First Days Never Get Easier

A collage of

A collage of past “first days” (photos by Julia Ozab)

Today, Julia and I sent Anna off on the school bus for her first day of fourth grade. Each year I think it will get easier, and each year I’m wrong. It never gets easier. If anything, it gets harder as we watch her grow up before our eyes. Year after year, photo after photo. It all happens too fast.

Why is that? Why do the days and the years rocket past for us? Why is she in such a hurry to grow up while we want it all to slow down so we can hold on to each moment just a little bit longer before it goes?

Is it because she grows more noticeably? Or because we don’t want to face how we’re getting older, but can’t deny that she’s growing up? Or is it because a year for us who’ve lived for many seems so much shorter than for those who’ve lived before?

Michael Stevens at VSauce (one of my favorite YouTube channels) has an interesting take on the last question. Perhaps it has to do with how we naturally perceive time. (Warning: Math ahead!)

(Go back to 2:07 for some background on additive vs. logarithmic counting, or to 0:00 to see people with too much time on their hands).

So if this is the case, and we who have passed the “middle age” of 9(!) can only look forward to our subsequent years racing past us faster and faster until their inevitable end, is there anyway at all for us to slow the rushing train down just a bit?

Yes.

So if you want to slow time down a bit, go out and do something new. It’s the novel experiences that stick with us and make for richer memories and fuller lives.

I can think of someone that makes my life a whole lot fuller than it would be. Someone who helps me see the world through fresh eyes and re-experience familiar things with a new sense of wonder.

Someone who keeps me young.

Anna's first day of fourth grade

2015

And as always, thanks for reading!

Bloggerhood Etc. 3/23/15

Best Idea.There’s A Preschool For Adults To Unwind And Relive Their Childhoods” by Emily Arata at Elite Daily.

Best Guest Post.Mask” by Kimberley Coyle at Little Did She Know.

Best Special Needs Post.Thoughts on Growing Up With a Sister With Down Syndrome” by Melissa Otterbein at Like Birds on Trees.

Best Mom Post.Here We Are Again” by Sarah Bessey.

Best Dad Post.My Real Name, and the Problems it Has Caused Me” by Adam Hall at Tenor Dad.

Best Series.Here Comes the Brides!” by Tamára Lunardo at Tamára Out Loud.

Most Interesting.Why Violin-Makers Adopted the f-Shaped Hole” by Clive Thompson at BoingBoing.

Most Honest.Surviving!” by Gary Mathews at Skippah’s Realm.

Best Reflection.The Transition Time” by Addie Zierman at How to Talk Evangelical.

Best News.We Have Some News!” by Glove and Boots (via You Tube).

“Meh.”

To catch up on the great posts I’m reading online and to get a sneak preview of next week’s candidates, check out my new Around the Blogosphere board on Pinterest.

The Two Kinds of Pride

Cheetah and two cubs

Photo: Julia Ozab

I’m struggling with pride. Not the sin itself—though I’ve certainly fallen into that trap many times—but with the word.

Why? Because there are two kinds of pride. And neither of them is a group of big cats.

We all know the sin of pride. It’s one of the seven deadly sins, which doesn’t mean its worse than other sins, but that it’s foundational. Pride is a root human condition, like lust, greed, envy, anger, laziness, and gluttony, that leads us astray. We all experience these temptations and when we act on them we sin.

But there’s another kind of pride. The pride a parent feels for a child, or the pride a child feels when doing something good, noble, or generous. Plus there’s the behavior code of Anna’s school, a code called Cheetah Pride.

  • Perseverance.
  • Respect.
  • Integrity.
  • Diversity.
  • Excellence.

All noble ideals, summed up in the acronym PRIDE.

So what’s the problem? Well Anna is having trouble understanding the difference between the two kinds of pride. I don’t want to discourage her outgoing spirit, which has flourished at her new school over the last year-and-a-half, and I want her to take pride in her accomplishments. Above all, between her apraxia and her new braces, I don’t want her to retreat into a shell.

