Holding

Dru’s first day of Kindergarten was today.  He’s been excited for a while, and woke up this morning bright and cheerful and excited about the day.  He was very helpful and ready to go 10 minutes early.  We were so excited for him, and (of course) a little sad, but mostly excited.  And very happy that he has an internal drive and love of learning which many people (young and old) have lost somewhere along the way.

Of course it was emotional…my little boy is hitting a big milestone, but I promised myself not to be the mom holding him back, passing on any anxiety or worry.  I wouldn’t cry and upset him.  And I didn’t.  He cried a bit, mostly nerves I think, since he couldn’t stop talking about his day once we picked him up.  Yet it made me think, as parents, what are we imparting to our children.  We want to hold on to them as long as possible, but those parents who hover and interfere constantly make me angry and sad all at once.  I’m angry that as a society we encourage a culture of fear that makes parents feel a visceral desire to constantly be alert for any and all dangers.  When Dru is at a playground, I’m the mom sitting on a bench, chatting or reading while he plays.  Other parents are walking their (same age) kids over bridges and encouraging them to come down slides, because they have no innate sense that they can do it themselves.  If Mom or Dad is always there ready to catch them, why should they learn to take the leap?  Now, that’s not to say that I think my 4.5 year old should be allowed to jump into the pool unattended (let’s be reasonable here folks), but we need to let our kids build their self-esteem.  And the only way to do that is themselves…we can’t do it for them by always making sure they succeed.  Kids are smart, they can feel the difference between when they accomplish something – opening the cereal box…even if it gets all over the kitchen – and when someone else does it for them, and then tells them they’ve done a good job.  Self-esteem is aptly labeled…it needs to come from inside yourself.  I’m sad for these kids (and parents) because where are they going to be in 5, 10, 20 years?  What happens when that child is an adult, and they go in for a job interview and don’t get the job?  Mom or Dad can’t come to the rescue then…and we’re seeing the effects of this already.

I saw it in the schools, and I see it in the kids that are around everywhere…”I’m awesome/smart/pretty/etc. so I DESERVE this.”  NO.

When I worked as a trainer in a restaurant in New Orleans, one of our managers always used to tell us to hold a 10 over every trainee’s head.  We used to laugh, and make fun of it (still sometimes it’ll come up as a joke), but thinking about it now, I see it.  We should hold that high standard over everyone…strive for excellence.  Instead, we’re saying, as a culture, that since not everyone can reach a 10 – let’s bring that standard down to a 7, or give people a boost to start from a 4.

We’re only hurting ourselves.  As a culture, and a nation, we used to be the leader in education and STEM industries.  We’re nowhere near that now.  Some people want to blame the teachers, some want to blame the politicians.  We need to hold ourselves responsible.  Teachers and politicians aren’t in our homes or raising our kids (though unfortunately, in some cases, teachers are given that task as well).  We blame them when something horrible happens, or we fail to meet a standard, but we never look at what we’re saying as a culture.  As a culture, we glorify and idolize celebrities who do nothing more than make fools of themselves.  We ridicule those who seek to improve themselves as “stuck-up” or elitist.  Yet we still want to claim that we’re the greatest in the world.

If we’re not striving for and pursuing excellence in everything we do, what right do we have to claim excellence?  NONE.  As a nation, as parents, as individuals, we need to be holding 10’s over everyone.  Yes, some people will fall short.  Not everyone is good at everything.  I SUCK at higher math and yard work.  I know this about myself.  Hold yourself and those around you to a higher standard.  Hold your elected officials to a higher standard.  If everyone does that, we’ll meet it – we’ll have no choice but to do that.

Advertising

I despise commercials.  So in many ways, NickJr is perfect for me to watch with Dru, because it has no commercials.  However, other shows still do, and one that has been driving me bonkers lately is the Mott’s Medleys commercial.  It’s just the most recent in a long line of commercials that capitalize on the fact that kids don’t want to eat vegetables.

