Amaya Rain

Wife. Mother. Crazy woman.

Persistence

Munchkin is being rather persistent in her desire to homeschool. I thought with the last days of school, all the fun things they’re doing, that she’d change her mind. Not a chance. She’s brought up homeschooling probably 15 times this week.

I’m working on getting a curriculum together. Fun Fun! It really is; the hard part is keeping it contained enough. Then again, I told her that if we started, we had at least three years of homeschooling ahead of us – I wasn’t starting to just put her back in a year (or less) later. She agreed. So I’m working on a three-year program, essentially. Not the specifics for three years, just trying to get an idea of the types of things that we’ll cover each year, especially in the sciences, history, and geography. Math, well, she’ll lead the way in that. She really excels in math. She loves art and music. Actually, she loves just about anything she can learn about, except she doesn’t like history (because it hasn’t been taught properly to her), and she doesn’t like to read (probably the same issue). She’ll have to get over the reading thing. She’d have to get over it going to regular fourth grade as well.

Okay, back to the computer, looking for good resource material.

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May 24, 2007 Posted by | Parenting, School | Leave a comment

Kickin’ butt, takin’ names.

So. My daughter’s class in school is a disciplinarian’s nightmare. No, they aren’t bringing weapons to school or trying to beat each other up or anything, but still. They’re doing typical kid things, but those kid things are being done by most of the class, and all day, every day. The teacher, who used to be one of the strictest teachers in the school, just lets them run roughshod over her. And then if there’s a substitute?

This is how the severity of the issue came to my attention. Munchkin calls me last week and says, “please come get me. I have a headache and I’m really really dizzy.” So, I bring her home, make her chew an Advil (because she suddenly can’t swallow a pill, and I’m out of liquid pain relievers), and send her to bed. THEN I find out that she’s not really sick, she’s sick and tired of the other kids in class, and she’s not going to take it anymore.

WHAT?

After I calmed down, we had a long talk. I’ve been blowing her off all year about this, telling her that kids are kids, and she just needs to learn how to deal with other people’s behavior because life just isn’t easy, that if it’s that bad she needs to talk to the teacher, etc., etc. So of course, she finally stopped telling me how bad it was. My friend, M, had been consistently speaking with the teacher about the same issue, and I just let her without jumping in myself. Yeah, well, I changed that today.

The principal was so full of it. She claimed that she was completely unaware that there was a discipline problem in the class, that was the first time it’s been brought to her attention, etc. These kids have all been together for years, and they’ve always been a discipline problem, woman. Have you noticed that the only kids who stay are the worst ones? That all your good students in that class end up leaving (M is pulling her daughter out for next year to go to a school about 30-40 minutes away, about 1/4 of the class isn’t coming back next year)? Oh wait, it wouldn’t have to do with the fact that MOST of the kids who are the worst in class just happen to be the children of large contributors to the church who sponsors the school???? Oh yeah, that’s it.

So then while I’m there, we call Munchkin in so that she can tell the principal HER view of what’s happening in the classroom. Turns out, first thing the principal asks her is about a fight at recess. What? Well, apparently, this girl in class who is a really bossy, ugly, mean, nasty person, started saying bad things about Munchkin’s friend (M’s daughter). Munchkin finally, after over a year of dealing with her with nothing but love and tolerance – at least to her face – she says, “You know, we all try to be your friend, but I just can’t take it anymore. I don’t want to be your friend if you’re going to act like this. You’re wrong for being mean to [A], and you know, you don’t show anyone compassion, ever, and it’s going to just bite you one day, because no one is going to end up with any compassion for you if you keep acting like that.” Her friend called her this afternoon to tell her “thank you” for sticking up for her – especially since us calling her to the office was ill-timed… the class thought she was being sent to the principal’s office for saying it.

So, my daughter tells me last week that she’s been considering homeschooling again. Last time, first grade, it kinda sucked. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was teaching her with a goal of her getting back into a regular school the next year in a different state. I was busy trying to fill school requirements, keeping her busy, but not getting her too far advanced because the school, no matter her test scores, were not going to allow her to skip a grade, and I didn’t want her to be miserable relearning everything we’d already learned.

She ended up being prepared for second grade – very well prepared, actually – but she wasn’t happy, and neither was I. It’s been the running joke that if she does something wrong, as a punishment I’ll take her out of school and homeschool her. Then she laughs, yells oh no!, and then we move along.

And now she’s asking to be homeschooled.

