There are questions my kids regularly pose that drive me nuts. Every day after school they ask"no, more challenge --"What's for dinner?" I'm not sure why they haven't yet learned that I'll never have an answer to this before six o'clock. And although they are now 14, 12 and 9, they still plague me with "Are we there yet?" Even when the final destination is Sun Prairie or Waunakee.
I'm sure they feel the same way about a lot of my clichéd interrogatories, as well. "Have you cleaned your room yet?" or "How was school today?" would definitely make my kids' "Don't Ask Me Again Top 10 list." But there is one other question I can't help but ask more frequently than they'd like. And it's laden with heft, potential guilt, and much uncertainty.
I know my kids hate it when asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
I had my pat answer down when I was as a kid. I went with ballerina from ages 3-6. I was partial to pink tutus and, in those pre-"Black Swan" days, it seemed a far less dangerous occupation than that other pre-school-standby, fireman. Later in the elementary years I went with Rabbi for a while. While I have no idea why any adult in my life thought I'd ever be able to pull off great spiritual leader, there was nothing that garnered more praise from Nana and Pop Pop than the thought of their granddaughter studying holy books and giving good sermon.
But as I got closer to the age where the question might have really mattered, my parents weren't much help. My dad was a professional artist and subscribed to the "follow your dream" philosophy of career counseling. The problem was I had no dreams"just nightmares of having to revisit ballerina due to no better options. And while my Mom always loved her work in non-profits, her specialty was digestive diseases. An importantly cause, for sure, but I never felt much of a future for me in the world of ileitis and colitis.
So I've considered taking it easy on the kids when talking careers. But I can't help making little (they might say big) inquiries here and there. My oldest, now 14, seems to have his mind made up. After a brief dalliance with engineer (transitioning from train to electrical in third grade), he now wants to be a history professor. But only the kind of professor, he tells me, who is asked to be an expert on Ken Burns documentaries and History Channel shows. I am strongly advocating for a second major in Comm Arts.
When I ask son number two the same question, his casual, and mildly annoyed, answer is usually early-90s pop rapper. He is perhaps the only member of the MC Hammer fan club who is currently under 40. And while I was able to secure him the "Hammer Pants" he was coveting for his last birthday, perhaps feeding the dream, I need to remind him that clothes don't make the man. And they certainly don't make the rapper. I am gently steering him toward careers that don't involve singing.
But it's my daughter who is always the most thrown by question. She definitely knows what she doesn't wasn’t to be. Not first woman president of the United States ("Mom, no one wants to wait 30 years for that), a doctor ("Seems hard and it's bad to mess up") or dancer (for reasons obvious to anyone who has even seen her accompany her brother on "Can't Touch This").
But I caught a little glimpse of what the future might hold over the past few weeks as she and her fourth grade class worked furiously with glue, tape and box cutters in order to participate in "Terrace Town" , the community-wide "Box City" event on display at Monona Terrace this coming Saturday, February 4.
Through mentors, amazing teachers and dedicated parent volunteers, my daughter was exposed first hand to careers in sustainability, architecture, city planning, construction and business proprietorship. She chose to make her contribution to the "city" a salon called "Scissorhands". And while I don't think she's yet contacted Tim Burton about the possibility of using the name beyond Saturday (a lesson in licensing is sure to follow), I'm glad she recognized no one wants to live in a town without a decent place to get their hair cut.
And a career in planning, historic preservation or real estate wouldn't be bad choices for her to consider at all. Because based on the constant Madison discussion surrounding projects like The Edgewater and the 100 block of State Street redevelopment, she could be kept pretty busy professionally speaking.
And far away from the hair of unsuspecting citizens who, if they saw the baldheads of her current crop of Barbies, would know she has no business getting into the salon business.comments powered by Disqus
This past week, against both my will and better judgement, I accompanied 50 or so middle school kids to the Future Problem Solvers Wisconsin State Bowl, a popular academic and skit-writing competition. It was my husband who had originally signed up to chaperone the event, thinking that spending a few days with his 11-year-old daughter and her compatriots would serve as an excellent anthropological experience. But when an unexpected work obligation made it impossible for him to attend, it was me left holding the bag
It may be a bigger waste of breath than electricity to ask my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room. If I've nagged them once, I've nagged them a thousand times. No, I've never noticed anything amiss with their fingers. But it appears they are physically incapable of flipping a switch to the "off" position.
I want to say thank you to the Board of Education for allowing Maia to return to class, unquestionably the place she belongs, as well as to thank them for adopting the new policies. But just as importantly, I also want to thank Maia and her family for their willingness to come forward with their story.
Some clever-clogs is playing Rachmaninoff on the piano at a party, and there it is again, that oft-heard adult lament of lost opportunity from a dejected onlooker: "I wish I could play. I wish my parents hadn't let me quit music lessons. I was just a kid -- how was I to know?" It's a reasonable complaint.
If you're checking out summer camps for your child, there are many issues -- some obvious, some less so -- to keep in mind. Here's a list to keep handy when you contact camps and camp directors, looking for the perfect spot for your kids to have fun, relax, and learn this summer.
I know, in the grand scheme of things, that my kid issues, when it comes to dining out, absolutely pale in comparison to those of parents whose kids have special needs. Many kids, especially those who are on the autism spectrum, are disturbed by changes in their routine, or anxious around noisy places. They may not be able tolerate waiting for a table or standing in line. So unfortunately, many of these families just avoid eating out at restaurants altogether.
It's weird to admit this, especially in a city surrounded by as much outdoor beauty as Madison. But frankly, I'm just not that into nature. I'm more of an indoor kind of gal. Give me an afternoon at the Chazen or the Wisconsin Historical Museum over the Arboretum or Olbrich Gardens any day.
Lavish costumes, gorgeous sets, a full orchestra and a concession stand where nothing cost more than two bucks and you have a pitch perfect experience at the theater. Oh, and did I mention the ticket prices were just $10 dollars apiece? One could afford to take the whole family for a live theater experience for less than an evening at the Lego movie would cost including popcorn.
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.