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Alltop, confirmation that I kick ass


Author: toni

~ 08/25/10

 

When I was a kid  my parents were NEVER concerned about who we kids would get for a teacher each year. In fact, I’m pretty sure they never even thought about it. There was no discussion, no debate, nothing that indicated they even had clue one as to who was even teaching at the school let alone if they were qualified or an “appropriate fit” with the personalities of their children. Hey, school was free! Who were they to argue about or even consider who was placed at the helm of their child’s life journey through learning? There were more pressing issues, like the four mouths they had to feed.

Of course, school wasn’t technically free as they paid for it with their tax dollars. But my parents didn’t think about it that way. In fact, I’m pretty sure the only thought that crossed my mom’s mind was “free babysitter!” or “seven hours without something breaking!” I had loads of brothers.

No siree.  When I was a kid, you were told who your teacher was, you showed up to class and that, as the saying goes, was that.

Sure there was discussion as to whether or not a teacher was mean or nice. But the discussion was purely amongst us kids. And those were the two categories we broke teachers down into- mean and nice. We didn’t really care about whether they were good educators or if we were going to come away better prepared for life. We were just hoping that we didn’t get someone who smacked your hands with a ruler or made you stand in the waste basket in a corner for an hour to make sure you got the point that you were a worthless piece of trash. Yeah. I had that teacher in 2nd grade. A real peach.

But even if we got that teacher, we didn’t bother to complain to our parents. Know why? Because they ALWAYS sided with the teacher. We were the kids so we must be in the wrong. It was us who had problems with authority. It was our responsibility to shape up. Bottom line, we were told to deal with it, suck it up and stop our whining.

Well, it’s a whole different ballgame these days, baby! And as things tend to do, they have swung from one end of the pendulum to the other. Because we have gone from one extreme to the other on this whole “who will teach our kid” thing.

Today, there is soooo much discussion about teachers, their qualifications, their “fit” with the personalities of our children that the last two weeks of a school year and the two weeks prior to the beginning of a new school year, it’s all anyone’s talking about. Mommy cliques are abuzz with “who your child should get for what grade”.  Moms beg hint to their child’s current teacher about where they’d like their child placed the following year, in the hopes that this will filter to the powers that be – whoever they are. Principals are inundated with letters “suggesting” who would be the appropriate fit for their child. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were attempted bribes in the form of  Starbucks gift cards (highly coveted among adults who deal with hordes of children daily) or gift certificates to “Massage Envy”, maybe even a coupon or two for Tylenol or that Mexican place with the GRANDE MAMMACITA MARGARITAS! Ole!

Well, in the end it really comes to naught. Because our educators cannot be bribed… supposedly. And this is never more painfully obvious than the day the “class assignment postings” go up.

I don’t know about you, but in my hood, this is a BIG FRIKKIN’ DEAL. The school is adamant about waiting until 5pm the night before school begins to post the teacher assignments. If you guessed that 5pm was after all the office staff was gone for the day and the voicemail was on and administrators had long vacated the premises for the safer sanctuary of their bolted-up, curtains-drawn, lights-out homes – you guessed right. No way those folks want to deal with disgruntled mommies! You know the saying about “a woman scorned”? That doesn’t even come near to the wrath of a mommy who feels her child has been “inappropriately placed”.

In fact, I have known some moms who have broken down in tears over the stress of it all, so desperate were they to have what’s best for their kid. I won’t name names (me). Okay, I know it’s stupid. But let me just say in my defense that 1) it was couple of years ago when I was new to this whole thing and 2) I cry when I see my kid’s size 5 flip-flops and am reminded she’s growing up, so it doesn’t take much to push me over the edge. Anyway, I’m not the only mom. I know PLENTY of others who have admitted to breaking down in tears over the whole thing. And not just because they thought their kid got a bad teacher. No, I have known mom’s to cry in worry that maybe their kids were in over their heads academically with a certain teacher.

But it isn’t just the mommies. Kids have actually gotten swept up in the discussion, too. They actually chat during lunch about who the teachers are to get. And a couple of kids I know, when they didn’t get the teacher they thought they “should” get this year, were actually devastated and reduced to sobs.

I know! It’s madness! Why are kids even discussing this? Why are they getting soooo wrapped up in the drama and debate of it all. Oh right. Because their mommies are! And whether or not mommies think their kids are too absorbed in their Nintendo DS’s or that episode of iCarly to hear the adult conversations going on around them, somehow they do. I mean, my kid can’t “hear” me when I tell her to pick up her socks, but she manages to regurgitate every detail of a private conversation I had with a fellow mommy two rooms away!  Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as selective listening.  

