Readers, this is just a fascinating Texas Monthly story about a lockdown drill that everyone but the principal and a few administrators thought was REAL. At the heart of it lies the question the reporter asks (see below). And also: How does a terrifying drill make the staff better prepared than a calm one? And the uber question: What kind of administrators think a shooting is so likely, it is worth putting everyone in their school through a horrifying experience? That’s the kind of thinking that gets us all sorts of drastic laws: “I don’t care if the odds are TINY, I still demand we do something huge and inconvenient that could easily backfire!”
Is It Possible to Prepare Teachers and Students For School Shooting Situations Without Traumatizing Them? by Don Solomon
When Hans and Jessica Graffunder sent their kids to school at Small Middle School in Southwest Austin last Thursday morning, they didn’t expect that by mid-morning, their children would be in the middle of a lockdown situation. The Graffunder’s couldn’t have anticipated that their daughter, 11, would find herself in the school library with a librarian urging her to find a better place to hide so she wouldn’t get shot, or that their son, 13, would be locked in a room with a teacher who drew the curtains at the windows as unknown people rattled the door handles from the outside.
And when these terrifying scenarios happen, there is no anticipation, no warning. But what about when there is no actual shooter? When there is no emergency? What happens when it’s a lockdown drill simulating a gunman on campus planned by the Austin Independent School District and the middle school itself? Shouldn’t parents and teachers anticipate that because they’ve been given plenty of advanced notice?
On the morning of the December 12—after they’d sent their kids to school—the Graffunders and other parents at the school received an email from the school informing them that there would be an unannounced lockdown drill later that day. According to Hans Graffunder, the unannounced nature of the drill, which happened almost a year to the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, had both students and teachers in a panic.
“The only people at the school who knew it was going to happen, or knew it was a drill, were the principal and a few administrative staff,” Graffunder said in an email to Texas Monthly after the drill. “The teachers did not know it was a drill. The simulation took place in a passing period, so all the kids and teachers scrambled for a place to hide. My daughter ended up in the library. The emergency team went around to rooms where kids and teachers were hiding and proceeded to rattle door handles and beat on locked doors to simulate someone trying to break in. The librarian told my daughter that she better find a better pace to hide or she would get shot. She was told that a bullet could dome right through the library window and hit her. She was absolutely terrified. Kids and teachers were screaming and crying. One of her teachers had a complete meltdown, which made all of her kids break down, as well.”
Graffunder’s interpretation of the drill is pretty consistent with that offered by the school’s principal, Amy Taylor. (Taylor does say that door handles were checked to ensure that they were locked, not to simulate someonewas breaking in.) Both the school and the outraged parent agree on the basics of what happened: The school simulated a lockdown without warning teachers, and parents were informed the day of the drill with, at least in some cases, insufficient warning to give them the opportunity to pull their kids out of school for the day.
While no one would dispute the importance of emergency preparedness, the way the unannounced drill was carried out raises an important question: Is it possible to prepare schools for this sort of emergency without traumatizing the students and teachers involved?…
Read the rest here. And if you’ve ever been traumatized by a scary situation, I’d particularly like to hear your take! – L.
Rating/Warnings: PG- for alcohol
Word Count: 2,257
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Penny teaches Sheldon what Christmas really means (kinda) when they are stuck spending it together.
( Christmas GiftsCollapse )
- Position:United States, Texas, Fort Worth
- Angular Momentum: bouncy
Dear Spacefem in 2012:
Congratulations on your promotion!
- Your previous supervisor gave you one bit of advice: delegate everything, then step in if your team gets overwhelmed. That's good advice. Stick with it.
- You're new to this product line and a bit uncomfortable with it. You will have to get over it. You will be rarely judged for not knowing the technical details, even your intimindating senior engineers won't care too much. They WILL judge you if you try to avoid giving them projects until you understand them yourself. Delegate first, then understand on your own time along the side of them. Make it a race, that sounds fun.
- Don't ignore anything. As an individual contributor if an issue stunned you, your boss would notice you dragging your feet and step in to help. You are now the point person. No one's going to swoop in to help, if you push something off you're only giving yourself less time to deal with it. It could be a crisis.
- In fact fuck it... just treat everything like a crisis. A light that blinks "funny". A plastic cap going obsolete. Nacho day. Just ASSUME something is going to go horribly wrong and that you will only be able to deal if you are nine steps ahead of it. Don't ignore any email, voicemail, or post-it note... you're the only one who saw it and the only one who can fix it.
- That crazy guy with the good snacks in his office also gave you advice: spend all day walking around talking to people, then go home, crack one open and do paperwork. You'll feel like you don't "produce" but you've known all along that engineers are mostly needed as communicators and interpreters... and that's what you are doing. Talk to everybody. He was giving you good advice.
- Question upper management like crazy. Ask about their priorities, the long-term plan, the short-term plan. You know that "out of touch" feeling you have? They might have it even worse. Your job is to raise whatever flags you have to in order to prevent them from making a bad call.
