Monday, September 26, 2011

Now This…

We’ve been warned social security will be gone by 2025. We’ve been threatened with the elimination of Saturday mail delivery. But now this...they’ve fired the librarians from the public elementary school libraries in Los Angeles. How can you have a public school with no librarian? Libraries are a fundamental need in our schools and communities and yet some collective of Einsteins at LAUSD thought that getting rid of the librarians/library aides, which would then require the schools to close the libraries if they were not adequately staffed, was a good money saving idea. Really? Why don’t we just eliminate the cafeterias too and stop feeding those kids? We have a childhood obesity problem in this country anyway, right? That would save some money for the school district, too.

It makes absolutely no sense that an educational system that is designed to enrich its students and support learning on every level would think that a library was not an essential tool in that learning process. So, now that our school has no library aide, the parents must sign up for shifts in order to keep the library open until another plan can be developed. In order to save the library, parents, grandparents, even the principal’s cousin, many of whom have neither the time nor energy to add yet another thing to their already chaotic lives, have volunteered to train and staff a public school library because the district won’t do it. At first, the district refused to even let us use the district wide system unless a union aide was present. They relented, and now the parent staffed library will be open for now. All I can say is, somewhere, Ben Franklin is rolling over in his grave.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mommy Justice

Leaving your kids unattended in a bookstore for almost seven hours while you “run errands” is probably not a good idea. You certainly won’t be get nominated for Parent of the Year. What you’ll get is a criminal record. That’s exactly what happened to Charlene Sutherland. She is an Alabama mother who decided that Barnes & Noble was a suitable place to leave her 11 and 6 year old unattended and now she’s facing jail time. Six years of it. And what’s going to happen to the kids now? Foster care? She was trying to look out for her children, but because she made poor choices or was desperate or both, her kids are now facing a worse situation than before.

While I don’t condone what she did, I get it. One of the biggest challenges of summertime is childcare. It’s hard to find ways to keep your children happy and supervised even if you have money and time…imagine if you don’t. She probably had no one or no place to leave her children that was relatively safe (probably while she went to work or was looking for work – I can’t imagine taking 7 hours to run errands). Rather than leaving them at home where they could get into all kinds of trouble, she thought that a public place where her book loving, well behaved (according to the store clerk) kids could be occupied was a better choice. She was wrong, but she saw no other options. If you don’t have money, friends, family or other resources to help you out, sometimes you do desperate things or make bad choices.

There are two things that bother me about this story – what is so tragic is that rather than sending her to jail and forcing her kids into the system – and we know how bad and dangerous the system is – there isn’t some way to intervene, teach and provide. Intervene in families where there are no childcare options before problems arise. Teach positive parenting and sound decision making by supporting and modeling good care on a national level. And most importantly, making available more childcare options for low and no income families that are safe and convenient so that they are not so desperate that they put their children at risk because it is the only alternative they have while they go out and try to earn a living (or run some errands!).

But the other thing that bothers me about this story is the mommy justice part. Here was a mother trying to figure out a way to keep her kids safe while she did what she needed to do. She did make a bad choice, put her kids at risk, and should be punished for it. But six years? Casey Anthony walks (gets a book deal and probably a reality show some time soon) and this woman gets six years in the slammer? Just doesn’t seem fair.

Read more about the story at

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What I Love About Back-To-School

I’ve been unable to post the last week or so because of summer. Summer is lovely, and I always have the fantasy that it will mean leisurely times catching up with friends and family, doing all the things we don’t have time for during the hectic part of the year. Oh, how silly I am…delusional even. The summer seems more jam packed than the rest of the year, with everyone trying to cram in all the travel, nights out, playdates, sporting events and concerts that we don’t have time to do the other nine months on the calendar. But now, the temperatures are dropping (sort of) and t.v. networks have started pushing the premieres of the fall shows – a true sign that summer is over!

On the first day back to school, I think I was more giddy than my kids – for their return to class, my newly regained freedom from having to hear them complain when they weren’t atcamptravelinggoingtoamusementparkshavingsleepoversandplaydates, “We’re bored, what should we do?” If I heard that refrain one more time last week, someone was going to have to call social services on me. Not really, but almost!

There are a number of things that I love about back-to-school time. I’ve listed them below in no particular order.

The kids are out of the house. Even if I’m not at home, neither are they.

I can hear myself think again.

I don’t have to constantly entertain anyone.

The funny back-to-school ads on t.v. Check out Target’s Denim ad or the Staples’ kid with a mime college ID.

The fact that my older daughter now has to wear a uniform – goodbye morning clothing fights!

Going back-to-school shopping with my other daughter who’s still young enough to take my advice when picking out clothes and still likes wearing pink and ribbons.

Seeing the parents of my children’s friends who I really enjoy talking to but never seem to be able to find the time to socialize with outside of school drop off, pick up and the occasional school social event.

The excitement of attending a new school.

The excitement of returning to an old one.

The bittersweet feeling that comes from watching your little kid go off to junior high school.

Not a soul to complain that they are bored and asking what they should do. Now I can say, “…homework, reading and piano practice.” When they asked me that during the summer, I started giving them a rag and some cleanser and telling them to go clean the bathroom shower. Maybe that’s why my kids are happy about going back-to-school as well.