Here’s my issue with this – kids are blank slates where vegetables are concerned.  Unless you tell them that vegetables are yucky, they generally will enjoy most of them.  Dru likes vegetables, he doesn’t have a concept of food being “yucky” unless it’s gone bad.  There are foods I don’t enjoy that he loves.  I would never tell him a food is yucky because doing so passes on food issues to him without giving him the opportunity to make his own decisions.  For example, I don’t like cottage cheese.  I think it’s slimy and smells terrible.  But Dru started eating it with my mother-in-law, so I buy it for him, and fed it to him when he still needed help eating it.

Buy perpetuating this stereotype that healthy things don’t taste good, we’re breeding a culture of food issues into our kids.  By telling them – through our actions, and through commercials/media – that healthy foods are yucky, by disguising them, or implying that they need to be disguised, we’re predisposing them to not enjoying them.  Dru eats vegetables, fruits, whole grain bread, and has very few sweets.  When he requests a snack, he asks for cheese or apples.

We’re always talking about the obesity epidemic in this country – has anyone considered that this obsession with vilifying healthy foods (on top of our general laziness and complacency) is a major factor contributing to the obesity epidemic?

Why can’t advertisers just toll the benefits of healthy foods – many of which are quite yummy without having to disguise them in other foods, or smother them with ranch dressing, or lie to your kids that the Chef Boyardee food has vegetables?!

Banking

So pretty much everyone in this country is aware of all the changes banks are making to their fee schedules, etc.  Well, Kris and I have been watching the commercials too, and are super glad that we recently made a change.

Up until the last month or so, we had been with Bank of America our entire married life (almost 4 years).  Before that, I had been with them since they bought my old bank (same account I’d had since I was knee-high to a duck).

Well, after many recurring issues with them, the most recent being that they froze our account when we were travelling to Michigan (which we do A LOT) and thusly bounced our rent check, we decided to switch.  It didn’t help that since we were on vacation that week, when the rent bounced, we had to pay an extra $200 in late and bounce fees to the complex due to timing and then the bank refused to refund us ANY of the fees, despite our long history with the bank.

So, after meeting with Jan, one of the ladies in my networking group, Kris and I decided to move our accounts over to American Chartered Bank.  They are a small Chicago local bank, but so far, they rock socks.  We have the direct line for Jan, so when we have an issue, we can call her directly.  They’ve already implemented the remote deposit thing that some of you may have heard of.  It’s the thing where you can take a picture of both sides of your check with your smartphone and have it deposited to your account.  Their accounts are free (unless you overdraft) and because you have a person you deal with regularly, if they see that you have your car payment about to come through, but are short, they’ll make sure it goes through (you will get a fee for that, but they won’t bounce it, which many of the big banks are now doing).

It’s been a great experience so far, plus we don’t have fees for our debit card (which BoA is about to implement) or our account.

With all of the announcements of banks screwing over their customers, we’re happier than ever that we’ve switched.

 

And as my little political rant related to this:  you want change, this is how to make it – move your business.  If you don’t approve of the way a business is being run, don’t give them your business.  It worked in the 60’s.  And despite the bad press that idiots gave the theory in the past few years by trying to convince people that refusing to buy gas from one company for one day would work (it doesn’t, it needs to be a long-term effort), removing ALL of your business from a company will have an impact.  And while I may not have a huge account with BoA, if many many customers move their business, it will have an impact.

Same theory applies to voting.  Don’t just vote for someone who is the big candidate.  Vote for the person you actually WANT to vote for.  As long as you cast your vote it isn’t wasted.  And the only way to make change happen is to ACTIVELY be a part of change.  Don’t just talk, DO.