- Your team prefers donuts to bagels.
- Good luck, you'll need it.
Spacefem in 2013
Readers — I found this note so interesting:
Dear Free-Range Kids: I’m a big believer in your philosophy, which I do my best to apply in my work as a nanny. I check in just about every day, and am always thrilled to find fresh reassurance that I’m not the only person who worries the world has gone insane.
That being said, I’ve never contributed anything before, but today this headline caught my eye on Consumerist. I (perhaps ghoulishly) expected something a little more dramatic, but after reading the story I found myself wondering… what am I missing? I might be reading into this too much, but some of the wording in the article seems rather strong for a toddler toppling face first off a table. He was ‘saved’ by a ‘hero’ security guard? It was certainly lucky that the gentleman was there to catch the child, but even if he hadn’t been things probably would have worked out okay… right?
And this story made the news here from Poland? Nothing else happened in the world this week that trumps a child falling two and a half feet? I understand that news comes in all varieties, both major and minor, but this seems a little overblown. Also, when I clicked back to the original source, I found this quote even more strange:
“The spokesman added that along with saving the child from almost certain injury, Mr Paczek may also have prevented the family from missing their flight.”
Haven’t these people ever heard the old saying that babies bounce?
I don’t know if any of this will be of use to you, but I thought I would pass it along. — Liz Perez
Lenore here: While not all babies bounce on all surfaces, I share Liz’s concern that when tiny stories like this become news, they seem to reinforce the idea that kids are uber-vulnerable at all times! This, in turn, reinforces the idea that the only good parents are the ones who never take their eyes off their kid. But I’m also pretty this only ran only because there was video available AND because the dad looks so nonchalant while the Good Samaritan “saves” his child. Media simply cannot resist that one-two punch: Bad parent/thank God for someone GOOD nearby — and video at 10!
P.S. WordPress users: A question. Every time I embed the video in this post, I can see it on the preview, but it doesn’t show up when published. Any idea how to fix that? I paste in the embed code while in “text” mode, as I always do. Hmmm.
P.P. S And NOW I’m seeing two copies of the video, but none on my preview. Vexing!
Word Count: ~8100
Summary: It takes a photoshoot and a new (conniving and very perceptive) addition to the gang for it to happen, but hey, who's complaining?
Notes: amy never happened and lenny is a no no. howie and bernie are happily married. raj and stuart are happy too \o/ also, set around the end of season 5, maybe. this features alice from the good guy fluctuation. i hope elffriend26 enjoys it! this is actually my first time writing for this fandom so /o\
also at AO3
( or penny drives sheldon to the comic book store, and meets alice who helps her pick the tony stark to her pepper pottsCollapse )
Rating/Warnings: pg13 / none
Word Count: 3472
Summary: SPACE BARISTAS: in space, no one can hear you steam.
Notes: I don’t live on a spaceship, but if I did, I’d want it to be a Terducken-style falling to bits hybrid of all my favourites. Goodbye, Saturnalia! we go out on a splutter and a fizz! Big thanks to Lauren for beta reading; and to dearest Marie, the world out there is everything, and this small part of it is for you.
Recipient: damalur. ILU bb, I hope you enjoy this.
Rating/Warnings: Mature; violence and major character death.
Word Count: 11,859.
Summary: FBI AU, in which Penny is on the trail of a killer, there are copious Silence of the Lambs references (the prompt asked for Hannibal but I haven't seen the TV series), and generally the BBT ladies are BAMFs.
(As an aside, this was the one of D's prompts I didn't actually think I could write at all, and then suddenly thousands of words, omfg.)
Something I Need at AO3
- Angular Momentum:accomplished
- Spin:Imagine Dragons -- 'Fallen'
We'll be releasing a few (2-4) gifts per day, starting today and ending on December 23rd. Posts will be approved in the order they appear in the queue, so if you posted your assignment later on the due date, expect it to go through later this week.
You can add your gift to this year's AO3 collection here. Please note, I mistakenly marked the collection as "unrevealed" first. Because I cannot reveal individual stories, four have been revealed there already. Posting to the collection is now moderated so that gifts may be added a few at a time at both AO3 and here.
Also, we have something fun planned for Christmas Eve, so if you're looking for something fun to do while waiting for Christmas morning or Yuletide reveals, remember to stop by here!
Readers — One of the things I try to explain in my talks, book and blog is that some present-day parenting practices (and laws) that just seem “wise” now will be considered downright detrimental in the future, or are considered weird NOW in other places. For instance:
Dear Free-Range Kids: I can’t thank you enough! When I thought everyone around me is so fearfully overprotecting their kids, I was so relieved to find your homepage. My story in a nutshell:
We moved 4 years ago from Switzerland to Canada. Both my kids, now 4 and 5, were born in Switzerland but raised here in a very small community in Hamilton, ON Canada. But raised by me – an average Swiss mum who had no idea about helicopter parenting.
