Friday, October 28, 2011

Bear's first joke

As we were driving home on Tuesday afternoon, Bear announced, "Mama, I poop!"  I turned around in my seat and looked at him, asking "Did you poop?"  Giggling, he said, "No, I not poop.  I funny, Mama!"

CU Land

While Yetta was here this past weekend, she pointedly asked Archer and me if we were still looking for jobs in the States.  Prior to her arrival, Archer and I had discussed what we would say if she broached this topic, and we decided to be honest.  Archer started by pointing out that he has been on the job market every year since 2007.  That is 5 years.  If he sends out job applications again, that makes 6.  Since taking the job at CU, he has had several phone interviews and conference interviews as well as 1 on-campus interview.  He hasn't, however, gotten any offers.  He then reminded her that this is my third year on the market.  The first year I did not get any interviews, and last year I had several initial interviews and 1 on-campus visit, but again, I had no offers.  I did, however, receive a full-time position at CU with the "promise" that the job would either be renewed as is or that it would convert to a T-T line.  He then gently reminded her that we've tried to get jobs in the States, and for whatever reason, it isn't working out for us. 

She seemed fairly accepting of all of this, as Archer was offering concrete evidence of our attempts to return to the States.  I then pointed out that we actually like CU Land.  This is the beginning of our fourth year here.  We've developed a social network.  We have people we can call on in an emergency.  Wild Man has good friends.  I've made 4 close friends in the past year, and Archer has finally found a group of guys he can have beers with.  As for Bear, well, CU Land is the only place he's ever known.  I said, "While CU Land still doesn't necessarily feel like home for Archer and me, this is home for Wild Man and Bear.  I moved around a lot as a young child, and that takes a toll on a kid.  Unless a really great deal comes along and assuming my position does convert, it looks like we may be here for the long term.  And we're okay with that."  I had planned this statement.  I had thought about the argument.  I intentionally used passive voice and focused on the children as I thought it would be the most convincing way to present the argument.  But, it seems I overestimated my MIL's ability to accept reason. 

Calling CU Land the boys' home was, apparently, not the track to take as it reminded her that they do not consider Home State home, a fact she pointed out to Archer in a phone conversation after she left.  She stated point blank, "I want my grandchildren to think of Home State as their home.  I want you all to live here."  He said, "I understand that, but unfortunately, we don't have a lot of control over that given our profession.  You're going to have to accept that this is our decision to make.  And you've got to stop thinking of Canada as Antarctica.  We're a 3 hour flight away, not on the other side of the world.  It is time you accepted that."  I couldn't have said it better myself.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Being cryptic

So* some things are going on that I can't talk about yet, and I find that very frustrating.  Why?  Well I'd actually love to ask everyone's advice on an issue, but as said issue is currently off-limits, I can't.  So I guess I'll have to figure it out on my own.  And I'm sorry for being so cryptic.

*In honor of Anastasia

Monday, October 24, 2011

I survived . . .

the weekend with Pita and Yetta.  It was mostly good.  Yetta misrepresented several statements I made to her and, predictably, reported those misrepresentations to Archer.  For example, I am apparently an advocate of divorce.  Yes, I'm am thrilled to bits that my BIL and SIL are divorcing and I think their children will be better off and so much happier.  Indeed, I will.  And if you know me at all, you know that I would totally be in favor of such a thing. 

When Archer told me this I literally laughed until I cried.  You see, I said that the children, my lovely, lovely nephews, would have a hard time for a while.  I told Yetta, "I know they will struggle with this.  I'm a child of divorce, and I know how hard it will be on them.  But, in the long run, I think they'll be better off having two happy parents in separate homes than two unhappy parents in the same home."  Somehow that became "Your wife* thinks the divorce is a good idea."  Archer, however, knows me so well that he realized I would never have said such a thing, and without even knowing what I said, he corrected his mother.  He told her, "I know M did not say that the divorce was a good idea.  She likely said the boys will be happier with two happy parents."  I love my husband.

And I'm also glad that Yetta and Pita only visit a few times a year.

