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A Curious Children's Album

The Occasional Hypocrite…A Blog

 #1 – Still New To This

Yes, this is my first blog post and I know they’re probably not supposed to be this long but hey it’s my blog, I’ll do what I want, and frankly just between you and me, I doubt anybody’s reading it anyway. Also its very unlikely that I’ll get to this everyday so it should all work out in the end.

They don’t teach cursive in schools anymore. Well maybe they do but they give it a very cursory treatment…sorry. And they certainly don’t seem to require it in later grades. Now I suppose this makes some practical sense. I mean with the world they’re  inheriting, the problems these kids are going to have to deal with are pretty daunting and they’re probably not going to be solved with penmanship. But still, it bothers me a little. Forms of cursive (from the Latin curro meaning to run or hasten) have been around for a really long time. How do I know this? First of all it’s from the Latin curro, and also because apparently archeologists have found ancient Chinese poems written in cursive script, and if “really old stuff” were some sort of competitive sport, ancient Chinese would almost always win. It seems to me that our use of language and the way it’s been recorded throughout history is pretty heavy stuff and might give us reason to pause before proclaiming part of it obsolete. Also, what if somebody decides to write something really important again, and they were never taught cursive? Imagine your disappointment if you took your family to Washington DC, made your way to the Rotunda of the National Archives building, looked through the display housing the Declaration of Independence and found it written in Microsoft Word! Then again you cold put one of these,  , at the end. I only bring this up to bolster my reputation as an occasional hypocrite. As I began writing this book, I put most of my thoughts and ideas down in cursive, but when I would go back to make sense of what I had scribbled it was so difficult to read that I would lose my train of thought and get completely flustered. That’s when I decided to get really hip and write with the help of an “app” for my new iPad. I love my iPad. I do all the same stuff that I used to do on my computer but I look much cooler doing it…and it announces to everyone I send anything to that I have an iPad…modern smug. Anyway, the search for the right app became surprisingly difficult. I’d never tried to navigate an app store before and it was a little confusing. Now when I’m in a grocery store I can always find the 2-ply paper towels and the Pop Tarts because of those handy category signs at the ends of isles and I figured an app store couldn’t be much different so I typed a few categories I thought would work in the search area. After searches under “writing stuff down” and “writing stuff down not cursive” came up empty, I was finally able to find one that looked like it would work. It even had a voice recognition mode so all I would have to do was speak! Wow, was I excited! No cursive, no typing. It was like having a personal assistant whose name I didn’t have to remember. Fortunately there was a little button to the left that said “install” so I pushed it and the process started. As I anxiously awaited this new marvel, a box appeared and informed me that I could not download this until I “synced” my iPad with my computer. What the?! OK, so after much deliberation I was fairly confident that synced meant plug-in so I went ahead and tried it. All was right for a moment as the app appeared where it was supposed to but then in addition to syncing the app that I wanted it began syncing every app that my kids had ever purchased for their iEverythings, and that’s a lot of apps. After a few tense seconds I was able to cancel that process but all of a sudden another box appeared asking me if I really wanted to delete everything on the iPad…I began to sweat. No! I yelled…no answer…then I came to my senses and pushed cancel again. Whew, back to where I started but now substantially more stressed. I felt like I was trying to land a plane with no training and began to wish that these devices would stop trying to be so damn helpful. Eventually I discovered how to select only the apps I wanted to load. My pulse slowed and I began to think I might actually get some work done when another box appeared. In order to download the app I wanted, my iPad needed a software update. Really? It was 4 months old! Is that our rate of obsoleteness these days, 4 months! Good lord, that would make my generation practically Neolithic! That was the last straw. I had given this technology every opportunity to cooperate and it just wouldn’t…I lost it, and went into a tirade that peeled the paint right off the walls. After I caught my breath I turned around to find Vann(11 months) sitting in the doorway, eyes wide as quarters, looking as if he had understood every word. Of course he hadn’t, but my 12-year-old son Calvin had. He calmly walked over to the computer and deftly performed a few strokes, all the while giving me the same look you might give a 3 legged dog, then when he finished said, “Is that what you were trying to do?”. It was….but I hadn’t completely calmed down so I grounded him and went back to writing in cursive.
New things can be difficult, at least for me, so I can empathize with what Vann must be going through. Imagine having literally everything to learn. And everyone around you must seem like some sort of genius, a giant genius no less, a master of daily life with remarkable thumb/index finger dexterity who walks upright, has complex communication skills and incredible vomit control. It sounds intimidating to me but to him…not so much. Frankly he doesn’t seem to care at all. He’s not the least bit self-conscious, even while people scrutinize his every action. He’s completely unaware of the all the pressure and public dissection of his every move….it’s like he’s got his own built-in perfect learning environment. He just keeps trying new things, exploring newly found talents and with a tireless persistence figures things out. That’s when I realized that I’ve got a lot to learn from this kid and maybe I wasn’t there so much to teach him as I was to guide him to his own discoveries.















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Copyright John Wakefield, All Rights Reserved, 2011