Friday, November 6, 2009
Engage in sexual activities with someone they love?
Yeah, I thought so.
So, why, America are you so totally freaked out that a child might catch a glimpse of a breast or (gasp!) a penis? Why is it completely unacceptable to reveal adults engaged in a sexual situation in a movie or on television? But - it is perfectly ok to watch bodies be torn apart by gunfire, tortured, beaten, and generally bloodied during even daytime television?
I want my children to grow up (some time in the way distant future) and (in the confines of a monogamous relationship) have sex with wild abandon. This is normal stuff that humans do. People have private parts, people engage in erotic and sexual behavior - they are supposed to. Need I remind anyone that this is how we got here?
I never want my child to bloody anyone, shoot anyone, beat anyone, or engage in violent or bullying behavior.
So, shouldn't what I allow them to observe (on television, the internet, and in movies) track what I think is appropriate behavior? My eight-year-old isn't ready to watch hardcore porn or anything, but I'd far prefer he see naked people engaging in something mildly erotic than see mild violence. Besides, long-term exposure to these images is known to decrease sensitivity to witnessing real violence. I don't think it's healthy to be desensitized to other peoples' pain.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
This has also been a pretty severe chigger year.
So, it came as only a small surprise when I got a call from the daycare last week.
"There is no emergency, but you need to come pick up T as soon as possible. He'll need to see a doctor this afternoon."
"Why?" I asked, already kind of knowing the answer.
"He has CHICKEN POX. They're terribly contagious you know."
"No," I said, "he doesn't. He has chiggers."
"They are all over over, he has spots all over his abdomen and back, they are all oozing and I'm afraid its chicken pox. You really need to come get him."
This isn't even the first time they've called me for a "chicken pox" case in one of my kids - my kids play outside a lot. No, it isn't chicken pox (he's even been vaccinated). Yes, they are gnarly - because he won't leave them alone.
I'm almost embarassed.
Actually, someone gave it to him. Really, it was a "one-million-dollar-bill". He was pretty stoked about it and was telling me how rich he is.
I let him in on a little secret. "They don't make million dollar bills... it isn't real".
To which he (of course) replied, "Yes, it is too".
I tried to (gently) explain that, while I'd be thrilled if he were truly a millionaire, they really don't make one million dollar bills.
The "boy who is never wrong" told me that his friend's mother told him it is real.
Again, I pointed out that, while she may have a sense of humor, she was not being completely honest with him.
Then, he told me that she knows it's for real, and she is way smarter than I am.
Um, ok, lots of people are way smarter than me. Why do you think that this particular lady is way smarter than me.
"Well, she's older than you - she is FIFTY".
Ok, she's older. How do you know she's smarter?
"She is done with college and has a job counting money".
I said, "I'm done with college too".
He insisted, "No, she is DONE with college, you still go to college every day."
"Well, yes, I do, because I teach college."
"See, she is totally smarter - she is finished with college and you still go there every day."
I think maybe I'll send him to the bank with his father.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I don't mean that they aren't ever wrong... I mean that they refuse to believe that anything they say could ever be in error, even if that error is slapping them in the forehead?
"Mom, you're going the wrong way". This is middle son, B.
"No - this is the way to Target". I respond.
"No it isn't." He repeated at ever-increasing volume until I turned into the parking lot of Target.
"See, here's Target". I chirped from the front seat.
"Can I have some gum"? He changes the subject.
Then, he was invited to a birthday party. At a karate place. At the Kroger lot.
"Where's the party?"
"At the karate place".
"You're going the wrong way".
"No, the karate place at Kroger".
"There is NO karate place at Kroger". He insisted at ever-increasing volume all the way to the Karate place over Kroger, at which he said:
"This didn't USED to be here."
Yes, dear, since before you were born... I thought, shaking my head.
Skip forward to my (first) repeat visit putting them to bed tonight.
"Go to bed".
"Mom, did you know that bats are blind?"
"No, they're not, they can see".
"No, in a book today at school I learned they're blind".
"No, they're not, but some people have thought they are".
"They're blind". (repeat a few times).
