Thursday, August 29, 2013

We are there

The first day of school was 3 hours. It did not hit me that I was sending my baby off to school. On the second day I cried and asked Mr A what type of people send their 5 year old to a full day of school. He said, "us". We are doing it but I would prefer half day.
TR's class has nearly 2 hours of recess 4 days a week and those two hours occur befor 1 pm. They then have P.E. I suspect all that recess is to help extend the day. I am glad the school does not try to torture the kids with 6 hours of academics.
Today was the first day of homework. TR was resistant. She did the numbers page but objected to coloring by number. She is very neat with her coloring and writing do coloring takes a while. She wanted to take breaks but I wanted to get it over with. I want her to get into a routine of doing homework and getting it over wi
I am not looking forward to paper homework. I don't know who thought kinder homework was a good idea.
TR is enjoying her school. I am also enjoying it. When I drop her off in the mornings, I chat with the other moms. I feel so adult. QT plays on the playground with the before and after school staff. It appears most of the mother's I have encountered are in the other sorority. They discuss their red cars and accessories.
Today someone asked me if I am a SAHM. I told them I am a WAHM. I plan to do the SAHM role again, if I ever clear this work off of my desk and say no, the next time I get a call to take a new client. At the very least, if I reduce my case load, I will have more time for kid friendly activity.
The school has a girl scouts program but it conflicts with gymnastics so we cannot participate. I do plan to do the after school cooking class and maybe the dance class. It's nice that the school has so many after school activities. I want to give TR an opportunity to mingle with other kids and I think the after school activities will be her chance. She likes to talk to older kids and she gets to do that after school.
We have been packing lunch, because the school lunch is prepared at tye school by a chef and just an entree is $6.00. If we added a side it would turn into $9 per day. I have ordered lunches on the days I think she will really want it. Mon the day macaroni is served, I anticipate her asking her schoolmates for theirs or ordering some. If she orders it that day, we have to pay an extra fee for late orders. School requires so much planning, I am enjoying this new challenge. I intend to be successful at this part of parenting.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Almost There

We attended a back to school picnic at TR's school. While there I discovered that I knew a few of the moms from my high school days. They were very nice girls in high school. They had parents, their parents had them in activities, they enjoyed childhood. 2 of the girls were my cousins' best friends. Both went to U.C. Berkeley. I got to know how sweet they were through my cousin.  One of the girls was doing an activity with my cousin after the school picnic.
I believe parents are the biggest part of a school environment. It was a big happy sigh  for me to see the mothers, former schoolmates sitting there chatting and then greeting me warmly.  Oakland is so small and it's about time I started running into people I used to know.
TR was so excited to meet her teachers. She will have one teacher for core subjects and a different teacher for art, music, science, and p.e. The kids have 1 hour for lunch. I have no idea what they can do for an hour, especially since p.e. is a class, but it's good to have recess. TR likes to eat slow, and chat, so a long lunch will be nice. I hope naps are permitted. I would prefer they get out an hour earlier but no one asked my preference when designing the schedule.

 After the back to school picnic, we attended an alumni party for Mr. A's college. One of the grads, a man who graduated in '63 told me TR was going to be running the class. I told him the class only had x kids and he said she would be running her classmates. She organized games among the kids, who were between 10- 3 at alum event, so I suspect that was the basis of that assessment. She had a 10 year old boy and me, making necklaces from twigs.

I feel a little sad for QT.  His sister will be gone for 7 hours a day.  They have spent most of their time together since his birth and now she will spend 30+ hours a week away.  We have big plans for QT, to keep him occupied but it will probably be an adjustment because hs activities usually include her.  When he sees something interesting, she is who he wants to share his find with.

The kindergarten will give paper homework 2x per week, plus memory work on weekends.  Grading begins at second grade. The kids will have homework marked late if it is not handed in at the start of class and homework awards will br given.  I appreciate the discipline, because I have kids in high school, who were never taught to turn in homework.   The schools will then have to help the high school kids learn to organize and plan. It s amazing that such things are not taught when the stakes are low.  TR's school expect the kids to keep up with and manage their own school supplies, be on time/early, communicate in complete sentences, and turn in work on time. The school expects parents to replenish supplies, which meand the kds have to do inventory, plan and tell parents.  I appreciate all of that.

