Pardon This Moment of Parental Pride

They had the academic awards ceremony at my kids’ school last night.  It’s rough, because it’s easy to get caught up in the whole competitive nature of these things.  It’s an academic-oriented school, so for many of the kids and parents, last night was their Raison d’être.

Last year, we left the ceremony wondering what was wrong with our kids, since they had only won a few awards, while a some others won anywhere from 7-10.  The next day, I looked at Lintilla and said, “What are we doing?”  Our kids are well-balanced, very good students, and all around good kids. Isn’t that what we wanted when we prayed for children?” 

We promised ourselves that this year would be different, and I’m proud to say, it was.  We kept things in perspective, and made sure to let the kids know that we are super-proud of their accomplishments this year.

Zaphod won an Accelerated Reader award, which wasn’t a surprise.  That boy has a book in his hand at all times.  He reads for pleasure, which came in handy during his recent grounding.  He led his class in Accelerated Reader points.  For those of you who are curious, he prefers science fiction/fantasy, just like his old man did.

Trillian won an award for excellence in science, and another one for social studies.  She is very, very strong in these two subjects – I don’t think she got below an A on either one this year.

Now, she was upset because they don’t start honor roll until 5th grade, and she would have made it this year.  Zaphod was upset because he didn’t have perfect attendance for the second straight year.  We reminded him that his mother had a major medical diagnosis this year, and that he had perfect attendance for the days Lintilla wasn’t in the hospital.

I want to also add that Zaphod took his Accelerated Math test yesterday, got 100%, then turned around and took another in the same day!  I’ll be doggonned if he isn’t going to get an “A” in that class, the one that got him grounded last six weeks, the one we were afraid he’d get another “D” in.

We pushed the heck out of him this six weeks, when it came to math.  We asked him every single day, “Did you take a test today?  Did you take a test today?”.  I’m somewhat surprised that all that pushing ended up having spectacular results.  It occurred to me that, had I pushed my kids in this way in all their classes this year, they’d be the ones getting award after award after award.

But this, I will not do.  There is so much more involved in raising my kids than just academics.  There’s music, and church, and fishing, and the proper way to eat over-medium eggs.  There’s laughter, and service, and games of Monopoly, and political discussions (we’ve actually had a few lately).  There are scales to play and bases to run.  There are cakes to bake and sleepovers to attend.

And soon, very soon, there will be attentions turned to the opposite sex.  But I’d rather not think about that.

Our parental motto from the beginning has been; Smart is Easy.  Good is Hard.  What that motto really says is where we place our emphasis as parents.  We have chosen to focus on the latter, and I think we’ve been somewhat successful.  The kids are not perfect, but they really are “good” kids.  I’m quite proud of them.

We chose an emphasis that probably means they won’t be valdedictorians.  I can live with that.  All we’ve ever asked of them academically is try their best.

I really am a proud papa today.

17 Responses to “Pardon This Moment of Parental Pride”

  1. bridgett Says:

    Congratulations to your children for their distinguished academic performance and to you and your wife for having your head on straight.

    Has Zaphod encountered Rick Riordan’s recent series, the one that kicks off with the Lightning Thief? If not, he’ll want to read it. Likewise, I think he’d love the H.I.V.E. series — smart kids who go to super-villain school but rebel against their super-villain parents by…well, by turning somewhat good. (Yes, my daughter is a big fantasy reader as well.)

  2. Slartibartfast Says:

    bridgett, I’ll ask him tonight. I also think he would really like the H.I.V.E series (that’s right up his alley).

    We were going through boxes full of books we have in storage that made it through the house fire, and I set aside a bunch for Zaphod. I gave him the Terry Brooks novels – man I loved those! (Especially the Landover series).

    I almost gave him another series I had, the Elric series by Michael Moorcock. Although I think he’d like the concept of ‘multiverses’, I can’t justify giving him books so overtly dark and anti-religious. I would never ban them from the house, but I don’t think he should get them from his parents.

    I don’t know if that makes sense, but it does in my head.

  3. nm Says:

    Give him some André Norton books, too. A little gender subversion never hurt anyone. (There’s not a thing you would object to in those books, Slarti — they just have strong, competent female protagonists, which boys his age need to see once in a while.)

