Carpool Lane

Carpool Lane - Meet Joline for a "CuppaJo" as she juggles two kids in school, homework, extracurricular activities and trying to find some "me" time.

 

 

rss20

I'm talking about guns today

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

User Rating:  / 1

I support the 2nd amendment.

I have no issues with the use of guns for hunting or sport.

My husband owns a hunting rifle, which is properly secured.

My father owned a hunting rifle, but I have no recollection of it. He assures me that it was hidden and properly secured with the shells being stored in a separate location.

I only know guns from an urban crime perspective, having grown up outside Washington D.C. and then living in Chicago for 20 years.

So, admittedly, guns make me nervous.

Even so, I'm OK with responsible personal gun ownership. Emphasis on the word responsible.

And yet.

I am concerned, no, disgusted, by the growing epidemic of children being injured, killed, and emotionally scarred from getting their hands on guns which adults have left loaded and unsecured in the home. The numbers on this are dreadful. A 2014 study showed that 7000 kids are injured every year due to guns and an additional 3000 are killed. 

We, as parents, and those who support responsible gun ownership, should be concerned.

In 7 days alone, there were 10 unintential incidents of injuries or deaths involving guns in the hands of minors ages 5-17. All "accidental". All due to guns that were improperly stored, (which means not at all) in a home. In one incident, a child of 14 took a gun from his family's home after allegedly being upset over a minor incident at school and committed suicide. Children who can not possibly comprehend the danger of a firearm and teens who are not emotionally mature enough to handle molehills which seem like mountains at the time, should not have such easy access to deadly weapons. And research shows, that even households that teach responsible gun ownership are still at greater risk for unfortunate situations such as these. Unsupervised children and guns do not mix.

Today I learned that Texas may be allowing concealed carry in college classrooms. And while I'm not so naive as to believe that this doesn't already occur, I have spoken to friends who are college professors (not in Texas) and they find this frightening. After all, do college students always make the best choices? I think incidents (non-related to firearms) on the campuses of Penn State and University of Oklahoma this week show us that not even 18-21 year olds act with great judgement at all times. There is an impulsiveness and emotional immaturity that is still present during the college years. Adding guns to the classroom, according to the University of Texas Chancellor William McRaven, a retired U.S. Navy admiral who organized the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, will make campuses "less safe". 

I'm going with that guy's opinion.

Current escalation of these stories reminds me that I need to ask, "Is there an unsecured gun in the house" when having my kids hang out at homes of new friends. And while I feel so odd asking this, afraid of coming across as judgmental, statistics reveal that I must ask.

Have you asked this question of other parents?
If you own a firearm, how would you suggest we handle these delicate conversations?

I pray that we begin to see a decline in these incidents involving our children.

But truly, it is up to us.

The adults. 

The one's with the power to lock them up.

(The guns . . . not the children.)





Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 14 and 10, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

Let's lend each other a hand

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

User Rating:  / 0

It's been a long time since I've had a toddler in my house.

I remember those years with both fondness and exhaustion.

If memory serves me correct, I was always moving. Whether it be playing on the floor or following closely behind a mini whirling dervish who could make a mess of any organized area of my home, my body and senses were always on high alert.

Now, with a 14 and 10 year old, other than watching them get their energy out at basketball and karate, I find myself constantly encouraging them to get off the couch and move. It doesn't help that our winter weather zaps us of the desire to do anything. We just want to binge-watch Netflix until spring arrives. While having older kids comes with its own type of exhaustion (clean your room, finish your homework, empty the dishwasher, put your iPod down already!), it's not the same of having a little one weaving in and out under-foot.

Because I have just enough recall to be able to tap into those memories, I find it important to support parents of younger children. One way I do this is by volunteering to teach music at a weekly community Bible study in the area. As a former pre-school music teacher, this was a natural way for me to fill a need by volunteering my time and energy while area mothers enjoy a morning of community with adults.

I totally love it.

I wake on Thursday mornings, ready to tackle the boundless energy that 3-year-olds can bring. 

