superlatives

It’s the last day of school, people! #6thgradelife achieved and completed.

Naturally, one celebrates with a toga party because what could possibly be more fun than a toga party…and games…and yearbooks signed by your classmates, teachers, principal, yard duty, janitor, cafeteria workers and anyone else on campus you can think of.

Looking through Daniel’s yearbook, I couldn’t help but notice the graduating 8th graders’ pages. Two more years, people. This is happening in two more years! We need to prepare for this. Then I turn the page and come upon the class favorites…superlatives that the classmates bestowed upon their favorite classmates…the ones who are most athletic, friendliest, smartest, funniest, most outgoing, with the best hair, the nicest eyes,…and let’s not forget the shortest.

Yes, recognize the shortest girl and boy in your class.

Daniel looked at it and muttered, Well that will be me, I guess…because, yes, he is the shortest kid in his class. The. Shortest.

Obviously!

His friend on the left is average height amongst their classmates and he, like most of Daniel’s classmates, is a year younger than Daniel. This is our son’s life and his reality because his pituitary gland doesn’t function like pretty much every other child’s does at his school. He has to deal with daily injections to try and stimulate his body to grow with the hopes that he just might reach his minimum projected height as a man before full-blown puberty sets in; not to mention the quarterly all-day visits to Valley Children’s in Madera and the x-rays, blood tests and MRI procedures. All this to help this kid to grow and, god willing, catch up to the normal kids growing normally on the growth curve.

Looking back at the class favorites page, I’m just not sure how I should feel about this kind of superlative.

The shortest?

Really?

True, he likely would never be considered for most athletic or most outgoing or having the best hair because…omg, look at his hair! Still there is so much more to him than his obvious lack of stature. His kindness. His wicked sense of humor that models his Dad’s. He has the most beautiful, green eyes I have ever seen…next to his Dad’s. He is someone all his teachers, faculty, classmates and support staff  say exemplifies the six pillars of Character Counts (citizenship, responsibility, caring, trustworthiness, respect and fairness) that, ironically, certain members of the school board recently have failed to reflectahem.

But he remains, and likely will remain, the smallest in his class. And I’m just not too sure how to feel about such a superlative being bestowed upon my child. I put that feeling out there on Facebook and, sadly, that feeling was lost…because he is kind, he is special, everyone else struggled being short or tall (everyone commenting being female), it’s part of life (the bullying…?)…All true. All well-meaning. All just not understanding.

Scroll back up to that picture and look at Daniel standing next to one of his peers.

I’ll wait.

Now let us all think of all the short statured men in our lives, men standing tall at 5’5″ or less. Let’s think about these men. Think about what they do for a living. Think about their successes and failures. Think about how WE regard them.

Short man’s syndrome

Napolean Complex

Sure you have your Daniel Radcliffe, Bruno Mars, Dustin Hoffman, Ryan Seacrest, Prince, Kevin Hart, Seth Greene, Danny DeVito, Michael J. Fox…I’m sensing a pattern here…there are also your Robert B. Reich, Yasser Arafat, Voltaire, Beethoven, Picasso, Houdini, President James, Madison, Gandhi, Lenin and, of course, Napoleon Bonaparte.

But the reality is it is so much harder for a small statured man to be successful and respected than his taller peers. Yes, short women have it hard too but think of a 5’2″ woman you know and a 5’2″ man you might know. We do view them in a much different light. It’s the short man’s curse, if you will. That curse has probably never been more pervasive than it is in today’s appearance-is-everything society. The short man must not only conquer the usual challenges that guard success but also withstand ridicule and even prejudice. Studies have revealed that short men are less likely to be hired, promoted, or paid as well as their taller colleagues, and are less prized by women.

Yes, it’s hard out there for a short girl and a tall girl and a tall man but then again…I don’t know…Like I said, I’m not sure how I might feel seeing my son, my teen-aged son fast becoming a man, being recognized first for his size because our sizes, our shapes, our physical appearance should not matter. Middle school is rough. We all deal with a certain degree of teasing, and worse, bullying because of our physical differences; and yes, we survive…well, most survive. Still, living with it right here, right now with my child, I just don’t know. Before Daniel, I likely would not have seen what the big deal is. I would likely roll my eyes, shake my head, sigh and offer the same feel good encouraging words not understanding at all because my girls all were and remain average, NORMAL height. But living in our own Holland here it is a big deal…

no pun intended…

For the record, for the curious, my 13 year old son is now 4 feet 5 1/2 inches tall.

