Can’t I Have Just A Little Bit Of Peril?

This is the third year in a row my kids have worn their swimsuits to school for field day, but it was too cold to swim (outside).  Luckily, field day is at the Brentwood Y, but they hate swimming inside there.  I have no idea why, but they are pretty adamant about it.

I know it’s awful of me to say, but I wish we could have a just a little bit of that global warming everyone keeps talking about.  I remember mid to late May being much hotter than we’ve seen the last three years.  Heck, last year, we had a hard freeze.  Maybe I should buy an Escallade to hurry things along? 🙂  Just a wee bit of global warming, please, so we can get May back to normal? (Dear humorless – Please unwad panties.)

My kids have so many non-school things going on through school that academic work is pretty much over for the year.  Which is a shame, because my son needs to take at least one more accellerated math test to raise his grade up to at least a C, or he’s grounded for the summer. 

Not only that, but each of these non-school school events is costing me money – I’ll need to take out a home equity loan just to get through the last couple of weeks of school.  This is one of the perils of sending your kids to school with other kids who are in a higher economic bracket.

That, and being subtly accused of being racist and elitist by the Tennessean.

But, one outcome of my news/blog/radio hiatus is that I just don’t feel the need to prove my goodness to anyone anymore.  Certainly not the Tennessean.  Nor anyone else.  I am what I am.  Love me.  Hate me.  Whatever – I don’t own it anymore.

But, I would like y’all to pray for my son.  His entire school year has come down to one self-test.  He either makes the honor roll, or spends his summer with no video games or television.  Which MIGHT be a good thing.  He could spend it outside, as I remember my summers.

If it ever warms up enough for him to get outside.

 NOTE: we won’t be punishing our son for not making the honor roll, but for getting a D for the second six weeks in a row in Advanced Math. The grading for this class is extremely objective: he has to show mastery of 30 objectives through the accellerated math quizzes. The teacher does not assign them, the student has to take the initiative to take the exams on his own. This has been Zaphod’s downfall. He is not much of a self-motivator. We’ve pushed him all we could this six weeks. In the end, it’s up to him. Dang, he reminds me of me at that age.

One FInal thing, because upon re-reading this it looks like we’re being too tough on Zaphod.  A few weeks ago, some folks from Vanderbilt were using kids from my kids’ school to test some new educational techniques.  They tested each kid in math, used the techniques, then tested them again.  Zaphod was sent home after the first test because he “tested out” – he knew all the material already.  His teacher says he’s one of the most advanced in his class.  SOOOO – getting a “D” because he didn’t take the time to take enough self-assesments – we can’t just let that slide.  That being said, I have the utmost confidence he’ll take the test and raise it to a “B”.  Interestingly, a “C” isn’t really possible this six weeks.  It’s one or the other.

On A Lighter Note

Zaphod has an assignment to memorize the preamble to the constitution.  He is annoyed to heck with the fact that ever since he told me this, I’ve been singing it to him, nonstop.

Those of you who are about my age understand:

Schoolhouse Rock.  It might be the single most unifying pop culture phenomenon of my generation, besides maybe the US Festival.  It was an incredible teaching tool.  To this day, I know all of the words to the preamble, but only in song.  I’ll bet most of the other parents at my kids’ school are singing it, too.

 Good memories of ABC Saturday mornings.

What’s New

I don’t want to talk about Obama and Wright anymore.*  I just don’t.  I’m letting it go for now – November is a long way away, it’ll keep.  I refuse to go through all this angst, strain friendships, and give bomb-throwing partisans reasons to fire away,over something that I can’t do anything about right now anyway.  So, I’m done with it, for now.  Y’all do what you’re going to do.

 In other news, my children are turning my world upside down. 

 My son decided to follow in my daughter’s footsteps, and got in trouble at school for bullying ad fighting.  Y’all must think I’m the worst parent ever.  Anyway, after getting his story, his friends’ stories, the stories of two different teachers and one principal, I have come to the conclusion that Zaphod gave into peer pressure.  He is very vulnerable to it – he has always been overly concerned with “what his friends think”.  Doesn’t excuse what he did, but it does explain it somewhat.

He’s also way behind in taking accelerated math quizzes, which comprise most of his grade in math.  The kids are expected to take them on their own, and they are judged on how many skills they master.  Because he hasn’t been taking the tests, the best he can do is a “C”for this six weeks.  Neither of my kids have ever gotten below a “B”.  I can hear you laughing now, but it’s not the grade that upsets us, it’s the lack of effort.

My kids also have begged me NOT to take them to Disney World next year.  This breaks my heart.  They would rather go to California.  They want to pan for gold, then maybe go to Disneyland.  Gold country is in northern California, right?  I keep telling them, California is a huge state – you can’t see the northern part AND the southern part in one trip.  Maybe they have some kind of gold panning in southern California.

