Sunday, October 29, 2006

It's 9:17pm -- do you know where your kids' homework is?

My husband is out of town, and usually it falls to him (because he can't stand last-minute anything) to sort out who has read his book-in-a-bag, whether the snacks are packed, if math facts have been reviewed, etc. (Though I do reign as the official permission slip signer and check writer.)

Thankfully, and after several iterations with my sons' teachers, I have established that I need order and rules. You've heard about those "boundaries" that kids need? Well, so do I, as the person who's ultimately in charge of math and reading logs, writer's workshop, spelling lists, and whatever other things are tossed my way.

I have learned, as the mother of three, that my life becomes infinitely easier when Monday is Show and Tell day -- across the board and for all kids. Egyptian Day is so much more exciting when both sons are looking forward to the festivities. This is why I cannot fathom juggling more than one school calendar, with differing teacher in-service days, vacation / break days, and whatever else comes along. I have a hard enough time managing one school's calendar, frankly.

Lest you believe that I am one of those "reliving my education" parents, I am not. I should frame for you my sons' school -- private, micro-tiny, and wonderful. Lots of first children and onlies. Lots of very involved parents -- that's a great thing.

But I have noticed that, for some parents, when their child receives an assignment from school, it becomes a Holy Grail of sorts for them. It's not a flashy competition. And yet our teachers have felt compelled to add an instruction to the presentation criteria that specifies that all work should look like it came from a (fill in the grade)'er. A kindergartner with computer-generated text and artwork? Hmmm...

I don't remember much about my own homework days, except that a lot of it, toward middle and high school especially, was done late at night and often with the television on. Being involved in extracurriculars like ballet and gymnastics pretty much put the kibosh on me doing much else than homework, eating and sleeping. I also remember, given my after school schedule, doing a lot of this homework late into the night -- but that was at an age well advanced of where my kids are.

My eldest will openly worry if we have too much going on at any given time, depending upon his own homework load. He's right. And in 4th grade. Throw in a presentation into any given week's flurry of activity, and it gets pretty complicated.

One one hand, I'm grateful my kids are being expected and taught at a very early age (preK) to speak in public.** (See quote below.) On the other hand, especially at the younger ages, it adds a whole level of strain for the parent to determine (A) how much of the work should be "guided" or "aided" by the parent; (B) how much time they should spend on it; (C) do you encourage, or discourage (again, the number of young children in your household necessarily will tilt this inclination!) "extra credit" type of projects such as faux Ramesses II temples and Greater Bilby clay sculptures.

Ultimately, I believe that my kids are getting their own education, with as little prompting from me as possible. And I find that the less I push, the more they retain.

** "According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy." -- Anonymous

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hey Sister, Go Sister

Hey Sister, Go Sister...

Many moons ago, my husband announced that he would be gone every Thursday night for work commitments in Chicago. My solution? Hold weekly Thursday night "ER" viwings at my house. Mind you, that was when I still watched and loved it. Then a few years ago, the incessant gore and arbitrary violence shooed all of us away.

But before that happened, after one particular episode-cum-party at my house, the evening ended with a rousing rendition of "Lady Marmalade" from "Moulin Rouge." (And as a sidebar, my best wishes to Nicole and Keith...)

The images of all of us singing our lungs out into a kiddie microphone have lingered on and on. (Fortunately my kids are sound sleepers!)

Since then, my friend Jenny and I have been trying to figure out how to turn our "soul sista" million dollar ideas into millions of dollars in the bank. Tentatively called "Soy Sister Productions," many of these ideas come from morning coffees (soy latte for me, soy chai extra hot for her). And the tagline is: "Cheaper than Therapy!" (Or, how I justify the latte factor into my househould budget.)

The bottom line is that we're both on the verge of having all three kids in school, are paying private tuition -- our choice -- and wanting to find a groovy working scenario.

Jenny's criteria, in no particular order:
(1) Uniforms
(2) Walk to work
(3) Walk dog to work
(4) Work with friend(s)

My criteria:
(1) Use marketing experience
(2) No office-y BS
(3) Comfy, close workspace
(4) Minimum of intrusion onto my other job (eg.: Mom)

I wish I could share our idea bank so far. But I don't know if I can trust you with that information... it could be our first million in the bank.