I am what you might call an inside person. I'd rather hang curtains than plant window boxes. I'd much sooner take a city than a beach vacation. I've been camping once - enough said. But there is one very clear exception to this rule for me, and it took moving to Wisconsin for me to discover it. Ice-skating is better outside. Cliché as it may sound, if you've never taken a spin (or even a tumble as I am far more apt to do) across a frozen lake as the sun is setting you haven't experienced the ultimate haiku moment. It is perhaps the only thing that, year after year, keeps me looking forward to winter.
Growing up a child of the mid-Atlantic region, skating was never a big part of my life, indoors or out. My suburb housed one public indoor rink, which I went to once, for a birthday party, in second grade. I was terrible. Wobbly ankles, miss-tied skates, and terrible boredom and bruises from going around clockwise -- then counterclockwise (the dreaded "reverse skate") -- to the sounds of the Captain and Tennille. The closest I ever got to ice-skating again was a very poor attempt at a Dorothy Hamill haircut in fourth grade. (Note: the "Hammill" doesn't work for curly-haired girls if you aren't willing to blow dry--or in my case, even brush). No skating in junior high or high school. No skating in college. No skating first dates like Rocky and Adrian. I would have been more willing to lace up boxing gloves than to attempt lacing skates again.
But the move to Wisconsin has changed my view of ice in some very profound ways. First, my oldest son got involved in hockey. While initially against my will and better judgment, it didn't take long for me to learn to appreciate the game's fast pace and what amazing skill "putting the biscuit in the basket" requires. But joining the West Madison Polar Caps club didn't actually get me on the ice, only behind the concession stand. No, it took a group of dedicated ice-o-phile neighbors and the constant urging of my skate-happy kids to get me back on the blades.
A few years back, when the temps dipped below freezing, a small fraternity of committed (or should be committed -- they do it at 3 AM) "hosers" froze the softball diamond at our beloved Hillington Green park for the first time in years, creating the most Norman Rockwell-esque patch of ice even Scott Hamilton could imagine. The rest of my family couldn't wait to get on. But while I appreciated the rink as a thing of visual beauty, I planned to remain a conscientious objector to actual skating. It just wasn't my sport, especially outside, where all my friends and neighbors could see me. But my kids were persistent that I participate and eventually melted my resolve. So one evening in early December, we all headed out to the rink. As the sun began to set I tentatively laced up my new heavily padded "comfort" skates -- a marked improvement over figure skates for those who don't actually skate figures. And, wonder of wonders, I stood up, and with one of my children helping me balance on each side; I made a very slow circle around the ice. Not only did I not fall (too dramatically), but with their help, was able to experience some pretty wonderful things. I glided under starlight and made swizzles and snowplows -- skating-style. I now finally understood the reason why so many folks in this community are so passionate about their outdoor rinks.
But the most amazing thing I discovered was the beauty of letting my kids help me. It was a genuine role reversal -- a different kind of "reverse skate". I didn't embarrass them, as I do more often than I'd like to admit to. I didn't even really embarrass myself. Instead they encouraged me, were proud of me -- in some ways parented me.
They taught me the benefits of getting outside-- of both the house and my comfort zone. What kinds of things have your kids taught you? Have you had any "reverse skate" moments brought on by the urging of your children?comments powered by Disqus
I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.
It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders " 10 boys and six girls " enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.
Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.
Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.
Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.
Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.
Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.
This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.
In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.
In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.
It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.
Late last semester, as students were packing up their backpacks one final time before winter break, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann and assistant principal Lisa Jondle were co-authoring a note home to parents informing them of a widespread cheating scandal involving nearly 250 calculus students at the school.
Breathe in, breathe out. Have you ever been in the heat of a parenting moment with these words ringing through your head? Then you're on the right path toward mindful parenting.
The week between Christmas and New Year's is famous for all sorts of things. Malls are packed with folks exchanging those holiday sweaters that don't fit just right. It's the week those same folks pledge to never again eat another frosted sugar cookie or candy cane (hence the sweater issues). It's also the week the media saturates the public with dozens of "Best of Year" lists.
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.