Do elementary school classrooms still have dulled metal pencil sharpeners secured to a wall? Waiting for the next child to crank its handle so it can gnarl on the yellow chewed up wood until it reaches a sharp point; and then feast on the number #2 shavings in its oblong belly? And when fully consumed, does the school custodial engineer/janitor collect and save the grinded remains, so it can be used to absorb the days lunch the next time a second grader violently hurls their mac n’ cheese and strawberry jello down the long winding staircase leading directly to the bathroom on the first floor?
Our lives pretty much revolve around our kids school calendars. At the present time, our life is all about endings.
It’s a weird concept to explain to a kid. You enter school, soccer, lessons, friendships and more in the fall. You transition through fun, frustration, success and failure, and then just when you’re comfortable, it’s time to end. As adults, we know it will all start again. But maybe we’ve forgotten how hard it can be to say good bye.
My youngest son just finished up pre-school and said he’ll miss it. I found myself agreeing it is sad to say goodbye. But I had a harder time explaining how your feelings shift from feeling sad to gradually but surely feeling Ok to eventually even feeling excited about trying something new.
All I know for sure is that even the greatest groups eventually come to an end.
If you live in the city of Chicago, no one would find it odd to hear you say, “I send my kid to Catholic schools.” Even with all the reported improvements with the public schools, the word on the street is if you can’t get into a magnet school, forget going to a public school. If however, you live in one of the neighboring suburbs and say you are sending your kid to a “private school,” people pause and then make a joke about your wealth status.
Personally, I don’t get it. Why does the idea of sending ones kid to private school get under people’s skin so much? I realize we pay taxes and should support the public schools, but if you are able to give your kid a better situation, why not? I’ve seen too many people stick their kids into these danger zones because they want to make a political statement by supporting a public education. Why put your kid through that?
I especially find it amusing when people argue that everyone should go to public schools because private schools essentially becomes a safe haven for families that don’t want to deal with diversity or class differences. Why is that humorous to me? Because these are the folks that find these safe loop holes within the public schools that essentially provides them with a safe haven.
For instance , when I talk to people who are attending schools with poor reputations in neighboring suburbs, I’ll usually hear, “oh, but he’s in “TWI.” The “two way immersion or TWI” seems to be code word for a select program for children from the wealthiest or highest educated families within the overall school; that shields them from the dangers within the school. And then in high school, the great economic and cultural divide appears to be “advanced placement” courses. So this way, everyone can rationalize how great a public education is, not to mention how integrated it is.
But lets be honest, they are just paying private school tuition with their taxes, and then creating safe zones within the schools so it looks like they are these ardent supporters of public schools.
My son asked me for some one on one time. I took a pass on some work I had to do and decided to make the most of this opportunity. For all the things we are scheduled to do, it felt good to have some unstructured time together with him. My wife suggested a movie, but G rated movies are hard to find. So I stumbled on to a link that led me to ComedySportz4kids. I love improvisational theater and want to expose my kids to it, so I went for it.
I kept it a surprise. We took the train into the city for the 2:00p.m. show. It was $8.00 to get in. It was satisfying watching his nearly seven year old mind trying to figure out where we were. As we sat outside the main entrance, a group of thirteen boys came in for a birthday party. I momentarily feared it would be us and a group of kids all together. But then other kids came with their parents.
They led us into the intimate theater. We sat in the front row, though there didn’t appear to be any bad seats. . Two of the three performers came around in a red shirt and a blue shirt to get ideas from the kids for the show. They seemed quite comfortable being around kids and engaging kids. The kids ranged in age from as young as about 4-10.
The whole show involved the the red and blue guy and a man who played the coach. They found a way to include the kids ideas and more importantly the kids into the experience. My son was a part of a farm animal orchestra. Also he had a song improvised about his name. The performers made a whole scene with songs about a girl in attendance based on limited information she provided about herself. The performers succeeded at giving the kids room to be silly, loud, and very active.
It was a very fun time. We talked and laughed about it the whole way home.
I know everyone is talking about the big inauguration bash for Obama in January. And there is no doubt that this will be a hard ticket to get and valuable one to have. But I think there is an invitation more valuable than that- an invite to Sasha or Malia’s first birthday party.
Can you imagine receiving the little birthday card in the shape of the White House? Inside you’d see their hand writing inviting your kids to the birthday party in the red room? It would be one of those parties you’d most definitely want to attend, even if it is a drop off.
Perhaps upon entering the party, the kids could do a limbo under the security screening wands. Can you imagine a round of hide and seek in the White House? This could be followed up with a race up to the top of the Grand staircase. What kid wouldn’t want to play pinata in the Oval office? Who wants to play musical chairs in the Cabinet room? And before cake, how about a game of egg toss in the China Room!
Most likely, the White House kitchen staff would prepare pizza and a cake in the shape of President Obama. I guess if they wanted to be silly, they could use the old mold of George Bush looking like Alfre E. Neuman on the cover of Mad magazine. And perhaps the girls could have their friends sleep over in the Lincoln and Queen bedrooms. Can’t you just picture the girls singing Hannah Montana songs talking about which Washington page is cute, gay, or a nerd.
As the evening gets later, can’t you just picture the President shouting,”Sasha, Malia, its time to go to bed NOW! They’d likely giggle and try to show off to their friends, “Ok Mr. President.”
My son is in first grade. He loves it. He brings his lunch to school. One day, he was complaining about something I put in his lunchbox. I suggested he try what I remembered doing, which was trade what he didn’t like with another kid. He immediately cut me off, “we’re not allowed to trade.” And then my wife chimed in, “because of allergies.”
I think of myself as pretty open minded, but in all honesty, this bugged me. I don’t know why. Perhaps I felt like others were intruding on my memories and the opportunity to share them with my son. It happened another day when I made him a peanut butter and honey sand which. “Dad, I can’t bring that to school, because one of the kids is allergic to peanut butter,” my son said. “You mean you can’t eat a peanut butter sandwhich in school?” I asked in a tone clearly suggesting I was annoyed. Fortunately, when I spoke to the teacher she informed me it was Ok if he sat at the peanut butter table.
So just when it appears we have opened up as a nation in our support for Barack Obama, segregation in the schools continues between the peanut butter eaters and the just say no to peanut butter people. If you are thinking I need to read the latest research on peanut allergies or see a kid suffering with it, don’t bother. I’ve already had that happen when I’ve expressed what I’m writing. I thought we were entitled to freedom of speech, even on sensitive matters like peanut allergies.
I’m not disputing the evidence or the realty of the allergies, but I am saying it makes me wonder about the hundreds of kids I knew as a child. How did those kids manage? Did anyone know? Has anyone gone back long after childhood and sought reparations from Skippy or Jiffy peanut butter as other victims/survivors have?
In some ways, if I was told children have bologne or headcheese allergies, I’d probably have an easier time understanding their struggle.
Don’t get me wrong, its definitely better than living with the long term ugliness of bumper stickers, but it seems to me like its starting to go overboard. Like so many products in America, it starts out looking good and making sense. And then everyone wants one for everything.
If you are reading this, I’d be curious how many car magnets you have. If you are single, or don’t have kids, do you have magnets too?