speaking of soapboxes

well now I feel obligated

… people are still checking up on my little site here. Go figure.

I could start in on how time flies and all that crap, make excuses why I haven’t posted a freakin’ thing here since September, but, you know, fuck it. I just haven’t been in the mood to write. The kidlettes are still doing and saying REALLY funny shit, like the other night when we were driving across the state again and had been in the car for a good 8 hours and The Boy suddenly throws up his little four-year-old arms and shouts “I can’t TAKE IT ANYMORE!!! I just CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!!!” And then puts his little curly head in his hands and shakes it back and forth saying “Argh!” and “Aaahhhhhh!!” over and over. It even made The Girl laugh, and she’d been feeling sick for the last hour. Of course, the next half-hour of “My bum hurts!” and “Are we THERE yet?” pretty much took the giggle out of the whole thing, but holy crap that was a funny five minutes.

There have been some exciting developments recently though… I mean, aside from the demise of the washer and dryer and the ever present maniacle laughter of the dirty socks as they plan their take-over of the house. To fully appreciate this little bit, we have to do some back stepping…. way back to June, actually, when The Husband decided that he’d had enough of the flatlands and his current army unit and put in for a transfer. We did not, of course, expect a speedy response, and so when September rolled around and shortly after The Girl started kindergarten we still hadn’t heard anything, we weren’t all that surprised. And then there was the surgery for The Husband. That was great fun, let me tell you what. The man does not tolerate anasthesia well AT ALL. Good God, he was puking for almost an entire day. I was playing nursemaid to him, and then to the kidlettes when they got sick, one after another, for weeks and weeks and weeks, bitch and moan and whine and complain, I know, I know, yadda yadda yadda. But SERIOUSLY! And THEN? THEN??? When I was just about to have a wonderful 5 days out of town, all on my ownsome, I got sick. That so sucked. I mean, really REALLY sucked.

So finally, in October, The Husband found out that, lo and behold, his request had zipped right up the chain of command in a matter of, like, 10 days. But then St. Louis, the end point, decided to lose it. “What request?” they said. So obviously, we were meant to stay here in the flatlands, the bible suspenders of the midwest, indefinitely. Whatever. I can deal with that. And then a couple of days ago, three to be exact (yes, I know that’s not technically a couple, lay off-I’m telling a story here), The Husband calls St. Louis again to say “What the Hell?” and finds out that Oh, yeah, we DID have your paperwork, but we still have you listed in this program that you actually HAVEN’T been in for about 2 years now, and that’s what’s been holding the transfer up. So whaddya know, the very next day, Ta Da! We’re off to a new location, far from the midwest. Amazing what happens when people get their shit together and pay attention to the appropriate information.

So now the fun begins. The painting, the fixing of holes in the walls, replacing and repairing all the bits and pieces that have needed replacing and repairing for God know how long, but that we’ve been putting off for myriad reasons… all so we can try and sell the house by May. Fantastic timing, I have to say, painting in the winter is oh so much fun, especially when winter is usually fucking freezing from November until March, as in oh-my-god-it’s-HOW-COLD? For example, we had a record setting day of -86 degrees last winter. You heard me, NEGATIVE EIGHTY SIX DEGREES. It’ll be an adventure, that’s for damn sure…

and here’s why mainstreaming is ruining your kid’s education

… that’s great that your mentally retarded (yes I used that phrase, and I’ll tell you why in just a minute, so rehinge your jaw) kid is in a regular classroom. Now get my kid out.

That’s right, I used the phrase mentally retarded and not “learning disabled”, and I stand by it. Fiercely. But it’s so offensive! So not PC! So cruel! Doesn’t she realize how demeaning that label is? Listen up people, because I’m only going to go over this like maybe 6 or 7 times. In REALITY, and I’m talking about real reality, not this idiotic world we’re stuck in at the moment where money has no real value, the idea of work ethic is a completely foreign concept to most of America, ethics and morality are also pretty much non-existent because parents don’t really parent, and no one takes personal responsibility for, well, anything anymore. In REALITY, the term mentally retarded is actually much less demeaning than “learning disabled”. And here’s why:

Mentally, a form of the word mental, of course, would indicate brain processes.

Retarded,  by definition, and not the inane slang definition it’s been given over the years, I’m talking Miriam Webster here, means slowed.

THEREFORE mentally retardedwould refer to slowed processes of the brain.

Now, “learning disabled” on the other hand, is pretty specific. Let’s quickly define learning as the ability to obtain, assimilate, and utilize information. Does that work for everyone? And feel free to slam me on that one, I can take it, I’m a big girl. The word we’re really concerned with here is “disabled”.

First, the prefix dis- : According to Webster’s New World Disctionary (World Publishing Company, 1964), when used with an adjective, the prefix renders the original word as it’s opposite. It even uses the word “disable” as the example. As for defining the full word “disabled”? Are you ready for this?

