February 19, 2009

The Farmer What?!

So, J started Pre-K back in August. He has learned so much, and is doing amazing things. One thing that happened, though, that was a little shocking, was when the school contacted me and wanted to evaluate him for speech. It turned out he has a moderate speech impairment. I was sort of aware of it, but as his mother, I tend to automatically translate what he says and understand him, so I hadn't realized what a problem it really was.

So he's been in speech therapy at school since October. He has made an amazing amount of progress. Which is why I was quite shocked to hear him singing "Farmer in the Dell" the other night.

"The farmer takes a life, the farmer takes a life!"

Huh? Run that by me again?

"The farmer takes a life, the farmer takes a life!"

Nope, I wasn't hearing things. I almost died laughing. This was not his speech impairment at work. This was a case of chronic lyricosis. His class had been singing the little song at school, and he somehow misinterpreted "wife" as being "life". All I could think was "Is this how serial killers start?"

I tried to explain to him that it should be "wife". I'm not sure if he gets it, since he's decided not to sing that song anymore. He's moved on to trying to figure out what termites eat. It's very...odd the way a child's mind works.

I think I may have mentioned this in the past, but C has a really awesome teacher this year. I'm not sure how long she's been teaching, but I know she's taught pretty much every grade level, and she just has this way with kids that is just wonderful. She really understands them, and is totally on their side. She's also got a great sense of humor, and is very understanding, which can come in extremely handy. For example, Tuesday's homework.

They send home this math worksheet on which they want my son to take an empty paper milk carton (you remember, in school, the milk we drank?), and use it to fill up a 2 liter soda bottle, a bucket, an empty gallon milk jug, and a bowl or trash can (can't really figure it out) with water to find out how many cartons it takes to fill up each container. I could not believe that they actually expected us to do this! Aside from the mess that would be created (b/c you know no 5 yr old can watch his big brother do that without wanting to get in on it, thus spilling water everywhere), imagine how time consuming it would be. Plus, you know it's going to take at least twice as long b/c they'll keep losing track and having to start over again. I told C he didn't have to do it, and I would be ok with the no credit grade for it. Then, I e-mailed the teacher. Turned out she wanted them to just estimate how many cartons they thought it would take, but she'd been called into a meeting and so wasn't able to explain that to the kids before time to go home.

Which brings me back to my vent the other day. Why is my son's teacher being taken out of her classroom during class time for a meeting? Between budget cuts, FCAT, and other crap, my son is already being cheated on his education, and now you're going to make it worse by taking his teacher out of the classroom when she should be teaching him and helping him and leave him with an assistant who doesn't have any teaching experience whatsoever and expect her to teach him?

As if this isn't bad enough, I have recently come to the realization that my son has learned more from watching TV than he has at school. I'm very lucky that my kids are not huge on cartoons. Don't get me wrong; they do love to watch them. But with only a few exceptions, give them a choice, and they will pick something else over cartoons. They love to watch Discovery, Discovery Kids, Animal Planet, History, and the Science Channel. My kids have learned some very interesting, and amazing, things from those channels, more than they do from school. C's teacher has told me, more than once, that she is amazed at his wealth of knowledge. And they say watching TV is bad. And for the record, my kids play outside plenty, too.

It seems now to be only a matter of time before we will be moving back in with my parents. The thought still makes me nauseous. I am trying to make the best of it. I tell myself this will allow me to buy the new camera I've been wanting, and I can get my kids their own computer (so they can quit screwing up mine), and my babysitters will be much closer when a kid gets sick and I need to run to the store. But none of that makes me feel better about losing the home that I dreamed about for so long. None of it makes it easier to give up my kitchen with tons of counter space that I love so dearly, that makes baking and cooking so much easier and more fun. My master bathroom with the deep bathtub from which I can see the TV in my bedroom, therefore allowing me to watch movies and TV while enjoying a nice, hot bubble bath. The huge backyard that allows the dog and the kids more than enough room to run and play and have fun. Of course, it's filled with rain today. One less day that they get to enjoy it.

I haven't even told them yet. I'm not sure what I'm more afraid of: that they'll be horribly upset and very disappointed, or that they'll be thrilled beyond words. They love their grandparents and always want to go see them, so I think they'll be fine with the idea of moving back in with them, where they will see them every day. And being kids, they don't understand all the grown up emotions that go along with a situation like this, and they don't realize that their joy only makes things worse. And you can't explain it to them, b/c there is no way to explain it where they don't think that you're telling them they're doing something wrong.

