I'm not sure who was more excited about my 12-year-old heading off to overnight camp this week, him or me. He was drooling with anticipation at the chance to shoot a bow and arrow, hang out 24/7 with a few of his best (and hopefully some new) friends and drink whatever the 2012 version of bug juice is at every meal. Oh, and did I mention it is a co-ed camp? He's entering a pre-teen paradise.
But as we painstakingly took a Sharpie to the tags of his ratty t-shirts (I have no idea why I label these things, I'd be more than fine if we lost most of them), I realized I was pretty darn stoked for this week as well.
Because as much as I will miss him--and I will---I always look forward to being down a kid, at least for a short period of time.
It really doesn't matter which kid is away; there are pros and cons to each constellation of remaining offspring. But whenever at least one of them is gone, the whole rhythm of the house changes in a way that I always find refreshing. When my oldest was away for a week earlier this summer, for instance, I got the chance to see my two younger kids forge a new and intense bond. Who cares that the giggles and inside jokes they shared were over silly YouTube clips of kittens and puppies, videos they rarely get to watch when jockeying with their older brother for command of the computer. The week he was gone they took their siblinghood to new level and it was a pure pleasure to see.
And when my youngest, the only girl, is off at a sleepover party, I get a one-night taste of what it must have felt like to be Gladys Knight, surrounded up by her Pips. A strong woman backed up by three guys (if you include my husband), but without all the singing.
This week the youth noise level in the house will be diminished by a third. There will be less waste in both in the garbage and recycling cans. And nothing, and no one, will smell like Axe body spray, the unfortunate aerosol security blanket of middle school boys these days.
We will eat tomato soup and meatloaf for dinner--two foods my camper son isn't crazy about. I'll go on a movie date with my oldest son while my husband simultaneously has one with my daughter. The symmetry of just two children is perfect for this kind of thing. There might even be room for me to actually lie down on the couch at night.
I know I shouldn't rush things. I just realized last week that the next time the Summer Olympics roll around my oldest will be a kind of visitor in the house, home on college summer break. If he even comes home. The whole "down one" thing, but for weeks instead of days on end, will be here in the blink of an eye. And I'll be longing for the days of squished sofa time.
But I plan to relish this week, nonetheless. Because Meatloaf (the man, not the food) was right. (Sometimes) Two out of three ain't bad.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.