overheard at the bus stop

Every once in a while, I overhear another parent saying goodbye to their child, as I drop mine off.

Yesterday, I heard someone say a thing that I have literally never, ever considered saying to my children:

“Don’t give in to Satan.”

I’m thinking it might be new parenting theory that I should adopt.

March 31, 2009. random other things. 8 comments.

can someone please explain to me

how the girl who never shows any at home could possibly win an award for being student of the month when the character trait being celebrated this month is self-discipline?

March 29, 2009. parenting ain't easy. 4 comments.

some advice from the Bee to the Butterfly

My brother and his wife had their second child this week, a girl. We didn’t get a chance to go over to meet her until today, and the Bee is a little sick, so we had to go in shifts. The Potato and I went first, and he and his older cousin, the Butterfly, basically tore around the house while I held the new baby (need to think of a nickname for that one, quick) who was sleeping.

The Butterfly is very excited about her new status as a big sister, and their house is full of little signs that she made to welcome her home, including things like, “Welcome Home, Yard Sale!” You see, my 5 year-old niece knew the baby’s name for the past three months, but it was a family secret–it was only she and her parents who knew–and apparently the name they were using to refer to the baby with her maternal grandparents (who take care of her after school) was “Yard Sale.”

I’m thinking of referring my niece to the CIA for future recruitment. I figure any five-year-old who can keep a secret like that for three months will have no trouble keeping state secrets.

We brought the Butterfly back to our house for lunch and a short play-date, and during lunch, I asked the Bee to talk about the best thing about being a big sister. Sadly, the Bee’s response was, “there isn’t anything good about being a big sister. It’s all bad. You’re just lucky it’s a girl, not a boy, because boys are disgusting!”

I’m pretty sure that I would have said the same thing about my brothers, when I was 9. Happily, I no longer feel the same way, and I told the Butterfly that–after all, her dad is my little brother!

March 15, 2009. family life. 3 comments.

economic woes, part 2

I feel as if I’m looking for jobs for almost everyone I know right now. While the job that I have is secure, I have at least four friends who are looking for work, plus my brother & SIL are looking to move closer to us, and so I’m looking for work for them, too. Landisdad’s been looking for a new job on-and-off for at least a year–though I think that in this economy, he’s content to stay where he is for a while.

My friends who are looking for work now are a combination of the laid-off, the about-to-be-laid-off, and the seasonally unemployed (i.e.–they’re political consultants, and this is not a big election year). I know at least one person who told me recently that her unemployment is about to run out, so she will be in the “uncounted” unemployment numbers relatively soon.

Laura recently posted this link from the NY Times that shows national unemployment by county, and I found it instructive–the counties that I live and work in both have unemployment rates that are slightly higher than the national average right now, so it may not be that odd that I know a bunch of people who are looking for work.

In my current work life, I’m having the occasion to talk to lots of folks about the recently-passed economic stimulus plan, and am amazed by how many people seem to have a right-wing feeling about the idea of bailing out homeowners who got sucked into shitty mortgages. These people unfortunately include my own mother. If only I had seen this episode of the Daily Show before having that last conversation….

March 6, 2009. politically motivated. 5 comments.

economic woes, part 1

Elizabeth had a post up the other day entitled, “What does the PTA pay for?,” and I decided to just write a post responding to it, rather than an extra-long comment. You should check out her post, though–there’s a good discussion of privilege.

The biggest-ticket items that our PTA pays for are field trips (we cover both the buses and the cost of admission for the venue) and in-school assemblies. We also pay for stuff like (very minor) academic awards–basically the senior who has the highest GPA and went to our elementary school gets a $200 savings bond, and we give a smaller one to the highest-GPA’d eighth grader at the middle school promotion. We pay for flowers for a sick teacher, and for gift cards for the music teachers at the biannual concerts. We pay for snacks for back-to-school nights, and give each teacher something like $125 per year to buy extra supplies for their classroom. Our overall budget is less than $20,000–it’s not a huge school, and the socio-economic status of kids in our catchment area ranges from solidly middle class to downright poor.

We live in a state where it’s still more common than not for there to be music and art teachers in the schools, where there are still lots of extracurricular activities, and computers in every classroom. We don’t live in the greatest school district in our area, nor do we live in the worst. One of the decisions that landisdad and I made when we decided where to live was to stay in a place with more racial and economic diversity, and less cutthroat academic competition. Overall, while we’ve had our ups and downs with individual teachers, we’ve been happy with our kids’ academic experience so far.

Last week, though, our school community received a very disturbing letter from our superintendent and the president of the board of education, where they listed the kinds of items that might be on the chopping block in next year’s budget. That list included things like: athletics at both the high school & middle school; full-day kindergarten (currently provided by our district but not required by the state); the district’s pre-K program for developmentally challenged children (again, not required but provided now); the purchase of new textbooks; and a host of other things.

I confess, that got me to thinking about the things that our PTA might be asked to raise money for next year (and while I’m confessing, I might as well confess to breathing a sigh of relief that I will not be the president anymore!). Not field trips, but essential supplies for the schools. Or paying for the half-day kindergarten aide. Or funding lunches for kids that show up without their lunch money (which right now is done by the district).

I’m not sure there’s that much room to grow in our budget. Our biggest fundraiser every year is a bingo, and the majority of people who come to that are coming because they’re bingo fanatics–I’d say a good 80% of the crowd are not, and have never been, parents of children at our school. It’s a great fundraiser, but it happened because a really good PTA mom put together a really great fundraiser 9 or 10 years ago, and it’s kept growing since then. This year, though, we had a slightly lower attendance–and I have to wonder, if the recession continues, how much longer will people who don’t have a kid in our school be willing to pay $25 to play bingo?

March 5, 2009. the joys of PTA. 5 comments.