  4. nm Says:

    Oh, and congratulations of them doing well.

  5. Ford Prefect Says:

    I only have one word to add to Zaphod’s book selection


  6. nm Says:

    Oooh, couldn’t he put off learning to hate women until he’s a little older?

  7. Slartibartfast Says:

    nm, hating girls is pretty much his full-time job right now. Of course, there are a few he “hates” a little too vigourously – I’m assuming these are the 11 year old version of crushes 🙂

    Now I’ve got to look up Heinlein to see what y’all are talking about.

  8. nm Says:

    Slarti, I take both the hating and the crush part for granted at his age. That’s why he needs to read a little Norton: no sex or “ewwww, mushy stuff,” no didacticism, just (mostly) girls and young women having sfnal adventures.

    Shorter Heinlein: women are either beautiful-sexy-brainy-creatures-who-voluntarily-give-up-their-own-autonomy-to-serve-an-even-more-superior-man -and-tell-you-at-great-length-how-fulfilled-they-feel-because-of-it-take-that-you-nasty-feminists or they are evil, evil, evil.

  9. Ford Prefect Says:

    What she says is true if you read the books he wrote in the late 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s up to his death. I love those books, but I am an adult and can see what he was doing. These are not the books where I would suggest Zaphod begin. Zaphod is a juvenile and Heinlein’s books that were written for younger people are where he should begin. Basically the books written in the 40’s, 50’s through the future history books. “Have Space Suit will Travel”, “Red Planet”, “Podkine of Mars” are a few that come to mind. As Heinlein got older he became a dirty old man and it come through his works, but earlier in his career when he was a regular contributor to “Boys Life” and other publications his books were not near as sexist as they became later on. This is the man that is considered the master of modern Science Fiction and won more awards for his writing then probably anyone that has followed in his footsteps. Me thinks thou are painting with a rather wide brush!!!

  10. nm Says:

    Ford, he isn’t considered the master of modern SF by most women who write or read SF. I realize that women are in the minority in the SF world, but pretty much any time a bunch of SF-loving women get together, two names get brought up for complaint: Heinlein and Niven. Not every woman there will hate on them (I myself try to read every novel in which Niven takes on a new world, though I’ll never read the sequels, which are always dreadful), but even those who enjoy them agree about this, um, problem that they have. It’s remarkably blatant.

    But I grant you that Heinleiin’s stories from the ’40s and ’50s, though they’re not exactly gender-neutral, aren’t going to damage Zaphod either. I wonder, you know, what a child of today makes of the current/future state of science in those early works, and in Norton’s, too. I mean, do the kids ask how come no one has roaming access to computing power?

  11. Ford Prefect Says:

    I honestly have yet to make it all the way through a Niven Novel, I’ve tried but failed. My son read a lot of Heinlein’s early stuff and was really more amazed by the things he got right they what was missing. And I will stand by his “Future History” stories as some of the most imaginative Science Fiction ever put to paper. Again I am in no way trying to say that Heinlein was not a pig when it comes to his treatment of women in his later works – as a pig myself I find them very entertaining (wink wink) but if you can get past the large chests and willingness to go beyound the call of duty (!!) in his female characters, you will find that he had incrediable insight into the social, political and religious culture of the time he lived in, and that his discriptions of space travel, ships, and how space travel could be used as a political tool were dead on. The man was a thinker before his time, and a pig.
    By the way, Slarti, some Heinlein titles to keep Zaphod away from untill he is older…”Firday”, “The Cat Who Walked Through Walls”, “JOB: A Comedy Of Justice” (But you would love that one), and “Stranger In A Strange Land” which is probably his best work but you don’t want to get his religious and sexual perceptions too screwed up this early in life!!!!!

  12. nm Says:

    Heh. Niven can’t write for beans. (Heinlein either, IMO.) But when he first creates a world and figures out how the physics of it is going to affect the people who live there, he’s brilliantly suggestive.

    This: you will find that he had incredible insight into the social, political and religious culture of the time he lived in about Heinlein kind of throws me, because my argument against him is that he’s completely inaccurate since he cannot see the reality of 50% of the people he’s writing about. He does not, in fact, describe the world or the culture that women of his time lived in; he describes a male fantasy fairly characteristic of that time. Now, if you want to say that he has incredible insight into male fantasies, we agree. Ursula LeGuin wrote a great story, “The Pathways of Desire” about using that kind of SF to think you’re understanding anything.

