30 June 2009
Oh, no, I'm not saying that the state is a better mommy than most of us, but unless we're willing to pay a LOT more in taxes and give up a LOT of our freedoms, abuse won't even be diminished, let alone eliminated.
Look at this story. When Junior gets home from public school, just chain him to this 21-pound ball so he can't get out until his homework is done. Fire? Uncontrollable diarrhea? Too bad! The old ball-and-chain is in place.
Way to make him feel good about learning. Eeesh.
Maybe some parents shouldn't send their children to public school, either. THEY should take classes on how to parent. Oh, great. I just realized there *was* such a thing. And I was getting all snarky and sarcastic, too. Ruined the effect.
PS. YES, now everyone knows Michael Jackson's kids were homeschooled. So are just about everyone's kids in Hollyweird. In fairness, if Dad/ kid stars are out touring or working all over the world, it makes sense. But hiring a private tutor and taking personal tours of Europe with native tour guides isn't the usual homeschooling experience, mmmmkay?
Hm. Maybe there is this big rash of parents who homeschool specifically so they can kill and abuse their kids later, and that would be information the reporter ought to relay. (Go ahead! Watch what happens to the "comments" section of that story, and time how long it takes for your server to crash.)
Otherwise, why is that information relevant? I don't see, say, items about how much money the parents earn or the colour of their house or whether they have air purifiers in their home, etc. But somehow, it seems we need to know the alleged bad guys' religious beliefs and whether they homeschool when something bad happens. Am I supposed to be encouraged that at least we're starting to get away from "a black man did it?" Now it's just those weird Mormons. You know how *they* are, it's heavily implied.
Now this. An adopted child is offered for sex on the internet. Well, last I checked, when you ADOPT a child, it's your child just as though he were yours biologically. You have the same rights and responsibilities as any parent would with his child. You know, loving the kid, he's part of your family now just like kids are in everyone else's family?
So whyyyy do we need to know he's adopted? Do we need to start thinking bad thoughts about every adoptive parent? Should we have, "Yeahhhh, he adopted *that* pretty kid for the sex" in the backs of our minds when we meet a family built through adoption?
That's sick! But isn't that sorta what's implied in the story? WHY ELSE would the word "adopted" be upfront in the first sentence?
Now... if the reporter is somehow postulating that the adoption took place *in this instance* specifically for some sort of sexual gratification, s/he ought to come right out and say that. Don't just put the "information" that the kid is adopted out there and leave millions of adoptive families tarred by implication.
That just bothers me. Hey, God bless you adoptive and waiting parents out there. Things are hard enough without this crap.
29 June 2009
Seriously. These things are very important if you send your child to school. Not that you have any control over them. That's just the way it is.
Once I got Elf home, I knew I had to teach him to read well. That's stuff we were doing before just in our daily practice. How hard could it be? I taught Patrick with some flash cards years ago. Really! You'd be surprised at how many stupid words are impossible to sound out. Memorize this stack of 100 words, and you can read most anything. There you go.
I brought out the Dick and Jane series for Elf. It was then that I discovered something: the schools like to teach "phonics." I like to teach "reading."
To me, "reading" entails looking at a word and knowing the word. It doesn't entail sounding the word out like poor constipated Cookie Monster on Sesame Street. That's just so... un-natural. I have difficulty sounding words out. So do my children.
Therefore, we learn to read by learning what the word looks like. Then we put bunches of those words together and maybe sound out some of the easier words like... um... There really are very few words you can read properly phonetically. Can we just admit that? Just learn the word.
Emperor learned to read the same way. Dick and Jane. Then, when we were done with Dick and Jane, we got the King James out. Ok, this was kind of a hard transition. But now, Elf and Emperor can read words like "whithersoever" in a flash but have trouble with words like "onion."
But I think they read well enough, and are steadily improving.
The point being, though, that I missed out on "reading curriculum" entirely. I'm starting to pick up our ABeka book collection. We began the first grade readers and are now in the third grade readers. I suppose they are carefully formulated to get a little harder with each passing textbook.
But I don't have the special workbook! Shame!
Another thing we've bought is Landmark's Freedom Baptist Church Literature 115. Technically, it's a third-grade curriculum, but it's keyed to the McGuffey Readers, so I don't think it's shoddily-written or childish. It just looked like "something the kids would like," especially as Elf seems to be insulted when parts of a text are left out. Ellipses are his enemy. He MUST find the missing part.
One thing Emperor loves about the more modern readers and math textbooks are the pictures. He will carefully study the covers, and see if it matches an inside picture or lesson title. He will studiously look for items in the printing, such as a bee inside the letter B. He has to talk for several minutes about all the things he's found on the cover and title pages, and how "clever" they are to do it that way. Note to curriculum publishers: this child notices your designs and appreciates them very much.
I guess whatever works for your child is the best curriculum. I don't see why people get so upset over whether someone uses phonics, whole language or a combination of the two.
I am positing a hypothesis that whole language works better for autistic children, and that phonics is more difficult. At least that has been the experience in *our* family. I still haven't explored all the curriculum options out there. I suppose I never will. Ever read Tristram Shandy? Yup, I imagine I will find that perfect curriculum when the last child has become a high school graduate. :]
28 June 2009
So what does Allstate want to do? Just eliminate the *teen* drivers' ability to get unrestricted licenses until they're 18. Let the old people continue to crash their cars at will! Click on "provisions of the Safe Act" after you click here to find out that Mrs. C is not making this up.
Ok, fine, fine, you say. Teens can be really dangerous, so let's make it so they can't drive until they're adults. If they can't vote, why should they be driving machinery?
Well, I disagree with you... but I can see your point. Make the age of adulthood 18, but let them do *everything* adults can do at that age. Smoke cigarettes. Enter stupid sweepstakes. Drink until they puke. All that stuff you did when you were 14, but was old and dopey by the time you were 21. (Ok, but I never entered stupid sweepstakes. Sorry.)
If that's what you want to vote for in your silly little state, then fine. But do we need to have CONGRESS make all our laws for us nationally? I'm getting a little tired of Congress deciding everything about everything. States like mine get run roughshod that way by big bullies like New York, California and Massachusetts (the evil trifecta... and their supervillain friends like New Jersey and Vermont). It seems a little unconstitutional to me. True, we all get a vote for our congressguy and all that... but I always thought that the powers not delegated specifically to the Federal government were supposed to be left to the states.
You know, the states?
Here in Missour-ah, Patrick can drive at 15 (stricter than Kansas, which lets you drive at 14). He can take drivers' ed and the whole bit. He just didn't want to this year. He would prefer to wait until he's older. Could you please NOT sign him up for drivers' ed this year? He's not ready to be so responsible yet. (sigh. ok.) We love Patrick. I suppose he's welcome to be as strange as he likes, because it saves me money. In other strange news, he also says that God will tell him who to marry when he's older, so he'll probably find someone great unless God gets all Hosea on us. (Note to parents: maybe it isn't *always* best to pray "God's Will" over your kid, ok?)
In any event, I think every teen who is going to want to drive in the next few years should read what Allstate has to say about how competent they are. Do you really want to give your business to a company that thinks you're liable to crash your car *just* because of your age? That you are inherently irresponsible? That you and your parents can't figure out what's best for your family? Hmmm.... no.
The day after that was different. He was chomping on a large ziploc bag full of chocolate chips when I pulled up! He says "a friend" gave it to him. His "friend" didn't want it. His "friend" got the chocolate chips from his mom, so we know it's safe.
I told him to stop eating the chocolate chips *right then* and we would ask Dad what he thought about the idea.
"You just want to steal my chocolate! I never get to eat anything I want! It isn't FAAAAAIIIIRRR!!"
