Thursday, May 27, 2010

Too Many Rants, So Little Time...

There are at least three random, non-connected thoughts ricocheting around my brain this week. If I had more time, more energy and someone who cooked, did laundry and ran errands, I'd be able to post more often and excise these rantings from my head.

So, for your reading enjoyment- if there is anyone out there in cyberspace reading this - three random rants which probably have no thematic connection other than to say that these things are really pissing me off these days...

Anchor Baby Blues

Arizona is at it again! Arizona, do I have to put you on a time out? Russell Pearce, the same state senator who came up with their ill-conceived immigration law which promotes racial profiling rather than seriously address the issue of illegal immigration, is now crafting a bill which would nullify citizenship to babies born in the United States whose parents are illegal immigrants. These babies are given the derogatory name, anchor babies, because once born here, regardless of the status of their parents, the babies are granted full rights of citizenship under the 14th amendment and help the families get a foothold on American society.

Pearce claims that giving citizenship to anyone born here is an enticement to illegals to continue to overrun our borders. And to a certain extent he is right. Historically, as a nation, people have been drawn to our shores by the promise of a better life, if not for them, then for their children. With the exception of slaves, who were brought here without choice, the waves of immigrants who came through Ellis Island - the Irish, the Italians, the Russians, the Chinese all migrated here because of the enticements offered. And those people, who did come through the systems legally, contributed to the cultural, economic and physical infrastructure of our country. But that contribution is no less the case with Mexicans coming over the border illegally. They contribute to our economy in ways big and small - by working in jobs that often American citizens don't want to take, or at a wage American citizens won't work for. They are exploited and demonized and have no recourse because of their illegal status. The children of illegals, the anchor babies, for the most part grow up proud of the country of their birth and go on to contribute to it in the military, as teachers, as artists and politicians, adding vibrancy to the cultural, intellectual and financial products of this country.

I am not a supporter of illegal immigration. I think that having open borders is dangerous. No country can survive unless it controls and monitors who enters its country, when and for what purpose. Not doing so is a risk to our economy and security interests. Economically, it creates a lucrative subculture which promotes crime and makes illegals vulnerable to exploitation. Open borders also present a security risk because there is no way to distinguish between the majority of people crossing the border who are in search of a better life, and those who have criminal or terrorist intentions. It also creates a health risk, with public health officials able to chart the rise in active TB in this country with the wave of illegal immigrants who through their own nation's poverty and poor access to health care arrive here infected and transmit that disease and others. But I think again, like with the immigration bill, the issue of illegals and their "anchor" babies should be addressed in a compassionate and intelligent way, not a punitive one. For example, there has been a bill discussed which would require that one parent be a legal citizen in order for a baby born in the U.S. to be granted full citizenship rights. That compromise would appease both sides.

This anchor baby thing bothers me so much because I get a little nervous when politicians start talking about nullifying citizenship and screwing with the constitution. Also, because all of these rumbling from Arizona feel more racially motivated than fueled by legitimate concerns to deal with a serious, far reaching issue. I don't see anyone rushing to clamp down that Canadian border.

A friend of mine once wrote a fantasy novel where a woman wakes up one morning and her constitutional rights have been revoked. She can't buy a car or a house without her husband or father, she can't have a bank account, she can't vote. (And let's be clear, we've only really had some of those rights for about 60 to 80 years anyway.)Her citizenship was nullified by the radical right and she has to go underground to work with a rebel group to try and regain control of the country and restore her rights. My friend couldn't sell her book because the publsihers kept telling her that it was too far fetched of an idea and that it could never happen. And now there's Arizona...slippery slope, slippery slope...

BTW, do you think I could try that anchor baby thing in Italy? I'd go there and give if they'd let me stay. I'd really like to try, particularly in Tuscany during harvest season.

Okay, for more on Pearce's scheme, check out this blog:

Rant 2 - Rand Paul

The senate candidate from Kentucky thought it would be a good idea to voice his opinions against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which (although it did many good things) most notable made it illegal to discriminate against people and turn them away from restaurants, housing, schools or jobs because of race. How stupid is he? If you actually do believe that the government should not have stepped in and outlawed discrimination, that's your choice. But I would hope you'd be bright enough to realize how controversial that is and know not to say it out loud, in politically mixed company or around an open mic. I'm not sure which bothers me more, that he is against the Civil Rights Act or that he's too dumb to know he shouldn't admit it in public. Clearly, stupid is the new smart.