At age 3, I allowed my older son to go around the corner with his push-bike. No, he was not allowed to cross the street yet. But yes, I did not see him any more… for at least 1 or 2 minutes until I caught up (which is very normal in Switzerland… where also playgrounds are built that way, that parents not always see their kids). But various times people brought him back to me… and I just did not understand what’s going on.
My biggest struggle I have though, is with their school. The kids can not touch each other! I get feedback from the teacher that the “students” are not allowed to hug their friends. They could fall while hugging and hurt themselves! My approach to turn it into a High 5 did also not work. Too harsh. Oh well…
Recess is often skipped. It is too cold. The kids could get cold. They could slip, because it rained in the morning. Their feet could get wet. Sooo many reasons. And yet all my arguments, that we can stand a little cold feet, get changed when the cloth are soaked, I would come in to help cleaning the carpet… if the shoes get dirty and ruin the carpet… nothing helped.
Thanks to the media, parents world wide get probably more anxious. But what I think is very interesting: the reaction from official institutions. While they just ripped away all 20 parking lots at my old school in Switzerland, because they were tired watching how kids get driven to school, they build new ones here. And while in Switzerland they do a “test” with the kids, if they know all the rules to walk themselves to school, it is simply forbidden to let the kids walk to [my] school in Canada. How silly. Being locked out at recess…. happening still in Switzerland (with the argument that in bad weather various kids would just sneak inside instead of playing outside) or locked in (like here… because of bad weather). Interesting, don’t you think so?
But I will keep my kids “on the long leash.” I love seeing them independent, free, wild, sometimes inconsiderate or immature. But I also think they should be able to make mistakes. And learn to live with it.
Not only did I love Lisa’s letter, I really appreciate her saying that sometimes her kids — all kids — may be “inconsiderate or immature.” (Especially at age 3 or 4!) One thing Free-Range Kids does not guarantee is absolutely perfect and charming children. Yes, we try to give them independence and responsibility. But no, we don’t have a “perfect kid” formula. (Yet.) – L.
Last week was busy. Tuesday we went to an annual family concert that the symphony puts on. Monday and Thursday we had friends over for dinner. Marc made chicken and alfredo sauce the first night, tuna steaks and fried rice the second.
Saturday we went to the mall and dropped off the car for an oil change and finished up our Christmas shopping. I bought Josie some clothes, both her grandparents do a nice job of buying her outfits but I'd been feeling lately like she needs a little of our style in her wardrobe, it's hard to explain, but we let her pick out more crazy tights and shirts with obscure sayings on them, that sort of thing. All clearance rack stuff, you can do all sorts of wardrobe-adjusting on a kid without spending much.
Marc and Josie went out to lunch and then to a movie, they saw "Frozen" and marc said it was awesome. Olive and I stayed home and did the normal stuff you do at home to entertain a baby... make funny faces so she laughs, then sort some laundry and throw socks on her, then do some crafts while she eats a cardboard ribbon spool, then try some rice cereal out until you quit paying attention and the dog eats it because you left the little bowl on the floor. You know.
Olive has one tooth as of last weekend, she still isn't crawling but she's kind pushing with one leg when her arms lunge so she can definitely move. Then she gets tired, rolls on her back and sucks her thumb.
Sunday we all slept in... Olive was awake a lot all night, so her 7-8am nap was sort of her way of sleeping in, I puttered around the house and relished being the only one awake in the house. Made myself a burrito with eggs, avocado, chipotle mayo and salsa. When everyone woke up Josie and I cleaned her room for a while, then played duplos, so her room is messy again. but the clothes are put away.
In the evening we went to a christmas party my company was putting on at the roller skating rink. we brought friends... met at one gal's house and had some wine before we went out there, yup. Josie is getting better on those kid skates, and since there were more adults I skated too, we took turns sitting out with the baby. There was face painting, santa, and clowns, and josie said she did not like the clowns but then one of them made her a balloon flower and she told me that *that one* was nice.
Since I started selling fabric sales were steady, about 3-4 a day, that's nice. Sometimes five, sometimes none. Then all the sudden it's November and I get 10 in one day. Then 10 the next day. Then 12... and I'm spending way too much time cutting up fabric into yards, halves or quarters, putting them in envelopes in every combination, mailing them off... but that's not the worst part, the worst part is dealing with everyone's CRAFTING EMERGENCIES when they absolutely must have this NOW so they have time to sew gifts. I love selling & designing fabric because I get to play a part in people making things for loved ones, I like handmade gifts, want to encourage it, but holy CRAP.