Oh, great. Little kids' eyeballs pop open in the "I know what's going to happen next and I don't like it" mode. I try to talk him down that we just need to "clear" it with Dad, and I won't take the chips, but don't eat any more, ok?
"They're not chips! They're chocolate! You're not listening to meee!" *meltdown*
Patrick's face is studiously blank. He knows not to say anything. Emperor, in his seven-year-old wisdom, points out that Mom and Dad SAID not to do this again, and Dad's gonna be mad.
Thanks, Emperor. That helped a lot.
G, I tell him, those are YOUR chocolate chips. No one will take them. I just want Dad to clear everything to make sure it's safe. I know Dad wouldn't want me to just let you eat them without talking to him first, ok?
"He's going to say NO!" G sulks angrily.
"Ohhh, you might be surprised," I tell him. (Might be, but almost certainly won't be, is what I don't add to that statement.) "But we won't know until we ask."
Later, D says things about how he "has to think about it" and the chips are still in my cabinet. G keeps bugging about it, but D says he has to think about it some more.
I swear, we do feed the child. Three meals a day, and sometimes snacks, too. Yesterday, he ate a Baconator, a chocolate Oreo Frosty and THREE LARGE FRIES from Wendy's. I have the receipt to prove it. Of course, after I paid and was coming over to the table, Patrick and G had their fingers in their Frosties and were mock-screaming, "There's a finger in our Frosties! We're gonna SUE!"
Latest news: G wants to donate $100 to the church missionary fund through the youth. Isn't that nice? Now, can he have the money? He'll do some jobs around the house for it.
$100. Jobs around the house. Well, if you weed the rock garden I will pay $5 an hour as always. He gets out there and within 10 minutes freaks out because there's poison ivy in there. Um, the solution? Leave it alone and stand there, not working.
I'm not paying for that. Missionary families are going to starve as a result of a bumper poison ivy crop here at home. Sorry, guys. I'm really great with giving charity, but I do NOT want my kids dictating how much I'm giving, when. And then their getting the credit for how spiritual they are.
Honestly, I think God will take care of these people and if I don't work on developing my children's character, we're all in big trouble. G needs to learn to work at unpleasant jobs sometimes. To follow directions even when he hates it! Well, we're working on that, is all I can say.
In other news, missionary giving has taken a big step back here at home (waiting for flames in the comments, sorry). Elf and Emperor are starting to realize that the dollar they give to the missionaries is a dollar they could have spent on a new toy. I think it's going to take some time to get back into balance, but the days of, "ALL my money is going to the missionary fund" are probably over for these kids. Offerings are literally offerings of yourself, your time, and your labour for other people working for the same cause.
I think next time they give an offering, it might be a smaller amount but MEAN more.
27 June 2009
I see a few people I used to go to high school with. (All liberal, as I went to school in New Yawk.) Some people I go to church with. (All conservative, as I live in Missour-ah, where we LOVE John Ashcroft.) Assorted people from the blogs (mostly homeschoolers, because... you know. I have a homeschooling blog?). It's so much fun to see all these different people together in one place. I think as long as we stick to topics such as, "Which Plastic Army Man Are You?" that we can all get along just fine.
Speaking of which, sometimes I take the silly tests because they only take a minute or so. I've found out new things about myself, such as the fact that I am "truley" a leader, or that I am the Bazooka plastic army man, or that I'm a Mother Hen mom.
But Facebook has a ton of other "features" that I've never used and don't have time to learn right now. If I automatically receive a "farm," it must be in ruin. I think I accepted a chicken and never figured out how to send a gift back or feed the chicken. That was several weeks back and I think my chicken is dead. And did you know that my brother is a Mafia boss on one of those game things? I wouldn't mess with him if I were you. He can be pretty ... intimidating in real life (6 ft 4, shaved head, tattoos and an attitude... Hi, Jim!), so I can't imagine what he's like online with his inhibitions gone. You've been warned. :p
One thing that kept making me sad for a while when I first got onto Facebook were the "friend suggestions." Facebook kept "suggesting" that I add my uncle, who had just died. His entries were still fresh on the rest of my family members' posts. There was his smiling face with the caption "Add as Friend" beneath. *sniff*
Do you like Facebook? Have you found and connected with old friends?
26 June 2009
This article postulates just that. And I'm not sure if it's a problem. I'm so doctrinally backwards that I'm not sure why I'm going to church anyway except for some vague verse about not giving up fellowshipping together in Hebrews 10:25. So, in this post, I'll chat about church attendance, and in some future post, I'll cover teaching children more specifically. Do you feel obligated to attend church and why? Personally, I like *most* of the people there well enough, but I don't know that "hanging out for a couple hours a week and sharing prayer requests" is really what fellowshipping is about.
Our pastor says that church should be like family. But my folks haven't been out to see the youngest two children, so I'm not sure how applicable that analogy would be. God loves ya, and he sends you some money every now and then... but He's too busy helping other people than to spend time with you. And you wonder what you did wrong that things are like this, but there's nothing you can do to fix it now. You wish you had lived your whole life differently so that you would never get to this point. You think of the five million things you've done wrong, and wonder which one of those five million is the root cause of the broken relationship. Bummer to be alienated from family AND God. Sucks to be you. I keep thinking maybe if I just become an atheist again, it wouldn't be so hurtful. Kinda tough to do that, though, when you really believe the stuff deep down. Though I hear from my atheist friends that when you keep going to church to get your programming updated, that's what happens. Hm.
And if church is like family, and family is expendible, then we're back at the "why bother" question. I mean, if I got to decide, I'd boot the church lady who told me that it's ok for schools to have "safe rooms." Because that's different from a closet because the teachers know what they're doing... well, she can go rot, and I halfway wish I could tell her so somewhere off church grounds (bring it on! Just not in church. Decorum and stuff.) Once I interrupted her little "discussion" about how she's surprised the pastor's kids did well in public schools since they were sheltered at home before and blah blah blah with a, "Guess-what? I'm homeschooling, too, and so do lots of people because public schools STINK." And watched her little face wrinkle up like a lemon as she had a "guest" listening. Who never came back! Too bad! Don't go fishing for trouble by gossiping about the pastor in front of me during "fellowship" next time, then. Come to think of it, we were off church grounds then. I should have been a little more specific about what I thought of her opinions then. I wish I could be more outspoken. Maybe that is a fault of mine, and all you people reading my blog aren't quite sure about my opinions. Interesting. I will have to think about this and devise ways to be more outspoken. You are welcome to leave ideas in the comments section, or a link to your blog on how you did this.
I think I'm skipping those "fellowship" times now on. People just start kicking doo around and I have a tendency just to pick the doo up and fling it back at the kicker full-force instead of speaking in love and all that. I just don't have the patience for that, and I'm not good at mincing my words and being all sweet and political. So whatever. (How's that for Christian talk? Maybe I'm just a bad Christian. I have a lot of trouble hearing things, like "I know you're very busy, but I just wanted..." means "I want something from you. Quick. And I don't specially much feel like talking to you." I read things SO SO literally. And I'll be pretty literal back after the old patience limit has been reached. And I get hurt when "I know you're busy" doesn't really mean "I know you're busy." Just tell me you don't want to talk and it's a quick call.)
I think I'd have a whole list of people who wouldn't make the grade and if I lived long enough, even I'd be on it. So is everyone who feels like attending a church included in the family? No matter what they do, anytime they do it? I don't think that, though I try to *act* as though I do, make nice while I'm in the building and let the pastor/leadership deal with the private matters because they know more about it and I have enough to do without worrying about who's doing what and howcome. (Hopefully that made sense.)
