October 2008


BB turned seven last week. 

I’ve read other moms’ accounts of how they got choked up when their kid went off to preschool or kindergarten, and understood, but only vaguely.  For me, the biggie has been BB in first grade and turning 7.  The leaps and bounds he has made this year, since the start of this school year alone, are staggering.   I’ve started writing about a half dozen sentences trying to explain it, but can’t quite put my finger on it.   Part of it is watching his own confidence bloom and grow along with his abilities.

He’s in a small mixed first-second grade class that is wonderfully loosy-goosy in format.   I am so, so happy he is still at the same school he went to kindergarten and preschool.  Based on what I hear from the parents of some of his friends who made the switch to public school this year, massive portions of their kids’ days are spent learning (and being rewarded with smiley-face coupons for success in) how to sit still in a desk all day.  I don’t think BB’s class has enough chairs for all the kids to sit in at once even if they wanted to.  They sit in circle if they all need to be listening and otherwise they are wandering the school & yard, learning about bug cycles and water cycles and any other kind of cycle you can think of or spending time working through their math workbooks, or reading a book and reporting on it. 

And he loves it.  This is his fifth year at the school and he is comfortable there in a way I never remember being comfortable at school.  More schools should be like this so every kid who would thrive in this type of environment could go (it may not be enough structure for some).   So much energy in some schools is focused on behaving (i.e., being quiet) that there is little left over for learning.*  I’m learning from BB’s class this year that a little chaos and confusion is a good thing.

 

* Part of what makes me sad is that because of all the testing they do and whatnot at many schools there is less time for exploration.  There has to be a way to both assess schools for merit, based on improvement in individual children, and permit time for exploration that is necessary to truly develop a love of learning.  With the exception of one year spent outside the U.S., I was public school all the way.  I feel a lot of guilt having BB in private school, but given his joy in learning there, how can I, with the privileges and resources I’m lucky enough to have, not seize the opportunity?

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October 29th is Write to Marry Day.*

I grew up in California, well, mostly.  I left California for college and never really went back aside from a couple of summers.  I met and fell in love with a wonderful person who was tied to the East Coast, and was blessed enough that law and society not only permitted me to love and live with this person, but actively encouraged me to signify my commitment to him, and him to me, by marriage, upheld by the state, and granted benefits in accordance thereto.

If we are going to grant benefits to couples, be it health insurance or pension beneficiaries, tax cuts, etc., then those benefits should be available to any couple willing to sign a marriage certificate.  The idea that the state would uphold one type of relationship over another is inherently unfair and the idea of ‘civil unions’ is another way to say that people who fall in love with the same sex should be treated differently, which any person familiar with the evils of separate but equal should understand is NOT equal.  

My favorite uncle lives in California has been in a loving partnership for over 20 years.  He and my uncle-by-love have thought about getting married, but are waiting to see what happens with Prop 8 for fear that the marriages that have been performed since earlier this year for same sex couples might be invalidated.  If you saw these two, you would see the funniest, sweetest couple, with all the same ‘i’ve known you forever’ inside jokes and affection as any other couple you’ve known and loved.  Through my uncle-by-love I have gotten to know a whole other side of my favorite uncle, one he never shared with the family when my grandparents were alive. 

While I haven’t been eligible to vote in California since 1991, I hope that anyone eligible will vote NO on Proposition 8 and allow same sex couples in California to marry and, I hope, spark further marriage equality throughout the states.

When I was pregnant with my second son, my California uncles came to visit and took me out to dinner.  My uncle-by-love, who knew we were expecting a second boy, teased me, “you know it [gayness] is genetic . . .”  My reply, “well, at least then I have a shot at being mother of the bride.”  We all dissolved in laughter, but I was not wholly joking.  I fervently hope that my sons, should they want to get married, can marry whomever they choose, regardless of sex or gender.

Vote No on 8.

 

*ok, I’m a little early, but better that then late.

On the main road in our subdivision, there is a yard with a McCain sign and right next to it, an Obama sign.

So I got the flu shot on Tuesday morning.  And I ended up with hives.  Really, really itchy hives.

I’ve spent half my workdays surreptiously lowering my socks & raising my pant legs to scratch my lower legs and the other half with my arm up my sweater sleeve to scratch.  Thank goodness, so far, the hives are not on my face.  But they are pretty much everywhere else. 

