Monday, November 30, 2009

Xantippe teeters on the edge of becoming a food snob

Normally, I am the biggest fan around of our cafeteria system. We have made-to-order stir fries, omelets, pasta, as well as clever theme days. I have never eaten so well and so cheaply in my life. I do have a quibble, though, with tonight's coconut chicken. The green onion garnish on top was coated liberally with dry ginger powder. I like ginger as much as the next person, but dusting it on top of prepared food is not a good idea.

Foam padding

We just received the 24' of foam padding for the fireplace that my husband ordered after D's accident. D was very happy to hear about the arrival of the foam padding, and wants it to be installed as soon as possible.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


My husband and I will be giving kids in the extended family individual presents this year, but adults will be getting photobooks. We did our first batch last year. It was hard sifting through several years of photos and putting together photobooks online last year, but I'm hoping it will be a smoother process this year. This evening my husband and I went through around a thousand photos and chose 61 finalists for inclusion in our photobooks. We need to do the actual formatting and caption writing early this week. There is no way that I will ever be an analog scrapbooker, but digital scrapbooking is much more my speed. We also need to put together a video for the year, as well as doing Christmas cards and conventional gift shopping.

UPDATE: My husband informs me that nearly all of the photos we selected have escaped from the file where they were being stored, perhaps because of an interruption in our internet connection. The good news is that we still have the photos elsewhere and the photo retouching (cropping, red eye, etc.) is probably still there, but we're going to have to select them again (tonight?) and immediately upload them to the photobook site to be safe. As they said in Russia (during the perestroika or privatization era), it is impossible to cross a chasm in two leaps.

Lizard in the sugar

While I was out at the gym, the kids decided to whip up an unauthorized batch of lemonade. Much to their dismay, they discovered a dessicated lizard in my air-tight sugar container.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

C does division

Yesterday, C told her father that half of 7 is 3 1/2. Then she went on to tell him that half of 3 1/2 is 1 3/4. Pretty good.

D on his accident

D says: I'm glad I didn't have any brain damage or bone damage.

Me too.

C's notes

C has been writing well-spelled notes for some time, both for entertainment and as memoranda. I think one that I found this morning is her draft Christmas list. One side of the post-it reads:

  1. Large Geode
  2. small Geodes
  3. Quartz boxes
  4. Agate slices
  5. Polished Rocks

The numbering is in the original. The other side reads: "35 Dollars and some cents earn bit by bit". These are all museum store items, by the way. I think C has since revised down these very ambitious plans for her Christmas giving to one small sparkly opened geode for D for $2.50.

Yesterday, C invited D and me for a sort of game in the living room. It's hard to reconstruct the order of notes, but I believe I was initially handed a note that read "Look under the easel." There followed a long series of notes, giving directions for where to look for the next note:

  • Look under the chair.
  • Look in the toy kitchen.
  • Look under the desk.
  • Look under the pillow.
  • Look on the sofa.

There was a little bit of confusion toward the end and nothing to find on the sofa, but it was a very elaborate game for a 7-year-old to organize.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dinner blogging

The cafeteria has been closed for several days now, so it's back to cooking. Tonight's dinner was chicken cooked in Patak's tikka masala with pineapple chunks, garbanzo beans, water chestnuts and some extra grated ginger root. We had it with brown rice, microwaved snap peas, and whole wheat naan from the grocery (it has inexplicably appeared at our HEB).

For dessert, my husband and D made a pecan pie with store pecans and a premade crust. It has a very dark, rich flavor from all the rum extract that my husband poured on. I suspect it would be just about perfect with a good vanilla ice cream.


We got off to a late start on cooking yesterday due to having to spend half an hour removing spilled pumpkin filling from floor, cabinets, hinges, and oven exterior. The kids were getting hungry well before we were able to serve Thanksgiving dinner. Here's what it was:

  • microwaved sausages (the ham I had planned to use had an iffy odor, so I threw it away)
  • stovetop stuffing
  • hot cranberry sauce (cooked on the stovetop from berries)
  • sweet potatoes (19 cents a pound!)
  • store-bought deep dish apple pie (to replace the spilled pumpkin pie)

That was adequate for the four of us.

