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Monthly Archives: November 2010
If you’re five months old, this homespun activity is apparently the equivalent of a Pink Floyd laser light show. Twenty minutes of contentment and counting….
This morning, Little Geek Shui had another impromptu lesson. The topic of discussion was patriotism. It stemmed from another little lesson where I was teaching him the words to the U.S. national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. We had been going over it in the car ride to school for a couple of days. Why was I teaching it to him? Well, I felt it important to teach him not only the words to the song, but also to understand its origins and what it means to an entire nation of people.
For the purpose of brevity, I’ll keep the recounting of the story to a minimum. Basically, I taught him the words. Then, we went back over the verses. I explained the tougher words and the story they told in words an eight year old is certain to easily understand. I also Googled up the Wikipedia article on its writing and had him read it aloud to me. It may sound like a bit much, but I think it’s very important. I also went on to tell him that he’ll often here it embellished by pop stars or accompanied by fireworks and a missing man formation fly-over by the U.S. Air Force or Navy jets but that it’s not necessary. “Sometimes,” I explained, “the most touching rendition is the classic arrangement, sung as the flag gently waves in the breeze.”
There is often much debate on what patriotism means. In my explanation to him, I told him that it isn’t about knowing the words to a song or properly handling a flag. It’s about the symbolism behind it. It’s about the things for which they stand. My words to him were something to the effect of, “They represent the belief in something bigger than ourselves. They represent hundreds of years of hope, perseverance and, in some cases, lost lives, all in the pursuit of obtaining and maintaining a free state.”
I went on to tell him that the rights we have aren’t held by people in every country around the world and that it’s important to consciously be thankful for the freedom to speak, assemble, worship and simply live, basically as we choose. Of course, throughout the story, I made sure to stop and make sure he understood exactly what I was trying to get across. As usual, since he’s such a smart kid, it was easy.
To conclude the lesson, I explained that, when the national anthem is played at an event or ceremony, we stand up straight, put our right hand on our hearts, and look at the flag. As we do, we listen to the words and remember that we’re not just remembering our nation’s past, we’re committing ourselves, anew, to its future.
I think Little Geek Shui’s lesson serves as a good reminder to all citizens of “free” countries. Flags, national anthems, and ceremonious tributes to them are not obligatory or routine. They’re reminders of who we are, from where we came, and where we would like to go in the future. There’s always room for improvement, and saluting the flag that represents us seems like as good a place to start as any.
…at least Lego ones made me aren’t.
Today, I attended a Thanksgiving lunch at Little Geek Shui’s school. The parking lot was overflowing. The cafeteria was chaotic. The line for parents was long.As I waited in line, I saw a solitary girl among the crowded tables. She was eating…and crying. Every few moments she would stand up, look around, and cry harder. There was no parent, grandma or anyone else next to her. I was sure it was probably because that special someone hadn’t shown up yet. I can’t deny it. It hurt me to see it. I’m a parent of two boys. I could only imagine that being my upset child, worried that I wasn’t coming. So I caught the attention of one of the staff on cafeteria duty and explained my concern. I told her I understood it wasn’t necessarily part of her job to console a child whose parent had yet to arrive for lunch but said that perhaps she could give her a few encouraging words. She said, “Okay,” and walked away…not to the child…away from her. So, I turned to the man behind me and asked if he could hold my place in line. He agreed, and I approached the girl. I didn’t say anything profound. I just asked what was wrong. She said that her mom was supposed to be there. I explained about the parking and told her that she must know her mom wouldn’t disappoint her purposely. She indicated that she understood that to be true. I then told her that she shouldn’t worry about it and should go sit with her friends. Reluctantly, she did. A few minutes later, the tears were gone. I’m sure she was still disappointed, but at least she had moved on. I didn’t do anything really that the same staff member couldn’t have done, with a little effort and a healthy amount of good intentions. Why did I write this? I suppose my hope is that someone who reads this, if ever faced with the same situation, doesn’t ignore a crying child. I know I certainly won’t if I see it again. Would you?
Fort??n de San Ger??nimo del Boquer??n (Fort Saint Jerome of the Large Entrance)