I have one parent who keeps protesting that her son is being marked tardy when he is in class before the bell.  I try to explain that he needs to be in his seat and prepared to work when the bell rings, not walking in. Class time is lost when people are preparing to begin learning at 8:30 am.  The work world is the same.  8:30 is not the time to arrive, it is the time work begins. If a person is never taught these things, the person never knows and then does not understand why difficulties occur.

TR was invited to audition for a t.v. movie.  They asked us to come to L.A. but allowed us to submit a video when we informed them we lived in Oakland.  TR is 5 and the movie is casting for a 8/9 year old.  I would love for her to get a part and she has been asking if she was chosen. Hopefully the casting people will let us know something, so I can get my 5 year old out of limbo. I will let y'all know the movie once I know how her audition went.
Today is warm so the kids and I are heading to the club for a swim. Summer is concluding and school is approaching, so we must play while we can.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Dance, Dance, Dance

TR took tap and ballet this summer.  The performance class was yesterday.  TR has her solo at the 2:30 or thereabouts minute mark. (I mistakenly wrote 2 minutes because 2 minutes remain when she begins) Mr A and QT also make an appearance.


Gymnastics is her first love but I would love to get her in Debbie Allen. I admit that my DADA desire is to merely stroke my own ego. I have no dancing skill, and I never got picked for advanced dance, no matter how much I practiced and tried out. If TR got to be in DADA advanced dance, I would feel accomplished. But I shall let my kid live out her own dreams. She likes dance as an activity, it is nothing she is serious about. She wants to do another session of ballet, so I have to decide it I want to do the fancy studio or the close to home studio.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Parenting together

Mr and I have developed a satisfying parenting unity.
I won't say it is natural but at this point it comes naturally. I think the ease comes from being aware of what motivates each of us and for me the understanding that both of our roles are necessary to balanced kids and to balance our lives.
I appreciate that Mr A is a man and fathers the children like an A personality man. He appreciates that I am a woman and I mother the children like a nurturing woman. I am the mother that says, "I will tell your father" and the kids get act right. Perhaps I set the feminist movement back but I am okay with that. I have always said feminism is destructive to black folks as our men were never oppressing us. We were both oppressed. Feminism let white women earn more than black men and that money goes to support families of white men #solidarityisforwhitewomen is real. I proudly proclaim that my kids need their father and I need him.  I pray that we are blessed with long lives and that our children are blessed to experience two loving parents, who love them and each other.  Mr A knows his importance to our family.
I digress.
I had a realization that sometimes men will lessen who they are to keep peace with the woman. I watched the she by sheree Iyanla, and Iyanla mentioned that men cannot deal with feminine anger.  I so agree. I knew that before Iyanla said it.  I have to support Mr A and let him know, I know he is a great father with purposeful plans for our kids and family.

I chose and married Mr A on purpose.  I knew if I died, I could die knowing he would raise my kids as I wanted.  To me that was the highest hurdle.  If I die and we have kids, will my kids be safe and loved with their father? I know people who marry and divorce a man and fear what he might do with the kids on visits.

Now first,  if I was scared like that I would not divorce the man, because I would not want him alone with my kids and before the first thing, I want to know how the person married someone who had a lifestyle they disagreed with?

Anyway,  I have an understanding of Mr A's parenting goals and I feel like we work together as parents and neither of us feels undermined, overruled or ignored. 

Two adults, who did not grow up together have to come to agreement on raising children.  There are certain domains where we each control without discussion. 

It is good to work together and know we have to work together.  I have seen some parents battle over children, so I realize I am fortunate to know the need exists and that we both have the mind, will and ability to work together.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Selling Gay- my vent

