The Sea is Red, the Sky is Green, and Pink is Imaginary

So, Eldest Progeny climbed into the car after school on Friday, and introduced me to a new idea that has sent me down a fascinating rabbit hole.

Magenta. It’s a mix of red and violet. Red and Violet are on opposite ends of the color spectrum, and their wavelengths don’t mix. But your brain understands the attempt at mixing the wavelengths, and combines them for you. The color you know as “magenta” was created, not by nature, but BY YOUR OWN BRAIN. So, what you understand as “magenta” isn’t necessarily the same thing I see. Your brain might not mix the wavelengths the same way my brain does.

I did some digging. EP may have gotten this assertion from a reference to this article:

It’s a fascinating description.

But, there’s also a cool rebuttal 
“Yes, Virginia, There is a Magenta” , which, as I understand it, basically says that, technically, there are no colors at all. Everything we sense as a “color,” is just our brain’s way of interpreting wavelengths. The cones of colorblind folks don’t pick up certain wavelengths of light, and certain diseases and medications can interfere with distinguishing between some wavelengths.

People who don’t have lots of exposure to different wavelengths don’t have those frequencies distinguished in their brains. In every language on the planet, “blue” was the last of the colors to be described. Universally, black and white come first (thought sometimes as “light” and “dark”), followed by red (wine and blood), and then yellow and green. Blue comes last (earliest in Ancient Egypt, who was, not coincidentally, the first culture to create blue dye).

We take certain facts for granted as being “true.” The sky is unquestionably blue. But the Himba people of Namibia have no word for blue, and would assert the sky is a shade of green. Homer had no word in Early Greek for “blue” – the Aegean Sea in his Iliad and Odyssey is “wine-dark.”

 

Alone on a Wine Dark Sea

“Alone on a Wine Dark Sea” by Sarah Needham – https://britishwomenartists.com/art.php?view=189

 

(This is a fascinating rabbit hole in its own right. Check out this Business Insider article  for more.)

From all of this, I think I am beginning to understand one of my great uncles a little bit better. He had 7 brothers, all colorblind. No one bothered attempting to teach him colors, assuming that he was also colorblind. He is not. He does, however, describe himself as “color-dumb.” He can observe variations in color, but cannot describe or identify them according to conventional description.

 

It also makes me wonder about a semi-frequent joke in our household. Dear Husband claims that he personally only has, at best, a 24 pack of crayons in his head (though he was born with the 8 pack and had to work to sort of hit 24), but observes that some people are born with a 24 pack and can move up to the 96. I think he’s hit on something a lot more insightful than I previously understood.

“Woman,” you are thinking, “This is all very well. But isn’t this supposed to be the ‘Mommy Rule Book?’ How in the world does this relate to anything?”

Homer’s wine-colored sea and the Himbia’s green sky are just as true as our blue seas under equally blue skies. We must remember, that they are working with the words and understanding of the world that they have access to.
Just as children are. They have even less access to the words of the world than Homer or the Himba, and we must grant that to them.

I am reminded of a friend of Youngest Progeny, who suffered from a broken arm (at the same time YP did – but from different causes!). Friend was attempting to scratch the nearly-healed, and very itchy arm, and dropped an object into the cast. Parent asked what object, Friend replied, “a ring.” Doctor decided that the irritation caused by a foreign body inside the cast was more harmful than taking it off a day early – parent was quite irritated that the object in question was not a “ring,” but was the metal piece on a pencil that holds the eraser on. Claimed the child “lied.” But, when we later spoke about it – she took a moment to consider the shape of the object, and to think about a 6 year-old’s vocabulary. What other word would you expect a child to use?

(Plus, it makes logical sense that a child would use a pencil to scratch an itch, rather than dropping a random small object into a cast.)

That was several years ago, but I was reminded of it when considering the nature of “truth” and how it relates to language and interpretation.

We have to meet children where they are. They are literally incapable of understanding  the same truths we are, until they have been given the same cultural expectations, understanding, and language we have access to.

If our understanding of color – and the world in general – is dependent on the way our individual brains interpret things, it makes me wonder whether this is true of everything.

Be patient with each other, but especially the children.


Every truth has two sides; it is as well to look at both, before we commit ourselves to either.      – Aesop


Related: a friend shared a TEDx talk recently that argues something similar about autistic minds. They aren’t necessarily “disabled,” but are “disabled BY” the inability to communicate with “neurotypical” minds. In my own head, at least, this is a very similar rabbit hole. I’ve just used color as a focus.

