Friday, 21 September 2012

Why do I live here and when can I leave?

First this:

Tammy Cooper, a stay-at-home mom who lives in La Porte, Texas, was arrested earlier this month after a neighbor reported her for allegedly letting her kids play outside on their motorized scooters unsupervised.
Cooper, who spent 18 hours in jail overnight, says she was watching her children, ages 6 and 9, from a lawn chair during the time of the incident. The family lives in a cul-de-sac, and Cooper told KPRC that the safe location was one of the reasons she had chosen to reside there.
When police showed up at Cooper's home to arrest the mother for child endangerment, her kids protested.
“My daughter had him [the police officer] around the leg saying, “Please, please don’t take my mom to jail. Please, she didn’t do anything wrong,’” Cooper told the station.
The charges against Cooper were dropped, but she is now suing the City of La Porte Police Department, the arresting officer and her neighbor for damages.
Cooper's arrest caused a bit of outrage, even making the news in Australia. On the Internet, some moms rallied to Cooper's defense, saying that she didn't deserve to be arrested for child endangerment.
"All children may not be old enough to handle such a situation, but some definitely are, and it should be a parent's right to decide if they are," Julie Ryan Evans wrote on CafeMom.
It is worth noting that some parents are proponents of a hands-off playtime.
HuffPost blogger Lenore Skenazy, who holds a class called "I Won't Supervise Your Kids," notes that it's good for children to figure out how to play on their own.
"For the last few decades, child development experts have been telling us that the crucial thing missing from kids' lives is exactly what used to fill them: Time with friends of different ages, playing outside, on their own," Skenazy wrote. (Here's the article I copied from.)


Elena goes to all day kindergarten from 8:20 till 3:40.  I think this is much too long, and she comes home exhausted each day and cries half the mornings about having to go to school. However, I figured, it's kindergarten, they'll have lots of play time and recess, and she'll adjust.  At the open house, I received a detailed schedule of their day.  Guess how much time they have for recess during the entire day???
15 minutes!  

Seriously??  I would be exhausted with the schedule they have these kids on.  I literally cried when I was telling Leo about it at home that night.  (Okay that might be a bit of postpartum hormones.)  She does have PE for 55 mins, once or twice day a week--it varies.  But that's not the same as unstructured play and downtime.  Here's her schedule:

8:20-8:30 Morning announcements and pledge
8:30-8:45 Calendar (reviewing days, months, seasons)
8:45-9:00  Phonemic Awareness (ABC chants, sight words review)
9:00-9:45 Writer's Workshop (kid writing)
9:45-10:30 Extended Learning/Developmental Centers
10:30-10:48 Handwriting
10:48-11:18  Lunch (this does not include recess time, I asked)
11:30-12:35 Math/Science
12:35-1:30 Specials (Art/PE/Music/Library)
1:30-1:45 Recess
1:45-2:00 Snack/Quiet time
2:00-2:20 Themed Interactive writing (science/social studies)
2:20-2:35 Shared reading/read aloud
2:35-3:20 Literacy Centers/Guided reading
3:20-3:40 Pack & Stack/Dismissal

So is it just me, or does this seem crazy?  And the teacher kept explaining how the district upped it's standards this year, and kids have to be reading at a 1st grade level by the end of kindergarten, and how they're requiring more sight words to be memorized, etc.   Really?  I know I'm the odd person out by not having Elena in preschool, but Kindergarten, I thought, was still supposed to be a transition into regular school.  But not only that, I would want my older kids (1st graders, 4th graders, etc) to have more recess too.  Even the national recommendations are at least 20 minutes of recess a day.   

My father referred to my school district as "abusive," and said that "No educator in the country would consider that as developmental appropriate for that age group."