But I don’t want her boasting either, and sometimes she does it without realizing. The first time I caught her boasting I tried to talk to her about pridefulness.

“What’s wrong with pride?” she asked. It was a tough question to answer. I had to find a different word that conveyed the bad pride.

And I did. Hubris.

Arrogant, pompous, conceited, and self-important. That’s the bad kind of pride. So from now on I will say “pride” for the good kind of pride and “hubris” for the bad kind.

And I’ve expanded her already large vocabulary. Which is a good reason for us both to be proud.

Cheerleaders of Faith

The Light is Coming …

Dawn at Trillium Lake

Trillium Lake, Oregon. Photo: William Woodward (CC BY-NC 3.0), 2014.

Anna is back in school this week, which means no more sleeping in for anyone. We are up at 6:20 a.m., and because it’s winter and we live in Oregon it’s still dark.

It’s dark when she says goodbye to Julia, who leaves for work at 6:30 each morning.

It’s dark when she gets her mini-breakfast (the small snack she has when she gets up to hold her until her “real breakfast” at school).

It’s dark when she brushes her teeth and gets dressed.

It’s dark when she feeds our two guinea pigs and checks their hay and water.

It’s dark when she packs her lunch (on the days she packs lunch instead of getting it at the cafeteria).

And it’s dark when we walk to the bus stop together, and she gives me a hug and kiss goodbye.

Every morning now, and for the next month or so, we will start our day in the dark.

But the light is coming and that’s what today is about. The light that came into the world at Christmas is the same light that the Magi sought out when they journeyed to Bethlehem. They were only the first of many who would come to that light. Soon, nations would stream to it and a humble birth in a stable that was probably a cave used for quartering animals at night would become the most celebrated holiday in the world.

The light is coming, as sure as the sunrise. And as at the sunrise, the darkness will flee before it.

Before him.

Something to remember when the darkness gets you down. The light is coming.

Cheerleaders of Faith

Gallery

Halloween Cupcakes Slideshow

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Parent-Teacher conferences are coming up this week at Anna’s elementary school. The kids get a couple of days off, but the teachers and staff are still working. Anna wanted to express her appreciation, so for her October Girl Scouts Service Project, Anna made Halloween “Slime Lime” cupcakes for them. Great job, Anna!

Aside

No Child Left Behind?

This is a letter to the editor from a mom in Ohio who tried to exempt her children from standardized testing. I’ve removed her name and location out of respect for her privacy.

Dear Editor:

My mom guilt has made me sick. I’m disturbed with the knowledge that I’ve gained since August of 2013 about education reform in Ohio. The increased standardized testing and how they are coupled to the new Common Core national standards.

Changes in curriculum, the frequency of standardized testing, data mining of student information, Teach For America replacing real teachers in a classroom … it goes on and on.

On Aug. 25, 2014, I stood up to formally refuse standardized testing for my two older children, who aren’t old enough to do so for themselves. They are 5 and 8 years old, in kindergarten and second grade, respectively.

With that decision, I found myself traveling down the rabbit hole. I knew that it would be hard, but was not ready for the push-back, bullying and obstruction I received from our local district.

I can handle the bullying, which has continued through the district’s superintendent, who has called my home, long string of emails telling me what I can and can’t do with the education of my children. That I am not allowed to ask my children’s teachers anything about testing, curriculum, materials, etc.

On Sept. 26, the superintendent confirmed my children were standardized tested.

I believe in respectfully speaking truth to power and authority. I want you and I to be able to exercise our constitutional rights when we think something is important. I believe my parental constitutional rights have been violated in (my) School District.

(Name withheld).

School districts are supposed to serve children, their parents, and surrounding community and not the other way around. If we can’t determine our own children’s education while they are in school then why send them there. Deep down, I feel this is an attempt to sabotage our public education system. Over time it will push the wealthiest parents into private schooling, and the parents who can manage on one income into home schooling. As for the rest—the poorest who have no choice—their kids will suffer the most.

That’s the cruel irony of a law called “No Child Left Behind.” I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.