Musing

Lately I’ve been having trouble reading the news.  First, all of the coverage for Hurricane Irene was ridiculous.  We actually saw people calling it the “storm of the century” – apparently those same people have forgotten that Ike and Katrina both happened in this century.  But the worst was the people.  One of the engineers Kris works with was complaining about the horrors of the storm as it hit New Jersey – because he wasn’t able to charge his cell phone without going out and turning on his car.  When Kris called him on his asinine complaint, the guy told him that there was no way he could understand the devastation caused by Irene.  After holding back the urge to curse at this guy, Kris calmly explained that, in fact, he understood more than the engineer, because we lost everything in Katrina, and still haven’t found some friends that evacuated to Texas.  The guy shut up pretty promptly after that.  I blame the media for most of the hysteria though.  My parents are in the Boston area, and didn’t get hit too badly.  They lost power for a bit, and Mom’s office was still without power when I talked to them yesterday – but from what they said, Hurricane Bob was MUCH worse (my perception of Bob is skewed, because all I remember is that we had to cancel my birthday party that year and reschedule it because Bob hit on my birthday).

So, in an attempt to avoid all of the Hurricane coverage and hysteria, I switched over to the Justice tab on CNN – because I like to see what’s going on in the Courts and whatnot.  Well, the first story I see is about a man who got mad at his girlfriend, so he hit and then threw their son over the bow of the tour boat they were on.  Thankfully the boy wasn’t run over, and was rescued promptly, but really?!  WTH dude?  So I scrolled past that epic father of the year candidate and see a story which makes me even stabbier – police in North Carolina find a newborn (few-days old) infant in the bathroom trash in a grocery store.  Since the little girl was a few days old, someone clearly BROUGHT HER TO THE STORE AND THREW HER OUT.  Dear Lord in Heaven, really?  I know that NC has a safe haven law (every state in the country does) and I just can’t fathom what the person (and I use that term VERY lightly) was thinking when they left that poor baby there.

Many of you know that I have a hard time dealing with things that happen to children, especially babies.  What I want to know is this – with all of the options in this country for those who don’t want children – abortion, adoption, contraception, why in the hell do these people have children in their care.  If you don’t want to care for a child properly, don’t be in charge of one!  This seems to be a growing problem (or maybe it’s just that there’s been a rash of genetic donors doing harm to their children lately) and I just don’t understand why.  We have the technology to prevent unwanted pregnancies.  We have the infrastructure in place to deal with unwanted pregnancies that do happen.  So why?????

I just don’t understand.

Stabbing

is what I would like to do to these “administrators”.

http://www.news-leader.com/article/20110817/NEWS12/108170372/1002/SPORTS/

Administrators of a school in Missouri are now on my “should be dragged into the streets and shot with darts until they bleed out” list.  Want to know why?  Of course you do – you’re reading my blog.

So yes, these “paragons of virtue” and “protectors of youth” decided in the 2008-2009 school year to ignore the complaint of a mentally challenged girl who claimed to be sexually harassed and raped by another student.  They bullied her into recanting, then EXPELLED her for making the claims in the first place.  But only after they made her write him an apology and hand deliver it (of course).

When the poor thing returned to school the next year (09-10), the harassment began again.  And then she was raped AGAIN.  She didn’t report this to the school (why would she, after her previous experience) and thankfully told her mother.  When she was checked out by the Child Advocacy Center – who found evidence of rape trauma and semen – the school still didn’t so anything.  Even though she was RAPED IN THE LIBRARY OF THE SCHOOL.

So, the boy was charged and plead guilty (it was his semen).

Now the girl and her mother are suing the school district.  They are alleging a whole host of things, including the fact that the school, as mandated reporters, didn’t report the initial rape accusation.  And then punished her by making it.  And apparently all while knowing that the girl’s challenge included a conflict-averse personality with an inability to deny others.  So, being the lovely caring people that they are, the school district has responded that the suit is invalid because the girl failed to protect herself (NICE ASSHOLES, because as we all know, rape victims are asking for it /end sarcasm) and failed to exhaust administrative remedies.

