I guess I had gotten a little cocky in my "parent of an elementary school kid"-old age; I didn't even bother to attend formal registration this year. This was my 10-year anniversary, after all, of picking up a K-5 school supply list, double checking all my emergency contact numbers, and revising hospital preferences. I surely had the drill down.
My youngest is now a fifth grader, though -- a Randall Elementary "senior." So, it should have also been the final time I'd receive the fateful folder containing the name of my child's teacher for the year.
In the past, that folder had caused some anxiety. Who would end up being, for at least the next nine months, the adult whose influence on my kid would be second only to my husband's and mine? Would we get a super experienced teacher or a newbie? A man (somewhat rare in the elementary school world) or woman?
But this time around, with a veteran mom's swagger, I just phoned it in from vacation to find out in whose room my 10-year-old daughter would land. I assumed it would be one of the two fifth grade teachers my older sons had been with. Her classroom placements had always echoed her brothers' and that had been just fine with me. It never occurred to me anyone would bother to mix things up in our final year of elementary school.
So when I heard long distance that my daughter would have Ms. Wells (all names have been changed) as her teacher this year, I didn't really know what to say. It's not that I had heard anything less than terrific through the omnipresent "Who'd you get?" grapevine (Bravo could easily launch a Real Moms of Randall Elementary series based on teacher placement gossip). But she was still, nonetheless, a name I merely recognized. I wasn't even sure what she looked like.
And, for a second, I got nervous. Not because of "who we got." But, because now -- in my final round of elementary school parenting -- things were changing.
Now, I'm not against change on principle. I switched my major three times in college and have sported no fewer than four different shades on my toenails this summer. But I guess I was really hoping to coast a bit in my daughter's 5th grade year. I wanted to show up to parent/teacher conferences and talk about the good old days. I'd have liked to "pre-know" how spelling tests were graded and what books the class might be tackling in reading groups. I had looked forward to being the seasoned mom who could advise first-time parents in either Mr. McLellan or Ms. Gelles's classrooms on the best way to ensure the year would be a good one.
And therein lay the rub. I had wanted the "known" for my own sake, not for my daughter's. It's not like she'd ever been in fifth grade before. She has no preconceived notions or expectations of what the year should bring. In fact, as far as she's concerned, it's a very good thing she's getting a "new" teacher. For the first time ever, she feels, she can start out the year as some one other than a little sister.
And when I look at it that way, I am comforted that in this instance change can most certainly be good.
And who knows? If all goes well for one elementary school senior and her formerly cocky mom, change may even be great.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.