Mortal Kombat is one of those things that every kid from my generation grew up with. It was (pixelated) violent, it was (pixelated) bloody, and it was (pixelated) awesomeness. ^_^
Tag: action figures
Friday the 13th Collection Part 3
Friday the 13th has come and gone, but leading up to it hubby and I did a mini-series of videos showcasing our collection of Friday the 13th stuff. This is the third video in that series, in which we share all kinds of awesome NECA collectibles.
Things I Know About Kids: Pay Attention to What They Like!
Let me start off this post by asking a question: how many of you can recall at least one birthday, Christmas, or other present-giving holiday where you were disappointed by a present? Maybe you got the cheap knock-off version of the thing you really wanted, or maybe you got something that was way outside your age range, or maybe you got something completely different from what you’d asked for because what you really wanted was deemed somehow inappropriate. Or maybe, just maybe, you got something completely random that you didn’t want, and all you could think was, “Geez, does anyone even pay attention to what I like?”
Now here’s the thing. I’m not suggesting that kids shouldn’t be grateful for the presents they get, because they should, and it really peeves me when kids are ungrateful little brats. I’m also not suggesting that parents should break the bank when it comes to presents…if you genuinely can’t afford it, then your kids are just going to have to deal (and again, be grateful).
But I am saying this: for the love of god…pay attention to what your kids like.
I bring this up because of my “jobs I’ve had” post a few days ago. Mentioning my previous positions at various department stores reminded me of something I dealt with a lot while working retail: clueless parents. I can’t count the number of times I got questions from parents who had only the basest inkling of a concept of what their child wanted as a present. For example, once I had a mother come into Zellers and ask me for help finding a game that her kid wanted. She said the game was called “Mario”. I had to bite my tongue to keep from screaming as I asked her, “Which Mario?”
A brief discussion thereafter revealed that not only did the woman not know which one of the dozens of possible “Mario” games she was looking for, but she didn’t even know which video game console she was buying it for. She knew that her kid had a “Nintendo”, but not which version, and at the time N64 was still booming, while Gamecube was wracking up new sales. Each system had a plethora of “Mario” games, so I had absolutely no way of advising this woman as to what she should buy. In the end I practically begged her to go home and ask her kid about the game again.
Now seriously, folks…it’s one thing to get a little confused when you find out that there are multiple games with similar titles…but if you don’t even know which system you’re buying it for? Sorry, but you must have your head lodged firmly up your back-end. I know there are lots of parents out there who don’t know a damn thing about video games, but how can you honestly not even know which console(s) your kid owns? Is there really not enough space in your brain to commit the words “Gamecube” or “Playstation 3” or “Gameboy” or “XBox” to memory?
I don’t mean this post to torment parents who are a little out of touch with video games and toys and the newest gadgets. We can’t all know everything about everything. But this is your child (or children) that we’re talking about. Is it really so hard to pay a little bit of attention to what they enjoy? The toys they play with? The TV shows they watch? You have no idea how many times I watched parents struggle over a wall of action figures because they had no idea which superhero they were actually looking for, or how many times I’ve watched a parent pick up some random toy with a look of bewilderment on their face and ask me, “Do you think my kid will like this?”
You have no idea how many returns I’ve seen after a holiday, during which the parent grumbled that they’d, “Apparently got the wrong thing.”
Really, I swear, it’s not rocket science.
Yes, there are an outrageous number of options out there and sometimes it can be a little overwhelming, but you know what works? Ask your kid questions. If your kid is playing with a bunch of dolls, ask them what their names are and which ones they don’t have. BOOM, gift idea. Simple. Direct. Almost 100% success rate. Or you know what else works really well? When your kid asks for something specific, take ten seconds to really listen to what they said. The “Mario” game fiasco above could have been easily rectified if the mother had paid attention long enough to hear the full name of the game and, ideally, write it down so she wouldn’t forget. Bada bing, bada boom.