Since I'm telling pretty much everything in this blog post, I may as well mention that mostly, I go to church because I think there are at least a few people there who care, and that matters a lot to me. I also go because Elf needs to go and see other children. Well, so does Emperor, for that matter. It would be nice to say that I go for spiritual reasons like "glorifying God" and whatnot... but that isn't my real motivation when I look on my own heart. No point dissembling.
25 June 2009
She'll pull the elastic out and chew her hair. Between this and the couch-climbing, we have a lot of "finishing" to do on this one. Note to Girlie: and when you get older, the "peekaboo" game really shouldn't be played with your dress. And despite what your brothers have taught you, not *everyone* wants to smell your feet and pretend to die dramatically. Thanks.
You heard me. They're pimping Jesus.
Now I don't mean that Jesus is "participating" here, except for the fact that He is choosing (for whatever reason) not to smite the people in question right then and there for what they're doing to His Name. It's just unholy. And it's bugging me.
Does it bug you? Have you ever seen the Name of Jesus shaken like the "moneymaker" it is to these folks before the collection plate is passed or the 800- number displayed?
"At one end of the spectrum, there are families who take a child's curiosity and interest in a topic and help the child explore the topic. The idea is that, in any area of interest, there are opportunities to explore math, science, history, geography, etc. Those concepts are woven into the child's natural exploration of a topic. Over time, all of the topics covered in "normal" schooling get covered, but they happen in a much different order and at the child's own pace."
"At the other end of the spectrum, there are families who buy all of the books and follow the state curriculum just like a normal school would. The material is simply taught at home in a smaller setting."
I suppose a third group of parents are like me. We buy two different kinds of curriculum. We want to get every activity done in BOTH SETS done over the course of the year. We also want to take several weeks off at a time to find out about bugs or octopi or whatever. Then we wonder why we're so far "behind" on everything. I can just imagine my children applying to college in about ten years and proudly informing the admissions officer that they've just completed the fifth grade curriculum and are ready for classes in September.
24 June 2009
See, as long as these children have homes away from the watchful eyes of the state, we all know that some of those homes have problems. Apparently, according to this report, people who happen to be black or poor or Latino... or people who happen to not acquire a certain number of words by their third birthday or live in a less "language rich" environment... well, these people are all at a larger disadvantage and have less "success." And how are we gonna fix that?
I was surprised that "make all children become white and upper-class" was not proposed as an answer in this report. Go ahead and read it. It's kinda funny in a sad, twisted sort of way. If only people didn't really read this stuff and think it's "fer reallio" as Patrick would say, we could all guffaw about it.
Well, maybe we will anyway. The paper *seems* to present the idea that we need absolute equality in education. Or else. All children must achieve identical scores on standardized tests under No Child Left Behind. But this ideal hasn't been achieved, even though our schools are nearly perfect! We wonder why! Excerpt with fun snarkiness in red:
"However, out-of-school factors (OSFs) play a powerful role in generating existing achievement gaps, and if these factors are not attended to with equal vigor, our national aspirations will be thwarted."
That's right! Our NATIONAL ASPIRATIONS (please get two people to agree on these so we know what they are) will be thwarted! Thwarted, I tell you! By factors outside the school! So to have a good school, we must control the family! The community! The economic system! The world!
"This brief details six OSFs common among the poor that significantly affect the health and learning opportunities of children, and accordingly limit what schools can accomplish on their own: (1) low birth-weight and non-genetic prenatal influences on children; (2) inadequate medical, dental, and vision care, often a result of inadequate or no medical insurance; (Yes, this paper *actually* sets forth nutrition and economic programs as a solution so that no one is born at a low birth weight or needs to pay out of pocket for a cavity, ever again! For education, you see!) (3) food insecurity; (4) environmental pollutants; (5) family relations and family stress; and (6) neighborhood characteristics. These OSFs are related to a host of poverty-induced physical, sociological, and psychological problems that children often bring to school, ranging from neurological damage and attention disorders to excessive absenteeism, linguistic underdevelopment, and oppositional behavior."
Now go back and read that last sentence out loud again. HOW in the world can you "bring" excessive absenteeism to school? And isn't all "absenteeism" excessive?
And, people. You don't think schools will ever be effective until "family stress" is dealt with? Methinks I smell some sort of ruse here. Schools will never, never, NEVER be able to teach well, because there will always be one family with "family relations and family stress" out there.
Talk about a copout. Talk about asking for a little too much control and money. But I'm seeing this linked in other places in the education blogosphere as though it... you know... MEANT something scholarly and stuff.
23 June 2009
The thing about Patrick is that you never know if he's being serious. You're pretty sure he's just toying with you. Most infuriating is when he does things like calling his maraca "Mr. Mexican Dude." I flip out about it and say one of these days he's going to get his butt kicked, saying stuff like that. Worse, he asks me to justify why I'm upset about it. And he says its racist of me to say things like he'd get his butt kicked for saying things about "Mr. Mexican Dude." Am I implying that the Mexicans are gonna kick his butt for naming his maraca that?
Siiiiigh. Then you have to go through the I knooooow you don't mean anything racial by it, but you have to be careful what you say because some people wouldn't get that you're just talking about the fact that maracas are Mexican, and he's a dude, etc. etc. And you wonder if the whole lecture you've just given him was entertaining when he pushes the line the next time.
There's always a next time! Today, he was blathering on about how he's going to go downtown tomorrow. Not downtown "ourtown," but Kansas City. (Since he has no car, I'm thinking... yeah, right.)
And he'll make it there in one day. Oh, but he's not taking the highway. He's going to run most of the way (let's just say it's at least 15 miles, ok?). He'll go through people's yards. (He sees he still hasn't gotten a reaction except mmm-hmmm.) He'll be eating other people's crops and entire cows on the way there... (and I'm going, mmm-hmmm) Just taking stuff randomly and pillaging... mostly horses and chickens... And he'll be back by 3 p.m.
22 June 2009
Oh, and marketing furniture for someone who is obese is just plain wrong. It's enabling that person to live a more normal life. Don't you see how evil that is?
We need to make all pants a size 12 or under. This way, if someone eats too much, she won't be able to exit the house until she goes on a diet. And don't make furniture for those people! They might sit down on it and get comfortable, rather than going to the gym 24 hours a day. Fat people don't deserve to sit, or eat, or rest. They must do penance for their pigginess all the time. Be sure to sneer at them if you catch 'em eating ice cream. You KNOW just by looking at these people that they have no self-control. They need some of that tough-love, positive peer pressure from the outside world to help them mend their ways.
We all know that if we make fat people furniture, that EVERYONE is going to want to be fat and start eating at the buffet twice a day (they arrive at the end of breakfast-time and eat through lunch for their first meal, but you knew that). I can tell you that I never personally considered the idea of getting a BMI of 48 until they made MRIs big enough for my butt to pass through.
I think it's time for a national campaign. We'll title it, "Just Say No to Second Helpings." That'll help.
20 June 2009
So, the mighty hunter here is on the way home from the third stop, Sam's Club. There are a couple of Christian radio stations at the end of the dial, and I pop *seek* when one is playing an ad or something boring and find the other one. There are a couple NPR and strange stations on the end of the dial mixed in as well, but these are pretty obvious because of the annnoyyying mellllow voooices ovvv the annnnouncerssss. Eew. Yeah, I skip those.
Boring Christian rock on the first station. *seek* And I find a program about two women and their "journey" out of marriage.
"This should be interesting," I thought. "Stupid men, messing everything up. And big-time pastors and their stupid pornography, boo-hoo they sinned against their God... And their stupid prostitutes if they're politicians and can afford a bit better. Good grief, I'd like to go ONE STINKIN' DAY without hearing about some stupid guy on the news, or the radio... And look what they did to these poor women! It's just criminal. Well, at least it isn't a politician I elected *this time*. I think."