*Notice I didn't even get named in the statement.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday, Wild Man!

Then and now. . . 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Good news, potentially

I just left a meeting in which I received what is potentially really, really good news.   I was asked to only share the news with "the people [I] live with."  And Archer is currently in a meeting right now, so I can't talk to anyone!  I feel like I'm about to burst!  Okay, blog friends, keep your fingers crossed for me and, if you're so inclined, say a prayer that the potential good news becomes a reality.  In return, I promise to update you as soon as I can.

Perspective, part 2

Pita and Yetta arrive today for a 5 day visit.  I will write a post about the reasons why they came this week instead of last week, but right now, the events are still too frustrating for me to think about without getting upset.  Keep your fingers crossed for me, though, that I manage to maintain some perspective while they are here.


Bear wakes up insanely early--between 5 and 6 without fail.  And try as we might, we cannot get him to go back to sleep for any extended period of time.  In fact, he seems to be the child who wakes up really early, as he doesn't get fussy until his nap time.  So Archer and I take turns getting up with him.  We've both gotten in the habit of logging in a bit of work while Bear watches a bit of TV (yes, I'm THAT mom, but really, when your kid wakes up at 5:30 every. single. morning. I bet you'd be THAT mom too). 

This morning was my morning to get up with him.  In an attempt to be productive, I've finally sent out the article I finished revising (I've been procrastinating, mainly due to nerves), and I'm also editing a panel proposal I've been working on for about a week or so.  Just as I had sent the article out and was about to allow myself a few minutes of anxiety as I contemplated whether or not the damn thing was good enough for the journal I decided to send it to, Bear calls out, at the top of his lungs, "I need milk, Mama.  I need milk now!"  Someday, when he's old enough to understand, I'll thank him for helping me keep things in perspective.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Gifted Child

Wild Man is in his 6th week of senior kindergarten, and he is doing well.  He can now recognize the entire alphabet, although he continues to confuse several letters (h is often n, for example).  He is also able to pick out many short words when we're reading, words such at the, is, if, on, he, she, and I.  His math skills have improved a great deal as well.  He can now add most numbers between 1 and 10 and come up with the correct answer on his own.  He is also very curious, asking lots of complex questions about things that Archer and I struggle to answer adequately, as we want to give him an appropriate amount of information while satisfying his curiosity.  We recently had a very complex conversation about Frankenstein, for example.  He'd read a Halloween book at school and came home asking lots of questions about Frankenstein.  He was equally frightened and intrigued by the character. I tried to explain the basics of Mary Shelley's so that he would no longer be scared.  Aside from his sensitivity, I believe Wild Man is average.  There I said it.  My child is average.

I actually made this very statement to an acquaintance of mine a few weeks ago.  This woman also teaches at CU, and she has a child Wild Man's age in Wild Man's school.  She was raving about the school and listing all the activities her child is involved in, each of which is meant to enhance her education because, "well, we think our daughter is gifted."  In fact, her one complaint about the school was that it won't test children for the gifted program until they've completed grade 1.  I responded by saying I also really like Wild Man's school because I think it is a great blend of academics and creativity.  I also said that he continues to struggle with some things, and "well, you know, I think Wild Man is pretty average."  Her face was aghast, and I may have well said Wild Man was an idiot.  I quickly changed the subject, and the conversation ended shortly after that.  I've been thinking about the conversation since then, however.  I'm still struggling to understand what I said that made her look at me as though I was the worst mother on the planet.  Is Wild Man gifted?  Well, honestly, in some ways I think he is exceptional.  He has an imagination that would rival Steven Speilberg's, and he is much more empathetic than most of his peers (something that everyone comments on).  But, you know, he does most things at a kindergarten level.  Most days he can identify all of the alphabet, and most days he writes his name beautifully.  Other days, he could care less whether he identifies "h" correctly or if he writes an "r" backwards.  So, no, I don't think my child is gifted.  In fact, I think he's privileged, a fact I wish so many other parents in positions similar to mine and Archer's would realize.