“… unable or unfit…” (p. 415).

Do I really need to put that all together for you? If it were my kid? I’d choose mentally retarded over learning disabled every fucking time. Please refer to my child as one who is slower to process things rather that one who is unable or unfit to learn. Mentally slower, not broken in the head. Now do you get it?

But back to the issue at hand… all day mainstreaming of the “learning disabled” child into the regular classroom and why you should be outraged even if your child is the one who is the being mainstreamed.

Plain and simple? IT’S FUCKING UP EVERYONE’S EDUCATION. Not one single child in a fully mainstreamed classroom is getting the education they deserve. (If you want me to throw in some numbers here from some research studies, forget it. I spent enough time staring down EBSCO Host in Psych searches for graduate research papers. I’m not going back to that soul sucking vortex for my freaking blog. You can do one of three things here… you can: 1. Take my word for it (this is the easiest, and most painless option); 2. go to your local library, put on some waders, and jump into the gooey love that is EBSCO in hopes of finding research to either prove me right or wrong (depending on your druthers); 3. use your goddamn powers of logic. If they have been exhausted from the earlier exercise, please see option (1.).)

I remember when I was in kindergarten and a rather patronizing bitch woman came into my classroom and informed us that there would be some new students coming to our school, and that these students were not like us-they were special. Now, of course she was referring to a group of mentally retarded students (yes, I AM going to keep using that phrase. Deal with it. Refer back to my statements regarding WHY, and DEAL with it). My response as a 5 year old? Why am I NOT special? I mean, I totally got that they were different and all that, but the way that that woman explained it to us (as though WE were the retarded ones), it made it sound as though we were now second class citizens and these new special kids were so much more important than we were, that they were to be given every consideration possible, including the pencils from our hands and the blocks from our building stash. Now, this was not mainstreaming into classrooms yet, just the introduction into the regular school. This was way back in the 1980’s before everything went to hell. We were getting ready to step into the handbasket, but it hadn’t been completely woven yet.

But these days, there are a lot of fully mainstreamed classrooms. Like (you guessed it!) The Girl’s. Two kids in her class are functioning at a 3 1/2-year-old level. So guess what? That’s the level THE ENTIRE CLASS is geared toward. No, I am not making this up, this is not hyperbole, this is information straight out of the teacher’s mouth. And it’s not her fault, she’s frustrated and screwed by the whole deal worse than anyone. Poor woman’s teaching preschool. It’s absurd. The mainstreamed kids aren’t getting the attention they need and deserve, and the other kids aren’t getting an education. And yes, I know my kid is ridiculously advanced. But you tell me what 5 year old can’t count past 10? Doesn’t know the alphabet? Can’t tell the difference between a square and a triangle or groups of crackers versus groups of pennies. Because these are the thing The Girl’s class has been working on. In fact, they’re only working on counting to 5 at the moment. And did you know that the letter “C” only makes the hard sound as in “cut”? Apparently letters in todays alphabet are no longer multi-tasking. At least, that’s what The Girl learned in the Alphabet Sounds Song the other day.

So… what have we learned today class? I hope we’ve learned that reality is out there somewhere, just waiting for us to acknowledge it again and get back to work, that it’s better to be retarded than disabled, that no kid is any more special than any other no matter how different they may be (although Mozart, Beethoven, Einstein, Monet, Picasso, people like that do stand apart… but the word “rare” would substitute nicely for special-don’t you think?), and that perhaps completely  mainstreaming our kids is NOT the best idea… for anyone… no matter how much you want your kid to be just like everyone else, he’s different… just like everyone else. Love him for it. Celebrate it. Be an advocate for what he NEEDS, not for what you WANT him to have.

And one more thing… before you get completely irate and fire off some comment slamming me for insensitivity and elitism, take a really deep breath, let it out, repeat twice more, and go back and re-read what I’ve written. Slowly. Thoughtfully. Apply logic. If you still think I’m hanging out on the crazy box drinking the kool-aid of superiority, then go ahead and write that email… I love a good competitive discussion…

where the hell is my decoder ring? (I edited. You got a problem with that?)

