parental supervision advised

Recent events in the education of my favorite son have proven to be pretty exciting these days. Last month, after months and months of planning, preparation, education and communication our school district went live going digital with over 23,000 Panasonic 3E tablets issued to all the students in the district to be utilized in the classroom and for students in grades 4-8 to take home with parental permission and high school, well, I don’t know because I have no student in high school. But based on what I’m seeing in social media world, high school students are taking their devices home.

Going digital is every where. It’s now and it’s real and it is in pretty much every workplace setting…whether we like it or not. It only makes sense that we equip and educate our children…all of our children. Of course pretty much every child out there is tech savvy already with a strong selfie game by the time they are two. But for those who do not have access at home, here is an opportunity and it is exciting. At least I think so.

For months and months before the big day, our school district was informing us what was coming. Regular discussions and presentations were at school board meetings. Information was being sent home, updated on school web sites and the school district web site. The local paper published articles regularly as well. Teachers were discussing at back to school nights and individual teacher conferences what was to come. There were parent meetings with members of school board, faculty and Panasonic offered all over the district where parents could have the opportunity to ask more questions, actually see the devices and even play with them late last year. Up until the big Go Live day schools regularly sent home updates via flyers, monthly newsletters, emails and robo-calls. Our kids had assemblies talking about the Big Day and, at least under our Big Top, we heard about it from our very excited student. Technology was coming to our schools. A parent had to be literally living under a rock not to know what was coming. We knew under The Big Top since before last year at this time that this was coming…and we could not wait.

Then the day came just last month and Ta-Da!!!

We opted to give Daniel permission to bring his home on weekends and the day that he received his device because we wanted to see it too! As Daniel started it up, he carefully explained to us the dos and the don’ts of caring for and operating his tablet/laptop. He basically recited nearly verbatim the clear handout (with pictures) in English and Spanish that was sent home to the parents. We praised the boy on his care for his device to which he shrugged reminding us that we told him he has to take good care of his technology always.

Don’t you just love it when your kids actually listen to you and do what you say?

Me too.

Also, he added, Mrs. B. spent a great deal of time prepping his class with the basics of their tablets/laptops. Thank goodness because Mom and Dad appreciate his prompting as we get ourselves acquainted with it too.

So six weeks later, the local paper wonders how the students are doing with their devices and discovers that cracked screens from students stepping on the devices…as they are getting out of bed is the biggest reported problem. No actual numbers are reported, but the district assures that it is small number comparatively.

Of course the comments immediately flood the paper’s social media sites because people are clearly upset about this…this is a big deal. Comments pour in all mostly pointing fingers at schools, the school district and teachers because clearly THEY are not being responsible. One parent loudly, shrilly complains that the schools had not adequately prepped parents and students for this. Schools are not teaching her children safety and and responsibility. Technology is important but some parents don’t want their kids to use it or access it….she expresses these comments via Facebook using her iPhone. And the “amen corner” chimes in.

But here is a novel idea…How about parents take responsibility to teach their children to take care of all the technology devices they use and what websites their children access?…Yes, I asked that.

Why does this remind me so much of sex education with our kids and parents of my kids’ friends suddenly realizing that when their kids are 12 that OMG, the school is going to talk to them about their changing bodies and maybe sex and they are just kids and OMG!!! They are going to talk to them about that!!! We haven’t even had THE TALK because they’re just babies and OMG!!!

It’s simple to suggest that parents need to take responsibility here. It is too simple. Parents, who clearly are tech-savvy enough to shrilly comment all over social media of the evils of tech in their child’s school and tech being forced upon their child via their iPhone should be able to pass on some of that to their kids. Given the fact that most toddlers I know seem pretty adept navigating mommy’s smart phone or their own tablet to play games or watch Frozen for the jabillionth time, I would imagine the small group of #MUSDgoingdigitalconcerns parents have kids who are savvy enough…the leader of their group has a high school aged child who I imagine is quite busy on twitter, tumblr and kik. Shame on her for not passing on info to her mom who claims having no knowledge until December 2014…and since mom chose to judge my parenting when we engaged in a thoughtful debate on this subject…shame on mom for not being on top of her child’s school activities as well as perhaps her child’s online activity.

As another parent expressed: I am a bit concerned as to why the children/ kids/teens are allowed to “go to bed” with their tablets. It is a learning device, a digital book if you will…. parents should be supervising the usage of these things, the tablet should be put in a backpack or put away on the table or something, these items should not be being broken and used as a baby sitting device.

Disagree all you want, but truth of the matter is the parents need to step up and be responsible for their kids actions.