Celebrate

The kids who were in the oldest age range of the moms’ group I joined when my eldest was in the youngest of that group are moving in to their college dorms right now. This is sending me on a lot of reflections about milestones, and leading me to one more rule I think I forgot in the first edition of the Mommy Rule Book: Celebrate.

Tonight, I’m thinking of milestones. I know we all celebrate our little ones’ milestones – but I want to take a moment to celebrate the moms and dads and caregivers who got them there. Celebrate YOU.

Parents of one year olds: I want to stop and think about everything YOU have accomplished this year. You survived 365 sleepless nights. You have worried and fretted. You learned how to feed this brand new little person! You learned how to change this one’s diaper. You have survived the quirks and individual needs of this particular baby, whatever they are: reflux, breathing issues, heart monitors, allergies, excema. You navigated cradle cap and clipping baby’s nails, and scheduled pediatrician visits – maybe specialist visits, too – and vaccination schedules. You survived every single visitor, and asked a lot of people to wash their hands. And birth mamas, don’t forget: you healed. It takes a staggering 18 months for the human body to fully heal from pregnancy and childbirth, so don’t forget, you managed all of this, while still healing. Dads: you watched your world turn upside down, and spent your own time in worry and exhaustion, but you did it, too! Celebrate you!

Kindergarten parents: Congratulations! You did all of that, and then some! You managed FIVE YEARS. And what years they were! Baby proofing. Bumps, scrapes, band-aids. Temper tantrums. Teething. Biting. You’ve waded into the screen time debate. You have your little one’s favorite picture books memorized. You found a mom’s day out program or a preschool, or did full time day care, or you joined a mom’s group – either way, you navigated first colds and sore throats, and learned how to dose children’s medicines and make sick-child doctors appointments. You agonized over first dentist appointments, first haircuts, and first best friends. Maybe your family dived into the world of pediatric therapy: physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, or behavior management – but it was worth it, because here you are! Kindergarten is a HUGE milestone, and you should pat yourself on the back for everything you and your little one did to make it here!

Parents of kids just starting middle school (this is where I am approaching this year) – look at what you did. You did all of that, and so much more! Homework, sports, school plays, field trips, class holiday parties. Report cards, spelling tests, school projects. PTA. Costumes. Scouts. Camp outs. Friendship drama. Bicycles. Roller skates. Broken arms. Family vacations. Sleepovers. Do you remember that one week, at the end of May, when everything hit at the same time? You know the one: ten swim practices, ballet dress rehearsal, ballet recital, swim meet, two Scout meetings, and TWO school projects due – with presentations. We owe ourselves a little congratulations for making it through elementary school!

And you, you wonderful amazing parents who just sent your babies off to college or first apartments or military training: I’m reading your facebook posts. I’m tearing up with you, while you post your pictures of dorm rooms and hoodies and tail lights, and chore charts with names crossed out and clean and empty bedrooms. But I want to congratulate you, and celebrate you, too. You did everything I’ve listed here, and passed levels of stress and exhaustion that I, and other parents still in the trenches, are only just beginning to see. Summer camp. Puberty. Braces. Glasses. Growing pains. Locker combinations. Homework. Essays. Band/choir/theater/sports. Driver’s Ed. Car insurance. First boy/girl friends. First boy/girl friend breakups. Social media. Discussing the media. Jobs. Bank accounts. Debit cards. College applications. And myriad other things I’m sure I don’t even know about, yet. You are amazing.

I’m proud of the kids, and how they’ve grown, and what they’ve accomplished. I’m in wonder every single day, that the tiny, pink, little creature who once struggled to roll over or hold a toy – now plays the clarinet and swims the butterfly and writes fan fiction. And I am amazed at all the stuff that swirls around in our lives. Not just the kid-centered stuff that’s listed here, but all this, together with the birthdays, funerals, weddings, grocery shopping, laundry, lawn care, vacuuming, dishes, cooking, bathing, working, and, every once in a while, sleeping. And, parents whose little eggs have hatched, grown, fledged, and are leaving the nest: I am in awe of you, for eighteen years of it. I know you are sad, in a sort of bittersweet place, but I hope you take a deep breath, and just relax, for just a moment. I hope you can take that moment to reflect on what it took to get the kids here.

The kids don’t need to know what it took to get them here. They don’t need to see the scheduling magic or the credit card bills or the worry or the sleeplessness. They know they are loved. They know, that no matter what your family’s combination of all of the above was, that you made it work. But, I want you to know that I see you, and I celebrate you, and congratulate you. You have done something amazing, and it’s okay to take a moment to realize it. You are amazing!

