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
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (Near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.
Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.
If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.
There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.