My husband and the kids started work yesterday on a 3D puzzle of the Black Pearl from Pirates of the Caribbean. It's going to be hard.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

D goes to ER

Things are as good as could be hoped for right now, but yesterday D had a nasty accident. It is difficult to reconstruct events, but it seems that he was spinning in the living room and spun right into the bricks near our fireplace. He got a nasty gouge mark on the upper part of his nose. In what felt like slow motion, we stopped the bleeding, made sure the hospital had a pediatric ER, printed directions (the hospital recently relocated from the inner city to the edge of town near a very complicated bit of freeway), packed water and snacks, packed entertainment for the kids, and all drove to the hospital. C initially said "Are we going to [the children's museum]?" but did a very good job with the entertainment packing. She packed a board book, D's beloved elephant and two pot holders.

This was our first trip to the new hospital, or indeed to any local ER. We rattled around in the almost empty ER and got very fast service. A Russian-American doctor with a Northeastern accent stitched up D's nose. The doctor reassured us that D's injury is in a pretty good place because there's usually a little crease there anyway, plus as D gets bigger, the scar will get proportionately smaller. The doctor also suggested an over-the-counter scar treatment cream for use once the stitches are out. D is due to get his stitches out in 5-7 days (we lean toward 7), and we are supposed to wash the area and put on antibiotic ointment 2 times a day while it's healing.

I'm somewhat reconciled to the new hospital location, but it requires some interstate driving, which is above my skill level at the moment.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that after ER, D was perky enough that we were able to go buy Christmas cards, make a brief trip to the children's museum and then go out for a long-awaited Thai dinner.

D and charity

C is on board with our charitable giving program. D doesn't have a reliable income stream, given his predilection for cardboard boxes and living for weeks with tiny crunchable Legos on his bedroom floor, so up until yesterday it was hard to say whether he was on board or not. Yesterday D finally cleaned up his room and he did fine taking his dollar and putting a dime into his charitable giving container. I told D that he will be able to spend his charity money on any worthy cause that he chooses and I mentioned several options. Right now, he favors the idea of buying live chickens.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Frosty orange float

C has had a reprint of a 1955 Better Homes and Gardens Jr Cookbook for some time (thanks, Pru!), but we didn't venture to make anything until yesterday. Yesterday C chose a recipe (with the understanding that this was going to cost her 10 points), I secured ingredients, and we made frosty orange floats. I swapped out the orange sherbet in the recipe for rainbow sherbet but used the recommended orange soda and candy cane garnish. The recipe also suggests using fresh mint as a garnish, so we may try that some time.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sociability and feline adoption

I just read this over at OILF. Amen, sister.

Christmas shopping

Our pastor occasionally gives a topical short second homily after Mass. Yesterday's was to tell us not to go into debt for Christmas gifts.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

High chair

Although D still fits in our 7-year-old Fisher Price high chair, we need to start thinking about moving him to the dining table, maybe sometime this spring. The problems I have with this are:
  1. our dining room is carpeted
  2. about half of our dining room table is taken up with papers and incoming mail and there is no other obvious or convenient place to keep the stuff
  3. I like a bit of space between the kids when they are eating.

My husband and I respectively hosed down and scrubbed the high chair this morning after putting the seat cover in the washer (the underside was getting pretty scary). We spent the first five years of its life as apartment dwellers, so in those years I used to just launder the seat, only very occasionally turning the chair upside down and going at the crevices with Q-tips for an hour or so at a time. Finally having a hose of my own has opened up a totally new world to me. My husband blasted the dried up crud and it came off, even from the straps that have long thwarted me. Out of curiosity, I just did a little research on seat cover replacements. Fisher Price doesn't seem to make them, but if we should ever someday want a new seat cover, the good ladies of Etsy can make covers to match any decor.

