Thursday, December 16, 2010

Teaching Your Child About Disappointments

Parents want their children to lead happy, productive lives. This is usually a good thing unless they go overboard and become “helicopter” parents (always hovering). Shielding a child from disappointment, and handling tasks she can do for herself will lead to bigger problems down the road.

Disappointment is a part of life, a lesson everyone needs to learn. Not everyone gets what they want, and things don’t always go our way; if they did, the world would be full of chaos. Focus on teaching your child how to deal with disappointment. Parents who teach their children life strategies will raise children who will grow up to become well-balanced as adults.

Things are difficult before they become easy. Your child may not master riding a bike on the first attempt, or play a piece flawlessly on the piano. Encourage your child to push through her difficulties. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” is a great mantra during difficult times. Show her that grownups struggle too. Show her how to persevere when something is difficult to master. Talk about how great it feels to finally get through that rough patch.

The worst thing parents can do is to step in and solve their children’s struggles. Taking over can lead to a child’s lack of self-confidence or sense of entitlement! Instead, parents should encourage their children. Tell your child you believe in her, give some advice on strategies that might work and then step back and, if appropriate, walk away. The more you hover the more tempted you might be to take over.

When your child does have the tenacity to push through adversity, applaud her efforts! Tell her how proud you are and that you knew he could do it! You’ll be glad you did.

Has your child ever accomplished something difficult? I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a comment below.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Forbidden Fruits

Why does the forbidden fruit taste the sweetest?

Why does a sign that says, “Wet paint,” make me want to touch it?

Why is it when the doctor says, stay off your feet, I want to go for a run? I was brought back to reality this morning when I tried to jog and my injured foot protested. I’ve only been able to wear a shoe for two days now…

Rewind to a week ago Sunday. I was putting the leftover pizza away when I accidentally dropped a 10-pound cast iron griddle on my foot. (I don’t think anyone would ever do something like that on purpose!) Before I could take action, the damage was done: a contusion as well as a wound. It didn’t bleed much but it sure swelled up quickly. I hobbled over to the couch to elevate my while my family scrambled to get some ice to keep the swelling down.

Because it still hurt after an hour, I thought it might be a good idea to get it x-rayed so (who drove you?) drove to the ER! It only took an hour to find out I didn’t break anything! What I did find out is the doctor and nurse (who happened to be my younger sister Marcia) had a sense of humor.

The doctor told me I had a dislocated carpal and he needed to pop it back in place. It didn’t sound right to me but I wasn’t going to argue with a doctor! He told me it would only hurt for 10 seconds. I braced myself, closed my eyes and took some slow, calming breaths. After a quick gently foot massage, the doctor said, “All done.”

“No we’re not,” I replied, “That didn’t hurt a bit.” I opened my eyes to see everybody laughing. They had played a joke on me! I laughed, too.

So here I am ready to go for a walk—not a jog. Listening to my body is a good idea, just like following the rules. “Forbidden fruits” may be tempting at first, but in the long run—not so much.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Love Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs make great pets. I’ve been using them in my magic act for more than fifteen years. I love the look on the kids’ faces when I pull “Jr. Mint” (my magic piggy) out of my purse. I can almost hear her say, “Tah-dah!” Guinea pigs are sturdier than rabbits, according to my veterinarian. I think it’s fun when they “talk” to me. They make over thirty different sounds!

Over the years, I’ve had many piggies at home and in my classroom. My fourth graders love taking care of them!  As part of a reward system, we enjoy "Lunch Bunch" on Fridays.  That's where a few of us eat lunch in the classroom (quiet and relaxing!) and then take turns cuddling the class guinea pig.  It is a popular prize to earn and helps motivate/promote good behavior!

Piggies are so cute.  I’m always amazed at their individual personalities! Most of my piggies have been “previously owned.” Because people know I love guinea pigs, I get many calls asking if I can take onemore. I always say yes. 
Like all pets, guinea pigs need a good caretaker to live long, healthy lives. A big cage with clean bedding is important. Cedar bedding is a no-no because it’s not good for them to breathe in cedar fumes. Fresh water from a clean water bottle along with a salt lick is important, too. A salt lick is a big white donut looking thing that attaches to the side of a cage. I enjoy watching my piggies drink from their water bottles, lick their salt blocks, and go back to drinking more water!

The key to keeping a piggy healthy is vitamin C. Guinea pigs need the equivalent to one-quarter of an orange every day. Vegetables that have the highest value of vitamin C are: peppers, cauliflower, watercress, tomatoes, cabbage, peas, broccoli, potato skin and spinach. The following fruits are high in vitamin C: limes, grapefruits, strawberries, melons, kiwi, oranges, guava, papaya, mangos and tangerines.

