Monday, June 03, 2002

June 3-7, 2002

JUNE 3, 2002

Yesterday, I took my daughter to a record store to buy a "Kidz Bop" CD -- children singing sanitized versions of contemporary pop songs -- and as we sorted through the kiddie discs, the Barney CDs and the Nick Jr. soundtracks and lullabies, our ears were assaulted by music that I can only call ugly. Ugly in the sound of it, ugly in the words, ugly in the attitude. Yet unavoidably attention-grabbing, in the same fashion as a jackhammer outside your window. The genre was rap, the CD displayed all over the store was by Eminem, and a quick question to the salesgirl confirmed that it was indeed that much debated-over "artist" we were listening to. It sure the heck wasn't the "Kidz Bop" version.

I try to keep a pretty open mind about music. My own mother always tried to respect and embrace the music I enjoyed, and I appreciated that a great deal. I'd like to do the same for my own daughter, and so far it hasn't been hard; the worst of it is listening to things like "Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen's Greatest Hits," and as long as she's shopping in the "Kidz Bop" aisle, I don't have to worry too much about parent advisory stickers. On this particular record-store outing, I was happy to see that she was wincing at Eminem's aural assault as much as I was. As we walked out, she agreed with me that it was awful ... until I referred to it as rap. Then she snapped to: "That was rap? I like rap! I liked that." So apparently, the youthful imperative to enjoy things your parents hate has made it through to her psyche, if not yet her pocketbook.

If I ever have reason to believe that she really does like that stuff, so help me, I'll have to find a way to like it with her. Maybe I can grow my hair a little longer so she won't notice the earplugs.

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JUNE 4, 2002

This is what comes of my plotting to find the perfect class for my kids. I've been in a tizzy since my son's IEP meeting due to his teacher's suggestion that he skip the next class on his current self-contained track and go to the one above. I've been wrestling with various aspects of this decision, and particularly with the idea of whether Teacher B (the one he'd skip a class for) would be a better match for him than Teacher A (the next one down the road). I was a little more familiar with Teacher B than A, had seen her interact favorably with my guy, and had just about decided that she would be the smartest choice for him.

And so, of course, today comes the word that she's resigned.

So now, instead of Teacher B to reckon with, I have Teacher X. Maybe somebody brand new to teaching, maybe somebody brand new to this particular school and its politics, maybe somebody new to handling boys who are real handfuls. My son's class has taken apart a couple of substitutes this year, and although he would be with an older and presumably more sedate crowd in the skipped-up class, I do think that he benefits from teachers with a lot of experience and a full bag of tricks. So now the scale tips back to Teacher A, who at least is a known quantity.

This is why I should never try to make or manipulate these sorts of placement decisions. It always backfires. At least this time, I know in June. The last time something like this happened, the teacher changed only days before school started. Really, I'm much better off letting the bureaucrats in the special-ed office make the final decision on which classroom my boy will be in. That way, I at least have the right to whine and complain.

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JUNE 5, 2002

My kids' school holds a field day every year in early June, ostensibly to give the students a nice healthy day outside where they can be active and loud without annoying their teachers, but also to give parents a chance to volunteer and participate and feel like part of the school community. And that's just what I did yesterday at this year's event. I manned the water table, I helped with the Hippity Hop game, I picknicked with my son's class, I watched my daughter from afar (where she's most comfortable having me be when she's at school, thank you very much), and I even learned a few things myself. Such as:

* If I look a big ol' fifth grade boy in the eye and tell him to get off the Hippity Hop ball right now and get in line, he'll actually do it! Wasn't sure about that when I started.

* When you replace the bottle atop a water cooler, you need to actually poke a hole through the plastic at the top of the new bottle, or no water will come out, leaving you with 25 thirsty kindergartners and a lot of empty cups.

* Most of the kids on my son's special-ed track take everything a grown-up says at face value, making gentle silly teasing pretty difficult. His teacher laughed, though.

* My son's best friend likes to hug, often way past the point at which the hug-ee would like some oxygen please.

* Athletic games that I would have hated participating in as a kid are a lot more fun now that I'm an adult on the sidelines watching other poor children have to do them. C'mon kids, you can do it, it's fun!

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JUNE 6, 2002

I’d like to write something right about now concerning the Hallmark adoption series that started last weekend -- about how it did or didn’t take an appropriate tone toward adoption, whether its language was correct, whether it hit that line between sensational and boring, how it did or didn’t foster discussion between my children and myself about the special way we’ve formed our family. I’d like to, but as it turns out, we don’t get the Hallmark channel. I settled everybody down in front of the channel it was supposed to be on Saturday night, but instead of heartwarming stories of parents and children coming together, we got a priest talking about art. I’m sure he was very interesting, but we didn’t stick around to find out.

The next night, on what should have been the first regular night of the series, we got static on that channel. So apparently I have to make some special deal with my cable operator to get all Hallmark, all the time. And here I thought I already had more channels than I knew what to do with.

In the meantime, the kids and I made do watching our tapes of “Sarah, Plain and Tall” and “The Parent Trap,” movies that, while not specifically about adoption, certainly involve families coming together in nontraditional ways. And hey, “Sarah” is a Hallmark Hall of Fame production. Maybe one day they’ll sell us tapes of their adoption series, too.

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JUNE 7, 2002

Is it just me, or is the Internet obsessed with weight? More and more lately, it seems the annoying ads that pop up as I work my way around, say, Yahoo's world o' pages are weight-loss oriented. Weight Watchers is everywhere; another company offers to let me input my weight (fat chance of that) and let them tailor a program for me; even Avon is hawking some sort of weight loss powder. If I was the least bit paranoid, I'd suspect that these ads were being individualized for me, and someone had a secret camera primed to record my every added pound. But it probably just means that Yahoo customers spend so much time at the computer that they're bound to be on the hefty side.

Maybe I'll have to spend time in other domains to improve my self-esteem. There's one that always serves gambling ads, so I can be fat and poor, too, and another that's pushing an extremely creepy hidden camera (maybe the one they're using to record my weight gain). I seem to see a lot of debt-consolidation ads, maybe for the people who've lost it all gambling and been sued for secret-camera peeping. Come to think of it, maybe I'm better off with the weight loss ads. Just the sight of them reduces my appetite.

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