Finally, I shoot back, in frustration "Who do you believe? A PhD in biology or someone that writes books for first graders?" (How petty can I get, do you suppose?)
Z, my oldest son, says, "I believe the PhD." Then, he looks at my B, who was shaking his head and about to blurt out another "THEY'RE BLIND" statement and Z says...
"Yeah, right and there's no karate place at Kroger either".
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
But - for the love of Pete - two weeks in a row we've gotten a collage assignment with only one night to complete it. On a soccer night, of course.
I am buried with the moaning, crying, and anger over my two big kids homework (and that's just me, they cry too). Give us some flexibility for homework with our four-year-old, please?
If you are here as a regular visitor - you can see me rant over at stophomework.com today on Obama's initiative to increase the duration of both school years and days. Because, if something isn't working - what you need is MORE OF IT.
Friday, September 4, 2009
First, the school has an official policy that no child may get off the bus without an adult waiting for them. I don't really agree with this policy.
As an aside, walking and biking to school is forbidden (it is on a very busy road, but really?). The pick-up lines can take 20 minutes or more.
I was a latch-key kid from fourth grade up. Many kids in that day were. This does require parents to be sensitive to their kids' maturity. It also requires some lessons in common sense (how to answer the phone, whether to answer the door, not to use appliances, etc.). I felt grown-up and empowered. I'd fix myself a salad (yes, a salad) then read, play or (sometimes) watch tv until mom got home two hours later. I bear no scars. Many of my friends did the same thing, and (more or less) did fine. Some watched more tv than others and some ate more junk food than others (they can only eat what is at the house, by the way).
This is not a message only to gripe about the school eliminating elementary latch-key kids, though. There is a more Draconian policy.
The pressing policy here is that the bus driver will only let the kids off the bus for someone they know. What does that even mean? She let them off for my husband because the kids said he was their dad and likewise for my father.
I use a variety of different college kids college kids for after-care. The college kids do a great job (usually), I have a steady supply (I do not use current students, but have many former students on campus), and they can usually find their own replacements for the inevitable sick day or college obligation. I (usually) know in advance and can send a note to the driver for this inane policy.
If I forget to leave a note (or don't know in time to do so)... the driver objects. That said, she has, sometimes, let the kids off for unexepected babysitters (to whom she delivers scathing rebukes).
But, she absolutely refused to let them off the bus for a male student. She returned the kids to the school and the school called me. I had to reassure the lady in the office that, indeed, I did hire a male babysitter and he would be perfectly fine to send the kids with. Then, he had to pick them up at the school. As an aside, he did not have a booster seat so, technically, he broke the law at that time by driving the kids the 1.5 miles to our house. That would have, of course, been unecessary if the driver had just let the kids off the bus.
How does the school imagine that the usual sitter was absent and another young (male) college kid was standing in? What are the options?
- The usual kid called a (male, in this case) student to stand in due to illness.
- The usual kid is running late and asked a friend to fill in for a minute.
- The usual student is bound and gagged in my house and this nefarious looking college man is standing in ready to kidnap my kids.
- The usual student forgot to babysit today and this man happened to be waiting to take her place should she fail to show.
Can we safely discount the likelihood of items three and four? According to Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids - if you wanted your child to be abducted by a stranger - you would need to leave them (on average) on a curb for 780,000 years. This doesn't make stranger abductions any less tragic... but, this is not something the school needs policies to protect against.
Further and most importantly - why trust the women and not the men? What has happened to a sexist society where we don't trust men with children? It is any wonder that some men are disengaged in parenting? Do we not predispose them as such by assuming them untrustworthy with children until they have their own?
And, I may be alone here... but, I have certainly seen women marginalize the male contribution by suggesting that they aren't as good at diapering, dressing the kid, or whatever. Do we wonder why men often don't participate fully? Men may parent a little differently, but maybe we all need that balance.
Friday, August 14, 2009
My sister A and I said, simultaneously "Andrew. Quit screwing around buckle up".
At this point, I look at Z (my oldest), and see that he is blanching. "Z, What!"
"Mom," Z says, "I think that the buckle might be gone".
"Might be gone? How could a buckle be gone?"