I’m sorry #MUSDgoingdigitalconcerns mom but all of your apples and oranges and slippery slope arguments fall flat. We were prepped. We were given ample time and the forums to express questions and concerns. Our kids have been educated in class on the care of their devices and safety. We have been repeatedly also informed of basic device care and safety for our children while using their devices. Ultimately we as parents must choose to continue to support, encourage and educate ourselves and our children of the care of their devices and safety…as responsible parents do. Like sex education, or morality, or basic respect for people, animals, places and things, ultimately this is the job of the parent, including you, #MUSDgoingdigitalconcerns mom, to be present, be aware and teach our kids proper respect for things given to them. If your kid was irresponsible enough to take the device to bed to be “doing homework” and crack the screen, I imagine that you are engaging with me on the Bulletin’s Facebook page via your iPhone with a cracked screen.

Yes, I went there. You question my own parenting in our back and forth discussion implying that I don’t care for my child’s safety I think it’s fair.

Ultimately, it is one of MUSD’s students who pretty much said what needed to be said: I personally think the tablets are awesome if used correctly. I have never been more productive. I am a senior in high school and the tablets have allowed for me to get a lot of small assignments done between passing classes, allowing me to reduce my workload at home. Also, in applying to colleges it’s really nice to have all the materials necessary at my fingertips. During lunch and brunch I fill out scholarship applications-something I had to wait to do until I got home to my computer before. Although I use my tablet for the intended use of improving my educational experience, I am highly aware of their misuse. I have classmates who got their tablets and downloaded games immediately and only waste their time. My peers are extremely careless when it comes to their tablets so it’s no surprise to me that so many are broken. I don’t think the tablets are the problem. The problem is the students’ individual negligence towards them. Whether we like it or not our future will be ruled by technology so it is really great that MUSD is giving us this advantage over the students of other districts. Of course there are going to be problems with the tablets, but learning to deal with them is exactly the type of ‘real-life’ application every body claims to want in their education.

and then a teacher, I know personally, who admittedly struggled with the going digital process shared: I have so enjoyed the last few days with the students having their own computers. I guess I wasn’t surprised things have gone so smoothly, since we were towards the end and most of the bugs had been worked out. The kids have amazed me not with how much further ahead of me they were, which I expected, but how much they were willing to help each other out. I did find I had much to teach them (especially about word processing), but for much of the time my job is to just stay out of their way. They also are taking a whole new interest in completing their work and behaving in class. I realize this won’t last, but you can’t fault me for enjoying it while I can…

Back it up #MUSDgoingdigitalconcerns mom. You sit down and focus on your kid’s safety and use and care of their digital device and I will with mine.

 

the hardest parts

I have always said that my most favorite age and stage in the lives of each of my children is this one, the one they are in now…except for the adolescence of my first born. Don’t judge. She agrees. It was hard on both of us. And we both lived to tell the tale.

Thank gawd!

But yes, the best part in the lives of my individual children is this part right now when you are asking me what is the best part.

And it is often also the hardest part.

Sharing a moment with one of my grown circus clowns, we discussed just this. We talked about potty training and how she remembers the day I gave up and put her back in diapers because we both weren’t ready. I remember relief and later feeling vindicated when two months down the road she was ready and accident free. She remembers feeling so mad and sad that I put her back in diapers.

OMG, she was 2½! She remembers that!

And sharing a glass or two or more of wine, we recall each age and stage…the big sister worship, the picking on the baby sister, the silly times, the hard times, the scary times, the fun times.

And now here we are, sharing wine together…and she shares what’s going on in her life right now I am wishing we were back in the days of potty training battles because potty training was a lot easier than this is right now. This part where they are grown up and they make mistakes and they deal with consequences and tears and fears and heartbreak and mommy can’t fix it is hard. Too hard sometimes. I could easily dispense my wealth of wisdom telling her what she must do. But in spite of the wine…or because of the wine, I just listen because just listening is what she wants, what she needs the most right now…and hugs and wine and The Kitten Bowl that I dvr’d especially for her.

This parenting gig gets harder and harder I swear. What I wouldn’t give for a little potty training right now…seriously.

Sorry millennial parents! The hardest part of parenting, like the very best part, is the here and the now.

Hang in there.

I am.

 

 

resting can be hard

Moms, remember when our babies were brand new and the well-meaning, but not asked, advice givers would tell us to rest when the baby sleeps and we might have ignored that advice in the beginning?

Remember?!

The baby is FINALLY asleep!!! OMG! I can take a shower and maybe shave my legs and armpits and blow-dry my hair I might put on makeup and I am definitely putting on clothes, real clothes and then I will take care of that sink full of dishes oh and the laundry who knew an 10lb baby could create so much laundry and I will watch all the tv and write thank-you notes and…

WAAAAAHHHH!!!!

