Monday, April 20, 2015

Where Have I been?

Hello Everyone!

It has been quite a while since I put pen to paper in this venue!  I have been actively pursuing my second career in College and that is going extremely well.  I am taking Construction Engineering Technology, in simplistic terms, I am learning essential knowledge to enable me to be a construction Site Supervisor!  It is fascinating, challenging and motivating.  The workload is quite high, but the rewards are also, so I am very "pumped" about it!  Other than that, I am watching my boys (yes, I have 2 sons) grow into nice young men.  I now have a 13-year-old and a 9-year-old and as a single parent, I could not be more proud of them. Life is moving on at a steady pace, and I just wanted to let all of you know that I am back now.  About once a week, look for something new.  I will write about news events from Canada, and around the world if they strike a chord with me.  As always, I am interested in your opinions.  Is there anything that you would like my opinion on?  I am curious to know your thoughts on gender and gender roles and who is "supposed to do" which sorts of jobs in life and around the home.  Since I will by many estimates have an unconventional job for a female when I am done my schooling, what are your thoughts on such things?


Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Point of Being Human; Part Five

To Be is to Understand

This is the final installment in "The Point of Being Human" series.  In the course of writing it, from "Part One" to now, I have had awesome "up's" and face-on-the-floor "down's".  In the past I probably would have given up because I felt that too much time had passed between some of my writings however, I do not feel that way anymore.  Now I finish what I start, no matter how long it takes or how many obstacles are in my way.  

It truly demonstrates how I have changed and matured as a person. It announces loudly that I "understand" some intimate aspects of myself.  This "understanding" is an essential part of the human "life journey".  Just like the title says; to "be" (alive) is to "understand" (the value in life and living) or vice versa.

We all desperately search for some reason for us all to be here.  There are religious ideologies and scientific theories, but I think that many of those are too far reaching.  Naturally we can all extrapolate out from the point that we find ourselves to some lofty conclusion, but based on my life experiences and tens of thousands of conversations with diverse people from all over the world, I honestly think that we are all here to figure out who we are as individuals and then to use that knowledge to help others.  

Well, that's it!  All the great thinkers of the world can pack up and go home!  We don't have to research the meaning of life anymore!

Here is when it starts to get finicky.  Do we speak here on in about the reason why we are all here, or about what it means to be a human being?  Although those ideas are similar and used interchangeably, they are not the same.  I have no clue why we are here as a species.  There are numerous ideas to suggest how we all came to be here, but, what I am saying, pertains to what we do with our lives, with our consciousness, once we understand that we are here and can do more than go to school or work, punch a clock somewhere and come back to our separate homes and lives.  

An essential part of being human, in my estimation is "knowing", or put otherwise, learning.  There can be no progress made from birth to death without learning on some level.  Whether in a tribal culture or an industrialized city, we need to learn; what to do, how to communicate in a plethora of ways and with diverse people, how to live, and how to survive in our respective environments.  It is an essential part of progression as a person, without which, we would all be naked, crying for what we want and generally living in squalor. No one would be able to progress from one developmental stage to another without learning. 

Another integral human quality is the ability to "feel".  Feelings are a complicated issue for most practitioners of science, because it is undeniably subjective.  On top of that, one cannot accurately describe the scope of some emotion that one person may have for another, so unfortunately, feelings get left off on a shelf, in a nebulous region that also houses "spirituality", "intuition, instincts or gut feelings", and anything else that cannot be categorized, measured and thus quantified, and documented in a scientifically valid way. 

Without feelings why would we pair-bond?  We might have sex because that physically feels good, or we might live with someone for economic reasons, but there would be no other basis for pair-bonding.  Why too would anyone put up with the whining, runny noses and the years of training, discipline and expense involved in rearing children without some sort of an emotional attachment to them? Their cuteness alone is not enough of a draw, and besides, isn't there some smattering of emotion in the concept "cute" anyhow?

