Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why are you telling us this now?

So, this morning, from out of no where, the lead teacher in my daughter's summer childcare program, who was also her kindergarten teacher told me "I'm just not sure that K is ready for first grade." Now this comes a week before K starts school in a 1st grade class at a local magnet school. So, WTF, Teacher? Really? You tell me now? Why not back in May? I knew Teacher had some concerns about K back in January. But K worked really hard and made a lot of progress. And the end of year progress report said "K will need some extra help, but she is ready for 1st grade." So what happened to change Teacher's mind? Was she lying to us back in May? Just telling us what we wanted to hear? And, now, exactly what am I supposed to do with this information?

What we are going to do with this information is to take it with a grain of salt and proceed as planned, albeit, with more trepidation than we had a few days ago. We selected the magnet program because is it smaller than our "home" school. The curriculum is the standard 1st grade curriculum, but the whole school is "arts" based which means creativity is valued. Creativity is something that K has more than enough of. Plus she is smart, has an excellent memory and a huge vocabulary. She is smart and she works hard when she wants too. And we are in an excellent school district. I know they have a "reading help" program in place for kids who struggle in that area (for some reason K is a reluctant reader). And, frankly, I suspect that K will do better in a more structured setting than the one provided by her current program. I know their current teachers let them get away with some types of behavior that we would never let them get away with at home. A responds to disappointments with way more emotion than is appropriate and throws a temper tantrum whenever she is unhappy. She had to learn that was an ok way to deal with disappointment somewhere. K often she decides she is “too tired” when she is asked to do something she doesn’t want to do (e.g. clean up her toys). Where did that coping mechanism come from? Some kids do well in a more relaxed "child-led" environment, but I think my girls need a teacher who is more on the strict side. Someone who will not let them get away with things. Someone who won’t allow them to move away from the group because they don’t want to do something. I was that way, so I wouldn't be surprised if my girls are too.

So anyway. With some reservation, we will jump into the volcano and hope that it spits us back out. If it doesn't, I guess we can have her repeat 1st grade next year, right?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

In case you were wondering....

If your child comes to you in a panic because she has her hand stuck in the chimney of her Playmobil™ Take Along Dollhouse…....

1. Don’t panic.
2. Don’t laugh (you can do that later behind her back).
3. Don’t launch into a speech about how this is a lesson about sticking her hand in things (at least not yet. You can do that later once her hand is free).
4. Quietly tell your child to stop trying to pull her hand out. You don’t want to damage her hand.
5. Don’t panic.
6. Tell your child not to panic.
7. Take all the dollhouse furniture and put it in a safe place. Make sure all the microscopic plates, bowls, and mugs are someplace where they can’t get lost or accidently thrown away.
8. Separate two halves of the dollhouse. The hinge comes undone fairly easily. Better yet, it is easy to snap it back together once her hand is free.
9. Disconnect the fireplace from the bottom floor and wall.
10. Remove the top floor on the side with the chimney. Lift it up (toward the roof) until it snaps apart. Gently slide the floor piece down around the fireplace being careful not to twist your child’s arm.
11. Now take a bowl of cold, soapy water and poor some of it into the fireplace. You want to:
a. Reduce the swelling in her hand that is caused by repeated attempts to pull the hand out and from the hand being compressed inside the chimney.
b. Make her hand slippery so she can successfully pull it out.
12. Cheer and give her a hug.
13. Thoroughly dry the dollhouse out with paper towels.
14. Reassemble the fireplace, second story floor, and two halves of the dollhouse.
15. Give object lesson about putting her hand (or other body parts) in tight/small places.
16. While you're at it, remind her not to put beads or other small items in her nose.
17. Finish cooking dinner.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

If I seem a little sad...

If I seem a little sad today, it’s because I am. My brother called me this morning bright and early to tell me that my dad died. He collapsed because of a heart attack and never got up again. So I am sad because I don’t have a dad any more.

I’m also sad because I actually haven’t had a dad for quite a long time. When I was 14 he moved away to take a job. My mom and brother and I joined him in Alabama once our school year was over, but I never really got my dad back. I lived with him, but he wasn’t around very much because he was busy working and going to school and other stuff. The I finished high school and went away to college. I was mostly home on the weekends, but….

Then I got married. My parents moved away again. I saw him on Christmas, but…. Then my mom called me several years ago to tell me that Dad was having an affair and their marriage was over. He moved even farther away. I talked to him on the phone every once and a while. But he was busy with his new wife and her kids and I was busy with my life. We just didn’t have much in common. Plus, I was very angry with him for leaving and breaking up my family.

The last time I saw him, was right after my daughters were born. I was recovering from major surgery and major, life threatening, pregnancy complications and my girls were in the NICU. He came to visit. Things were ok. Then just before he left, he decided to have a “talk” with me about the way I treated his wife. Apparently, I wasn’t making enough effort and I wasn’t friendly enough. I think I promised to make more effort. But then Hurricane Katrina hit and we had one preemie in the hospital, one preemie at home, and no electricity. Then preemie #2 came home on oxygen, and we were trying to deal with all of her medical issues. And Hurricane Rita hit. Then he wanted to come and visit again, this time with the wife that I wasn’t making enough effort to get along with. And I said no. And he was mad at me and I was still mad at him. We talked on the phone a few times after that. But then the phone call stopped. There were a few cards exchanged. And he forwarded my a few of those emails that always get forwarded, but I never replied and we never talked again. And now he is gone. And I don’t have a dad any more. And that is why I seem a bit sad today.

Monday, January 3, 2011

How to Write a Lot

Ok, it comes down to this. To be anything like successful with my career. I need to get papers out. And in order to get papers out, I need to write them. I need to put words on the page that people can read. Ok, that seems easy enough. Except that it isn’t. Getting words down has been a real struggle lately. Heck, just communicating has been a struggle lately. I haven’t been talking to people or witting to people, or blogging, or commenting on facebook or on other’s blogs. I start too. But mostly I don’t think what I have to offer is good enough. I hit delete more often than I hit “post” or “send.” I’m not sure what the deal is.

Ok, maybe I do. Part of it is that I am really out of practice when it comes to writing and communicating in general. I’m pretty isolated at work. My office mate is very quiet and I don’t have much in common with him. The lab is often empty, so unless I start talking to my flies (and sometimes I do), there isn’t much opportunity for conversation there either. Most of my conversation at home is with 5 year olds who are articulate for their age, but….

The other problem is low self esteem and a lot of doubt that what I have to offer is valuable. Recent experiences with collaborators, who ignore my suggestions, and journal editors, who ask me to peer-review articles and then ignore my comments, haven’t really helped the situation. I know intellectually that I shouldn’t take it personally, but….

So how do I get past all this a churn out a paper, or five, so that I continue to be employed. Unfortunately, all I really can do is just sit down and write. In fact that’s what the experts suggest. Paul J Silvia, in his book, How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing, says THE KEY to, writing a lot is to write a lot. Just do it. Schedule time to write every day. And don’t let yourself out of it. You wouldn’t skip a meeting with a co-worker, so don’t skip a meeting with your computer. His advice makes a lot of sense. The more I write, the better I will be at it (practice makes perfect and all that. Plus the more writing I produce the odds that I will like what I write will increase. So that is what I am going to do. Write every day. For 30 minutes every day (or more if the muse is with me). Writing may take the form of blog posts, research manuscripts, grant proposals, or random blathering written for my own benefit.