I am NOT getting the flu shot next year.

scritch, scritch, whimper, whimper.

Back in 2004 there was a small yard sign war in our cul-de-sac.  The neighbors directly across (I’ll call them the Highs, b/c they live high on the hog) put up a Bush sign.  The neighbor across and to the left (I’ll call them the Olds (b/c they are, and crotchety to boot)) put up a Kerry sign.  The Highs  then moved their Bush sign so that it blocked any viewing of the Kerry sign in the Olds’ yard in the main direction of traffic.  Typical repub move, I thought at the time, attempt to supress what you don’t agree with.  Anyway, while we were no fans of Kerry, we detested Bush so through the Olds we got our own Kerry sign to stick in our yard just to balance out the message on our block.  

So this year, when we stuck our Obama sign in the yard, we were waiting for the Highs to respond with a McCain sign in their yard.  When a week went by with no response, mr. jolt asked mr. high where his McCain sign was. 

mr high: I’m not too excited by McCain.

mr jolt: Really?  Are you going to vote for Obama? (mr. jolt ready to be shocked and delighted)

mr. high: No, no. It’s just McCain doesn’t excite me and Palin doesn’t either.

mr. jolt: Oh, why’s that?

mr. high:  I actually really like Palin’s ideas, but I can’t stand her personnally.

mr. jolt had no response to this utterly baffling statement.  He likes her ideas?  Um, yeah.

I have to hand it to the local Obama campaign – particularly the people who organize the volunteers, they know how to lure you in.  When I made a donation about a month or so ago and dropped it off in person b/c I wanted to check out the operation they immediately asked me if I wanted to volunteer.  I told them I’d have to get back to them b/c my job imposes limits on my political activity.   About a week later a phone banker called to see if I could volunteer and I asked for a number to call them back b/c I still hadn’t checked with my job to see what the applicable limits were.

So, I went in this week (late, I know) to get a yard sign and make another donation.  The coordinator immediately asked if I could volunteer.  Having since checked the ‘gray area’ of the limits on me, I explained that it would take a ton of hoops for me to jump through to get permission.  Bang, without pause, he asked me if I could bring drinks and snacks in for the volunteers.  I said sure.   No fool he, he immediately asked me if I could do it by Wednesday (it was Monday when I was there).  I hemmed, and he said, well, how about Friday.  And I said sure, knowing Monday and Tuesday were crazy, but Friday was doable.

So today, after picking up the boys, we went to the store and loaded up on cases of single waters, sodas, juices, and some apples and dropped them off.    The boys were psyched to help (BB is a bigtime Obama supporter, LB is somewhat oblivious).

My friend J, who also stopped in for a yard sign recently, had a similar experience of polite persistence.  When she said that her ability to volunteer was limited b/c she’s at home with her baby (3mos), they immediately handed her a stack of cards to work on at home (I think she stuck on mailing labels or something & put them in the mail).

My friend C has worked on a number of campaigns at various levels of importance (she’s probably doing something down in DC where she moved last year) and she says the most important thing is getting volunteers to show up and then, even more important, making them feel like they are useful.  She had been disgusted with the Kerry organization when she joined as a volunteer in 2004 because they just didn’t keep people moving and making them feel like their volunteered time was useful.  You have to make people feel like their contribution, whether time, money, or what have you, is needed and valuable.

Anyway, I was impressed with how organized the Obama campaign was compared to other political shops I have floated around, and how they were politely persistent in their efforts to show you how you could help and feel involved.

And so far, no one has stolen my sign, although somebody has already stolen my friend J’s so she has to go back and get another one.  They’ll probably give her another stack of cards to label & mail out.

Just wanted to reassure y’all that I am not dead.  I’ve actually been having lots of bloggy thoughts, but not enough organization to get them posted.  When I checked in here today I had no idea it has been as long as it has since I last posted.

I’m not really sure what’s going on but I seem to be in this rut (not just blogwise, but lifewise) where I am simply not getting anything done.  I have reached new highs (or perhaps lows would be more accurate) in procrastination and I have yet to be able to effectively jump start myself.  I have made numerous lists and plans for how to get moving again, starting about a month ago, but it seems like the inertia is getting worse and its making me really cranky. 

Anywho, I hope to return to a more regular form of erratic posting soon.