Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Friendly Skies?

Is anyone else finding this all incredibly hard to believe? I'm referring to the new TSA airport security screening procedures.

So, from what I can gather, they have recently installed x-ray based "Backscatter" screening equipment in many airports around the country that will display an image of your naked body to someone somewhere (and give you a dose of radiation at the same time). If you refuse to be x-rayed at the airport, then they will subject you to a new pat down technique that many have likened to groping (although to be fair, a friend who flew in the last couple of weeks and was subjected to the new pat down said it was no big deal and nothing like being groped, but she's a mom of 3, not a 16 year old girl with body issues or a sexual assault victim).

I've been thinking that we were going about airport security all wrong ever since the airports reopened after 9/11. We seem to be looking for the thing the terrorist just tried instead of truly trying to prevent the next new thing. But this has now officially gone into the realm of truly crazy. Not only do these new "security measures" seem to be unconstitutional, they just don't make sense! Why are we spending so much money and time trying to make sure grandma doesn't bring more than her allotment of liquids onto the plane?

From this article written back in August of 2006, we have a 1 in 6,500 chance of dying in an auto accident and only a 1 in 400,000 chance of dying in an airplane accident on an annual basis. Even if terrorist were successful in taking down a plane every week, your chance of dying in such an event is only 1 in 135,000.

Then there is the issue of screening pilots. One of the major pilots unions has refused, but I gather TSA isn't very happy about that. But really, why would we be scanning the person flying the airplane for a box cutter or explosives? Wouldn't the pilot, if he or she were determined to take the plane down just take it down? Drug screening I can totally get behind but backscatter or pat downs, just doesn't make any sense.

I do believe that the only ones winning in this game are the terrorists! They do indeed have most of the country terrorized. It is all just so irrational!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sharing Myself

I got a facebook friend request from someone I don't know and have never heard of today. I know that isn't news. I don't usually accept these requests and I often message them back asking how I know them. Unlike most, they have a link to their fabulous blog on their profile page. And as blog reading often does, lead me to yet another blog where I read this:

"It seems we never know the ones we love completely. Even though we struggle to do so. In the end, perhaps the best we can do, is to love them completely without that knowing. For years I've tried to bridge the gap with my loved ones by writing in my blog about who I am. By being open and honest about how I think and feel. It did not work!

Though my own goal is to know myself completely and share that knowing with others, my loved ones do not feel the same. What a tragedy! But that is how things are. Even so, I cannot give up on them. I must keep trying.

This really resonated with me.

If you've been following my blog, you know that I haven't been writing much here. But I feel the need building up as I start to read other blogs again. It was my experience that the blogs I really like to read that get into feelings, values, and personal growth are written by women and that men tended to stick with technology and business and stuff like that. I say was because in the last week, I've run into the most profound blogs written by men. One is Single Dad Laughing (and if you haven't found it already, then I'm guessing you aren't on facebook, because his posts have been shared more than any blog I've ever seen) and the second is where I found the above quote.

Both blogs are values based, and both bloggers post daily. They are both honest about themselves with their readers. I would love to develop the courage to follow their lead. To write about what comes up with honesty (not that I don't already, but I usually choose not to write at all instead of sharing the less than wonderful).

As I move into a new phase of life, with kids growing up and not really wanting me to be as involved in their lives as I have been, I feel drawn to write more about developing my authenticity. To write more about the process and the reactions. We'll see if I truly can revive the ol' blog!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Is College Worth the Cost?

I just ran across this article, and it seems so much more timely for me now than it did when I saw it several years ago. You see, Bekka is now 18 and she isn't convinced that college is the place for her right now. I'm not convinced either.

She doesn't know what she wants to do - very few 18 year olds really do. For that matter, how many 30, 40, 50... year olds really do either? But is college really that great of a place to figure that out?

I spent 4 years in college, and, while I did come out with a reasonably lucrative career (accounting), it turned out that that wasn't what I wanted to do. I did do it for five years, but I'm pretty sure the cost of four years in college was definitely NOT worth it for my five-year career!

My dad had told us that as long as we graduated from college, he would be there to help us if we ever needed it financially. However, if we didn't graduate from college we were on our own. Besides, everyone I knew was going to college right after high school. It was what you did. You didn't really think about it, you just went. Only losers who worked at K-mart didn't go to school, right?

In general, the smart, ambitious kids went to college - but what if they didn't? What if they went out and traveled the world, started businesses, etc. as James Altucher is suggesting.

Bekka is certainly smart and ambitious - why shouldn't she travel the world, learn about people and more importantly, learn more about herself and how she fits into the world?

Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm THAT Mom

An impromptu blog carnival inspired by Flo.