One woman began to tell her story. When you get married, you expect things to go a certain way. And the people around you all expect things to go a certain way. And when things don't go as you expect, there are questions left unspoken. It's a hard thing, to learn to be true to yourself and find what the best thing for you to do would be. (and so on and so on)
"Oh, boy, I hate programs like this," I thought. "They get these poor women on here, whose husbands are SUCH STUPID JERKS, and they just let them talk about their 'journey' out of marriage? Nothing about what a @#$ the guy is? Here's this lady talking about being true to herself, when really this guy needs a good smack fer being such a cheater!"
This bothers me about Christian radio. Yeah, yeah, speak the truth in love. But can I also say that the whitewashed truth is worse than calling someone a "@#$?" These programs that have ladies talking on and on about how their Heavenly Father just gave them such a peace to forgive, and oh, it was kinda hard till they said the *magical prayer* just one more time, died to self... and then they felt sooo much better and they're married again and things are fine.
(Aside: Probably because IRL they're hot and someone actually wanted them. But oh, noooo, they'll never interview the old, fat and ugly ex-wife who is still very bitter and spends her time eating in front of the Young and Restless in her muu-muu and hasn't combed her hair in two days. Maybe she's a Christian, too. Ever thought of that?)
The producers of this show didn't. They were both very young-sounding women. Oh, and such a heartbreaking story one of them told of her aging grandmother not being able to "directly speak of why the marriage broke up." And how difficult it was for her to talk to her dying gramma about things and why they have to be the way they are.
And I'm starting to wonder why this woman can talk so poignantly of the marriage breaking up, but never once use the word "infidelity" or "forgiveness?" Maybe this is one of those new "seeker" programs. They don't want to use words like "propitiation" and flip people out. But you'd still figure she'd say something about how all of this is the guy's fault... somewhere in the program. This must be that "emergent" style I've heard so much about. I decide that something is not quite right about the "emergent" style. Something is quirky.
Or maybe they told all the really juicy stuff at the beginning of the program and I missed it! That would figure. Right after the warnings to get all the little kids out of the room (you know the programs I'm talking about). Sigh. And now the program is wrapping up.
The host is going on a little too long about how "brave" they were to tell their stories. How their "personal journeys out of a traditional marriage" could be seen as an "inspiration" for other ladies who are "contemplating coming out."
Well... that's an interesting way of putting it, I guess, I'm thinking... and I'm getting this even more quirky feeling that something strange is going on... I've heard that somewhere before... what is it? What is it?
...and listeners, the host says, for further thought on this topic, I'd recommend the book "Women Who Are Married to Men but Are in Love With a Woman"...
** quirky feeling confirmed **
Well, now the joke is on me. Turns out I was listening to a gay radio station! My apologies to the guys I dissed in my mind throughout that show. Don't you hate when you get all good and mad... and have lots of righteous indignation... and then you find out you're wrong? What a feeling! I'm still angry, but I'm laughing at myself on the highway home at the same time.
Serves me right for being so judgmental of those poor, persecuted young men...
19 June 2009
This morning I screamed in horror at the horrible bruising that suddenly appeared on his arm! And who did this to him! And... oh my... I'm going to lose ALL MY CHILDREN to social services for this... should I hide G? What happened??? Ohhhhh, nooooo.... (freakout)
"Calm down, Mom. That's from where the needles were in the hospital. It made a big bruise like that. If someone asks me, I will just TELL THEM that the needles did that," G tells me.
Ok... but make sure it's convincing!! Those people scare me! Just yesterday on the HSLDA website -
"It's OK, Mom!!!"
"Why do you always do that?" Patrick asks.
Do... what? But Patrick just talks to me in that "be calm" voice like I'm craaazy. I think it's his hormones or something. He thinks I am over-reacting all the time. Hmpf.
So G's been finishing his wrestling camp yesterday, and just had his PE class today. When I picked him up, he was gobbling an entire bag of Goldfish (tm) crackers. Original flavour. I saw his friend following him around with his hand out.
Before I go on, I need to point out that G has some innnteresting friends. They don't seem for the most part to be bad people at all, but people who, shall we say, don't really "get" some social situations. You know, people more or less strange as he is strange, except each of his friends seem to have some sort of different social strangeness. No, not to be mean... just... when you meet one of G's friends, you sorta have to have the word "disability" in the back of your mind when dealing with their oddities. I'm not a doctor, but betya.
So. Here's G and his friend by the trash can, munching it up. G gets into the van and as I'm pulling out his friend yells, "Bye! G got those from the trash, you know!"
"Is that true, G?"
Munch-munch-munch "MMmmHmmm" -munch.
"HEEEEEYYYYY! GIMME MY GOLDFISH CRACKERS BAAAAACK!" We had the screaming and shouting all the way home and for a good half hour after our arrival. All-out rolling on the floor, howling about how I am a THIEF and I have STOLEN HIS FOOD. And gimme my goldfish crackers baaaack!
Well, it was pretty loud. At one point he got himself almost calm and he tried to "reason" with me. His friend wanted those crackers for himself, you know. That's why he told me they came from the trash... he wanted G to leave the crackers behind... and it's not fair because HE FOUND THEM, MOM... Can't you understand that?
Nope. Sorry. *howling rage ensues*
I know all the people in a two-block radius can hear this. I'm thinking in the back of my mind about how the people at the hospital were concerned that they could find NO FATTY TISSUE on G and asked aloud whether he ate at *all.* And here he is yelling about his mother starving him in the basement...
I finally got him calmed down, or rather, he finally decided to deign to calm down (grr) seconds before his father's arrival at home. I had convinced G that **G** could tell the story to Dad and let Dad decide what to do with the stupid crackers. Mom wouldn't influence the judge's decision by mentioning the fact that the Goldfish crackers (tm) in question have been expired since FEBRUARY. They taste a little off, but I want to eat them because they're miiiiiiiine...
Of course, D had some common sense and said, "You found it in the trash? Go throw it away," whereupon G started the howlfest again. We didn't even GET around to discussing the idea that here, the crackers have expired since February and G only just now got out of the hospital for horrible but mysterious intestinal ailments.
And we know this is not the first time my children have eaten out of the trash. I'm sad to say it. It isn't something I encourage, believe me. You'd think a 14-year-old kid would kinda be past that stage. I hate to blame everything difficult on his autism, but this sort of thing sure seems like a likely candidate. If there were a "cure" for autism, I'd ask for this part to be gone and that's for sure. (Go ahead and flame me in the comments, but that just isn't safe, mmmkay? Another thing I'd take? Those howling, rolling-around temper fits. I think G wants those gone, too.)
Do you know what caused him to calm down finally? D mentioned that he could have some Goldfish (tm) right here. Fresh ones, even. Cheddar.
"I caaaan?" sniffles G.
Yeahhhhh, D tells him. And they've been sitting in this jar for awhile... why haven't you been eating them? You don't have to go through the trash for Goldfish, you know...
(Seems like a rather anticlimactic ending to my post, doesn't it? But so go discussions at our house. Until next time.)
18 June 2009
Yeah, yeah... go ahead and tell me about how God doesn't want me to lie, how it's sinful and all that.
Ok, now answer the question. Do you ever find yourself lying to medical people? I do. And I'm not the only one with a lack of trust here.
I used to tell the truth. To everyone. When Nosy Ms. Medico asked about toilet training our children, I'd get detailed. Shots? Oh, sure, I'll tell you when and where they were given. Yup. Oh, my parenting practices? Let me tell you everything so that you can appropriately care for my family. Of course, you get all this information because I think you're on my side.