Friday, November 20, 2009

C's stickies

C has recently acquired a stock of sticky pads (you would probably call them Post-its). Her dresser now has a series of sticky pad reminders to herself to spend $6 on Christmas shopping at the museum store next weekend (I think she's getting a gift for D). My husband learned from C that she has figured out that she needs to spend nothing until next weekend. This is an unprecedented level of financial planning for C.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Giving update II

We wanted to make sure and meet the Santa's Workshop deadline for toy donations, so we went to Michael's tonight after dinner. C knew exactly what she wanted to give: a washable colorable stuffed horsie with a rainbow mane and tail. She had $5.70 of charity money to spend and the horse was $9.99 on sale. We subsidized the purchase a bit, but we wanted to make sure that C had some early, tangible success with giving. I had C put the horse in the collection box at the college gym. She did so without any reluctance and she hasn't yet complained about it, regretted the money, or wished that she had gotten the horse herself. She was concerned that the horse's recipient wouldn't have laundry facilities (so the initial coloring will be permanent), but she figures that the horse will be nice to snuggle with even so. She bought stickers for herself out of her personal funds. C may yet have giver's remorse, but there have already been two hours with no sign of it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Volo fix

Last night my husband finally finished repairs on our Maclaren Volo umbrella stroller (that's the bottom of the Maclaren line). It's a fantastic piece of engineering (metal frame, fantastic fold, weighs about 8 pounds) and is great for either long distance travel or getting on and off buses, but the wheels are its Achilles' heel. Within about three or four years of heavy use, the left rear wheels are so worn down that the stroller no longer functions properly. When this happened to our last one, we just got a new one because it didn't make sense to send it to NYC for repair. Now, however, my husband has had a lot more experience with home repairs and telescope making, so he set about ordering some new rear wheels and a steel rod. The total cost of materials was about $18, although unfortunately our homemade version lacks brakes. Amazon shows that a new Volo would cost $130, so it seemed like a sensible choice. D is getting close to stroller graduation, but who knows what the future holds? I haven't had a chance yet to road test the repaired Volo, but it's going to be an improvement. Before the repair, the uneven posture that was required to push it was starting to take a toll on my knee and back.

I know dave s. has some reservations about the cult of Maclaren, but when those people say that their stroller will take up to a 50 pound child, they mean it. I've worn out two plastic-and-metal frame Graco Metrolites, and when they say that the stroller is good up to 40 pounds, it means that once the child is 35 pounds, it's going to break within days.


Inspired by the cardboard inserts from a pair of new shoes that looked like a dolphin's snout, the kids built a dolphin this morning. They used the inserts, a cardboard box for the body and some blue construction paper for fins. All this creativity is taking its toll on D's room, of course.

Spice game

C asked me this morning if we could play the spice game. The idea is to go through herbs and spices from the kitchen, with C guessing which is which. I started this with her when she was about 3 or 4 and she got really good at it. Pru may have played the game with us. We hadn't played for a long time. This time, C and D are bigger and more responsible, so I got out all the herbs and spices and let C and D sniff them while I did other stuff. Then, the kids put on blindfolds (C's headbands) and I did blind sniff tests with them.


D stuffed a couple of toys under his sweater and is crawling around pretending to be a camel.

Giving update

The start of our giving program was unpopular, but C is now used to the idea that when I give her $1.10 for cleaning her room, she puts 10 cents in her giving container and on Sundays, if she cleans her room, she puts the full $1.10 in her giving container. As of yesterday, she had decided to buy a particular art item from Michaels for the local Christmas toy collection.

C just spontaneously gave me 65 cents, bringing her giving savings to $5.60. I was thrilled. Minutes later, she returned, wanting to get her 65 cents back. I told her that once she gives the money, it isn't hers anymore, but that if she wants to earn more money, I have lots of oppportunities (workbooks, etc.). Things cooled down eventually and she did a page of workbook for 25 cents.

The kids are both home sick today.

