It’s been a while.
G is now 14 a freshmen in High school. HIGH SCHOOL! It’s beyond comprehension, really. She loves soccer and TV, and is smart and kid and gets my humor. Her hair has gone from soft blonde waves to sandy blond right curls, and she looks like a powerful goddess when she releases it from its ever present ponytail. She is mostly kind with a perfect streak of spiky running through her, which makes her unafraid to stand up for herself. She practices this with me often, and I am trying to coach her on how to use it to advocate for herself and others. I think it is working, because last week I got cc’d on an email from Little Guy’s English teacher telling her to provide the link to his google doc for the paper he needed to turn in, and as I read down, I saw that he had gone to her for help since our printer wasn’t working, and she took the initiative to find the teacher’s contact information, compose an email introducing herself and explaining that they could find the online submittal instructions, and the printer issue, and asking that teacher how to proceed. I was thoroughly impressed. I had no idea any of this had gone on at all, and contacting a teacher directly to resolve an issue takes nerve st this age.
Speaking of Little Guy, he is 11. He stays in his room a lot, watching videos about Minecraft on his computer. He loves Minecraft. He plays soccer, too, but doesn’t super love it. I always think he’s not doing his homework, but apparently he does it without my knowledge (see above). He is smart and funny, and has a strong sense of justice and fairness, which makes teamwork challenging for him. He hates when other kids don’t work hard, or are mean to each other or him. I imagine it’s hard to be a boy of 11 when you feel so strongly. He uses words as his charming tools, twisting them and making me laugh; his sparkly dark brown eyes give away his impishness when he face
remains straight. He has stopped sibling fighting with G almost entirely, which is nice, but he and L still have a mostly love/occasional hate relationship even though he and L are very close. He is in 6th grade now, and is going to the same relatively small K-7 STEM charter school as L, which was a good reintroduction to public school for him. I hope he likes it... he keeps his cards close to his chest, like his dad.
Little L is sunshine in a person. She has the best laugh, and the most hilarious guffaw that suddenly will make you think you are sitting across from an 70 year old retired Bubbe from update who has relocated to Coral Springs. She is sweet and respectful, messy and creative. She is the baby through and through, happy to give of herself and happy to take from her siblings without asking. She loves to tell jokes. The friendliest of my 3, she finds new friends wherever she goes. She is also very sentimental, a collector of things and memories. She likes to keep in touch with people from preschool, and babysitting, and camps, and down the road. She holds my memories for me,
which is good, because I seriously have a hard time accessing them.
Which takes me to remeberizing. It’s a word that Little Guy came up with one day a few years back, when he was trying to use a $5 word in a $2 sentence, and smashed remember and memorize together instead. Some people can remember the smell of thier 4 year old’s hair, or the sound of thier baby’s laugh, or the way thier 9 year old used to set thier jaw JUST SO when she was mad. I have trouble with this. I don’t know why, as I think I’m pretty smart, and can remember a treasure trove of trivial facts from random sources, so why can’t I access the memories of my kids? I would love some help with this, a book or an article, a psychologist or a psychic, whatever works. I preserve my memories with photographs, which freeze time for me, which helps, but I would like to be able to relive things in my brain sometimes, too. It makes me unbelievably sad that I can’t. So, if you have any suggestions let me know!
Friday, March 13, 2015
I am refusing the test. "Opting-Out" if you will, of the state mandated Georgia Milestones Assessment for my kids. In Georgia, the law only mandates that the students be offered the opportunity to test, and my students will be exercising their rights of refusal.
Yes, the test is stressful for kids and teachers. Yes, all children will be subjected to this test, even those with IEPs and 504s. Yes, the testing material is developmentally inappropriate. Yes, forcing children to take tests, to write passages, and write mathematical explanations on a computer is unreasonable for 8 year olds.
Yes, the language arts curriculum is training our kids not to connect seemingly unrelated pieces of information to find innovation and/or truth by returning them into copy editors. (One topic sentence, three supporting facts, from THIS TEXT ONLY). Yes, this is making children reluctant to read, as all they know of reading is "informational" texts. (Remember monthly book reports? They don't exist anymore)
Yes, in the coming years up to 50% of teachers' salaries will be tied to the results of these tests, effectively forcing the teachers to teach to the test to preserve their careers and livelihoods. Yes, even this year, a year inwhich the scores "don't count", if you will, teachers and students are losing weeks of instruction time to test prep. But this is not why I am refusing.
I am refusing the test because my children aren't for profit. These tests are projected to have up to a 70% failure rate. MY kids will (probably) do well on them (maybe), but if they are in the 30% that pass, it means nothing if the rest of the school is deemed to be failing.
Now, I don't care if my kids are at a "failing" school, as long as I feel the school is doing well for them, but recently the Governor decided that he will have the State take control over the 100 worst schools in the state. Technically, he said those schools will have the "opportunity" to have the State take control of them, and the state will follow the lead of the Louisiana RSD.
In Louisiana, these schools were turned into charter schools, whose operations were then farmed out to private charter school companies to run. So, effectively, these private companies are making huge profits these children's' "public" education.
Sure, it might not be "my" school this year, but one day, it will be. That is how the plans are lining up. The writing is on the wall, and parents are too busy wanting their kids to succeed on THIS test to see the big picture of what that really means. They are using our children to make billions in profit for private companies, i.e. the test writers, the book publishers, the test prep market, the software companies and eventually the private charter school companies.
Speaking of software, guess whose foundation provided millions in funding for the push to transition to the Common Core Standards? The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. New testing software, anyone?
My children aren't for sale. Are yours?