One thing I know for sure: we have to do SOMETHING Disney next year.  I have a Disney Visa, and my points I’ve built up over the years expire in 2009.  Maybe I’ll find a way to sneak away with Lintilla to Epcot. 

Trillian wants her own bathroom now.  No big surprise, really.  She’s been trying to steer us to remodel, and we keep telling her we can’t afford it. 

This post from Aunt B really, really brought home to me the awesome responsibility I have.  And I don’t mean to my daughter, I already feel the full weight of that.  At my “other gig”, I do entertainment and celebrity reporting.  I won’t talk about how large my readership is, let’s just say it’s beyond my wildest dreams.  (Amazingly, I’m still the slacker in my channel).  Most of my readers are young women, from about 15-25.  Let’s just say there are a LOT of them.

I can’t sit and complain about how the media portrays beauty, I am the media.  I am required to post red carpet photos and the like.  The photos I choose to display, the comments I make about those photos, and my commentary all have an impact.  The show I write about is probably the only body-positive show on television today, so at least I have a head start.

I can only hope and pray that I have the wisdom to always do the right things for these girls and women.

*Those of you who only read me here might ask, “When did you talk about Barack Obama?”  I haven’t here, but I’ve been all over the comments at other folks’ blogs.

Iowa On My Mind

This week at my kids’ school, they’re conducting the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills(ITBS).  By the way, every time I see that acronym, I want to say “Itsy Bitsy”.

Anyway, this is a BIG deal at the school, to the educators, the parents, AND the students.  For the school, they get a quantifiable measurement of their work to put in the school brochure.  Parents get the joy of saying that their kid tests in the 99th percentile and is at a “n-grade level” (n usually being 4 or 5 grades above their actual grade level).  Students get a whole week of everyone treating them like they are little princes and princesses. (No homework!  Make sure to eat 2 good meals and have a snack!  Get plenty of sleep!  Parents, make sure little johnny has no distractions at home!)

It’s actually been pretty nice this week, and I’ll miss going back to the grind next week (till spring break the following week, of course).  In a few months, I’ll be posting my kids’ astronomical scores – if they continue along the path they’ve followed in the Iowa’s so far, my 4th and 5th graders are both about ready to graduate high school (skills-wise).  I’m not bragging, because I take very little credit for it.  I only take credit for their good looks 🙂

Trillian is still very especially talented in math.  Off the charts talented.  I’m so happy that getting a new teacher has eliminated those “I hate math even though I’m great at it” sentiments.  Interestingly, when you ask her what she wants to do when she grows up, none of the paths is tied to advanced mathematics at all (design or architecture, zoology or veterinary medicine, chef). 

It is amazing that we do not share any DNA, but are just alike.  Both of us have high aptitudes in logical skills, yet prefer endeavors that are artistic or “caring”. (Although you might consider zoology “scientific”, you’d have to understand my daughter to understand her motivations.) 

My son has an extreme aptitude in language, yet is gearing himself toward some kind of science.  No accounting for taste, I guess.  Personally, I think he’d be a great lawyer or politician.  That boy can never lose an argument – and the funny thing is, he’s outsmarting me and winning more and more of them lately.

Of course, 6 years is a long time, and even then, many people have no idea what they’d like to do with their lives when they get to college.  All I can do is celebrate them for who they are, and ensure that they understand that no road is closed to them, no matter which path they choose to take.

Public Educators: Please Say This Isn’t True

Considering my reminiscing about being on the high school debate team back in the stone ages, this article in the Tennessean piqued my interest.  Until I got to this:

Antioch is the only public school in the state that offers debate classes, and it is the only public school in Tennessee that has a policy debate team.

What the?  You mean all those teams that were around in the 70’s and 80’s are gone?  My very first girlfriend was a girl from the Cohn debate team – Cohn High School was pretty darn inner-city before they closed it down.  EVERY public school had a debate team, back in the day.

You’re telling me that Metro Nashville public high schools (outside of Antioch, supported by the Alliance for Public Education) have NO debate teams?  That whole, wonderful academic world I was a part of is now vanished? 

This makes me horribly, horribly sad.  The program run by Alliance for education needs to be expanded to all of Metro Nashville schools.  Why doesn’t Metro sponsor debate tournaments anymore?  It isn’t even a sanctioned extracurricular activity anymore?

That just makes me want to scream.

Read these testimonials.  Just read them.

I think I’ve found my new cause.   This is wrong.  I’m going to try to do something about it.  I don’t know just what, yet.  But I can’t just sit by knowing that this opportunity isn’t even available to today’s students.

