The PTA. Because I can.

Yes, it’s been ages!   What can I tell you – I was inspired…

A lovely friend with three children commented that she hadn’t gone to the PTA meeting at her oldest son’s school mostly because her infant son had been cranky that morning.  She tongue-in-cheek wondered if it was “bad” that she didn’t really want to get very involved in the PTA anyway.

I started a response to her, and as often happens, it got very long.  And it wasn’t really an appropriate response to her light quip, anyway.  But  I got off on a tangent because it resonated with me.  Because I have noticed that there is very little parent attendance at PTA meetings at my own son’s school.

I don’t think you have to go to PTA meetings to be a good parent, or to be involved in the school.  In fact, there are tons of parents who volunteer their time at PTA events, in the classroom or elsewhere in the school.

I was surprised, though,  to see how few parents are able to attend our monthly PTA meetings.  I am the only regular attendee that is the parent of a kindergartener – and between regular and multiage there are eight classes!!!  But people work  or have young kids, or whatever life throws at them.  Our PTA meetings are at 9:15 am, and when I asked why they weren’t in the evenings so working parents could attend I was told that despite several attempts, even fewer parents showed to the evening meetings than the morning ones.

Is it apathy?  Perhaps with some.  But I don’t believe that’s the case with most.

With today’s technology I think parent awareness could be much, much better.  I’m working to get the PTA at our school to set up a website/Facebook/Twitter presence so that busy parents can be involved and know what’s happening and why.  Everyone complains about the candy fundraiser, but no one (besides me, of course) shows up at the meeting to give feedback.  It would also be great to ask the PTA to post the meeting agenda prior to the meetings, and the minutes after the meeting,  so that parents that cannot come to meetings can still know what’s going on, and give input.   The school and the parents – and ultimately the kids – are missing out.

It’s not that I really want to be so involved in the PTA, and G-d knows the personalities can make me loopy, but I pretty much feel that since I don’t work, and I don’t have other kids, that I should help. I should attend.

Because I can.


Life is Too Short to Have an Affair

Today is my 7th wedding anniversary.  I love him even more today than the day we married.  My respect for him as a husband and a father have grown exponentially.  He is a good man.

He  would never cheat on me.  This I know.  He has way too much integrity for that, and his rock-solid integrity is one of the things that attracted me the most.

And I’d never cheat on him.  This I know, too.  I’ve never been unfaithful in any committed relationship.  Ever.

Because fidelity isn’t about the other person in the relationship.  Ever.  Fidelity is a personal issue, between me and me. My feelings on fidelity were formed at the age of six, seeing and living with the aftermath when my father left my mother for another woman. Over the years, seeing the unnecessary pain and hurt caused by those who cheat cemented those beliefs.  Unshakably.

Even if  Husband wasn’t a good husband, or  a good  man, I would not cheat.  Bad behavior on someone else’s part does not excuse self-destructive, dishonest behavior on my part. There’s just no room for it in my reality.

I could never understand why unmarried people don’t just break off one relationship before starting another.  Are they that insecure that they can’t spend a moment alone?  Do they have so little respect for their partners and themselves?  Or is it just the thrill of doing something dark and dirty?  “John, I don’t want to see you anymore.”  It’s really  not that hard, folks.

Married  people, especially those with children, deserve a great deal of censure for infidelity, in my opinion.  Is an orgasm worth ruining your life?  Your child’s life????  Are you really going to justify your behavior by saying that what they don’t know won’t hurt them, or your spouse doesn’t understand you, or they cheated  first?   Do you really buy the lie that children are resilient?  Are you that selfish to think that your needs should come first?  Do you not understand what a VOW is?

What is so alarming to me is that having an affair is no longer a sweaty secret, forcing participants to put themselves out  there and risk rejection of their spurious advances.  There are people now that capitalize on this market, previously untapped by all but street prostitutes, escort services and pitiful personal ads.  It’s now in the bright light of day, given an aura of, dare I say it, faux respectability.

Because now there are dating services that cater to those looking for a little on the  side.  The tag line of one such agency says  it all:  “Life is short.  Have an affair.”



Vacation Ends, You Can Find Me Left of Center

Kate at One More Thing is doing a weekly carnival of sorts, choosing a topic for other bloggers to write about.  This week’s topic is “Vacation”.

Our vacation this year was spent in North Carolina, where Husband spent nearly the entire time building a greenhouse for his parents.