Honestly, I don’t know why we have become a nation of such overly-involved parents. For the record, I didn’t let myself do it this year – worry about who my kid was getting.  I don’t know if it was because I’ve relaxed a little, or I’ve realized that we live in a good school district and there really aren’t any bad teachers, or maybe the words of Randy the perfekt husband have finally sunk in (though I’d never admit it to him):

“So what if she gets a teacher she doesn’t get along with? Nobody gets along with everyone. It’s going to happen eventually. I’d be a good life lesson.  Besides, she’s a smart kid, she’ll figure it out. “

My husband the pragmatist.

In the end, I think the answer – as is usually the case – is somewhere in the middle. It’s important for us as parents to want the best for our kids and to do what is in our power to make that happen. But we also need to stand back,  take a deep breath and have a little faith. Faith in our educators. Faith in our kids. Faith in ourselves as parents. So. Yeah. That’s what I’m gonna do. Have a little faith.

But the minute anyone makes my kid stand in a trash can… POW! TO THE MOON, ALICE!

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Author: toni

~ 08/19/10

 

When I was a kid whenever we misbehaved we were treated to the belt or the spoon, depending on if the punisher was our dad or our mom. (My mom’s Italian so a wooden spoon was a natural extension of her arm and therefore a logical – and handy – correctional tool).  Back then, corporal punishment was considered acceptable. And though parents didn’t make it a habit, the occasional smack in public was also deemed OK.

In fact, if you saw a kid get hit in public, your parents would give you the “see, that’s what happens when you misbehave” look and you were suddenly on your best behavior knowing you could easily be next. Fear of pain that is coupled with public humiliation is a strong motivator to be good.

In fact, I knew parents who took corporal punishment so much to heart that they made their kid wear a paddle on a string around his neck. And the paddle said, “If I misbehave, spank me.”  I kid you not. Yeah, okay. That was weird even for back then. Even my parents thought so and forbade us ever to use the paddle on the boy…else they’d spank us.  But did anyone call Child Protective Services? Nope, because everyone believed that discipline was the domain of the parents, however they saw fit to do it.

Nowadays, that kid would be a target of a child welfare visit so fast it would make your head spin.

While I’m sure there are still parents out there who believe the occasional swat on the behind doesn’t hurt (the child’s psyche anyway) most of them would never in a million years do it in public for all to see and judge and get them into enough trouble that they’d have to cash out their 401k’s to retain a criminal defense attorney. Nope, I would go so far as to say that most parents who still believe in corporal punishment, engage in it secretly, behind closed doors.  

Generally, parents who believe in spanking have been driven into the dark recesses of the family room, plantation shutters firmly shut. The spanking backlash brought on by countless studies and articles on child rearing has created a nation of closet swatters. (Well, except for that frazzled mom by the BBQ place at Disneyland two weekends ago. But then, given the frustration-inducing crowds sometimes encountered at “the happiest place on Earth”, I’m surprised I didn’t see more parents laying hands upon their kids.)

Anyway, recently one of these closet swatters stepped boldly out into the open. Or as open as an enclosed plane full of passengers and crew can be.  And she even made the news!

A Georgia woman on a Southwest Airlines flight from Texas apparently slapped her 13 month-old daughter when she wouldn’t stop crying.  This resulted in police being called when the plane landed in Albuquerque. The parents were detained and questioned before finally being released with their child and boarding another flight.

Okay. I know how I feel about smacking a baby in the face. NEVER. And I won’t even start ranting about the logic, or lack thereof, that went into determining this was the best course of action to get a baby to stop crying.  

Also,  I’m a proponent of  “when in doubt, err on the side of caution” especially where a child’s welfare is concerned and I, too, probably would have called authorities on this mother.

Still, I have to wonder…

Have we gone overboard in our radical responses to the occasional public swat? Is it our right as parents, albeit absolute strangers, to call out these swatting parents for what they are doing to their kid, as I have actually seen done MANY TIMES! Is it reasonable to call the authorities about it? Or detain an entire flight? And at what point does that seem a necessary move? Where is the line? Is it one of age of the child? Of degree of spanking? Or the kind of spanking? Or is it never, absolutely under no circumstances, ever okay to spank your kid in public or elsewhere?

What do you think?  OKAY OR NO WAY?

Meanwhile,  if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for a scheduled tête-à-tête over juice and crackers with my eight year-old to rationally discuss (all the while avoiding any “you” messages which can be damaging and ineffectual) appropriate and acceptable ways of expressing disdain for mommy’s rules.

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Author: toni

~ 08/16/10

 

Let me begin by apologizing for my sporadic posting on MAMMAKAZE of late.