In the long run, this sort of honesty is unhelpful, and it's been used against me a time or two.
Why physicians have to be so petty as to ask how many OUNCES OF FLUID an 18-month-old child gets by bottle, and how many bottles a day... and then lectures me about how the child should magically be DONE with bottles by 12 months... well. I think we have other issues to worry about. Have you noticed three of my children are autistic? Hm. Have you referred me to any practical help whatsoever? No? But dang, if you're not good at lecturing me about crap I don't do so well at. Um, according to YOU. Think I'm going to tell you I have Spongebob on all day? Nope. I'll say we "limit" the TV, but leave out the "to no more than eight hours a day" part of the sentence. (Ok, not really. But tell me I "shouldn't" do something... and watch what I go do. IF I feeeeel like it.)
Thankfully, we got kicked out of that last practice. Either for being a smart-a$$ one too many times, or for refusing certain immunizations. I think the latter, as the physician gets bonuses from MY insurance company for good rates. Well, anyway. I was very upset at the time, but now we have a decent guy I feel I can be pretty upfront with. He doesn't ask me about seat belts and bottles, I assume because he figures I have a little bit of common sense in my head and lets me be the parent. You know what? That helps ME let HIM be the doctor. I don't find myself questioning his good judgment so much when I feel my opinions are respected.
Perhaps it's just me, but generally, the questions physicians and nurses ask are becoming more intrusive. Bad enough you have to tell the ER triage nurse when your last BM and "cycle" was when you've just busted your toe and think this has nothing to do with anything. But when, "And do you feel safe at home?" is a standard question, I have to wonder if it isn't time to just lie or make up some stupid answer.
I usually tell them NO, I don't. I have a lot of stairs and I'm always falling on them. That's why I'm here!!
"Oh, no, that's not what we mean... we mean whether you're getting abused by your 'domestic partner'," the nurse tells me. ("Domestic partner???" Oh, good grief. I'm laughing through the paaaain...)
"And that's relevant to my busted finger... how?"
"We just want to be sure you're safe at home -"
"Well, just write me down as a belligerent 'refused to answer' patient because this is total crap that has nothing to do with anything, and you're wasting my time."
"Ma'am, we're trying to help you here, so don't speak to us like that..."
*sigh* "Ok, whatever... (notice no "sorry"? I'm rude that way) I'm totally and absolutely safe and everything is all hearts and flowers at home, but if I WERE getting throttled, I sure wouldn't tell you right here, now, would I? How often do you get confessions like that here where everyone in the waiting room hears everything?? Like, as if."
"I can't tell you that because of HIPAA..."
"It's 'none,' isn't it? I thought so," I snort. (Would you like me as a patient? LOL) "You going to ask me about secondhand smoke in my house now?"
"Not for awhile. That's further down on the form..." First she has to ask me about my drug history, and my parents', and my cousins' medical conditions...
Eventually, after enough dumb visits like this, I get to the point where I lie or give a pat answer. NOBODY has any medical conditions in my family. That form I filled out 10 years ago about Aunt Sadie having corns on her feet and a heart murmur? Oh, I was mistaken about Aunt Sadie. Yes, I feel safe at home.
Yes, the children are all up to date on their immunizations. (Hey, if I'm not getting any, that's up-to-date, right??) Yes, we wear our seat belts always. Yes, we wear helmets always. Yes, I'm sure our helmets conform to REVPER standards or whatever insane stupid question is asked. Yes, my children eat a well-balanced diet of acorns and carrot sticks. No, they never watch TV.
And thanks so much for asking! I hope that information was helpful to you...
17 June 2009
I decided that I really didn't want to hand-sort the poop if I could help it, but I didn't want to just flush the poo if it had a tooth in it. I decided to call the doctor when the office opened on Monday, 9 a.m.
Woodjie's OT therapist arrived at 8 a.m. At 8:15, Emperor announced he would be pooping upstairs in his ice cream bucket. He came downstairs with NO PANTS ON. Worse, he was SWINGING the bucket full of poo! I grabbed this and dashed out into the rain and plunked it by a bush. I had hoped to make it as far as the backyard, but it was terribly muddy and I was afraid of falling (with poo. And the therapist in the house seeing me muddy. With poo.)
Bleck. Back into the house to rinse the bucket. Pffffeeeew, does big-kid poo smell.. It was bad. Emperor put his clothes back on but... *sniff*
Did you wash your hands? Well, just go do it again.
Later... *sniff* Go change your shirt.
Later... *sniff* Did you *sniff* wipe your bottom? You didn't?
ARGGGGG! GO DO THAT and then WASH YOUR HANDS AGAIN.
Later... *sniff* Go change your underwear.
Later... *sniff* Your shorts need changing too.
Finally... *sniff* Ok.
The therapist musta thought I was a nut. Emperor announces to her that he doesn't like being sniffed all over like a dog all the time, and D asks me later why I didn't just make the kid have a bath. Two reasons: splashing and the Emperor nakedness-all-over-the-house factor.
So, yesterday morning I was washing my hands and face and wiping on a towel... *sniff*
I had to wash my hands and face about three times after that, thanks. The towel had a visible poop smear!! If this stuff happens in MY house, I can't imagine what it's like in the public restrooms sometimes.
But wait! There's more.
I've decided that I haven't posted enough stuff to get myself labelled as officially White Trash. Do you remember the poop on the side of my house I wrote about? Well, we decided that we'd observe the poop over the next several months for science. I had visions of the children "visiting Emperor's poop" every day and doing some careful journalling. We'd do a food chain. We'd observe the poo changing colours, see worms... you know.
We went outside to visit the poo and it was almost all gone. There were tiny flies swarming all over it. So where did the poop go? It wasn't moved, and there were still some little kernels there. No tooth, though.
By the by, the doctor's office said not to worry about the poop-smashing thing. So we did all that for nothing.
Update: Money-saving idea by Elf here. He's a comment nut, too, so be sure to tell him what you think!
PBS announces that it will phase out all religious programming. What with being subsidized by the government, they're thinking it would be best not to give the impression that they agree with Catholic masses AND Mormon services both. Americans are unable to discern doctrinal differences between the two religions, and are furthermore so stupid as to believe that PBS is officially Catholic in one area and Mormon in another.
"PBS now will begin enforcing its rule -- on the books since 1985, but never rigorously enforced -- that all stations provide non-commercial (brought to you by JuicyJuice! Ha!), non-partisan and non-sectarian content. That means no ads, no political advocacy -- and, after Tuesday, no new religious transmissions."
We all know that PBS is totally neutral in the culture wars when Buster wants to interview families with two moms. And Sesame Street has been Evangelical-friendly for I don't know how long. One program even featured a child who had to weigh his heart and see if it were lighter than a feather, an obvious reference to Ancient Egyptian religion. Oh, and as D said in a high-pitched voice once while watching a certain episode, "Elmo likes girls, too, Ellen!"
Furthermore, we all know that the last 15 minutes of every science show is totally secular and scientific. ("What evolutionary mysteries could this drawing allude to?... Are there secrets in this glacier about the Ice Age of the past about hunter-gatherer societies?... Will scientific testing decode the enigma of...?" and so on. We can disagree about the origins of Man, but vague statements at the end of the program, or worse, actors portraying large-jawed Neanderthals in a "science" program, shows most of us the "objectivity" of the documentary.)
I still do watch PBS, but doggone it if I'm sending 'em any money voluntarily. I also take what they air with a big grain of salt because their wide range of points of view range from extreme liberal to "so way liberal that you're not sure they're speaking English any more." And those are just the "conservative" speakers they have on for balance and an air of "objectivity."
Yummier! Tastier! More spreadable! Thanks to D for this link!