  13. Ford Prefect Says:

    In his early works, cause that is what I’m talking about in that I have already granted him Pigdom in the last 20+ years he worked, he is very good at bringing the social and political landscape to life.

    Let me ask you this (opening a can o’worms here)
    Have you considered that the treament of women in his works could have come from his observation that women at the time were seen to be weak and he knew this not to be the case. Because in almost – if not all of his works (certainly the later works) his female characters are really the leaders and strongest of the characters. They have just learned that to get past men’s deep set beliefs – that men are the ruling class – they have to convince the men that they believe that to be true, and what better way to convince a man that he is in controll then to play the week sexpot and play up his desires while all the time making the decisions for him, and in turn taking his position of power.
    I would go as far as to say that Heinlein did not hate women, but infact saw them as the stronger (intellectually) of the species. Sence during the majority of the time he was writing, women were considered to be second in class and public stature to men, he took a path to bringing women to the forefront by permiting them to use their sexuality (something that would have been considered shamefull at the time) as a way to become dominate.
    (and yes I know I can’t spell – to many male teachers!)

    Or it could be that he got his jollys writing about boobs – the world may never know!!!!

  14. Ford Prefect Says:

    Just ran up on this from a Bio of Heinlein and I think it expreses what I was trying to get at in my last post…

    From the socialism he embraced in the late 1930s to the Libertarianism and right wing Republicanism he embraced in the late 1960s and 70s was a big shift, one which offended those who agreed with the free love socialism in some of his novels. Suddenly, Heinlein was a conservative old fart: his female characters were not believable, and of course his seemingly pro-conservative works were “preachy”.

    On the surface, many of these complaints seem true. Heinlein’s women differ from what we expect of women characters nowadays. Yet it is worth remembering that for roughly three or four decades they were light years ahead what anyone else had imagined for women. Heinlein’s fictious women were smart, aggressive, and not ashamed of their sexuality. True, they were generally what Robert Heinlein found appealing in a woman, as opposed to representative of what women thought about themselves. But then Heinlein was fairly disgusted with what most women in the 50s thought about themselves. He thought they should aspire to be more than domestic serfs and housewives.


    That’s my point it’s not that he hated women but he wanted them to aspire to be more than society of the time allowed them to be. To break the chains that society and themselves had put on them. Did he take it to far? Possibly but how many other authors that you know of have used done that in order to make a point???

    I also found this intresting, it’s from the same article quoted above…


    Heinlein’s influence was hardly limited to the genre of science fiction, or to his fellow writers. He also managed to insert himself into mainstream popular culture — influencing language (“waldo” and “grok”), politics, sexuality, and even spirituality. His 1962 Hugo-winning Stranger in a Strange Land was not only a kind of guidance manual for the 1960s free love counterculture but it actually spawned a number of imitative churches. To a lesser but no less noteworthy extent his 1966 The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is credited with drawing many young people to Libertarianism and to the Libertarian party itself.

    Although Robert Heinlein was actually most prolific, and perhaps most influential upon the genre of science fiction, with his short fiction, he was also the first science fiction author to produce a best selling novel. Other long works of note include the Hugo Award winners Double Star (1956) and Starship Troopers (1959) as well as the thought provoking Methuselah’s Children (1958), and Time Enough For Love (1973). Another groundbreaking novel I Will Fear No Evil (1970) is noteworthy for it’s daring exploration of transexualism. Farnham’s Freehold (1965), which deals with the futuristic racial oppression of white Americans by cannibalistic black Muslims, is considered by some to be one of the most controversial novels in the genre of science fiction. Finally, “For Us, the Living” (2004) was so scandalously racy that when Heinlein first sought publication for it in 1939, the book was deemed unpublishable. (Note that even if the book had been published at that time, it would have been illegal to ship it through the U.S. mail.)


    I’ve read every one of his books and short stories and they are all very entertaining and thought provoking. At it’s essence isn’t that what science fiction is susposed to be. Makes you smile and makes you think, even if you don’t like some of what it deals with?

