Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Haunted Cornfield

We (meaning Bruce, Erica, Stephen, Hannia, and myself) all headed out to
Briley's Haunted Farm last night .
It really is a lot of fun, and oh my Lord the number of people there. There was a line for the haunted cornfield that was a mile long. Well, I don't know if it was actually a FULL mile, but it was really, really, really LONG!!!! We bought a combo ticket, meaning we went through both the haunted cornfield AND the un-haunted corn maze, so we got to avoid the lines AND the wait. A word of advice...its is so worth the combo ticket. Our waiting was minimal. And that made it way more fun, because seriously? I imagine those people waiting in line for just the haunted cornfield probably had to wait for several hours. Maybe more. This attraction has become very popular around here, apparently.

Anyway, this year the haunted cornfield was LOOONNNGGG. It felt like we hiked a couple of miles through the corn. Various creatures, monsters and goblins jumped out at us, waved screaming chain saws at us, chased us, and even mocked us. Well, one monster mocked ME! I giggle like a girly school kid when I get nervous, and I just couldn't help it. He followed me around and every time that I giggled, he giggled in a mocking way right back at me. How dare that little creepy guy!!!! LOL.

The scariest parts, though, played on my own personal claustrophobia. There is this one little building that you have to go through where the walls are a parachute type fabric (like those blow up decorations that people put out in their front yards). The walls are being blown in from both sides with a heavy-duty fan/blower, and you literally have to squeeze your body through it in pitch black darkness, with no clue as to how long it is before you reach the end. I got about halfway through it and felt a tremor of panic deep in my soul.....but I managed to hold it together and make it through without freaking out (too badly), wetting myself, or dying.

And the second scariest thing was the maze at the very end. Its a building with walls that form narrow corridors that twist and turn, and it goes on FOREVER. I thought we would be lost in there forever. Its completely dark, you have to feel your way through it, finding the right turns or left turns by touch. I ended up at the very end of our group, and I heard something shuffling along behind me several times. Which made me want to push forward to get away from the shuffle monster, but the rest of my group was slowly trying to feel their way through the darkness, and there was no hurrying about any of it. Also? Its hot and airless in there, so claustrophobia sets in early on.

But we emerged intact, and laughing, so then we set off to the corn maze. That one is not haunted, or scary, but it IS large and elaborate. Luckily, we brought flashlights and we able to read the map that they give you....(ok, not me, I wasn't able to read the map, but I was a good follower...its a talent). You have to find 12 different check points to punch the numbers on your card, and it takes quite a while. Its dark, and the paths through the corn are really twisty and confusing. The whole thing has a creepy "we might get lost forever" kind of vibe, but it is fun. And while you don't win a prize for completing the whole maze, and finding all 12 check points, there is a sense of accomplishment. We had an excellent night out there.

And for the faint of heart, there is also a petting zoo, and a large pumpkin patch market area....they had gourds of every imaginable kind, including some of those strange albino white pumpkins. You should go out there. It ends on Halloween night, so its only open for 1 more week!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Children and Responsibility

Do you "help" your kids with their homework? Do you take charge of their assignments and monitor every move to make sure it gets done? I know parents who agonize over homework every single night, and I just don't get it. Maybe our family was the odd duck, I really don't know. But I do know that from about 2nd grade onward, my children were solely responsible for keeping track of their assignments, doing the work, and turning it in. I provided the tools, the workspace, and the atmosphere to study. But I did NOT do the work, I didn't nag them to get it done, and other than helping call out questions or vocabulary words before a test or a quiz, I didn't have a big part in it. I finished school. It wasn't my responsibility.

Luckily my kids were smart, responsible, and wouldn't have wanted to get behind or suffer the shame of not turning in an assignment. They did it because they wanted to. They did it for themselves. For the most part that strategy of making them responsible worked perfectly. The only time we had a glitch was once when Stephen was in 7th grade. I did monitor grades, and progress reports closely so that I could intervene if a problem surfaced. That one time, I saw that his vocabulary test grades were really slipping. I investigated. It turns out that he was copying the words down wrong from the board, so even though he was studying, he was studying them WRONG. Poor kid. I started going over his list as soon as he brought it home every Monday afternoon so we could make corrections before he started studying. And we also got an eye exam right away. He needed glasses. It fixed the problem completely.

I know both of my kids were very self-motivated. But I think it also helped them to have faith in their own abilities, to know that I trusted them with something as important as their schoolwork. I really do believe that kids become (or CAN become, but honestly some kids really do overcome even the worst parenting) what your expectations are. If you are a hovering, double-checking, over-protective parent who believes your child is incapable of dealing with things on their own, that is exactly what they become. But what happens when they grow up? Will they have enough confidence to succeed in life if they are used to Mommy taking care of everything? I don't know. I know all kids are different, and I guess some children really do need higher levels of monitoring. But some kids really could learn a valuable lesson if they were given a chance to take care of their own schoolwork. Yes, its true that they might actually fail an assignment or two. But eventually, once they realize that Mom or Dad will not pick up the slack, wouldn't that kid finally, out of some feeling of self-respect, or desire to learn or succeed figure out how to take care of these things on their own?

I don't have the answers to those questions. I know what worked for us. And I never ran around exhausted and complaining about "ALL THE HOMEWORK", because it wasn't MY homework. I did all of mine like 30 plus years ago. I guess what I'm saying is that you have to allow a child to suffer consequences sometimes. If not now, then its just a delayed reaction later. Fail an assignment now, or fail at a career (or a relationship, or at life) later. I know which one I would choose.