Crack House? Harvard? Outcome Uncertain

Speaking of catholic school girls in trouble…

Report cards came yesterday.  Zaphod is still making honor roll, all As, and two Bs.  I’m very proud of him, because each of his classes has “advanced” in front of the name.  I bought him some ridiculous video game blingage, that nevertheless meant a lot to him as a reward.

I expected the worst from Trillian this six weeks.  I figured that there would be some penalty for “the incident”, that maybe she had gotten behind because of the in-school suspension.  I had these paranoid visions of grades slipping, then truancy, then drugs, alcohol, and an arrest record. 

Hey, this is not your child…

Anyway, she got straight As for the second straight grading period.  I am so proud of her; she really works hard, and has one of the most natural “math” minds I’ve ever seen, at any age.  I have to assume that “the incident” was a one-time bit of weirdness, and having all of the adults in her life freaking out over it has probably ensured it’ll stay that way.

I have to resist envisioning a full scholarship to Harvard, now.   But, when you are a parent of a child who is just about to hit puberty, you might as well give up guessing where things are going to go.

Whew – Let’s Catch Up!

I have this terrible habit of arranging my schedule so that everything important comes due at the same time.  I guess that’s why I’ve been mostly absent around here lately.  This week, I had to deliver a prototype for a major system we’re working on, and I discovered it is much more high profile than I thought.  I had another certification test to take today, and I’ve been furiously studying (got a 960, which means I missed 2 out of 42).  One more, and I’m an MCAD (Microsoft Certified Application Developer)

On that front, it would appear I’m being wooed.  I can’t say much, I shouldn’t say anything, but I’m a blabber-mouth. I might be facing a choice soon.  When you’re a young man, the security-pay dichotomy is a no-brainer, you take the risk and go with the pay.  It’s not so simple when you’re not a young man anymore.  Being 43, I believe my company is going to see me as a greater and greater target for downsizing.  Not that my company sucks – they have had many retirements lately, and that means that, in general, they let people stay around long enough TO retire.

But it’s a high-risk situation.  I make really good money for a man of my educational background, and a younger man could probably do the same work for less pay.  It’s just the way things are.  I have talent, and, if living in Nashville has taught me anything, it’s that talent ain’t that rare.

So, there’s something out there that I know for a fact offers more security.  I don’t know if it’s less pay or not, I’m guessing it is.  But, with each passing year, I run a higher and higher risk of losing it all.

On the other hand, I’ve never played not to lose.  But, I’d like to see what the other side is offering, at the least.

But enough generalities about work.  The band’s kept me busy lately, too.  We have two, count ’em, two gigs this Sunday, one in Cookville!  Good thing it’s a Titans bye week. 

Also, this is your first notice: X-Alt (including Ginger) will be playing another community coffeehouse at New Beginnings Fellowship on October 13th.  Y’all have to come out, we’ve prepared a rockin’ set.  I’ll bug you about it quite a bit more in the coming days.

I had an interesting parental situation come up yesterday, but I think I’ll put it in its own post.  I’ve always had a fear that putting my kids in surrounings where their peers come from families with greater household incomes would haunt us.  Never in my wildest dreams, though, did I imagine my nine year old daughter would one day be sobbing in the backseat of the car, grieving the general unfairness of life.  Nine.  I thought it would at least wait till middle school.  The only good thing is that I went through this before they did, and I can guide them through these troubled waters.

I’ll give you a hint: it was a fundraising contest, and my daughter worked her butt off.  But another kid’s parents simply wrote a thousand dollar check and bought the victory for their kid.  Trillian knows I can’t do that. Her class would have won the contest, had it not been for the cheating-shortcut-takers.  My kids’ school is chock full of kids of doctors and music industry types.  I’m just a corporate code-slinger, and Lintilla does her job out of a sense of service, rather than for the measly pay.

Sorry, I don’t mean to unload this on y’all, but I’m just mad at myself (because I put my kids in this situation), and mad at the world.  I’m taking the kids out to eat tonight, though, to celebrate their hard work, and my genius in passing another exam!

On a happier note, things are going well at the paid blogging gig, I’m getting more page views than I ever dreamed I would.  And I’m only about a third of the way to where they want me to be.  But, I’ve only been at it a little over a month, so I’d say I’m doing pretty well.

I’m really enjoying working with the smaller kids at church.  I had put that gentle daddy role on the shelf long ago, and it’s good to get it out and try it on again.  Not a single rolled eye or sarcastic remark.  They are actually starting to trustme now.  Their parents still look at me with suspicion.  A man?  Teaching small children?  How do we know he isn’t a pedophile? (That’s the vibe I get, at least.  Dang matriarchy).

Thanks for all the encouraging words about Lintilla’s upcoming surgery.  I feel much less scared about it after reading your comments.

Well, that’s enough for now.  I should have separated it into different posts, but it’s been so long, I figured I owed you a catch-up post.