Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Trusting the Mom-stinct, part 2

I'm a public school teacher. I attended public schools through high school. I'm a proud union member. I believe in public schools for all, and think that our education system should be expanded and improved and strengthened, not hemmed in by charters and voucher programs.


Our daughter attends private school.

Parenthood = it's complicated.

Last summer my mom-stincts went into red alert mode over Lily's schooling. I just could not rid myself of the pit in my stomach that seemed to be shouting at me- "She needs something different!!!"

Our daughter is a very bright, energetic and fearless child. Those are AWESOME qualities, but they didn't really jell with the traditional school that she had been attending until this year. Also, she was the only African-American girl in her grade. (and it's a big school) There was plenty of diversity- a majority of kids of color- just not her (beautiful) color. And she felt it. She was very vocal about feeling alone with her identity and she was having a hard time making good friends. Anywhere we went, she gravitated towards other African-American girls, even getting total stranger's phone numbers so that she should set up playdates with girls she met in the local park.

So, we needed a change. Unfortunately, the way that our city's schools system is set up, you really can't just go to any school you like.  Our local school is, frankly, terrible. Better schools in our area were over crowded and unlikely to take in a non-local kid.

Did I mention that this mom-stinct panic set in... last AUGUST? Uh-huh, I was a little slow on the uptake on that one.

Luckily for us, the lovely little Christian school that Lily had attended for nursery- Pre-K has an elementary academy, and very luckily for us, they had an opening in the 2nd grade.

So we found ourselves, just 3 days before school started, scrambling to take the entrance exam, fill out  forms, buying uniforms and supplies, transferring records and figuring out how we were finding the tuition fees in our budget.

Lily didn't take too well to the news that we were moving her to a new school. I believe there was some thrashing on the floor involved. But when we went to pick up her new gym uniform, and she saw the snazzy zip up jacket it came with, she was on board.

Fashion. Not unimportant to 7 year olds.

So here we are: I'm a Unitarian, public school loving, progressive education proponent hippie dippy mom sending her kid to a West-Indian, Christian, traditional, no-nonsense, uniform wearing school.

And it was, by far, the best decision we have made as parents so far.

She is thriving. She has an African-American teacher and principal. She is friends with everyone. She has zoomed up to the top of the class and loves it!

Thank you, mom-stincts. I promise to listen to you better in future.

Monday, February 19, 2018

the children will lead us...

I'm about to use a lot of all caps. I'm sorry. I'm fired up.

I've been thinking a lot about teenagers lately. I have my own teen, as of a few weeks ago. (Okay, not literally, but he's 11 going on 17, so it counts.) But besides the fun first world problems of dealing with zits, phone limits and texting ettiquite, our teens have some serious stuff to contend with.

They live in a country in which they are regulary the targets of madmen with guns. They live in a country piled to the sky with deadly weapons. They live in a country in which politicians, with STRAIGHT FACES, say to them, "well there is just nothing we can do" about gun violence.  Or, my personal favorite, "We should arm the teachers!"

As a teacher of nearly 20 years, I can say with certainty that is the stupidest idea ever, in the history of man. (Yes, MAN. This is (one of the many, many reasons) why we need more women in government.)

Arm teachers!? I can't even answer that without cursing. I sometimes have to hide my PENCILS because my students with special needs use them aggressively (and I teach elementary school). You think I'd let a DEADLY WEAPON in my room? You are out of your mind. And also, since when did it become my job to be a first responder or an armed guard? Protecting our lives is YOUR JOB POLITICIANS. And you are failing miserably, by every measure, in every way. DO YOUR JOB.

My job is to teach kids how to read and add. Your job is to legislate public safety. Clear?

It's been a tough week (year? decade?). But I have hope, I have a glimmer of hope, and so should you, because these teens, these kids who have been practicing red alert drills and lock down procedures and hiding under desks and in closets on the regular for years... they are fed up. They know how to use twitter and give interviews to CNN and they are ORGANIZING.

Here are three events already planned for the coming weeks,  planed and led by young people:

April 20th: School Walkout (to coincide with the anniversary of Columbine)

March 12th: School Walkout, supported by the Women's March.

March 24: March on Washington

And you know what else, in a couple of years these sophomores and seniors will be VOTING CITIZENS. So let's get out of the way and let the children lead. They might just save us all.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

A steely anniversary.

This weekend was Andrew and my 11th wedding anniversary. I always love to look up the traditional wedding gifts for anniversaries. They are so funny and old fashioned. Last year, our 10th, was the "tin" anniversary. So I got him a key chain with a dime inscribed with our initials and wedding date (Thank you,!). He got me tin wind chimes. (Then we argued for a few weeks about whether the chimes were too loud for the neighbors and should we hang them and where... they now live inside on our back door. LOL marriage.)

The traditional 11th anniversary gift is... steel. 10th is tin, 11th is steel. At first I thought, that's weird, it should be the other way around? I mean, isn't steel stronger and more valuable than tin? But upon reflection... it makes sense. 10 is a special, fun, look we did it! anniversary.  But 11- now you are in the thick of your marriage. You've (probably) been forged by some challenges. You've been tested and sharpened. Also, probably, those knives you got as a wedding present need to be updated.

So we celebrated our anniversary in very thick of marriage way (after farming out the kids to the grandparents. Thanks mom and dad!). We had a lovely little dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. We took a nap. (ah, the luxury.) We paid some bills and took care of some household chores. Mostly, we just hung out and enjoyed the quiet. We didn't need big gifts (although we could use some new knives...). We didn't need a lot of noise or big plans. Just us, and some quiet on a steely winter weekend. It was perfect.

Happy Anniversary honey.