First Day of School

Well, summer's over at our house. The kiddos start back to school today. I know there are, technically 13 first days of school for American kids, K-12th grade. But every single one of them is different. Today I'm just musing on this first, and will return to the haphazardly posted blog talking about religion and politics and feminism that you're more used to.

My oldest is in high school, and he was pretty excited when he walked out the door at 6:30 this morning. We'll see how excited he stays, having to get up and out the door while everyone else is sleeping! His first hour starts at 7:10! I didn't have to be to school until 8 or 8:30 in high school, but then he does get out about 2-ish, so that's a nice exchange if you ask me.

His high school has this thing they call Freshman Academy-- it's district-wide, and it's a way to segregate the Freshmen from harassment and the sometimes overwhelming nature of high school, and still get them into the actual body of the school. Everything they do, they do together, with kids they went to school with last year. It's almost like a pod for them to be in while they're figuring shit out.

But that's not the cool part. At least not to me. The coolest part is his scheduled classes. He has your generic Ecap block, which is part of the district's laptop program. He has Healthy Living, which is instead of PE. He also has something called Career Development-- it's a "Whaddya wanna be when you get out of school? Let's practice some of it now!" sort of class-- which is kinda neat.

It's his honours courses that have me all excited, though! He has honours Bio, Geometry, English and History! In 9th grade! Damn, I couldn't get honours until 11th grade! That's the coolest thing about their Freshman Academy, I think: get the kids in, neck-deep and keep them there. This encourages them to go ahead and try for Uni, and also gets them used to the hard work, kick your ass nature, of honours courses. Sunnyside wants every single kid who graduates from their high schools to go on to college, and they're trying to give them every advantage to get them there.

I think it's fucking fantastic!

Yeah yeah, I've heard all about Vail, and their vaunted schools. And yes, Tucson's an oddity in Arizona, actually giving a shit about education. I understand that I'm in the middle of a deep-blue speck in an otherwise red state that really only cares about guns, old people keeping their money by defrauding the government and screaming at brown people, because they might be "eeee-legals"!! [Make sure you pronounce that as breathlessly as possible... down here no crazy-freak says illegal, they say eeeee*gasp*legal, like they're chronically short of breath, or half-whispering, it's weird.]

The thing about Vail, I've covered before, is their inability to challenge kids by actually teaching at, or above grade level. Reminds me of the private school I went to in New Mexico that used PACES. PACES are horrible, do-it-yourself, drivel disguised as Christian education-- I ended up finishing my year of PACES in about one semester-- because I didn't realise that was all.  Vail, meet PACES; PACES, meet Vail.

Anyway, he's off on his next stage of life's adventure and I couldn't be more proud and excited. He's a quintessential nerd, and so I'm not worried about him knocking anyone up, or smoking meth. We've had the condom talks, the Safe, Sane, Consensual [To the "Only Oh Fuck yeah! means yes" minutia], he's had the "no, I don't think all drugs are bad so I'm working to legalise them" talk, and the "you have to know who you are" talk; shit, I've even given him the "If you really want to look at porn, then only on the home computer, when the other two are sleeping... but I'd rather you didn't because of the unnatural way most women are presented" talk. I'm not worried about him at all. At least not right this moment. I'll get back to you in December or January when we have to teach him how to drive!

My daughter has been out the door for about forty minutes by this point, and should be arriving at school to start her day in about ten. She's a seventh grader this year at the middle school, and so while she's not one of the "Sixth grade babies" she's not one of the big kids yet, either. Again this year she will have custody of a laptop, and I expect she will do a lot more on it than she did last year. I don't mind, it's a really cool program, and that laptop is locked down so much it drove me crazy trying to help her find stuff last year. So, no accidentally-on-purpose porn for her!*

During the Open House on Friday my Beloved took her (while I went to the elementary school with our youngest) and began the process of getting schedule and meeting the teachers. He told me he has high hopes for her Reading class, because the "classroom has a poster of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter hanging in it."

This book isn't in our personal library yet, but it's on our wish-list. Besides, any teacher willing to step away from the over-used Garfield motivational posters is perfect in my book! My daughter also has a writing class, and she loves to write these sappy love stories, because she wants to be like her mother. I've tried to explain that I don't write love stories, no romance, nothing like that, but she's 12, and so everything having to do with grown-ups and relationships is romantic.

I can't wait for that shit to be over with, let me tell you!

My daughter has some teachers this year that my oldest son had last year. This is great for me, as I already know three of the teachers she has... but not so great for her, as anyone who has an older sibling knows. "Ohhhh, you're his sister, huh!" It'll be fun, I think, though.

I am hoping she decides to step out more into herself this year, instead of going for the neo-emo thing she's trying to do. I always have encouraged my kids to know who they are, instead of who society and their peers and the media tells them they are. She's not interested in that right now-- she wants to be uniquely just like everyone else, and it's exasperating, but I'm hoping it will pass.

As of this moment, my youngest is waiting for the bus. He's starting third grade, and has been saying, "I can't wait to see what maths I'll be learning this year!" since the day school got out. He's not into writing, and doesn't like to read very much, but science and maths, oooooh boy, watch out! I'm hoping that as he gets older and his teacher and I harass him, he'll learn to like writing... but I'm not holding my breath. Not everyone likes it, and I can't make him. I suppose, the least I'm working toward, is to teach him to write well, so even if he loathes it as an adult he'll still be capable of writing a sentence that is coherent.

We'll see.

I've got my fingers crossed about the entire "Actually" thing, too. His SL/P will see him this year, too, so she can work with me on when it's appropriate to correct an adult, and when we write it down to talk about later. My son takes after me in ways I wish he didn't some times.

Discretion, it isn't inborn, I keep telling myself. Have to teach it... and oh, and I trying with that one! I'm sure he'll be OK.

I don't know what today will bring, let a lone this year. I do know that I expect it to be better than last year. I consider myself a realist, and am not optimistic whatsoever... however I do know that kids, when you care about them, will defy your highest expectations by blowing the shit out them as they whiz past to explore the world.

So, I'm going to keep working to set high expectations for my kids to shatter into a million pieces. I know they can, and will, and I look forward to every single explosion!

Happy First Day of School, everyone!



*Because I'm sure there are Mommy Police that are out there, some where, and because I'm sure that eventually I'll get one stumbling into this blog without any clue as to how they got here, or where exactly in the perv-blog-scape they are, I feel the need to make a note here:

Yes, porn can be bad. No, it isn't always bad. Yes, a 7th grader shouldn't be looking at the unnatural female shapes, because she's still shaped like a little girl, and as a parent, you don't want them to feel they have to measure up to surgery-enhanced, photo-chopped women. But, a 15 year old boy is going to find tits if he wants to see them, and any parents who thinks otherwise is a fucking fool.

Let me repeat that: If your son is a teen-ager and he wants to look at tits (or asses, or penises, or whatever naked thing he wants to see) You Cannot Stop Him!

If you truly believe you can lock your computer down so no errant nipples invade your home, he'll go somewhere else. I would rather my children were exposed to such things here, where they can be talked about, where I can say, "yeah, she's pretty, but women don't look like that," where I can explain about what sex is really like, as opposed to porn-sex which is fucking the camera, really.

I guess I understand that I can't control my kids. I can't make the world sanitised and safe, and so it's better to prepare them in a safe place, then close my eyes and pretend that "My little angel would never..."

I'm sure they would, have and are going to... they're kids. Kids do lots of shit they aren't supposed to do... you did, didn't you?

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