Friday, August 20, 2010

The One About Keeping It Simple, Stupid

I think life is inherently simple. In other words, I think that there are basic things that work 99.99% of the time.

Tired? Then sleep.
Hungry? Then eat.
Confused? Ask a question.
Still confused? Ask some more questions.
Still confused? Do your research.
Angry? Say it out loud.
Hurt? Say that out loud too.
Falling behind? Work harder.
Dirty? Clean it.

I have a very simplistic view of my life... do unto others...

The other day, Himself and the Eggroll were hanging in the front of the house. The kids across the street were outside playing and as any four year old will tell you, it's way more fun to hang with other kids than it is to hang with your parents. As Himself and the Eggroll headed across the street, the youngest tow-headed little girl yelled "Eggroll, you can't come over here because you're black and white". 


Himself explained that the Eggroll is not black and white, but Chinese. The Eggroll chimed in with "I'm from China" and the two of them returned home forthwith. After relaying this incident to me, I soothed both of the offended parties and promised that I would speak to the Mom at the BTS luncheon that's happening in a few days.

Simple right? 

Not so much. See there's nothing in my simple bag of tricks for this one.  I know I have to say it, but I'll be damned if I know HOW to say it. How do I say this one without a) making someone sound like a racist or b) making myself sound like a petty fool or c) making people uncomfortable or d) all of the above??

Under the category of "do unto others" I have to say that I would want to know if my kid behaved this way, or said something like that. But I also know that my kid's behavior is a reflection of myself and Himself. And as a wife and a parent I will defend both of them to the death. I have to assume that it's that simple for other folks as well. 

That simple fact plus my simple fact leaves me with a complicated conversation, and a whole bunch of considering to do in the meantime. 


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The One About The Marriage Rule

"The only way anyone is leaving this marriage is in a body bag or a box"

He said this to me during an argument one time, and it stuck. For us, it speaks to the level of commitment we have to one another, and to our family. We are very different people, he and I, but we are committed to each other and in some very strange ways, we complete one another. I forget from time to time, how integrated we actually are.

I'm thinking of making it a bumper sticker... 

Monday, August 09, 2010

The One About Heirlooms and Albatrosses
Momma was a great collector of stuff, a saver of things, a shopaholic. Every item had meaning and value to her, whether she used it or not. She could pretty much tell you the history and story behind just about every item she possessed. We had a standing joke between us, I would mercilessly tease her about her accumulating exploits and tell her that she couldn't die until she got her "stuff" in order. She would tell me her accumulations were guaranteeing that she would live forever... She didn't and without notice or preparation, I became the Shepard Of Stuff.
I grew up learning about the "things" that surrounded me. So many items were tagged with the admonishment to "never get rid of this" or "this belonged to.." or whatever reason she believed gave importance to the selected item. I carry these admonishments with me to this day.
And therein lies the problem...
In no particular order I am the owner of:
2 full sets of fine china along with a smattering of odd pieces left over from generations before...
An entire set (and I mean every piece made) of Waterford Crystal along with an almost full set of Orrefors.
2 full sets of sterling silverware 
A 60's era dining room set that I've never really been crazy about but it was my grandmothers so I've toted it with me for the last 20 years...
A vast array of chachtkes , paintings and decorative items. Some "quality", some not so much...
Plus 20 years of my OWN accumulations and those of Himself..
My many cups runneth over...
Recently, Himself and I came to the decision that we are staying right where we are until circumstances change so much that we can't live here. We've been in this house almost seven years and with a little tweaking, it will fit us for many years to come. We've decided to swap some rooms, change some furniture and really make this place suit the way we live. We are not fancy people. Should you enter our home we want you to feel free to have a seat, have a drink, have a meal, tell us your stories, listen to ours, relax,  We want to be focused on you, your focus to be on us, our mutual focus to be on one another. It's about family, friends and fine times for us, not fancy stuff.
Achieving this means unloading much of the "stuff". The same "stuff" that I was told for years was important "stuff", heirloom "stuff", "stuff" that I should never get rid of. But I need to get rid of it. And I'm having a hell of a time doing it. Logically and rationally I know the "stuff" is weighing us down. It's weighing me down. I know that it would never be fair to saddle my husband or my child with the "stuff". But I feel a tremendous amount of guilt each and every time I even consider getting rid of the "stuff". And then there's the "what if I find out that I NEED this "stuff"?" portion of the program. It's making a kind of large project into a kind of huge project. 
And it's making me slightly more insane than I was to start with...

Friday, August 06, 2010

The One Where Falling Behind is Disguised as Keeping Up
Every parent is convinced that their child is special. And it's true, every child is special in their own way. 
An interesting discussion happened around these parts not too long ago.
Some of you may know that Himself teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition to a regular job, he takes great joy in teaching. It's something I'm convinced he'll be doing for the rest of his life. What he's discovering, however, is that students are rarely arriving fully prepared for undergraduate or graduate studies. Darn near every student is lacking in some basic skill (math comes first followed closely by writing skills) and many students ask for adjustments to either tests or assignments. And don't even get him started on critical thinking... It will be the end of all of us.

That being said, it got me thinking about what's happening to our kids. How do we think we can educate our children well if we're so busy accommodating every child's "special" circumstances? How do our children fare in classrooms where there is one teacher for every 30 or so students? Especially if any number of those students have a "need" that is above and beyond the ordinary? Since the law requires that all students be given an "appropriate" education how do we administer that fairly across the board? And are we short-changing our children with the "feel-good" style of parenting and teaching.
I see my own child, as young as she is, being given the answers to  questions if she so much as hesitates before answering. Is that because her hesitation holds up the rest of the class, or is it part of the feel good thing? I see backwards letters being accepted as correct, slurred or incorrect pronunciation being accepted as correct. (I was actually chided by a young speech teacher when I corrected my child for saying "mines" instead of "mine". Apparently I should have known that "mines" is the Black English form of "mine" and therefore perfectly acceptable).

I can't help but wonder if we lower the standard for the 5 kids in a classroom who we must "accommodate" are we not then lowering the standards for the other 25 kids? In our zeal to make sure that some keep up with the rest are we not holding the rest back?
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranks the U.S. 18th out of 36 nations examined. That means that 50% of the world educates their children better than we educate ours. How in the world can that be? Have we accommodated ourselves right out of the competition?

Right here, right now, it looks as though we have...