We can’t all be super-parents, and no parent has a 100% grasp on everything their kid is into…but that doesn’t give us an excuse to be ignorant. Your kids have as much right as anyone else in your life to have your attention long enough for you to be able to buy them nice presents without begging a bewildered sales clerk for help. It’s not difficult. It just takes a little bit of effort. Aren’t your kids worth a little bit of effort?
The Depressingly Difficult Rehabilitation of a Tomboy
I’ve never been accused of being a girly girl. Growing up I preferred jeans to skirts, ponytails to any other hairstyle, and sneakers to heels. I was the kind of girl who would rather play with her male cousins’ action figures than with Barbies. Some of my favorite shows when I was a kid were Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers. And I wasn’t into that cutesy Pink Ranger…I wanted to be the ultra-cool loner Green Ranger.
I grew up around mostly boy cousins, I always got along better with the boys in my classes, and I chose a career path that had me constantly surrounded by guys. I was the first woman to ever be hired as a tradesman at the paper mill where I used to work. I play video games, drink hard liquor, and couldn’t give less of a rat’s backside about the lives of celebrities or reality show contestants.
You could say, I suppose, that I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy. And that’s fine. I definitely think I’ve turned out better for it, to be perfectly honest.
But in my advanced age (dude, I’m gonna be thirty next year!) I’ve begun to poke a little into the world of girly girls…or womanly women, I guess. Mostly this has come as the result of having a daughter. While I happily wear jeans, I just can’t help but think that it’s so adorable when she wears skirts. It’s some strange, motherly madness. But at least some of my foray into womanliness has come as a desire to simply start looking like I care a little more about my appearance. Jeans, t-shirts, and a ponytail don’t exact scream, “I spent more than five minutes getting ready this morning!” And honestly, I can look really nice if I bother to put in some effort.
So I started putting in some effort, in the form of pulling out the ponytails and wearing my hair down every so often. But there is a caveat to this decision. See, my hair is thick, wavy in a completely nonsensical way, and likes to frizz out like I just touched something full of static. This is the reason why I have to straighten it with a flat iron.
Given that I’m a technician by trade, you wouldn’t think this would be a huge problem, but I have come to establish that flat iron use is one of the most complicated things I’ve ever done.
The first time I tried to do it I did what any lifetime tomboy would probably do…I just picked up chunks of hair and started running them through the iron. What felt like hours later I had accomplished visibly bugger all. What the hell was I doing wrong, I wondered? My hairdresser always managed to make this look good during my one or two visits a year (don’t judge me).
So the next time I was at my hairdresser I paid attention I what she was doing instead of daydreaming about what my husband would say if I showed up home with my hair completely hacked off. What I found was that she would pick up 85% of my hair, pin it up on top of my head, and use the flat iron on the little bit that was left. Then she let a little more down and repeat, and repeat until the whole thing was done.
Ah. Do it in layers. I totally should have though of that.
So that’s what I did: I got one of those little alligator clip thingies, piled most of my hair up on top of my head, and went to work. And it worked! Slowly. Very, painstakingly slowly. Again it felt like hours before it was done and though the result wasn’t half bad I felt that it had been an outrageous waste of time.
It wasn’t until months later that my sister-in-law informed me that my straightener was a cheap piece of junk, suitable for women with super-thin hair, but not for my horse-like mane. I needed more heat, she told me. I needed the kind of flat iron that the hairdressers use, the ones that go up to “holy Christ almighty that is scalding!” levels.
So I appealed to my hairdresser, she promise to order me a decent iron that could withstand my Herculean hair, and since it was close to my birthday my parents told me they’d get it for me. Huzzah! A month later I held my brand new flat iron, all shiny blue, with a temperature rating just under the bowels of hell itself. Hot damn, I was finally going to have this thing figured out!