He didn’t think it would take the entire week, but with some rain delays and just the added time anything takes when you do something you’ve never done before, just about our entire vacation was gone.

Husband felt bad that we didn’t really get to do anything fun, that I was stuck in the house.  Their home is thirty minutes from the nearest civilization,  and even that isn’t a hotbed of activity.  Most of my time was spent playing with son, playing on my computer, or doing housework for my mother-in-law.

There really is no reason for him to feel bad, I told Husband.  My entire life is a vacation.  I don’t have to go to work.  I get to have fun every day – taking Son to the playground, to the water park, to the library.  I can stay home in my PJs and spend the day swimming, playing Go Fish and cuddling a very cute 5 year-old as we take an afternoon nap.

I get to do what I want, when I want, all day long. And I get to do it with the most spectacular little blessing G-d has ever given me.  I feel so lucky that I get to do this.  It’s almost as if it’s some big secret that I should be protecting.  That if  someone figured out how great my gig was it would come to an immediate end.

I always knew it had to end – just like all vacations.  The brochure specifically stated that the all-day togetherness trip lasts only five years (unless you take the optional homeschooling rider, which I declined for the health and well-being of all involved) before a rider than changes everything kicks into gear.

And that change is now only five days away.

Because on that 5th day Son starts kindergarten.  And the best vacation I’ve ever taken in my life goes on hiatus for six hours a day.  And I move from being the center of his world to just left of center as he takes his place in a new sub-world, without me.

Sure, I’ll still spend lots of time with him.  And sure, it’s all part of growing up.  But I will forever miss this precious time we’ve had together, just the two of us.

And I’ll be forever grateful to G-d and to Husband for sending me on this five-year vacation.  I can’t wait to see what fun Son and I can cram into six less hours a day, as we inch towards age 15 when I will be so far from the center of his world that he’ll likely want me to walk two paces behind him in public.

On Being Jewish

Kate at One More Thing is doing a weekly carnival of sorts, choosing a topic for other bloggers to write about.  This week’s topic is “Religion”.

Ever since I was a young girl I have felt the responsibility of being Jewish.  A responsibility to practice the religion, to remember those who died defending it or because if it, to behave and accomplish in a way befitting G-d’s chosen people.

But even more than the responsibility of being Jewish, what I felt most was fear.  Fear of another Holocaust, fear of being attacked by a pogrom, fear of the anti-semitism being practiced and publicized all throughout the world.  I would try to concoct ways to fool oppressors into thinking I wasn’t Jewish, in an effort to save myself from my ancestors’ fate.  It’s scary for a kid to think that someone is going to come and take them away and kill them just because of their religion – and one they didn’t choose at that.   And all of these atrocities were talked about at length in synagogues, in Hebrew school, at holidays.  Never forget, we are warned.  Never forget.

As a teenager I went through the process of becoming a Bat Mitzvah, and I even enjoyed the process.  There was comfort in the traditions and the prayers and the belief in G-d.  But I was also becoming aware of the stereotypes that dogged my fellow Semites, and I was embarrassed that many of them were dead-on.  Not for EVERY Jew, to be sure, but for many of those I met.

One day a rabbi gave a sermon that had me see clearly what my biggest issue was with organized Judaism.  He was talking about Jews being G-d’s chosen people – a frequent and recurrent theme in Jewish services.  But that day I got what really bugged me about my religion.  It seemed to me that many of the  Jews out there, especially the ones exhibiting the hated stereotypes, saw being “G-d’s chosen people” as responsibility that proves our superiority.

In my mind, though, that was a biiiiiiiig mistake.  To me being one of the chosen means that He indeed gave us responsibility, but responsibility from a place of humility.

That was such an epiphany for me, and as a result I pretty much pulled away from the temple, and practicing my religion.  I became a part-time Jew – weddings, bar mitzvahs and the High Holy Days.  I still believe in G-d, and still pray on occasion.   I’ve often said that if I could find a temple with real people who  just happened to be Jewish that I’d gladly join.   I’ve never found that.  Some friends say that has more to do with living where I live – that what I yearn for flourishes  in places like Alabama and Utah, where Jews are much fewer and further between.  Which is why I did consider Alabama

Now that I’m older I’m willing to give those stereotypical Jews a little slack.   When you’re persecuted over centuries and struggle to survive, perhaps the best way to do that is to stick together and declare yourselves superior.  When our kids are being picked on by bullies don’t we tell them to ignore the taunts and jeers, and point out and encourage their best qualities?  It’s not such a far leap to see how that sense of superiority developed…

But now that Son is getting older I’m finding, like so many other parents, that I want religion to be a part of his life.  I like the idea of G-d, whether he truly exists or not.  I want Son to have that spirituality, to have that private relationship.   So I’m looking for a temple, willing to give my religion another chance.  And I’m hoping that I’ll find one that will help show Son the joys of tradition and being a mensch, and accepting that responsibility of being G-d’s chosen with a bit of humility.

