throw some money at it

mind the gap

… can we take her preschool teachers with us? 

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For those of you paying attention, I have one child who I know without out a doubt is terrifyingly smart. That’d be The Girl. The one who enters the public school system in the fall. Today is the last day she will ever spend in the wonderful world of Montessori preschool, where both of her teachers have given her three amazing years of freedom to explore her interests and talents while making sure that she doesn’t forget to cover the rest of the learning spectrum. They have spent countless hours of their own time searching the internet for extra worksheets to bring in for her so that she would be able to continue to progress at her own rate and not be held back simply because the rest of the class wasn’t working at the same level as she. And the results? I have a 5-year-old who reads at a fourth-grade and above level, adds, subtracts, multiplies, and is beginning to work with base-1o math. She understands the concepts behind basic chemistry — I couldn’t figure out how to “dumb down” the process of salt dissolving in water, so I wrote down the chemical equation and then sort of worked backwards from there. She so got it. So completely got it.

So when I dropped her off at her class today and her teachers asked me “what are you going to do with her?”, I started to cry. Because I honestly am terrified about public school. If you’re a smart kid and there are AP classes, you might be okay. But if you’re a REALLY smart kid, even the AP classes aren’t going to be enough. Unless you have teachers who are going to go way above and beyond the mark to keep you interested, into the cracks you fall. Like me. You get bored. You drop out. Maybe you go to college early. But you certainly don’t get the education you could have/should have, not if you’re stuck in the No Child Left Behind era.

This is where I step up on my soapbox and get REALLY self-righteous, so some readers may do well to turn away. Or feel free to fire back with nasty comments.

But as a child who DID get left behind, here’s the thing: the NCLB programs have done nothing less than dumb down our entire school system. The median remains the same, and yes, the lower quartiles may have been raised, but the higher quartiles are either dropping or dropping out. The best and brightest are being completely ignored and left to fend for themselves instead of being nurtured and trained to be the next generation of scientists, doctors, leaders, and great minds that we so desperately need in this country. Why do you think our country has gone to such shit over the last few decades? When I dropped out of highschool at 17 and was accepted into a private college (with academic scholarships, but no diploma, nor a GED mind you, just an insanely high ACT score), I immediately became frustrated because the college level courses seemed to me the level of what high school should have been. And again with grad school — seemed like what college should have been. I keep asking myself “when does the challenge happen?” I’ve concluded that it doesn’t. But it should. And it shouldn’t be just for those who can manage a private school education, either. Not everyone is built for college. That’s just the plain truth of it. Just like not everyone is meant to be a parent or a lawyer or a doctor. We all have our particular path in life, and there is no shame in being a mechanic or a salesperson, or a chef or a stylist, or even a fast food worker. Not if you do that job to the best of your ability, with pride of workmanship each and every day. But don’t you dare dumb down the schools to accommodate those who shouldn’t be there just for the sake of “fairness”. I got so screwed by that thinking, and fuck you if you’re going to do that to my kids. I’m not built to be a homeschooling mom, but dammit if I won’t work three jobs to find some private school or afford the gas to drive to the nearest charter school so my kids can get a real education.

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There will be no falling into the educational abyss for my children. I’m minding the gap.

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you know that glaze packet that comes with the ham that everybody cooks for easter dinner?

… that is some sticky shit.

And why is it that I can never remember that it’s potatoes first and THEN ham? If I start the scalloped potatoes in the oven first, cook for 45 minutes, then cook the pre-cooked (how stupid is that, I mean really folks) ham for its first session, then BOTH the ham AND the potatoes go in for the last 30, and ta-da, hot stuff done at the same time before 7:30 pm and kids don’t nod off at the table and get ham sauce in their hair. Easy, right? Then why, dear lord, oh why is it that I have only been able to pull off this seemingly simple task of kitchen wizardry only once in 6 years of family holiday cooking? And I make this freakin’ meal roughly TWICE EVERY FLIPPIN’ YEAR!!! Next year, screw the ham, it’s turkey for Easter or jello and water, and that’s final.

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During the marathon cooking session of 4 ½ hours (which would have been 2 ½ had I not been the idiot who put the ham in before the potatoes), I made a startling discovery: The Easter Bunny has moved into our backyard along with his entire extended family. We have been invaded. Our once beautiful, albeit tiny, bit of lawn flanking our tiny, albeit… nope, just tiny, house has become a complete wreck of miniature hills and valleys littered with rabbit poo and dead grass, leaf mould and more rabbit poo. It is ankle breaking and heart wrenching to walk on the grass that used to make me so proud. Proud of all the hard work that The Husband and I had put into our little yard, all the money we have forked out to the fine people at ChemLawn to make our lawn the best looking on the block, and apparently the most rabbit friendly, for I have seen no other neighbors walking their lawns swearing above their breath and vowing revenge upon the rabbit population. But I could be wrong.

Add the rabbit infestation to all of the other little things that have started to creep up wrong with our little house over the last few months, and I’m starting to feel betrayed. I’m not sure by whom yet, but betrayed nonetheless. Granted, the house is 110 years old and the entire town was built on swampland (“Hey Bob – this looks like a great place to settle, nice and close to water!” And people wonder why non-Dakota people think Dakota people are stupid. Yeah.), but it’s kind of like all the “fixes” that were done on the house in order to sell it are now wearing off, because they were not done well. Oh, fine. They did a shit job on most everything, and there are some downright weird things that make no sense whatsoever. Shit workmanship? The windows have daylight gaps between the frames and the interior walls, they have never sealed properly on the outside, which has created a moisture issue on the inside during the winter, which has led to a mold problem on the cheap wooden frames because they were never properly water sealed. And I have a sneaking suspicion that there has always been a bit of a mold issue in this house, since there are little patches cropping up from cracks that are breaking through walls that were patched. Hoodwinked, I say. Less than full disclosure. 6 years after the fact, I feel like I got suckered into an eventual money pit, and in order to sell the damn thing we’re going to have to start throwing money at it like it’s an AIG.

On the other hand, I am grateful that I still have a roof over my head, even if there are some cracks starting to show.

oh — and p.s. condron.us (because there’s just no good way to work that into the story, you know?)