I wish a gay activist would explain to my why the government is so active in pushing homosexuality issues onto children. What is the goal? What is their perfect view of the result of this?
Kindergarten children are not typically introduced to sex curriculum, but now will be positively informed about homo-sex. Considering that 70%+ of black kids do not see a heterosexual relationship in the home or probably anywhere else, what message will they get? Hetero families get no discussion but homo families will.
Years ago, we realized that at 12 years old, we were the only married couple Mr. A's goddaughter knew. Her mother, grandmother, aunts, family friends had rotating men. When subbing, I met a boy who did not believe my mother, brother, sister and I could all have the same last name and be related. He said people in the same family cannot have the same last name. My point is, when disfunction is what kids see and then they spend grades k-12 being taught positively about same sex relationships and 0 about hetero relationships, you have moved a step closer to making black folks extinct. It's not-pc to acknowledge truth, but it's not biologically possible for same sex couples to procreate. No procreation means extinction.
Our kids are not being taught tolerance they are being taught hetero is wrong. A girl at the public school in L.A. was sent to counseling because she rejected the advances of a lesbian student and said it was against her religious beliefs. Her rejection was considered intolerance/hate. If she has turned down a boy and said datijg boys was against her religious beliefs (i.e. there are no boyfriends/girlfriends in holiness) it would have been nothing.
California celebrates Harvey Milk, an open pedophile who helped Jim Jones get 900 black folks who Jones later killed to Guyana and refused to help the families who asked that it be looked into to. If I am not mistaken, Milk wrote a letter on behalf of Jones to the president. CA lawmakers made a Pedophiles who helped a cult leader, be a celebrated role model for children.
SB 48, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011, mandates that children from kindergarten through 12th grade, in all "instruction in social sciences," admire "the role and contributions of...lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans." In January 2012, California public school districts must implement the new requirements of SB 48 through "supplemental materials" (i.e., handouts, homosexual biographies, classroom discussions, essays and other homework, outside speakers, videos, dramas, etc.); the printed textbooks will come in a few years. As a result of SB 48, all public school districts in California are under the following orders:
1) Textbooks and instructional materials must positively promote "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans" as "role" models;
2) Children as young as 6 years old will be taught to admire homosexuality, same-sex "marriages," bisexuality, and transsexuality (cross-dressing and "sex change" operations);
3) Children will be taught to support the political activism of so-called "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning" (LGBTIQ) political groups, as the bill requires "particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society";
4) Teachers will be made to positively portray homosexuality, same-sex "marriages," bisexuality, and transsexuality, because to be silent can bring the charge of "reflecting adversely" or "promoting a discriminatory bias";
5) School boards will be required to select textbooks and other instructional materials that positively portray "LGBT" lifestyles, because to be silent on these subjects opens them up to charges of "reflecting adversely" or "promoting a discriminatory bias"; 6) Parents will not be notified, nor will they be able to exempt their children, from this new core curriculum.
SB 543, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010, allows school staff to remove children -- aged 12 and up -- from government schools and taken off-campus for counseling sessions, without parental permission or involvement. The purpose is to permit pro-homosexuality teachers and administrators to remove sexually-confused children in 6th grade and up from campus and take them to pro-homosexuality counselors who will encourage them to embrace the homosexual lifestyle. Parents will never hear about it. The Democrat legislators who voted for it and the homosexual activists who sponsored it regard parents as the problem and parental rights as "a barrier." SB 543 author Mark Leno, a San Francisco Democrat and homosexual activist, wrote "this barrier is especially harmful to certain populations of youth including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gym Kids

I adore the gymnastics life!  I am not able to articulate or totally comprehend the many reasons I love it.  The bay area seems to be a great location for this sport.

The primary reasons I love it, have little to do with the moves of the gymnasts and much to do with the social and emotional benefits and the lessons inherent in the sport.

Small Circles
 I am certain the bay area is huge but the gymnastics community is small.  Parents cross bridges and come from San Francisco and Marin, they travel through tunnels and come from Walnut Creek, Lafayette and from Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond.

TR and QT were in the baby pool at the club and I saw a 10 year old girl get in the pool and play and chat with TR.  The 10-year old competes and is at the same gym as TR.  The girls knew each other and they let TR and QT join in their pool games.  One day at the club, I spotted a little girl who comes to the gym.  The girl comes with her nanny and the nanny and I talk. The nanny sends her two sons to private schools, and she spent last year giving me the inside scoop on the different schools.

I told the mother I knew her daughter and asked her something related to gymnastics. Another mom sitting next to us, said her two kids also attend the gym.  The circles are so small.  I like knowing that other people are doing the same things as we are and that there are common connections.

The black mother's at gymnastics kids seem to attend the same few private schools, and most were happy to share private school details.

Discipline

I think it's excellent that my 5 year old understand concepts and benefits of discipline and focus. My theory is the body should be able to do what the mind wants.  We should not be limited or controlled by our body.  I am happy that my kids are learning early to have mental strength. One reason I hate to be out of shape, is I do not want to be the person who is run by flesh and not by my mind.

Activity

It is good to have something to do.   My kids like to perform and it's nice to have talent when you enjoy performance.  Gymnastics is something they can perform in.

