Monday, March 30, 2009

Manufacturing Uniqueness

Those who know me, and this blog, know I hate making decisions. I am seriously the most anti-choice, pro-choice chick you will ever meet. The onslaught of choices for us since that first day of school sign up January has been the torture I should have expected. It all ran to today when I sat down to cry over the betrayal of the quality and rarity of my first-born girl in our ultimate decision.

My daughter is special... to me. She can read and draw the most beautiful pictures. She is a good sister and friend and she tells amazing stories. She does one of the best blowfish impressions I have ever seen. And, she's pretty.

In registering her for school I have had to take her specialness and plunk it into a system and I hate it. Part of it is my pointless railing against the dual identity I have for myself as a working mom; part of it is the angst and inescapable politics of choosing among the 100 plus schools I work with just one FOR ME! For HER!

It has been the longest first day of school in the history of motherhood. I broke down today with the weeps like so many before us as we watched them disappear behind a heavy bright red door. It was today and not in September that I felt the... Klunk, and the tweed tartan jumper is gone. Slam, and the pastel pink jeans take off at the behest of two keds. Swish and a pair of corduroys pad off into kindergarten land.

Into the an unknown.

I turned it all over a hundred times in a futile effort to make this unknown a known. More often than not we tried to make it what we knew, no matter how dissatisfied we'd been with our schools. We tried and we lost. It's like the feeling when you have to sneeze; when you have to sneeze and you're driving. You know that at some point you will involuntarily close your eyes and it will be over but there is both risk and culpability in that moment. God, I hope no one sees me.

This was the first time we were so fully on course to screwing up our kids. To seeing nothing in their future but an adaptation of our own past. We want to find a place in a system to ... wait for it ... nurture.... you had to know it was coming... nurture their uniqueness. It was hard for p-man and I not to 'emphasise academics' -- even at this young age. While we bear the academic unremarkableness of persons you might think had other cloaks, we don't really. We reflect on our own smart(ass) statuses as an insurance plan we need against society. Why not her? And, him?

Our kids are smart enough but they are also very friendly and pretty and all much that makes it likely for them to fit in in a way we know nothing about. The world is their oyster it seems by virtue of their being or their age don't ask me. All you can ask me is why the hell would you make choice for them based on your own experiences. Because that's something we really must answer for.

I telephoned this morning the second fancy school and said no thanks. The decision has been made, in September we will go to the local school. We will walk with neighbours and maybe we'll sign her up for Chinese school on Fridays. She will go to a plain child care program there run by the Y. She won't speak French or learn under much method. The child care doesn't have any leather furniture and it doesn't make its own paper. It will be plain.

And, she'll still be special, maybe more so.

ps. I think I have a fun post tomorrow


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Clueless and Unilingual

We bored ourselves all week with the wrangling for credibility on the subject of school. We've betrayed our country and turned down the French Immersion option. We've wandered from our cozy East side home to consider the bright lights of l'ecole cote d'ouest. We love the Montessori? We were offered a surprise quality new option in the neighbourhood last week.

Yay, back to the Olympic matrimonial sport... consensus.

I believe the last salient words in the decision-making process was "That's just crap. That's just a race for authenticity." Tell me how many parents do you think make a decision about what school to choose by flipping a coin?

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Where I'm at

It seems where others might count to ten, I need to count to one hundred.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It isn't that long a stay

I remember entirely to clearly for my twenties the figure of Daniel looking for K that night. A massive raggedy twenty-two year old friend skittering about the building then looming, have you seen her? K's mother had just died -- suddenly and too young -- from a stroke. I don't remember the details, I remember the sight of Daniel; and, then those days later my friend and neighbour, K.

I know it is trite to lump all us mothers together but I guess won't resist the tritely-temptation tonight. Despite all the far, far, away about Natasha Richardson she seemed a very genuine, lovely person. I expected to hear from you, SB, on those two well named Neeson boys' mother as you're so often our Hollywood correspondent. (Things ok up North tonight?) I tend to over-analyse which pieces of news I follow and which I don't. I don't ever really read the celeb pages -- I didn't know Richardson and Neeson were a couple even. It stuck out how I couldn't ignore this one family's sad news, the last couple days I have carried a little hope for her in my heart that this story would turn.

Among all the accomplishments and accolades of a thoroughly likable star... Natasha Richardson, actor of stage and screen, Brit society luminary, wife of a Jedi... mother-woman. Prayers there.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

News of the Day

I could not believe it would come to this, but now it has. I worked in the library of our Vancouver newspapers not long ago and boy that used to be the plum job, though the rumblings were there back in '01. I spun my theories of how newspapers WOULD survive. It's like a Mr. Coffee and Starbucks, yes I can have a coffee at home but community is a craving. Society demands space for interchange, physical space, things like newspapers. While we all have moments when newspapers piss us off, that's always been the point.

I love me some technology but print newspapers are important: editorial positions, views simultaneously independent and intertwined, something of value in the composure of an information serving. It is the hallmark of the information overload we seem able to accept at this juncture that composition could become so endangered.

And, me? I have spent all day on the most tedious spreadsheet in the history of the world. Analysis of our school board digital subscriptions and what students are taking from the nearly 1 million database sessions executed in a quest for knowledge information

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Digital Learning and Teaching

A few weeks ago I attended a brilliant presentation by Dr. Jason Ohler. Dr Ohler presented to us on the topic of new digital narratives and schooling in general. It was fantastic both professionally and personally.

The content was wide ranging but the core information was built around the place of storytelling in learning and the general delights of using technology to bring the stories home. Well, now don't we all know about that.

