Monday, September 23, 2002

September 23-27, 2002

SEPTEMBER 23, 2002

We had some excitement here on Saturday in the form of an ambulance, a police car, two paramedics and a policeman. The occasion of their visit was not, thankfully, a problem with my kids but with their grandmother, who lives with us. She was sick enough that her doctor had ordered me to call 911, but not so sick as to be in serious danger. So the whole spectacle of emergency vehicles coming to our home was more thrilling than chilling.

The men who came to our house were friendly, professional and efficient, but what impressed me most was how kind and understanding they were to my son, who was jumping around so excitedly he could easily have just annoyed them. Instead, one of the paramedics asked me for my son's name, and then called to him and asked him to go wait for the police car and show the policeman where to come. When the officer did arrive, he cheerfully answered my boy’s questions about the police car and allowed his keys to be examined. When they left, the ambulance driver gave the siren a blast at the kids’ request, and then they were gone, leaving my son with an exciting story to tell anyone who would listen: "Two Fords came to our house, an ambulance and a police car!"

Odd for a visit from emergency personnel to be, in the end, a good experience. (Not so good for Grandma, of course, but she is doing better now.)

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SEPTEMBER 24, 2002

I was sorry to hear the news that one of the few magazines I take the time to read regularly, "Rosie," is soon to be no more. Its namesake has apparently tired of fighting with editorial types to see her vision realized -- and having worked for a women's magazine and been an editorial type myself, I don't blame her one bit -- and is bowing out of her publication as she did her TV show. Some will take this as yet another example of the foolishness of depending on celebrities, and they may be right. I think it's yet another example of the impossibility of making real, radical changes in an established magazine format, and I may be right, too.

At any rate, I'm sad to see it go. Although unable to break out of the fashion-makeup-recipes-decorating women's magazine mold, I thought "Rosie" did some interesting new things with those old standbys. The appearance of stars of varying wattages in its pages was similarly unavoidable, but again, the celebs were employed creatively, and if that didn't always work (as it turns out, I don't really want to take parenting advice from actresses), I appreciated the effort. I thought the writing was generally good and refreshingly opinionated, a departure from the even-handedness most women's magazines apply so heavily that no conclusions can ever be drawn.

Most of all, though, I liked "Rosie" because it felt like a parenting magazine for *me* -- for a middle-aged mom with kids adopted well past infancy, who couldn't care less about diapers and breast-feeding and playgroup politics but is very interested in articles about adoption and kids with special needs and social issues affecting children. If the publishers of "Rosie" are going to turn it into yet another magazine (it was originally "McCall's"), I hope they'll keep that slant. Probably about as much chance of that, though, as of the magazine being rechristined "Caroline Rhea."

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SEPTEMBER 25, 2002

The recent story of a mom who was caught on a parking lot security camera beating her daughter has given me chills, but not for the reasons it should. Of course, on some level, I'm appalled that a mother would treat her child that way, and glad for the child to be brought to safety and the parent to justice. But at the same time -- man, would *you* like your worst parenting moments to be caught on tape and broadcast on the TV news? Without for a moment condoning child-beating in any venue whatsoever, I think I can say that the notion of security people scanning video screens looking not just for car thieves and muggers but for parents behaving badly makes me want very much to never leave the house. Anyone else getting the heebie-jeebies?

I guess it's true these days that security cameras are always with us, in the bank, in the convenience store, in the parking lot, in the dressing room. They're there when we drop embarrassing personal items into our shopping basket, they're there when we try on hideously poor-fitting clothing, they're there when we pause by a shiny piece of reflective metal to check our hair, they're there when we give the car next to us a door ding and then try to pretend we didn't, they're there when we lose our temper with a cashier or a spouse or a child. Most of the time we allow ourselves to forget that we're being watched; but stories like the one about the parking-lot mom make me remember, all too clearly. And personally, I'm not so ready for my close-up.

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SEPTEMBER 27, 2002

Last night was "Back to School" night at my kids' school, and I'm feeling cautiously optimistic. The new superintendant of our district, who happens to have kids at our school, made a speech in which he correctly identified the problems the district is facing, including my pet peeves of poor communication and lack of thoughtful long-range planning. Of course, as many a politician has discovered, there's a large and scary space between identifying problems and actually doing something about them. But identifying is good.

I was happy to see that my son's classroom was arranged appropriately for his particular special needs, and that the teacher was doing things like starting the morning with exercises and giving rewards throughout the day. His textbooks were at the right level and all the adults in the room seem pleased with him (and there are a *lot* of adults in the room -- a teacher, a classroom aide and two one-on-one aides vs. six kids). So far, so good, I guess.

I'd already been to my daughter's classroom and met her teacher, but it was nice to see where her desk was and notice the folder with two A tests on top of it. The year's starting out well. But we'll see. "Cautious" is about as high as my optimism meter goes these days.

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