Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Culturally Insensitive Rant RE: Pants

Okay, I feel compelled to warn you that if you have no sense of humor, read no further.  If you forgot your common sense or left it at home, stop reading now.  This blog post will in no way be politically correct, nor will it be "culturally sensitive."  Not that I care!  My high horse is in the corral and I have dusted off my soap box.  Here we go...

As part of the getting ready to homeschool process, I have been reading a number of blogs and posts regarding the subject.  I have picked up some great advice here and there too.  But last night, I came across a phenomena that I knew just had to be a joke.  Unfortunately, it is not.  Apparently there is a movement of some sort out there in cyberspace encouraging American women in the year 2011 to switch to wearing skirts exclusively.  Are you kidding me??? No Pants????  PLEASE (with great sarcasm) !!!!!

First of all, let me state that if a woman wants to wear skirts, so be it.  I couldn't care less.  It is a personal choice (in my opinion) and in a free country, let her wear what she pleases.  I personally loathe skirts.  Always have, always will.  Wore them to Catholic school because I had to do so, but hated them.  Wore suits (with skirts, exclusively) when I was in court with heels and hose as a practicing attorney. Hated the skirts, hated the heels and especially hated the hose.  I am not a skirt kind of women.  I can think of 3 dresses that I have truly liked: 1) Raggedy Ann dress with apron and doll on front with a little zipper on the doll which when opened said "I love You."  I believe I was 3 or 4.  My mother should be smiling at that one.  2) Red Sheath linen dress that was strapless with a bolero jacket which I wore to my rehearsal dinner.   It was so cute that I didn't mind that it was a dress.  3) My wedding dress.  The material was so soft that I told my mom that it was like wearing sweatpants.  It was the highest compliment for comfort that I could utter.  It was really pretty too.  Needless to say, I virtually never wear a skirt-- not even to church.  I will pull them out for special occasions only:  Weddings, Baptisms, First Communions and funerals.  I will begrudgingly put them on with the dreaded heels.  I try to dodge the "hose bullet" if I can. Yuk!

Clearly I am not going to be "converted" to the "All skirt, All the Time" movement.  As if I should be!  I read with fascination as people discussed why they would or wouldn't wear skirts full time and what their husbands think about this topic.  [Thread on Covering & Skirts]  My husband would never dream of telling me what to wear (at least not and live to tell the tale).  If he was looking for a meek, submissive wife then "he choose poorly" (to quote the old knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).  He definitely choose of his own free will, a much more loud, in your face kind of wife.  We are not the Costanza's from Seinfeld, nor or we Ward and June Cleaver.  We have been married (continuously and to the same person) for over 15 years.  However, you will not see us gracing the cover of "Marital Bliss and Harmony" magazine as the year's poster couple. Guess that might make us pretty "normal," if there is such a thing.

But what really caused me to pull out my soap box was a July article from a Catholic website that got quoted in the above-mentioned thread. [Anti Pants Link] I looked, I read, I seethed. Fourteen reasons why we frail and humble creatures should not wear pants ever again.  We certainly wouldn't want to tempt men into sin and lust.  GIVE ME A BREAK!  It almost makes me want to convert to anything else.  I might have to go buy a crystal so I can hug some trees and get away from the anti-pants nuts. (Told you I was going to be culturally insensitive.)

If only every woman would return to a skirt, all of the woes of the world would be resolved--no hunger, no diseases, no war, no child abuse, no drug abuse, no alcoholism.  If only we rid the world of the pestilence of pant wearing women, the world would be in perfect harmony.  Human rights around the globe would be respected and cats and dogs would live together in a peaceful coexistence.  NOT!!!!

# 4 on the list is: "Sadly, and we understand you may not be aware of this, but almost every style of pants reveals private information about your figure (by way of contour) what only your husband (and if not him, no man, including your sons, if you have sons) should perceive."

So I believe this image should satisfy the writer of the blog.  We wouldn't want to convey any private information.  I genuinely think that burqas would be the logical "next step" if the anti-pants movement were to become the norm. But wait, aren't there numerous international organizations fighting right now for women's basic human rights?  Aren't burqas pervasively found in those societies which offer women the fewest human rights under the guise of protecting them from the harmful lust of men?

Gentlemen, (and I use that term oh so loosely) if your lust is so out of control, the problem is NOT with the woman you are ogling and what she is wearing. It is your own pathetic lack of self-control.  You are not a toddler, we don't have to lock up all the cabinets (or women) to keep you safe from yourself.  It is time to find some personal responsibility and deal with your own problems and issues.  Keep your condescending platitudes to yourself and go practice some deep breathing techniques! Sorry to say that in this country, the "No Pants Brigade" won't be allowed to stone me for disagreeing.