Monday, November 16, 2009

11 times 11

C somehow knew what 11 X 11 was when my husband asked her tonight.

More Harry Potter

C is currently cruising through the Harry Potter books for the fourth time.

German math

A relative of mine is a 4th grader at a village school in Germany. His mother informs me that his math work now includes problems with two variables.

4th grade is the make-or-break year for little Germans, the year when testing divides them between vocational track, the middle track (where 2-3 years of remediation after high school will get you into university eventually) and the gymnasium track (which leads directly to university).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obama in Japan

I've been following the commentary on Obama's 90 degree bow to the Japanese emperor (video shows an unreciprocated deep bow, followed by a series of shallow unreciprocated head bobs). I'm not exactly sure what was going on here, but I suspect a misguided attempt to be culturally sensitive. You can tell that the interaction was not a success from the fact that there's a complete mismatch between Obama's and the emperor's movements. In a successful greeting between equals, there would be exact symmetry.

I'm not an expert on Japanese culture, but cross-cultural stuff is a long time interest and I have worked with groups of Japanese college students. Japanese culture is hard, as the young Belgian heroine from Fear and Trembling discovers. A bow can mean any number of things depending on how it is executed, by whom and to whom, and a foreign novice is not going to get it right. It's going to be interesting to see if Obama continues to attempt some version of local protocol elsewhere in Asia. Thailand, for one, seems to have extremely exacting laws and customs about how the royal family is treated. I'm looking forward to seeing Obama's attempt the traditional Thai ceremonial when meeting the king:

If granted an informal audience, Thai traditional way of crawling on the knees and paying respect to His Majesty with a krap is more suitable. Shoes must not be worn. When approaching His Majesty, krap with the hands raised once and crawl near him at a proper distance, not directly facing him, and make another krap. Then prostrate oneself with hands still pressed together. If His Majesty addresses someone, the person must look up and answer him. When leaving His Majesty's audience, krap with the hands raised once and crawl backward at a proper distance. Make another krap before standing up.

I think "krap" means greeting, but google has been unhelpful.

UPDATE: I just came across this long slideshow of photos of dignitaries greeting the Japanese emperor. Posture varies (either upright or slightly inclined toward Akihito), but Akihito's posture very closely mirrors that of the people he greets. If you look at it, pay special attention to the Asian dignitaries. It's hard to tell from a still photograph, but there seems to be a preference for a Western handshake in this context. I wonder why?

Training wheels

Me (rhetorically) to D: Do you want to have training wheels forever?

D (a cautious child) to C: Mom says I can have training wheels forever!

C is missing a lot of school

C missed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at school. D missed Wednesday and Friday. My husband left for a conference in New Orleans for the weekend, so the kids and I were left to our own resources Saturday and most of Sunday (C made a potholder on both days, with input from me and D). C will be missing school on Monday. She has a temperature of 99.4, which is very minor as fevers go, but suggests some sort of lurking bug. If it isn't gone by Tuesday, I think we need to consult a pediatrician. Most painfully for the kids, the older couple next door hosted a block party with a moon bounce to celebrat their grandchild's 4th birthday. The moonbounce was on the front lawn and my kids were crushed at not being able to go.

Mid-November gloat

It's November 15 and we still haven't started heating the house (except for flipping on the bathroom heater several times). It's been in the 70s during the day, low-50s in the early morning. I'm hoping to keep the heating off until at least Thanksgiving.

UPDATE: We turned the heating on the night of Tuesday, Nov. 17. A good thing, too, because when I got up in the morning on Wednesday, the temperature for outdoors was 39.9 degrees. Our current pattern is low overnight temperatures with daytime highs into the 70s. I'm keeping the thermostat at around 65 degrees, which is about right.

Friday, November 13, 2009

For MH and dave s.

Guys, I found something on the Onion for you. "Ford unveils new car for cash-strapped buyers: the 1993 Taurus."