A year ago I stopped feeling bad about telling people I wouldn't sew stuff *for* them. I direct them to Etsy teams, there's kinda one for every city and you can usually find some bored person ready to sew, I think. But there's still craziness, people wanting quotes for overnight shipping, asking if it can go out on a sunday (uh, no?) asking me how to get it to freaking Israel in like two days (again, no!) asking if I can drop EVERYTHING and ship this instant (this is not my day job!) and THAT'S why I told Marc I couldn't deal. And I run out of stuff, and people are heartbroken because they didn't order it in time, and I can't restock fast enough... I order fabric in 20 yard rolls, and I had one rolls that sold out in 12 days. It takes over two weeks to get the next one. That makes it really hard to stay ahead.
I just gotta breath. I'm scared because it's not really "the last minute" yet, it's only going to get worse, but I'm also reminding myself that most people are not like this, they're just happy to order their fabric, get it in 3-4 days, and make their stuff, I am really here for them. Without me they'd have to order everything printed up from spoonflower at $11 per quarter instead of $8, and wait two weeks for shipping, it'd just be impossible. Also come on, there's money for me, which we can use, I make $2-3 per quarter, so selling that 20 yard roll is an extra couple hundred dollars.
And the real upside is that my newer designs, some of which I totally love, are selling:
I don't have much time to sew anymore but I still get this steady stream of my fabric coming through the house, I get to touch it, then it goes out to be part of something.
I guess that's why anyone is on etsy.
Readers — As you know, the government has been spying on us all, from plebes to prime ministers. But National Security Agency agents look like pikers compared with plain old American parents, who are being encouraged to treat their kids as enemy agents whose every move must be observed, tracked, tapped or taped.
It’s all to “Keep our kids safe!”, of course, the greatest slogan since — well, there is no greater slogan once you’re a parent. (Before you’re a parent, it’s, “This will get you a date!”)
Here’s an ad for just one of the many new surveillance products being peddled to parents. Mind you, this is for a “basic” package. I guess that means it doesn’t paw through your child’s drawers.
No cavity searches, either.
If you have asked yourself just one of these questions, the (device whose name I am deleting because I hate it) is for you!
Do you fear for your child’s safety?
Do you live in a dangerous neighborhood?
Does your child have to enter any unsafe environments?
Are they traveling somewhere without you?
Do you suspect that your child is lying to you about where they are or who they are with?
Is your child not picking up their phone when you call them?
Is your child being bullied or bullying someone else?
Is your child receiving nude photos from anyone?
Is your child sexting?
We all know it’s impossible to be with your child 24/7. That’s why (this hideous intrusion on your child’s privacy and sense of self) is an ideal product to keep your child safe in a growing digital world. (This particular trust destroyer) provides innovative software that assists in keeping your child safer, whether it’s through the captured call log, messages and chats, or GPS location component. Upon downloading, choose to leave the software detected or undetected, arm your child with the Panic Button for a quick and easy way to get help in an emergency, or even turn the mic on your child’s device to listen in real time.
Ultimately, [this Orwellian invention] facilitates another line of defense between a child’s mobile device and an anonymous online environment.
Got that? So if you are a parent whose child has ever had the temerity to travel “somewhere without you,” that’s reason enough to take up espionage. And dear me, “is your child not picking up their phone when you call them?”
Of course he’s not! No child picks up the phone every time Mom calls, just as no adult picks up the phone every time Mom calls! Is it time for your mother to spy on you?
It’s not time to spy on anybody, but this obsessive snooping is being presented as if it were just a normal thing good parents do. This particular system not only locates your kid’s whereabouts via GPS but also scans all emails and reads all texts. What’s more, its website suggests you “activate the microphone to listen in on calls without being detected to get firsthand insights.”
Isn’t that illegal? There must be some parental loophole. And don’t forget: The device also serves as an ambient microphone, so you can hear whatever your child is saying even when he or she is not on the phone. “Find out what’s really going on with your child before it’s too late!”
Ah, but by the time you are spying on everything your child says, does, looks at or listens to, it already is too late. You aren’t really a parent, any more than an undercover agent is really who he’s pretending to be.
I jusr hope I”m nor around when you’re discovered.
Article summary: Phyllis Schlafly's niece thinks that having a career is just soooo overwhelming, women need to relax, get husbands, and let them make the money. "There's more to life than work"... okay, yes I agree, but I also believe two things:
1) Men need to have that life outside work, too. Didn't you see Nicolas Cage in "The Family Man"? It doesn't take a vagina to fail at work-life balance.
2) I wish we'd stop telling young women that if they have a career their family life is AUTOMATICALLY RUINED FOREVER.
Finally, being a feminist has given me a toolbox of questions to ask when "ideas" like this come out, like this...
Have we tried this before?
In other words, have we ever tried to have a society where women steered clear of careers so they could be the ones to raise the kids? Did it work out AWESOME for everyone? Was the world full of happy housewives baking cakes while their whistling husbands hung out with the guys all day? That's what Phyllis Schlafly would have you believe, but if you ask around you hear other perspectives:
1) There is no escape from abusive situations when men hold all the power. Look how women are treated in the world where they can't work, ask them how relaxing it is.
2) Families that needed two incomes to get by, and there were many, found themselves very limited in what the wife could contribute.