You can read all about the movement to banish the book reports and all other manner of reports in favor of the narrative at Dr. Ohler's site. But I will highlight the one video we have been watching over and over at our house that makes the best case for it. Hannah and the Fox is a 6 minute presentation by a 4th grader that she wrote and performed. These new artifacts of digital learning are not about the ability to demonstrate you can indent in Powerpoint, nope, you have to be able to write, compose, illustrate and expand information.

I think of this stuff and really feel I should be enjoying our transition to the school years a lot more.

How to animate a rolling ball is pretty awesome too. And, it's my means of celebrating Pi Day.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Album

Middle Cyclone people, git it.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Three Case Studies

When I meet pleasant blogger families in person it never fails to blow me away how incredibly life-like the husbands are. I am surprised. Not that the writing makes spouses seem wooden or anything. Oh, dear. What am I saying? Maybe I have bought into the words of our enemies; we all blog because we live insular, repressed lives that prompt our whining writing.

Noooooo, she reports.
Au contraire.

In my case study of three I have now proved that we blog because we all have rakish, genius, articulate and engaging husbands. It's like how people say if your spouse dies and you have a good marriage, you'll marry again soon. That shit creeps me out but it's undeniable.

Me. I'm a dreamer. I'd like to feel we were out here writing away because we need each other. Too bad for me and my dreams.

Thanks for coming over Famille de Fromage-Tamano

Tell me do you blog, just to show off your husband?

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Seven Minutes

I saw a dear mama-friend rushing to the driver's seat Friday. I'm late. I'm late. she crowed. I'm just 30 minutes late all the time now. She explained. I could tell it really bothered her. And, I know it.

With two kids the job schedule is wingy, you are often late. And, you're pretty sure all the time they are talking behind your back. Everyone noticing you come a lot late and leave a little early. And, within the painful first months especially when you are 30 minutes late knowing about the by-choice bit. It is slow with the kids, certainly, but only about 23 minutes slow by their pace. There's always those seven minutes. The seven you owe the world but hoard instead. Just two for your own reluctant separation, in general, and the extra pieces of time at each brow. Just like her, my baby boy, my little girl and a small, guilt-filled lingering.

Happy International Women's Day, ladies.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Productivity Depression Over

My brother is the best brother, really. He never gets mad at me. He comes to my house every other Christmas and helps make the finest roast turkeys. He hates cheapskates! And, he's smart. I have been pretty stressed about lots of things for a while. I believe, now, that I had been in a productivity depression. My brother gave me some excellent treatment for that, on top of his own freakish tone of calm intelligence, he got me some time to chat with Merlin Mann.

I watched this last week and you know if you are anything like me.. how's your inbox? Do you have a clear productivity construct to work within in a world that expects you to collaborate with 5 million people everyday? Do you feel the creativity but don't see it enough? If you answered yes to even one of these questions, you gotta know Merlin. Do you know Merlin?? If not maybe you should see this? It's a bit of a commitment but it is worth it. (For a Merlin tasting try 5ives)

And how awesome is it that I got a chat with Merlin for Christmas from my brother. What might you say or ask?

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Social Engineering: Exercise 1

I have had my little brushes with social engineering as a parent. Playdates gone bad, pre-school selection, cautionary tales, I've seen my share, and now this. We have heard back on school. The community school looked good... but... we have also been offered a spot at the French Immersion school.

Shit. I'm in charge again. Unhelpful fates.

The buck needs stopping and I'm riddled with holes. Elitist? Nicer class sizes? Close-by? Better after-school care? Pros and cons are pointless and aimless. Gonna have to decide.

About all I've learned in this fretting is what school is not. I probably began worrying what kids we would be sending her to learn with, and what teachers might be like -- cause yes I am a self-serving bitch. The stress of making a perfect choice of a place where she will be safe was my off-base pre-occupation. School is not custodial. Daycare is custodial but school ain't. At daycare there are 25 kids and 3 to 4 'teachers'. At school there are 18 to 21 kids and 1 teacher. In the school library she will chose books I will never see. She will build friendships that will annoy us; but what of it? She will be ever, even, more her own.

School is independence and I need to find the best place for my kid to be independent. The best place will be where I am sure I will support her well when she has troubles. And, there will be trouble sometimes. It is the path to independence after all and those usually have wars. I mean we can't all be Malta! I need to find a piece of schooling, that microcosm of society, that offers happiness, community and a rich learning environment AND THEN WE HAVE TO SUPPLEMENT THAT.

It is tough choosing a school. (Especially, she whinges on, after a year when I feel I have had to make too many major choice too often.) It seems so surely life-changing. But it isn't, is it?

ps. I have noticed that choosing a school is a lot like having a newborn baby. If you haven't been here already just wait for it... Oh the assvice! harsh.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Bad Parenting Confessional: Time Off

At Christmas I was very sick. I was home a lot for the first time since I'd re-started working. It hurt a lot. Not so much the hurling and stomach cramps but rather the time passing. The time with my dear ones. Owie. I secretly set to mind to avoid them.

I haven't taken time off since I started working. I'd scoff and explain how the kids just get ornery and refuse to go back to daycare when I take too much vacation. But how much of that is true? More likely it's me.

It's sort of like a breakup. After all that time together I've now torn off the bandaid. Just blenderize the metaphors and don't look back. I am not with them so much late and soon. Better to keep it way; a few too many moments and I awash in most un-motherful vacilation, attention-seeking and ambiguity.

But then there are times like these, a Friday off and a little vacation. We went away the three of us. It was little like I thought it would be.

And, there isn't that just nothing like the excellent post I clearly conceived 'round midnight last night; my arms wrapped around Monday's child in the dark of his Uncle's house?

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