With extensive apologies to my many Ayn Rand-loving, small government-promoting friends, it’s pretty clear to me that the textual communications associated with cell phones have to come under the government eye. Something must be done. We need, quite simply, age-based and perhaps behavior-based texting control: A Texting License. [Read more →]
Summer has arrived, and many households have begun an annual, time-worn struggle: Parents trying to get kids to read. Despite (and perhaps because of) the vast numbers of lists available nowadays, summer is a time of often fierce reading wars, featuring lots of passive-aggressive behavior by both sides. The proliferation of screens hasn’t made things easier. [Read more →]
We’re coming out of that fast-paced, manic season of high competition, painful watching-and-waiting, brightly-colored sweatshirts, and intense travel. No, I’m not marking the end of youth sports spring seasons — I’m talking about college admission season (well, really, this is just the end of high admissions season. Like youth sports, college admissions is a year-round and even life-round activity nowadays). Most students know now where they’re going to college. Parents have written placeholder checks. Car adornments have been purchased. Parties are planned. It’s exciting. [Read more →]
That title may be misleading. I’m not talking about a conversation that has been going on for two years, but rather the conversation that occurs between myself and my two year old.
Most of the really intricate ones take place in the car or at night just before bed. In the car she asks lots of questions. Right before bed she often tells on herself, her brother, or her father. For instance, today she wanted me to know that daddy said the pizzeria at Great Explorations did not have real pizza that you could eat. She wanted me to say he was wrong, and that she should have been allowed to eat the pizza, which I’m pretty sure is made of felt. Had to side with Daddy on that one. [Read more →]
On May 12, at the Camden City Board of Education meeting, school board members announced that 272 Camden City School District employees will lose their jobs at the end of this school year. Of that number, 206 are teachers. District administrators made the cuts, according to this Philadelphia Inquirer article, as “as part of a plan to bridge a $75 million revenue gap heading into the 2014-15 school year.” Last week, I had the opportunity to talk with one of the fired teachers. Not surprisingly, she voiced frustration with the process and outcome, but she also provided some surprising views about the charter school environment in Camden and its role in the firing decisions. She asked to remain anonymous, as she is of course now seeking a new job, maybe even at one of these charters. [Read more →]
So, I just made a list. I’m a pretty serious lister in my work life, not as much in my home life. This one is for my life life. Kind of a “get a life” list. It has six things on it now, but I might have forgotten something, I’ll let it sit on the desk a while before I decide it’s done, at least a couple of days. I mean, these things have been bouncing around in my head for a few years, what could a couple more days hurt?
I basically just made the list because I have so much rushing through my head all the time, so many things that I wonder about, maybe I could be doing this thing or maybe I should be doing that thing, that I feel totally overwhelmed to even spend a moment trying to figure it out.
I was sitting here trying to think of which girlfriends could talk me off this ledge, and then I realized that if I don’t understand it, how will they? Then I started crying, for Pete’s sake. List is for that, too.
I feel this pressure, probably mostly internal, but there are these Supermamas all around me. Some I work around or see around town, a lot that I find on the web at night when I’m trying to tune out my brain. (Like I used to do with books, sigh.) It almost feels like having kids spurs some women into action. Doesn’t it seem like that is the case? She couldn’t find nontoxic detergent so she formulated one in her kitchen! She couldn’t find organic baby shampoo that her family could afford, so she started making it in her garage! She couldn’t find Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm locally, so she opened a shop! She wanted to do yoga with her kids, so she started a baby and me yoga studio! Oh, these mamas, they all have a thing, a niche, a purpose above and beyond the one that all mamas have (ya know, that bit about raising fairly well adjusted and productive members of society).
I seem to end up with a job, but not a thing, not a purpose, not an entrepreneurial calling, not a personal passion.
And, fuck, I WANT ONE. I have to have one. Maybe I’m not feeling any external pressure at all. Maybe that knot in my gut is just ENVY!
Before I had kids I always had a thing. You know, it’s that thing that is your real thing at parties. Someone asks you what you do. You tell them what pays you, then you say “but, right now I’m editing my second music video that I’ve also produced, and I’m loving it.”
How do these Supermamas have the energy to have a thing, kids, and a happy marriage? Or, even just a regular marriage? Is their house a wreck? Does anyone get fed/cradled/band-aided/helped with homework? Because, oh my God, I’m tired most days. I truly feel like I should be able to pull this off. But, if I’m already tired… Who adds to this amount of responsibility voluntarily? Oh yeah, those bitches over there. Fucking Pinterest. What it’s really here for, I just know it, is to show me how everyone else is doing this better. And cleverer. And craftier.