3) Women without husbands had nothing. They'd try to work, get passed up for promotions because the guy next to them "has to support a family". A single mom's kids gotta eat too, but that doesn't matter when she's not seen as someone who has to support a family.
4) Fields that need lots of voices contributing perspectives, which I guess is pretty much all of them, could only draw their talent from the male half of the population. If all you need is brute strength, try training elephants. Most fields need human intellect and find that women have a lot to offer.
I guess there's another question too, if you've read Caitlin Moran: Are the men dealing with this bullshit? Seriously, if staying home with kids is so relaxing & rewarding, why aren't men lining up in droves to switch with their wives?
Look ladies, you want to stay home, stay home. You won't have to answer to anybody but the other moms reading your blog. But if you want a career, society has to support you a little bit, you've got a boss and coworkers and all the prejudices that come along with them. We all need to change to make it work, and we have changed, thank goodness! Unless some crazies want to bring us back to their fantasy of the 1950s, which is just a fantasy anyway. It didn't work. It won't work. STFU, Fox News.
Readers — When kids are going through their scared-of-the-dark phase, they see the chair and think it’s a monster. And when adults are going through their “Everyone is out to get our children” phase — (From The Daily Mirror.)
Children were evacuated from a swimming pool amid fears of a pervert in the changing rooms – only to discover the alarm was caused by a false leg.
Staff spotted a foot sticking out from under a cubicle as primary school pupils got changed after a swimming lesson.
… But when [teachers] opened the changing room door they saw the suspected pervert was a prosthetic leg innocently left by a disabled man while he went for a swim.
[The head of the school said,] “One of the members of staff had seen it, and we quickly moved the children out, and everything was dealt with in accordance with school policy.”
Best comments (from this site, which picked up the story):
“…everything was dealt with in accordance with school policy.” They have a school policy that says if you find a prosthetic leg you should assume it is really a paedophile and evacuate the pool?!
If I saw someone’s leg sticking out from a cubicle my first thought would be to see if they were alright, they might have collapsed.
Typical “Knee-jerk” (sorry) reaction that is happening too often today. In the past, the pool staff would have checked the foot before getting the kids out!
Not the suspicious limb in question. But you get the idea. (Photo from Clints Work)
The most wonderful time of year is finally upon us! Time to post your Saturnalia works!
This year, we ask that all posts be submitted to the queue by 12 midnight SST on December 15. We will be releasing a couple posts a day from the queue between December 17 and 23, but we need all posts submitted before then so we make sure that everyone who signed up gets a gift.
- All submissions should meet the community guidelines as well as the guidelines for the exchange set forth in this post. That means, using proper headers, lj-cuts & tags.
- Along with the regular tags for fanworks, please tag your post with "!a very merry saturnalia: 2013"
- Somewhere in the subject line or header of the post, please make sure to note "Saturnalia gift for USERNAME".
- The moderators will be controlling the flow of the queue so please do not re-submit your post if it does not show up on the community right away.
- Failure to meet the guidelines of the challenge or community guidelines may result in your post being rejected. If we reject your post, we will ask you to fix whatever the problem is and resubmit.
Your post should be submitted no later than December 15 at midnight SST (Samoa Standard Time). If you have an emergency or a technical issue that prevents you from posting on time, please contact the mods at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not contact us and you do not post, we will look for a last minute pinch hitter to take your place. So, please, contact us.
PINCH-HITTERS: If you received your pinch-hit prior to this week, the same due date and guidelines apply. If you become an emergency pinch-hit after December 15, we will discuss deadlines with you at that time.
Remember, every single person that signed up will receive a gift, so please be patient if yours is not posted right away.
Things we love right now: she's smart, creative, loves to draw, always begging for craft supplies just like I did when I was little. Her and I walk around Michaels' like we're in heaven. I even like her taste in clothes, she'll come downstairs in crazy tights, a skirt and some random shirt and a hat and announce, "Hey guys, I look super awesome!" and we have to admit, she does! She loves dancing around with glowsticks when Marc plays house music, she walks around singing all the time.
And she loves her baby sister, she is one of the two things that Olive delights in the most (the second thing is the dog... marc and I are hopefully in the top ten). Nobody can make Olive laugh like Josie can. She loves holding her baby sister and telling her how cute she is, bringing her toys, checking on her.
Things we struggle with: Josie is really fucking nuts. maybe passionate is a better word... let's just say that if things don't go her way, she melts down, and "her way" is VERY SPECIFIC sometimes. my parents thought I was weird when I stopped dad from cutting up her donut, "don't cut it up unless she tells you to, it'll be ruined and she won't eat it!" but those are the kind of tip-toe steps we do to make our lives easier. When she goes to bed, after the stories and teeth brushing, we turn on her twilight turtle to get the stars to light up, but it has to be on green. Then *she* has to turn off her lamp. THEN we can change the turtle to blue. Then start her CD. If anything is out of order she loses her shit, you might be able to bring her back by offering to start over with the green turtle but if you try to tell her that it's okay, the lamp is off just leave it off, you're in for a fight. This sort of thing goes on all the time. Sometimes she breaks down because you did something wrong, and she can't even explain what the problem was.