Enough depressing thoughts. I'll be posting some new recipes and hopefully some new pictures in the next few days. Watch for them.

February 17, 2009


It's been a very, very long time since I last posted. I've been slacking, and I really don't have much of an excuse. I do have plenty to say, however.

Has anyone else noticed that in these tough times, we are scrimping on the things that matter most, the things that we shouldn't be scrimping on? My children's school system has to cut between $23-$33 MILLION dollars from its budget for the 2009-2010 school yr. Now, maybe I'm wrong here, but it seems to me that leaving the next generation sorely undereducated or even UNeducated is NOT the way to solve this economic crisis. How are my children ever to have a chance to do better than me if their education isn't as good as mine? I am seriously considering homeschooling, depending on the cuts they decide to make, in order to be sure my children get a halfway decent education.

Our school district has cut 522 teachers. 522 teachers that are now jobless. Only 4 of them at my children's school, but one of them is J's Pre-K teacher. Granted, he'll have her thru the end of the yr, but still. She'll be out of a job, and just like me and everyone else out there, she has a home, a child, and bills to take care of. There will now be classrooms with more kids in them, leading to a less than stellar education. They keep insisting that "we will still be within regulations regarding class size." Well, whoop-de-doo. You can drive 55 and still be within the legal speed limit, but does that mean it's always best to drive 55? Of course not.

C struggles with math. He's apparently inherited my sorry math skills. I am very concerned that he will suffer greatly from these cuts, since the loss of teachers is not the only change that will be made. We don't know what else they are going to do yet. It's a waiting game right now, as is everything else.

Right now, C gets extra help in the classroom for his math issues. But that's because there's an assistant in the classroom. Will there be one next yr? Or will my son just be expected to either figure it out on his own or fail?

Yet, in all this discussion of "what can we cut?", no one is suggesting FCAT. All this No Child Left Behind crap, and what is it really doing? Well, I'll tell you this: it's not doing what they claim it does, or should. I see my son being taught stuff that has absolutely no real bearing on life, but it must be learned because it's on some stupid test that even the people who administrate it can't pass. They won't admit that, but seriously, if they took the test, I'm sure that probably 90% of the school board members, government and everyone else involved in the creation of this ridiculous "program" couldn't pass it.

Cutting education budgets is a mistake. I've always tried to be an optimistic person, not all gloom and doom. But I don't see any possible way that these cuts will NOT lead to bad things. Crime and drug use will rise as these kids get older. My kids will miss out on things that I had when I was a child, and while I will admit that I was slightly spoiled, it's just not right. There is supposed to be that...expectation that the next generation will do better than the one before it. Better money, better home, education, job, on and on down the line. Well, so far, what little I had that was better than my parents has been taken away from me. And my own children, at least the way it looks right now, will never have anything better than me. They'll be lucky to have things as good as I did.

I was laid off last May, and I still have no job. There are no jobs around here. What few there are, have their pick of candidates. I'm stuck in a limbo where people who are better educated than me are taking my jobs, but I can't get a job in a lesser position because I'm "overqualified, and we're not going to train you just to have you leave when something better comes along." I've got a family to support, I don't want to work at Target or Walgreens, but if they'd give me a damn job, I'd be grateful and I damn sure wouldn't be going anywhere any time soon.

My kids love the extra time with me, we have more time to work on homework, to play games, watch movies, play outside and just be together. And I won't deny I enjoy it, too. But at the same time, it's a major problem too. It would appear that I may end up having to give up my house. Things have just reached the point where it's not feasible to keep it anymore. This breaks my heart in so many ways. This house is my dream, it was my goal for so long, and I swore once I had it, I would never leave. It's the first home that both my kids could call theirs. I feel as though I am letting them down, that I have failed them. I haven't told them yet. And frankly, I don't know that they'll really care. We'll have to move back in with my parents, if we have to give the house up, which my kids would actually like, so they've told me. But that doesn't eliminate my feelings of guilt and failure.

My mother told me that she thought I was not a very materialistic person, and I'm not. But a home...it's not just a possession. It's security, it's comfort, familiarity, it's the one thing that should be constant, that you know no matter what else is happening or changing, home is always there. Losing a house is not just losing a material possession. It's like losing all that security, comfort, the consistency.

I know there are countless others out there that are going thru the same situation. We are not the only ones. But that knowledge does not make the situation any easier.

Everything is so screwed up. Let's hope it gets better soon.