Best of all, if you love your guinea pig and give her lots of attention, she’ll love you right back. There’s nothing quite like walking near her cage and having her come out and “talk” to you with a greeting of, “Weet, weet, weet!”

What is your favorite pet? Do you do anything special for her/him? Leave a comment below.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Madagascan Hissing Roaches

EW! That’s usually the first reaction people have when they see my tank full of Madagascan hissing roaches. These brown beetles have been launched to stardom in movies and television lately. I wouldn’t recommend eating them, but some people have. The world record is 36 bugs eaten in one minute. To that I say, “EW!”

They’re actually great bugs! They don’t bite, sting, or fly. It’s fun to let them crawl around your hand. Be careful when picking them up, especially if they’re on your clothing, as you could damage the hooks on their feet.

Another great thing about them is they hiss! They do this by exhaling through their breathing tubes called spiracles. The males hiss when they fight. Both male and female mature roaches hiss when they’re frightened. My roaches don’t hiss a lot because they’re handled frequently.

My favorite thing about these bugs is their young are born live! They hatch from eggs inside the female’s body and then crawl out. They are so cute. At first they are white but then they darken to a dark brown. They look like watermelon seeds with legs. They stay with their mom for a while and then crawl away in search of food and water.

I like having Madagascan hissing roaches in my classroom. They’re a great learning tool for our science unit: Life Cycles and Food Chains. My students like taking care of them, too.

Do you know any movies or TV shows with Madagasan hissing roaches in them?  Leave a comment below.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fish Tanks

Watching a tank full of fish can be very calming. Studies have shown that it can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety in Alzheimer’s patients, and decrease hyper-activity in children with ADHD.

Over the years, I’ve had a fish tank in my classroom. My students love to watch them swim, but more importantly, they love to take care of them! Even the janitors get in on the act—sneaking extra food to the fish who pretend to be starving.

One time they overfed the fish so much, the water turned a murky brown. That’s not healthy for them. Now there’s a sign on the tank that reads, “We get fed a pinch on Mondays and Fridays no matter how much we beg.” I must confess sometimes I give in on a Wednesday and give them a little morsel of food. Sometimes a wayward insect will come into the classroom and I feed it to the fish. It’s fun to watch the food chain in action!

My longest lasting fish is named Jeff Goldblume. He’s at least six years old and about five inches long. He was a tiny 29 cent feeder fish that I rescued from being some other critter’s lunch! He spends his summer vacations in the water accent in my front yard munching on whatever he can catch. His scales are such a beautiful vibrant orange; he’s almost fluorescent!

Jeff is such a smart fish because he spends all day in school! Do you keep a fish tank? Do you find it calming? Leave me a comment below.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Balloon Sculpting

Being a clown is such fun. I guess I make it look easy because many people say, “Oh, I could be a clown.” They think all clowns do is put on some makeup, colorful clothes, and act silly.

There’s more to clowning than that!

Clowning is a lot of work. It took me a long time to master balloon sculpting. I first started with a little hand pump to inflate the balloons. That took forever to make balloon animals! The kids got restless, especially when balloons popped and I had to start all over again! Wah! I did not like making balloon animals.

But, I didn’t give up. I attended balloon workshops that taught me which brand of balloons to buy. Fresh, high quality latex balloons are really worth the extra money. They last longer! My hubby made a big floor pump out of plumbing supplies. That really sped things up and I got the hang of it. Finally.

“Peppermint Patti promotes peace,” I say when someone asks me for a balloon sword or gun. It may seem silly, but I think that balloon weapons send the wrong message. That’s why I won’t make them.

Only once in my thirty-plus years of ballooning a parent insisted her child get a sword. I made a fishing pole and said imagination could make it anything. That was a win-win situation.

There are two major laws concerning balloons:

1. It is against the law to give balloons to children under the age of three. Babies put everything into their mouths and a balloon could make them choke.

2. It is against the law to give uninflated balloons to children under the age of eight. When you inflate a balloon by mouth, it could pop. This could startle you, causing you to gasp and inhale the balloon and choke. According to a New York Times article, “Balloons Made of Latex Pose Choking Hazard,” (make that title a link) shiny Mylar ® balloons are much safer. (Collins, March 13, 1997)

I sculpt the balloons at the END of my show because they are fun, but distracting! It’s great to get all the balloons made and gather the kids for a picture! Great ending to a great party!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Clown Shoes

What is it about clown shoes that make some people want to step on them? I don’t see people stepping on regular shoes. I’ve even heard some moms and dads tell their kids to go step on the clown’s shoes. Now, if I could go to Kmart and pick up a new pair of clown shoes anytime I wanted, that would be one thing, but I can’t. My clown shoes are custom made and cost $200 over ten years ago! I don’t know what it would cost to replace them today. What do you think? Why do people want to step on a clown’s shoes? Please leave me a comment below. Until next time, have fun!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Squirt Guns

I was a little scared the other day. I was at a birthday party and everybody had squirt guns—except me! No fair! I was glad when they put their squirt guns down. I didn’t want my clown stuff to get soaked! My silk scarves would run, my coloring book would get soggy, and my magical Wiffle® dust would clump. That would not be good for the birthday guests or me!