Marc and I are in this hippie parent class at church where everyone talks about how your kids need to be able to express their feelings, and we asked them about this stage Josie is in, and they were like, "Well it's okay to tell them to express their feelings in their own damn room." Because really, no one can take this shit.
Her language has improved a lot but her memory is still a little fuzzy, most of the time I ask her what happened in school today she has nothing to say. Then a couple hours later out of the blue she'll come up and tell me some random story from the toddler crazy memory banks... "Cammie's tummy hurt today and she needed her mommy. She threw up her broccoli and I told Miss Haskins it was like guacamole! guacamole! guacamole! guacamole!" ... WHAT?
Or this: "Mommy?" Yes Josie? "Hallie said earth was red but I said mars is red. Then I spit on her because I DO WHAT I WANT." ... WHAT? Josie we don't spit. And DAMMIT MARC stop quoting South Park to our three year old! To which he replied, "What-ever! I do what I want!"
She sometimes says bad words. If I say something she doesn't like, even something normal about how we need to go to the store or whatever, she says "Don't say that. It's not nice to say." Something tells me her preschool teacher has to repeat that occasionally.
She's an adventure of a kid, we're having a memorable year.
Hi Readers — This made my day!
Dear Free-Range Kids: Thought I would share a conversation I overheard today at my daughter’s school. I went to pick up my 6 year old from her after school program and arrived just in time to hear her speaking to a friend and the friend’s mother. I didn’t hear the beginning of the chat, but did hear her say (with emphasis!): “No, no, you’re SUPPOSED to TALK to strangers, you just don’t GO anywhere with them! Like, I mean, until today I never met YOU (referring to the friend’s mother), but you would think I was rude if I didn’t talk to you, ’cause you’re Amy’s Mom.” The mother in question was silent for several long seconds. And then had the good sense and good grace to say, “Huh. I hadn’t thought of it that way.” She and I then proceeded to have a lovely chat about Free-Range parenting.
My daughter learned that lesson from me, through you! Her school also subscribes to the same view. The principal once described having a police officer come in to the school on “community helper” day and being struck by the irony of having this person the kids had never met teach “stranger danger.” She describes it as an “Aha!” moment.
Aha! — Toronto Mom
Aha on this end too! – L
First, the Christina Taylor-Green memorial foundation: Christina-TaylorGreen.org. She is the little girl killed in the shooting that also injured Gabrielle Giffords, the one whose uncle took her to meet her representative because she'd been elected class president and was so interested in public service and politics, at the age of 9.
She is the one I've chosen to remember whenever the media makes a frenzy about any shooter. The reason I've chosen only her, and not a new person for every tragedy, is that it's a lot of work to remember a victim's name. It's no effort to remember a shooter's name... it'll be spoken over and over and over again. But these men don't deserve to be famous. So whenever I think I'm about to hear one of those names on the radio, I switch the station and think about Christina, who I didn't even know and probably never would have met, but I wish the world hadn't lost her.
I picked her as my one random person to represent, for me, all the potential we lose to random violence. And I will remember her year after year after year, tragedy after tragedy, because she sticks in my head.
Second, Safe and Sound - Securing our Schools - a foundation started by the parents of Newtown victims to set up guidelines and spread advice about school security.
I realize this is a bad time for jokes but my sister once requested something of us: "If I'm ever tragically killed, please make sure whatever memorial project you set up for me is research based." And how! I've got the same wish.
The parents of Sandy Hook have done a wonderful job with an initiative focusing on something they can do, rather than jumping into the hot-fire debates around gun control and mental illnesses. They are trying to use the story and their experiences to spread awareness about something easy that everyone can do to make a difference in schools and maybe save somebody else's kids. The website has a toolkit of questions that everyone should be asking about school security... about entrypoints, evacuation procedures, parent & authority notification. The board is lead by grieving parents willing to work for change but also involves a team of licensed psychologists, security consultants, fire chiefs, and academics who've spent their lives trying to keep people safe.
This is the sort of thing the media should be telling us about instead of turning murderers into celebrities, but I can't count on them, so at least I blogged about it.
Hi Readers! It’s that festive, super-suspicious time of the year, as evidenced by this invite, from the Riverside Intermediate School in Fishers, Indiana. You know — 2011′s Safest City in America. I guess it’s filled with the kind of upstanding citizens who need to be vetted by the state police before helping with kids’ class parties. – L
Hello Parents, I hope everyone is doing well. You all signed up to help out in some way with our classroom at Meet the Teacher night. I realize that everyone’s schedule is busy this time of year, but we will be having our Winter parties next Friday from 12:45-1:30 and I wanted to give you the opportunity to help plan the party. I have found that 6th graders generally like 2-3 short activities, some food provided by the PTO, and time to talk with their friends. Some ideas for the party include group relays (dressing students up as Snowmen), Minute to Win It games, or Bingo/Word search etc. Don’t worry if this does not work with your schedule, but please know you are more than welcome to join the fun. You must have a background check on file to participate at our school. Mrs. Kiley has the list if you are not sure.