My good friend who has a ten year old brother in an elementary school nearby--which is rated the number 1 elementary school in the entire Houston area, and one of the best in the state--told me that her brother is being treated for anxiety.  And the problem is the pressure he feels at school.  That's insane.  She herself went to the number 1 ranked high school in Houston, and she said BYU (most of her classmates went to Ivy League schools) was easy for her, but that wasn't necessarily a good thing, because she was so burnt out from high school when she got there and she felt that her high school had been too extreme and not in proportion to the needs of preparing for college and a career. I definitely want my kids challenged in school, but this is too much. 

Sorry to those who already read this rant.

Then third of all:  

My friend from church picks up and gives Elena a ride to school, because she saw me dragging all four kids to school one morning (we walk, it's only a block and half away).  But literally, I WAS dragging all four kids.  Well, I had Nicolas in a baby carrier on my chest, and Sebastian I was giving a piggy-back ride too, and I had Isabel and Elena by the hands.  It wasn't pleasant, and she was very, VERY nice to offer to stop and pick up Elena in the morning--in the afternoon I walk to go get her--oh, and on this note, I think she's perfectly capable of walking to and from school herself, except I think I would be arrested for child endangerment.  My friend has to drive anyway, because she lives outside our school zone but her daughter is in the same class as Elena for the Spanish immersion program.  So that was nice.

Still very nice, but somewhat irritating is the fact that another lady from our ward who has a daughter in the same school and grade as Ana has offered to give Ana a ride to school, and home from school each day.  This is not on their way like my other friend, but is solely due to the fact that we, (apparently) are cruel and mean parents and make Ana ride her bike the half a mile to school.  Granted, with volleyball on, it is dark when Ana goes in the morning, which I don't especially like, but the lady told me, "Well, this just isn't that good of a neighborhood."  I wanted to laugh.  She probably would be shocked to see where we lived in Chicago.  Anyway, I think she thinks we're terrible parents because we don't go to Ana's games.  Seriously, it's middle school and they charge $4 a person and to keep all my little kids happy would be torture, and as my parents told me and I continue to tell Ana, the sports are for her to have fun, not to entertain me.  I have my own hobbies.  I do plan on going to at least one game, in my defense though. I guess what I'm getting at is that the pressure to parent a certain way is extreme--and I do feel a bit guilty, but only because other people are giving her a ride every day.  I'm otherwise totally okay with Ana riding her bike.  Because, come on, I walked home from school every day in North Dakota and it was FREEZING cold and I survived.  (See, I have my own walked to school uphill both ways story, and now I'm giving Ana a chance to have her own story!)  

And lastly:

Elena has a whole stack of sight words to memorize and trying to help her is like pounding your head against a brick wall.  She doesn't pay attention and she looks completely blank most of the time.  It's so frustrating to me, because of, well, what I described in my last sentence, and secondly because I don't even think they should be teaching her all this in Kindergarten anyway.  AHHHHEEEeerrrrrrrr.  However Isabel had the ones I was trying to teach Elena last night memorized, in about two minutes. Sigh.  But then, why would I expect Elena to have patience with me trying to teach her stuff when she's already had to be sitting still ALL day?


Lynn said...

Wow. And I thought it was just where we lived. This whole pressure thing on parents, that is.

My heart completely goes out to you. Hope some of it works out better for you all. If asked though...I would advise to stick with YOUR plans and what works best for your family and kids. Nosy people need to just leave others alone and take a look at their own side of the fence. Just sayin'. ; )

Kayli said...

I'm SOOOO sorry.

The Haws Family said...

I walked to school in freezing cold Minot, North Dakota too, and it was elementary school and junior high...and it was probably half a mile. Sometimes Ethan and I even walked on the river when it was frozen cause it was faster. Hahaa...child endangerment??? Maybe we should all move to Switzerland with Kayli. No wonder mothers only have one child these days. Its a full-time job at that rate. I think you are a wonderful mother! Besides, look at all those awesome dress-up clothes she has to play with when she gets home!

Natalie said...

You do a great job, Kami! I'm thinking of you.