Friday, September 30, 2011

I Trust My Kid--It's the Rest of Them I Worry About

September 30, 2011

Brianna texted me tonight to ask what I thought about her attending a frat party. The good news? She texted me to ask. She didn't have to; she's 18 and on her own at college. But still, she thought she'd run it by me. So here's what I thought:

First--"How fun! I'm sure she'll have a great time hanging out with her friends on a Friday night!"

And then--"Alcohol. She's not had a lot of 'up close and personal' experiences with alcohol, but undoubtedly it will be there. (I know a lot of you are thinking to yourselves, 'She's 18. You're delusional if you think she doesn't drink.' I know my kid, though. It's just not her.) I'm not even worried so much about peer pressure; she's pretty sure of herself and not embarrassed to tell someone she doesn't want a beer. But kids throwing up from drinking too much? Kids passed out? Boys suddenly finding their machismo in a bottle or girls suddenly becoming far too giggly and losing I.Q. points by the minute? She might have even seen these things before in isolation, but a frat party can be a recipe for all of these things in great concentration. It could be overwhelming."

Then I got to--"Oh my gosh! Girls get drugged at these things! A little something slipped into a drink, coaxing the helpless kid to somewhere dark and secluded, mom finding out the next day that she never made it back to the dorm room and nobody knows where she is....."

Far too quickly my thoughts turned from Animal House to a horror movie turned even more horrifying. I had to scale back, and quickly, or Irrational Mom might just jump into the van and drive the six hours to go pick her up RIGHT NOW.

Deep breath. Another deep breath. I raised a kid with a good head on her shoulders. She knows the dangers. She knows the risks. And I went to a few frat parties in college. I emerged unscathed. Mostly, they were somewhere between my Thought Number One and my Thought Number Two. Kids out from under watchful parent eyes enjoying more alcohol than was probably prudent, and kids who were just out having a good time dancing, flirting, socializing. Thought Number Three happens, of course, but I never saw it. And with luck, Brianna's only experience with that sort of thing will be something she watches on T.V.

So I told her to go and have fun, BUT--

1. Go with a friend. Someone with whom you can have a pact to make sure both of you make it back home safely at the end of the night. The Buddy System is always a good call.

2. Make sure you check in with that friend periodically throughout the night in case one of you needs to be 'saved' from an uncomfortable situation.

3. Take your own water bottle or drink. Unless they've got cans of soda or unopened bottles of water, you don't really know what might be in the free-flowing beverages, or how much.

4. Don't set your drink down and leave it unattended, even for a minute. (You can call me paranoid if you want. I don't know those kids in that frat house, and I don't know what the moral compass is of all those kids at the party.)

5. Listen to your instincts. Stay true to who you are and what you feel. If you feel uncomfortable, leave (with your friend).

Oh gosh, I've never felt like an over-protective parent before. I'm sure if she goes, everything will be great. She'll have fun, make new friends (as she always does), and stay up the rest of the night chatting about it with her roommate once they get back to the dorm. Just in case, though, at the risk of scaring her and myself, I felt I just had to throw out those 'rules' before she headed out the door. A little reminder. How do you remind a kid to always give everyone the benefit of the doubt and believe the best in everyone--except when you shouldn't? This must be what it feels like to really have to learn how to let go. It's a little like jumping out of the airplane and just having to trust that the parachute is going to work. All you can do is count to three, jump, and pull the rip cord at just the right time (and say a prayer on the free-fall).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

SAT Scores in Decline

September 21, 2011

There's a new report just out letting us know that the class of 2011 has the lowest SAT scores on record. Naturally, there is a call to action for *gasp* educational reform. Nevermind that we've been operating under new and 'revolutionary' educational reforms for the past several years. It's something new every year, mostly centered around testing, testing, testing. Perhaps if we spent less time testing and spent more time actually reading real texts--literature and expository texts--the scores wouldn't be so disheartening. I'd love to see how many educational minutes have been wrested from our kids and devoted to testing. I think it would be alarming, actually, if we broke it down. Benchmarks, SAT 9s, CAHSEE, Common Assessments--we seem to be all about quantifying what the kids are learning, but doing it at the expense of time to actually teach our kids. I'm not opposed to testing--really, I'm not. But if we are realistic about how we're spending our minutes, I would think people would be alarmed at the amount of time we do not have available to us to actually teach the kids. Maybe THAT'S the reform we should look at.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Meet the Underdogs