I have known about an old adage since I was a child: "Experience is the best teacher".  It's simple enough to understand; what you go through in your life has a greater hand in shaping whom you become as a person than virtually anything that you learn in a book. You could be the greatest doctor the world has ever known based on technical skill and book learning, but if your bedside manner is wanting, you may simultaneously be the most unemployable doctor in the world too!  "House" is not real life.

More than simple learning is needed to move forward as a person.  You need to have many varied experiences to test you in differing circumstances and for you to understand how to react at those times. Yes, that has a learning component, but experiential learning can only come from one source; you have to go through something in order to learn.

Once you have realized that you are alive, you learn some basic stuff and you experience a bunch of things, then you start to gain some understanding.  The definition of the word "understanding" is more involved than you might think it is, so I will abbreviate the example: "To perceive what is meant... to accept sympathetically... to have knowledge or background, as in a particular subject... to have a systematic interpretation, as in a field or area of knowledge."  

Many aspects of  human life, the things that make it worth living, cannot be discerned or "solved" like a mathematical equation.  The word "understanding" draws that into sharp relief.  The point of being human is to find where there is meaning, and what is meant in various situations and to infer how those situations do or do not apply to you and those around you. Also, to use all types of emotions to help you to interact with and interpret the world. In order to do those things you need to use your experiences from osmosis and directly learned sources, to decipher and understand others and their motives. True purpose comes from fielding experiences through the full totality of the human range, which includes; logic, emotion, physical and spiritual responses and modes of interpretation. 

We do all of the complicated-sounding, things in the previous paragraph every single day.  We see things and through what we know, sort them out in our own minds, almost as an afterthought.  We also see what happens to others.  There are some people who really don't care or let what they see affect them, but my challenge to that thinking is this; when people in the world have thrived, it has always been in a spirit of mutual cooperation. I believe that in order to really move forward as a species, we need to start helping each other. We need to set aside antiquated hatreds, abolish dictatorial and totalitarian regimes and ideas and start working to preserve and improve the earth that sustains us all.  

I think that all of these thoughts combine to demonstrate what in my estimation is the meaning of being genus homo-sapiens.  I also honestly think that until all the peoples of the world face one common threat to all of our cherished freedoms and ways of life, we will not pull together and will continue on our destructive and divisive path.  The people in the world make it more of a complicated place than I actually think it needs to be.  We need one killer asteroid from space; an extinction level event; complete financial collapse on a world scale, one crazy person with his or her finger on the trigger of a few nuclear weapons or a massive plague the likes of which the world has never seen.  Hopefully then, we would all unite to fight off a common enemy and it would not be too late to figure out the point of being human.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Point of Being Human; Part Four


Somewhere near the end of the 17th Century, people started buying more than they needed to survive and also started to be judged and to judge others based on their possessions.  "Things" became a sign of success and status that were attainable by people who were not exclusively wealthy .  Then the age of consumerism was born.  

Today, the lure of "stuff" is a political, societal and cultural construct that has literally taken over how how we interact with other people in the world.  First of all, it's not all bad and  it is necessary.  Some items need to move to give people everywhere variety, as well as, other essential goods like; food, clothing, and medical equipment.  The problem is not with people having things that they need, it's with wanting so much "stuff" that we literally live in a culture of debt.  

Find a working person making a good wage who doesn't owe "something" on at least one credit card.  It's very challenging to do!  So, what do we do about it?

If we leave things the way that they are we are going to run out of oil or run out of ways to get it out of the ground.  It sounds like I'm making a ridiculous statement, since the world literally runs on fossil fuels, but taking into consideration that most of the "easy to access" oil has already been found, and also considering innovations that enable us to get oil 5 500 meters below the Gulf of Mexico; at what point will it be just beyond our reach?  The world-wide rate of consumption of oil, at 85 million barrels a day and growing, is obviously not a permanently sustainable quantity.   

Do I think we will ever be rid of consumerism; no, of course not.  This concept is too ingrained into the psyche of the populace everywhere to ever be abandoned, but what can we do to mitigate its negative effects?  Wait a minute; what negative effects? 

