iamtheinvisiblehand

Posts Tagged ‘concentration

I’m not biased or anything, but as a moviegoer – especially now that I’ve slashed my movie outings from once or twice every weekend to once a month – there are certain crowds I just wish I didn’t have to put up with while trying to enjoy a movie.

I’ve narrowed them down to these 4:

1. The giggly girls. They manage to giggle about every single thing, but they are especially annoying during suspense or horror movies. I remember vividly a couple of stupid girls sitting next to me during Shyamalan’s “Signs” who just couldn’t stop giggling even through the scariest parts. And don’t get me started on the fits they have when there’s some kind of skin exposure, or if the actor is cute, because sometimes it’s not even worth enduring the rest of the film.

2. The teen boys. Not only do they fail to pay attention, but because they get bored after a few minutes, they start talking to each other – LOUDLY – or throwing their popcorn at unsuspecting viewers behind or in front of their seats. As if that weren’t bad enough, they keep asking one another what is going on, because none of them seems to be able to grasp the essence of the movie. And I’m not talking about serious or complicated movies, like say, “Inception” in which if you don’t pay attention you can easily get lost, no. I’m talking about “Puss in Boots” or “Transformers”. I mean, how thick can you get?

3. The parents with the bored child. Sigh. You can spot them easily because the child is already showing signs of a meltdown even before the movie has started. At some point, the child will get uncomfortable, either by having to sit still for 2 hours or by the insanely loud audio theaters are using these days, and the tears will come shortly after. In the end, they just waste their money because they have to leave before the child has a full-blown tantrum. I feel bad for these parents, having suffered this myself, and in their defense, there is truly no way of knowing beforehand how a child is going to behave during the movie, no matter what their behavior was five minutes before entering.

4. And last but not least, the phone-addicts. I mean, not only is it spelled out in huge letters across the screen, cinemas usually get the star of the upcoming blockbuster to tell people to TURN OFF THEIR PHONES. And still, these people think that the world will come to an end if they turn they wretched thing off.  Even if, let’s say you need to be available for whatever reason (even though it’s hard to believe a person can’t be spared 2 hours of their precious time, but whatever, it happens) , you can silence the device and still enjoy the movie. If it does ring, at least it will be silent and you can swiftly leave the theater to take the call. These people, however, never do that. Not only is their phone left on, it is not even silenced. To make matters worse, the phone is more often than not stashed at the bottom of the purse (in the case of the ladies) or in some unreachable jacket pocket (in the case of the men), so it takes them about 4-5 rings before they can get to it. And then, they answer it. IN THE THEATER. LOUDLY. And no matter how many “shhhhhes” they get, it’s like they’re in their own little world where there is no one and nothing else but the phone and themselves.

I’ll just have to forget about Saturday night screenings and stick to Sunday morning screenings, as teenagers and phone-addicts don’t usually get up that early.

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I went to my daughter’s school yesterday for a conference with my daughter’s teachers and the psychologist. 

The meeting with the teachers was to give us our daughter’s report card; we met with the Psychologist for something else, I’ll tell you in a minute.

Anyway, the report card basically stated what we already knew: our daughter has a hard time concentrating and staying put; she’s a chatterbox and gets easily distracted; she also has a huge, dominant personality that is difficult to handle. However, all learning goals were achieved for this term, regardless of all the BUTs.

Blah, blah, blah. Anyone with a 5 year-old knows that part of being a 5-year old entails focusing on something for a few minutes and moving on to something else just as quickly. Granted, some kids are more focused than others, but I’ve rarely seen kids this age truly engaged in anything for more than 15- 20 minutes. So no surprises on the report card.

The Psychologist was there because we were worried about our daughter’s pre-adolescent behavior (mommy I don’t love you anymore, etc.), so she had been doing some tests and talking with our daughter to figure out what was going on.

And so there was a hint at ADHD. Hubby and I decidedly ignored it, so the Psychologist dropped the subject as soon as it had been brought up, mainly because our daughter doesn’t entirely fit the profile.

Growing up, I took care of a 6 year-old boy who had been diagnosed with ADHD . The kid could be a handful, but once you found ways in which to keep him busy, he would indeed, keep busy for long periods of time, albeit always under a watchful eye because he could turn his bedroom upside down in a matter of minutes. He loved reading, puzzles and building stuff, so that is basically what he’d get to do after, say, finishing his homework.

Based on my experience, ADHD exists, but it is harder on the caretakers than on the child. The child has no way of grasping that he/she has a condition that makes it difficult to focus and stay focused.  I also believe it is getting harder with every passing day, because kids are exposed to a million things each day, a lot more than we were at their age, so it should be more difficult to concentrate.