And since I'm not worn out from have little ones running around my house any longer, I find that I can totally match their pint-sized enthusiasm.

For 20 minutes we march, jump, spin around, wiggle, clap, and get down with shaker instruments. For 20 minutes I am hugged, asked about the "stick in my nose" (my nose is pierced), have a child in my lap, redirect attention, perform improv, and smile. 

A lot.

There is a lot of smiling.

As mothers, we all come from different perspectives. As we learned a few weeks ago, I'd rather my kids have cash then gift cards (and the grandparents who actually GIVE the gift cards are in agreement and on board here). As was recently in the news, there are mothers who have absolute confidence in their kid's ability to walk home alone from a park a mile away. Breast-feed. Bottle-feed. Work. Stay home. So many issues we could hammer away at, right?

Truth is, we all do the parenting thing differently. Different doesn't mean one is wrong and one is right. It's just different.

But we have one thing in common: Parenting is both fulfilling and tiring. We are in the same boat. We are mothers.

And in that, we need to respect one another. We need to support one another.

I do so by singing and dancing around with three-year-olds.

Do you have opportunities to volunteer your time and talents for other moms? Have you been the recipient of such service?




Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 14 and 10, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

Why I prefer cash over gift cards for my children

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

User Rating:  / 1

Image result for child with empty piggy bankI've been very open about not paying my children for chores, although we do use a "job board" for projects that are above and beyond the daily tasks of "clean your room" and "unload the dishwasher". When my kids need cAreash, they bid, apply, and if chosen, complete the job for a modest income.

It's working. Most recently, my son organized my entire spice rack alphabetically. He took time to remove all the contents, wipe down the area, and return the jars in a user-friendly order. Frankly, I didn't want to do it. So I pawned it out.

 I've learned, however, that my children really don't understand money due to the fact that they don't have enough with which to practice responsible use:

 They are not adept at handling/carrying money.
They do not know how to budget money.
They are not used to saving money.
They don’t experience the importance of tithing money.

 They really don’t know how money works.

 And while I realize they are not reconciling checking accounts, paying bills,  or managing investments, they do need to learn that $10.00 is not something I can just give them at random because they are jonesin’ for a visit to Grandpa Joe’s.

 At ages 14 and 10, my children are old enough to learn that money doesn’t (say it with me) grow on trees. I can’t stand cliches. But, it’s true, cash doesn’t just (snap) appear. They truly don’t understand this. Sounds crazy, I know. To them, cash flow is unlimited.

 Gift cards don't help to teach the valuable skills of giving, saving, and spending.

They need to learn how to actually assess whether they have enough money for what they want, pay for it, get the change, and discern whether they can still purchase that latte they may want later.

 This important process is not visible or tactile with merely handing over a plastic gift card. 

 For a child, a gift card mimics the action of paying via a credit or debit card.

And we all know what happens with those. American households hold an average of $15,000 in debt on their credit cards. Credit is so easy to use because we aren’t staring at an empty wallet telling us we can NOT purchase what we want. Nothing is stopping us from spending freely.  Trust me, I know. I used to be the one with $15,000 in credit card debt. Gift cards teaching spending. I need to be teaching them how to save and give as well. (They need cash for that.)

 When my kids receive cash, they have to plan how to use it.

They tithe, save, and allot money for spending. They give thought to how that money will be used best. When using their own funds, they put that second package of candy back on the shelf. They decide not to add so many gummy worms to the froyo. They give at church. They cover dinner for a basketball teammate who forgot cash on the night of an away game. When the money runs out, they see it run out. The bank is dry.

Gift cards have the potential to teach mindless spending – thus mimicking or training credit card use. Why can't we just gift them cash, so they can actually see the process of it being spent and decrease as they make purchases? If they only have gift cards, they can never learn overall money management.


What are your thoughts? Aside from whether or not one thinks gift cards make a good gift, what are the teaching implications for our children. In this electronic age, are our children properly earning how handle actual cash?




Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 14 and 10, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

Do you allow your children to walk places alone?

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

User Rating:  / 0

It's been in the news lately. How young is too young for a child to be at a park, or walking about town - alone?

