The Narwhal And The Unicorn

You know that feeling you get when your kid does something selfless, and you are just praying for that miracle of affirmation to your kid?

Yup. Right here.

Yup. Right here.

Each child had a basket of balls to throw...

...onto a table that looks like this

...onto a table that looks like this. Note the yellow "grand prize" square at centre. It's erm, important 🙂

Now, skill has little to do with this, because those balls are light-as-air, bounce off the edges and roll everywhere, making it near impossible to plan a shot. Also, Queen E traditionally wins bigger prizes than Rockstar does, by flinging balls with joyous abandon, all over that table.

We used to call this game "Entertainment Cost," not unlike the analogy I use for basic gambling - beyond a legitimate throw (i.e. one that lands on the table), you have no real skill or knowledge to help the outcome, and what you are really spending money on is the excitement and entertainment of tossing a ball randomly and seeing if it lands you a stuffed animal, usually hideous. In other words, you do not go into this with the aim of getting a large toy on the cheap (or making it rich, in the case of gambling) - you pay money to throw balls or dice or watch pretty horsies thunder down a track. Not unlike the money you spend on movie tickets (hence the nickname "entertainment cost")

This evening, Queen E turns up nothing, while Rockstar for the first time scores three "small prizes," - tags to be exchanged at the end of the game for toys. The pink unicorn Her Highness has her eye on is worth two tags, and upon reading the redemption guideline Rockstar immediately gives her the two she will need, keeping just the third for himself. (I swear, I did nothing to influence that; in fact, when he does it, along with that little glow at his selflessness, I feel a little terrified - what if he regrets it and feels he's given too much, and then swings the other way, not sharing anything in future? What if Queen E prattles some thoughtless thing at his gesture, simply because she goes on and on about everything? Rockstar's never won more than one small prize at this booth before..)

Rockstar: (When we're about to leave) Mum. D'you think I could get a few more tries? Just to see if I can win anything else? 

Me: Sure - try a few more. <still a bit scared>

Rockstar wins the Jumbo Grand Prize in the next few throws.

We are now staring at a choice of a(n expectedly hideous) huge goldfish-thing with bulging eyes, or a yellow Shopkins character (I would also call this hideous but the Shopkins People might be upset.) The stall lady tries valiantly to convince Rockstar to go Shopkins, "It's the only one left, everyone wants this thing, whatever it is, and you can't get it elsewhere." (I especially like when she says "whatever it is" 😀 )

Queen E, also Queen of (too often) Unsolicited Opinion, jumps up and down excitedly, "Get the goldfish, get the goldfish, Ko-ko! It's bigger than me!" (Kudos for her being unreservedly happy for her brother in his moment of triumph too, even as she hugs her little unicorn tightly)

Rockstar continues to hesitate, and so I ask, "The one you really want is the narwhal, isn't it?" (The blue thing in back of the second picture). It is a lesser prize - the "Large," rather than "Jumbo Grand" prize. And it's the one Rockstar happily goes home with.

So many learning opportunities, in so few minutes. Would you take the goldfish/Shopkin just because you could, even if that wasn't what you really wanted? Would that make you truly happy, or simply happy enough? And what happens to what you really want, then? Are you depriving yourself of something that is ironically more attainable and which would make you even happier than the "harder-to-achieve" item, by going after something "just because you can"?

One of the beauties of "demand and supply" (about everything, from derivatives to soft toys) is that the value someone else puts on something - in this case hideous goldfish/ Shopkin vs narwhal may not necessarily be the value you put on it. And that can be just awesome.

(No idea why this is her pose with "Uni")

(No idea why this is her pose with "Uni")

And so Back To School begins with Rockstar waking to a narwhal, and Queen E being greeted by a unicorn off the bus. Queen E, not surprisingly, has found a new love of unicorns 🙂 So are we grateful for our blessings, this Easter.

Have a good week back, dears...

ps: Did the rockstars go camping over Easter?

...or inactivity haha this is how Queen E takes her turn as goalie

Is that a tent? Coming soon...

pps: Someone asked me why Queen E doesn't look that happy in the first picture where Rockstar has given her two of his tags. She was initially saying something like "But I didn't win that myself"
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“A Rough Guide To Social Media And Online Gaming” (And A Few More Things)


"Hi Mum!"

Rockstar's school talk re social media and gaming. They've had maybe 3, this academic year, including when you bring your child's devices in, and what can I say - A ship in the harbour is safe, but it's not what ships are made for; yet nor do ships leave the harbour without checking the weather report... You can't escape technology, it's everywhere especially in your child's world, but you can't exactly say "yes" to it all either, without first availing yourself of all the guidance from the school (because your kid's school should be in the unique position to give you the best picture... There are people who make lots and lots of this information available to you for free, for which they have put so much time and effort researching and preparing materials, so you can get it on a platter at an after-school seminar, because your child attends the school and you have to y'know, parent your child alongside the tech.)

So anyway, tech talk. All the slides in this post are from Rockstar's school talks by the Learning Technology Specialist, and this is not a post to regurgitate everything (also, not everything is here, not by a long shot :), it's a story of our efforts to parent alongside the guidance and trainings the erm, trained people give you.

So video games

So video games

Lots of Rockstar's friends actually have serious gaming consoles - beautiful machines hooked up to even more beautiful wide screen tvs - and so, friends who actually know Rockstar might be amazed to know that..... we don't. Yup, "hardcore" computer nerd Rockstar does not have a gaming console. Minecraft and Scratch is what they have in school, and so it's what he gets at home as well.