Most traditional parents, when they hear about unschooling, they think that we are a bunch of neglectful, indulgent parents. Because the media doesn't try to portray the involvement and the connection of the parenting, people just don't get it. What others see as indulgent or neglectful, we see as supporting and trusting.

I'm that mom whose kids don't ask me if their friends can sleep over because it is their house just as much as it is mine, and while I usually ask THEM if it would be convenient for me to have friends over, I don't want them to feel like they need my permission to entertain their friends in their home, even while it is still also my home.

I'm that mom who won't go in my kids' room without their permission, and I'm that mom who has no expectation about the condition in which they keep their rooms.

I'm that mom who takes care of dirty dishes when I see them - who supports my daughter's cooking by trying to keep the kitchen clean enough so that she can easily cook again when she wants to.

Of course I'm that mom who trusts her kids to sleep when they need to and eat what and when they need to, and really, to do what they need to do when they need to do it.

I'm that mom who doesn't have expectations of my kids. Expectations that they need to strive to achieve or fail to meet.

But here's the deal, fellow unschoolers:
I'm also that mom who doesn't have a close relationship with my 18 year old daughter, and continues to hold the space for her to connect with me when SHE wants to. I maintain an open, joyful heart for her for when she wants to be closer. I know that she is doing what she needs to do just as she's always done and I completely trust her and her process. I'm that mom who respects her request to not ask her questions and stay out of her business, no matter how badly I want to be closer. I'm that mom who doesn't go to her dance competitions because she is more comfortable with just her dad there.

And I'm that mom who is trying her hardest to be completely supportive of my 14 year old daughter and her desire to be normal and go to school. The mom who is learning to be excited along with her as she is SO excited to start high school in a few weeks. I'm that mom who holds the space for her to come home any minute, that tells her that there is nothing she has to finish with regard to school, with regard to anything - she is in complete control of how much or how little she wants to partake of her experiences.

I'm that mom - the mom who signed my daughter up for NBTSC for the half she wanted to sign up for, then called and emailed to sign her up for the other half she wanted to add, then cancelled her registration when she no longer wanted to go, without worrying about the non-refundable $100 deposit, even though everyone else thought she should go, including her sister. I'm the mom who told her it was really okay for her to decide that back to school shopping and freshman orientation is more important to her than camp.

Yeah, I'm THAT mom.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Re-entry into the real world has been a little hurried!

In doing some blog attention (yeah - it's been a while!), I found this post in my drafts that I had started way back in Sept. of '08. Since I really "got nothin" new for anyone, and I enjoyed rereading this account of getting thrown back into the real world after an unschooling conference, I thought I'd go ahead and post it. I'm sure I originally was going to add more (hence the draft status), but more than a year and a half later, I have no idea what it might have been.

The magic of the L&L conference is very strong and hard to describe. The best I can do is mention the energy that propels us back into the real world.

This time, the real world met us quickly in the Atlanta airport. I've never felt that I'm great with other peoples' kids. I love hanging out with and talking with my own kids, but I've always felt uncomfortable with other kids. So it was quite surprising when, while waiting for our plane to Seattle that I would strike up a conversation with the kids sitting near us. After being at L&L for a week, I was just used to talking with anyone and the people nearest me at the airport were kids. So imagine this scene: A 12 year old boy sitting across from me - I ask him if he's going to Seattle or is that just a stop on his way to elsewhere. He starts to answer me, then seems to remember that he's not supposed to talk to strangers. It took me a minute to remember that people actually tell their kids not to talk to strangers!! I smile knowingly at him and ask his mom the same question.

He was the oldest of four kids with a mom who really didn't seem to like any of them very much or think very much of them. The boy had an electronic game to play, and the mom brought coloring book pages and a package of 24 crayons for the four of them that she doled out one at a time for a 4 year old, an 8 year old, an 11 year old and the 12 year old. The crayon box was one of those super cool ones with the sharpener and when the 4 year old started to sharpen one of her new crayons, the mom sharply said, "Don't do that, you're ruining it!" I couldn't help myself and had to ask, "Isn't that what it's for?" Hello! What a stupid thing to ruin your relationship with your kid over - sharpening a crayon with a crayon sharpener!

The 11 year old borrowed Steffi's DS and while she was playing it, the 8 year old started saying that she wanted to play a game. So I asked her if she liked to play tic-tac-toe. No? Okay, well, I have a puzzle book - "Have you ever done a Word Search?" (I know, I know, it's not the most exciting game in the world, but I wasn't exactly prepared to entertain an 8 year old!!) When she said she hadn't, I pulled one out and started to show her how it works. The mom says, "Oh that's way too hard for her, she'll never be able to do that." Totally ignoring the mom, I continue to show her bright daughter how to search for words on a grid. I could tell she was thinking it wasn't the most exciting game in the world, so we moved on to rock, paper, scissors. Now, I don't play rock, paper, scissors like most people do. To make it more fun, you have to get up and do this crazy thing with your feet and try to maintain your balance. She loved it and so did her little sister. We had a good time until they had to check on their seats.