Most recently, a Maryland family found themselves under investigation for allowing their children, ages 10 and 6, to do just that.

We live in a small town, 2 blocks off our main street, 3 blocks from a local church, and 5 blocks from the library. At ages 12 and 8, my children would walk to the local coffee shop - alone. At 9 my son would ride his bike to the library - alone. Now, at 10, he walks to the local church - at times with a friend, also 10, and most recently, alone.

A few Sunday's back, my husband was guest preaching at a local church a few blocks from our house.  I was booked to speak about fitness at a local Bridal Fair and could not attend. My daughter was swamped with a science project, a paper, and studying for a few tests. We gave her permission to remain home from church that morning. (Yes, sometimes a Pastor's kid needs a Sunday off.)  My son, wanted to see his Dad preach. Rather than heading in super early with my husband, he asked if he could just walk over to the church in time for the service. 

We didn't hesitate - of course! We told him what time the service started, suggested what time he start walking, and left it at that.

He walked himself to church that morning. 

I think back to my childhood. By age 10 I was riding my bike to the local pool and walking several blocks to play with friends who lived on the other side of our subdivision.

What has changed?

The "times"?

The world? 

Our fear?

Does it make me slightly nervous to let my kids walk alone?

You better believe it.

Do I still allow it?

You better believe it.

I read the news. I am not consumed by it.  I am aware of atrocities, and don't naively believe my small town to be immune from danger. I have a healthy concern for my children, without stunting their growth.

I believe my kids need to learn responsibility, independence, and how to problem solve and make decisions. This is just one of many ways to do so.

Is there a right or best age when kids can walk the neighborhood by themselves?

 


 



Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 14 and 10, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest!

 

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

Birthday Reflection

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

User Rating:  / 0

My 13 year old is now 14.

I woke this morning and began combing through pictures from her first year of life. I wasn't pining. Just reflecting. Indulge me for a bit.

When I got married, I wasn't sure I wanted children. My husband knew this and didn't press. I've always been pretty selfish with my time, and I wasn't willing to share it, or him for that matter, with anyone. We were young - 22, and just out of college. The subject of children wasn't even in the range of being close enough, to being anywhere close enough, to even being in the vicinity of being on my radar.

Our married life began. He managed a coffee shop while attending grad school. I worked full time at a local college while also directing their musicals. Along with getting back on stage myself, I also taught classes at a performing arts workshop. We froze in our first apartment (come to think of it, not much has changed from that apartment to this drafty old house) and enjoyed our free time when we weren't at one of the many side jobs we held along with our full-time ones: house-sitting, parking cars for a nearby restaurant, lawn care, cleaning fish tanks, performing in murder mysteries, a gig dressed up as Captain Crunch (for which I got paid in cash and boxes of Captain Crunch) . . . we made it work.

It wasn't until close to 10 years later that we had our first child.

She turned 14 today.

Wow.

One of the most vivid memories I have of her birth was calling out her name while I was still strapped down during an emergency c-section. Following delivery, they whisked her off to the side to do all those pokes and prods they do to new babies. As I couldn't hold her immediately, I turned my head towards her, as it was the only part of my body I could move, and spoke.

"Harper. Hi. It's Mommy."

She turned her head in my direction. And was still.

I kept talking.

She knew my voice. The one that sang, read stories, and prayed while I carried her. I had read that the baby could hear while in the womb, and even recognize voices, but how could I have known this to be true until . . .

She turned her head in my direction.

She may be 14, but I still sing, read stories, and pray. Even if I'm told to knock it off with the singing.

We now binge-watch Gilmore Girls together, rather than Baby Einstein.

We choose chips covered in cheese over cheerios.

I don't pick out her clothes any more.

And she still hears my voice. Whether she applies what I share is up to her now, but I know she's listening.

Because often, that once tiny little baby, who was too big for preemie clothes, but too small for newborn clothes, turns to look at me with those big blue eyes, gives me a little smile, maybe a head on the shoulder, and without words, tells me she's listening.

Happy Birthday, little girl.



Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 13 and 9, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.