TR's ballet teacher told me how good TR is and asked if she has been in ballet a long time. I told her she did it from 3 years to 4 years, but she is a gymnast.  The instructor said, she was also a gymnast and she can always tell because the gymnasts control their core.

I have discovered core is vital in so many areas, skiing, dancing, sitting in a desk chair.  I am glad my kids have the regular opportunity to work on their core.

Team friends

I did not get to be on a sports team until 11th grade. my mother refused to make multiple trips to pick us up at different times. In 11th grade my brother got a car and my sister said she would wait there with me.  *cue harps*.

Team friendships are different.  my kids get to have that at 3 and 5.  TR has been with her teammates since 4. At 5 she has been with the same kids for a year. her teammates have younger siblings who are 2, 3, and 4.  The younger siblings get together in a pack and play hard.

For me this makes me not long for our L.A. park experience.  my kids get that same freedom to be kids without being given rules and instructions by adults. the kids make up games and live out being children.

Family

Gymnastics is a family sport.  it is nice to see families.  I read that in richmond, Va. 60% of families are single parent (84% single parent for black familes, mostly headed mothers) I suspect the numbers are even higher in Oakland.  It is nice to be able to spend moments in environments where families are the norm.  i think one little girl might have a deceased mom, but the similarity in family values of that family is not diminshed by death.

Families headed by two parents also need support and I like talking to folks who understand it takes work to maintain strong families, maintain a strong marriage and support both.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Copying good choices

"A wise man learns from the mistakes of others, only a fool learns from his own mistakes"

I do not know who said that, but many people take credit for it.  Moving beyond the identity of the mind that said it, it is true.

There are so many lessons I have heeded based on the experiences of others and shared wisdom of others. I don't want to fall in quick sand after someone has alerted me the area is quicksand.

When I was in middle school, I had a schoolmate/neighbor who had parents who lived beyond their means.  Back then I didn't know how income or money influenced lives.  I did not grasp that some had a lot and others had little to none. I did not know that people struggled or lived bigger lives than their income could afford.

My school mate/ neighbor had horses in her backyard ( our neighborhood was zoned for horses).  They lived in an upper middle, perhaps even well off neighborhood, her parents had luxury vehicles and they enjoyed the trappings of monetary success. I will say that most of the adults I knew as a kid, still live where they did, and retired comfortably, so I think stretching to live a lifestyle was not the norm for older generations.

I have no idea how I remained so detached from financial standings of my classmates.  Kids knew the cars everyone in my family drove. One of my sister's classmates told her he had his mom drive by our house to see what it looked like and he had saw my sister taking out trash when they passed. I did not care or notice what people had or lacked,  I never paid attention to the homes my classmates lived in. I did pay attention to homes the really rich people lived in.

At some point while we were still in school, our neighbor's family lost everything material. The horses, the house, the cars, the lifestyle but they still had each other. I remember discussions about the family overspending and the mother refusing to accept their new financial realities and refusing to cut back.

I completely understand how a family could overspend into ruin.  I think about that family and
try to learn from what I know of their mistakes. It feels great to offer your child benefits, perks and luxuries. Those perks and luxuries can easily become a child's expectation.  Those perks have to be controlled and financial priorities set.

When the kids finish swimming at the club or sometimes prior to exiting the pool, they make a request for their quesadilla.   The quesadillas charged to our account and the money is debited from Mr. A's account.

One day I paid cash and to my shock learned the quesadillas are $4.50 each.  An afternoon at the club becomes pricey once we add food for the adults.  Lots of people eat at the club restaurant but many others bring lunch.  The club has a two grills for member use, so buying food there is not a necessity, it is a luxury.  2-3 days a week, of lunch at the club adds up.

I did a spending plan today and included tuition.  Our goal is to fund it early and get the expense out of the way.  I want school to be stable.  My kids are people I do not want to let down or have in need. I am sure I would weap like a baby to tell my kids we planned poorly and they had to move schools.
I feel awful when they want a specific snack or fruit and I did not replenish that item. It is one thing for the item to be out of season, but when we lack because I did not plan, I feel terrible.

 The budget made me realize, that our expenses are quite high.  I do plan to make more money, but I also plan to spend less. I want my kids aware of the reality of work and money, but I do not want them needing and we cannot supply, because we have treated luxuries as necessities.

The necessities are shelter, food, essential clothing, education.  Priority items are the kids activities.  