Third day

I was planning to send D to school today, but he was slightly feverish, so today is another day at home with both kids. They're watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang right now.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

No play

C's temperature was 100 degrees this evening and tomorrow will be her third day of staying home from school. Unfortunately, she's going to miss her class play Friday night. On the bright side, D is going to school tomorrow, so I should be able to spend some quality time with C.

C starts division

C is home sick today, observing the 24-hour-after fever rule. D doesn't have school today, so he's home, too. This is our second straight day of family togetherness, but we are holding up pretty well. I got C's math work from her teacher via email. Today is the first day of division! As I've mentioned earlier, I didn't do division in school in 2nd or 3rd (or maybe even 4th and 5th grade), so it is very exciting. This being Singapore's Primary Mathematics curriculum, it is very visual. The first division problem says "Divide 12 apples into 2 equal groups" and the picture shows two groups of six apples. There are 11 pages of division problems, only a few problems per page, with pictures for every problem. At this point, all of the problems can be solved just by counting objects in the pictures, but the kids are getting comfortable with the idea of division. It will be very interesting to see how far the 2nd graders get this spring (they get a new workbook around Christmas).

The best thing about the Singapore treatment of division is that C was immediately able to start doing the problems by herself correctly. She didn't need any help.


C was just telling me how much she enjoys the lockdown drills at school because of the opportunity to go under her desk.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cats and squirrels

C and D were home sick all of today and did a lot of playing on the computer with Tux Paint. One of the options is a chess board that you can decorate. C decided to create a board for a game of her own invention: Cats and Squirrels. The black cats and brown squirrels face off against each other, and at least in the context of the game, they are of equal power. If a cat knocks out a squirrel, the squirrel turns black and joins the cats' team. If a squirrel knocks out a cat, the cat turns brown and joins the squirrels' team. There are also special squares (marked C and S) where only squirrels or only cats can go. I think it's very clever, but I still don't want to play.


Our 2004 Ford Taurus (our one and only vehicle) has been making some funny noises and has had trouble starting a couple of times. We've been talking about taking it in to the dealership for a while (we're at about 73,000 miles). I realize that a non-dealership might be cheaper, but we're new at this, and the Ford people seem honest. Things came to a head yesterday when my husband got an SOS message from the car saying that the engine is in trouble. My husband drove the car to the dealership this morning and took their shuttle back. I just spoke to my husband and heard the quote: $963 (some of that will pay for an extra key). We didn't have a chance to discuss the car's ailments. It's paid off and is worth around $3,000 or $4,000. We've had it two years and this is the first repair bill we have had. As I said, we're pretty inexperienced in this area, but I suppose time will tell.

UPDATE: I was doing a little internet reading and talking to my dad. The internet informs me that tune-ups are done every two years or 30,000. I read the long list of stuff that needs to be replaced during a tune-up, and I get why it's so expensive. Good thing it's only every two years. As of Thursday AM, our car is still at the dealership waiting for a part. We have a loaner (some sort of sporty Pontiac), which my husband hates, due to features like some smoked glass that obscures the blindspot. The dealership also told my husband that the AC is going to go out eventually, so be ready for a $500 repair. My husband found the part online for $250 and he'd like eventually to find a mechanic who can do it cheaper. My dad's 2 cents is that with proper care, our car should go happily to 140,000 miles and that this is the time in our car's life when it should be making us money. My dad says that barring major engine or transmission issues, repairs are worthwhile, even on a $4,000 car.

UPDATE II: The Ford people fixed a component of the AC and they're hoping that will hold it for a while.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

D on bikes

D told me this afternoon: It's too bad my bike doesn't have a cupholder.


C is just starting multiplication (8 x 3, 4 x 5, 5 x 10, etc.).

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I posted somewhat too optimistically on the kids and giving a while back. We revisited the issue this morning. I gave an impassioned appeal to C on behalf of children around the world who don't have toys, clothes, food, etc. My speech had an immediate effect--C started sorting her stuffed animals to find some to give away. I delegated my husband to explain to C the practicalities of charitable giving and the difficulties of finding anyone who will take used stuffed animals.