"While the exact recipe is a closely-held secret, the new Vegemite experience is, basically, regular vegemite combined with cream cheese.
"The result, according to the company, is a vegemite for all occasions.
"'This is a Vegemite experience that can be enjoyed at all times of the day,' said Kraft director of sales Darren O'Brien."
Thanks, I'll pass.
I would sarcastically add to the "fact" that about 3/4 of all Australian households have Vegemite in their pantries the idea that no one eats it and it just sits there... but I've been to Australia and know that it really is true that people EAT Vegemite voluntarily. They start by training toddlers to "like" the stuff. Yes, they do. I've also heard from friends there that the fact that I don't like Vegemite "proves" that I am American.
Well, what do you know. I vote for calling it Vegemello. A smoother, more mellow Vegemite. But probably too long to put on the labels. And I wouldn't want a 50-pound jar of Vegemello as a prize for naming it. :]
16 June 2009
Thanks for prayers and good thoughts! G's white blood count went DOWN overnight, so the surgeon thinks he is NOT in any danger with the appendix. Maybe a virus. But they will feed him, wait for him to poop, and test that for e coli and assorted nasties before they send him home.
He's still in a little pain, but they haven't given him any meds except his IV fluids. So I think overall he is doing a fair bit better. Here's hoping he can come home today! :]
15 June 2009
I wouldn't ordinarily be worried by a slight fever, a headache and some bad stomach pain, but G is the type that is *sicksicksick* for about an hour and a half, and then is WELL and bugging you to take him to school. Then you're stuck with a WELL child with lots of energy who says there's nothing to doooooooo for the next ... ohhh... 12 hours. And I'm a stickler. If you were too sick to go to school this morning, there's no Nintendo or computer time for ya. Sorry.
G is happily playing away at the Playstation at the hospital. Every now and then I see him holding his stomach. He is given some drugs to help him not feel yucky, but he does anyway.
I am worried. Please say a little prayer for us tonight and tomorrow, would ya? I'll update when I can.
14 June 2009
Is he coughing?
Can he breathe?
Well, *I* can't very well. I feel like my heart is in my stomach. The recommendation of the nurse? EVERY POOP must be smashed up and passed through a screen for the next three days. If it isn't "out" by then, he needs to see a doctor.
This kid is nearly 5 feet tall. Think his poops will be little and cute like my 2-year-old's? Um, and even my two-year-old's poo can be ... unpleasant at times. But, I think, without getting too detailed, that it would be "malleable" within the diaper to the point that I would feel a tooth.
So now we have an ice cream bucket upstairs. But no screen! I have a couple plastic forks and knives from Wendy's meals of long ago. Should I give the children homeschool science credit for going through the poo? But what if they miss the tooth? Eeeeeew, **I** don't want to have to go through poo.
I think I'm going to retch.
Then again, what if his tooth gets stuck in his intestines? That would be a way worse thing than my going "eeeeew" over some poopie. Silly mom.
Maybe they can throw the poo in the backyard, put their shoes on and STOMP. Then hose off shoes. But we're poor folks and my boys have only one pair of shoes.
Hm. Please tell me there are more reasonable ideas out there. Eeeew.
13 June 2009
Missouri school districts will be required to draft policies regarding the use of "safe"or "recovery" rooms. The legislators in Missouri were at first thinking about using their heads and eliminating this, ahem, "option" for districts altogether, but then many parents called up and just begged them, PLEASE not to take this ability away from their schools. Please?
Hm. I'm thinking these are families who might just be concerned about their children getting police records. Elf would run or hide when he was upset. When he ran, he would run as fast as he could away from the school, and at unpredictable times. (Well, unpredictable to them. I have a feeling *I* would be able to tell, but that wouldn't be fair for me to expect the staff to know until he'd been there a good while.)
And when you have a kid who steps one tiny pinky toe off campus, did you know the principal is supposed to technically call the police? Do this enough, and your child is a truant or worse. He gets a record. Social services gets involved. Maybe better to put the kid in lockup for a minute than deal with that. (Well, either option is rather unpalatable to me, thanks. But let's pretend you're an overwhelmed parent of a special-needs kid, and this is what the school says this-or-that has to happen. What to do?)
These children are admittedly hard to teach. They take a lot more effort than you might imagine. The parents, contrary to popular misconception, CANNOT JUST get all righteously indignant when the school does this to their kid and leave in a huff. They feel stuck. Maybe you've never been in a hole that deep as a parent. But it can happen to good ones, bad ones, or just regular moms like me.
Meanwhile, voting parents of "standard issue" kids don't get it. Hey, act right and you don't have to go to the closet. "Back in the day, when you sassed the teacher you got a good wallop and I turned out all right," seems to be the argument. In fact, did you know that schools can paddle your child here and not inform you? Well, now maybe that will change with this new law. Maybe they just have to outline the sorts of infractions that result in a paddling, or a closet locking, or whatever.
That won't solve the problem of "abuse in schools." But will it help? Will outlining the rules of the game help more people play fairly? I'm not sure.
And the reason I say that is that extreme behaviour is not a constant with these children. Without consistent and helpful teaching that is mindful of their disabilities, these children will likely not do any better no matter which "system" is implemented. These children simply do not learn from "consequences on the back end" of their behaviour (no, I don't mean spanking). I mean consequences AFTER things have gone bad... the child doesn't recall the LAST "no computer for two days" consequence last time she had a meltdown when she's about to have one THIS time. Later, when she's calm, she can tell you all about what went wrong when. She can tell you when she lost it and why.
You have to think of the old saying "short fuse," in my opinion. In working with these children, the object is to very carefully, and over time, give these kids ways to make that fuse a little longer. To teach them coping mechanisms for when things aren't going well. NOT to coddle them, but also NOT to throw them into an environment that there is NO WAY the child will be successful.
From the article:
"There is no monitoring or accountability," (parent Ange) Hemmer said. "They are giving direction back to the school districts, and that has already failed. Forcing school districts to have a written policy is not going to stop the abuse."
The law requires district policies to define "restraint," "seclusion," "time-out" and other terminology. The policies must describe the circumstances under which a restrictive intervention is allowed and list specific implementation requirements such as time limits, supervision and staff training. They must specify documentation used, such as permission and notification forms.
Elf thinks that wars are terrible, awful things and wants to be Sweden. This way he can be neutral and little and not fight. Yeah, that would fit his personality. Then also during the war, he will get "lotta money."
When did he learn this?
But Emperor tells him while they are setting up the hotseat game that Civ III has no Sweden. "No computer, then," he says. "I'm not fighting today."
When I play, I am always the Americans. This way I get a scout that can get all the goody huts/ free technologies faster than everyone else. I say this because I'm careful NOT to select computer opponents who would also have scouts. I play on the easiest level. I am very peaceful until I have put settlers and cities EVERYWHERE and have nowhere left to expand. I build about a million knights and station them near my border, but out of sight.
Then I contact my enemy and suddenly, after a long peaceful coexistence, demand ALL his cities, technologies and gold. When he refuses (which you know he will), I will declare war. I will conquer every last city except one. On a desert square. Then I will declare peace with my enemy and ask for right of passage. On the easy level, the computer foe will let me do this. I surround the city with troops. The other side is too devastated to ever develop the airplane. Then I am free to have a democracy, where people give me extra money for NOT having troops on our land. It's all on theirs!
"The people love you!" the computer tells me. I build a simulated castle. I get a Golden Age. I hear cheers every turn. Mmmm.