Rant 3 - (Sung to the tune of "My Favorite Things") "Girls in white dresses with blue eyeliner make up..."

My nine year old came home yesterday to report that several girls in her class have started wearing eyeliner, shadow and lipstick on a regular basis. I don't know what to do with that. I'm so freaking tired of chanting to Nicole, "Different families do different things..." or get into semi-cordial arguments on the playground with other mothers who think it's cute and harmless for their prepubescent daughter to be wearing makeup and who make me feel like an uptight prig for objecting. And maybe I am, but I'm not yet ready to admit it. I talk it out with Nicole, explain why we don't think it's a good idea for her. I tell her she will have hopefully 70 to 80 more years to wear make up and that there is no need to rush into it. I also point out how at a certain age, all the things you were so anxious to do when you were young, you want to stop doing - like wearing make up, high heel shoes and pantyhose -although I still feel like I'm going to go to hell if I don't hear pantyhose to church.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I've Kept Them Alive So Far

Natalie got wedged between her bed and the sleeper sofa in her room this morning. At 7 years old, She probably could have wiggled herself free as I've seen her maneuver her way out of more entangled circumstances. But rather than do that, she allowed herself to remain "stuck" and at 6:15 in the morning started yelling at top volume to have someone come and remove her from between the furniture. I was in the bathtub and couldn't hear her. My older daughter, Nicole, was in the shower and couldn't hear her. David was in bed snoring and even the sound of shrieking elephants during mating season couldn't raise him. So she remained stuck. When I came out of the bathroom fifteen minutes later, David mumbled something about Natalie needing my help and then rolled back over to grab a few last minutes of sleep before his alarm went off. I went in Natalie's room and saw her stuck between the furniture, very calm, politely asking me to pull her out.

It reminded me of the time when Nicole was just starting the baby bucking phase, where they arch their backs and propel themselves forward. She'd never done it before and chose to do it for the first time while I had her in a car seat on top of the washing machine where I had placed her so that the rhythms of the washer would lull her to sleep. Didn't work. In fact, didn't work so badly that she was screaming and yelling at top volume and kicking frantically. So much for that damn baby book and its advice. I went to check her diaper to see if that was why she was crying. I unbuckled her from the car seat and at that moment she executed her new baby move - bucking. She arched up and had flipped out of the seat before I even knew what had happened. I was in shock really, amazed that she could even do that on her own and that she'd moved beyond the baby as immobile blob stage. With my baby airborne, there was only one place for her to land - the five inch gap between the washing machine and the dryer - and she was rapidly going there, head first. I reached out and grabbed for her, snagging a leg just before she entered the gap. She was crying, I was crying, but my tears were a mixture of thank God she's okay and DCF (department of children and families)would never have believed it was an accident if she'd ended up wedged between my appliances. As David always jokes when I worry about incompetent (embarrassing, scary) parenting moments, "They have extra long visiting hours in the jail on Mother's Day..."

When I was in elementary school, slightly more than waist high to my parents, at the perfect height for getting elbowed by them, I remember barely making it through the second grade without getting a concussion. I recall one particularly painful moment when grocery shopping and my mother accidentally dropped a six pack box of Sunmaid raisins on my head from the top shelf. The corner hit my forehead and I screamed so loudly that people three aisles over came to see what she had done to me. I was mad at her then. I feel for her now that I'm a parent myself. I'm not sure which is worse - how bad you feel about accidentally hurting your own kid, or how embarrassed you are when other parents see what you've done. Both suck, really.

The point of all this is, some woman was on a t.v. talk show yesterday ranting about helicopter parents who are too cautious when caring for their kids and smother them. She advocated taking your 8 year old to the park and dropping them off to play. She said that the real danger for kids was in parents who are overprotective. Overprotective? I can barely keep them alive in my own home let alone dropping them off at the park for someone else to inflict injury on them.

By the way, Natalie is fine. She even giggled when I got her out from between the furniture and said, "Now I know what it feels like to be meat in a sandwich."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hola, Arizona!

The governor of Arizona just signed a bill into law this week that bans ethnic studies courses in public schools. Arizona, are you just trying to piss people off? Yes, it’s an election year, we understand that, and many of your politicians are in the fight of your political lives to keep your jobs, but if the immigration bill - which was clearly an effort to attract right wing conservative voters rather than a serious effort to address a real problem devastating your communities - wasn’t bad enough, now you’ve gone and done this?