What I want to know is what remedies they wanted her to exhaust?  They bullied her into recanting a statement, then kicked her out of school.  It doesn’t exactly sound like they were going to be willing to hear her accuse them of wrongdoing.

I seem to be forming many posses lately.  Maybe I need to start a company…

Educating…I think

So my original plan for tonight was to write about HamJam #9.  But my darling husband alerted me to an article which was just BEGGING to be responded to.

http://www.cracked.com/article_19339_the-6-dumbest-things-schools-are-doing-in-name-safety.html

Cracked.com compiled a list of 6 stupid things that different school districts are doing “for the kids” which are both wasteful and stupid.  I’ll go through them in the same order that Cracked did.

#6 – Forcing Students to Wear Electronic Tracking Devices

Instead of the standard Student ID with picture, name, and school info, two district in Houston, TX issued all students cards with RFID tracking tags in them (at a cost to the district of $150k).  Theoretically this will help with tracking attendance (since state funding is tied to attendance).  Here’s the big problem.  It’s a CARD.  You can hand them to a different student, or, (assuming that the school isn’t going to be constantly monitoring EVERY card and its location) just leave it in their locker.  Also, even if the student DOES bring the card with them when they skip class, the range on the cards only extends 100 yards beyond campus.  And since I’ve never heard of someone playing hookie within sight of the school, it doesn’t exactly seem effective for finding people who are, in fact, playing hookie.

There’s also a ton of privacy concerns tied in – hacking, tracking constantly, etc.  And apparently, in case this wasn’t invasive enough, a school in San Antonio has taken it one step further!  They’re putting ankle bracelets on kids who have truancy issues.  Yep, that’s right, ankle bracelets…

#5 – Banning ALL Photography

In order to prevent child pornography (I guess in response to idiots distributing naked pics over text, etc), a school in England has banned ALL photography on school grounds or school events.  This includes spectators at sporting events, field trips, school plays, etc.  Because the danger of one idiot snapping a naked pic of her boobs and sending it to her love interest totally justifies Mr. and Mrs. Jones not being able to get a picture of little Suzie as the lead in the school play.  Especially since most of these naked pics are NOT being taken at school or school events.

Here’s a novel idea – let’s have the parents actually impress upon their children the importance of NOT SENDING NUDIE PICS!

#4 – Absolutely NO Touching

In Fairfax, VA a middle school has overreacted to the issues of inappropriate touching by banning ALL touching.  That’s right.  Apparently they have decided that kids can’t figure out the difference between punching someone and high-fiving them.  I mean, I know that I’ve lamented the state of youth, and yada yada, but seriously?  Little Johnny doesn’t know that punching someone is NOT okay?  Again, this is just lazy.  How about we teach our children (and again, this shouldn’t fall on the teachers, it falls to the parents) what is and isn’t appropriate?  Stop being your kids’ friend and be a freaking parent!

And after noticing that Fairfax had this going, a middle school in CT has adopted the same policy (apparently after one kid got kicked in the groin).  Seriously?  I’m pretty sure every kid on the planet knows that kicking in the groin is wrong.  So the kid who did such a thing probably wouldn’t follow the rules of no touching.

#3 – Banning All Outside Food

So we all know that more and more allergies are appearing across the country.  Some experts say it’s because we’re introducing allergens too early, some say we’re introducing them too late, some say we’re oversanitizing.  Whatever the reason, more and more kids have severe allergies to foods.  One Chicago school has decided to ruin lunch for everyone by banning kids from bringing food from home – unless it’s a strict dietary issue.  So for every kid with a healthy immune system or a non-diet restrictive religion, they are all now required to buy lunch at school.  And yes, they are actually requiring any hungry child to spend money at the school.  I find myself doubting that this is even a theoretically moral issue – I feel like it’s probably financially motivated, because in this economy, I’m sure people weren’t buying school lunches when they could bring their own.  So the school increased their lunch revenue.  Apparently, however, students (and their parents) are rebelling against this and kids are actually skipping lunch altogether – which I’m sure is just SOOOOOO healthy.