Our old program was that the kids get $1 each for a clean bedroom every night, except on Sundays. C also can do Kumon workbooks (20-25 cents a page) for extra cash. That's potentially a lot of money, but the kids have to buy their own scotch tape, construction paper, tracing paper, easel paper, glitter glue, stickers, etc. C told me today that her objection to getting 90 cents and saving 10 cents for charity out of every dollar is that she doesn't like the idea of breaking up a dollar. She wants the whole dollar. I made the kids a deal they can't refuse: I am bumping the clean room compensation to $1.10. The kids will get $1 (as before), but the extra 10 cents will go into their charity savings. Also, if their rooms are clean on Sundays, the full $1.10 will go into their charity savings. If they don't want to give the 10 cents, they won't get the $1. Each child now has a small plastic container on a high shelf in the dining room. One says "D giving" and the other says "C giving". C voluntarily put in $2.05 from her savings, but repented later that she was all out of cash. I didn't give the money back. After she added the $1.10 from today, that brings her to $3.15 in her container. D has $1.10 in his container. At this rate, they will have a tidy sum by Christmas.

We've told the kids that they will choose what to do with their charitable giving. So far, we've suggested either one of the Christmas toy programs or It costs $20 to buy chicks via The great advantage of either of those two options is that it is very concrete and easy for the children to understand.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

For Wendy

Thanks to Dale Price, I've just come across the Terrible Fanfiction Idea Generator. Dale's challenge (write crossover fanfiction involving Beastmaster, Three's Company, and amnesia) is much better than any challenge I've drawn so far, but maybe you will be more fortunate.

As Chris, DP's commentor says, "Not a word of this to Dan Brown, or his next ten novels are already done."

UPDATE: This is probably cheating, but I have a fanfic idea for a Harry Potter/Twilight combination: Hermione's doomed love affair with an especially sensitive dementor.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Today was the second of our monthly board game club meetings.
15 kids (including our two) came and my husband explained the rules of the Chinese game Jungle to them. The kids played a number of rounds of Jungle and then eventually, about half of them switched to chess. The prep time for this was huge (and we've now got all the volunteer hours we need for the fall). My husband printed out sheets of game boards and pieces and then he and the kids cut out the pieces and stuck them onto heavy cardboard. He also created a large-scale version of the board and pieces for his demonstration. As before, we circulated, settled rule disagreements, made sure everybody had a partner or a game to watch, and stayed until all the kids had gone home. My husband had printed up copies of the gameboard, rules, and pieces for anybody who wanted to play it at home. We're not sure if we'll have a meeting in December, but our preliminary idea is to teach Chinese checkers, with the choice of either playing chess or Chinese checkers.


D says: It's too bad there's no such thing as corduroy socks.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Booster seats

The last time we weighed him, D was 39.8 pounds, so we are deeming him graduated from his carseat. The new booster seat arrived in the mail yesterday and this morning, my husband removed the old carseat. We now have two Combi Dakota booster seats in the back seat. We have a big trip to Canada planned for Christmas break, so I've been really looking forward to making the trip with booster seats, rather than having my husband struggle with strapping the seat into a strange car late at night after a long day of travel.

Texas law (and Washington State law) says that C can stop using the booster seat when she turns 8 or is 4'9". However, British Columbia law states that she will have to use a booster seat until she is 9 or 4'9", so the booster seat is going to be part of her life for some time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The peculiarities of Singapore Math

Even in a US edition of Singapore Math, there are cultural anomalies. Tonight, for instance, C's homework contained the following problem:

A durian weighs 900g. A papaya weighs 550g. Which is heavier, the durian or the papaya?

