Thursday, April 30, 2009

What To Make For Lunch

I'm surprised I didn't write more about this earlier, since it is a daily ritual of my wife and I.  What to make for the boys for lunch?  Our 1st grader cannot take peanut butter and jelly sandwiches due to some of the kids at school with nut allergies.  Take takes a whole option off the plate unfortunately.  We end up giving them turkey or egg salad sandwiches most of the time, but honestly I don't know whether they eat it or just through it away.  They use to bring back the sandwiches and I told them they that they needed to eat them and not bring them back.  So now I am left to wonder if there is landfill nearby filled with uneaten turkey and egg salad sandwiches.

The other trick with having 3 boys who need lunches is remembering their individual preferences.  You're probably thinking that we spoil our children, because who cares what their preferences are.  That's partially true, but the bottom line for us is that we want our boys to eat.  Being picky is a luxury we have in America.  One does like cheese, one doesn't, one wants Mayonnaise the other doesn't, one likes oranges, but does not like apples.  Yes, your right, I think we do spoil our boys.  At the end of the day, my wife knows that our boys will eat when they are hungry.  Our oldest is a good eater so I pack him a big lunch.  Our youngest is extremely picky, so it's usually half a sandwich and some snacks.  Somehow they are growing, so I know that they must be eating something.  Maybe they're trading up during lunchtime for something they like, which is completely okay with me.  As long as it isn't just chips and candy bars, of course.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Math Wars

I have been spending most of the day and evenings learning about the various math textbooks available for K-5 graders.  Our school district is going through a new math textbook adoption cycle, which will be for the next 7 years.  Frankly, I was not that concerned about it, but my wife began to do research.  You see, my wife is much more detailed and focused than I am.  When she focuses on a topic, she wants to know everything about it, but unfortunately when their are actions to be taken, that is when I enter the picture.  "Have you seen what is going on with the Math Adoption at school?"  "Nope, I think it will be fine" I respond.  "No, you need to read this and I want you to call the Superintendent and the School Board and attend these meetings...." she responds.  So you see, I have been spending the last two weeks doing just that.  I know more about math textbooks and the process of adopting a new textbook, than I ever wanted to know.

I am on our elementary school's site council, so I felt it was my duty to help address some of the issues with the particular "controversial" textbook that the committee chose.  Being the go between when you have teachers/staff on one side and parents on the other is no small task.  It's like those police negotiators that wear a bulletproof vest and enter a bank to negotiate for hostage release with the bank robbers.  In this case, the stakes are much higher.  Mine, my wife's, and our children's reputation in the community are on the line as I attend board meetings and present my thoughts.  The good thing that came out of this process is a realization of just how many parents care about the education of their children.  Not all, but many parents have spent hours and hours researching the various textbook curricula and the data supporting the teaching methods of other districts around the country and the world.  

At the end of day, however, I know that our boys are going to do just fine in Math no matter what textbook they choose for the district.  The reason I know this is that I'm sure we will supplement ourselves any shortcomings as well as provide outside tutoring if necessary.  We are a very privileged community and I am more worried about those family's will special financial or learning difficulties that may not be able to make up for curriculum shortcomings with additional tutoring or summer programs.  At the end of the day, it is for those parents and families who cannot or unwilling to speak up for themselves that I must present their cases to the board.  I remember when I first came to America and I could not speak English.  It is a good thing that my parents always taught us to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.  It is a good reminder of our responsibilities.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Baseball Season Once Again

This year we have our 3 older boys on separate little league baseball teams.  Our 11 year old made it into Majors, putting a lot of effort and stress on himself during the tryouts and we are thankful that he is on a very good team.  As my wife and I attend all (ok, most) of the baseball games, it is a constant reminder that for boys, athletics is still one of the major sources of self-esteem.  When they do well, they are happy and confident, and when they don't, they are distraught and self-doubting.  I wish this was not the case, but sadly in our society their peers, the community of parents (not all, but most), and even dad (yes, me) sometimes gets so wrapped up into doing well, that we forget that it should be for the love of the game and to have fun.  The boys realize this and are so stressed, when they are not doing well or in a hitting slump.  It is so important for my wife and I to stay positive and encouraging, while not down playing the importance of sports to our growing boys.

At their age, I was a skinny boy and young man, so I was mostly engaged in cross country running and tennis.  I often tell my boys that they are so much better at sports than I was.  It doesn't seem to help much, when they mess up.  Who wants to hear that they are much better than their middle-aged dad, when they just want to be a good player among their friends now.  Oh well.  My wife and I will continue to help, make a lot of mistakes in how we communicate and nurture them through childhood, but hopefully we will all emerge at the other end with a strong relationship and our boys knowing that "whatever happens in life, you can always come home to people who will love you for being you."