Sunday, January 22, 2006

The secret to eternal friendship

My daughter was telling me this morning about a conversation she had with a friend she's known since her days in self-contained special-ed kindergarten, almost ten years ago. Apparently, the two were discussing what good friends they are, and enumerating the overwhelming number of things they have in common. Explained my daughter: "We both want BMWs when we grow up. We both like 'Suite Life.' We both like Raven. We both like 'High School Musical.' We're like sisters! We're twins!" (I refrained from pointing out that she had tried to watch "High School Musical" twice and had fallen asleep both times. If this is the worse that liking something because your friend does gets for her, I'll be happy.)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Starlet in distress

Just got back from taking my daughter and her friend to see "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" and I have to say, it was far less excruciating than I expected it to be. I'd even go so far as to say that I enjoyed it. But my goodness, what's happened to Hilary Duff? She looked like some leathery middle-aged socialite, with her hair updoed and her face too skinny and too tan. Whoever styled her for this movie -- ack! If it's true, as my daughter's friend merrily mentioned in the car, that she has an eating disorder "just like Lindsay," then whoever was responsible for her makeup seems to have been trying to do some sort of intervention, possibly to shock her by the horribleness of her skinny skinny face on the big big screen. She looked older than Bonnie Hunt, playing the mother. In fact, for my Mom money, Hunt looked better than any of them -- Duff, Piper Perabo as the other daughter, or Carmen Electra as the sexpot trophy wife of Eugene Levy's hyper-competitive character. She was just about the cutest thing on screen, and she's only two years younger than my ancient wrinkly self. Hilary, honey, look up whoever's doing that woman's makeup. Hurry!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Who cares about truth if you've got cash?

We've got a prime example of financial corruption of the political process going on in our city right now, and it doesn't even involve politicians. It involves a businessman throwing huge sums of money around to convince people to veto a plan to build a school near his business. This guy has already mired an early version of the plan in endless hearings to get permission to build in an industrial zone, paying experts and lawyers by the score to tangle the approval machinery. Now he's turned his focus on an election to expand that original project into a facility that will greatly relieve overcrowding in our high school and middle schools.

The result is one of those situations that, if this were two candidates running for office, the fairness of the financial imbalance would be called into question. On the one side, we have the school board, which has a few thousand dollars to spend and can't even legally urge people to vote one way or the other. And on the other side, we have Mr. Businessman, who is spending tens of thousands of dollars on glossy colorful mailers decrying the school plan; full-page ads in local papers; and commercials on networks like Lifetime and CNN to bring his message home.

It's a pretty crazy message, so he sure needs all the money he can get. He needs to convince people who live here that the street his business is on is so heavily trafficked, so beset by trucks traveling heedlessly upon it, that it presents a real and unacceptable danger to our fragile schoolchildren. This is, seriously, one of the quietest and least-busy streets our growing city has. We've got one school on a major highway, and many more on busy thoroughfares that serve as traffic arteries. By comparision, Mr. Businessman's setting is about as bucolic as it gets around here. But his brochures are sure authoritative looking, and dramatically copywritten, and his TV ads will probably be full of portent. Will city voters seek out the other side of the story by, like, driving to the street and noticing they're the only car on it? Most politicians would bet not. I'm hoping they're wrong.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

There's a bug going around, right?

Today was the first day of the two-week honeymoon-break my son's teacher is taking, and guess what? Every other woman who works in that multiply disabled self-contained classroom decided to take the day off, too! The classroom aide and the two one-on-ones were out, leaving the (non-special-ed) substitute teacher to go it alone. Even the aide who sometimes helps in the class and knows the kids well was absent. Halfway through the day an aide was pulled from another classroom to help out, but she wasn't any more familiar with this group than the sub. What a mess. I guess it could be just a massive coincidence that everyone was sick on the same day, but man. The timing could not be worse. I sympathize with how difficult it's going to be for the aides these weeks while the teacher is off, but I sympathize with the kids more. If they actually were all out on the same day deliberately or knowingly ... no. Not going to go there. Not going to think that. Going to give them the benefit of the doubt. But they better be back tomorrow, or I'm going to homeschool for two weeks.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Routine? We don't need no stinkin' routine!

Rough couple of weeks ahead for my son, I think, and for our family by extension. January's already a tough month with the transition back into school after the Christmas holiday. And now his teacher is leaving to get married and will be gone for a couple of weeks. I couldn't be happier for her, really; she's a nice woman and a good teacher and I wish her all the best. But yeesh, two weeks of disrupted routine for a multiply disabled class is asking for trouble. Already I'm hearing little rumblings about my son's disruptive behavior, and am not sure the proper interpretation is being put on things. Maybe he'll settle down and sail through, or maybe the rest of the class will act up, too, and he'll fit right in. I'm sure looking forward to the end of this little period of unrest, though, and wondering just how much I should make myself available to instruct and strategize in the fine art of handling the boy. Maybe I'll just succeed in making everybody hate meddling me, so they'll cut my kid some slack out of pity.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Worries come, worries go

I'm less worried today about my daughter going to high school, after a really good meeting about her transition and all the services that will be available to her there. I'm more worried today about our dog, the beautiful Princess, who went to the vet today for a regular check-up and was discovered to have a swollen lymph node. I'm taking the doctor's word for this; she had me rooting around in Princess's neck trying to find it, and I finally just said, "Oh, yes, I feel it" to give the poor animal a break. So now they're talking about the "C" word and shaving fur and taking a little bit of material from the node and running tests, and did I need something new to worry about? I didn't think so. She seems pretty healthy otherwise and I'm pretty sure this will turn out to be nothing, but, yikes. Dog ownership isn't pretty.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Year, new worries

Alright, I'm back. Didja miss me? I took a little time off from double-blogging to, you know, play with kids and wrap presents and entertain guests and make a book deadline. I am now ready for a long winter's nap, but the book deadline was only a partial one and I still have more chapters to write than I want to think about just now, thanks. I'll sleep in February. Then again, today I'm going over to the high school to talk with a transition person about just exactly what I should be worrying about when my daughter starts there in the fall. So maybe by February I'll be too anxious to sleep.