It is 7:00pm. Who is minding my children? (Second time around.)

These are the opportunities (school and parent-related topics) that were “available” to me this week:

For my high schooler:

Monday: at 7:00 p.m. Lecture by NYT best-selling author Ron Lieber on parenting teens.

For my grade schooler:

Monday:  at 6:30 p.m. Sports banquet (with child).

Wednesday: at 7:00 p.m. 7th grade informational Springfield trip meeting (with child).

Thursday: Nothing. (Thank goodness: the kids are out snowblowing the neighbors’ driveways!) ….but you get the point.

Not included in the above list: regular sports practices and activities, parent work meetings, etc.

How did we get here?

Said another way: Who will mind my children?

How on earth did we get to the point whereby working moms, “stay at home” moms, working dads, “stay at home” dads are asked to be somewhere on school nights at 7:00pm? As if jobs, school, sports, and extra-curricular carpooling are not enough, we are being “asked” or “invited” to evening “opportunities” out of the home. In no way am I suggesting that the 7:00pm meetings and opportunities are not meaningful or important…it’s just that I am scratching my head. Why? Because I am a rule follower and it’s hard for me to not “do the right thing.” When someone tells me that I should come hear a great speaker on successful parenting that the school is sponsoring…or attend an informational meeting on the Springfield trip even though I’ve attended it already for 4 children…well, I should do it. It’s “what you do” as part of being a good and supportive parent; it’s “what you do” to be part of the school community.

Shouldn’t we be home? That’s where I should be. So should my husband. He should be home. That’s where I am most valued. That’s where he is most valued. Moreover, although I love my computer, I am sometimes tethered to it simply to pay attention (read: not MISS) the important school to-do’s that now come via computer to the mom’s email.

So here’s a start-up idea for someone: grab it. Please create a central repository of Vimeos, (password protected for schools). Every parent in America can stay home on school nights (when not carpooling for sports and extra-curricular events). Yep. Stay home. Cook dinner together. Eat dinner together. Read a book together. Just be together.

After the kids are in bed, mom and dad can take out their computer and “go” to the 7:00pm meeting via Vimeo.

The “opportunity” of a lifetime.

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It is 7:00pm. Who is minding my children?

These are the opportunities (school and parent-related topics) “available” to me this week:

For my high schooler:

Monday, November 4, at 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, November 6, at 7:00 p.m.

For my grade schoolers:

Thursday, November 7, at 7:00 p.m. [Not on the actual calendar..but you get the point.]

How did we get here?

Said another way: Who will mind my children?

How on earth did we get to the point whereby working moms, “stay at home” moms, working dads, “stay at home” dads are asked to be somewhere on school nights at 7:00pm? As if jobs, school, sports, and extra-curricular carpooling are not enough, we are being “asked” or “invited” to evening “opportunities” out of the home. In no way am I suggesting that the 7:00pm meetings and opportunities are not meaningful or important…it’s just that I am scratching my head. Why? Because I am a rule follower and it’s hard for me to not “do the right thing.” When someone tells me that I should come hear a great speaker on successful parenting that the school is sponsoring…well, I should do it. It’s “what you do” as part of being a good and supportive parent; it’s “what you do” to be part of the school community.

This year: enough head scratching. I am not going. Sorry. I happen to be incredibly lucky: there are  fantastic schools in our neighborhood; more importantly, the administrators, school boards, etc. are not only super-qualified but also really nice people and often friends of mine. But I can’t do it any more. I need to be home. That’s where I should be. So should my husband. He should be home. That’s where I am most valued. That’s where he is most valued.

So here’s a start-up idea for someone: grab it. Please create a central repository of Vimeos, (password protected for schools). Every parent in America can stay home on school nights (when not carpooling for sports and extra-curricular events). Yep. Stay home. Cook dinner together. Eat dinner together. Read a book together. Just be together.

After the kids are in bed, mom and dad can take out their computer and “go” to the 7:00pm meeting via Vimeo.

The “opportunity” of a lifetime.

Defining Moment: ACT Score versus the Tag Ladies

Last weekend I took my son on a college visit in Western Massachusetts.

As I sat at the Circle K Dunkin Donuts sipping Saturday morning coffee, I began chatting with the ladies seated at the table next to me. It was a gorgeous New England morning; yet we were indoors. Surprisingly, the Dunkin Donuts was packed. Kids were coming in and out between soccer games, truck drivers were seated with their refills, college kids were stopping in, etc. It was clearly the place to be.

The ladies, who ranged in age from probably 50-80 began to tell me that this was their “ritual.” Every Saturday morning (for the last 20 years as I came to find out) they meet at Dunkin Donuts and begin their “tagging” trip. What is the definition of tagging ? Tagging is what Chicagoans call “attending a garage sale” or the History Channel might call American Pickers. Whatever one calls it, these ladies have turned it into their ritual.  They giggled and shared the sheer pleasure of tagging. It is their “reason” to get together every Saturday morning each Fall, to visit, and have a “purpose.” They love it. They told me all about their favorite treasures as well as secrets used to hide purchases from their husbands! They told me how they leave their cars in the lot next to Dunkin Donuts and all pile into one person’s car so that they can converse while going from sale to sale. By the end of our visit I felt honored when they invited me to join them tagging !

Juxtapose my chance Tag Ladies encounter  with the entire purpose of my visit to New England: college visits. (Because our son’s September ACT test results showed a 5 point increase over his prior score, he is qualified for a different tier of colleges than he had been prior.) Ask any junior or senior high-schooler his or her sense of “purpose” these days. What is it?  The ACT score.  Yes, the ACT score! What on earth are we doing wrong? How did we get to the point where the ever important critical score by which high school kids seem to measure and maybe even define one another is a SCORE!  A score. Look at our son: he is still the exact same person he was three weeks ago when his score was 5 points lower than it is now. No better, no worse. (Our words of advice are still relevant: “in life” no one will ever care about your ACT score nor will you ever be asked about your score again!)

How are we defined in life? What is the measuring stick? Is it the ACT score? Or is it the Tag Ladies who were kind, welcoming and even thought to invite me along on their 20 year Saturday morning ritual?

 

Which brings me back to defining the measuring stick of life. If only we could get every junior and senior high-schooler in America to visit the Tag Ladies, grab a cup of coffee, sit down, visit, and chit-chat. Surely any high schooler would figure out the absolute irrelevance of the ACT score; wouldn’t that be a defining moment?