Some people think it’s funny to be mean to a clown. Maybe they’re afraid the clown is going to play a trick on them. Some clowns are like that but I’m not. I believe in the “Golden Rule.” In case you forgot, that’s where you treat others the way you want to be treated. I do have a squirting flower but I’ve never used it on a person, only fellow clowns who know what it is.

Cooling off in this sweltering summer heat is important. Squirt guns are a fun way to cool yourself and others off when you and your friends are in bathing suits or play clothes and equally “armed.” But it’s not nice to squirt an unsuspecting, unarmed victim!

Do you think it’s fair to squirt a clown with a squirt gun? Why/why not? Leave me a comment below. Until next time…have fun!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Practical Jokes

Practical jokes can be fun for everyone but not when they’re mean. I don’t like pranks where someone can get hurt or made to look really foolish. I especially don’t like pranks where something gets damaged. Egging someone’s car might seem harmless and funny. But a raw egg can ruin the paint on a car. It is very expensive to fix.

I do enjoy a good April Fool’s joke. One time my fourth graders had worked really hard one March 31 on their MCAS test. The next day, April first, I told them that the state of Massachusetts had messed up and they had to retake the previous day’s exam. Boy, were they mad...until someone figured out the date! That was a pretty harmless prank but oh so funny! The entire class enjoyed a good laugh when they knew I was kidding. I still chuckle when I recall the looks on their faces!

What’s your favorite April Fool’s Day prank?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What's So Funny?

My favorite kind of humor is a play on words. The English language has so many synonyms and homonyms that it’s easy to make jokes. I like to use them with my fourth graders to enrich their vocabulary.

I first started with jokes when I got a set of joke books as a gift one Christmas. I read and memorized lots of jokes and riddles and then drove my family insane with my delivery. To this day I strive to see the humor in situations so I can provide funny quips to make my friends laugh. Here’s an example:

Me: Knock Knock

You: Who’s there?

Me: Radio

You: Radio who?

Me: Radio not, here I come! (Ready or not, get it?)

My least favorite kind of humor is put down humor. Put down humor is actually a type of bullying. To make fun of someone and then say that you’re only joking is not acceptable. Put down humor hurts! Here’s an example:

Mary: You don’t know fractions? You’re stupid.

John: That’s not nice, I’m going to tell the teacher.

Mary: I’m just joking, silly.

Another type of humor that can get “old” is a kind of put down humor that is directed at one’s self. When you make fun of yourself, it tells others that it’s okay to make fun of you as well. This is very negative and people will start believing it or even worse, you will!  Here’s an example:

Imani: Oops, I forgot my homework. What a dummy!

Juan: Maybe we should start calling you “Dummy Imani.”

Have you ever been put down and then told the person was only joking?  Leave me a comment.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Peppermint Patti's Premiere

Being a clown is a lot of fun! It’s kind of like being a super hero, without the cape. I go to lots of parties but sometimes things happen along the way, especially when I get lost. Like the time I broke up a gang fight by accident. I was turning around in a vacant parking lot when I noticed a large group of kids gathered around this one boy. I rolled down the window and asked if he needed help. The others all just took off and ran away, leaving the boy alone. He said he was fine and walked away. My goodness, I don’t like being lost. Thankfully I found the party and had a good time with my new friends.

I really love clowning around at birthday parties. I enjoy making people laugh but sometimes kids are afraid of me. That makes me sad. Usually by the end of our time together they are ready to be friends. That makes me happy.

Anyway, this blog will keep everybody up to date on my latest adventures. I’ll also include the escapades of some of my friends, especially the Little Red Hen. Oh, and I can’t forget my faithful sidekick, Junior Mint. She’s a guinea pig who loves to appear during my magic shows. If you listen closely when I take her out of my purse you might just hear her say, “Ta dah!”

I’ve been to all types of parties but birthdays are my favorite because I’m helping to honor a special person’s day.

What’s your favorite party of all time? Leave a comment below. And be sure to tell all your friends about my blog!