The durian is the famously stinky (but allegedly delicious) southeast Asian fruit. Follow that Wikipedia link for some memorable literary descriptions.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


The kids dressed up in Gryffindor robes as Harry and Hermione. We hit 5 or so houses on our block. There were some very artistic jack o'lanterns on the block, including a Darth Vader. My husband set up his telescope near the curb and offered trick-or-treaters Reeses, Kit Kats, and a peek at Jupiter.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Different Minds Chapter 6 (part 3)

I am continuing with the "Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Giftedness" chapter of Deirdre Lovecky's Different Minds.

  • Children with AS [Asperger's Syndrome] can become stuck on certain feelings. Because their thinking is rigid and no other alternatives seem possible, these children feel stuck in impossibility or hopelessness. Nothing has ever worked before, and nothing ever will. However, these children are stuck on one viewpoint. They cannot conceive that there might be another even if it's pointed out to them. It isn't their point of view, so it isn't imaginable. Getting stuck on one point of view is a particular problem for gifted children with AS. They can think of so many possibilities in other areas that it seems surprising that they get so stuck in emotional functioning. Adults are less willing to believe the gifted child with AS is truly stuck and sees them instead as stubborn or manipulative.
  • Gifted children with AS, who rigidly respond to a problem based on intense feeling, need help in identifying the triggers of their feelings, in setting up scripts of what appropriate responses would be, and in using a plan to try to use a new approach. Also, these children need some methods of decreasing how long they continue to feel the feeling.
  • Children with AS are easily frustrated.
  • Children with AS may have extreme and inappropriate emotional responses to what seem minor issues. They can have trouble modulating emotional expression and trouble realizing why they reacted as they did. People with AS resemble younger children in their expression of emotions, so they look immature. Many still have tantrums well past the age when others have outgrown such extreme expressions of emotion. Also, because of their preoccupation with their own interests, these children and adolescents appear more self-centered. For very bright children with AS, such extreme expressions of emotion and lack of self-control are incongruous. Not only do gifted children with AS react negatively, they react out of all proportion to the problem.
  • The tantrums of young children with AS that include physical aggression may not disappear as the child enters adolescence and even young adulthood. If upset, they revert to total loss of control, only they are bigger now and more destructive. The problem isn't that these older children and teens are more aggressive than earlier, but that they haven't learned more acceptable ways of showing extreme feelings. They still react emotionally as they did when they were age two.
  • Often gifted children with AS hear too much criticism; they do not receive many positive comments, then, so they tend to disregard those they do hear. Use reward systems that allow the child to measure individual progress and give access to favored activities coupled with positive comments about progress.
  • Gifted children with AS, like other gifted children, have strengths in emotional intensity. The passion of doing an endeavor of their own choosing is much greater for gifted children with AS than for other gifted children.
  • Gifted children with AS also have a passion for learning. [snip] They also desired to do a good job.
  • While other gifted children are noncomformists and question authority because of their ideals, those with AS tend to be noncomformists because they live in their own worlds. They aren't rebelling against society but are less aware of society.
  • Gifted children with AD/HD and AS are less apt to be overly stressed if they feel adequately stimulated. They need mental and physical stimulation that engages them in positive ways and that builds skills over time. Engaging in hobbies and individual sports is useful. Learning a martial art is so popular with children with AD/HD and AS because it teaches body control, emotional control, centering, focusing, and calming techniques in a socially acceptable manner.
  • Unlike other gifted children, those with AS are extremely sensitive to the environment and quickly become overstimulated and wild in behavior. Their feelings are easily hurt when criticized. They feel some things are criticisms that are not, yet miss essential criticism because they cannot bear to hear it.

We have reached the end of Chapter 6.

Different Minds Chapter 6 (part 2)

I'm continuing to blog Chapter 6 ("Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Giftedness") of Deirdre Lovecky's Different Minds. I'll just be pulling out quotes that interest me.