The easiest negative effect due directly to consumption is found in the transportation of goods sought far from their places of origin.  How much pollution is involved in every single gram of transported product?  Whether you believe that pollution contributes to climate change or not, hopefully we can all agree that pollution does not make it easier to breathe or help the sky stay clear of smog.  All of that chemical matter in the atmosphere doesn't just "disappear".  On top of that, since buying "stuff" will not end, we need to find increasingly "green" methods of transporting it here from its country of production in a highly cost effective manner.  

A second undesirable effect of consumerism is waste material.  Disposable "this" and throw-away "that" is ending up in land fills and water ways.  I am no grand crusader for the environment, but I would like my children to know what clean fresh water looks like.  It's so simple that it should be obvious, but I will say it anyhow.  If we used less "stuff", we would produce less waste.  It's not rocket science.  What do you actually need in order to survive and keep your family safe, healthy, fed and warm?  I am not suggesting that you dump every nice thing that you have worked for, but perhaps if we acquire a little less stuff, our children and our children's children will be left a world that is not inundated with garbage.

The most abstract reason against consumerism is globalization, or the proliferation of anything on a world scale.  But, why is that bad?  To answer that question, first answer this one; what is a luxurious item?  60 years ago that would have been a television; something that millions of people now think of as a necessity.  It is a peculiar world where things that people never needed are such a part of the fabric of our society that  if you look at people and tell them, for instance, that you don't have cable (like me), people's reactions range from mild confusion up to complete disbelief.  It's as though people cannot imagine living in a home without television.  That's just the thing though; a lot of people simply can't. 

The global spread of products that brings us such wonderful variety, also brings items to people that are unhelpful to them; processed foods, unnecessary electronics, over-priced fashion items.  I do not need a $2000 purse, since a $50 purse, on sale for $20, will do exactly the same thing as the $2000 bag.  So, I net a savings of $1800 for skipping some "brand name" on my things; truly, what is in a name? 

So, what do we all do about it at this point?  Time for a new world order.  Someone out there has got to be clever enough to come up with a purpose for us all to live that will generate income, that allows all people the option to buy what they need, but not in an excessive fashion.  Our entire society is set up for people to overindulge and be excessive.  The world financial crisis is based on people using credit to the extreme. Banks profit when people owe more than they can afford to pay back every month.  A select few are making hundreds of millions of dollars on the purchases of people who make less than one percent of that amount!  

I guess what I seek is a return to a more rural way of life.  It's antiquated as a philosophy, I know, but as a parent, the idea of my kids growing up with less smog in their lungs and where fresh air and running with a ball is a greater lure than anything on TV, is extremely appealing.  In the mean time, I will take my kids along a nearby walking trail and play tag with them as my small way of combating consumption.  What I want to do costs me nothing, yet is so intrinsically rewarding.  I think that's the ticket, finding ways to do what you need to do that cost little to nothing.  If everybody did that, maybe corporations would focus on the family a whole lot more, and though we would never be rid of consumerism, "stuff" and the pursuit of the almighty dollar, would take a back seat to "genus homosapien".   

Why walking at night is a Black oxymoron

I can't take heat.  When it's super humid, I avoid going outside as much as possible because I sweat like someone has dumped a bucket of water on my head even if I'm standing still.  So, the logical choice is to go for my power walks at night time once it's cooled off and my kids are asleep.  

The problem with that is that I am Black and unfortunately, Black people still have such a bad reputation that people who are also out walking their dogs or going for a walk themselves all respond to me like I'm "up to something".  Yes, you heard me right!  In full yoga gear and carrying a water bottle, every single time I have gone out for a walk, someone either crosses the street to get away from me or looks at me with fear until I pass.  

This is an extremely sad commentary on the state of affairs in the world if I feel like I'm doing something wrong by walking around my block. 

I do not live in a "bad part of town".  I live in a nice community with seniors, young families and diverse cultural groups.  That's why it bothers me so much.  How would you feel if you were greeted with suspicion by doing something as ordinary as going for a walk?