Are you out there?

Where are all the renters?

We are about 30 days from moving and we don’t yet have a renter.

That makes me very, very nervous.

But how does one really advertise for a renter today?  I’m loathe to pay 10% of the rent to a realtor.  Craigslist is great, but there are over 1500 rental listings per day in our county!  Fifteen HUNDRED!

Does anyone read the classifieds anymore, or would  that $81 five-day listing be a complete waste of money?

We’ve put up a sign, but we are in a gated  community, so the only people who will see that are other residents, guests and service persons.

I live in a community that allows dogs up to 40 lbs, when most communities limit the weight to twenty.  That would be a great selling point, except that the only insurance I can find specifically excludes animal liability, meaning if that dog bit someone I’d be liable and have no coverage.  So, no dogs.

I wasn’t going to allow cats, either.  Not so much for the liability issue, but because I am horrifyingly allergic to the cute little critters and we may have to move back in after two years.    I decided tonight to allow cats, since a good friend advised me that I could get the carpets cleaned and I should be fine.

Nervous.  Soooooo nervous.

What about you?  Wouldn’t you like to relocate here to sunny Florida?  I can get you a great deal on a terrific place!!!

It’s not time to panic yet.  Not near time.

But there may come a time when I’ll take cats, dogs, snakes, or ferrets, as long as they have first, last and security.

Lying, Justification and Farewell (or some other F word) You

Well, it’s over.

Husband and I walked into Son’s school to withdraw him, where I was told in no uncertain terms by the administrator that I was unprofessional for talking with other parents about what I had seen, that the teacher in question was not unprofessional and was in fact justified in confronting me in the parking lot because I was pointing at her and talking about her (I was talking about her,  but certainly not in tones loud enough to be heard by her when she was thirty feet away, and I was certainly NOT pointing at her, thankyouverymuch).

And even if I was doing all the things I was accused of, would not the teacher still be the unprofessional one?

And I should keep it quiet, especially when I completely disagree with how it was handled?


So now I am feeling sad and weepy because I feel ineffective in my communication with these people, because Son had to be removed from an environment where he was thriving, and because that lying, manipulative, cruel teacher is still around children.

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

Yesterday I saw a teacher at Son’s school do something I consider to be truly awful.  This teacher locked a three year-old child out of her class as a form of discipline, leaving the child sobbing and me livid.

I did speak to the administrator yesterday afternoon.  She agreed that the teacher made an error in judgment and told me the teacher promised not to do this again.  She then proceeded to explain to me that the teacher often had unruly children walk out of the room and come back in when they were ready to be “a new John”.

As if that’s appropriate either.

Perhaps it’s me that’s crazy.  Granted, I don’t know the first  thing about early childhood education.  But in my thinking you don’t ever have a child leave a schoolroom as a disciplinary measure, especially a pre-schooler.  How this could not be against the state rules is beyond me.  It’s one thing for a parent to have a child leave the  room within their own home.  School ain’t  home.

And to me the whole concept of asking a three year-old to come back as a “new” version of themselves is a very poor redirection indeed.  Three year-old children need specific instruction – “be a calm John”, or “be a listening Suzie”.  A three year-old cannot possibly fathom what it means to be a “new” them.

For some reason this administrator feels there is nothing wrong with the way this teacher handles this often-challenging child other than the fact that she locked the child out of the room.   I don’t profess to know the best way to handle a child with frequent behavior challenges, but there is such a child in Son’s class and Son’s teacher handles this child beautifully, always staying calm and giving the boy appropriate guidance.   And positive attention.

The administrator said the parent was going to be notified, but I’m completely positive that the whole incident will be whitewashed.  I’m fairly certain that the administrator didn’t tell the parents that their son was inconsolable, crying hysterically.  And honestly I’m more angry about the damage too the boy’s psyche.  I’d not be surprised if he remembers that incident for the rest of his life.  I know I will.