September 18, 2011

Today was the season opener for the Under 16 Boys Team--The Bandits. Although the boys were scrappy and tough, if today is any indication of the season to come, we might be looking at rooting for the underdogs this season. The 9-2 loss was tough to take, but I was proud of our boys, who did not resort to the pushing and shoving and trash-talking their opponents did on the field. It's appalling to me how arrogant and rude the other team was. I would rather our kids lose every game this season than display the unsportsmanlike conduct we watched on the field today. Here's hoping the upcoming games, win or lose, will prove to be respectful, challenging, competitive, and gentlemanly events. Is that really too much to ask?

I'm Complaining About The Hot Weather Now, But...

September 18, 2011 a few months, I'll be shivering out on the soccer fields while sipping hot chocolate and peering through the fog. How is it possible that we drew all the 2:00 p.m. games when it's still 90 degree weather, but in a few short weeks, when the temperature starts to drop dramatically, we have four 8:00 a.m. games in a row?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Enough is Enough

September 15, 2011

Okay, seriously, I have had it with the recent news headlines around here. Every few weeks there's some huge story about a teacher being arrested or investigated for inappropriate behavior with a minor. People are beginning to think it's the norm, rather than the exception. Just so ya know, people, there are thousands of us working hard every day to do what's best for the kids. Most of us went into the teaching profession because we believe in helping to shape the future, not for easy access to kids. Don't let the media hype fool you into feeling like there are lurking predators down every hallway of your child's school.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled sunshine, love, and optimism.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Girls' Night Out

September 11, 2011

Night out with the girlfriends at Giuseppe Gallo's--Lianne, Jennifer, Val, and me.

Aztec Friends

September 11, 2011

College life has been rough on my little girl. Gosh, I hope she makes some friends soon...

Bree and her roommate, Anna

Happy Birthday to Jim

September 11, 2011

Jim's 44th birthday--a gathering of friends at Giuseppe Gallo's. We had Michele, Pat, Doug, Kirsten, Jim, me, Renee, and Bill (and Kelly, who had to leave before we took the picture) all in attendance. Lots of great food, and lots of talking and laughing--just the way a birthday should be! Happy birthday, Jim--we love you!

Team Ricochet Kick-Off Picnic

September 11, 2011

After Saturday's game, Danielle's coach opened up his house for a Season Opening Barbque. I thought it was a great way for the girls to get to bond a little with each other in a casual way off the soccer field. It also gave all of us parents who will be spending hours together at practice and games the opportunity to learn each others' names and to get to know each other. The party was a great success, and now I'll be able to greet the parents by name out on the field instead of saying, "Hey, Marissa's Dad--could you bring snacks to the game next week?"

Team Ricochet Season Opener

September 11, 2011

Ah's that time again. On Saturday we found ourselves back out on the big soccer field, ready for the season opener. Danielle is playing goalie again, but is splitting time at defender as well. The oppressive heat and humidity on that field at 11:00 in the morning made me long for the days when we'll be sitting out in the fog and the rain in just a couple of short months--don't quote me on that, though. (In a couple of months, I'll be shivering out there, wishing for a little heat, mark my words.)

Team Ricochet played a very tough team, but they played admirably. We lost, 2-1, but had it not been for the scrappiness of our girls, it could have been a much bigger spread. Next week, we're ready to fight for the win.

Neon Dance

September 11, 2011

When Bree was in Junior High, she only went to one dance. Nicholas never attended any of the dances. So when Danielle came home and told me that the Welcome Back Dance was coming up and she wanted to go with all of her friends, I was really excited for her. The dance was a Neon Dance, and as you can see, Danielle got into the spirit of it. She and all of her Neon girlfriends danced and laughed and chatted and had a great time--junior high is off to a great start!