There you are, dripping wet and wrapped in a towel. 

Damn!

And after changing the baby and feeding the baby and changing the baby again and rocking the baby, you realize that you might have slept 30 minutes in the last 24 hours and it dawns on you…

You should have taken the time to rest/sleep when that little baby was down for maybe an hour…that same hour that you made plans to do all kinds of stuff that really didn’t need to be done because this tiny new baby never sleeps.

Oh what a blessed hour it would have been too.

You learn…eventually…hopefully…perhaps after the third baby. Then the well-meaning, but not solicited, advice givers will judge you as lazy.

Resting, when we should, can be hard. There’s so much to do. So little time.

About 5 weeks now into my formal half marathon training, which by the way is going GREAT, I come upon an extra rest day. A rest day on a night that I am working in the NICU.

Hmmm…

I always run a quick 3-4 miles before work because I do. It’s part of my getting ready for 12 hours of taking care of tiny humans all night long routine. Last Friday I ran 3½ miles before work and then ran 7½ miles Saturday afternoon with no problem at all. I need to run before work, I tell myself. There is no way I can get through my night with out a little run before.

Then the rational part of me, the part of me that actually listens (sometimes) to well-meaning, good advice reminds me of what Hal Higdon says about rest:

The most important day in any beginning or intermediate running program is rest. Rest days are as vital as training days. They give your muscles time to recover so you can run again. Actually, your muscles will build in strength as you rest. Without recovery days, you will not improve.

But it’s hard!

I need the before work run!

It’s a Friday night.

The census is up.

The acuity is high.

I really need to run.

SIGH!

I need the rest day too. My body needs the rest day. My mind probably does too. Resting IS fitness training.

Fine, I’ll rest.

Apologies to my colleagues if I get all twitchy.

Resting can sometimes be so hard.

running on empty

Picking up Daniel from school yesterday afternoon, he leans over and notices the gas gauge.

Looks like you need gas, Mom. Are you going to get gas now?

No. I’m going to take you home where we will work on your homework. Then I will make dinner while you get ready for Tae Kwon Do.

Then you’ll go get gas? You need to get gas.

I think I’m okay. I’ll probably get gas after I drop you off at school tomorrow morning.

Are you sure?

I’m sure son. Don’t worry.

But he is worried.

This morning as he gets into the car, he leans over and notices the gas gauge.

Mom, you really need to get gas. Are you going to get gas now?

For the record the “low fuel” idiot light hasn’t even turned on yet. According to the car’s computer, I have approximately 75 miles to empty.

After I take you to school, son. It’s okay.

Are you sure?

Yes. Absolutely.

Looking at his face, I can tell that he is not convinced. We arrive at the school and as he gives me a quick kiss goodbye I see him glance at the dashboard again.

Goodbye, Mom. I love you. Don’t forget to get gas, okay?

Love you too, son. Don’t worry.

And with one last glance as he crosses the street, I can tell he is worried…very worried.

No one tell him that I “gambled” and went to Safeway, then Costco, then home BEFORE I drove to Tracy to fill up the mom car because with Safeway Gas Rewards I filled up at $1.51/gallon.

I wonder if he ever does the same thing to his Dad or his sisters.

Picking him up this afternoon I caught him glancing at the gas gauge indicating a FULL TANK as he kissed me hello.

Oh dear…

For the record, I have yet to run out of gas in the the last 34 years of owning and driving a car. Add that to the “Laura’s Successes” list…right under caring and feeding of her five children.

I’m doing okay, son. Promise.

 

 

feeling brave, feeling bold

You know that moment where you look at your five circus clowns and see that, oh my goodness, four of them are grown ups, adults who drive and work and vote and you managed to nurture and care for them without maiming or damaging or killing them because they are fully grown ADULTS! Sure that fifth one is still a kid, fast approaching adolescence complete with eye rolls and exasperated sighs that he has already perfected. There’s still the chance of messing up with the parenting but four out of five. That’s pretty good. That’s like 80%.

I wonder what it would be using Common Core math? No, I really don’t.

But, yeah, I’m feeling like I am pretty good at nurturing and caring for living things right now. If the kids aren’t proof enough there is this cactus plant.

Ignore it for for months and months because you kind of forgot about it sitting on top of that bookcase and what does it do? It flowers and grows and it’s pretty.

And so feeling brave, feeling bold, I pick up some houseplants because I have a great track record caring for living things. How hard can it be to care for more?

Yeah, I’m a little worried too.