… omg, wtf cd sum1 plzzzzzz tel me wut hpnd 2 rl wrdz? dz ne1 uz dem nemor? :(


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Linguistically speaking, it may well be the end of the world as we know it. And, unlike the members of R.E.M., I’m feeling somewhat dizzy and slightly nauseated trying to translate some of the shit crap thumbvomit nonsense fingerbabble symbolic verbiage that’s passing for communication these days into actual words. I mean, I realize that texting only lets you have x amount of characters to get your point accross, my phone lets me have 160 for example. And Twitter (because I need to know what various people are doing every second of the day? Now there’s a soapbox I could preach from for DAYS and DAYS and DAYS) gives you way less. Maybe I just have too much to say. Lord knows I have something to say about pretty much everything. Really. Ask anyone who knows me. I mean, I can accept that the King’s English is dead, and the Queen’s English is lying in the crypt right next to it. We speak and write  American. And with the world fast becoming more and more intertwined with the world wide web and everyone going wireless, it would seem that email, texting, and tweeting (it has its own dictionary — the twictionary — did you know that?!?!?) is quickly replacing not only face-to-face communication, but also vocal communication and the fully written word. And when I say written, I mean by hand. With a pen. Or pencil. Maybe I even mean fully typed with no abbreviations or cute little emoticons to take the place of actual adjectives and/or descriptive phrases. Yes, yes I think I do mean to include the latter bit. Wow. That makes me rather sad. In other words, :(  . And when I say fully, I mean FULLY. As in, using all of the vowels and consonants in the correct order and amount prescribed by a universally accepted academic dictionary. I am neither lol-ing about this, lmao-ing, rofl-ing, rotflmfao-ing, or any combination thereof. Although some of you reading this may be. Just don’t bdcoyn* while you’re doing it. It’s so hard to get of the keyboard.  

You see, language is one of my particular pet peeves. Really? you say, possibly with a slight gasp of disbelief. Yes, really. Granted, I do play it pretty fast and loose with the rules of grammar and punctuation in here, but this is sort of like me talking, and this is the way I talk; run-on sentences are one of my most favoritest things in the whole wide world and I like to split the occasional infinitive, not to mention create my own words — Dr. Seusse and Edgar Allen Poe did it, I figure what the hell. With all the words being dashed from the dictionary each year, SOMEONE needs to be creating new and exciting bits to take their places. And what is it that has raised the ire of my linguistic police you may ask? Well, dear readers, that would be (and I admit this with only the slightest bit of late night internet shame) my new found porn-like soft addiction to FarmTown. Thank you, FaceBook, for creating yet another time sucking application that has pulled me in like a bermuda triangle of virtual social-interaction, where I can lose hours upon hours staring at the most adorable little pretend me plowing, planting, harvesting, and buying trees and squirrels for my own little virtual farm. 

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That doesn’t sound linguistically offensive, you mutter (yes, I can hear you, and I see you smirking — yes you, over there to the left, and you too, condron.us, I see you rolling your eyes). THAT part isn’t. THAT part is all point-and-click, wander wander wander solitary time sucking fun. It’s interacting with the OTHER little farmers that makes me question the literacy of the human race. Anyone out there who has played this game knows EXACTLY what I’m talking about. It’s called the Marketplace. It’s where you take your cute little farmer-you to either find workers or find work. People literally BEG for these little game jobs. Occasionally, it’s loads of fun. More often, it’s obnoxiously spammy and full of horrid grammar, when they bother to use real words, and even the short-hand twit-text abbreviations of the abbreviations are usually misspelled, drawn out, and dammit people, just plain wrong and bad. If you don’t have time to type out an entire word, or two, or, god forbid, and ENTIRE SENTENCE, do you really have time to be playing an online game in the firstplace? Hmmm? HMMMMM????? Ponder that one, Farmer whose-name(s)-I-won’t-reveal-beacause-I-don’t-want-to-make-you-feel-badly-about-yourself. (Okay, we all know it’s just because I can’t remember the names. I have young children who suck my brain power. Lay off.)

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So given all of the above, I have to say the creators of WordGirl should be given some sort of award for combatting the spread of this new viral form of linguistics by making real words, BIG words, honest-to-God look-em-up-in-the-dictionary words cool. I’m not sure what that award should be yet, but I’ve been working on it.Something along the lines of “Coolest Superhero or Superheroine Cartoon Character Who Educates without Pandering and Entertains Adults as well as Children” of the year award. Or something. I love WordGirl. If WordGirl had been around when I was growing up, I would have been WordGirl every freakin’ year for Halloween. Yes, its characters are somewhat corny at times (I mean, her sidekick is a monkey named Captain Huggyface. Really. Swear to god. His alias? Bob. I am not making this up.), and it’s packed with bad puns from start to finish, and yes, the villians are not your run of the mill bad guys (Chuck the Evil Sandwich Making Guy, for example, still lives in his mother’s basement). But this is part of why we love it; the Husband and I can laugh at the bad jokes, which are INTENDED to be above the heads of the younger viewers (apparently we’re supposed to watch tv WITH our children, not use it as a handy diversionary tactic in order to take a shower, do the dishes, yadda yadda yadda. Who knew.), and the kidlettes learn words like sweltering. What 5-year-old uses the word sweltering? Properly? In context? Spontaneously? Weeks after being introduced to it? My 5-year-old. Mine does. 

God bless you WordGirl, and your witty, logophilic creators. I wonder if I can follow them on Twitter…

(psst — http://www.thirteen.org/kids/video/  has full episodes… if you’re, you know, curious…)

* bdcoyn?  blow diet coke out your nose. As in, I just lmfao and bdcoyn all over my keyboard. And don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about, you know you’ve done it.