So, we’re looking at doing a trial run for about a month during the summer, just to see if we can stick to it. We’re both fine with this, and getting rather excited.

Well, my mother is having a hissy fit. She had the nerve, when I mentioned the homeschooling, to shake her head over and over and over and flat out say, “oh no, not going to happen, you are NOT going to pull that child out of school.” So, I did what any logical person would do. I told her that for the most part, it was Munchkin’s decision, but it was something that would be decided between me, her and her dad. Period. It was OUR decision. She was all pissy about that.

So, Munchkin tells me this evening that when her and her grandma went for a drive this afternoon, my mother was telling her how she couldn’t homeschool, that she needed to stay at her regular school no matter what, because it would get better, but even if it didn’t, it was better that homeschooling with me. She kept bringing up 1st grade over and over, and telling her that if she thought we didn’t have time for things last time (which wasn’t the issue, but I digress), that I certainly wouldn’t have time with the twins being here.

Oh really? I’m very upset about that conversation… and it explains why, when I told my mother this evening (AFTER this ride happened) that she needed to not try to talk Munchkin out of homeschooling, that she needed to make her own decision about it, my mother gave me this “oh I’d never do that” kind of look.

When I asked Munchkin what she told her, she said, “I told her that you had made me a commitment and that you wouldn’t go back on your word that this time would be different if it’s what we decided to do.”

I love my girl. She’s one amazing little person.

May 16, 2007 Posted by | Daily Life, Other People's Children, Parenting, School | 2 Comments

Helping single moms

I was a single mom for several years before I met my husband. I was one of the very, very lucky ones. I had a family that let me live rent free, cooking every now and then. My mom took care of my daughter while I went on to finish my university degree. After graduation, she was nearby for those times that my girl was too sick to go to daycare and such – which is great, because I was in a toxic workplace that had zero understanding for a single mother with a sick child.

Abortion was never a consideration for me. Even before I knew I’d have my parents’ backing, I refused to consider it. I’m very definitely prolife, and always have been. It seems incomprehensible to me how someone could have an abortion.

That is, until I think about what my life really would have been like without the support of my parents, and if I didn’t already have an anti-abortion personal outlook.

What would my life have been like? Would I still be working some minimum wage job, moving to a more urban city to find late evening daycare? Would I have even been involved in raising my daughter at all when it came down to it, other than tucking her in after carrying her home while she was half-asleep? Would she be as successful in school as she is now, or would my lack of time and energy affected her ability to learn, since I’d be less inclined to read and play and write with her?

And mommy skills. Oh man. I so didn’t have them. I like to pretend that I’m a natural-born mother, but I’m not. And even though my own mother and I disagree on some basic things with childrearing, it would have been a huge struggle to develop routines to maximize my time, energy, money, and make sure my daughter grows up happy and healthy.

I have the deepest respect for single moms, especially the ones that really make it on their own. But they’re in the minority, aren’t they? A huge number of single moms are out there barely surviving, without the education or skills to better their own and their children’s lives. They live paycheck to paycheck, and not even really that, getting deeper and deeper in debt with every passing emergency.

It makes me sad, and I want to do something about it. I have some ideas bouncing around in my head – things that I probably won’t be able to follow through with for quite some time, but they are in there. In the meantime, my thoughts and prayers are with those women who defied the statistics, chose life, and struggle every day to make their children’s lives, and their own, a little better and a little stronger every day.

July 21, 2006 Posted by | Parenting, Single parenting | Leave a comment

HPV and all that jazz.

A post on BlogHer has forced me to write about something I meant to write about when I first opened this blog: the new HPV vaccine, and vaccines in general.

My oldest is vaccinated, all up to date, all that jazz. However, because of let’s just say issues with their administration when she was on schedule, we ended up delaying most of them until she was nearly school age. The only thing I’d have done differently with her, when it comes down to it, would be to have not started them initially when she was so young, and to work on finding out if we could have gotten them separately, instead of 5 diseases in one whabang.

The babies are not vaccinated at all. One of them was rather ill after birth, and then there have been some developmental difficulties. Actually, all of that just gave me a reason to have everyone else get off of my ass about getting them vaccinated. My daughter handled the shots so much better as an older child than she did as a younger one, and since the twins aren’t exposed to other kids or even the general public that often, I was comfortable taking “the risk.”

