Monday, April 23, 2012

Picture this

Wednesday is spring picture day at the youngest girl's school. Yes, Spring pictures because apparently one school picture is no longer enough and we need to have them in the fall and in the spring. She is bummed because she has a scratch on her nose. She has no idea how she got the scratch and swears she had absolutely nothing to do with it. She's very worried it will show up in the photo and now the six-year-old believes makeup should be applied to hide the blemish. I told her not to worry because I most likely won't buy the (ridiculously expensive) picture anyway. The reason? Meadows, pastures, woods, an ocean bluff. No, these aren't places that I'm dreaming of visiting - these are the backgrounds from which my child gets to choose for her school picture. I'm serious. They have the kid sitting there with one knee up and her chin in her hand. Because isn't that all how we look when we're sitting on a cliff overlooking the Pacific? Or the one with the boy sitting in the meadow with his chin in his hand. Really? What boy is going to pick this background? Whatever happened to blue? Just plain old blue? Bad enough I have to worry about the outfit and the hair on the same morning the older one has to be to school on time (which for me means early) to take state tests. Great. Good luck with that. Oh, yeah, the outfit is supposed to match the background we choose. What? Can you just give me a white background? Or black? Everything goes with black. Oh, and wait, what if the tall one chooses a different background than her little sister? What then? Now I have two pictures with two stupid backgrounds! Oh how I now feel so bad for my mom. We used to make her put our hair in curlers the night before pictures. Don't ask me why - it always came out horribly. I have to admit, I have bad hair in nearly every school picture I've ever taken. The curlers, the self-cutting of the bangs, the letting my BFF Chrissy perm my hair the night before and then her taking a phone call and leaving it on so long that I looked like Jermaine Jackson. Oh, and the outfits. A blessing of Catholic school is that you wear uniforms for most pictures, but we also had the times where we got to wear casual clothes. So, I have photos with a pale green polyester vest that had something to do with backgammon. Then there's one with a pale green, ruffled turtleneck with orange cats in a pattern that make some of them upside down. Oh and the famous ankle length dress that both my sister and I wore one year. Not pretty. Maybe I should send my girls to school in overalls - those will match pretty much any grassy-themed picture, right?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Give 'em a break

Big week for a lot of kids in my school district - state testing and third-quarter report cards. After three days of filling in circles, I'm sure a lot of these kids could use a break. But, I guess when the quarter ends, it ends, so there's not much to do. Besides, many kids (at least I know mine) have tests again in a week and then in June so there's no end in sight. I really don't care much about these tests. I tell my daughter to just relax and she'll do fine. She's bright enough - the only thing that could stop her from doing well is her own anxiety. My first grader doesn't have to deal with that stress yet, thank goodness. Well, she gets it a little bit. Her teacher gives them work that "prepares them" for the third-grade exam. I don't really know what that means and I'm sure all my educator friends are chomping at the bit to let me know but I gotta tell you - it's just not that important to me. I want my kids to learn, but I sometimes wonder about how they are taught. Starting this summer, the kids will have to work harder to catch up for next year because New York State is changing curriculum standards (yet again!) So, now what the kids are normally taught in 5th grade, they will already be expected to know by the time they get to 5th grade. Yikes! I can just imagine how excited my children will be to know they have to do school work over the summer. I'm sure a lot of kids don't mind. I know plenty of parents who give their children work on top of school work and homework. I remember one lady being surprised that I didn't do that and that I let my kids watch TV on school nights. Is that wrong? Is it wrong for me to not push them harder? Is it wrong for me to be happy with good grades and not expect perfect scores all the time? I know I am a little lax sometimes - like when I allow my daughter to hand in an assignment with sloppy handwriting and excuse it and blame it on her being left-handed and criticize the teacher for not being sympathetic to lefties. How do you know when you're pushing too hard or not pushing enough? That's such a tough question. I just think it's okay to be good at a lot of different things and maybe not excellent at one specific thing. For instance, I would never push my kids to do sports or dance or any other extra curricular activities. They have to try and they can't quit right away, but if there is a genuine dislike of something, I'm not going to force it- because to me, my forcing them to do something will make them hate it even more. And I don't want them to hate things! I can't be one of those parents that has my kid in cheer competitions every other week, traveling all over the region to "perform" against other 6-year-olds. No offense, but at 6, is it really worth it? What are they getting out of it? I know this will get people mad, but let's face it - what are the chances of your child playing baseball in the majors? Very, very slim. That's not me talking - that's a fact. You may think you've got the next Kobe on your hands, but should you put all the eggs in that basket? What if little Kobe tears a ligament? I hope he got his BA in something other than communications! I would never discourage a child from following their passion. But it needs to be their passion. It needs to be their love of something and not their parents living vicariously through them. Just because I love softball doesn't mean my girls have to (but I hope they do). And more than loving softball, I want them to love science and community service and hiking and going to church. I want them to love lots of things and while I won't stop them from following their passions, I will pray they have a full resume because softball might not pay the rent. Seriously, can you name a dozen professional female athletes in any one sport? I'll give you $500 if you can without looking it up. You'll get the money as soon as one of my girls goes pro.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I bet I'm going to offend a whole lot of people by saying this, but I am so sick of hearing about this Hunger Games movie. But what has been bothering me more is seeing how many people are bringing their children to see this movie. I know a woman who actually had to argue against this book being mandatory reading at her child's school. How can it be okay to watch this? Maybe I'm ignorant, but from what I've heard, this story is about teens competing to the death. Children dying for entertainment? Why? How is this entertaining and why would you pay $10 for your child to witness it? What is wrong with protecting our children's innocence? There are so many things wrong with the world today - so many demons attacking families, marriages and children. Why invite the attack? Why welcome it into your home? I think we make way too many excuses for society. We start to conform and buy into advertising that convinces us to let evil become acceptable. We let our daughters wear racy clothing - maybe because we think it's cute or maybe because we're reliving our youth through them. We let our sons get away with treating girls with disrespect and forgetting the simplest forms of courtesy. Unfortunately, too many people don't think they're part of the problem. They don't realize that it's little things that snowball and help make our society so morally bankrupt. It's letting kids listen to suggestive music and supporting radio stations that play it. It's buying CDs from "singers" who spew nothing but filth. Oh, it's not that bad, people say. We just play what kids want. What? There are way too many people in authority these days who won't take a stand for what's right - too many people let things slide. And when you let things slide, they will. They will keep getting worse and worse. So please hold on. Hold on to morals and goodness and please, no matter how cool something is, don't give in to popular culture and society. I'd rather my girls didn't fit in than have them fit into the downward spiral this world is stuck in. There's nothing wrong with holding onto innocence.