As you can imagine, this conversation with the administrator did not go well.  This isn’t  surprising, considering this is the woman who still thinks one child biting another is an “accident”.  Her defense of this poor excuse for a teacher (and the fact that this is a very …hormonal… time for me) had me absolutely incensed on the phone, talking about calling the state and considering pulling my son from the school.   I’d already planned to keep Son home today (we had a planned toured of the school where he will start kindergarten this August), and I have spent a lot of time today discussing this with Husband.

If this was Son’s teacher there is no doubt that I would have pulled him out of the school immediately.  No doubt.  At all.  Immediately.  Never to return.


Son has a different teacher.  A good teacher.  He is thriving in her classroom and with less than three months to go he is learning so much.  His teacher – a first year teacher – is committed and excited and steady and thrilled to see the progress her students are making.  The children love her – and  they respect her.

Do I pull Son out of a great class because the school and it’s other teachers are lacking?

This is what I need to decide.  Soon.

Who’s Watching Your Children?

I’ve had a few issues here and there with Son’s schools, but most of the issues have been dealt with and we’ve moved forward.   I very much like Son’s teacher, as she is committed and engaged with the children and just the perfect amount of strict to keep Son on task.

After all, having a good teacher can make up for lots of poor administration issues.  Heaven help us all if Son ever gets a poor teacher, no matter how good the school is rumored to be.  I’ve noticed a few other teachers at this school that I’d not be happy with, and it has made me wonder about the availability of good employees, the level of  supervision by the administration and the involvement of the parents.  Do they know ???

There is one teacher in particular who has always concerned me.  I walk by her class every day, as her class is the only one directly off the lobby.  She always looks bored, disinterested.  As if she’d much rather be watching Jerry Springer.   She either has the kids watching a DVD, or she’s just sitting there staring off into space while the children (three year-olds) play on the computer.  I shake my head and walk on,  and get involved with what’s going on in Son’s  class.

Today when I was dropping Son off at school there was a little boy clutching his mother and sobbing.  The mother was dressed for work, tears in her own eyes as she tried to calm her son.  He just didn’t want to be at school today.   We all threw sympathetic looks at her, and I did a silent prayer thanking G-d that I didn’t have to put Son in daycare – that school is a choice for us.  The mother led her son into that class – the only one right off the lobby – and I left before she came out.

I came to pick up Son three  hours later, Nana in tow.  I’d just picked her up from the airport and she got a welcome every Nana wishes for when Son raced into her arms.  We were on our way out when I saw a boy, alone and  sobbing, trying to open a classroom door from the outside while pleading, “Let me in!”  He was trying to turn the knob, but the teacher – the same teacher I said always looks bored and disinterested – had her back to him and was not letting the boy in.  I glanced at the other mothers in the area and they all looked disturbed, and I walked over to that boy and put my arm around him and knocked on the door.

She opened the door and said, “He’s okay.”  Furious, I said, “No, he’s not.  You can’t leave him out here! It’s  cruel!  Let.  Him. In.”   She pulled him into the room while trying to reassure me.

“It’s okay,” she said,  “We do this every day.”

I was apoplectic with fury and disbelief at this point.  Talk about inappropriate punishment!  He was ALONE outside the classroom!!! Being excluded.  Crying.  I know, I don’t have to explain it to YOU…

I walked (stalked, really) over to the reception area, where the attendant (the owner’s daughter) was trying to explain school enrollment to a woman who was considering enrolling her child.  I interrupted to tell the attendant what was happening, and she  excused herself from the prospective customer and immediately went to “handle it”.

I plan to talk to the owner about the incident tomorrow.  The more I think about it the angrier I become.  In my opinion this is cause for termination.  I certainly hope that they will notify the parent of this incident, and if they don’t I’m seriously considering telling the parent myself.

That woman should not be permitted to work with children.  She compromised that child’s physical safety, and his psyche.  Add that to her general attitude of disinterest, and I’m thinking that perhaps she should just get a job where she can do no harm.  Perhaps a cemetery groundskeeper.  Or a port-a-potty cleaner.

It didn’t occur to me until I got home that this could have been the same boy that was crying this  morning.   I was honestly so horrified that I can’t recall.  But no wonder that kid didn’t want to enter that classroom.

No wonder.

Remind Me To Never Go to Taipei…

From last year's  birthday trip to Metrozoo, where his only interest was the restrooms...