So I ripped the flat iron out of its packaging, piled 85% of my hair up on top of my head, and set to straightening my hair… And immediately cried out in agony. Turned out that the flat iron was so hot that the residual heat it left behind on my hair burned the hell out of the side of my face and neck. I had neglected to notice that when my hairdresser does this she uses a comb to hold the hair away from my head for a few seconds to allow some of the heat to dissipate. Achieving this same maneuver on your own head is surprisingly difficult and evidently requires a fair deal of practice, because I scalded myself at least a dozen more times. My pride was a wee bit sore after that one. So was my neck.
In the end, I’m still a rather large tomboy, and I’ll still wear my hair in ponytails most of the time, but I am also determined to get the hang of this thing if for no other reason than proving that the girly girls aren’t somehow better than me. Because, dammit, I’m a technician and I’m not going to let two strips of hot metal get the better of me!**
**The famous last words of Mrs Tracey Lynn Tobin
Things I Know About Kids – Learning
First, I feel I should point out that I have done no real research on the topic of learning capabilities in small children, nor have I read any research done by others. What I know I’ve learned from my own daughter, and to a lesser extent my niece and the children we see at playgroup.
With that aside, what I know is that we as a society have a bad habit of underestimating small children. We follow guidelines that tell us what skills our kids should know and by when, we buy age-specific toys based on assessments made by the companies who designed them, and we get upset if our kids haven’t learned a specific skill by a specific time, even if they’ve become quite advanced in a different skill in the meantime.
In other words, we group all children together, expecting them to learn and grow at the same rate, and limiting them by focusing on only the skills we’re told they should have by now. I personally think this is very silly because, while you shouldn’t push your children to “learn learn learn learn learn!!!” you should always encourage them to go further and further.
I’ll give you an example. My daughter has a wooden alphabet puzzle. The back of the puzzle board states that the puzzle is for ages 3 and up. At the time we purchased the puzzle I thought that “ages 3 and up” couldn’t possibly refer to any kind of safety issue because the puzzle pieces are quite large, and a quick examination showed that there is no way the pegs could possibly become disconnected. When the safety check was all clear we gave our daughter the puzzle to play with…at the time she was just under a year old. Yes, we gave our one year old a toy that someone, somewhere, decided was meant for three year olds and up. We weren’t pushing the learning toy on her, and we certainly didn’t expect giving it to her to make her a genius or anything; we just figured it was a good, educational toy that she’d enjoy playing with. But here’s the thing…she caught on pretty fast. It only took her a few weeks to be able to locate where the pieces went, and by the time she was just under a year and a half old we had her telling us what all the letters were as she was doing the puzzle. It didn’t take long after that for her to understand that letters naturally went in a particular order, and if I wrote down letters she’d tell me which ones came next.
There were other factors that contributed to her success, of course… For one thing we took the time to sit with her and tell her what all the letters were. For another she also regularly watched a Sesame Street special that teaches kids the alphabet. But the point of the story is that if we had set the puzzle aside, assuming that she wouldn’t be able to understand it until she was at least three years old, she might not have caught on to the alphabet so soon. If we took it upon ourselves to assume that the Sesame Street special was too advanced for her, she wouldn’t be THIS close to being able to sing the whole alphabet song at less than two and a half years old (imagine me holding my fingers a few millimeters apart).
Again, I’m not saying my kid is a genius, but I can absolutely say with certainty that she has advanced faster than expected because we don’t hold back teaching her new things just because she’s still young. We make sure her toys are safe, and if we buy her something meant for older kids (Ninja Turtles action figures and My Little Pony sets come to mind) we make sure to remove any small pieces she might decide to swallow for fun. Once those two things have been accomplished, we let her play with what she’s interested in, and we encourage her to learn new things. In fact, she and her soon-to-be-four-year-old cousin can work my Samsung Galaxy Tab2 better than some adults I know.
Kids are sponges, they really are. We regularly take this into consideration when taking care not to transfer bad habits, but we rarely think about it when considering teaching and learning practices. Encourage your kid to learn, and (as long as safety permits) let them decide what toys and programs are appropriate for their age group. They’ll thank you for it later.