After complaining that Hijo isn't studying much more than the basics, I've discovered that in music class they have been studying Beethoven. And Hijo's digging it! We've had discussions in the car driving home about the 5th Symphony. We watched Amadeus together. I was playing the classical station and he asked me to turn it up.
I don't know why this surprises me so. I suppose because usually when we shuffle through the iPod together, he goes for artists like Santana, Los Lonely Boys, or Los Mocosos. He barely tolerates my love of female jazz greats. I never expected he might actually get excited about classical music. Silly mommy.
Does anybody know of any classical CDs aimed at kids? Or does your child have a favorite composer/CD that you would recommend? Has your little one's taste in music surprised you? Shoot me a line in the comments or email using the link on the sidebar.
We have quite a shift in the homework philosophy department this year. Last year Hijo's teacher assigned homework but let the parents have a fair amount of control over when and how it was done. If you didn't do it, no big deal. It was assumed that the family would make decisions about homework and its value, and if they decided to use their after-school time in a different way than filling out math worksheets, then that was fine.
This year is another story altogether. Hijo is assigned homework. Hijo is expected to do homework. Each week we get a tally of how many students in the class did their homework and whether or not they chose to take advantage of the opportunity to finish their incomplete homework in class. This teacher likes to state that homework is the single most important thing a parent can do to ensure the academic success of their child.
My own outlook on homework doesn't really jibe with Hijo's teacher this year. I think that experiential learning is equally (if not far more) valuable than filling out a paper correctly. There are lots of things I can do to help Hijo do well academically (or do well in life), like teaching him critical thinking skills or how to deconstruct a TV commercial.
Luckily, Hijo seems to like doing homework. This year, math is rising as the favored subject (over my beloved reading - sigh) and he sits down on the first night we get the weeks' homework and does all the math worksheets, bim bam boom. He does pretty well with a relatively tightly structured envrionment. So I will keep my own desire to rebel against this "must do homework" attitude under wraps. It's probably a good thing I'm no longer a student.
*UPDATED (October 11th at 1:30pm) to add*: Wow! I'm blown away by the number of thoughtful responses to this post. There is indeed a wide range of feelings about this issue, and I'm glad that lots of folks that are new to this blog are chiming in. I would respectfully ask that everyone keep a non-judgemental tone about other moms' views if they are different from your own. Every kid is different and there a lot of different family situations represented here, so no one answer is the right way for everybody. I'm also thrilled to see some teachers here sharing their thoughts. When I get home from work this evening, I'll check back in and add some more thoughts of my own - Janeen
Update #2 (October 11, 7pm): Thanks again for all your great comments! I would love to have some of you who are visiting Diary of a Single Mom on the Edge for the first time (or the hundredth) to check out this newest post, which is a follow-up to the homework post, including more thoughts by me and also asks some questions about what sort of content you might like to see here.
Warning: long post ahead.
Spent most of the day yesterday on my poor neglected little house. It was a rather traditional Spring cleaning, I just chose a different equinox for it. It got me to thinking about home and how my sense of it has changed since I've been a single mom. I used to take having a home for granted. I don't any longer.
When Hijo was still less than a year old and I was coming to realize that I could no longer be together with his father, I began to think very practically about how I could manage to survive on my own with a baby. I knew that housing would be a big issue, but even so I underestimated the challenges I would face on that front.
I rented a room for us in a big old house. Hijo was 18 months old. Rent was $400 a month. We had one bedroom that was ours and the rest of the house was shared by the married couple who owned the house and one other renter. It was a good arrangement for us. We had the luxury of a big rambling house in a beautiful neighborhood that was close to everything, and having roommates was only a minor inconvenience. Hijo and I shared a bed. His changing table was a pad on top of my dresser. After 2 years, the owners of the house unexpectedly announced that they didn't want roommates anymore. They were gracious, giving us lots of time to find new places and move, but still it was a harsh reminder that I didn't fully control my own situation. I think of this as displacement number one.
This post really has nothing whatsoever to do with being a parent, but it does have to do with family.
My sister and brother-in-law are both commercial airline pilots. Their careers have followed many of the ups and downs of the industry, but they have always lived a few thousand miles away from us. They are in Montreal right now, training.
She wrote me an email that said, "If I had a blog, this is what I would write in it today." Of course I wanted to post it here. Luckily, she agreed.
"It is strange to be away from home for so long. We have been living in this hotel in Montreal for 23 nights. I have not spent 23 nights in a row in my own home
since I've been an airline pilot.
It is often the people you meet when you are on the road that make the experience special. It is a twenty-five minute ride to the training center. The man who arranges our transportation is Ovidio. He owns a taxi and has the contract with the hotel
to shuffle the pilots back and forth. He also employs several other guys.
This contract is a good one. His sense of time is defined in terms of before the contract, and after it. Ovidio immigrated to Montreal over thirty years ago from
Uruguay. He is a big man with an 'in command' voice and an easy laugh. He
does not believe he would come to Montreal again knowing what he knows now.
He believes that immigrants are never truly happy as they only remember the
good things about their old countries. He feels they never quite fit in, and
they sacrifice the simple pleasures in order to come to North America and make money to
buy things. The locals, Ovidio believes, never really accept you. You are
more tolerated than wanted, and friendships are not common. He remembers that he didn't like immigrants in is own country. The sacrafice is for the kids, as they
get a good education and are afforded many more opportunities.