  • Formation of identity occurs through the phenomenon of maternal attunement to the child's earliest emotional expressions, and mutual delight in the interactions between parent and child (Ainsworth 1964). In the attunement process, the parent helps the child develop as an individual by following the baby's lead. Then, the parent mimics and plays with the movements and sounds suggested by the baby. [No pressure, moms!]
  • Children with AD/HD who are fussy, have erratic schedules, or who do not attend well to parents' efforts to engage them are especially at risk. Some children with AD/HD only notice high-intensity stimulation. The lower-intensity stimulation offered by parents' voices or looks may go unnoticed. These children may create their own high-intensity stimulation by head banging, kicking, and crying.
  • Fortunately, most children with AD/HD are less intense in their needs for stimulation. However, their poor ability to focus and sustain attention may mean they miss parental cues and are less able to follow these cues. Early hyperactivity may mean these children are more interested in moving than looking.
  • Children with AS [Asperger's Syndrome] are more likely to have difficulty with efforts at maternal attunement because they may not attend to parental cues. Thus, they do not imitate gestures, movements, or mental states of the parent.
  • The parent [of the child with Asperger's] may follow the baby's lead, but without the baby noticing and following back--that is, engaging in a mutual activity with the parent--the baby with AS has difficulty learning about relationships.
  • Why is this? One hypothesis is that the child with AS sees the world in parts. It takes so long to shift attention from one thing to the next that the child cannot process wholes. Thus, the baby sees the eyes of the parent and focuses on that. Several seconds later the baby shifts to the mouth. Shifting so slowly means that the child never gets a clear picture of the whole as other children do. Thus, the world is made up of parts and the child misses vital information. Instead of being able to look at the parent to see what he or she is feeling about an object, the child with AS continues to look at the object. [snip] Consequently, the child with AS does not experience social relationships, but only gets part. The rigid routines that develop, and the focus on narrow interests, may be ways of coping with this problem (Ratey and Johnson 1997). [This sounds pretty good. I like the way this account ties together social and perceptual issues.]
  • The young gifted children with AS who came to the Gifted Resource Center of New England varied in their early ability to share with parents. If they were sharing objects or material about their favorite interests, they had no difficulty engaging with parents around these. On the other hand, it was universally difficult to get them to pay attention to something the parent initiated unless it involved an interest of theirs.
  • Braaten and Rosen (2000) found that boys with AD/HD were less empathetic than other boys. They also had more difficulty matching emotions of story characters with their own. These boys also showed more sadness, anger, and guilt than other boys. Difficulties with empathic responding do not necessarily occur due to lack of empathy, but more to a lack of attention to those factors that require empathy: the other person's perspective and feelings.
  • As they grow older, some children with AS learn that certain situations require an expression of sympathy. In these situations, they can respond sympathetically and with concern, but on a limited basis. That is, concern is short lived, expressed once, and then the event is over so far as they can see.
  • Children with AD/HD have been found to be less accurate in interpreting emotions in themselves and others.
  • The gifted boys with AD/HD in the study [Moon, et al.] were found to be less mature than either other gifted boys, or other boys of their age with AD/HD. The gifted boys with AD/HD showed poor regulation of emotion, easily became emotional, and were easily frustrated. They tended to overrespond to situations. Socially, they were impulsive and made inappropriate physical contact with other children. They described themselves in extremes: with exceedingly positive or exceedingly negative characteristics. They engaged in irresponsible, irritating, and annoying social behaviors.
  • When gifted children with AD/HD make mistakes or misbehave, their own emotional response may be to delete the message of what they did wrong. All they can focus on is how they feel. Once they feel better, the problem, in their eyes, is over. In fact, they can barely recall what it was about. What they do recall is how they felt.
  • Children with AD/HD have difficulty with recognizing feelings in themselves and in others. Because they are apt to miss cues or randomly see some cues and not others, they are more apt to get only part of the picture. They also have trouble with seeing the other person's perspective because their own feelings are so intense, and they have less ability to focus on all aspects of the situation at once: what they feel, what happened, what the other person might feel, why they might feel that, how to deal with the situation, and so on.
  • Suggestions to improve impulsive responding: Work on a program of "Stop, Feel, Think, Act." This type of program tries to put some time between the impulse to act and the action.