As a freelance blogger who gets paid the grand total of nil, I am at the mercy of other pressing issues that also don’t pay but make Randy the perfekt husband very happy when I deal with them. For example, the leaking dishwasher that damaged the hardwood floor near the fridge, caused mold all over the drywall beneath the center island and required the shopping around for the best deal on a dishwasher that matched our other appliances (Lowe’s NOT Sears by the way – who knew?).  Finding plumbers, drywallers, and painters (that was me) — all major but necessary life time sucks.  

Then there was the back-to-school prep which required marathon shopping to find the ideal lunchbox, first day outfit, and an entire restock of socks and undies. You MAMMAKAZES know the drama involved in that. If you have a girl there’s endless perusing and comparing and deciding. If you have a boy, well, they couldn’t care less about shopping and endlessly complain that they’d rather be home playing their Wii.

Finally, however, and the biggest reason I have been missing from the blogosphere –

I had LASIK  surgery done to both my eyes!

How was it, you ask? Well, there are a lot of fabulous things about it –  like the fact that I can see for the first time since I was 8. Unfortunately, the downside is the fact that I can see for the first time since I was 8.

TOP TEN WORST THINGS ABOUT LASIK

10.     Seeing how much body hair I have previously overlooked during the shaving process (sorry Randy)

9.      Big ol’ bags under the eyes (not as a result of the Lasik, but formally hidden by glasses).

8.      The ability to  see gray hairs = more frequent visits to the salon = more money

7.      Two vacations we won’t be having

6.      Constant (and pointless) poking at the bridge of my nose with my right index finger!

5.      The fact that I don’t look as good without my glasses as Angelina Jolie (whom my doc also zapped)*

4.      That’s what I look like in a compromising position?!?!  (again, my apologies Randy)

3.      My kid feels self-conscious that she’s the only one in the family wearing glasses (yet another thing mommy can feel guilty about!)

2.      Now I look as smart as Kim Kardashian (whom my doctor did too)

1.       Holy #!%*! Is the shower really that  dirty?

 

Well, there you have it. Hey,  if you can’t find humor in having a thin layer of your cornea slit off and folded back while the remainder of your cornea is ablated, well, then what’s the point of anything?

In a few days I’ll do a post about the whole experience for those of you who may be considering it.  Stayed tuned!

* I re-read the fine print of the pre-op form and nowhere does it guarantee that I will look as good as Angelina Jolie without my glasses.  Therefore, I will not be pursuing the lawsuit.

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Author: toni

~ 08/13/10

 

Welcome to movie math where we review a movie and see if it adds up to family fun.

RAMONA AND BEEZUS – Let me begin by saying that prior to seeing this movie, neither I or my daughter had never read the Beverly Cleary books upon which the movie is based. And frankly, we weren’t exactly chomping at the bit to check out the movie. But it was a hot summer day, and we were looking for a cool afternoon activity and we had already seen Despicable Me, so– we found ourselves tucked into our seats ready to be entertained and entertained we were. The movie was a delightful, sweet, charming, sweet, heartwarming, and did I mention sweet, story of a family going through some tough times. You read that right. It isn’t just about a little girl RAMONA who can’t seem to do anything right even though she tries really hard and her heart is in the right place. No, it’s also about a family with three children, whose father gets laid off and suddenly finds themselves faced with all the anguish that many families have had to face in the last couple of years: loss of income, loss of a home, tension in the marriage, and the anguish of children who may be forced to leave a life and friends they have grown to love. I don’t want to give away too much, but there’s even a pet funeral and its not a goldfish getting flushed down a toilet. I gotta say, I haven’t cried that much since Terms of Endearment. Holy Cow. This is a tug on your heart strings movie. But it was so lovely and, yes I’ll say it again,  sweet and the two main kids JOEY KING and SELENA GOMEZ were incredibly adorable. And while the ending may not be realistic, it’s the reason that people go to see these kinds of movies. I might not recommend it necessarily for boys. It’s definitely got a girly air about it and it was the perfect mommy/daughter afternoon popcorn summer movie. Although Randy the perfekt husband was certainly wishing he had joined us for the show because he had chosen to go see the Adam Sandler/David Spade/Chris Rock movie GROWN UPS which according to his review wasn’t fit for kids OR grownups it was so dang awful.

SWEET FAMILY FUN + SOME SERIOUS ISSUES = A DIVERTING AFTERNOON THAT REQUIRES A KLEENEX MINI-PAK

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Author: toni

~ 08/05/10

 

We live in an era of obsession with child safety. When I was a kid child safety came in the form of  a loud, resounding, “NO!” emanating from a nearby irritated adult.  It was cheap and that single word pretty much summed up everything a parent had to do/fork over in order to childproof their home.