I think spending plans are simple when a set salary exists.  You make financial decisions based on expected income.  We work the opposite direction.  We have expenses and know how much we need to earn to meet those expenses.  

My grandparents and my grandmother's brother were self-employed in the 40's and did well enough to leave inheritance for their grandchildren.  They are my wisdom, my road map and they encourage 
me. I think about what they accomplished, where they started from and how their success and 
willingness to struggle impacted my life.  I want to do the same for my kids.

I remember my grandparents foregoing certain luxuries for bigger goals.  That is the wisdom I try to follow.  Have a goal bigger than a luxury car, vacation or item.  Those luxuries cannot get in the way of a larger vision. Consuming can get in the way of building.  

Their foundation is the reason, I can work from home andbe with my kids. Their foundation allowed my mother to be home with us and live comfortably after divorce.





Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Achievement Gap

"Meredith Phillips, an associate professor of public policy and sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, used survey data to show that affluent children spend 1,300 more hours than low-income children before age 6 in places other than their homes, their day care centers, or schools (anywhere from museums to shopping malls). By the time high-income children start school, they have spent about 400 hours more than poor children in literacy activities, she found."

 I had been fretting about achievement gaps, mostly as the gaps relate to race, and then I decided not to worry about it.  I will be active, proactive, positive and encouraging.  I am aware of reality, but I do not want to put burdens on my kids and make them think odds are against them.

The above italicized statement was part of a researches study on achievement gaps.  We have exposed our kids to many things and given them a broad community experience.  They have  a point of reference for many things.  I realize that their frame of reference at these ages can only be as broad as what/who I ( and Mr A ) am exposed to.   Now I am evaluating what I have knowledge of and access to and things I do not have experience or knowledge of and what expanding I can do.

The dean of curriculum at TR's school called to discuss starting the school year. I am excited.  I was happy to get an informational call. The school is small enough to allow a live person.  The local school district regularly calls me with recorded messages, so a real person is nice change from robocalls.  I have never believed a small student-teacher ratio was necessary if kids are there to learn, but I am pretty exited about how small the core classes will be.

TR is very social, so I am not sure how she will feel about a small class, but her class will be larger for lunch, art, music, religion and p.e.    I think the way the program is organized will work well for her.  I envision her doing round offs, press hand stands and cart wheels in p.e., and us getting calls to tell her to stop.

TR's gymnastics class had 5 girls for nearly a year and now has 6-7 girls.  One girl moved and three new girls were placed in her class.  The addition of new girls with different ability has made it challenging for the coach and all of the kids.  When everyone started together, they developed together.  The new kids have to get strong and be taught the skills in a short amount of time, which delays the other girls.  

TR's original group did 2 years of Pre-team training in one year. The group was very competive and completed the first level in 6 months.  They are on schedule to compete, with the next competition year. The new girls have to learn the same skills, in even shorter time.

I imagine in a classroom, the addition of new students is also disruptive.  I have been told of some private schools, who do not fill space when a child leaves mid-year.  They do not want to disrupt the class.  It seemed harsh, until I witnessed how the addition of a new kid can impact the class.

My mother teaches at public school and kids come and go throughout the year.  It makes her job so challenging. There is very little stability and it is usual that as soon as she settles the new kid in, the kid leaves.

Hopefully TR's kindergarten class will remain stable.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

For mothers only

We got a summer membership to Hab.itot Museum, a childrens museum in Berkeley.  When we were in L.A. I had a family membership to The Skirball and it came with reciprocal membership at the Zimmer Museum.  I loved those two museums.

We lived a few blocks from Zimmer and made frequent trips there.  Mr A always came to the Skirball- Noah's Ark but never the Zimmer.  Every time we visited the Zimmer he would tell me that we went without him.  He has made trips to Lawrence Hall of Science,  the CA. Museum of Science and many other child centered places.  I felt sorry for him because he never got to go to the Zimmer.

I figured he would enjoy a visit to to Habitot, since it is a children's museum.  As we sat at the Habitot, I looked at Mr. A and he appeared to be itching and in torture.  I realized he was tortured by the museum.

I told him all this time I had felt sorry for him and he reminded me that he had planned our trips to the Skirball but never to the Zimmer.  He did not want to go.

Then he pointed out that the only other man there was an employee.  It was all mothers.

I will leave Mr A at home next time.  The kids can spend hours at these little places and 30 minutes brought Mr A to the edge.  Some things are probably better suited to mothers.