I am putting my soap box away now.  Phew!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Success, Lies & Statistics

I am busy trying to get all organized for the homeschool process-- gathering curricula and resources, thinking about how we will cover certain subjects and record keeping.  I began to think that it might be a good idea to keep some sort of a log of successful days.  That would be nice.  It would allow me  to look back and see actual progress when we hit the inevitable snags and plateaus during our homeschooling.  [INSERT "harumph" and snort here.]

How would I even begin to define a "successful day?"  Being a lawyer, I am quite familiar with the concept of "defining one's terms."  Lawyers and politicians alike are experts at splitting hairs while defining a topic so that they can bring about the desired result rather than any actual truth or fact.  I am sure that everyone is familiar with the old quote, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."  I guess I will need to be very careful about my tracking of "success."

To define my term: "Success will occur during those golden moments when my child's eyes light up, he or she turns to me and says, "I get it now Mommy.  I get it!  I love you!  I am so glad you are homeschooling me. (Hug ensues.) May I go clean my room now?"  If I am dreaming, why not dream big?  The scene of a "successful day" will also encompass a clean house, a gourmet meal ready for dinner, I am thin and in shape (with no wrinkles nor gray hair) and the dog does not shed.  And oh yeah... we just won the lottery too!

Hmm, perhaps I should come up with a few alternative definitions of "success" which are a might more realistic...  "Worked on schoolwork for 4 1/2 hours today."  The lawyer in me can already see the problem with that definition.  It does not take into account whether or not any actual learning took place.  "Did not yell, scream, cry or roll eyes while homeschooling today." Problems with that definition should be pretty self-explanatory.  How about just looking at the kids' point of view?  "The kids did not yell, scream, cry or roll eyes at me while homeschooling today." Ditto again on the problem with that definition.  "Kids completed all assigned work."  That looks promising.  Wonder if complete drudgery and misery could still count as a successful day?  Maybe that one is not so good either.

Let's just hope that in reality, I don't define "success" as: "No one dead, maimed or bleeding."  You know, now that I think about it... I really am going to be so busy homeschooling with the kids, maybe I don't really need to add the extra task of keeping track of our "successful days."  Yes, I am quite certain I will be too busy to chart out our successes.  That's it!  That's the ticket!  "Denial," it's not just a river in Egypt.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Final Countdown

We are in the final countdown until the end of the school year.  Each day drags us kicking and screaming (quite literally) a little closer to the end of formal schooling and to the beginning of homeschooling.  I am starting to empathize with Sisyphus a bit more.

Each morning my husband and I cajole, beg, plead and physically drag our daughter out of bed.  "I don't want to go to school!!!!  Can't we start homeschooling now?  Why can't we just quit school?"  Our loving and sympathetic response, you ask?  "Get out of bed!  You are GOING!  Get dressed!"  Normally the final push to the end of the school year is not a pretty process for anyone, but it is especially ugly for us this year.

After school, homework which is always a pleasant process (NOT!)  has gotten especially disagreeable.  Our son, who never cheerfully does his homework is especially vocal about "Stupid Homework!"  "Stupid school!"  "Why do we have to do stupid homework for stupid school?"  Obviously "stupid" (which is a "no-no" word that he is not allowed to say) is the most reprehensible word he can come up with in his seven year old vocabulary.

If I had a nickel for each "AHHHH" or "GRRRR" being uttered by these two children during these last few weeks, their college funds would be completely funded for Harvard (forget about actually getting in, but at least we could pay for it).

I on the other hand am panicking about just how few days are left.  I need them to stay in school for several more weeks.  I need more time!!!  I have curricula to select.  I have resources to find.  How am I going to create worksheets for the kids?  (Phew, found a few free worksheet makers online last night.)  How am I going to teach literature?  What about poetry for the kids? I have to teach them to enjoy all types of literature?  Where am I going to find great poetry that is not mind-numbingly boring and drool inducing (like I had to read in school) when I am not an English teacher? We can't just read Shel Silverstein forever.  (Phew, found several cool poetry authors for children online this morning after a couple of hours).

I NEED MORE TIME!!!  I AM NOT READY FOR THEM TO BE OUT OF SCHOOL.  I am panicking at the thought of opening the doors of our homeschool at noon on June 3rd when the kids are officially out of school. For every resource I find, I think of two more that would be great to have.  For every book or subject I think I have covered, a new fear crops up.  How will I teach my son who loathes the very thought of picking up a pencil to be a good writer?  Well-meaning moms at the kids' school are asking if I am ready.  They tell me I am so brave, they could never homeschool.  I must be so patient.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME???  PATIENT???  Patience is a virtue I simply don't have.