Oh, think your kid can't get enough "good stuff" if they stick to these? Oh yes they can (unless they're already very used to playing other games). There is a whole smorgasbord of clean and very engaging entertainment out there. When Rockstar visits his friends', he plays whatever they're playing (so yes he gets other games then). When his friends come to our home, they play what Rockstar's playing. And here's an eg of some other entertainment. This is the original It's Raining Tacos:

This is what kids are able to do with it on Scratch:

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 7.09.19 pm

It's one of the things Rockstar loves to do online, check what other kids can make. (Also, there are Nerf pellets all over our home in places we never knew existed so maybe this is why they don't request the games we don't have :P)

Not... that Xboxes are pure evil like we all know ice cream is (haha no, not really), but it would've been an additional "fight" in our home.

This slides says something like that too...

This slides says something like that too...

In the same way my erm, idea of your own little "hell" is if you only feel satiated when you eat junk or do stuff that's bad for you (think how beautiful life would be if you liked veggies AND knew they were good for you), I had this obsessive-compulsive idea to enforce the gaming equivalent of. With.... s-ome level of success - Coding tends to revolve around games. So we had to let some in. But well, as the school tells us, all games are not equal.

There's the thing: When your kid is learning (tech) stuff at a faster rate than you can you have to get out of the way, pay attention to the school tech safety talks... And do what they advise. (For eg, no outside accounts the school can't monitor or else you're just asking for it.) The least we could do though was stick with ones the school approves, monitors, or even incorporates into lessons - the kids use Minecraft for number sense, to build virtual worlds to illustrate their understanding of ancient civilisations, et al...

At one point I tried to read this, but could barely get through half - its very very scary, the true stories. If you read this.... pic from

At one point I also tried to read this, but could barely get through half - its very very scary, the true stories. If you read this.... (pic from

You will do this. pic also from school tech talk slides as an eg of what NOT to do) will really want to do this. (pic from school tech talk slides as an eg of what NOT to do)

My favourite thing at the Kennedy School talk that evening was re the 3,000-word watch list connected to our kids' school accounts (including variations like "Sh1t") - an email containing any of those words doesn't go to the intended recipient, it goes to the Learning Tech Specialist.

Beat that, Hogwarts (pic off Youtube)

Beat that, Hogwarts (pic off Youtube when the age-old stone statues guarding the school are brought to life by Prof McGonagall to battle Lord Voldemort and his army)

(What I really want to know is how to get them to do this for all the non-school related stuff too hahaha)

Parent Talk

For real though, see the details on some of these slides - how many FREE tech courses have all these under consideration

I especially liked "anyone can post anything", and "your likes can define you."

Rockstar's t-shirt says "I just ate a sandwich - 13 people 'like' this"

Rockstar's t-shirt says "I just ate a sandwich - 13 people 'like' this"

There are slides on Xbox controls, Cyberbullying, a horrifying statistic (with references) re 22% of teenaged girls having shared nude or semi-nude photos plus a guarantee that they are pretty much always shared.....

And therein lies the inconvenient truth: there is no more effective deterrent out there than.... parenting. (Sorry). There are so many risks out there, you can't switch the parental controls (ironic name alert) on for them all. You have to instil in your child not to want to do it.

To borrow an analogy from the talk, in a slightly different context: just because you know how to break a window doesn't mean you'd do it. Just because your kid is tech-savvy and literate doesn't mean they have to necessarily be online even when they come of age. There are lots of people who are... legal but don't drink or have casual sex or etc. Being "technologically wholesome" should be another - no, maybe the most important new value we need to include in our parenting today.

Exercising restraint from thoughtless clicking, texting, ripping/downloading et al should be as much a no-brainer of an easy judgement call on our kids' part, as them not going to the actual strip joint, saying those profanities (or other hurtful stuff) out loud, flashing someone for real. 

Why? Because the end result is the same. Someone still gets hurt. 

ps: Still playing catchup... So much to tell, so little time to get online. Stay tuned dears...

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Rockstarism #396: Terms of Befuddlement

#396 When the answer to each of these is "Uh....." Rockstar: Mum. You know when they ask "Which comes first, the chicken or the egg," and people always think it can be either one? That's not true. It's actually one and not the other. Want to hear why? The answer is Evolution. D'you think the prehistoric creatures evolved into chickens or eggs?  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rockstar: Mum. I just thought of a paradox. "What I'm telling you is a lie," is a paradox. It means you're lying about lying. But if you're lying about lying, then you have to be lying about lying about lying, and lying about lying about lying about lying, and it just keeps going on...  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rockstar (in story-telling voice): "Little did my sista know, as she was petting JD, that the dog actually hated it..." Queen E: My brudda needs to go to therapy. Rockstar (like he was uninterrupted): "...and she secretly wanted to run away..."  Queen E: <shrieks in fury> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rockstar (because Queen E likes animals): You are the Animal Queen. Queen E (mock indignant): I am not, I am the Noise Queen. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rockstar looks at us and snorts... Rockstar (to Queen E): Who dressed you? Queen E: Mummy.
Love embellished hairties - so useful as comfy bracelets to jazz up any outfit

(We love embellished hairties as comfy bracelets to jazz up any outfit)

Rockstar (to me): Who dressed you? Me: Queen E. Rockstar: Your outfit is better. Queen E: Yeess! Me: What?? I dressed her fine ok!!
Queen E using my Pokemon Umbreon hoodie tail as a scarf

Queen E using my Pokemon Umbreon hoodie tail as a scarf

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