Sunday, January 27, 2008

Expensive tastes

Dear technology industry:

Can you find a cheaper way to make these new gadgets so they don't cost so much in the stores? My daughter has an eye for technology. She gets that from her dad. It seems that at 6 years old, she's already outgrown the average $10 Littlest Pet Shop set, $15 Barbie and $20 board game.

For Christmas the only thing she wanted was a Wii. She insisted that Santa was bringing her that Wii. Lucky for us Santa won a Wii in a raffle at work. Over Thanksgiving, Uncle JuJew (or JewJew, JuJu, JewJu...whatever you prefer) taught her how to use his i-phone. She insisted that she had to have one. Not happening.

Tonight we had the following conversation...

Alex: I think you should buy me a Blu-ray DVD player for my room.

Me: Oh really?

Alex: Yeah, don't you know that Blu-ray DVDs hold way more stuff on them and they don't get scratches, so we can't ruin them. You'd have to be stupid not to have one.


Alex: I'm totally getting one...

Hmmmm.... $50 Philips DVD player for my 6 year old's bedroom or $500 Sony Blu-ray DVD player for my 6 year old's bedroom? I think I'll just remain stupid for now.

~Mom on the Edge

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I flip for no one!

Dear early childhood educators:

Let me start by saying that I know your intentions are good. I know you certainly aren't in it for the money. I know you love my children and I appreciate that more than I can say. That being said, there are just some things I really don't understand.

I know it's fairly impossible to teach to each child's level. The ratio of child to teacher is just too great for that, in most cases. It just really bothers me because in many cases it has meant my kids have to move backwards in their abilities to accomodate others. That seems so unfair to them.

Example #1 ~ The Coat Flip

Sam is a very smart and capable kid. He loves to please others, but can be stubborn when a request seems arbitrary or if he thinks there's a better way. He usually will comply with our requests without argument as long as we allow him some latitude in HOW it gets done. He has always done well at preschool and the teachers love him. When I picked him up today though, his teacher seemed troubled. I asked, as I always do, how Sam's day went. Her concern turned out to be that Sam had refused to do the "coat flip" that they have the children do before going outside. If you're not familiar with the coat flip, it's a method lots of people use with small kids so they can put their own coats on, be self sufficient in that way, feel good about themselves...and save the teachers a lot of time. They have the children lay their coats on the floor, put their arms through the sleeves and then flip the coat over their heads. At first I was concerned that he was just being contrary and maybe was insisting that the teacher put his coat on him. that would have bothered me. But, come to find out...he just put his coat on the way most people do, one arm at a time. Naturally, I wasn't seeing the problem. I mean, that's how I put my coat on. Don't you? I don't know any adults, or even children over 5 who use the coat flip method. The whole time Sam was sitting in the back seat quietly, occasionally whispering, "I just don't flip my coat." So, I told the teacher that he has learned the right way to put a coat on and likes that better. Her response, "Well, the coat flip is the way we do it at preschool. And we want to be just like our other preschool friends, don't we?" I decided silence was the best response I could offer to such a ridiculous statement. My real answer? Hell no I don't want my son to be "just like" all the other kids! I just want him to be Sam.

By the way, Pearson and I had this very same argument with Alex's preschool teacher when she was 3 (same school, different teacher). Alex refused to do the coat flip as well.

Example #2 ~ The Primaries

No, not those primaries. As far as I can tell they aren't discussing the election in preschool or kindergarten. I'm refering to primary pencils and know, the big fat ones. Back in the summer Pearson and I had kindergarten orientation where we met the teachers and got a folder full of forms and information. The teachers told us to browse through the information while we were there so we could ask any questions that might come to mind. I had several questions ranging from why they ate lunch so early (10:50 am!) to if they were able to work with the children on their own individual level for reading and how that was handled. I got satisfactory answers to all of those questions. But then I asked if all of the kids had to use primary pencils and crayons. Their answer was simple: yes. I questioned the reasoning behind this. They informed me that children have an easier time learning the proper way to hold a pencil or crayon if they're taught using the primary ones, then they will move on to regular pencils and crayons. My response was, "Where does that leave a child who already has that skill?" They seemed confused by the question. So I continued..."My daughter has been using a regular pencil and regular crayons forever. Her grasp is perfect and her handwriting is excellent. I just worry about setting her back by taking this giant leap in the wrong direction." One of the teachers replied, "Well, that's how we teach them to do it right." And I replied, "And since she already does it right, then isn't this just a step backwards for no apparent reason?" The answer: "That's just how we do it." Not good enough....