Not so, today. Even before a baby comes into the world his surroundings have been turned into the padded cell of a maximum security mental institution.   There are latches on the windows and cabinets. Those little plastic knobs cover door handles, making them impossible to turn (sorry Grandma). Latches on the toilet seat are so difficult to break into, I’ve nearly wet myself trying. There are bumpers on the corners of coffee tables, plastic plugs fill outlets, gates are screwed in at the bottom and tops of stairs. And child car seats are made by the same manufacturers who make those lovely airplane seats we squish into during long flights – miserable to sit in, but able to withstand a 16g impact (the seat, not us). 

And there is even a whole industry that has cropped up as a result. Yes, if you are one of those super paranoid parents you can actually hire an “expert” to come in and child proof your home. It’ll cost you a bundle, but you’ll save a fortune in ER visits. Of course, you risk raising a kid so insulated and protected from reality that by the time you finally release them into the wild, they won’t know any better than to walk in front of a bus or stick a butter knife into an outlet. ZZZZT!

Anyway, with all of these precautions, with all the billions and billions spent on protecting our kids, with all the laws passed about child safety seats and helmets–

Why aren’t school buses required to have seat belts?!

There was another article today about a child getting killed during a collision while riding in a school bus  (CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY).  Dozens of others were hurt. And this happens all the time! In fact, on July 17, nine kids were seriously injured in Kansas. And there was another serious accident in May. Google it, you’ll be horrified by the hits you’ll get.

I have to tell you, I am none too thrilled about my kid going on any school field trip on a school bus. Especially on a freeway! Because you know what happens to a little loose body during an impact? It turns into a projectile! That’s right. That unharnessed person turns into a free floating one that can slam right through a windshield! Why is this even legal?!

Now my kid is within an inch or two of the legal height requirement to be out of a booster.  But if I should dare to allow my kid to ride in the car without the booster (not that I would) I can be heavily fined, because this is against the law!  And yet that same 55 inch,  60 pound child is allowed to sit unsecured in a large rectangular metal box on wheels that has all the safety features of that travelling tilt-a-whirl ride that you saw featured on 60 Minutes that caused 3 kids to lose their toes.

As a parent, I’m appalled and mortified and just dumfounded by the logic, or lack thereof, when it comes to safety belts and buses. There are people (and by people I mean attorneys hired by bus companies to spin statistics) who will tell you that more children die from being HIT by a bus than in a collision while riding a bus. I say, who cares? As long as one child could be saved from death or serious injury by wearing a seat belt on a bus, why not add them? They’re in every other vehicle that moves, for gosh sakes!

Not only is the lack of logic maddening, so is the hypocricy!

It is pounded into the heads of parents and children alike that safety is of the utmost importance! And I take it seriously.

So on the weekend I am super vigilant mommy and make sure my daughter never rides her scooter without a helmet. Then on Monday morning I place her into a  pricey car seat – the fourth I’ve purchased to meet her changing size – and strap her in to take her to school. And then I’m supposed to be okay with letting her get on a school bus without seat belt, car seat or helmet so she can ride unrestrained at 60 mph down a freeway to go on a field trip?!

Sorry, but it goes against every mommy instinct in my body.

My heart goes out to the parents who lost their daughter today in the school bus accident in Missouri. It was tragic and entirely unnecessary.

There oughta be a law. Fortunately, several child safety advocates and other safety groups have started a petition.

NHTSA’s grant of safety groups’ petition would extend the lap-shoulder belt requirement to large school buses manufactured in the future. It would also provide an incentive for State and local jurisdictions to require retrofitting of existing large school buses with lap-shoulder belts so that they were as child-safe as new models.

The petition was signed by The National Coalition for School Bus Safety (NCSBS), Center for Auto Safety (CAS), Public Citizen (PC), Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), Consumers Union (CU), KidsandCars.org, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Consumer Federation of America (CFA), SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A., the Trauma Foundation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the Orthopaedic Trauma Association, 2safeschools.org, Safe Ride News, the Advocacy Institute for Children, Belt Up School Kids, the Coalition for Child Safety, Nancy Bauder, Lynn Brown, Norm Cherkis, Ruth Spaulding, and Rhea Vogel. A copy is available online at

http://www.autosafety.org/school-bus-seat-belt-mandate-urged-leading-safety-groups-0

 

You know and I know, it’s going to take an army of angry mommies to get this changed. So find out what you can do in your area to make seat belts mandatory on school buses.

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