12 June 2009
11 June 2009
We'll chat more about "chronic absenteeism" in a minute, but first a little background. This PDF outlines some sensible things the PTA would propose schools begin doing, such as replacing some of the more stupid (ok, not their exact word, but I'm paraphrasing my way) "zero tolerance" rules with positive behavioural supports. You know, PBS is totally different than the BIST system, which our district uses. BIST, if you're using it right, requires that student to hop to it in obeying the teacher's commands within TWO SECONDS, Buster, or it's safe seat/ time out time.
("What?!!" says the kid with language processing/emotional control issues. "Oh, disagreeing with me? Then you can go to the Buddy Room across the hall." And here the kid totally loses it and really DOES do something awful, and winds up getting locked into a "Recovery Room," or cement closet. Yep. It happens here, and more often than you'd like to think. My experience has been that teachers have no clue about giving a little warning about transitions, have little/no understanding of the motivations of disabled students, and generally think their balking is "manipulative."
But most neurotypical students are just able to keep it under check, give a hearty but unfelt "YES, Ma'am!" and pretend to obey... while the teacher is watching. Then they can snicker and goof off while she isn't. Meanwhile, the kid with social problems has caught on that it's playtime but can't quite switch gears when the teacher turns around... Sigh. Anyway, siding with the PTA on this one. You heard it here, folks, Mrs C is giving props to the PTA.)
But of course the document doesn't just talk about PBS. It also talks about how every child should get free health insurance from the government! We all know that schools need to be involved in *every* aspect of a kid's life, and Heaven/Obama forbid a child does not receive his eye exam in grades 3 and 5 respectively, or (horror!) doesn't attend preschool or (this is somehow relevant to math!) whose family needs food stamps.
Sometime I'm going to have to post the actual questions schools ask on their enrollment forms. Things that scare a child... please list. Ok, fine to do this for my non-verbal child who will be three. That shows caring, because he isn't going to be able to tell you, and you'll be helping him eat, changing his diapers... and he's still just a couple steps away from babyhood. But I don't think I'm going to fill out that question for the typical first-grader, and yes, that was on a first grade form from a teacher. Or, "Please list changes your family has experienced in the past year:" I am tempted to write on that line after the colon, "I read the Constitution. It's changed my life even more than the Bible ever could. Just last month, I sat down and thought about how maybe I don't have to answer every stinking question just because it's on an official-looking form."
Ok, I won't do that. But I'd be tempted! Yes, that will definitely have to be a post for some other day. But on to absenteeism.
What IS absenteeism? What is CHRONIC absenteeism? Or truancy? Did you know that there are no national standards for this yet? We need to work on that right away! We can't use our common sense or look at things on a case-by-case basis! We need to STANDARDIZE it. If you have a sense of humour left after reading this far, go back and read that PDF! They actually say this!
But even though we haven't defined it precisely, the PDF opines, "This absenteeism places students’ academic careers at risk; it has been linked to lower academic performance in later grades, which can affect high school completion and employability as adults. Truancy, which typically occurs in middle and high school grades, is a risk factor for substance abuse, delinquency, teen pregnancy, and school dropout." Oh, it mentions as well that sometimes really, really big school districts can have THOUSANDS of kids out with an "unexcused" absence. Imagine that. LARGE districts report more absences than small districts. Thousands, even. Who'd a thunk? And don't even get me started on the fact that a teacher can take a "personal day" to do whatever she jolly well wants and be paid for it, but when a student takes a day off? That's "unexcused." Double standard much?
And I just have to wonder aloud about chickens and eggs here. Are the children "truant" because they feel unsafe or unwelcome? Or do they just feel like they don't want to go to school? Is the schedule off because Mom works at night? Would night school work better?
Maybe relaxing the dress code to "whatever won't get you arrested" except in specific classes like shop or PE would help? Maybe giving the older child a choice on which classes he/she will take? I mean, what's the point of having the kid forced to warm the seat for 180 days a year and hating her English class on every one of them? Do you think the rest of the students enjoy her presence? Does having several of this sort of student in each typical high school class help schools attract dedicated teachers?
Time would be better spent for that 15-year-old to learn to write a bid for the cabinet-making business she would rather run. Please, please, teach these children not to write bids for "cabinet's." Thank youuuuu.
But, no. The PTA just probably asked some high level official at the NEA to write their little PDF link, so they came up with lame-o solutions like requiring school-parent "compacts." Let's see. You're required to go to school. Now you're required to sign a compact. I've seen some of these puppies, and a few require "commitment to and celebration of our differences," and we all know what that means. It means shut up if you're a Christian, but if you're not, go ahead and whine about how oppressed you are if one of 'em sneered you and your gay lover in the hallway. That's bullying, you know. Ve have classes for that.
Other hot ideas from the PTA:
"Assist states in the development of, and schools and districts in the implementation of, a universal student identifier, beginning with pre-kindergarten programs through grade 12." Oooh! Oooh! Can we implant one of these in our right hands or foreheads? I like having every move my kids make tracked nationally. That's sexy! Another hot thing: make sure each of the 20-digit student identifiers contains the numbers "666" together in there somewhere. Might as well while we're at it. Save some time later.
"Invest in Head Start, health care (especially the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid for children), child care, and other early childhood programs." And this improves truancy problems... how? If anything, it makes those little twerps do things like go to the doctor when they're sick instead of showing up at school. (Kidding. Please don't cough on my kid! Just stay home!)
But really. Look at what I highlighted in the above quote. "Truancy" is a problem in the UPPER grades. Not the kindergarten. Not due to lack of "childcare" if the kid is 16. And medical care? I think younger children generally get sick more frequently than older ones do. So if you're making a case that free medical care would lead to fewer unexcused absences, could you please at least pretend your readers have brains and think of some excuse as to why that should be of a greater benefit to older children, since they're predominantly the ones with this problem?
You can't even justify this rationally. We don't have a thousand gang-bangin' kindergarteners hanging out on the streetcorner because they didn't get that "head start" learning their ABC's. No. Did you know that Laura Ingalls Wilder didn't go to school until she was nine? And stories like hers were hardly unique. Don't make me get all John Quincy Adams on you. Or pull out the "poor Abraham Lincoln; the only time he could do his math was when he was by the fire with a stick and a dirty shovel" story I learned in public school... There are just bunches of stories about gifted, bright "feeble-minded" children out there who today would have an IEP and a couple of "accomodations" on the state test each year, but were thankfully born before our time.
(Aside: Emperor CERTAINLY would have some sort of IEP if he were in public school. Are you kidding? He recites his verses while running. He must touch people and talk constantly. And YES, he can talk and do math at the same time. Oh. My. Goodness. That's so annoying. But we love this guy!)
Bet you if education were no longer compulsory, that we'd have far fewer problems with "truancy." Really! Just like if you made all drugs legal, suddenly there's no illegal drug problem! Woo-hoo! (OK, I don't really want to buy cocaine at my local pharmacy. I was just being snarky. I like to do that for fun. But can you think of all the money we'd save, chasing these "truants" around and trying to get them to go to school and LIKE it?)
Let's say you don't have to go to school after you turn 13. But if you go, you sign up and promise to be there each day unless you're sick. You promise, let's say, to spend one hour on homework every night. You promise to abide by reasonable expectations (no guns in school, etc.). Violate them too many times, and you're out until the end of the semester. Try again next term! Sure, you'd have to tweak it for your disabled kids and that sort of thing...
But it just seems when I read this stuff that attitude that *here* is the framework. "Now how are we going to cram the children into our framework?" seems to be the question, rather than, "Are there other things that we could be doing that would encourage students to be involved? Other classes we can offer besides college prep?"
Why is "truancy" a problem? I would tend to think that it's a form of communication. Maybe it says something I wouldn't want to hear if I were an educator. Maybe there are some children and parents who feel powerless. Wouldn't it be cool if the public schools were legally obligated to provide "disclaimers" at the beginning of each school year, stating that there are no guaranteed results in public education? That homeschools and private schools are also viable options?