Hit reply all to let everyone know who is willing and able to run the party that day. We have 36 in our class!
Thanks so much.
Mrs. X., Sixth Grade Language Arts and Social Studies
Note, I am not blaming the teacher, who has to abide by school regs. I’m blaming a school or district that thinks that without these background checks, the kids are in danger, even in their classroom, filled with other students and adults, at a party, for 45 minutes. It is simply not true. Not true? NOT TRUE.
When we keep acting like there is some real safety rationale for such absurdities, we go through the looking glass. Which, by the way, may have sharp edges. Beware of those, too. In fact, beware of all non-existent dangers, if you want your kids to be safe. – L
What would the gang's lives be like if they never met Sheldon?
As always, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Be cool. Be respectful.
- Constructive criticism is great, but irate rants are not.
- Don't spoil the episode for those who haven't read taping reports.
- Don't spoil other shows or upcoming episodes for others.
- In general, remember the community profile.
The problem is that I used to think "the other side" was made up of people who believe Jesus did NOT raise from the dead. I could agree to disagree with them, and we'd all move on. But there are bigger issues that non-believers and atheists bring up about Christianity as a whole, and I'm struggling with those issues myself. Their qualms aren't about some need to convince us Jesus wasn't resurrected - to them, that fact has no bearing on how we live our lives.
Instead they're concerned with the overall effect of Christianity and the harm our philosophies could do in the world. Writings of native American writer Vine Deloria Jr. first brought it up to me - the fact that western religions seemed crazy to the Native Americans because if you believe in an all-important afterlife, what's the point of all this that's happening to you right now? What's to stop you from just hating or even tossing away all of it?
And I have to admit, there's some evidence for what he's talking about... that heaven causes us to less-than-treasure what we've been given here:
"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21
"Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life." John 12:25
"Kill them. For the Lord knows those that are His own." - Arnaud Amalric, 13th century Cistercian abbot
Christians are interested in arguing semantics - how old the earth really is, whether the Virgin Mary ascended directly to heaven or not. Non-Christians are more concerned with the glaring contradiction right in the middle of our living rooms: is life precious, or not?
If you throw Christianity out and believe this life is all you have, then just like that it's precious, because your set of experiences will never be re-created again, nor will your connections to other humans or place in this world. You play a tiny, well-defined part that we can all plainly see. Whatever this world has invested in you, and you have given back to this world, that's your worth. There seems to be very little place for that concept in Christianity, and some would argue that that's unhealthy... the fact that we think our worth comes from God, who's mainly concerned with heaven anyway. Why spend time here? Why love people who won't be joining you in heaven? Just because another verse tells you too? And yet another verse says your mistakes will be forgiven, just confirming that it doesn't matter...
I think if something is a bad idea, then it might also be wrong. That's my concern.
Readers — I got this letter yesterday in my email. Why does it make me SO MAD?
“Children are Unique, Beautiful and Fragile” begins its CRAVEN plea.
I’m losing it! I really feel this is a HORRIBLE thing to say or even IMPLY. I probably sound like I am in FAVOR of child maiming. I’m not! I just HATE this plea to emotion and terror when it comes to KIDS. It is INFECTIOUS!
Here’s the charity’s WHOLE LETTER — it’s just four sentences of SKIN CRAWLING smarm! (And I’m sorry I keep updating this post — I just keep getting madder!) – L
What Snowflakes and Kids Have in Common
Kids are unique, beautiful and fragile.
Help us keep every child safe this holiday season.
Please donate today - http://sk.convio.net/site/R?i=EwYoCgtfiw
Thank you for your generosity,
Safe Kids Worldwide
While Sheldon is away in Texas, everyone gathers to decorate the apartment Christmas tree, and they each realize how much he has changed their lives.
There will be spoilers in the comments.
YES YES PHOTOS, I KNOW!!! :P
Readers — There is something poignant, sweet, weird and wonderful about what you’re about to read. Remember it when friends say they can’t possibly go Free-Range because it’s too scary. – L.
Dear Free-Range Kids: Back in ’09 I read your book, and allowed my boys to walk to get ice-cream for the first time. About a 5-7 min. walk from our house. Rob was 12, and Isaac would be 11 in a few months.
I had written you a few times back then. I had experienced a stranger abduction when my pastor’s daughter was abducted and murdered in an area pretty country and quiet. So letting go was huge for me.