"Well," Z goes on, "I might have played with it".
"Playing with it doesn't make it go away. Andrew - look more carefully... did Z push the buckle in between the seats?"
I look at Z again, "What?"
"I mean, I think that I might have kind of taken it off".
"You did what? So, where is it? ... Everyone, let's look on the floor of the car, they can't have gone far".
Z blanches. Sheepish, he says, "Um, I think we'll have to drive separately".
Driving our combined five children in two separate cars for an additional eight hours in each direction is not really the solution we were looking for at five pm on a Friday.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, mom, I kind of think I took it off, then... it was really long ago, things have gotten really jumbled around in here. I am pretty sure that some of the pieces are gone."
"When did you do this? And, um, what do you mean pieces? Where would they go?"
"Well, mom, I took it apart a long time ago. There were three pieces. And, we've cleaned out the car a few times since then... I'm sure that all of the pieces aren't still here."
So, there my sister and I are... at 5:15 on a Friday evening, trying to find a Honda dealer that has this part. Each one I call says they don't stock that part... because it isn't removable. I direct them to my eight-year-old for instructions. We finally find one that is (sort of) on the way to our destination - so, we all pile in (sister in unbuckled seat, eleven year old nephew illegally in front seat) to get the part.
After an hour of driving - they have the wrong part set aside. The parts department is closed, my sister loses her temper, and we are told, there is nothing they can do. As I plead our case, my sister goes in search of a salesmen. She convinces them to remove the piece from a vehicle on the lot and charge us to replace it.
It takes a mechanic twenty minutes and three tools to remove the piece from the existing car, and my son has to show him how to install it (using the tools) to our car. It took him over twenty minutes to install, because he refused to listen to my son that insisted a piece was missing... until a woman from the dealership ran out with the errant piece of hardware.
Are you as smart as an eight year old?
Of course, on reflection, I realize where his idea for removal came from. Three or four months ago I yelled at the kids about the danger of fighting over the strap with the metal buckle on the end. Somewhere in Z's unusual brain, this triggered the idea that the safest thing (actual car safety aside) would be to remove the offending piece (so they couldn't fight over it anymore). I am sure this is what happened... I only wish he would take more seriously the dangers of having pee on the bathroom floor or the dreaded unflushed toilet.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
I don't miss the Thriller era, and I wasn't especially a fan of Beat It, or Billie Jean. I couldn't even tell you much about these songs, except that I remember the Thriller video and that MJ couldn't really pull off the gangsta look in the Beat It video. But, I have fond memories of hearing the Jackson Five. I know, I know... I'm dating myself... in my defense I have much older siblings, so I skipped a lot of the teenybopper stuff I was supposed to like (e.g. Shaun Cassidy).
In homage to MJ, I listened to My Name is Michael, by the Jackson Five. His sweet innocent voice, that he tried so hard to hang onto is so bittersweet now. The young man lost all semblance of a normal life when the Jackson Five made it big. His self-image problems, fueled by an unusual family, his earning power, and the public scrutiny of his career, insured that he would never have a normal moment or a sincere trusted friend - someone that wasn't influenced by his money or power.
Why is it that we seem pathologically unable to either leave people alone (even if we like their music)? Even more frightening, why are we pathologically unable to avoid fame, even after watching hundreds of celebrities self-ignite in the glow of it?
Why, oh why, didn't John and Kate (plus eight) see it coming? I'm not really a fan or a detractor (I may have seen part of two episodes), not really my cup of tea... but even back to the first reality television (a PBS series in the 70's), no marriages have survived the scrutiny.* Maybe the sanctity of marriage and family life aren't intended for public scrutiny. Maybe all of us, if shown in tv soundbites, would seem so atrocious and unmatched that we wouldn't be able to bear staying with our partners?
Let's have a momnt of silence.. but not just for poor disfunctional, unhappy Michael, but also for the lives of so many that our constant intrusion has ruined.
And, let's hope that that the next family that is approached with a television deal has the good sense to avoid fame and fortune and be working stiffs like the rest of us - it isn't glamorous, but it has more potential for happiness.