Thursday, February 19, 2015
I hope I remember this say. This day when I was so exhausted I debated the reasonability of going to work in long johns and slippers. How Mister and I texted back and forth about traffic and lazy dogs, and changing dog nose colors, and the unique pain of stepping on monkeys (the barrel kind) from a half a world away.
The day when I picked up Alan and Danielle and Little Guy and Little L from school and Little L gave me a present of paper scraps to use at our next Daisy meeting. Then we all went to the gym and jumped on trampolines. I hope I remember that then Coach D said Little Guy was a bit timid on the Pbars and the kids ran amuck at babysitting and G and Little Guy got into a horrible fight at the end. The time when Little Guy pouted under the toddler climbing structure and refused to come out until we wereliterally walking out the door. I hope I remember how by bedtime, all was forgiven. How I rubbed oils on his back for his sore muscles and tucked him in like toast. How G let ZoZo upstairs for bed in her too big Braves Tshirt swiped from a bestie who moved to Pheonix and panties - no more matching PJs for my tween, but what a way to remember far
Flung friends. How Little L collapsed in my bed fully clothed and only stirred when I took out her ponytail braid. "Cow!" she said, thumb in her mouth.
And I really hope I remember how Little Guy asked me to cover him up again with an extra layer because his feet kept poking out from under his fluffy blankets; the same fluffy blankets he has been covering up with for his entire life.
Tonight, I watched Grey's Anatomy and was bummed because this is the last season, and ate cucumbers and drank wine. An unremarkable day. But a day that was good because it was lived.
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Monday, January 19, 2015
No one told me that being a parent would hurt so bad, deep down in my heart where the ache lives. When I think about how I probably won't remember today, a good day, a day spent with family and friends, watching my son do gymnastics. A day when my oldest was happy and helpful and at peace. A day when my youngest sang to me, "All I want for Christmas is my family" with her brown eyes sparkling and the burn on her chin still visible from when she tried to sneak an oven fresh cookie this past holiday. I won't remember the way they smelled, the sound of their little voices at these ages, the sailor knot oldest made in the little one's hair. And it pains me.
I wish I could just hit rewind and then repeat and do it all again. I wouldn't change a single moment. The happy, the sad, the stressful, the mundane. I'd just like to do it all again. I love them so hard it hurts, and we've really just begun.
Play it again, Sam. Play it again.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Mom, why does the earth orbit the sun? Why does it tilt on its axis? If it's winter here, is it summer somewhere else? Are there other planets like ours? What are we made of? Where did we come from? How come some animals have babies and other ones lay eggs? When did that happen? How did the air get here on the earth and why doesn't it float away? How can the earth orbit the sun because of gravity when there is no gravity in space? Are you getting tired of my questions? No? Ok, goodnight.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Today we slept in late (because of the fall back). G and I went to the grocery in our pjs and bought ingredients for pumpkin pie and the Sunday paper. We came home and cooked, cleaned, built a fire and the kids played together. Little L got the Spider-Man car stuck in her hair TWICE. She and My Guy had such fun putting a tiny stuffed pig on it and running it around the house.
My Guy and Little L spread their Halloween candy out all over the Xmas tree room floor, and ate it all, leaving the room littered with candy wrappers. We watched Big and talked about our upcoming trip to NYC. The girls stoked and billowed the fire and we used up all of the logs. We watched Frozen and drank hot cocoa with whipped cream and cinnamon. Little L used my iPhone to play music and dance
around the living room by firelight. We all stayed in our pajamas all day long. It was a Perfect day.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
At the bus stop this morning, I actually got out of my car and walked my kids to the curb. Normally, they just let themselves out because often I am not wearing any pants. (Hey! Mornings are tough!) Anyhow, today I wore pants - old paint-splattered pants and a ripped up tank top and a trucker hat to boot. And shoes! Well, flip flops. It was a good morning.
But I digress. I got myself to the curb with my kids and actually talked to the one other mom that brings her kids to our stop. Now I have "known" this mom for years - same neighborhood, wave at the pool, etc - but rarely have we conversed. She is beautiful. Fit. Always put together. Works full time. Always wears pants. (Or at least a skirt.)
We talked about the kids' new teachers, our school that we both love, and curriculum night which was held yesterday. I, of course, was yawning and tired, because I did not get home until 9 and then had do do the work of the house and bedtime alone, as Mister is currently in Egypt. She, of course, was not yawning, because she is seemingly always alert, even though I know she also had to do her nighttime routine alone. She is a single mom, you see.
I mentioned I am a room parent for both my kids' classes this year. She said, "Oh I can never do that stuff", flippantly with a hint of defensiveness and guilt ringing through her words. I cut her off and was like, I know sister! You can't! Someone's got to bring home the bacon! Working full time is a full time job.
The thing is, I get it, really I do. There are years I am so uninvolved that I hardly know the teacher's names. There are other years that I am super involved, because I can be. And on those off years, I know that the room parents and teachers and faculty are taking good care of my babies. They have got my back.
And during the involved years, it is my turn to step up and be part if the village. Without judgement. Without expectation.
And definitely not because I am some over involved mom that needs to hover over her kids and know every little detail of their lives. Simply because I can. This time, I can.
So to this perfect mom, and all the other moms (and dads) in my kids' classes I say,
We've got this, sister! Together, we've got this.
It's gonna be a good year.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
Sometimes I get caught up in this thing where I have a very gossipy story that I must talk about incessantly to my closest friends and family, so much so that I hear "you just can't let it go, can you?" from them and then I realize that something needs to be done. Not letting it go, mind you, I don't really think we can let things go anyway - we can only move on - but what I need to do is to sit with it. Let it be. Turn my attention elsewhere until the silt of my true feelings can settle down to the bottom of my brain and I can finally see it clearly for what it is. Concern. Pain for my friend. Anxiety about their future. Love.
Then the real work begins.