Or no school. Wouldn't it be nice not to HAVE to go to school?
My oldest child is reminded that he does NOT have to go to school. The second he's old enough, I'd support his dropping out or whatever if he has a plan. No living rent-free here if you're not in school or following an education plan (make one yourself and I'll probably happily approve, kid), but do what you want to do within reason.
Do you know what? He's looked into the alternatives and right now, that makes him appreciate public school more than he would have otherwise. I think it makes him a more earnest student, because he sees the value in the things he's being taught in his "gifted" classes. He knows there are bad things about the school, but for him right now, the positives outweigh the negatives. So he gets up and goes each schoolday because he wants to be there.
Wouldn't that be nice, to see more children WANT to be there? And those that don't, to give them the freedom to be able to figure out what they're doing? Maybe sometimes we look at these problems all wrong. We get all scared about what people will do if they abuse their freedom.
Maybe the freedom should be theirs anyway, this being America and all.
10 June 2009
This one, on pretty birdies, will make you laugh. Maybe.
This one, on cancer, will get you good and mad.
And this one, featuring an unlikely superhero, will make you thankful for God's protection over little children.
09 June 2009
(Do you think it needs a little revision?)
08 June 2009
Better not move the kid, then.
I have been moved about 11 times during my schooling, usually from one state to another and sometimes internationally, and I still read and write in English. (Moving to Australia instead of Spain kinda helped in this regard.)
My math is crummy, and I'll sure grant that jumps from one curriculum to another can leave gaps you can lose your van in, but how much do you think I'd know about Australia Day if I'd never... you know, been to Australia?
Think of it this way. Don't you think that the states on the East Coast should rightly have a longer unit focus on Irish immigration than, say, California? Don't you think the impact of Chinese immigration and the railroads would be discussed in more depth there?
American botany and animal life are totally different in the various areas of the country. Don't you think science classes on ecosystems could be a bit different in the Rocky Mountains than they would be on the Maine coast?
You'd hope so, anyway. So what if all third-graders don't learn about fraction addition in March?
And hellloooo, regardless of this wonderful proposed national curriculum, sometimes the students themselves are plain bum lazy. Or the schools want to make the parents de facto homeschool teachers. This way they get all the glory when the school does well on the test, but when it does poorly, well, you know how "those" parents are that won't do "their fair share" of the work. I'd sooner homeschool for five hours straight with no potty break than deal with a tired, crabby, gym-floor smelling kid and a stack of math flash cards any day. Thanks.
Yeah, I'm opposed to national standards mainly because I distrust the government and the whole issue of who controls what children learn. Once you get all the children learning from the same textbook, history is much more malleable. This is true no matter which political party is in control of our nation.
But as a practical matter, don't you think that there will be more loggers who receive their public schooling in Oregon than in New Mexico? Maybe we ought to let the people in Oregon and New Mexico use their brains and figure out what sort of education their local economy demands. It's just more useful that way, don't you think?
Juggling the entire national curriculum so that we can HAVE a standard we have to meet is just so backward. What do you want to teach? Then teach it. What a novel idea!
This little piggy stayed home to watch TV.
This little piggy had roast beef because he was hungry.
This little piggy had none. Because he's a looooooser.
But this little piggy...
Do you know what this little piggy did?
This little piggy went wee! wee! weeee! all the way home.
06 June 2009
As you know (name of city/school district) has long held the belief that the health and wellbeing of our students is of the utmost importance. The Student Assistance Program (SAP) has been designed and implemented to support this very initiative. The SAP is partnering with parents, students, School Resources Officers (police employed at the public school) and social workers. The mission of the SAP is to empower students, parents, school personnel, and the community to utilize resources to encourage and support student wellness. Anyone can recommend and individual to the program, if a change is noticed in a student's academic performance, attendance, appearance, or attitude and/or behavior.
A request for mcan be obtained from the Resources Section of the high school guidance website (website URL here), at the high school guidance office or through (email). We ask that you assist us in our endeavors and appreciate your support. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact the team via email.
The SAP Team
A quick perusal of the websites linked to the initial URL reveals the following:
You just write the kid's name in and check off the "area" you're concerned about to the SAP team. The team (officers, nurses, social workers, teachers, you name it) convenes in a secret tribunal and pronounces whether there is enough evidence to "gather data." Then they "gather data" and meet again. A behaviour checklist is used. "Rigid obedience" to rules or "defiant behavior" can be checked off as problems. "Anxiousness" or "inattentiveness" can be checked off as problems, as can "preoccupation" with sex. We all know that "preoccupation" with sexual matters is quite inappropriate developmentally for teenagers, especially boys. Boys are also NOT prone to inattentiveness, forgetfulness, academic slumps or other changes in behaviour during the teen years, right?
On the one hand, I'm not really concerned. We live in a relatively conservative area, and we're hardly the only Christians on the block by a long shot. And there are enough really serious cases of "my golly I see her buttcheeks are hanging out of her shorts!" to deal with before they get to my kid wearing his "one way to heaven" or symphonic orchestra tee and worrying about the occasional hole in the jeans. There are enough kids who have genuine drug and behaviour problems to go around that I shouldn't worry.
But I'm freaked.
D has forbidden my writing back any sort of snarky letter for the next few days or so. But I'm so upset! (Ok, maybe not the best time to write a letter.) Anonymous reporting of "problem" children? Referral to community agencies? Who the hell do these people think they are? I'm freaked. Maybe I shouldn't be, but I'm freaked.
What are your thoughts??
05 June 2009
I come across innnteresting articles like that sometimes, but don't usually feel the need to link. I thought I'd link to this one to show you that it so happens that there are lotsa people out there who feel homeschooling is just ruining America, one deranged conservative wacko family at a time. His comments are in black, my responses in red:
"Christianity is of course a doctrine, and barring your children from arguments against it is indoctrination." I would respond to this argument, but I will have to check with my pastor first to see what I should say. I can't think for myself, you know, and I have carefully removed that ability from my children as well.
"Why, why, why would any parents prevent their children from getting sex education? Studies have shown that the better educated children are about sex, the better the know how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases." Has it occurred to you that preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases isn't the school's job? Neither is making sure the kid has enough blankets at night, is fed at home or is treated with respect. Report abuse when you see it, but otherwise, how about we let parents do that thing called parenting?
Actually, these classes aren't even so much a "doctrinal" problem, but the school overstepping its bounds. I live in a rather conservative area and haven't objected to the school's teachings in terms of what is presented for the most part. Rather, I opt my children out because I feel I can parent them better than the school can. Discussing wet dreams and bodily functions doesn't NEED to happen in front of thirty other young men, does it? So my older public school children aren't listening to that stuff in class, thanks.
"Lastly, I would very much like to see some statistics comparing the education of homeschooled vs. properly schooled children in the US."
Ok, I'm just laughing at that one. Could you imagine answering the unbiased questioner on the other end of the line asking whether your children are homeschooled or "properly schooled?" Funny stuff, wokka wokka, as Fozzie Bear would say. You just can't make stuff like this up.
Finally, a plea:
"Please, please do not homeschool your children. Give them the best chances in life by sending them to a real school. If the schools in your city are all bad, move or pay for a private school." My bad. Here I thought that I could teach my child how to read and write. Now I've just discovered that my house is not a "real school." I'm confused. Somehow the Catholic Church runs bunches of "private schools," and they indoctrinate children way better than I ever could (that's a compliment, all y'all Catholics, ok? I just don't agree with some of your theology.). But we should pay for a private school... why? Not getting it.