To my fellow People of Colour, we really have to work hard to change this persistent negative perception.  

Honestly, I have never been in trouble with the law, have never lived in a ghetto, know which fork to use first in a five-star restaurant and appreciate the quality of classical music.  As such, I will continue to walk at night and if I pass you walking, in between the rivulets of sweat pouring from my head, I will say hi to you.  Don't be afraid; I walk in peace.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Point of Being Human; Part Three


Fundamentalism, resource access and/or financial gain are unfortunately the primary reasons for wars.  At times, some wars are to thwart really nasty people or to stop genocide, but by and large our disparate beliefs, the quest to access a resource or the desire to control a people and therefore their resource, is the basis for legitimized killing and destruction on an unprecedented scale. Though exact figures are impossible to know, the average of the collective estimates puts all the military and civilians who have died since WWI at approximately 77 million people. My estimate is conservative and as a result, it is likely an underestimate of the true number of deaths as a direct result of war, or acts of war. That's equal to every man, woman and child in Canada being killed twice, plus a million more!

This topic is potentially touchy because of fundamentalist principles.  I have neither the interest nor the desire to debate the merits of one religious or political choice over another.  All I can say is this; totalitarianism in a viewpoint inevitably fails because either the people in it get fed up being told what to do or everyone else who does not share that belief gets fed up catering to the opinion of one outside individual or a select group thereof. Unfortunately, the road to either tyranny or freedom from it, is paved with the blood and bones of millions.  

Consider this: if I convinced tens of thousands of people to cut off their left ear because in my new doctrine it was offensive and therefore should be removed from the body, there would be some people who would think it's cool and believe along with me.  Other people, would simply like the one-ear aesthetic, while some would think we're a bunch of freaks, and some more people would be violently against whatever the heck my belief stands for.  That's the way of things.  That's how people are and how they seemingly always have been.  Few lead, some follow, some others are indifferent, and still others are firmly against.

There's no problem whatsoever with people having different views.  There's also no problem with people of differing convictions living in the same area.  Yet, when one's views become the basis for uprising and violence against others who believe differently, that's when I have a huge problem! Enter here, the concept of war.  Many teach children not to fight (well at least I do) and then we turn around and green light hundreds or thousands of men and women going to legally kill other people.  I don't get it.  Well...  I don't want to get it.

Philosophical notions should not supercede the instinct or the desire to preserve human life; any life!  We make such a big deal about our technological advancements and the things that we have done and yet we resort to this archaic way of dealing with serious world issues.  Are there any wars in the world that could have been negotiated away instead of decided by force?  Yes, I believe there are some, but certainly not all of them.  Sometimes, some injustices are too egregious and some ideologies are too extreme and threatening to democratic peoples to be tolerated.

As someone born free of oppression and tyranny, I cannot possibly know what it is to live otherwise.  Obviously the freedom to believe what I wish, dress to my own standards and have the privilege of sharing my written voice, colours how I interpret the world and how I deal with it also. Sadly, in so saying, there is someone out there somewhere who would be outraged at some of what I have said here.  In the minds of some people, I should not be doing this blog because I have a vulva and obviously no rational, intelligent, or original thought can possibly come from my mind as a result.

So, what's the bottom line?  Will we ever have that beauty pageant standard answer of "world peace?"  In true sadness, the honest answer is simply, "no."  I do not like the concept of war for many reasons, but I would not stand for someone else sincerely attempting to take away the freedoms that I was born into and have enjoyed my entire life.  There is only one choice; we politely interact with everyone we come into contact with, spend time with as many diverse people as we have access to and do everything in our power to be gracious to each other and respectful of all of the varied philosophies.  We MUST figure out how to do this.  If we do not, then the alternative is to live separately, and if peoples live apart for too long, they invariably become distrustful of one another.  Distrust, by the by, becomes a cold war; minus the "cold."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

We Are All The Same

I have tested this out thousands of times.  I've talked to women and men both under and over 85 years old, I've spoken to numerous teenagers at all different ages and levels of maturity.  I've also spoken to people on holiday from all over the world, and I have come to one conclusion; we are all the same.  

