Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Special-needs sports stars

A newspaper photographer was following my son's Challenger League baseball team for much of the season this year, and the results hit our local paper this weekend with some really wonderful pictures. My first thought on looking at them was, she must have been using a massive telephoto lens, because she could never have gotten these candid shots if an easily distracted kid like my son saw her with a camera.

You can see the photos in slide shows here on the newspaper's site, with audio interviews with coaches and parents. Just click on the link next to "multimedia." My son is in some of the photographs (if you play the first, longest slideshow, he's the skinny kid on the left in the fourth photo to come up), but didn't get interviewed. My husband was there when the reporter approached him, and apparently my son waved her away saying "No interviews! No interviews, please!" What, does he think he was adopted by Angelina Jolie?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Stealth teacher

So I've been trying to get one of my daughter's high school teachers on the phone, and this teacher has acknowledged to my daughter that she knows I want to talk to her, and yet after two attempts at contact in two different portions of the school year I have received zero phone calls (or e-mails, though I gave my e-mail address in case she'd rather not speak).

I was trying to figure out whether I really wanted to get the guidance counselor involved, as is the parent contact protocol; try again to reach the teacher informally; or just give up and hope for the best. But then a funny thing happened.

Someone called asking to speak with my daughter. Since my daughter's been having some problems with kids teasing her at school, and a recent suspicious phone call along those lines, I asked who was calling. The caller hesitated and said, "I am calling from the high school." Well, goodie for you. It sounded like a kid telling me they were calling from a location physically at the high school, so I asked again who was calling. And then the voice, faltering again, announced itself to be the teacher I've been trying to reach (and not by name, either, just by job description).

Well, hello!, I said, and launched into a conversation that the teacher had clearly been trying to avoid. We actually had a nice chat before she asked again to talk to my daughter, regarding scheduling for a test make-up. But it struck me as so odd -- why was she avoiding me in the first place? and why, when she was speaking to me directly, was she so reluctant to say who she was? Maybe I didn't sound like a grown-up to her, either. But professionally, when a teacher calls a student's household, would they not announce themselves with name and title?

It's stuff like this that makes me wonder if there's a file somewhere with my name on it and a big red stamp saying "TROUBLE! Do not engage this mom in conversation." Although there are teachers who have dared to do so, and in most cases emerged with their heads still attached. I can be nice! Really!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Singing the parental advisory hits

My son has been taking voice lessons for a little while, more as just a fun activity than in any attempt to make him a singing sensation. In the time he's been singing his voice has dropped, and he's trapped in that teen purgatory of no-longer-a-tenor, not-quite-a-baritone. His teacher has been having quite a time trying to find appropriate material for him to work on. There were some nice Broadway songbooks for his kiddie voice, but the Broadway songbooks for lower voices? A little more contemporary, and a little more troublesome, theme-wise, especially for perseverative kids like my boy. I have to agree with the teacher that "I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today" from "Avenue Q" is probably not the right material here.

I was thinking about the trickiness of the new Broadway songbook on Tony night when "Spring Awakening" won trophy after trophy. I listened to the whole soundtrack online the next day, and the songs are terrific, but it's hard to ignore that big Parental Advisory label on the CD cover and "Explicit" tag on all the numbers. These are the things I look at when downloading music for my kids, and there's hardly a song here I'd feel comfortable putting on their iPods. And I think the voice teacher's unlikely to want to work with him on songs with titles like "The Bitch of Living" and "Totally F***ed." Yeah, we'll have him perform that one at a recital.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

If Mom likes it, it must be square

This song, "Hey There, Delilah" by the Plain White Ts, has been running around in my head since it plucked its way out from all the rap and noise on my kids' favorite radio station. I'm not sure how something this sweet and quiet is getting airplay these days, but it's lovely, isn't it? It's giving me serious Simon & Garfunkel flashbacks. You can listen to it in the video below, and then it will rattle around your head, too. Unless, like my kids, you think it's just too slow.