Explaining terrorism to children

The New York Times has a video feature about how a French children’s newspaper responded to kids’ questions about the recent Paris attacks by explaining terrorism to children. You should watch this if you are a parent:

This is something we deal with more and more here in Israel. Terrorism has become an almost daily occurrence here in recent weeks and months and kids are increasingly aware that there is something going on. There are different ways to respond to kids’ questions and I think this is probably a better one.

“I feel, in a way, like I am destroying the childhood of my children by exposing them to …

“Yeah, but they don’t live on planet Mars …”

Our kids have asked about the terrorist attacks here and we explain it to them as best we can without vilifying all Palestinians (in the context of the attacks in Israel) but, at the same time, they need some understanding of the underlying politics, animosity and dynamics between Israelis (specifically Jews) and radical Palestinians.

It is not easy and I wish we didn’t have to have these conversations with our kids but this is the world we now live in. The world has changed and there is no “Undo”.

Cool volcano stuff for your kids

My son is fascinated by volcanoes and he asks me something about volcanoes several times a week. I came across a really cool National Geographic video about how their camera crew used drones to film an active volcano:

I found a couple more links to volcano stuff on the National Geographic site which are pretty cool including an introduction to volcanoes:


Image credit: Marum sept 2009 by Geophile71 and published on Wikipedia. This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

Cracking the kiddie code

I’ve been thinking about our kids and their quirks and triggers a little more lately. In one sense it’s always on my mind because we interact with them daily, obviously, but what I mean is that I have been thinking about the little opportunities to understand our kids better as if they represent codes we can decipher.

Our daughter is not a morning person (she takes after her mother in this respect) and virtually every morning involves an argument with her at various stages of the process of getting her ready for school. As is probably the case with most parents and their kids, kids don’t respond to circumstances the way we do or would expect them to and it is easy to become frustrated with them, particularly when we are running late and like to miss that train to work.

It’s not that we don’t want to understand them, it’s more that when you have 30 minutes to feed and dress yourself and kids and still get out the door on time, your tolerance for delays is pretty low and, yet, that is exactly when every little thing involves a 10 minute debate.

I noticed that even once my daughter is out of bed and sitting at the breakfast table with a bowl of cereal in front of her that she likes (I did a lot of A/B testing to narrow down the shortlist of favorites), she has this habit of stabbing at her cereal with her spoon quite aggressively for a few minutes before dropping her spoon and sobbing. Telling her to eat her food, predictably, doesn’t work and she just becomes more frustrated (and so do I).

One morning I had an idea and asked her if she wanted more milk in her cereal. She was already sobbing and nodded so I added more milk and that seemed to resolve the situation for her because, now, she could dunk all of the chocolate balls in milk before eating them. At least, that mostly addressed her frustration. She also seems to expect the cereal not to float on the surface of the milk and doesn’t realize that if it all floats then it doesn’t all float uniformly because she hasn’t eaten any of it to spread the rest out more evenly. On the other hand, I think I at least made progress so she has fewer tearful, cereal-stabbing moments before actually eating her cereal.

This is just one of the many challenges I face in the mornings while we are rushing to get ready for school and work and most of these challenges seems to be another little code to crack and a little strategic time to spend to make future mornings a little more efficient. That said, an analytical approach rarely works with kids who tend to be pretty irrational and lateral for the most part but, then again, I don’t remember anyone telling me this whole parenting thing would be easy or boring.

Happy Dads' Day!

Today is Fathers’ Day in South Africa (and possibly for you too). I prefer “Dads’ Day” and this is my little greeting.

I love being a Dad. Our kids’ arrival introduced an amazing dimension to my life which shifted priorities, focus and purpose. It has been a wild ride and although it isn’t always hugs and kisses, there are plenty of those too and they make it all worthwhile and then some.

So happy Dads’ Day to all the Dads.

A reminder of what its all about, at least for me

Wow, what a year this has been. “Challenging” doesn’t quite describe it for me. My business is evolving rapidly and about to take what could potentially be a radical leap in a fairly different direction and while I’m excited about it, it also scares me more than a little (which means it is probably also the right decision). Today has been particularly intense so this video was perfect:

This ad reminded me why I do what I do every day and what it is all about at the end of the metaphorical day. It also reminds me why I shouldn’t do some of the things I do every day either: things like stress about challenges and work so hard that I miss the time I have with my family. I also keep reminding myself to be more present when I spend time with my wife and our kids and not distracted by work or devices that don’t enhance those moments.

As much as I love my devices, when I am using them I am not present with my wife or our kids and, in those moments, they deserve to have me there with them, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Just as I watch this video and see myself in so many of those moments with our kids, I can’t help but remember that my Dad isn’t around to share them with me. Like him, I don’t know how much time I have with my family and that makes the time I do have even more precious.

Lunchtime project: a primitive cardboard projector

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Our son is home sick so we came up with the idea of making a cardboard projector during lunch today. We used an old Jungle Oats cereal box, a toilet roll core and cling wrap for a basic lens.

We secured the cling wrap using an elastic band (hair elastic in our case) and we stuck a small piece of paper in the shape of a tree on the lens.

It is really primitive and we worked out that the LED on an iPhone projects a very clear silhouette through the projector.

Our son is working on a rocket shape to project on his cupboard door which has glow in the dark shapes and he is going to create a sort of shadow movie for his sister.

Scraggily, like a Rabbi?

I just trimmed my beard and explained to my son that I prefer to trim my beard so it doesn’t become scraggily (perhaps not the best word but it came to mind).

So he asks me –

like a Rabbi?

I thought that was pretty funny.

Sandton, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, RSA

"No diamond, no moving in. No exceptions"

I’m saving this for our daughter for that conversation in a decade in a half or so.

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Source: Dad-isms