The title is not a statement about cultural mores, style of dress, food choices or even musical tastes, this is about what seems to be a common thread in all of the people I have met.  It is a desire to be heard, appreciated, understood and respected.  

When I was going to university, I sat in my local coffee shop (hence the blog title) and did my schoolwork there for a change of scenery from my home.  It wasn't long before people in the neighborhood started coming over to talk to me.  I definitely have "one of those faces" that invites people over, even when my head is buried in a book!  

There's a mid-40's lady I'll call "Janine" (not her real name out of respect for her privacy) who tells me how I'm "the nicest Black person" she's ever met, because I take the time to talk to her honestly, in spite of her problems. Janine is depressed, gentle, profoundly insecure, kind hearted, and schizophrenic.  She dresses in outrageous colour and style combinations like black leggings with a textured effect all over them paired with a hot pink A-line tank shirt that's not quite long enough with a huge sherpa-type bolero jacket over it (even when it's too warm for a jacket), with a dated, large, light-pink silk flower clip in her hair on one side of her head and short grey boot.  She's been stuck in an on again-off again emotionally abusive relationship with a guy I'll call "Jim," who is an alcoholic with a manipulative personality, for about four years.  But she's got "such sexual chemistry with him" that she can't let go. That's one story.

On another day, I was studying some French homework (my degree is bilingual), and three teenage boys came into the coffee shop and sat down directly across from me, talking to each other in happy, but non-obtrusive tones.  You could tell at a look that the three were really good friends and I put my head back down to my work, after they were settled.  One of the boys with a nice face and brown hair, put his feet up on the seat in front of him.  I thought nothing of it; the place was not busy at that time and he seemed to be acting like a teenager to me. 

Unfortunately, the feet-on-the-seat was a problem for an older woman sitting exactly halfway between my chosen table and the double table where the boys were seated but off to my left and their right by about two table places.  For some reason I can only relegate to racism, the White lady said to the boy with his feet on the chair, that he "looked like he was on a flying carpet."  I looked up at her too-loud-to-ignore statement and then I realized that the boy she was speaking to was just the slightest possible bit darker in his complexion than his friends.  I didn't even notice, and this woman took it upon herself to point it out unprovoked.  Who says bullcrap like that?  To date, it is the most bizarre comment I have ever heard! 

The guy's two friends were red-faced and enraged in an instant.  I sat there with my mouth open, slack-jawed and at an utter loss for words, staring at him apologetically.  The guy sat up straight, looked at the woman and said: "Why would you say it like that?  Why wouldn't you just complain about my feet on the chair?  Why would you say that?  What you said sounds racist."  The whole time he was speaking, you could tell that he was trying to come to terms with what he (and everyone else who was listening) thought he was hearing.

"I am not a racist!  I am not a racist!"  Said the woman emphatically, but it was far too late.  A terrifically negative message had been conveyed utterly. 

The guy's friends were having none of that and started saying things like (I swear this is a real story I was witness to): "Do you have the charges?"  Friend "A" said, "Yeah, and I have the wires."  Friend "B" said.  Playing up an unfortunate stereotype to throw salt in the rude woman's face.  

The only reason I mention this story at all is because of the boy who was the hapless victim.  In a little while, all the hullabaloo calmed down and the boys talked in subdued tones, sadly.  When they were ready to leave, the targeted boy got up, walked over to the woman at a fair distance from her table and did something surprising; he simply said "You have a good afternoon, Ma'am," and he and his friends went outside for a (well-deserved) smoke.  

I was in complete awe at the level of character and class this 17-year-old boy displayed in the face of ugly bigotry.  His respectful attitude brought into even sharper relief the grotesqueness of this woman's conduct.  His name is "Adib" and he is a Lebanese-Canadian.  I saw him a handful of times after that incident.  Whatever work I was doing, I always set it down for five minutes to talk to the boy who had earned my respect.  

