The hardest thing in the world to understand

"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax."
- Albert Einstein, physicist

I support the FairTax. If you do, too, please send a fax to your congressmen! I did!

As I was thinking about this post, I realized that probably not everyone will be as enthusiastic as I currently am about abolishing the income tax. Probably the majority of everyone I know actually gets a tax return every year, as opposed to having to pay out thousands of dollars every year. But if you read the book, you'll see how much better the FairTax is--even better than getting a return. You get to take home ALL your pay, and you don't have to go through the gigantic headache of filing your taxes. It really is better for the economy, better for businesses, better for senior citizens (eventually) better for EVERYBODY. And if you haven't read the FairTax book, trust me. Or go to and see what you can glean from the website. Or talk to me.

Let's take America back. Let's make the government work for US, instead of vice versa.

Ollie, have I failed you?

Since before Oliver was born, actually ever since I heard an NPR program in 2004, it was my intention to not introduce television to Oliver for as long as possible. Not because I think television is inherently evil, or that I want to be some weirdo, wacko, anti-entertainment dictator of a parent, but just because in my heart I believed that I would be doing Oliver a favor. In my imagination I saw myself playing with my children, playing outside or playing make-believe with whatever we could find, and I also envisioned my children being able to entertain themselves and fully enjoying their limitless imaginations. The NPR program, by the way, was an interview with Juliet Schor, who has written books about the influence of media (particularly marketing) on children. She said that she had observed some rather striking differences between children that grew up with out television entirely and children who have grown up with video games and television and computer games, and how the latter didn't seem to know how to really play or imagine. I remember her talking about a child playing very imaginatively with simply some acorns. And it has stuck with me, and I really wanted to give that as a gift to Oliver (in my mind, I imagine it as me doing him a favor). Then I came upon the American Association of Pediatrics recommendation that children under 2 should not be exposed to ANY television whatsoever, and I felt like I had someone to back me up. I vowed to myself I would not use the TV as a babysitter. That's where I went wrong, I think. I also had vowed to myself that I would be the flossing-NAZI so that my kids wouldn't have such miserable dentist appointments as I do. And I've already failed miserably with that vow, along with giving him fluoride consistently, and at an appropriate time so that milk doesn't cancel it out. sigh, I'm getting off the subject...

In any case, I did a pretty darn good job about not exposing Oliver to ANY television, until he was 15 months old. Not that it was really that difficult when he was that young, anyway, because he wasn't interested. Well, one morning when he was fifteen months old, I couldn't stand his crankiness and he wouldn't leave me alone, and it was 5:00 am and I couldn't even wash a single dish without him yanking on my pant legs and screaming, and (not that I'm trying to excuse myself AT ALL, I'm just showing my point of weakness) and I turned on Signing Time and said, "watch this, and just leave me alone for five minutes!" and I went and finished the dishes. He only watched a few minutes those first few times, but ever since he figured out how to turn on the television he wants to watch ALL OF THE TIME! He watches hours and hours of signing time everyday, and even when we tried to hide the TV (which is hard on Kevin's back) he figured out that it was hidden and wouldn't rest until we could put it back and turn it on. (It's cute how he signs signing time, too, I should get a picture of it.) I do realize that I can say "no" and let it be at that. But seriously, how many parents can deal with a tantrum every 15 minutes? Or annoying pestering and whining? So I've just given in, and I feel terribly guilty that I didn't at least make it until he was two years old before I turned him into a couch potato (actually, I was hoping that if I held out that long, maybe he wouldn't be very interested, and he would rather play than sit and watch hours and hours of television). Most of it is because I hate listening to his tantrums, and he can be VERY stubborn with his tantrums. I'd much rather dodge a tantrum than live through it, but we're past the ability of saying, "all gone" or "it's broken!" because Oliver knows better. He is one smart cookie. And he knows how I loathe his tantrums, and takes complete advantage of that. So "no" doesn't exactly work. Distractions don't work like they used to, and even then it ended up being more work than I liked, because it used to be I could say, "want to cook some eggs?" and let him crack the eggs (and make a mess) and that would buy me 15 or so minutes. Or I'd let him play in the flour, or in the refrigerator, or in my make-up, or with play-dough, or with markers. But you can only crack so many eggs, and only so many kitchen messes you can live with after a while before you are saying, "stop making that noise (it makes me want to pull my hair out!) go watch TV and let me clean this disaster up!" ARgh.

So in my mind, the only solution that I can come up with that doesn't involve tantrums is to get rid of the TV altogether. But it's not really an option, because we would have to store our entertainment center somewhere (where? anyone want to buy it?) because even the empty entertainment center is a reminder, and Oliver will throw his tantrum until we put the TV back. I don't know. I just can't see a solution that would work for both Kevin and Oliver. And it IS really nice to get the kitchen clean without an interruption every three minutes. Or read a book for that matter. But what kind of problems am I setting myself up for down the road? And poor Oliver! I'm totally limiting his potential! If I hadn't turned the TV on that fateful day, he may have been a GENIUS! heh. I'm exaggerating, I know, but every time I put signing time on for him (it's the only TV he gets to watch, except for the occasional blip of real TV that comes through when the TiVo flips back to live television) I can't help but wonder how many brain cells I'm killing, or how many opportunities for playing and learning and interacting we are missing because he wants to sit and watch TV.

I almost wonder if he would be less interested in TV if I had let him be exposed to it from the beginning of his life, and if I didn't make such a huge deal to myself about it.

I just can't think of a good solution.

Here is my attempt at rationalization: But everyone lets their kids watch TV? Right? and they're okay? Right? It's the weird kids that don't watch TV? I'm helping Oliver to not become the playground pariah, right?

I went to a "ready to learn" workshop, and the coordinator there said that she has a good friend that is a preschool teacher that says every year she gets fewer and fewer students who know how to play. and more and more kids who want to be entertained. And this was exactly what I was hoping to be able to help Oliver learn--to play! to entertain himself! to have fun with simple things! to interact and be creative and enjoy life (not that I have been an example for that, oh, dear).

Ollie, I'm sorry I have failed you.

Happy Birthday

Hope you have a fabulous birthday, Monica!

I'm making cookies (cause I can't seem to master cakes) in your honor.