40 for 40

Image result for cake 40 image

I follow a lady online, named Kristina Kusmic. She drops some serious truths, she puts real life out there with all it’s bumps and bruises, but she’s also a lot of fun.

Recently, she shared some of the celebrations of her own 40th birthday – and I’m taking some cues from her. One of her video series was #40for40 – 40 acts of kindness, one for each day leading up to her 40th birthday!

This sounds like a fantastic idea, and I’m going to give it a try!

I also want to be kind to myself, too, so I’m going to see if I can stretch it to 40 acts of kindness for someone else, and 40 acts for me!

It sounds good, in theory, but let’s see if I can actually make it happen.

Today is day one!

I’ve started by pulling out that box of greeting cards. Maybe you have one, too. That box full of cards that were “buy 2, get 1 free,” but you only needed two, so the third one was a “just saying hi,” or random flowers or whatever. That box full of cards when you got ambitious, and thought to yourself that you would start being that thoughtful person who sends random cards. Today, I’m going to mail them. All of them.

For myself? Y’all, I’ve been swimming. I’m taking the Master Swim class offered by my kids’ swim coach. And today, I dragged my lazy butt back to the pool for swim class, again. I am not much of a swimmer, but you know what? I think it’s working. I’ve lost about 5 pounds, but the best part was when we went to the water park last week. And let me tell you – it’s not a terribly busy waterpark, but it’s a lot of fun (shout out to Summer Fun). Becaue it’s not usually crowded, you have to get to walk right up the stairs to the slide, without even having to wait! It means a lot of stairs, really quickly. Last year, the lifeguard looked at me like she was a little worried. But no worried looks this year! So, for myself, I kept swimming.

I think that’s a pretty good start.

40, here I come!

“The best part about getting older is that I know who I am, I know what I stand for, and I don’t expect to be everyone’s cup of tea. I would never trade that for a younger body. My mind and my heart are in better shape than ever.”  – Kristina Kuzmic

 

Knuffle

This is Knuffle:

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We found him in the grass, in the backyard, on July 17. He’s been a quiet pet, really. Boring, maybe, but pretty undemanding. He just asks for somewhere warm, and to peek at him from time to time.

IMG_20180719_182124625.jpg

Honestly, I don’t know if he’s a live egg or not. I did try to candle him, but there was nothing to be seen at all. A little research tells me that pigeon eggs won’t show anything under candling until they’ve been brooded (kept warm) for nine days, and since we didn’t know the providence of this egg, we decided to assume he hadn’t been brooded at all. So we’ve been keeping him warm for nine days. Maybe not ideal conditions – definitely not ideal conditions – but we had to try something. People who know about birds in our neighborhood told us that 1) pigeon eggs are hard to brood and 2)it’s really not worth it to try. So under the circumstances, even with poor care, we’re the best chance this little guy’s got.

 

Why Knuffle? The kids named the egg Knuffle, because Mo Willems writes books about a IMG_20180726_133758169_2.jpgmischievous Pigeon, and books about a stuffed animal named Knuffle Bunny. (That’s the kind of house we live in.) There is a crossover book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late, wherein we get to see that Pigeon has a stuffed Knuffle of his very own. What else would we have named this little egg?

 

Are we sure it’s a pigeon? Of course we are. Because hatching a dove would be a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and without a license, hatching one would be illegal. I’m pretty sure that the birds in the neighbor’s tree are pigeons, anyway. But, even if this does turn out to be a live egg, and turns out to be a dove, the recipe I found online for pigeon milk supposedly works for doves, too, and once it’s hatched, there is a real bird rehabber around the corner who will take a baby bird – he just doesn’t do eggs – so I’ll turn Knuffle over appropriately.

Anyway, it’s been 9 days! Today, we candle! Do we have a live egg? Let’s find out!
The first thing we learned, is that it’s pretty hard to use an actual candle. A plain old flashlight works much, much better.

To me, it pretty much looks like no one is home. The kids, however, are unconvinced. So, we looked up pictures of what we should have seen. There’s not a lot of love for pigeon eggs out there, but we cobbled some info together. It seems that most eggs at this age will have a dark blob on the “big” end of the egg, opposite the air bubble, and a visible network of blood vessels. I don’t see any of that (though you can clearly see the air bubble, to bottom of the right-hand photo).