Anyhow, my boys are 15 and 16 today, and this fall I put them in public school after homeschooling them exclusively their whole lives. We just finished their first quarter, and I finally got to read my son Rob’s personal narrative. The story he chose to write about was — the first time I let them go. I was gripped by how much I had scared my boys — apparently the older more than the younger. That this is what made the biggest impression on him in his life.
I thought I’d share it with you if you’re interested.
My Turning Point, by Rob Turner
The summer’s breath filled the air as I stare down M. road, towards that busier street which I didn’t remember the name of. Rather, I attempted to stare – there was an annoying amount of shrubbery blocking the view from our yard. Normally this would be a blessing, because nobody really wants a better view of a busy road, except that the shrubbery also blocked the rest of M. leading up to it. In other words, I could never figure out whether a car was coming or not, except by sound. And the fact that you could usually hear cars either way, going up or down that busy street, did not help at all. Of course, the reality was that I was being paranoid; it wasn’t especially difficult to differentiate the noise of a car on M. and on the other road. But it was hard not to be, given what I was about to do.
Normally, I would only even be thinking about crossing the road because I was going to get the mail, or… well, that was really about it. I didn’t see the neighbors across the street — they threw snowballs at cars, so we weren’t allowed to be friends — and I didn’t get on any school buses, and I never walked anyplace at all – at least, not without some sort of parental supervision. That last one, I guessed, was about to change.
For any other kid, this probably wouldn’t be a big deal. But to me, well. From a very young age I’d been taught about the danger of strangers, and how you should never walk alone, and how to escape the grip of a captor — probably too often for my own good. To be fair, it was mostly because the previous pastor of our church had had his daughter kidnapped, which kind of shook up basically everyone, but that had taken place either when I was an infant or yet to be born. In any case, my mother had finally come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t exactly a regular occurrence, so she decided it was finally time to let my younger brother Isaac and I walk down to the C. Ice Cream Parlor by ourselves.
It was probably mostly because Isaac had been pushing for it for a while, but it was happening nonetheless. I was still somewhat apprehensive, of course, but Isaac could be pretty convincing when he felt like it. He managed to cross the road (still taking precautions, of course, but quite a bit faster) and, since he went through the trouble of assuring me that no cars were coming, I followed him. From there, it was an easy walk, going down a paved hill and finally seeing the ever-so-busy street ahead.
It wasn’t actually that busy, I decided. Just the busiest road that I encountered with any sort of regularity. And then, of course, we’d have to cross it again to get to the ice cream parlor. The long, rocky driveway ate away at my shoes as I walked to the familiar, and yet now so different, building. I’d been here before, of course, but never without my parents, or at least my older brother to watch me. I could feel the protective bubble around my home stretching to accommodate me. I could feel it pressing against my skin as I took step after step past its boundaries, until I finally went through it. But I couldn’t back down now; I had to do this. My mother had assured me that she had probably been wrong, and not literally every person was a kidnapper, so I would be fine. I took five dollars out of my pocket and held onto them like they were precious gems, but once I realized I was doing this I loosened my hand, because I did not want to appear nervous. My brother asked for the money and I said, “No, I’ll do it.”
After figuring out exactly what ice-cream we would buy (chocolate peanut butter cup and moose tracks for me, mint chocolate chip and peanut butter cup for him), I faced down the ice-cream guy, and, albeit with a few “umms” and “uhhs,” I made my order.
The man seemed somewhat suspicious of us, like we were the ones out of place in this busy and somewhat terrifying land that was so close to our home. When he asked how we got there, I told him we walked, and when he asked where we lived, I apprehensively said that we lived up the road. Being rather nervous (oh no, why did I tell him where we live, now he’s gonna kidnap us), I made my best effort to not participate in this questioning any longer, and when we got our ice-cream we circled over to the side of the place, where there were tables with umbrellas and a fair number of bees.
Of course, being completely terrified of bees, I wanted to just eat and walk home at the same time and be done with the whole thing. But they weren’t especially near us, so I just nervously edged away from any that flew within a ten foot radius of me. So we ate our ice-cream (which was somewhat melty, but that only made the rich chocolate even more delicious), and threw away our messy napkins. Then we walked back home, retracing a few confusing steps, and when we got there our mom was sitting on the porch because she was so nervous. But we were fine. Our dogs were rather exceptionally excited to see us, it seemed, like when we would come home from family camp, and we were somewhat excited as well, both due to the ‘ice-cream whenever we want now’ aspect and the somewhat increased freedom it gave us. We forgot about any sort of suspicious man entirely, which actually turned out fine.
In any case, the barrier of my home slipped over me once more, ever prepared to guard me from the dangers of the outside world, but it would only become easier to escape, each walk we took down to the ice cream parlor taking less and less resistance until it hardly seemed a bother at all. But while I was inside it, there was nothing on Earth which could break through the impenetrable barrier. And I rather liked it that way. – Rob
Amy dreams that Penny tries to seduce Sheldon, she leans in to kiss him and he is disinterested. Are they messing with both shamys and shennys here?