What do I mean by "privileged?"  Well, Archer and I both have doctorates.  We have read to both of our boys since they were days old.  Both can recite various books from memory, and both will sit with books on their own.  Bear, in fact, tries to read books to both Archer and me.  Both Wild Man and Bear ask to go to the library and the bookstore, and they see us reading all the time.  We work on art projects as a family, and both boys love to draw, color, and paint.  We have lots of puzzles and blocks in our playroom (right along side with all of our cars, Star Wars toys, and baby dolls).  And, most significantly, I think, we constantly talk about our work in front of the boys.  Wild Man knows I am a "doctor of literature" and that Archer is a "doctor of art."  He knows that we have to write, read, and mark papers for our jobs.  He has gone to class with both of us, and he has been in both of our offices when we're meeting with students.  Both because of our travels and Archer's line of study, Wild Man and Bear know upwards of 25 Spanish words, and Wild Man is able to recognize their counterparts in French.

There is no doubt in my mind that both of my children are bright, inquisitive, and articulate.  But do I think this means either of my children is gifted?  No, I do not.  I think this means they have been exposed to different languages and cultures, as well as books, art, and, well, life, at a very young age.  I think this means they are privileged.  After all, most 2-year-olds and 5-year-olds have not visited Rome, Florence, or the Yucatan peninsula.  Few have seen the Vatican, the Colosseum, or Chichen Itza.  Not every child has the opportunity to go to plays, to libraries, or to museums on a regular basis.  Our children do.  Has this influenced their intellectual abilities?  Sure.  Does that make them gifted?  Nope, it makes them privileged.  It means they have parents who are in a position to provide them with such opportunities.  That's all.

It is likely becoming clear that I have some concerns about labeling children as gifted.  Why, you might ask?  Well, I think it sets up some false expectations on the part of the child, for one.  I also think that, try as we might not to, we are marking gifted children as better somehow than children who aren't gifted.  As an educator, I do understand the need to push students who have an inherent desire to learn and excel, but I also understand the need to push students who are struggling.  What I do not understand is the need to establish an intellectual hierarchy among children at such a young age.  I also understand that many parents want their children to be in gifted programs because such programs have more resources than the "average" classroom.  But I see this particular issue as indicative of many problems in education--why aren't all classrooms capped at 18 students, for example?  Why can't all children, regardless of their IQs, be exposed to drama and art history and computer science and music?  Why are these activities routinely only offered to "gifted" children?  Why don't we offer the same opportunities to all children, regardless of ability?  Because wouldn't exposing all children to things like this improve their abilities?  Isn't that more important than marking children as gifted?

To be continued, I'm quite sure.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Um, yes, seriously, that happened.

So my parents were visiting my grandfather last week.  He lives 4 hours from my sister.  My parents were there for a week, and they never once contacted my sister to let her know.  They also did not make any attempt to go see her.  Seriously.  My mom called me on Wednesday asking me why my sister is so upset with them.  For real.  I do not even have words.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Just for fun

Bear calls Winnie the Pooh Winnie Poop.  And I laugh every single time he says it.

Job Search 2011

I have just submitted my first three applications of the 2011 job search season.  I am so not excited about this.  I so do not want to do this.  I so am not pleased that I spent most of today revising letters to cater to the specific schools.  I would have much rather have been working on an essay that I'm drafting.  And all of this better pay off because, you know, I'd really like to keep the job that I'd already have.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving . . .

makes so much more sense in October.  Oh, and it doesn't feel so commercial either.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Still here. . .

 just insanely busy.  I honestly didn't realize it had been almost 2 weeks since I posted.  The weather is beautiful for mid-fall in CU Land, so we've spent most of the weekend taking care of our yard.  Wild Man and I planted 64 tulip bulbs in our front flower bed while Archer moved around some shrubs.  I am about to make a pumpkin pie and an apple crisp for Thanksgiving, which is tomorrow.  I have a million other things I could write about, including crazy family drama (will that ever end, I ask you?).  But instead, I will share this with you.