However, pigeon eggs only take 18-19 days to incubate. So, since Knuffle is such a quiet pet, and doesn’t really take that much space, the kids have convinced me that keeping it warm for ten more days, just in case, isn’t really that huge of a burden. So, I guess I’ll update this post, with pictures, if we have a pip in ten days. I’m not ambitious that we will, but stranger things have happened.

The next thing I learned, is that even if we don’t have a pigeon, I might have hatched a monster. The feed store down the road sells newly-hatched chickens, and I have two kids who are now fascinated by the very idea of raising birds. They’ve tried to convince me that having a hen would be an investment. (I think our chance of buying chicks is just as high as our chance of hatching a squab, but, again, stranger things have happened.)

I love the idea of pigeons. – George Foreman

 

 

Hobbies

Chapter 11 of the Mommy Rule Book is, If Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy.

Not because everyone needs to cater to you, but because if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t effectively take care of anyone else, either.

Don’t lose yourself. Have a hobby.

I’m posting these here, mostly because I don’t want to lose them.

(And also, because I’m leaving these in the workbook/coloring book/craft table, and I want clean copies to come back to.)

I like to draw mazes. Partly because they’re fun to work once they’re done, and partly because, like working a jigsaw puzzle, it’s kind of zenny to make them.

Mazes

Waiting for the School Bus

Middle school is a crazy time.

I’m thinking I’ll probably have a whole collection of thoughts to gather together on that, later.

But I’m taking a minute, right now, to remember today.

See, I walk my middle-schooler to the bus stop. Every day. Our elementary school is only for our neighborhood, and as such, we don’t have bus service until middle school, so this is new this year, but it’s nice.

I trust her to walk herself. It’s a half-block, around the corner, and then another half-block, with maybe a dozen other kids, all middle-schoolers, waiting for the same bus. Quiet, residential street. I don’t walk her because I don’t think she’ll be okay – I walk her because I need to know everything else in her life is okay. This is a dedicated moment, amidst all the hustle and bustle of getting kids and self ready for school and work, dropping off sister at her own school, errands, chores, and the ephemera of real life – we walk, every morning, just the two of us, to the bus stop. And her daddy and I take turns picking her up. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we talk about favorite books or new television shows or what’s going on in PE or whether she likes math or if that boy was being obnoxious again or what we heard about on the news. It doesn’t matter what the subject is, really – we’re together, in a dedicated moment, every day, by appointment.

But today, my kid stopped me before the usual drop-off spot. Just where we turn the corner. It’s not that much shorter, but….

But my kid is growing up, I guess.

And I guess that is one of the most important mommy rules, isn’t it?

Our job is to grow children – into adults.

Oh, I know we’re a long way away from that. But I think that maybe this is how it begins, isn’t it – a half-block from the bus stop.

Happy Left-Hander’s Day!

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It’s Left-hander’s Day!

Generally speaking, lefties are more likely to use both hands comfortably than righties are. Personally, I think that this is probably because it’s sometimes just easier to use the computer mouse as it is, or because steak restaurants tend to have table knives that are beveled to favor righties, or the scissors at the craft table are all righties, or the swipers on credit card machines are almost all built to favor use with a right hand, or whatever. (The Edinburgh Inventory is a ranking of how “handed” a person is. I’m personally about 40 points left of ambidextrous. Would you like to know where you rank? There’s a little test here.)

As it turns out, the habit of switching hands might be good for your brain.

It seems to be popularly suggested that using your non-dominant hand for everyday tasks builds additional connections and pathways in your brain.

Now, think of your brain like a library. Everything you know – from algebra to how to brush your teeth – is on a shelf in the Brain Library. A physical library has different pathways – main aisles and side aisles, shelves can usually be reached from either end, and sometimes even through the bookcases. Then, for whatever reason, the roof collapses! And you very much need some piece of information, but the main aisle is completely blocked. That’s quite all right – you know how to access the needed information by walking down a side aisle or reaching through the stacks. Those multiple pathways come in handy.

In the real world, brain damage and degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia are very similar to those roof cave-ins.

The more neural pathways you have, the less devastating that cave-in is. The damage is still there, to be sure, but you have taught your brain how to do things in different ways.

Give it a try. Go out and be sinister today! Try and be a lefty (even if just to brush your teeth) – your brain will thank you!
Note: I first encountered the brain-as-a-library analogy when listening to an episode of the podcast “Two Guys on Your Head.” (I’ll update when I’ve tracked down which one.) For the whole catalog:

http://kut.org/term/two-guys-your-head

Additional reference:

http://www.awakeningfromalzheimers.com/what-being-right-or-left-handed-says-about-alzheimers-risk/