*With the possible exception of the Duggar family with 19 children and counting... but, I am not completely convinced that they are actually human.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
In a moment of parent-induced truce, I told Z he had to apologize to B. He did so immediately and stuck his head back in a book.
B started complaining a few moments later, that "I didn't hear him apologize, so he didn't do it. He has to do it again so I hear it".
If a tree falls in the woods and B doesn't hear it, did it really happen?
Thursday, June 11, 2009
It will be hard to get my job done and get some time for myself. But, I am also committed to trying to give my kids that free, wide-open kind of summer that I had with time for cricket-catching and berry snatching, as well as the odd pickup athletic event.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
And, J said "why not - I'll follow him in the row boat". Hmmm.
So, we put on his life vest, gave instructions, handed him the paddle, got the boat nearby, and shoved him from shore (and, I held my breath while J calmly followed him from a safe distance).
T tooled around close to the shore, figured out how to turn and go straight, and about burst into pieces over doing it all by himself.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
So, in ten minutes when I finish writing here, I am going to throw my kid out.
No, not forever. But, I am going to drag him out of his pajamas, put him in shorts, slather sunblock on him and get him outside.
Can you think of any reason to take a beautiful sunny, breezy day in Junne and spend it rolling around on the couch reading? I didn't think so.
Throw yours outside, too! (and, physician, heal thyself as well).
Instead, it was glorious yesterday to have no agenda or hurry. We had a leisurely morning, then went out for a hike. We caught lizards, played in mud, found some insects and listened to birds. We also found about 100 ticks (the down side). Then, we picked up a lunch and had a picnic.
How glorious to let the kids loose on the trails and just be dirty boys.
What have you done lately with no agenda or timetable?
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
So, I thought that I would talk with them about the possibility.
I said, "I have been thinking that maybe you should learn some responsibility", insert eyeroll here. "I was thinking that, if you can demonstrate that you know the difference between tools and toys, I might be able to buy you a sort of tool". Now I had their attention.
I continued, "Toys are multi-purpose things that you can be creative and use in many different ways, where tools have a specific type of use. When you are done using a tool for its intended purpose - you clean it and put it back where it belongs".
They are still wide-eyed. "Mom, what kind of tool are you thinking about?" They are nearly jumping out of their table spots now.
"Well," I said, "I'm thinking that you may be old enough to own a jackknife - but, you'd have to show me that you know how to use a tool first".
My middle child jumps out of his seat "Oh, mom, then you could buy us one of those things".
"You know, one of those things, the flat wall-like thing with the target so we can practice throwing the knives and they can stick in it!?!"
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I commented last week on StopHomework.com. Sarah, the owner of that blog, asked if I might guest post - and I'm working on it, I promise.
Here is my problem: My philosophical problems with homework, both in general and in its usual implementation are all over the place.
I want to write:
- how education is screwing our children out of opportunities to be creative and innovative, I've already touched on that here.
- how ridiculous and wrong it is for our schools to simultaneously bemoan the obesity epidemic in the USA while having our kids sit behind desks plugging away at worksheets for six hours every day then sending them home with more work to do in lieu of playing outside.
- how traditional school assignments that spell out every last detail of the assignment (except for actually doing it for the kid) paralyze student's ability to create, modify, and respond to assignments that require critical thinking, judgment, and innovation.
- how appalled I am at how little outdoor exploration is included in education. Understanding the resources we rely upon and the world around us should be integral to our education. Short "nature walks" where we point at stuff is not a replacement for getting dirty, discovering wild nettles, poison ivy, ants, and other creepy crawlies. To further explore this, read Louv's "Last Child in the Woods" - he is far more eloquent than I am.
- how, under the guise of safety, we are restricting any independent exploration of children. To grow healthy and responsible, kids need to learn to be responsible for themselves (in appropriate doses and with instruction - of course). I regularly see college students that literally panic in situtations that require a little trouble-shooting (vans break down on college trip, airline delays, illness during test period, regular bumps and bruises, scary flying insects outside, etc.). Sometimes, I think that the most valuable thing my students learn on field trips is how to deal with everyday life-time nuisances without calling Daddy on their cell phones.