However, deep down there is a little voice that is growing louder.  I am ready. I can do this.  I have found great resources.  I will be able to tackle challenges as they arise.  The skeletal outline of what I would need that I made early in our decision process has been filled in and fleshed out.   I know where to look for new ideas and resources.

I have one of the most important things I will need:  I only want what is best for these children and am willing to do whatever it takes to make sure they succeed.  I love these children like no one else.  I am way too stubborn to not find a way for this to work.

I guess unlike Sisyphus, even though I am rolling the boulder up the hill, once summer arrives, the boulder will roll down the far side of the hill.  We will hold on tight.  It is going to be a bumpy ride! Hopefully it will be like a roller coaster.  I have always loved roller coasters.  This ride will make us scream for sure, but with any luck, we will never want to get off.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hot Dogs During Lent or Second Guessing as an Art Form

Quite a bizarre title, huh?  What in the world could eating hot dogs have to due with an education/homeschooling blog?  Funny you should wonder... take a journey into the scary world of my guilt ridden conscience.

I started thinking about the old joke about eating a hot dog at a ballgame on a Friday during Lent.  My friends and I always enjoyed joking about the number of sins you could tally up on this event.  Here is the scenario:  You purchase a hot dog at a ballgame on a Friday during Lent.  As you are about to take the first bite... you remember that no meat is allowed on Fridays during Lent. Thus the sin tally total begins... To even think about eating a hot dog on a Friday during Lent was one.  You forgot it was Lent, ignoring God, Jesus's suffering etc. was a staggering number of sins that became difficult to count. If you throw away the hot dog, you are wasting food while there are starving people in the world... SIN.  If you figure that you have already amassed so many sins, you might as well just eat it, SIN.  If you eat it anyhow, SIN.  Who knew that you would be burning in hell for all eaternity (little pun for you) just from one hot dog?

So where does the hot dog melodrama fit in to my life?  I am racked with the same guilt over homeschooling.  Each day that passes brings the school year closer to an end, thereby producing more panic.  Just as Lent is the countdown until Easter.  The school year countdown brings me closer to the ultimate responsibility for my children's education.  YIKES!!!

I have amassed quite a collection of educational materials, blogs to read, websites to peruse etc. to try and become prepared for the homeschooling adventure.  There is such a abundance of information out there that one could literally spend every moment of every day and never finish it all.  So I have stopped the frantic approach of spending all my time reading about homeschooling.  Ahh, so nice when I attempt to be rational.  Except for... the GUILT!  What if I am not ready?  What if I miss a key piece of information that will make everything run smoothly?  If I had only read the mysterious, miraculous Article "X," I would have all the tools to ensure that I will have the abundance of patience I will need to homeschool my children.  [For those of you who know me well, please go find a tissue to wipe the tears of laughter that are now pouring down your cheeks.  Me?  Patient???  I know, it really is funny.]

When the Borders by us was going out of business, we hit the final day perfectly.  All books were 90% off and if you bought 4, you got 2 free.  Doesn't get any better than that!  Yes, they were all picked over and there wasn't much left.  But at $0.80 a book or so, who cares what drivel you bought?  I did buy a lot of drivel--historical fiction, cheesy romance and other drek.  I have been enjoying reading my drivel.

Gasp!  I have been reading drivel instead of educational stuff.  I have been hiding like an ostrich burying its head in the sand to avoid the reality of the ever-looming homeschooling.  Do I feel guilty?  Is the Pope Catholic?  You bet I do!  Frantic, panic-ridden, heart-pounding terror, etc. would also be apt descriptions.

I am taking second guessing to an art form.  Is this the right decision?  Am I prepared?  How will it work?  What if they don't learn?  What if I can't teach them?  Who am I kidding, I can't do this?  Yes I can!  No I can't!  I believe you see the pattern.

Breathe.  Inhale.  Exhale.  (Now please envision Kevin Bacon screaming during the parade scene during the movie Animal House.)  "Remain Calm.  All is well.  ALL IS WELLLLLLL!!!!"

To get back to the hot dog analogy, if the whole point of Easter is the redemption of the world.  I guess I should try to remember that He will pick me up during my inevitable falls.  The trick will be to remember that during the key moments.  I will need to remember His promise of forgiveness and I will need to remember most especially, to ask the forgiveness of my children for when I loose it completely.  'Cause I know it is going to happen...