Those are only two of hundreds of stories.  I have spoken to so many people, in fact, that I have made good friends out of the coffee shop's staff.  I guess some of it has to do with me, in a way.  I am inherently respectful.  I treat everyone I meet with dignity, regardless of the fact that they may or may not have an issue.  I don't think we are supposed to judge people for their differences, I think that we are supposed to celebrate them.  

As altruistic as I sound, I hardly think that I am a saint.  When the time comes to answer and atone, I hope that I am "judged by the content of my character" (to borrow the quote fragment from Dr. M. L. King Jr.) and not by some trite behaviour at challenging times in my life, or worse still, because of something superficial over which I have no control.

Amanda Marshall said it best: "Everybody's got a story."  I have proved those words true thousands of times.  After all of the wonderful conversations and spiritual connections that I have had with veritable strangers, gently buried in behind the stories of pain and transformation, one thing is always true, if you peel away the exterior, we really are all the same underneath.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

How Do I Handle MY Kids?

I've made several references to them, but I've never actually spoken about them directly.  In a general sense, I love most children. In that vein, I think that my kids are the most fascinating people I have ever met.  I have two sons.  As a personal preference, I do not want to put their names on a public site, but I can comfortably call them "E" and "J."

E is 11 and at the end of grade 6 while J is 7 and at the end of grade 1.  E has a comprehension problem with numbers and J is very emotionally reactive which can lead to significant physical components to his behaviour.  So, while I was in university, I was also parenting two kids with diverse issues.  It was absolutely challenging.

Early on in my "mothering" life, I decided that I was the parent and that they were going to listen to whatever it was I had to say, or was instructing them to do.  It was non-negotiable and not flexible based on who whined the loudest.  In all honesty, the number one thing I hated as a parent was whining.  As soon as the whining started, the answer to every question became a unilateral NO.  The louder the whine, the more adamant the "no."

Because both children have an "issue," I learned that the best way to deal with them is to be as consistent as possible.  Anything less than consistency resulted in children who were out of control and who behaved as though the rule of the day was anarchy or chaos.  Part of that consistent attitude, manifested itself in set bedtimes, set wakeup times, and very clearly articulated acceptable types of behaviour in public.

In some form or fashion, I think that all parents end up teaching their kids the standard of behaviour that they are comfortable with.  I just chose to do it directly (actually telling them everything that is reasonable in public and everything that I will not accept) with both of my boys, because they understand the purpose better.  I have spoken to a few  psychologists in my time (that's what my degree is in), and there are various opinions on how effective it is to explain the logical outcome of something a child has done or said, to that child.  E has a greater grasp on nuances at his age, so I generally have to explain less things to him.  J seems to be more of a concrete, or hands on child than his brother is, so he needs more explanation.

I often use myself as the model person because it avoids blaming the child (even where he may be wrong), and since I have two delightful "Mama's boys," if the end result of the child's action is a negative one, and I present myself as the person who receives the negative effect, then it does have an impact.  They never want to see anything bad happen to Mama, even hypothetically.

In situations where it would be logical to use a child, I will select a child younger than they are (a younger cousin), or smaller than they are (a baby they know), to demonstrate how badly their words or actions would be received.  Kids are not stupid and if you treat them with a measure of dignity and expect them to be decent, loving human beings, they will generally rise to the challenge.  They aren't aliens or a sub-species, they are younger, less knowledgeable, inexperienced people.

With me, I've heard that "boys will be boys" expression since I was a child and it is only now as a parent that I understand that to mean; any behaviour that I would not otherwise tolerate from anyone.  For example, running up and down in public.  I expect them, whether they are bored or not, to maintain a reasonable amount of personal decorum.  But that starts at home.  I do not like screaming and obnoxious behaviour at home, so seeing it in public from them is much less likely (or virtually impossible).

The other concept that old adage refers to, is the propensity for boys to physically fight.  For the answer to this one, I have to go back to when I was a child.  Just imagine being a single parent in the 1970s...