  15. Ford Prefect Says:

    OK Now I’m just going way to far…

    Novels marked with an asterisk * are generally considered juvenile novels, although some works defy easy categorization.

    Early Heinlein novels
    Rocket Ship Galileo, 1947 *
    Beyond This Horizon, 1948 (initially serialized in 1942, credited to Anson MacDonald)
    Space Cadet, 1948 *
    Red Planet, 1949 *
    Sixth Column, 1949 (initially serialized in 1941, and at that time credited to Anson MacDonald)
    Farmer in the Sky, 1950 (Retro Hugo Award, 1951) *
    Between Planets, 1951 *
    The Puppet Masters, 1951
    The Rolling Stones, 1952
    Starman Jones, 1953 *
    The Star Beast, 1954 *
    Tunnel in the Sky, 1955 *
    Double Star, 1956 (Hugo Award, 1956)
    Time for the Stars, 1956 *
    Citizen of the Galaxy, 1957 *
    The Door into Summer, 1957
    Have Space Suit—Will Travel, 1958 *
    Methuselah’s Children, 1958
    Starship Troopers, 1959 (Hugo Award, 1960)

    Mature Heinlein novels
    Stranger in a Strange Land, 1961 (Hugo Award, 1962)
    Podkayne of Mars, 1963 *
    Orphans of the Sky, 1963
    Glory Road, 1963
    Farnham’s Freehold, 1965
    The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, 1966 (Hugo Award, 1967)
    I Will Fear No Evil, 1970
    Time Enough for Love, 1973

    Late Heinlein novels
    The Number of the Beast, 1980
    Friday, 1982
    Job: A Comedy of Justice, 1984
    The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, 1985
    To Sail Beyond the Sunset, 1987

    Early Heinlein works published posthumously
    For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs (written in 1939, published posthumously in 2003)

  16. nm Says:

    I have to tell you, I’m a woman. And so is my mother, and a lot of other people her age, and our experience of being women covers the period when Heinlein was writing this stuff. And it doesn’t reflect our experience of what society or culture was like. Or how women actually did deal with barriers against agency. Heinlein has not the least inkling that women exist outside of their dependence on or opposition to men. This is what I mean about Heinlein teaching hatred of women: he takes away the reality of women’s experiences and substitutes a fantasy that (in his case) is merely gratifying to the male ego and sex organs. To teach men to ignore what women experience is quite dreadful, and usually suggests a lot of anger at women rather than they sympathy you suggest Heinlein is expressing. I sure hope that Zaphod won’t read that part of Heinlein’s oeuvre until he’s got a clearer idea than 10 year old boys usually have that women are human.

    Look, here’s an opposite example that may help you see what I mean. Take Joanna Russ’s story “When It Changed” or her novel “The Female Man.” These are two classic pieces of fiction, profoundly moving and inspiring to a couple of generations of SF readers. And you could say “wow, reading these stories shows that women in the 1970s really resented male domination.” But you could not objectively say that Russ gives you an insightful picture of the society and culture of the time outside of showing that the resentment existed. Most importantly, you can’t get a picture of the male experience at that time from reading them (unless you think that men are all killers, drones, or monkeys). I wouldn’t advise 10 year olds to read those particular works, even though I think they’re brilliant. And I wouldn’t at any age think that they were a true picture of much.

  17. nm Says:

    Heinlein’s fictious women were smart, aggressive, and not ashamed of their sexuality. True, they were generally what Robert Heinlein found appealing in a woman, as opposed to representative of what women thought about themselves. But then Heinlein was fairly disgusted with what most women in the 50s thought about themselves. He thought they should aspire to be more than domestic serfs and housewives.

    His women were not aggressive (unless they were the bad guys). Unless you restrict the term to sexual aggression; they were unusually sexually liberated for the time. What’s offputting about his women is that they are smart enough, strong enough, competent enough to be aggressive, but they voluntarily renounce not only aggression but even decision-making in order to serve their chosen men better. Heinlein thought that women should be more than housewives, but he didn’t think they should be leaders. They should be followers, only, you know, not just at home but in spaceships, too. (This isn’t true of the women in his juveniles, and it’s a mystery to me why, at the point when he deals with women as sexual beings, their autonomy collapses.) And he didn’t have a clue about what women in the ’50s thought about themselves.

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