These are just a couple of small examples of a much bigger problem, I think. Schools are really stifling the individuality of our kids...or at least they're trying to. It seems like the education system has taken a step back since I was kid. There certainly were a lot of similar situations back then, but they seemed to be making progress in that area. I had several teachers who encouraged me to be unique, taught me to question authority (respectfully, of course), pushed me to explore and examine life, glorified the unconventional. Maybe I was just blessed with some excellent teachers and opportunities. But it seems like there's more to it. It's all so single minded now. They teach the kids so they'll pass a test instead of teaching them so they can change the world. They teach them to be like everyone else, when most of the people who have made a real difference in this world have been incredibly unique.

I want my kids to do great things, to be great people and push themselves into new and exciting adventures. You can't do that while being forced to conform. So, I guess my point is less about the arbitrary rules of the education system and more about my own overwhelming pride in my children's early abilities to fight the power!

~Mom on the Edge

Sunday, January 20, 2008

On a personal note...

Taking a break from my normal form here today, I want to address some personal issues. Most of my readers here know that I lost my mom to cancer two and a half years ago. It was a difficult journey, the cancer and the grief. But, as with all things, I got through it. It wasn't easy though. It still isn't.

Someone I love very much lost her own mother to cancer this morning. It's left me feeling raw and wounded all over again. At the same time though, I feel strong. I feel powerful. I feel like I can survive anything. And I know she can as well. She may not feel it today, or tomorrow. But she will heal. There's so much I want to share with her...but now is not the time. She needs this time to grieve.

But there are things I want to share here as well. I've never been through anything as horrible as losing my mom. The pain is not something I can even express. However, in so many ways I have been so blessed from the experience. Losing her opened my eyes to how lucky I really am, and always was. I have this amazing group of friends. They are so wonderful. I am surrounded by such strong and loving women. They've always been there...since we were really young. But I think I took them for granted. I didn't realize how lucky I was. Not everyone has that.

They are all intelligent, strong, beautiful, funny, loving, sarcastic, honest...just the best bunch of women I could ever hope to have in my life. They jumped right in and have filled a void in my life that I didn't even realize was there, until my mother wasn't. I don't know if they know how much they mean to me, but I guess they do now.

I love you, girls. You know who you are. Thank you for all the little gifts you give me, and each other, every day.
p.s. I also want to give my male friends a shout out. They are also wonderful, fabulous, amazing friends. I love you guys, too.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Such a critical thinker

Dear Alex:

I just wanted to document here how impressed I am with your abilities. You really are an amazing kid. So smart, so funny, so likeable. Today you were doing your homework and I suddenly realized how big you've gotten. You really think through your work. You're such a conscientious and enthusiastic student and that makes me so happy. I hope you stay that way. It will take you far.


Internet friends:

Alex was at the table doing her homework tonight. She was reading sentences and had to choose whether to circle YES or NO for each. She was reading them aloud to me. We had the following conversation...

Alex: This one says Can you ride on a fish?

Me: Well, can you?

Alex: You can't ride on a shark or a whale I know for sure. And you can't ride on regular fish either. People do ride on dolphins.

Me: Yes, people do ride on dolphins, don't they?

Alex: Well, they do, but dolphins aren't fish....they're mammals, of course. So the answer is no.

Nice job, big girl. :)

~Mom on the Edge

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Wii are loving it!

Dear Wii:

Thanks for coming to live with us. We're having so much fun. We play so much and it's such a workout! Even the kids are getting into it. In fact, Alex (who is just 6 years old) has a better record on some of the sports than her dad. She loves that. He does not. She's really good at bowling on the Wii. Her high score is 218. Her dad's is 205. :) It's family fun. Dad will just have to try harder.

Now, enjoy this video of Sam's first Wii boxing match. He knocked the guy out in the first round. Go Sam!

Oh, and for the record, my high score in bowling is 225. I rock!

~Mom on the Edge

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Am I good, or what?

I would like to direct your attention to this post in which I made the following prediction:

And now my prediction for this season. The Redskins will have a winning season. I'm going to say... we're looking at a 9-7 season....but I'm hoping for even better!

For those of you who don't follow football, the Redskins did indeed finish the regular season at 9-7. Nice!

~Mom on the Edge

Thursday, January 3, 2008

No Whammies

Dear 'Skins:

I'm going to be brief because I don't want to jinx anything. So, Come on Redskins! Big money! No Whammies!!!

~Fan on the Edge