What was really hard, sad, strange, was that these four kids were traveling with their mom and two (youngish) grandparents, and all three adults were totally ignoring these lovely kids except to point out something they were (supposedly) doing wrong! It was just such an abrupt change from being surrounded by wonderful, supported, loved children and their supportive, loving parents and grandparents to be thrown into the ugliness of the real world and traditional parenting.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Applause for Hiring the Best Qualified Person!

I wasn't paying attention, I often don't. But while spending some time surfing Facebook I saw that Amanda Simpson has become the first transgendered person to be appointed to a high-level position by Obama. Of course, the right wing contingent is all upset about this, saying really stupid things.

What really blows my mind is this, "Matt Barber, associate dean at Jerry Fallwell's Liberty University, said the appointment "boggles the mind" and said that while African-Americans might deserve special treatment, transgender people don't." I just don't get how hiring this incredibly qualified woman is "special treatment"!

But I'm really excited that the Obama administration has been able to overlook all the crap and just hire the person who is most qualified for the job. They haven't been as speedy as most of us would like on gay rights, but at least they aren't pandering to the right by disqualifying deserving candidates.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Steffi’s Anthropology Project – SCHOOL!

Steffi’s been curious about school for a while now. Last spring she was talking about starting school – that would be eighth grade – in September. “But what about Not Back to School Camp?” I’d ask. “Do you want to miss the two-week Girl Scout trip the second half of September?” “You are planning on being gone all of November, I think they frown on that.” She just didn’t have TIME for school!

In October she went on the Beach Retreat with her church group and the kids there told her how great school was and how much they thought she would like it. Of course, they haven’t ever questioned bigger people telling them what to do all the time - Steffi HATES having anyone else tell her what to do. This seemed to me like a real problem that I wasn’t sure she would deal well with!

The Monday after Thanksgiving she and I stopped by the school, thinking she would try it out in January. The school registrar walked us around the school, pointing out everything relevant to eighth grade. While on tour, she mentioned that they had just started a new term. Hmm, I just figured that they would be starting a new term in January like the Washington schools did back in the day.

Since they had just started, it seemed reasonable for her to try it out as soon as she could rather than waiting until after Christmas with the added bonus that she would have a nice break right away. We spent the rest of the day doing about three years worth of math, then the rest of the week was pretty busy, so we didn’t get back to it until Sunday, the day before she was going to start. I think we ended up getting through about 5/6th grade math. It was so fun for me – to finally understand it. Steffi’s cousins were over on that Sunday and we all sat around working on math – lots of “ah-ha’s” around!

The other thing I did to get her ready to go to school was to talk to her about the possibility of bullies and kids who just aren’t as nice as she is used to. Her response, “Mom, I can be a total bitch if I have to – I’m actually really good at it!” Said with all seriousness. I couldn’t help but laugh!

Oh, and of course supply shopping – that was interesting. It was kind of hard to find everything she was supposed to have in December – the stores just don’t stock it all all year long.

So Steffi went to school two Mondays before Christmas break. After the second day, while working on math homework she said, “this class is really making me lose my love of math.” :-( But she also said that everyone was really nice, teachers, staff, kids. In fact, she said that the kids were just like the kids at camp (Not Back to School Camp), hugging each other and really supportive.

By Thursday, she was wanting a change and said that she would like to go through Monday just to see what coming back from the weekend was like. On Friday she decided to go to Homeschool Central, our homeschool group that meets next door to the school at the Boys & Girls Club, so I walked over to pick her up and signed her out early. As we were talking she asked if she could keep going, but leave after lunch. We stopped in at the registrar’s office and the registrar was just so accommodating. Steffi had an art class second period that she didn’t like (the teacher is the owner at New Morning Bakery, so I’m not too surprised!) and a math class in the afternoon that was too hard, so we were able to move math to second period and she leaves after lunch, just as she wanted! Her schedule is now PE, Algebra, Humanities (two periods), and lunch.

The classes aren’t even close to being as kill and drill as I suspected they would be. In the curriculum guide for the school they talk about incorporating as much hands-on stuff as possible and they do seem to be doing just that. It is definitely NOT real-life, but it sounds like it is a pretty positive environment for what it is.

Steffi is really enjoying it, although she has already decided that she won’t continue after the summer break. Good thing too, I wouldn’t want her to miss NBTSC or anything!

During this whole process, and totally unrelated to the process, I was reading John Taylor Gatto’s “Weapons of Mass Instruction” – great book, but oh so ironic considering Steffi’s current choice of attending school.