I’m not in denial, because I know my child isn’t perfect, but I don’t think kids should be slapped with ADHD at the slightest indication of poor concentration. What’s worse: it seems that most of the parents of my daughter’s classmates were told that their kids also got easily distracted and had a hard time focusing. So what is it, then? All of our children are on the road to ADHD or is it a generational thing that we, as parents, will have to deal with?

And then came the rest of the conversation.

It appears that our daughter has a strong personality and is always on the dominant side, a natural leader. But of course, since she is not always the most well-behaved child, she often steers the other kids into mischief. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not the devil reborn either, not even close, but she certainly does enjoy telling others what to do.

This, obviously, is a problem for any caretaker, be it a parent or a teacher. As the parent, I can tell you she can be quite difficult to handle at times. However, I firmly believe a strong, assertive personality is rather a good thing if we manage to deal with it properly. She knows what the rules are at home and she usually follows them, so I know that as long as there is structure and that she respects it, she’ll be ok. I refuse to be the one that crushes her spirit, bans her spontaneity and makes her become a follower instead of the leader. Sure, achieving the balance is hard, ongoing work, but hey, who said parenting was easy?

Anyway, at the end of the conference, adding insult to injury, the Psychologist suggested we have another child as a way to harness our daughter’s rebellious tendencies.

Wow.

Even though the question was dealt with swiftly, because it is a real physical impossibility (due to my hormonal, metabolic and spine-related health issues), I can’t see how this even concerns her at all.

First of all, in what world does having a second child help resolve “behavioral problems” with the first child? I thought people had children because they wanted to have  a family, and love them and raise them and give them what they need so they could grow up to be decent human beings.

It appears that the notion of having an only child is far from beneficial, because only kids have way too much of everything and tend to be dominant and selfish because they have no one to challenge their turf. I thought having an only child meant I could dedicate more time to her instead of having to clone myself trying to be available for anyone, and providing solid financial security (at least for her education) .

Does that mean that children who have siblings are easier to handle? Are they not dominant and selfish as well, in addition to other stuff? Is it true that having more than one child guarantees that the siblings will have a close relationship and accompany one another?

I have 3 sisters, and I honestly don’t think that it was a pivotal fact that made me the way that I am, even though it probably played a part. I also disagree that just because you have a sibling you will automatically be close and will accompany one another. Again, even though I have a cordial, healthy relationship with all my sisters, I don’t consider them my friends and I don’t even consider them close to me. Sure, there must be people out there who are on both sides of the spectrum: there are those who consider their siblings their best friends, and those who want nothing to do with their siblings. Generalizations don’t seem to apply here either.

And there’s another reason why, even if I could, I wouldn’t want another child.

I already have the life I always wanted. I manage my own business, which allows me to organize my schedule according to my needs. I get to spend as much time I want with my daughter and husband. I get to take care of (almost all) our family’s finances. If I had another child I’d have to start over again and things would never be the same.

And I’m not being selfish here. I’m just well aware that I would never be able to give that second child the same type of life I’ve given my daughter, and that would definitely be unfair. Sacrifices would have to be made, and I’d have to make all of them.

I’m not really complaining about my husband when I say this, it’s just the way things are.

To illustrate my point, I’ll tell you that last week I was reading some magazine, and I found a picture of Ben Affleck with one of his kids (maybe Violet?). Anyway, the caption said something like “Look, how sweet of Ben, babysitting his daughter”. I almost choked. Babysitting? I thought Ben was the father of his children and as such, what he was doing was called parenting, not babysitting. But see, the common mistake here is that since the mommy is supposed to take care of the kids, she is the one doing the parenting and dads are only babysitting. Great.

And that is exactly the underlying issue here. When children are involved, mothers are always expected to step up and take over, while no one expects the dads to do much of anything. Again, I’m not criticizing or generalizing, but let’s be honest, even when dads pitch in, the feeling that they are already doing enough is so ingrained, after centuries and centuries of being told that their duties entail taking care of the family (financially) without really being involved, that it’ll take a few more centuries for them to shake off those teachings completely. 

If another child comes into the picture, guess who’ll have to stop working, at least for a few months and probably start over again. Guess, who ‘ll have to keep doing everything as before and add another million tasks to her everyday life. Guess who’ll have to make sure our daughter doesn’t feel left out and jealous with the arrival of a new baby. Guess who’ll have to suck it up if she never gets her life back.  All of this is added to the smaller things mothers do everyday and go unnoticed, like setting up and taking the child to medical appointments; knowing the date of every single past and upcoming event; knowing which medications and how much they need to take; knowing when your child has had a bad day or is just out of sorts; knowing exactly what clothes are too short or which shoes are too tight. You get the picture. 