#2 – Wearing Prison Jumpsuits for Dress Code Violations

Yep, you read that right.  When your high school kid violates a dress code stipulation in Gonzales, TX, they have to wear a navy blue jumpsuit.  What makes it more ridiculous is that dress code violations include cargo pants, baggy pants and t-shirts.  Yep, pretty much every normal teenager will be forced into a jumpsuit.  At least they didn’t choose orange though – gotta give them credit for that.

The real kicker though?  Many of the students are intentionally violating the dress code so they can wear the jumpsuit!  Yep, this sounds effective…

#1 – Bad Behavior = Fines

Oh yes, your kindergartner will now be coming home not only with macaroni art and marker stains, but with tickets and fines for bad behavior.  And these are tickets from the police, not from the school – so you get to take your kid to juvenile court (by taking off of work), pay the ticket, and court costs, all because your 6-year-old was giggling with his friends and caused a disturbance.  And no, I’m not exaggerating, many of the tickets are being given to elementary school kids, so there’s no way to make them pay their own ticket, like you can do with your high-schooler who can get a job.

So this is really punishing the parents for behavior that they have no direct control over.  Because I don’t know about you, but when I was a teenager, I cussed at school.  And it wasn’t because my parents were bad, it’s because I was a teenager, and that what teenagers do.

This is legislating morality – and seeing as that worked so well with Prohibition, I’m sure this kind of policy will prove to be successful (/end sarcasm)

Oh, and don’t forget that this places more of a burden on our already overtaxed courts and police departments.

Yep, all of these policies seem destined to be highly “effective”.  Seriously, has everyone lost their minds?

Here is my overarching solution to all of the issues – PERSONAL AND PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY.

TADA!  You’re welcome for solving these problems with a minimum of cost.

Shutting Down

Oh Minnesota…

Well, according to news reports, MN government has shut down for the second time in six years.  All because they failed to meet a budget agreement.

Seriously?  This is ridiculous.  We almost had the same issue with the federal government a while back.  Do the people making these laws have a fundamental mental deficiency?  These budget deadlines aren’t things that are surprises!  And they have some real widespread consequences.

Yet again, the Democrats and Republicans are pointing fingers at the other side, blaming them for giving up too easily.  But what about compromise?  According to what I read, the Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party (the Governor included) want – in general – to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1.9% and cut spending.

The Republicans are stating that they met with and agreed to a some of the funding requests (couldn’t find out which ones) and are criticizing the Governor for wanting to stick to “his rigid, tax-and-spend ideology, rather than prioritize the best interests of Minnesotans as we move into the holiday weekend.”

In response, the Democrat group is blaming the Republicans for the shutdown saying that the Republicans are in favor of “devastating cuts to education, health care, public safety, and other vital services”

So instead of sucking it up, and coming to an agreement that will benefit the citizens, the politicians are AGAIN playing the blame game.  Guess what politicians – the people who are getting screwed over don’t care which party is to blame.  They know that ALL OF YOU are to blame, together.  So it’s time to come together and get that shit taken care of!

I’d like to see raw numbers of how many of the MN Republicans are included in the group that the Dems want to raise taxes on.  Because I have no doubt that this resistance is not for the benefit of the majority of constituents, but instead for the benefit of their own bottom lines.

Guess what, if you’re included in the top 1.9% of wealth in any state, you can afford to have a bit more in taxes come out.  It’s just math.

As for the Dems, I’m sure that the Republicans aren’t trying to basically cripple all public services in the state – that’s just stupid.

So, here’s what I have to say to both parties.  I think you should all not be paid, until the budget is approved and the other state employees are squared away.  If this happens, I can guarantee there will be a new budget ASAP.