One of my favorite times of the day is riding with Ovidio. He knows
everything that is going on. He knows what pilots are struggling, and who
is doing well. He would have liked to be a pilot, but not a First Officer,
only the Captain. He knows which pilots are here that will go home and fly
royalty. He gets stressed with us about our schedules - can't believe all the
changes - and shares possible scenarios with us. He checks with the hotel to
keep us informed on who might be flying into town: FAA, instructors,
management. He calls Frank [my brother-in-law] the best pilot, second only to Jill [my sister].
Ovidio has been a constant good spirit for us here."
I love this. It makes me miss the city, and traveling, and meeting people from all over the world. Mostly, though, it just makes me miss my baby sister.
Finally, a foto to remind me of summer (we have rapidly turned the corner into autumn). This is a clafouti that I made at the peak of the blueberry season. I'd never even heard of clafouti until I met Kimberly, who made some a couple of summers ago in the traditional fashion, using cherries. It's basically a simple custard with fruit in it. Yummalicous!
As a part of my quest to form some local friendships I called up one of the moms that I have become acquainted with by virtue of the fact that our kids go to the same school. She is one of those on-the-ball moms who participates actively in school, looks great, and knows everybody. In other words, she's totally intimidating.
However, she is also very personable and easy to talk to, as I discovered when I introduced myself to her last year at the ice cream social. We traded some emails with fotos of the kids doing school activities and we would always say hello and chat if we ran into each other somewhere. I figured we would always be merely acquaintences, especially because she has a daughter and Hijo is all about the boys right now. Last time I ran into her at the grocery store, however, she ended our conversation with "call me!"
I am incredibly shy and awkward on the phone when I don't know someone very well. Email is my friend. But I decided I needed to push myself a little if I'm ever going to connect with people here. So I called her. Much to my surprise, she is a single mom! I wanted to run over to her house and hug her right then when she told me. Even if we don't become friends, it is such a relief to have some common ground with someone here in town.
On back-to-school night not long ago, I discovered that Hijo's teacher is a single mom, too. So much for my impression that this town has nothing but traditional families. Can a new Wednesday Night Single Mamas Blowout be far behind?
Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached a momentous milestone in the behavioral development of Hijo! Last night for the very first time he scrubbed the toilet. Not only did he scrub the toilet, but he preferred this chore to the far less onerous and smelly task of bringing in the empty garbage can from the curb. I had no idea that he'd make this choice or I would have enticed him with it long ago.
Since housecleaning is pretty far down on my list of priorties, I have tended to do most of it on the weekends when Hijo is away at his dad's. I've come to realize that this is a big mistake, since it means that Hijo tends to think that the housework just happens without him and won't be part of his daily life as an adult. I refuse to raise one of those boys like those I knew in high school who had never done a load of laundry. So, I'd better get with it.
Hijo's already pretty well internalized my own personal hatred of housework, so I figure we'll just have to do it together and be miserable together. Of course, if you approach it with the right attitude, it can be almost enjoyable (at least for him, since it's new). I remember him remarking awhile ago when he and my mom had tackled some of the clutter in his bedroom that "organizing is fun!"
He did a great job on the toilet. I am particularly glad that he's taken on this task, not so much because I dislike it (I'd rather scub the toilet than do the dishes), but because he causes 95% of the reason that the toilet needs scrubbing so often. I'm not sure what's up with the aiming issues, but I think it has to do with the fact that he always waits untiltheverylastsecond to go running down the hall and do his thing. (I just had a moment of deep empathy for the folks who clean the boys' restroom at Hijo's school.)
HIjo is not going to his dad's this weekend, so operation Do More Chores will go into full swing on Saturday morning. Meanwhile that garbage can is still sitting out there.
Even in the frenzy that was the Wooden Boat Festival this last weekend (I work the main gate, the entry point for those many thousands of visitors, all of whom have some very special reason why they should get in for free), I managed to score a date. Those are some mad hot dating skillz, let me tell you.
OK, so it probably didn't qualify as a date, but it involved a man and myself and food and such. It started on Thursday evening. I was attending (ie working at) a party aboard a gorgeous 1929 fantail yacht. Gorgeous 1929 fantail yachts tend to have some pretty narrow passageways, narrow enough that if two people wish to pass each other along these ways, they have to turn sideways, and even then, they often end up brushing against each other. This leads to great opportunities for flirting, and/or awkward and embarrassing situations. Luckily for me, one of these encounters was of the flirty variety.
It culminated on Sunday with me being whisked away from the festival grounds and taken to a lovely lunch in a cool, quiet (cool and quiet being two things I'd not seen a lot of over the last several days) restaurant, and the sad conlcusion that the most interesting men I've met so far in this town don't actually live in this town. This man has the audacity to actually live in another country.
Even so, the general flow of things dating-wise seems to be going in the right direction. It's about time.
I'm glad somebody in the family got to get out and onto the boats during the festival.
He and my mom also found a great spot from which to watch the sail-by. The pictured tall ship Hawaiian Chieftan and The Lady Washington shot off their cannons all weekend, making us jump.
Hijo built a little toy boat, the weather was fabulous all three days, and I got thoroughly - but happily - wiped out. I got to take today off to recover. My main activity so far? Sleeping.