It may sound cold, putting it this way, but honestly, I’d rather learn to deal with my spirited daughter and not jeopardize everything we’ve already accomplished as a family. I’m aware of my limitations and I’m not about to ignore my instincts just to see if things could get better. If I knew, without a doubt, that having another baby was not going to be a task that was exclusively mine, that I could maybe drop a few duties to handle everything else, I’d rethink it, although I’m sure my decision would still be the same.

So no, no more children here. AND, no more psychologists either. Three is OUR perfect number.

I went with my husband to the mall’s food court a few months ago to grab a quick bite before our movie started. There was nothing unusual for a Friday night at the mall, except for the fact that there were 4 teenagers at the table behind us just sitting there in silence.

Puzzled by the lack of any sign of movement or sound, we turned around to take a look. As it turns out, there were 2 girls and 2 boys (I’d say around age 16), the girls on one side, the boys on the other (it looked like some kind of blind date for one of the couples). Things were fine up to this point. What left us dumbstruck was the fact that they were – each of them – texting on their phones and that kept them from interacting with each other. It was the saddest thing I ever saw.

I know well that times have changed, me being part of the generation that learned to type on a typewriter and gradually made the transition to a PC; to print my first papers on the noisy dot matrix printer and end up with a petit laser printer; from having (and using) regular phones at home to not knowing how I ever managed before cordless phones appeared, and from using the huge devices that were the first cell phones to the minimalistic cell phones available today that have buttons you have to stick your nails into if you want to press them. Or even better: there were no cell phones in my childhood and early adolescence, so we had to use the regular phone (or payphone) to get in touch with our parents to let them know where we were and that were OK.

Oh yes, times have changed.

But does that mean that we now have to be 100% reliant on technology and forget that as human beings, we are social animals and as such have the physiological need to interact with others (even if sometimes we don’t particularly enjoy it)?

I mean, these kids were just a small example of something you see everyday: you’re at a meeting and one person in 3 is busy texting away while pretending to pay attention to what is being said; you’re in someone’s living room, or visiting a relative and there are at least two people (not necessarily teenagers) who have chosen a quiet corner in which they can text away at their leisure. Or even worse: there are two or more people at the same gathering who are texting each other and passing jokes and comments on their phones, not even bothering to speak to each other.

What is going on? Is this what we’re becoming?

I know that most people now have BBs and similar because they need them for work, or at least that’s what they’ll tell you. I wonder if they really do. Of course I admit that current technology has improved our lives in ways we never could have imagined, but I’m also certain that we have become dependent on our “gadgets” in a way that is almost dehumanizing.

I’m quite sure that our parents were just as good and effective employees back in their day as anyone who is currently a part of the workforce. The main difference is, they were able to “disconnect” themselves and do so much more for themselves and their family. Even though many of us had workaholic parents or parents who just had to work extra hard to support their household, at least in my case, when my mother was with us, she was with us heart, mind and soul, if even for a little while. Which is why I find it surprising how nowadays, in spite of the ever-growing array of working options and the greater freedom given by employers worldwide to make it easier for their employees to spend time with their family, people are just not taking advantage of it and are “not all there”. 

For although they can move around a lot more and share some time with their kids and spouses, people are always losing focus on things that matter and concentrating on more “urgent” stuff – a.k.a. everything else. Even when doing something they really enjoy (watching TV, eating out, etc.), people are unable to keep their mind on what they are doing, and instead are thinking of the other million things that are happening while they are “absent” or “disconnected”. It’s almost like things have been reversed: instead of thinking about what you’re missing when you’re not doing what you like the most (e.g. thinking about fishing while at work), we’re worried about what we’re missing while we are doing the things that at some point gave us immense pleasure.

Ever wondered why good TV shows get cancelled so soon? My guess is that, among others, people are not focused on what they’re watching and quickly lose interest in the plot if it requires their full attention and putting down their phone, no matter how good it is.

It’s like our generation and those behind us have lost their “lust for life” and have settled for being permanently hooked on our gadgets as if they were another appendage.

I guess we convince ourselves that what we are doing what must be done in order to live our lives the best we can and as such, every single personal life-related decision is valid. However, once we start losing sight of who we are, and unable of separating it from what we do and what we want, there is no turning back.

Our generation, I believe, is doomed, but there’s still time for the others to straighten their ideas and get it right before it’s too late and the cycle repeats itself: parents not paying attention to their kids, spouses ignoring each other, etc. and therefore the pattern repeating itself with each new generation.

I just hope I’m wrong.



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  • Carrie Rubin: I don't always remember names well, but I remember circumstances. I especially remembered yours because it's such a rare cancer, and you were the firs
  • iamtheinvisiblehand: Thank you for your kind words, but also thank you for remembering it was me....it's amazing that you'd remember this considering the endless stream of
  • Carrie Rubin: I am so sorry to hear about your mother. After you commented on my blog yesterday, I remembered that your mother was the one who had cholangiocarcinom

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