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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Explaining Financial Hardship to a 4-Year-Old

My husband is both a full-time high school biology teacher and a part-time college biology professor. During the summer, we're out almost $1000 a month while he is on break from the local college. Given that neither of us are fabulous budgeters, summertime expenditures are practically nil and that means explaining some harsh realities to our son.

At the end of the school year, I sat him down and explained to him that we don't have much money in the summertime. He knows that Dada doesn't have to work two jobs for a little bit, but he also knows Dada is still going to work every day (and for far too long, considering his 100 mile round-trip daily commute), so things were still a bit foggy for him. I explained that the extra things that we usually get to do and buy won't be happening for a couple months. Instead of going to the "dinosaur museum," we'll go see the free puppet show at the library. Instead of hitting the "craft store" once a week, we'll hit the library for their free craft day. We won't be able to buy movies on iTunes, we won't have pizza on Friday night, we won't be able to go here or there. We'll still have fun, it just won't be all the same fun and maybe not as much of the bigger excursions or buys.

His reaction? "OK." That was it. I was honest with him. I was real with him. He was OK with that.

He forgets sometimes. He's four. I remind him and he goes right back to being OK with it. "Oh, ya, I forgot," as he scurries off to find another way to entertain himself.

The point? Just be forthright with kids. They can handle it. They get it. They aren't as selfish as we make them out to be. In fact, they're pretty cool.

I'd write more, but my son has just started building a "tall, tall tower" out of the couch cushions (for free) and, according to him, he needs help stabilizing it. Free fun, learning, and bonding, comin' up!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Book Review: The Tiny Book of Patience

I'm a bad, bad friend. I cannot even tell you how long ago my friend Sam Vickery of Love Parenting asked me to take a look at her book, The Tiny Book of Patience. Suffice it to say it was looooong ago. I sheepishly admit that I even forgot about it. I finished another book last night and was looking through my Kindle Cloud drive to find another when up popped Sam's. Ya, I should've read it eons ago, but I finally did last night and am better off for it.

This is the second book of Sam's that I've had the pleasure of reading. You can read my first review HERE. As with Trust Me, I'm a Toddler, she writes in the familiar, which brings me a sense of peace. I am immediately put at ease, knowing that I'm being talked "with" (as it were) instead of to. This is one of my favorite things about Sam's writing. She doesn't write as if she knows all, as if she were better than the rest of us, as if she is an expert we should all revere. Sam is a mom just like us - fallible, real, trying her best every day.

Ironically, The Tiny Book of Patience is perfect for the truly impatient, like myself. There is no fluff here. She pulls no punches, wastes no time, beats around no bushes. She knows parents are busy, so she gives us only what we need to take care of both ourselves and our kids. At only 36 pages, even the least patient of us can get through this book in no time and come out at the other end with a greater understanding of our and our kids' needs and how to meet them. Does it get much better?

We're going to mess up. We're going to lose ourselves from time to time. Recognizing that in ourselves and reminding ourselves to do better next time, forgiving ourselves for what can only be described as our humanity is what mindfulness is all about. Sam doesn't shame us for that humanity. She's that parent, too. She's one of us. She's a friend who gets it in 36 short, but powerful pages. I'm grateful for her. Thanks, Sam.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Public Schools Charging for Education

I was a high school teacher. My only dealings in elementary education were when I did a semester of semi-student teaching in college at an elementary school that was K-8. (That schools are K-8 is another problem for me, but one that will have to be addressed in another blog, so I don't digress too much.) So, when a friend of mine said that a public charter school here in our state (Arizona) was trying to shake parents down for $350 a month per child for full-day kindergarten, I was appalled. Swear words abounded, but I calmed myself for long enough to reach out to a former student of mine who is a kindergarten (soon-to-be second grade) teacher at a nearby district. She informed me that it is, in fact, legal, and also agreed with me that it's completely unethical and just, quite frankly, grody.

Evidently, they can get away with charging for public education, because (here, at least) kindergarten is not "required." So, it's a privilege? Education is a privilege? Ah. No. And those who are privileged enough to afford said privilege (again, we're talking about the privilege of education - PUBLIC education), can pay for their children to get it. The rest of us, piss off. Get your PUBLIC "world class" education elsewhere. OUR education is a privilege reserved only for the wealthy.

Way to teach kids to know their places right from the get-go, foul bunch of privileged and privilege-propagating asshats.