Thursday, August 19, 2010

First Days of School

First Grade (Dolly stayed home, but sparkly skirt definitely got to go.)


And blowing off steam afterward.


I've been ill, more or less, since we got back from vacation early this month. It's getting annoying. I've had an abdominal thing, an abysmal cold, and strep throat. Here's hoping for a nice, clear, healthy fall to come!

My wonderful husband is finally starting to fight a cold himself. Yesterday he said that while he's glad to pitch in more, he hopes I won't stay sick forever. That makes two of us! (And probably more.)

Day three of antibiotics is starting off well for me, so here's hoping the trend continues.

For Ellie, however, today was traumatic starting the moment I notified her that she was indeed expected to continue to attend first grade. Days 1 and 2 went well, but were apparently novelties and she didn't think she'd have to go yet again today. Alas.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ever Been Sprayed by a Fire Hose?

(Note: not all of these kids are mine.)

Well, they're clean puddles, right? Right?!

Next Friday should include pictures from the first day(s) of school. Wow.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Family Photo

Little One wouldn't smile at the camera for anything; this was the best take - of 10 - and it looks like I'm biting her head.


Several years ago, my dentist had a heart attack. He was still young at the time, and many people asked questions of his wife. Does he have a family history of heart disease? Does he eat a lot of red meat? Does he exercise? Is he under a lot of stress?

No, no, yes, and no. My dentist is an otherwise healthy, fit guy who eats well and jogs regularly. But people who hear what happened to him are looking for some reason the same thing can't happen to them.

Similarly, whenever anything goes wrong with a child, many people are quick to blame the parents. Reading the online reader responses to any St. Louis Post-Dispatch article about an accident involving a child is a harrowing experience and not for the tender-hearted.

Not only is any accident the cause of parental neglect, but most likely it was a result of intentional malfeasance.

Recently a four-year-old Illinois boy drowned at a park three blocks from his house, where he was playing with a few other children, one of them 12-years-old. The child's parents were charged with felony child endangerment for allowing the him "to leave home without adequate supervision." The couple's other children were removed from their home.

Now, I don't know anything more about this case or this family. Perhaps there was other clear evidence of neglect. But based on this story alone the parents have been called "nitwits" and "idiots" who should be "sterilized."

As it turns out I don't let my 3- and 6-year olds go to parks without me or another adult. Then again, I don't have a 12-year-old handy and I don't live in a particularly walkable neighborhood. As a 12-year-old myself I did a lot of babysitting for other people's children. And my daughter's first regular babysitter was twelve when she started sitting for 2-year-old Ellie. (She's now in high school and is still an amazing, resourceful, responsible girl.)

In a Facebook discussion about this situation - in which I suggested that 12 isn't a crazy young age for responsibility and 4 isn't infancy - a former classmate of mine said that parents who think that other kids are "adequate supervision" should be "fried." And even under controlled situations (e.g. at a child's home) having a 12-year-old babysitting is not good parenting.

A couple months earlier a friend of friends blogged about "competitive mothering" and I nodded along as she discussed how awful it feels when parents teach their kids to be afraid of every little thing (and every nearby male) in the name of safety. Then she responded to a post on my blog (via Facebook) a few days later, disagreeing with something I said and adding that if I am willing to risk my child's life by XYZ, well, that's my choice. As long as I'm willing to accept the consequences of my actions. We'll probably all survive anyway. But there's risk and for what it's worth her kids will never . . . etc. Competitive mothering!

(Incidentally, I wasn't proposing undertaking any dangerous activities with my children, just starting a conversation about the way FEAR is legislated onto us as PROTECT THE CHILDREN FIRST without always allowing common sense and science into the discussion.)

I get this. We so afraid of something terrible happening - dying of an early heart attack, harm befalling our children - that we convince ourselves that we're immune. The precautions we've taken will protect us. And our children.

But this peace of mind comes at a steep cost when we blame other victims for the tragedies and unfortunate accidents that befall them.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Poking My Head In

We're back from vacation and all is well. I've been conscripted to co-lead the pre-school cabin at Camp Kirkapresqua, an indoor, mornings-only ecology-themed vacation Bible camp. "RENEW. Grow in faith. Have fun. Change the world." I was initially reluctant but am now having a great time.

Anyway, I was trying to put a name on why I haven't been blogging much lately. "I have no time." True, but that's never stopped me before.

"I just don't have anything to say." Again, that's never stopped me before. (Creating an interesting story from or unique angle on the everyday is where it's at for me as a reader and what I aspire to as a writer.)

It's not that nothing is happening in my life, it's more that I'm not presently narrating it as I walk through each day. I'm just letting this phase of my life unfold as it will and I'm putting as little pressure on myself as possible. I'm trying to enjoy the moments rather than labeling and prioritizing and shaping them with my words and reactions.

That plus it's too durn hot to do anything ambitious.