Friday, October 15, 2010

I wonder what district we are in?

October 15, 2010

As you may know, I am always efforting to find things for me and CJ to talk about.  He is not into watching sports, so there goes a lot of potential material.  We both play Call of Duty, Modern Warfare II on PS3, and that is good for some conversation.  We talk about school and girls as much as a teenager can tolerate with his dad, so that takes up about 10 minutes per week.  We talk about how awesome Beth/mom is, but after a lot of "isn't mom the best back scratcher ever", or "how about that delicious dinner mom made last night?", or "I want to find a girl just like mom someday", or "aren't I lucky to have picked out the perfect mom for you?", or "when will mom be home, I miss her so much!"...we need to move on to other topics.

Therefore, I decided to read The Hunger Games.  A lady at Barnes and Noble recommended it for teens, and CJ has ready the whole trilogy.  He really liked the first two and wrote a paper about the third one and how a better ending would be.............  I don't know since he did not want to spoil it for me.  So I read The Hunger Games a couple weeks ago, and read the sequel, Catching Fire, this week.  Both of them end in cliff hangers that make you want to read the next.  Thus, I am waiting to acquire the third, Mockingjay, as soon as CJ retrieves it from whomever he lent it to.

So, here is why I bring this up.  It is a little surprising to me that this series is meant for teens.  The style in which it is written is obviously at a level to aid the comprehension skills of this age level, but the content is very challenging.  Partly, the challenge comes form all the killing that takes place.  Additionally, the reasons behind the killings are very thought provoking. The premise is that our country has been divided up into districts after a rebellion, and the Capitol keeps everyone down by having peacekeepers in place and rules that squelch any potential rebellion.  There is no travel between districts and food is scarce.  Finally, every year, each district draws the names of two teens from their district to represent them in The Hunger Games.  These participants kill each other off in an arena until one victor remains.  Everyone is mandated to watch and the theory is that each district will understand that the Capitol is in charge and that the games are punishment for past rebellion attempts.  It is a very elaborate affair that is treated like the Olympics or something similar, which is quite a mockery of the real fact that they are killing off children.

I am way oversimplifying the story as you should read it yourselves, but I hope you are getting my point that it is a rather deep premise.  I wish I had read the books at the same time as CJ so that we could discuss it as he went along.  Now I have to finish the whole trilogy before we can discuss some things about it.  It is also not a book that the whole class read together, so CJ was on his own to come up with content interpretations.  I am really curious how he went about understanding the political undertones of the story.

However, yesterday, I started to really feel the need to share part of what I was getting from the book.  I know very few people read my blog, and even fewer read my blog and have read The Hunger Games.  Therefore, take what you will from this thought. 

Do many people realize that every thing we do is ultimately a learning experience?  There is a reason that ancient civilizations used to hold their elders in such high esteem.  They have experienced more of life and can mentor the younger people.  I think about my relationship with my coworkers and how much I have learned from them, but one of them told me Friday night that she appreciated the fact that she learned from me what work ethic was.  It came as a shock to me.  I thought I was teaching these newbies about processes and best practices, and concrete things.  It did not dawn on me that leading by example is still something that works for people.  I mean, sure, we have had discussions about leadership style and how your mood or delivery affects it.  But that seemed more concrete to me and that I was just speeding along their development.  But work ethic?  I always thought you had it or you didn't.  But I wasn't born with it.  My mom bugged me all the time as a youth about how lazy I was.  As I grew older, I realized that all her nagging had turned me into a responsible adult.  It would have been nice if I had been born with it so that I didn't have to listen to all the nagging.  Wouldn't my mother be proud today to hear someone tell me that she learned about work ethic from me.  If she weren't dead already, she may have had a heart attack.

Therefore, as you go through your day, your week, and your life, please try to remember that each thing you encounter is a potential learning experience.  Every learning experience is then something you are welcome to share with others.  It is teamwork, people.  Ultimately, we are all on the same team.  I will throw a little religion at you-the team we are on is God's team.  He gave you a special skill set, just like Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch, or Prim?  Do you realize the impact you can have on others?  Think about it, work with it, pass it on.  Thanks for reading.


  1. Wow, deep for a Perfect Dad post. Actually, I skipped it.

    But really, I just did a little experiment reading all the books I could remember that made an impression on me in middle school. I was absolutely SHOCKED by the some of the stuff I read! Not that it was bad, but we look at it like, "Seems to have a lot of adult elements to it", like political ideas (which I still never get, to be honest) and the human condition. Not so much sex or anything like that, just mature subjects that you don't think a 12 year old thinks about.

    I reread The Giver as part of this experiment, and I read the interview at the end of the book with the author, and how he wrote the book and gave it to the publisher and apologized that he wrote an adult book instead of a YA book, which is what he was contracted for. His publisher was like, hey! Let's not underestimate kids, and publish it anyway! Maybe they'll have to read it twice. And he said that a lot of kids he talked to had read the book twice. Reading that interview really left an impression on me, thinking of these books that all left something in my mind that I still remember (you know...a whole 11 years later).

  2. I think it is great that you and CJ are reading the same books and discussing them (can you tell I'm a school teacher?) It is a great way to get beyond the topics of sports, TV and girls! I also read YA fiction--not because I have a teenager, I am way beyond those years; but for the thoughtful subject matter.