Friday, May 15, 2009
One Thought Leads to Another
I've been struggling of late to write a post about how worked up so many people get in regard to their kids' education. I probably have at least one conversation every single day with someone who is worried, kvetching, complaining, bragging or something or other about their son or daughter's school. Frankly, I'm tired of it. I want to SCREAM:
"IT"S FOURTH GRADE PEOPLE!"
I want to scream other things as well, but I don't. About entitlement and over-parenting and just what do you really remember about elementary school and how is that carried on into your life at present? I actually loved my fourth grade year. In fact, I loved it so much that "four" became my favorite number. I had Mrs. Delp (four letters); our class was Room 4. I tried out and won the role of Dorothy in The Wizard of OZ in the school play. And while I remember that I sort of had a crush on a kid named Billy Hall and I was in awe of a girl named Julie Devin, who lived with her hippie mother in an incense infused apartment, and another girl named Shawna Gidwani was a real live immigrant from India, I don't really remember much about what I was actually doing all day. And I doubt my mother does either. I doubt she thought about it much then, either.
My husband, who grew up in Switzerland and walked to school barefoot in the summer with about six other kids from his village, doesn't "get" anything about Americans of a certain socioeconomic class -- about their insatiable need to know everything about the school's educational philosophy. He only raises his eyebrows when either boy is stumped on something really, really basic.
"What do they teach in American schools, anyhow?" he'll say. And I won't go into his reaction when I tell him that we have traffic duty or some other inane volunteer responsibility. Suffice it to say that chefs, by nature, use very foul language.
I admit to worrying and complaining myself, sometimes in commiseration and other times because the pull is just so irresistible. Half the time I'm thinking, am I missing something or do I just not care? But I'm trying NOT to get sucked into it all. I really do think that "everything's going to be all right" with our kids. I guess I can only speak for myself, but down deep I just don't lose any sleep over it. Basically, I want them to learn and have fun, have time to relax when they get home or run wildly. Whichever, whatever.
Can't there be something in my life that isn't thought about ad nauseum?
Really, I wish everyone would just RELAX.
I suppose I need to take my own advice because this is what I'm thinking about (and maybe you think I should give it a rest?):
If you haven't noticed, you need to now. Epilepsy is getting more and more coverage and visibility. Thanks, mainly, to David Axelrod, one of President Obama's chief strategists. He and his wife Susan have a young adult daughter who has had epilepsy her entire life. Many years ago, Susan started CURE, a non-profit organization that raises money for medical research.
Recently, the two were featured in Newsweek and Parade magazines.
And today they appeared HERE:
But, hey, don't think I'm telling or saying to you that the above thoughts are more important than whining and complaining about our kids' elementary school education.
If you're of like mind, join me and spread the word. Let me know what you think!
Update: On rereading this post, I'd like to clarify that my thoughts differ dramatically when it comes to high school and, perhaps, middle school, when I think some more serious consideration is due. I object, mainly, to schools for really young children that cost too much, have too many expectations and set children on a track too early.