From last year's birthday trip to Metrozoo, where his only interest was the restrooms...

Everyone who reads my blog knows that Son’s favorite thing is a restroom.  Ever since he was a baby he has been fascinated by toilets, and they day he discovered a urinal our whole lives changed.  He wanted to be a urinal for Halloween, and whenever you ask him what he wants for his birthday his answer is invariably “A restroom!”

One of last year's efforts.  Today's are much more detailed.

One of last year's efforts. Today's are much more detailed.

Thank goodness he doesn’t  know about this restaurant in Taipei, the brainchild of someone who is obviously a kindred spirit to Son.  Or four years old.

“The servers bring your meal atop a mini toilet bowl (quite convenient, as it brings the food closer to your mouth), you sip drinks from your own plastic urinal (a souvenir), and soft-swirl ice cream arrives for dessert atop a dish shaped like a squat toilet.” toilet_rest_0219

Seriously, who wants to eat food that looks like poop?  Out of a toilet bowl.  While sipping upon one. Here are some more photos, for those who appreciate my not  posting them directly.

I’m one that loves desserts.  But you can bet your ass that I’m not eating ice cream called “diarrhea with dried droppings” (chocolate), “bloody poop” (strawberry) and “green dysentery” (kiwi). But my, how Son would love it!

No, we’ll not be going to Taipei.  But if any of you go, would you please bring Son one of the souvenier urinal cups?  He’d be ever so grateful…

Well, we’re finally moving…

I know I’ve written a time or two or thirty about our desire to move out of our too-small townhouse and buy a home in Georgia or  North Carolina.  I’ve been talking about moving since before Son was born, yet we’ve never been able to make it happen.

I’ve also written about my concern about where Son will start Kindergarten this August, as the school we are zoned for is unacceptable to us.  Our only choices are sending him to a substandard school, risking a felony conviction by claiming a false address, sending him to private school (starting at $7000 for a Catholic school, and we’re Jewish) or moving.  None of those options were appealing, other than a move.  But a move wasn’t possible…

Like many others out there the economy has made selling our home impossible.  In fact I heard last night that one of the foreclosed townhomes in our community just sold for $58,000, which is less than half of what I paid for it, over 30% less than the size of my mortgage and about 1/6th of what they were selling for 4 years ago.  Yahoo.

So, a few weeks ago we decided that sometimes the best move is no move at all, and we’re okay with that.  We still had not made a decision about Son’s school, but we’d wrapped our minds around staying in our lovely townhouse that we can afford even if Husband worked at McDonald’s.

Earlier this week we went to dinner with my Dad, and he made us an offer that’s changed everything.  And it’s  just too good to pass up.

A year after my stepmother died my father moved from the home that they shared for thirty years to a condo on the beach.  They’d bought the house in the late 70’s, when we were still growing up.  This area wasn’t nearly as populated as it is now, and they chose the city because it had the best schools in the area.   At the time it was the toniest neighborhood in the city,  and today it remains one of the best.   And if my memory serves it’s on 1.75 acres – a lot size you will never find except in these older neighborhoods.

The house has been on the market and sitting empty for nearly a year, despite my father dropping the price $150,000.  He had one offer, but after the inspection the guy asked my Dad to take another $150,000 off the price AND make the noted repairs.  Not happening.  He’d also tried to get it rented, but those deals fell though, too.

So, my Dad asked us to move into the house, for a year or two – and possibly longer.  It’s in an excellent school district, and  Son would be able to go to the same school as his cousins – a first in our family.   We’d be going from a 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath 1400 sq. ft. townhouse to a 5 bedroom (plus a library that we’d use as a playroom), three bath  3400+ square foot house with a pool and a tennis court.


We of course could never afford this house on our own, but with the greatly reduced rent and the rental income from our townhouse we should be in good shape.  His generosity is overwhelming us.

And it’s a win-win.  We all know that given the economy this house would not sell for at least two years, and my Dad will be saved the house maintenance costs.  Son will go to a great school,  I’ll have an office instead of a pile of crap on top of the dog’s cage, Husband will complain that he has a fifteen-minute further drive to work (not to mention an office and a train room and a workshop), and there will be the sound of a child’s laughter in that house again.

So, not our own house.  And not in Georgia or North Carolina.   Not our dream.

But a terrific reality.  Which certainly trumps that dream.  At least for the next two years.

And have I mentioned the kitchen?


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