- why it is that teachers feel compelled to send some work home, whether or not it will provide a valuable learning opportunity.
- how my philosophy of giving assignments in the classroom has changed since I have seriously considered exactly what it will take to satisfy my demand and what they are expected to get out of the exercise. That is, be willing to either actually do (I have done this), or imagine doing the assignment yourself. That may change the amount or type of assignments that you require.
- how my philosophy of work has changed toward empowering students to make choices. Where possible, the students (all together) select assignment due dates, pick between possible assignments, or select readings (from a list of appropriate ones). It makes a task less onerous if students have been empowered to make choices.
- when we will include allowing children to learn independence in the list of educational goals, even if that requires sometimes letting kids make mistakes. When I was a kid (yes, I walked uphill, both ways) I took a chemistry class where we played with fire, threw sodium into water (it was FUN), made chlorine gas. In biology, we used scalpels to dissect animals, and grew E. coli. We went fishing for the fishing club. And, all of these experiences were in sixth grade! I was
allowedempowered to be an indpendent person from an early age, with the caveat that being responsible went with the independence. So many of my college students simply don't know how to accept responsibility for their own actions, which also means that they can't fully appreciate their accomplishments either (how sad).
In answer to your burning question: I decided that I've already passed second grade - I don't need to worry about second grade homework. Does Yale University reject incoming students because they didn't write about Egypt in second grade?
I told Z, "Do it or don't do it. If you don't, you will fail the assignment and that would be your problem. Also, if you don't finish it you won't get to read tonight in bed (reading is his absolute favorite thing in life). But, it is up to you."
Then, I told him to ask for assistance if he needs it, but I'm going outside with B (younger brother).
He thought about it for awhile, then he did his homework.
And, my head didn't explode. What a mess that would have been!
My handsome young man was Prince Charming.
I was sent out (last week, late, ill-planned, and frazzled) one evening to
I bought him black dress pants, a long white t-shirt (tunic?), and a purple scarf to tie his tunic with. His teacher added her fifth grader's dress jacket to the costume. He had made a crown for himself.
He was handsome and charming.
Hilariously, however, throughout the entire play he channeled a disaffected teenager. While he sat, he sat with legs splayed and looked bored. While everyone stood, sang, and did the cute, coordinated hand movements (made grand smiley gestures with hands whilst singing about smiles) - he stood on one foot, arms crossed, and mouthed the words.
He was engaged and charming while slipping the slipper onto Cinderella's foot - then, swaggered back to his place on the riser.
A few times, I caught his eye, then I could make him break into a giant grin. Other than that, my boy was just too cool for all of it.
Monday, May 11, 2009
J got some exercise trucking along with the big boys. I gave them some insect vials and the camelpack backpack loaded with snacks. They had a grand time.
T and I muddled along, hopping, jumping, skipping, sitting, whining, and watching bugs. We moved at a painfully slow snail pace. Honestly, I felt like a somnambulist about half-way through.
But, on the plus side, we say a garter snake (T got to pet it as it zipped away), a black racer, a black rat snake, a mama duck with babies, turtles, bees, ants (which T stomped on), spiders (we played with some), crickets, and a variety of other stuff.
I successfully kept T from playing with poison ivy, but was able to let him smell sassafras and black birch.
Then, when we got home, the great tick-finding extravaganza began and didn't finish for the rest of the night. I took about four of them off of us on the trail. I pulled one out of my hair and one from my hip right when I got home. Then changed all of my clothes and brushed through my hair. Z looked himself over when he got home as did J and B.
By dinner time, we had re-examined ourselves and all found more of them. So, in B's words - we became "naked family". Everyone but me was stripped to the skin in the kitchen... we pulled two more ticks from Z, three from B and (I think) EIGHT from little T. J went back through my hair and I looked myself over again in the bathroom.
Then - while watching late-night tv last night, I pulled another one off of my stomach that was just walking around.
Wow, early tick season here.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Z is outraged.
"I can't believe that they invented that... I wanted to do that. I wanted to invent that, and they got to do it first. They get to spend all of their time inventing, and all I get to do is... grow."
