Monday, September 8, 2008

Venting and Confessing

I feel like my life is running in about thirty different directions at the moment. I don't have nearly as much time to write as I would like. Lately it seems like my life is just kids, husband, animals, house. When I do have a few moments to sit at the computer and write something, it seems (to me anyway) like it's all disjointed and thrown together. I suppose there is nothing really wrong with that---it's evidence of my life at the moment. It's honest and real. I just wish it was more polished. Actually, I wish my entire life was more polished. I think I need about six more hours in every day.

A few weeks ago when I was on one of my many library trips, I checked out a book called What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know. This is actually what caused me to get worried about my sons education. There is no other way to put it so I'll be blunt: My son has made it to the fifth grade easily. He has always received good grades on his report cards, but he doesn't know anything in this book. This is very scary to me. I had to return the book but I'm probably going to get my hands on a used copy so I can try to slyly sneak some of the information into my sons brain. But then I wonder, how long can I do that? Won't I eventually get burned out? And won't my son start to realize that he spends seven hours at school and then comes home and does more school work? The whole situation is frustrating and confusing. I know I've been venting about this for weeks now and Jay and I have been discussing a lot of options so please bear with me as my family figures out when and what the next step is.

Nothing takes my mind off my worries better than baking. I love to bake and will jump at the opportunity. I don't do it as much as I would like because baking can get costly, and really, how many baked goods does one family need? But I gave into the urge today and whipped something up.
I've talked about Nigella Lawson's beer cake before. Everything about it is so easy and it comes out perfect every time. Plus, I like the way it looks on my cheap seventies cake platter. Kitschy and fun and it puts me in a good mood. See the grubby hand to the right of the cake? That belongs to the girl who kept hovering over it asking, "Can I have some now? How about now?" I have no intention of typing out a recipe, but you can find it here if interested.

Yesterday we went to Home Depot to get a weed whacker and as I was walking through the garden section I saw some Venus Flytraps, so of course I had to buy one for the boy. A wave of relief came over me when I showed it to him and he said, "Oh cool. I learned a little about these in school." (Score one for you School.) We brought the plant home and the boy has named it Junior. My son is really excited about this and we've done some research to find out how much it needs to eat. From this angle the leaves look kinda harmless:

But in this picture you can actually see that they are closed tightly around whatever it's digesting.This plant of my sons is relatively small, but the gal at Home Depot said she used to have one and it grew quite large. I'm hoping my son has the same luck. (Interesting fact: If you feed it hamburger it will get indigestion and probably die.)

Now I would like to leave you with a little story that embarrasses me only slightly. This morning Jay and I took the girl to the park. After we were there about ten minutes she ran over to us holding her crotch and saying she had to pee. I told her there were no bathrooms so she's have to hold it. She said she really had to go. Great. I really didn't want to go through all the trouble of putting her back in the car, driving to a bathroom, and then coming back, so I indulged in a bit of lazy parenting. I let her take off her panties and squat behind a tree. Shameful isn't it? In my defense, no one else was there except for a maintenance worker on a riding mower at the other end of the park. And frankly, I'm pretty sure he does the same thing when no one is looking.

*****Late Breaking Information*****

The good news: For the first time since school started, my son has come home with homework.

The bad news: I just read a news article that states that "over half of the high school students in Alachua county are reading below their grade level."

Something is very wrong.


BloomingAlmond said...

Girl... There is no such thing as a polished life... It is what it is... Keep it simple and be happy :)
Education really sucks around the world 'cause here we have the very same problem... My 1st grade teacher said once that there's too much paper work when a kid fails so....
So WTF..... somethings very wrong indeed...

We had one of those plants too! It got a bit big and then I don't why, it died... But its a very cool plant for your kid to see it grow and eat :P

Tammie said...

Blooming: I've heard the horror stories about education too and they make me sick. Fortunately I know my son is no where near failing level, but what about the kids that are? If they are promoted without the right skills, they're only going to get frustrated which of course leads to them eventually just giving up and dropping out. Grrr... I could really go on and on about this.

What?!?! No such thing as a polished life? You totally burst my bubble!


BloomingAlmond said...

You're totally right... That kind of education just leads to unfit and unprepared kids and that's no way to enter life as a social being. I just don't get why governments all over the world let these kind of things happen... What kind of doctors, lawyers, teachers, will our kids be? It really gets me worried....

Aleta said...

*sigh* I don't know what to say. I enjoyed your article, the realness of it and the honesty. That is refreshing, funny and enjoyable. But the concerns of education, well, my Mom is a teacher and she catches a lot of grief for her career choice.

She loves her work, don't get me wrong. She retired (for half a day) and returned. Mom has been given awards and grants for her school based on her work. (Can you tell how proud I am of her?)

Mom is also legally blind, with glasses she is legally blind. The kids don't know it. In fact, they say she has "eyes in the back of her head" because she knows what they are doing without her having to see them. She cares a lot. A while ago I blogged about the Promethean board that her class has now.

I'm a product of public school education (honors grad, as well as graduating from UNO with two degrees). Mom is a teacher in the public school system. There's a lot of good going on in the schools, so please, don't give up hope.

What the teachers need ~ is support from the parents, not just for the homework, but mostly, for children to appreciate responsiblity and respect. Nothing can get through to a child if the child doesn't respect a teacher.

Believe me, teachers DO care.

They love their jobs and they know what is at stake, even if the system doesn't pay much, the value is in the lives they have improved.

OK, hopping off the soap box. I know you weren't being negative about teachers, but it's something I hear all the time.

Tammie said...

Aleta:I agree with everything you said and I know the teachers aren't the problem. Every school year they have a lot to do in a short time. It's the entire school system as a whole that troubles me. Sometimes I feel like my son is only being taught the info that is on the standardized test of the year and that he's losing his joy of learning and that's what scares me.

I know the teachers aren't to blame for this, but there are no easy answers.

Tammie said...

aleta: i forgot to add this:
your mom sounds awesome.

i also wanted to mention again that it isn't the the teachers that i have a problem with.

im also worried about the cuts in funding. this year my son only has art for half the year.

i really don't want to bore you with my rants about the problems with the government and education. lets just say im not a fan of the 'no child left behind' thing. i dont think its working.

Tammie said...

aleta: sorry. i keep thinking of more i wanted to add.

i really appreciate your thoughts on this, since you are close to a teach it gives me a different perspective. so please come back and share more.