My mother was extremely strict and yet, full of love, but very old school.  My brother and I were not allowed to fight at all.  If we even had raised voices talking to each other, she was ready with this old heavy leather strap (that my father had made exclusively for spanking children) and we both got a few good shots on our backsides and she would conclusively end any fight we were having, everytime.  The line was: "There are enough wars in the world; there will be no fighting in my house."

The end result of her corporal punishment, is that my brother and I grew up with an aversion to fighting.  Now, let's revisit my boys.  I have chosen a different route.

Last year in the summertime, I chose not to hit my boys anymore (yes they got spankings when they were younger) because, E was very big (almost my height)  and J freaks out if he thinks I'm going to hit him, even if I only intended to use my hand.  So I had to find another way to convey the same message, without using hitting.

I tried "time-out's" but they don't work.  I have also tried taking away privileges, but that only works some of the time.  Rewards can work too, but they also only work with certain things.  So, what do I do?

I humiliate my kids.  Well, that's not entirely accurate anymore.  I used to humiliate them for a while, but now, the fear of humiliation is enough to curb behaviours that I do not like, nearly instantaneously.  I can hear some people saying: "That's terrible!"  Well, it would be terrible, if it didn't work.  As it stands, my boys understand how to speak to me, at home and in public, what tone of voice to use, that being in a store does not mean that they will get ANYTHING at all, and that if they try to challenge me in public, I will have them standing at attention facing a can of beans as I call attention to any passerby the fact that they are in time out in public because they are not listening to me.

People get so embarrassed when their kids make noise in public (whining and screaming etc.)!  Well, I have no problem making more noise than my kids, so the end result is that everyone is staring at them and THEY get embarrassed.  Strangely enough, when they are causing the disruption, they don't feel embarrassed, but when they are not causing it and they just get to watch everyone staring, they don't like that at all! 

I advocate nothing for anyone to try, but my kids both know, that if they try to act up in public, I will literally ask complete strangers to stare at them: "Look at this child!  He's not listening to me, but maybe if you asked him nicely he might listen if you tell him to be quiet!"  It works like magic every single time!!!

I know there's still someone out there, maybe a few of you who are up in arms at the prospect of embarrassing children to get them to stay in line, but ask yourself this: how many people have you seen in public with kids out of control and running up and down like they are ferrol?  Honestly, those kids are NOT my children now, and have NEVER been my children.  Even when they were toddlers they knew that was not acceptable behaviour.  Children understand very well and from a very young age if you are consistent and follow through with whatever you say the discipline will be for a transgression.

If you are not into hitting kids, and all of the things that "experts" suggest you do, have only limited success rates, then to avoid behaviours that you do not want or to deal with them should they arise, you have to find something that works for you.  With my boys, this works.  They're still kids and cheeky and funny and expressive.  I would never squash who they are, just the actions or traits I do not want. We laugh hysterically far more than I ever raise my voice.

There's an expression I know though: I don't feel no way.  It's origin I'm not entirely certain about, but many people, especially with parents of West Indian origin, will know what it means.  For everyone else, it literally means: I don't care what anyone thinks, but it's more than that too.  It also means; I don't have any problem expressing how or what I feel.  Another expression that works in conjunction with that is: I don't play.

That last one is much more basic, but to be clear, it means: I do not joke when it comes to unacceptable behaviour.

So, between I don't feel no way and I don't play, my guys understand where the line in the sand is in public, but what about at home?  Guess what?  It works here too!  The children are old enough now that they do not like to look foolish in front of each other!  If I draw attention to some bad behaviour; the 7-year-old, who looks up to "big brother" does not want to seem immature.  The 11-year-old, who enjoys being looked up to, does not want to look silly in front of his "little brother".

My little boys rarely fight, are very affectionate with each other and with me and generally are quite good.  Everyday is a new day and presents new opportunities to be loving and kind with one another, and that is what I aim to do.  How do I handle my kids?  The very best way I know how.  And it shows through them.