I see lots of opportunities for sloth, lots of thunderstorms, and then it's gone in a flash (of lightning).
This summer, I have to find a way to make the most of the short time I have. And, I mean that both in terms of having fun with my still-young boys and kicking some work ass (and having some quiet time).
This really means putting my plan into action. No, not the evil, cackling plan. Just the one that has me spend less time staring off into space and more time accomplishing both fun and work.
It's time to change, folks.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Can you tell that I hate grading papers?
This explains my pathetic absence for - oh, about the last 15 weeks.
I haven't taught two new courses since my first year teaching.
But, since then... we have changed a few things:
- I am program chair
- I am on four campus committees
- I've had three children (that like to eat every day, and they even like to wear clean socks)
- we've bought a house (that sometimes needs maintenance)
- I've added about ten years to my age (necessitating reading glasses and regular exercise for proper functioning)
Done whining thanks, more later.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
The time has come to address why males are less successful in our educational system than females. While educational initiatives for girls are still important - we need to figure out how to fix the leaky pipeline of bright young unsuccessful boys. It comes as no surprise to my
The kid went into kindergarten with high hopes and WAY ahead of the curve on all the pre-tests. At this point (six months in), he shows NO signs of increased achievement, and has decided everything but gym class and art sucks. Can't we just spend kindergarten teaching kids that learning is fun? It is really crucial to his college enrollment that he is reading by the end of kindergarten? Are worksheets the best way to learn?
Let's start initiatives to help boys succeed, to actually get some male role models into the elementary schools (other than PE teachers), and to get them dirty at school - cuz' that's the funnest stuff to do.
I am a big Dewey fan - we learn by doing, let's do more and talk about it less. I think we need to introduce the following into kindergarten (all things, by the way, that I remember doing in elementary school):
- playing in dirt (gardening?)
- counting games that require running around
- letter games that require running around (run to trace the letters? playground chalk?)
- blowing shit up (science? I don't know, but it sure is fun)
- walking in the woods
- keeping frogs in tanks
- growing insects
I bet there are a million better ideas. This totally makes you appreciate the potential of homeschool.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
I have never met a gadget I didn't like. If you want to sell me something that promises a shinier ass or smaller floors (or vice versa, whatever). You can promise me time-saving, money-saving, a cleaner environment - it really doesn't matter. I will need it.
My lastest follies include:
- the food saver (which works well, but takes too much space - so, I don't use it when the beer bottles pile up in front of it).
- a leg-hair remover, which works terrific, way cheaper than a wax, but - the pain-free promise was total bullshit
- a pasta-maker
- an immersion blender (great for soups on the stove)
- a rug shampoo machine (I should really use this more often, eww)
- my dog has an invisible fence
- active sitting pads for the boys
- a bread machine (makes great bread, J doesn't like the bread). It is stored in the pantry, on the floor, under a hundred things.
- a micro-derm abrasion home face-cleaning device (which makes my skin feel way smooth and nice) - but, too often I just fall into bed with no "beauty regimen" other than removing my bra, pants, and socks.
- a kitchen-aid mixer - which, is arguably not a gadget, but a power-tool - and I love it.
- a special mop system for my wood floors. It made them look fabulous the two times I used it.
- A dryer vent cleaner. This is terrific and it cleans our mysteriously 18 foot long dryer vent with 7 turns in it. We should probably use it more often than every other year. Probably doesn't matter at the moment because the dryer hose fell off the vent and we haven't bothered to move our gargantuan machines to stick it back to the vent.
- a device that lets me pee in the woods without completely dropping trou (which, astonishingly, seems to work - but still requires gads of concentration and a good bit of privacy)
- and my latest - a home soda maker (promises money saving, smaller landfills, and a nicer smile). So far, we've made soda or flavored seltzer a hundred times in four days - let's see if it is still in use next month.
Does it surprise anyone that I have an IUD?
Here is my proposal. Next time I get the burning desire to make my life happier and disposition sunnier by spending (only) $29.99 on some labor-saving, space-filling piece of plastic shit - I should have a support person to call that can bring over a six-pack to talk me out of it.