted. Offering translation was a common courtesy. Regardless of your opinion of our non English speaking residents, the disruption was insolent.

I'm not trying to spark a freedom of speech argument. Cleary an individual has the right to speak. Neither do I want get embattled in a discussion on the native language of our country. Obviously we speak English. The undisputable fact is that this was a parent meeting in Monmouth, a community whose census data reports the Hispanic population is on the rise by almost 11 percentage points.

So why is this event worth mentioning today? Because I believe this is a good community and I don't want the rude behavior of a few to be the only audible voice.

I think despite our personal opinions about our differences we should lay aside harmful rhetoric. How can we ever propel our community into a healthy and loving place to live if only the negative voices speak up? Promoting our own agenda is not noble when it alienates and disrespects another human being. Look around! This is a community whose landscape indicates we are living with a wide variety of folks with varying backgrounds and experiences.

Despite my selfish, tongue-in-cheek, jokes about all the extracurricular activities, it is those same events that make Monmouth such a great place to raise a family. I hope that the loudest voices are the ones who encourage and point us in a direction of respect for our all our neighbors.  This may not be easy an easy task but I believe our efforts to build a good community will be worth the struggle. Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so! That's why!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Obligatory Blog


While this is not a photo of me, it is representative of how I have felt this week. Which explains why I haven't blogged.... at all. Which has increased my level of anxiety... which hasn't helped me one bit. It's not that I have writer's block. I don't. I simply have a head swimming full of thoughts and ideas and fears that are quite honestly uncomplimentary. OK, they're ugly. Consuming and ugly and out of control thoughts. Just being honest here folks. Inside my head are things I never thought I'd think. Fears that I thought I had conquered. Imagined pain that actually paralyzes me. All of which I know will come spewing out if I allow my fingers to touch a keyboard. (Despite the obvious fact that I am at a keyboard right now - and yet...)

Funny, I'm writing about writing about what I don't want to write about.

Oh, it's not easy being me.

So despite the fact I've avoided Facebook and Twitter and certainly blogging for well over a week, I must nevertheless write. I must work on my Practical Parenting column that is due first thing Monday morning. I loathe working on it. I am at school this morning, working in my breezeway/nurse's office with vomit-ey and head lice infested kids. Suffice it to say I sound unsympathetic towards their problems. I'm not really, it's just that I can't flipping think straight with so many distractions. So I moved down to my classroom.
If you could see me now, crouched at a children's computer desk, my hands on my knees supporting my fingers on the keyboard. Ever seen Will Ferrell in the movie Elf? Yeah, it's kinda like that but without the candy canes and Christmas cheer. I wonder if I can sneak out of here and find that nice, new quiet coffee shop in town.....


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Social Media & the Modern Parent

(this article orginally appeared in the 3/1/11 edition of the Monmouth Daily Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting column)

     I recently took a personality test that revealed I am a contrarian. That is, regardless of what the majority thinks, I have the need to prove for myself what’s valuable. The entire world could overwhelmingly agree on any subject but initially I would be leery.
     This is why I only recently jumped onto the Twitter bandwagon. That‘s right. I tweet (words I honestly thought I would never say)!
     Lest Twitter feel rejected, however, it’s worth mentioning that I was also one of the last ones in my circle of friends to join Facebook. If I’m to be totally honest I would hesitantly admit that I really only joined Facebook to see who my husband was so busy friend-ing.
 Clearly this is an article for the modern parent.

Loving or hating social media is irrelevant today. It has become a crucial form of modern society’s communication. You can't argue with the numbers. Facebook reports it has 500 million users using its site 700 billion minutes a month. When I joined Facebook two and a half years ago it was primarily to keep in touch with long distance friends. Now I get the weather, coupons, breaking news, recipes and movie trailers through my account.
     It's that exact evolution that has my attention today. While I have been on Twitter for a little over three weeks, joining its 200 million other users, I have discovered a vast, possibly infinite, wealth of information.
     Granted not everything on the internet is good. I understand just because something is posted online doesn't make it true. Nonetheless I am amazed at what a valuable tool social media has become.
     For example, just this week I attended a webinar promoted by a blogger I friend-ed on Facebook. I got so much valuable information in the session that I retweeted some of the key points which increased the number of my followers and hits to my site.
     I'm aware that if you are not into the whole "online experience" the above paragraph might as well be written in a foreign language. For that I am sorry, but it's not my fault. It is the way modern communication is evolving. While we, the adults reading this article, still believe email is a modern way to communicate my fifteen year old daughter is scoffing. She has no email account because she doesn't need one. She gets all the information she needs in instantaneous texts, wall posts and IMs.
     Wall posts have proven to be an invaluable tool for local parents who've recently created a Facebook group. They plan student events and recently held a safety committee meeting with the superintendent of schools. No flyers, phone trees or mailed announcements. Information is literally flying around at the speed of light.
     Part of my responsibilities as a parent educator is to be a resource for parents needing information. Except that these days any mom or dad with smart phone can access the same information I can, and faster. Blogs and websites supporting new parents, expecting parents, parents of multiples, teen parents, parents of children with health needs, all exist. An entire virtual world is out there, just waiting to be accessed, to run me out of a job.
     Despite my own initial, immature motivation for being online I’ve since discovered that social media is an excellent way to share and gain information. I have used my Facebook inbox for parent consultations, to share YouTube videos in parent groups and to tweet encouraging quotes from my favorite early childhood experts.
     Say what you want about social media and how it is changing our methods of communication the fact remains that it is driving this culture. Despite its negative attributes, I have unequivocally found that if wielded properly the power of social media can be harnesses for good. Wanna get on board? Friend or follow me. Why? Because I’m a socially connected mom and I said so! That’s why!

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