Meanwhile, I have a job that doesn’t suck at all, and is only 30 hours a week. I leave nearly every day in time to pick up my kids from school. (Now, this is new, maybe three months so far). I have a husband that does dishes and laundry (and has a thing, btw, more sighing). I have a decent support system of other moms and family. I have some people in my corner. (It just occurred to me that they are probably wondering what happened to my thing, too. Bah ha ha!) So, again, I really should be able to pull this off. Whatever this is.
I’ve got six ideas.
I’ll either put them on tiny slips and pull one out of a hat, or I’ll torture my friends by discussing it with them until they pick one for me out of sheer exhaustion, or maybe I’ll make a pros and cons poster, or use 3×5 cards.
It’s also very possible that I will just go back to what I’ve been doing, without a thing, which is still a lot. Just not enough somehow.
Like any good parent in 2014, I have encouraged my kids to make up their own games. I want them to devise their own stories. I want them to escape the prescriptive screen narratives that increasingly make up the bulk of their play reality. However, I ruined it all when I unfortunately disclosed some of the games my friends and I once played. Let’s just say times may not have changed, but something’s certainly different about how my kids are proceeding along. [Read more →]
Last weekend I completed the NJ Marathon. People want to know how it was, and I feel like I gotta tell it straight: It was awful. It was a grueling, physically brutal experience, and the physical part was nothing compared with the mental torment which itself paled in comparison with the emotional torture. It was bad. When I got home, stunned and wounded, my youngest, the little guy, asked me, “Were you happy when you crossed the finish line?” My answer?: “No.” I wasn’t. But now, after a recalibrating week, I’m finding some peace and a few lessons. [Read more →]
If you’re from the Philly area, you’ve likely heard about Bartram High in the news: fights, violence, staff being attacked. That’s likely all you know of Bartram. So read this Inquirer piece by Kristen Graham about Gionna Hawkins, a 14-year-old Bartram student described as doing her best not just to make it through but thrive.
Part 8 (of 874) in an occasional series about how standardized tests are destroying education.
The redesigned SAT, debuting in 2015, will feature new approaches to language skills, and the writing test will be optional. We’ll return to the old 1600-point scale that we all knew so well. With the College Board admitting/recognizing that the writing test, which was introduced in 2005, is flawed, some are wondering if this presents an opportunity to reassess all mechanized writing tests, to now see them all for the education-draining entities that they are. [Read more →]
Part 7 (of 874) in an occasional series about how standardized tests are destroying education.
The SAT is going through a redesign. For those of you who mentally autofilled the start of the previous statement with “The SAT is going … away,” I’m sorry to disappoint you. It’s not going away. It’s going through changes that will do/attempt to do a variety of things. But the SAT will still be around. There’s been an active dialogue, as you might expect, about this redesign.
You can do what you want for therapeutic relaxation. I’ll sort Legos. This is fortunate for me, because I have about 20,000 loose Legos in my house. I should say had, because I’m down to about 2,000, as I have, yet again, methodically gone through my boys’ gigantic plastic bin and sorted their Legos by color into gallon-sized Ziploc bags. Those guys are going, yet again, to rebuild their 70+ Lego sets – whether they like it or not. [Read more →]
O my child, in your bright tiny uniform, I use this spell to transfer my aggression, my radiant energy through the ether to you. [Read more →]
I walk the line of liking (and, I guess believing) in youth sports while feeling that big-time sports structures in our culture are broken. What can we do? Well, stop watching. I never watch college football or basketball, on principle, for instance. Feeble gesture, indeed, and I don’t chastise friends (too much) for their viewing preferences, especially in light of my addiction to the violent, shameless NFL. But when I read a recent piece by Philadelphia Inquirer high schools spots writer Phil Anastasia about out-of-state high school football games, I was dismayed. [Read more →]
My daughter, light of my life, just missed the honor roll once. One half-grade better, and she was in the Promised Land. When I found out, I didn’t chew her out, though our conversation did get crunchy. Tired of it after a while, she hit me with this: “Like you never got a bad grade in high school?”
It’s just a movie. It’s just a movie. It’s just a movie. I repeated the mantra, but if I adhered to it, and not just in this case but in general, if I got all Zen-like and hey-let-it-ride, what would I write about this year? [Read more →]
Caution: The Santa-belief unblemished may find spoilers below.
The other night, while we were at dinner with a bunch of friends, my nine-year-old reportedly muttered to his 14-year-old sister, “Do you believe in Santa?” She, sharp and on her toes, said, “I do.” The little guy replied, “Well I don’t. But don’t tell mom and dad.”
So the Santa era ends for the Warnock family. [Read more →]
A couple weeks ago I was in Boston at the conference of the National Council of Teachers of English. I was there to talk about MOOCs and to serve in my new role as a member of the NCTE editorial board. Among these thousands of mostly high school and grammar school English teachers, I found lots of great conversations. The Common Core hung, like smoke, over much of them. [Read more →]