Family Fun at a Local Art Museum

As a culture enthusiast, I’m constantly looking for ways to integrate local cultural activities into my family’s schedule. We’re busy, like all of you, and it’s hard to squeeze something extra into our days. Between music, swim team, soccer, chess, band, art, and the gazillion other activities my kids want to do, we’re slammed. Nevermind the things that I want to do.

I make time for these outings because I feel that it’s important to get out and experience the local museums, theaters, orchestras, art galleries–the list goes on. It’s important because art and culture open minds and offer a unique way to experience something powerful and new. There are so many benefits, especially to young, developing minds. So, I try once a month to carve out a little time from our crazy schedules and do something fun and enriching in or around Denver, our hometown.

I recently wrote an article for Colorado Parent magazine describing a family tour at the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver highlighting the educational benefits and the fun that my family had. Check it out and think about things that you can do in your community. I’m always looking for new, creative activities, and I’d love to hear your ideas!

Colorado Parent, November 2016
Art in the Family: How a Visual Education Helps Kids’ Development

by Kristin Kirsch Feldkamp

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Good Boy

Although my title for this post is tongue in cheek, and I like humorous and food porn blogs above all others, this post is, alas, a serious one. I’m troubled by the hate rhetoric towards the fairer sex that I’ve seen in spades lately, and I gotta write about it. But I’m not going to rant. I’m going to share my plan for attempting to change things, one boy at a time. That one boy happens to be the one I call son.

As an aside, I want to note that it’s possible what’s gnawing at me may have been compounded recently by an evening gleefully spent binge watching Mad Men after the kids were in bed. I can’t say for sure. Whatever the prompt, the societal hate vibe I’m feeling addressed toward my gender is making me wonder: How I can teach my son to respect women? A lot. Sincerely. The way he does or will respect most men implicitly, by virtue of their gender.

I don’t mean the kind of respect that entails holding doors open and saying pretty things. Those are surface gestures with a complicated past, present, and future. I’m talking about deep-seated, honest-to-goodness, unbiased respect.

My son is bright, and sweet, and thoughtful, and  I’m extremely proud of the young man he is becoming. That said, I’m nervous about the implicit bias, to borrow a word, he absorbs from the world around him. Even from inside our home. I am the primary caregiver, the homemaker, the part-time worker, and the one who does most of the compromising in our house. What messages do I unknowingly send him?

It’s a role I’ve taken on gladly because I love my children. I love them the way you love something so perfect and succinct you didn’t know it was possible the day before it arrived, neatly like a package on your doorstep. Only it was a baby, not a package, that came with a lot of effort, mottled pink skin, a cone head, and tear-stained sticky cheeks.

But now that my son, this person who is part of me but clearly not me, is growing up, I recognize how important my role is in helping him become a feeling, caring, thoughtful, empathetic man who treats women as equals. So, how do I help him to see me and all other women on a level playing ground? Talk about it. If we don’t talk about it, nothing will change.

  1. Talk about it. Instead of sweeping it under the carpet, I am resolved to talk to my son about sexism. I don’t think I have to share all the gory details of the unfortunate things I have witnessed and experienced in my lifetime (there are many). If you’re a woman, you know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been there. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this. A great starting place is to discuss exactly what it means to respect women. Followed by a big dose of empathy building. I heard this on NPR one morning, and I love the message. In short, bullies can have manners when they want to and still lack a fundamental understanding of empathy.
  2. Talk about it.  After we have a good understanding of what it means to respect women (actually ALL people), then we can discuss how to resist peer pressure because it is real, fo sho. I realize my son is young, and this might be wishful thinking, but it’s worked with some other peer pressure issues we’ve faced. And I’m hopeful.
  3. Talk about it. If and when things feel out of control, or we’ve gone off the mark slightly, bringing in a little professional guidance can’t hurt. Kids sometimes (read: almost always) listen to other adults (teachers, school psychologist, coaches, etc.) more readily than their parents. And I’m okay with that.

At the end of the day, we’re all human, all imperfect, and all striving for something. Let’s listen to what this crazy time in history (or so it seems) is telling us. What I hear is this: We need to work on empathy big time. And it can start with something as simple as a short conversation on the ride home from school.

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Just a Few Resources for Teaching Empathy:
Harvard University Make Caring Common Project
Edutopia’s 5-Minute Film Festival: Videos on Kindness, Empathy, and Connection
UC Berkley’s Greater Good Science Center

 

 

Raise ‘Em Up

I’ve been noticing stories about women lately knocking other women down in overt and covert ways. And I can’t help wondering, WTF. Isn’t it hard enough being a woman without getting clobbered by the sisters who should be lifting you up? Ladies, don’t we have enough on our plates already?

The stories have always been there; I know that. But they seem louder lately: a cacophony buzzing relentlessly in the background like audio feedback. Or, worse, like the theme song to a horror film turned down low enough that you can just hear it and feel the anxiety it’s supposed to produce.

The buzz I’m hearing is nothing like the warm, nurturing song of the cicadas I grew up with in the South; their songs rise and fall predictably, lull you into a happy state of nature-filled nostalgia. There is nothing happy or soothing about the buzz I’ve been noticing lately and it’s impossible to ignore.

Around the neighborhood, I hear stories. At work, I hear stories. I read stories in the news. I see it on social media. I see it at the f’ing grocery store. What it comes down to is this–we judge each other. We critique and criticize, sometimes out loud and sometimes only in our heads. But we all do it. I’m guilty of it in ways I’m sure I don’t even see.

Last year, when my youngest started school full time, I decided to rediscover my passions, find a part-time job, in a nutshell, put myself out there. And I’ve learned something that is so important I gotta share it. I have learned to have more empathy for women. Yes, even the twenty-three-year-old who interviewed me and asked if I was comfortable working with twenty-year-olds, cause, ya know, I’m so old.

Let’s face it, being a woman is hard. Beautiful, but hard.

So, you might catch me gossiping from time to time (working on that one). But I can’t say it enough. Let’s support the mamas (read: all women). Yep, all of them, in whatever endeavors they choose, wherever they are in life. All of them. Every day. Raise ’em up. Think about it. Just sayin’.

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these made me think of a grove of women, supporting each other, hanging out, having fun