Grow Daniel, grow!

catching a glimpse

The school Spring portraits arrived last week and suddenly I catch a glimpse of the future.

Just a glimpse of the young man my son is becoming. OMG! this is happening much too fast.

And to stop the excessive weeping I focus instead on the backdrop that Lifetouch has posed my son in…or perhaps they DID take him to the banks of the Stanislaus River.

Maybe?

Perhaps.

Yeah, no.

Distracting myself is virtually impossible so I go back to the reality that my boy-child is not the little cherub that he was in kindergarten

:::SOB!:::

I would ask him to slow down but I know that it would be impossible.

Manhood is literally just around the corner.

they break your hearts

Those beautiful, perfect, darling babies you adore? They do. Just accept it now young parents who are literally awe struck by every yawn, fart, sneeze, poopy diaper and sweet cuddly, perfect moment your perfect child shares with you while they are cute and cuddly and perfect.

It seems like it was yesterday that this golden, blonde child of mine was in preschool and brought her baby doll, Bonnie, for picture day. She and I together just yesterday recalled this moment and laughed as she described  how she, as a 4 year old, took the time that morning to dress Bonnie in that perfect, pink dress because it was picture day.  Oh my goodness! This golden, blonde baby girl of mine!

Broke my heart growing up, she did; and then she made me drive for nearly 12 hours to visit ASU for next few days where she will be going to school in the Fall as a Business Major, Dance Minor. Did I tell you that she created her own GoFundMe account to help pay the $$$$ for her college education?

She did.

She also has been working three jobs during her deferral year this year to save $$$$ for her college education.

She never had a graduation party to shamelessly solicit gifts and $$$ most high school grads do so feel free to gift her now at her GoFundMe account.

I’m still mad that she grew up even if she is incredibly smart, hard-working, bossy, talented, beautiful and the perfect 4th daughter any mother could ever ask and pray for.

::::wiping the emotional tears away::::

Time to tour the campus and the W.P. Carey School of Business.

A personal tour of the ASU Tempe campus?

Well, yeah. It’s who you know. This guy, her friend, Michael, is a pretty great tour guide.

Grateful Jodie has a couple friends here already to help her navigate starving student college life away from home because she is my baby girl. But I am still a little…perhaps a lot mad because that sweet, blonde preschooler who took her baby doll, Bonnie, to school broke my heart and grew up.

Bonnie is staying home with me!

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.

 

even more than a good, brave man

Of course we all know that last week was Martin Luther King Day which of course means a holiday for most folks…and the perfect time to maybe catch a good movie about an American Hero…which would be why American Sniper scored 105.3 million at the box office last weekend.

Don’t get me started…

The days leading up to Martin Luther King Day and after is also the perfect time for American school children to learn about the man and what he accomplished in the times that he lived; which is what Daniel has been doing…as he does every year since preschool. Last week, as I helped study for his test on Dr. King on Friday, I was struck with the fact that this time he was learning much more than him being a good man, a great man, a brave man with a dream for all American children. As a student his age should. Together we studied and talked about segregation, voting rights, peaceful activism, the Nobel Peace Prize and assassination at the hand of a sniper. And I was struck with the consideration my son had as he expressed his understanding of the subject of Dr. King that we were studying together and recent events in the news. It really is hard not to draw some comparisons whether one is a thoughtful, curious 6th grader or a musician accepting an award for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture.

So we made plans for this weekend.

We spent Sunday afternoon watching a film about American Heroes.

Moving.

Shocking.

Painful.

Inspirational.

And as we watched the pivotal scene where some 8,000 marchers (Black, White, Asian, Latino along with spiritual leaders from many religions and creeds) walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with Martin Luther King, Daniel reached for my hand and whispered, “They did it!

Yes, they did.

American heroes…all of them.

Of course, as it always is in history, there is much more to the story; and there is the reality of today. May my son always continue in his thoughtful curiosity to learn and understand.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”
~Martin Luther King