So that’s what’s been on my mind recently … helpfulness, rewards, and bed bugs. Well, not constantly, but their what has been annoying me when I stop to think about them. Let me expound…Helpfulness
People don’t help others any more. I’m not talking on a large grand scale of sending money to help AIDS orphans or signing up to help in a soup kitchen – I mean random people lending a helping hand. I’m a person (a woman) with very little upper body strength and I’m handicapped (missing an arm) and in the past few weeks I’ve found myself in the position while shopping of seriously needing help with large, awkward, heavy objects. And here’s what happened. I was at Menards trying to transfer a 50 lb bag of salt into my car (and of course it hasn’t snowed since..). The guy collecting the carts in the parking lot came and stood behind me for the 5+ minutes while I struggled, waiting for my cart. He never offered to help, just looked at me impatiently. Same thing today at Target – I struggled for over 10 minutes to get a bunch of plastic bins out of my cart into my car. Two high school guys were out collecting carts. They stopped right behind me talking about video games then said I was taking to long and moved on. Never offered to help. Then at IKEA the other day I was picking up a very very heavy piece of furniture (in a box of course) and since it was the stupid Schaumburg IKEA you can only get your car within 6 feet of the cart barrier. So there I was straddling this box trying to inch it towards the car and this young fit man (not an employee, they were no where to be found that day) just stood there watching me – I’m sure I looked amusing. After about five minutes he said, “I guess I should help you shouldn’t I,” and then easily picked up the box and put it in my car.
I don’t get it. I’m no fan of the mentality that women are mere damsels in distress unable to do things for themselves, but sometimes some of us just really do need the help. And I understand the fear some women have of strange men approaching them, but couldn’t the employees at least lend a hand? Like the number of times I complete some serious gymnastics moves just to get a store door open and get me and a stroller through it while the employees stand there smoking (right by the door of course) and watch me struggle. Why doesn’t it occur to people to help? Is it such a foreign concept these days? Okay – so there’s my “kids these days” “what’s wrong with the world” rant. Rewards
So I’m a huge fan of Alfie Kohn’s books – (Punished by Rewards
, Unconditional Parenting
). I want to do my best to avoid using the threat of punishment or the reward of a bribe in order to manipulate Emma to do what I want. Such things are ineffective in the long run and have the horrible side effect of killing intrinsic motivation or the enjoyment in the thing itself. But our culture is enslaved to the allure of this pop behaviorism. Rewards, praise and bribes are everywhere.
Emma just started a gymnastics class (toddlers in gymnastics is amusing in so many ways) and the teachers are heavy into the whole bribe system. “If you hang on the monkey bars you can play in the pit,” “if you walk on the beam you can jump on the trampoline,” “You were so good today; you get a stamp on your hand.” I shudder each time I hear them say stuff like that. Do they have any clue what they are doing? The message is that things like the monkey bars, the beam, or gymnastics itself are not things to be enjoyed for themselves but are merely means to get better rewards. But if we didn’t teach kids those things why would they ever come to those conclusions. I want Emma to have fun at gymnastics – and right now the beam, the monkey bars, the pit, the trampoline, and the stamp at the end are all part of this fun new experience. And I want to tell myself that she isn’t “getting” all those things her teachers tell her, but that may just be my naïveté. And it scares me. This taste she is being exposed to now in gymnastics at the YMCA is the norm for any type of education in America. Nothing is valued or appreciated for itself – it’s all done to avoid punishment or receive rewards. That's all grades are – but then teachers add on all types of other stupid incentives (gold stars, recess, game days…). It is all so warped. And here I am silly mom who stuck her kid right into the whole mess.Bed bugs
So this post is really long already, but ever since our church's New Years party when I got to hear about the recent increase in bed bugs in America, I’ve been really creeped out. People I know are getting bit as the travel, then bringing them home. After being almost wiped out during the DDT days of the 1940s and 50s the bugs are back. (read more here
). So I went to about 6 different stores this week to find anti-allergen bed wraps and mattress pads for our bed and pillows. Mike thought I was nuts, but since we needed a new mattress pad anyway, he didn’t complain. I’m not a hypochondriac or a super neat freak (neither are really the correct term for the bed bug issue, but I can’t think of the right one at the moment) – but the whole idea of bed bugs is just gross
So – that’s a glimpse into Julie’s random thoughts of the week…
Labels: Culture, Personal