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Archive for February, 2013

No to Dressing 5 Year Olds as Slaves

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Jay’s teacher sent a note home last week asking for donations of tattered clothes and blankets for use as costumes. Her plan: have the kindergarteners perform a skit wherein they dress as slaves and re-enact escaping from slavery through the Underground Railroad.

Eeek. This whole thing would have slipped past me had another parent not brought it to my attention last Thursday. Sometimes, there is so much information that comes home with the kids that I simply focus on the homework and disregard all the other information. #parentingfail

Hubby and I talked about the teacher’s request and the skit, and I thought about it over the weekend. Finally, I sent a polite email to the teacher and the school principal saying that I had misgivings about the children portraying slaves. One can certainly learn about slavery without acting like a slave. I informed them that Hubby and I were not going to allow Jay to portray a slave. Other parents voiced their concerns as well in a reasoned, articulate manner (from what I can tell).

The teacher sent an apology email yesterday and explained that she had not intended to be insensitive. Her intent was to use the skit to celebrate freedom and human dignity. I believe her. And, for all I know, Mae participated in the same skit when she had this same teacher in kindergarten three years ago without Hubby and I realizing it.  We didn’t attend the Black History Month Celebration back then. #parentingfail

As it turns out, Teacher has been out sick for over a week and has been unable to fully prepare the kids. So, the skit is canceled anyway.  I’d like to think that she would have deferred to the judgment of the parents and canceled the skit based on our concerns. Slavery is an emotional subject still for a lot of people, and too complex for children so young to understand what weight their parents might feel from seeing them pretending to be slaves.  Even with an African-American in the White House and other outstanding accomplishments in every area of life, we’re not there yet.

Let Them Eat Nuggets

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From time to time, I let myself out of food jail and cook something that I will likely be the only person in my home to eat. I love okra and I’ve been thinking for a while about an okra soup dish that I used to have at a West African restaurant in D.C. umpteen years ago. It was an ooey, gooey mess of okra over a whole deep-fried croaker. I think there was white rice too, and if not, there should have been. So, last night, I decided to try to recreate it, using as a starting point an okra soup recipe in a White House garden cookbook that my Ma-in-law gave me. To make the dish a little healthier, I opted for pan-fried trout and wild rice (well, to be honest, I would have cooked white rice, but I didn’t have any).

Normally, I would have cooked something else for the rest of the family. But, I was too tried, having left the house shortly after 9:00 am for an extended birthday party that involved building a bear, then food and play, then swimming; grocery shopping; and a trip to the dry cleaners.

I left it to Hubby to figure out what he and Dem Kids would eat. Wonderful man that he is, he pulled together some fries and nuggets, while I sat guilt-free on the couch with my little feast.

Sometimes, it’s ok to ignore people, the ones we love as well as others. I had practice last weekend too.

The longtime Dharma for Kids teacher at our Buddhist center left because her husband’s job relocated them to another country. Good for them, not so good for us. Now, parents are taking turns teaching each Sunday. My first turn was last Sunday. My luck, there was an 11-year old smart alec visiting for the first time. He was unhappy with his mom for leaving him with “the babies.” And, he didn’t try to hide it at all. I actually felt a little bad for him, until he started interrupting my story-reading every 90 seconds with questions that he thought were so clever but not. One of his questions was “If Buddha could see into the future, why didn’t he create a cure for cancer and HIV?” A better question would be “Why didn’t Buddha prevent cancer and HIV?” The other kids asked questions out of genuine curiosity or shared thoughts related to the story. That’s wonderful and welcome. I admit that I pretended not to see Smart Alec’s hand once, maybe twice. Let him drill his mom at home; it wasn’t my fault she made him come. By the way, this is further evidence that I could never be a teacher. But, otherwise it was a lovely class.

You can’t make everyone happy all the time. So, why not make yourself happy at least some of the time?

There’s Nothing to Worry About. Right?

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Report card time. Mae earned B’s in science and math for the 2nd quarter and A’s in her other subjects. For the first quarter, she had an A in science and a B in math.

This time, Mae and I opened the report card envelope together and she smiled when she saw her grades. I asked if she was proud of herself and she said yes, with another smile. That was nice to see.

I have to admit that I felt a tinge of worry when I saw the B’s. The Voices on my shoulders started debating with each other.

She made all A’s (Outstanding’s) in her old school.

It’s a new school. Third grade is big leap.

She wants to be a chemist. Math and science are critical.

She also says she wants to be an Olympic fencer. Yet, she is taking a “break” from fencing and she didn’t practice at home after the second lesson.

She seems capable of A’s in math and science. What else can we do?

She’s taking 4th grade math, which may already be extra pressure. Don’t make the learning unfun.

If she were more organized and had turned in all of her math assignments, she would probably have at least an A there.

This is her first year changing classes and she may be still learning the ropes and finding what systems work for her. It’s a lot of responsibility for an 8-year old. She has gotten better about turning in her homework.

I’m a recovering Type A, so I know the problem is me.  Despite the debate swirling around my head, what I said to Mae is that she had every reason to be proud of herself because she has been working really hard.  I mean that with all my heart, and I’m proud of her too.

When Hubby looked at her report card later, he was surprised at the B’s.  He commented too that both subjects are important for what she wants to do in the future.  He helped her with her homework tonight.  He said to me afterwards that he hopes she understands the math.  (It’s nice to have partner in insanity.)

I think the bottom line is that we want her to be able to achieve her full potential and achieve all of her goals.  Our job is to do everything we can to help her get there. Does a B mean we aren’t helping her enough?

Of course, this is somewhat irrational.  She’s doing great and she feels good about how she’s doing.  She’ll be fine, everything will be fine.

I just needed to say that.

Life after Kids

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I filleted a fish for the first time! It was a lot easier than I expected.

I have a friend who is four months pregnant with her first child. She’s past whatever is that golden age for pregnancy, meaning increased risk for complications for her and the baby. I called her today to see how things are going (well, thank goodness). When I called her, I was on my way home from a cooking class and I told her that I plan to use what I’d learned when I next host supper club. She started lamenting that she’ll “never get a chance to do stuff like that.” I asked, “Stuff like what?” She said take a cooking class or be in a supper club. She asked herself out loud why she and her husband had started so late.

What a funny thought. I reminded her that I started supper club after I became a mother. And I told her this was my first cooking class ever. Heck, I didn’t even take home ec in high school.

Mind you, my friend tends toward the melodramatic plus her hormones are out of wack.  Still, I felt very lucky all of a sudden while I was talking to her. There I was giving her a pep talk about how she’ll be able to do fun stuff after the baby comes, maybe not right away but eventually.

I reached out to friends about starting a supper club when my second was still an infant, precisely because I wanted to have a life beyond wife, milk bag, diaper changer, booger picker, etc. I’m having that life. Of course, I don’t get to have or do everything I want, but I have some plans, some goals, some dreams. Some are frivolous, some not. Maybe I’ll accomplish all of them, maybe not.

One thing is for sure: Talking to Preggers was a good reminder that it’s my responsibility for making myself a full, rich life.

Coming soon, a cake decorating class.

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