This new law is bad. Read more about it at But it’s not only bad, it’s stupid and mean-spirited and motivated by politics and personal vendettas by lawmakers who are old enough to know better. Apparently, this all started when Tom Horne, who is now running for attorney general, got upset when a Hispanic rights activist told some high schoolers in Tucson that Republicans hate Latinos. She was wrong to say that. It was an unfair comment and a gross generalization, but Tom, sticks and stones…just because you didn’t like her comment, doesn’t mean you have the right to go after a long standing program which teaches ethnic history and cultural studies. Students, all students, should be taught about a variety of cultures. Ethnic minorities in particular, whose histories and cultural legacies are often omitted in school curriculum and text books, desperately deserve courses which expose them to their own experience and allow them to learn about their culture and communities. However, this new law now forbids any school in Arizona from teaching ethnic studies courses which are deemed subversive because they:

Promote the overthrow of the United States government.
Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.
Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.
Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.

What’s going to be the penalty for teachers who continue to teach ethnic studies classes in Arizona? Will they be forced to eat tacos and do the Mexican hat dance until they vomit and drop? Come on, Arizona, really?

I’ve taken my fair share of ethnic studies classes from African American studies to Chicano studies to Native American studies. I can honestly say that I never once heard anyone suggest that we overthrow the government or that the white man was “bad”. What I did hear and learn in those courses was an exploration of the history and culture of those different ethnic groups within the context of the challenges and successes each group faced because of the environment, geography, cultural values, the economy and interactions within their own ethnic group and with those outside of their group.

If we start banning classes in public schools because we subjectively deem the content inappropriate or subversive, what’s next? Shall I get out my Bic lighter and start burning some books? My vote would be to torch Twilight first, not only because I don’t think it’s well written, but because I don’t like its portrayal of women. We can dig up the list of old books which have upset people over the years and start torching those, too. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Color Purple and The Diary of Anne Frank. Would you call these subversive books which promote the overthrow of the U.S. or put down white people? These books, along with classes that educate about a variety of ethnic cultures and viewpoints, should be allowed in our classrooms.

Arizona, you’re on a slippery slope and your footing wasn’t good to begin with – do we all remember that you were the last state to agree (begrudgingly) to honor Martin Luther King Day as national holiday? Now why was that so hard for you, Arizona? And even after it was signed into law in 1983 by Ronald Regan, Arizona senator John McCain, who voted against the bill, supported the state’s refusal to honor the holiday until he felt too much political heat and reversed his stance. Apparently, ethnic politics in Arizona has a long standing history of being on the wrong side of the culture wars and this is another one of those times.

Friday, May 7, 2010

28 Days

They are ending school a week early this year because of the budget crisis. Instead of getting out on June 24th at 12:30pm as they were supposed to do, LAUSD is shutting its doors a week early to save cash. It’s a sad situation and the cutbacks extend much farther than just shortening the school year, but that’s a rant…I mean blog for another time. The only upside is that there are now only 28 days left in the school year. I’m not sure who is more excited about that, me or my daughters.

It means only 28 more lunches to pack at the ungodly hour of 5:30a.m. when I can barely tell the difference between mayo and sour cream and yes, once I did spread the sour cream on the sandwiches and had to throw out two piece of bread before I realized what I was doing. It means only 28 more mornings that will start with the phrase, “But the other girls are wearing it,” only to be followed by tears and door slamming. It means only 28 more breakfasts where my oldest refuses to eat any protein unless threatened and my youngest devours several slices of bacon and asks for more while ignoring the pancake on her plate.

It means only 14 more days of driving carpool and racing out of the house to get to our neighbors’ house in time to grab their kids and make the mad dash to school. It means only 28 more days of fighting for limited parking on the streets around the school and cursing under my breath that they’ve done away with school buses for all but a select few. It means only 28 more days of rushing from drop off to work and hoping that the traffic gods are in my favor and that my coffee doesn’t spill out of my non-spill cup on the way – as it has many times before – and staining my work clothes which always feel like I’m playing dress up in anyway.

It means only 28 more days of picking up after school and listening to the reports of school yard drama that are always much more tame than advertised to be. It means only 28 more days of wrangling homework and music practice and making sure it all gets done before t.v. time and David getting home. It means only 28 days more until I can sleep in…at least for the summer. The countdown begins…Oh yeah, and I bet the kids are excited about it, too.