Walking home from soccer practice the other day, my 8-year-old daughter wondered out loud why there were so many signs in our neighborhood 'advertising' Feingold. She was very upset. Her sense of outrage, though, had nothing to do with the economy or the war in Afghanistan. No, she was annoyed that everyone in Ms. Feingold's third grade class (Russ' first wife teaches at Randall Elementary) had gotten a sign with their teacher's name on it for their yard and no one in her class had. This was when I realized I have probably not done the best job of schooling my kids in the American political process.
I think some of my ambivalence regarding heavy-duty political discussions with the kids stems from my own upbringing. While I went to grade school in suburban D.C. with the offspring of both Democratic and Republican senators and congressional representatives, my parents were entrenched in the arts. They never once mentioned elections at home; I am guessing they voted, but I couldn't have told you for whom.
My only childhood political experience was going to vote in the 1972 presidential election with my Brooklyn-born grandfather. I went into the booth with him and asked him how the voting process worked. He said, "Sari, you just press this lever -- it's for the straight Democratic ticket". Enough said. And so I went, all through college and young adulthood, voting party line, without engagement. I am sure I voted for Rod Blagojevich at some point. I lived in Chicago, I probably voted for him twice-- in the same election.
It wasn't until I moved to Madison, where campaign involvement was more common, that I started to get more invested. It is one of the many beauties of a smaller city: the feeling that your vote really matters. I made a point to know my alders and school board members
And my husband and I got so caught up in "The Change You Can Believe In" that we took off to D.C. for the Obama inauguration. The kids came along as well, but were probably more inspired by the "Yes We Can" cookies they scrounged in Herb Kohl's office than they were by actually meeting their senator.
I think things will be a little bit different when I enter my polling place this coming Tuesday to cast my vote. First, I will make sure that all three kids are right there with me in the booth. Getting them there shouldn't be hard. I'm sure there will be brownies for sale, once again underscoring the clear relationship between democracy and baked goods.
I will show them the name of each candidate running and let them know why I made the choices I did. I will probably even let my 8- year-old wield the pen when I cast my vote for Feingold -- the Senator, not the teacher.
I want them to know that while I often tire of hearing them yell in the house, when they reach 18, the polling place will be an excellent place to have their voices heard.comments powered by Disqus
This will not (although it could) be a treatise on the value of "alone time" for a healthy marriage, though. Nor will it be an ode to how nice it was for me to have a few days off from lunch-packing, carpool-driving and homework-nagging.
For those of you who haven't yet seen it, the eight-week-long transit campaign, placed both inside and on the outside of buses, features a photo of an orange tabby with a stainless steel bar drilled into its head accompanied by the line "I am not lab equipment. End UW cat experiments!" Just as PETA hopes, the image is shocking and demands an immediate response.
If I had my druthers, I'd sit out the entire shopping week that follows Thanksgiving. Black Friday, for starters, has corrupted the fine art of bargain shopping and turned it into a gladiator sport. There is no percentage off that is worth losing sleep, or even worse an eye, over. Especially if you have kids in tow.
When you shop for toys, there is always the conflict between what you think is appropriate/adorable and what the child being shopped for might actually want/play with.
Many of the pop-culture seasonal touchpoints of my youth are completely lost on my kids. You see, while I may have memorized every word to both the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser's songs from The Year Without a Santa Claus, I'm pretty sure the only Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special my kids have ever seen has been Rudolph.
I am so thrilled that the United Way is sponsoring a Teen Gift Drive this holiday season. Sure, teen "wants" often aren't as fun to shop for as precious baby dolls and sweet Lego sets. But middle and high school kids still "need" to feel valued and loved during this time of year. And helping a family in need to provide this for their child is a wonderful way to get in the spirit.
My 11th-grade and 8th-grade sons have heard "the chant" for years. You know which one I'm talking about -- the ESFY (U?) chant (I'm not sure what the parenting post rules are for writing two of the more forbidden four-letter words in the English language) that appears to have both Barry Alvarez and Chancellor Blank quite concerned.
There are many different criteria parents use when evaluating which pre-school programs will be right for their children. Some parents might be looking for an educational philosophy that stresses creativity and community. Others may desire an option that revolves around learning through play or is more academic in approach.
We spent hours poring over name books and checking for inappropriate initial combinations. We looked at meanings, variant spellings and popularity charts. And, as I am sure every parent does, we thought we'd hit the name jackpot with each of our kids. But there are always surprises.
A generation or two ago, the pediatrician was the guy (yes, they were mostly guys) who gave your kids shots and prescribed big bottles of antibiotics for every sniffle. Madison's Dipesh Navsaria is a different breed of pediatrician.
Gamehole Con will be the premier tabletop gaming convention in the region. And with Wisconsin being the birthplace of Dungeons and Dragons, as well as the nation's leader in gaming stores per capita, it kind of makes sense that the convention's organizers want the Dairy State to be known for more than just cheese, beer and bratwurst.
This year I will also try to ease up some of my previous costume concerns. Sure, the world is rife with inappropriate dress up choices for our kids; there is no parent out there that is keen on his or her child dressing like a pint-sized prostitute, even for one night.
This past Saturday, I took my youngest to hear Caldecott award-winning author/illustrator Kevin Henkes read from his latest work, The Year of Billy Miller, a short novel for the early elementary grades.
I was greeted at the door by Tom Moen, who has served as executive director of what he likes to call "Madison's best kept secret", for the past 39 of the center's 47 years. Located in the middle of the subsidized Truax Park apartment complex, EMCC, with its vast array of offerings for kids, seniors and everyone in between, is unquestionably the heart of the neighborhood.
Madison's Kashmira Sheth has written four award-winning novels for middle grade and teen readers, and a popular chapter book for six- to nine-year-olds, but right now her picture books are what she's excited to talk about.
A few summers back, my daughter, maybe 8 or 9 at the time, decided to take part in our swimming pool's annual water ballet show. I'm not really sure what initially piqued her interest in the somewhat under-the-radar, very much under-the-water sport of synchronized swimming.
We rarely included a stop at the Central Library as part of our regular outing. For those of you who've been in Madison for a while, I'm sure you'd agree that the old building was pretty run down. Not to mention, dark, cavernous and depressing. Libraries, at their best, should be portals to discovery, right?
My eleven-year-old daughter spent most of last weekend alone in her room, door shut. It wasn't a temper tantrum or an overwhelming need for tween privacy that led to her self-induced isolation, though. Instead, I didn't see her (except for meals) for two days because she was, in her words, "going through her closet."
Yes, the 2004 classic comedy Mean Girls is an absolutely delightful movie. But it's definitely not the smartest mother/daughter viewing as your child is about to enter her inaugural year of middle school.
Despite celebrating 30 years in business this year, Knowledge Unlimited Inc. remains relatively unknown in the community. Those concerned with closing the achievement gap in Madison's schools, however, may want to take note. This award-winning educational-materials producer, based in Middleton, is unique in emphasizing multiculturalism throughout its lines of educational posters, DVDs and children's books.