Thursday, February 25, 2010

Not Even Kindergarten, And I'm Already Anxious

Kindergarten starts in seven months.

But I'm already anxious about it.

The kids aren't.  They don't really know what kindergarten is, or how it's different from the warm, fuzzy preschool they've been attending for nearly three years.  They have some vague knowledge it's coming -- a big change -- and we've even visited what will be their new school, back in October for a Halloween carnival.  But they're really only dimly aware of it, and unlike Late Blooming Mom, who sometimes has trouble living in the moment, they're 100% in the here and now.  What's for dinner, what TV show can they watch before, are they taking a bath together or separately, and what stories will we read at bedtime -- that's about as far as their agenda goes most days.

Me, I'm already worried ...

Monday, February 22, 2010

That Helpless Feeling

One feeling I didn't count on when I contemplated parenthood was the feeling of being helpless to help my kid.

I don't mean helpless to help master a skill, or learn something.  I mean helpless to help when there's some illness or injury to overcome.

I'm a lucky parent in that my children have been pretty healthy, and I haven't had to deal with serious illness.  The little guy was born with a birth defect that was surgically corrected, and while it was hard as hell to hand my nine-month-old off to an anaesthesiologist and a surgeon, and then spend the night with him in recovery, knowing the poor little guy felt awful, I knew the worst would be over soon.  He had to endure casts on his feet for some months prior to, and after, the surgery, but that too was of a prescribed, finite nature.

It's only lately that I've had to deal with something of indefinite -- perhaps chronic -- duration.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Every Child Left Behind

Utah is thinking of dropping 12th grade.

The state can no longer afford to pay for it.

That's how much value the state of Utah places on education, I guess. I'd like to say California, where I live, has its priorities a little more in order. But not much. This week, two school districts in my area, Santa Monica-Malibu and Los Angeles Unified, say they're probably going to shorten the school year by five days because of budget shortfalls.

That's five fewer days in which to teach kids the very same curriculum that teachers had a full school year to teach this year. Yet somehow, they've got to cram it all in.

LAUSD is already closed for three weeks at Christmas. When I was a kid, I NEVER had a three-week Christmas break. Did you?


Monday, February 8, 2010

Kids With Learning Disabilities May Do Better When They're Included

My nephew has learning disabilities.

But he's thriving in school, and the biggest factor may be this:  he's included in a classroom with kids who aren't learning disabled.

Too often, it seems, kids who are different -- kids with speech delays, kids on the autism spectrum, kids who have a range of sensory and/or behavioral challenges -- get shunted off into special education classes.  And while that might be the right solution for some kids, it sure wasn't for my nephew, who started to come home from kindergarten imitiating the emotionally disturbed behaviors of some of his classmates, and was less and less responsive and engaged while at school.  A mid-year change to a new school, in which he got help from an aid but within the setting of a regular classroom, made a world of difference.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Naked Time

Five-year-olds love to be naked.

At our house, naked time is right before the bath.

Tonight, soon as the the kids had torn off their clothes and scattered them on their bedroom floor, they paraded into the dining room wiggling their rears at us. It was "booty-shakin' time." The girl cracked herself up after pronouncing the new word of the night: "Bootypenisvaginabootybutt."

Then she ran off cackling in the direction of the bathroom.