Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back to School Night

Always funny to see adults in kindergartner chairs.

Always funny to see the intensity that the kindergartner parents give to the weighty matters of what their child will be taught. The kindergarten instruction is about meeting state & district standards, enriching your child, and enhancing growth through RTI - "Response to Instruction". The teacher presentation used big, psychologically enhanced words to comfort the parents about the strength of the program and how their kindergartner will strive and be prepared for the next grade level (with this implied: prepared for the college of your choice).

College orientation was about meeting collegiate standards, enriching your young adult, and enhancing growth through a demonstration of mastery. The administrators use big, psychologically enhanced words to comfort the parents about the strength of the program and how their college freshman will be prepared for the working world.

Third grade was about making friends, cursive and multiplication tables.

The same parents that argue with the teachers about kindergarten development are the same ones that won't help their children with homework in third. They are the same that buy Baby Einstein music in utero but won't play Miles Davis or Vivaldi when the kid is 10.

Kindergarten is about coloring and making friends. Third grade is about critical thinking and good handwriting. College is about making contacts so you can have a job later.

Lighten up.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The end of childhood, the beginning of big childhood.





The number changes, but not much else, physically, on this day. But somehow I must acknowldege the eminent change from boy to man, from child to adult, from my responsiblity to his own. As he goes forward, he takes one more step away from my encircling wings of protection. With luck and hope, I release him.

Happy birthday, Ryan.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Singular Africa

Why, oh, why is Africa a single place? The enourmous land mass and lack of authoritative first world power may make the collective logical, but too often we then treat the whole as a whole and not the sum of it's parts. I think we Americans cannot take Africa seriously, as an educated people, because there is no government of Africa and, therefore, we can only see the collective.

Who can name more than 10 countries on the contient? I'm not talking Ceuta and Djibouti. But news outlets often collectively refer to Africa in war or starvation stories, but separate Egypt, Lybia and South Africa. There are over 154 million people in Nigeria and I can't locate it on a map. How criminal!

So, I propose we stop the collectivism. That, through word choice, we singularly identify each country we mean and, thus, provide a singular identify for each country. People may travel to Africa, but visit Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia, just as travelers go to Europe, but visit France, Spain and Portugal. Nigeria is in the top 20 petroleum producers, is a member of OPEC and has 37th highest world GDP. Botswana has had peacefull elections to its representative democratic government Each country has its own identity, its own culture and its own topography that, least of all, it deserves to uses its own name.

For learning the countries of the continent, try the map-subject-game at Free Rice.com


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_African_countries_and_territories
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigeria#Key_sectors
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_states_of_america#Demographics

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Conscientious Cuisine

I live in the land of fruits and nuts. I get it. Californians wear sandals, get on ever food band wagon and are just more concerned about the earth than you. period. I accept this and try to even out the score a little where I can.

I see a new high-end restaurant opened near my office. It's tag line is "conscious cuisine & cocktails". What? I don't want my cuisine conscious. Unconscious is the way to go, really. I don't need an aware cow pointing out the tenderest parts. Though it is a nice alliteration, what, exactly are the conscious about? Not the state of my liver. Clearly conscious of whatever it takes to separate weary business travelers from their per Diem.

I don't need "green" restaurants purporting to be healthier for me than I can possibly realize. When you are paying thousands in rent for the restaurant pad and have a maitre de in California, you are not conscious of reality.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Shameless Halloween Showoffs

The sweats start in September. Not from the start of school but the looming deadline of Halloween. I make costumes for my kids mostly because of the need for variety - my kids aren't "off the rack" so why should their costumes be? - and because $40 for $10 quality, in this arena, just totally pisses me off. I also have kids willing to let me. Rather, the oldest has been, and the others let me when it makes sense. So far, in the last four years, I've mostly gotten away with one costume for one kid per year, really, so I've been lucky. This year is no different. Cairo wants to be Harry Potter, though it was a race car driver before this. I want to talk him back into the latter, but there is no budging him. I've done this one before (in 2001) but it disappeared a week after Halloween and has never been seen again.

So, as I piece together old bits of black satin in mismatched pieces (yards and yards of it) with the used pattern, I find myself in another crazy mom-dilemma. I am piecing together a costume similar to one seen before in this family from spare parts - so am I neglecting my younger son because I am piecing it together. It is out of
necessity really and opportunity in that I have the stuff, but have to work twice as hard to get it together. For a robe. Alas. I will hem on.



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ryan


My oldest turns 17 today; I suppose he is 17 at this point. He was up early and gone half an hour before normal slogging-time this morning because he got a call at 11 last night demanding he be early. So he is. I demanded pictures - it's one of the reasons I got him the phone, after all....

With this momentus day, I can't help but to reflect, almost more than I do on my own birthday. After all, on my day it's just a mark of time passing. Here, today, I have to question all of it. Did I do right by him? Am I showing a good role model? Am I leading him to greatness or just middleroad mediocrity? Will he get what it is to live or remain in the confines of structural rules forever? What will his future hold and have I prepared him for it at all? Doubt, regret, fear, hope... it all crawls into it.

Fearfully, I find remeberance falls into it, too. I can't help but apply my own youthful experiences to him. But with so many differences, how can it be relevant at all? Plus, I'm not a boy. That and I was living on my own in my mother's house with four strangers and no guiding focus at 17; hardly relevant to my son, the junior. I try to simply remember my attitude about life at 17 so that I can react to him without being superiorly defensive. I knew everything at 17, the world was messed up, I had to find my niche to fix it all, and I just had to go to college because that is what you do. With these glasses, I often can only nod, knowingly, to his revelations on life, to his requests to go out with friends at 11pm on a school night, to his inability to discuss something scheduled for next week because AP tests are this week ("I'm just stressed, mom, and can't face it now"). I don't laugh in his presence about it; it's all so very critical, so life-ending, so important. Because, now, 20-years on, it is so important what my SAT score was and what Michelle thought of me. Those thoughts, that path, led me here, no doubt, but not without so much more in between. But he doesn't know this yet, he can't. So I can't treat him as though he does.

I can't imagine I'll be done with these thoughts in a year. Protective, motherly thoughts don't stop when the child officially becomes not-a-child. I just chose his path to be one of the things I didn't have, not one of the familiar things I did, and hope to have made his life better for it.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

3WW - Limmerick

Inspired by 3 Word Wednesday:

A stunning young girl had a ploy
to meet a handsome young boy
she'd flirt and she'd wink
when he'd buy her a drink
She'd box him and make him her toy.