Then there’s my own history. I’ve had all the major childhood diseases (except chicken pox, which I wasn’t vaccinated for. Go figure); I’ve had severe medical reactions to the tetnus booster; I have no immunity toward diseases I’ve received vaccinations for (to the point where I really should have stayed home and twiddled by thumbs and not gone anywhere near the general public when I was pregnant because I don’t have rubella immunity).

There’s just so much misinformation on both sides of the issue – and that’s with “proven” vaccines with track records. A 3 month old baby died of SIDS in our neighborhood recently… just a few days after her vaccinations. One of the neighborhood kids is autistic, with his mother maintaining that he had no symptoms prior to a vaccination, and then was a completely different child within a week. A friend’s kid got shingles after getting the chickenpox vaccine. All of that is second-hand experience, yes. But I’ve known many people, myself included, to get measles, mumps, chickenpox, whooping cough, pneumonia, flu, meningitis – and have no long term effects from any of them. I’m not saying these things don’t cause long term effects in some people, I’m just saying that in my personal experience, I’ve seen long-term, and even fatal, effects from vaccinations whereas I’ve seen none from the diseases they are supposed to prevent (notice, there wasn’t much prevention, was there?)

So now there is this wonder drug, something that prevents – at a 100% rate, no less – the 2 types of HPV that cause up to 70% of cervical cancers, and the 90% of the 2 types of HPV that cause genital warts. Wow. I mean, really, wow. That’s a much better success rate than most other vaccines. And it’s for women!!! (I felt the need to yell that because the medical research community isn’t always too keen on working on women’s issues). I wanted to jump for joy when I heard that!

Then reality kinda settled in.

I’d wondered why we’d suddenly been bombarded with television ads with incredulous-faced women saying “did you know that this cancer is caused by a virus? A virus! Who knew! Pass it on! Everyone needs to know!!” I thought it was great that there were finally PSA’s about something that my OB had told me years ago. It’s one of those strange things – they always told us “STD’s can cause this, that, death and cancer.” But the never told us how prevalent HPV was. Tons of ads every day for herpes and HIV, but never any for the number one cause of cervical cancer in women – which if I’m not mistaken, is the number one cause of hysterectomies in the country.

I should have known. Maybe I should have read the fine print on the bottom of the screen that probably says “paid for by Merck”.

Because the only time we focus on womens’ health issues is when there is money involved. And that really pisses me off. Where was all the screaming and crying out for women to be educated when it was a health threat, and not a money-maker? Why haven’t we been telling women to “tell someone you love” for years now?

Because back then, we couldn’t make $360 off of you.

And if the government makes the shots mandatory for girls, then the government will be paying that $360. Of course, one day we’ll get nice and let overseas companies make generics for it, bringing the cost for third-world countries down to like $3 a pop while still gouging our own government, but that’s okay, because we’re saving lives.

I’m not knocking the efficacy of the drug. I’m not knocking its possible necessity. I’m knocking the money-making theories. I’m knocking the lack of long-term studies on effects on fertility and overall health (including cancer). I’m knocking the marketing strategies. I’m knocking the lack of ability of both the government and private health officials to emphasize to young women the serious necessity of safer sex and abstinence (ooooh! I said the “A” word!) despite the possiblity of a vaccine.

I realize according to the current laws, the drug cannot be offered at public-funded health clinics for reduced cost unless it’s made mandatory. And think, ultimately, this is a huge problem. Parents, and young women of health-determining age, should be able to have access to the vaccine no matter what the cost, without it being made mandatory. Yes, most states have exemptions available, but most only have religious exemptions – not everyone has religious issues with this vaccine. Some states have philisophical exemptions, which is great. But not all.

Ultimately, parents have the right to determine what is best for their children. For my children, it’s for me to wait and see what longer-term effects this vaccine will have. I could never forgive myself for giving a vaccine – or a government for making it mandatory – if that vaccine caused a long-term health issue for my child. Along with that right comes my responsiblity to inform my children about sex, about safer sex, and about the importance of abstinence (and the fact that some diseases, such as herpes and HPV, can be transmitted without actual intercourse or oral sex). It is my responsbility to tell my children that sex is a beautiful thing, a wonderful thing, a glorious thing (I guess I’ll leave out the hot and sweaty and sometimes beautifully violent and mind-bending and… oh, I digress), but that along with that, these days, comes the possiblity of it getting you killed.

I hate issues like this. They leave me so torn, so battered as a parent. Do I do what’s right for my children, or do I do what’s right for my children? Do I take a calculated risk with their health, or do I take a calculated risk with their health? Because those are the questions, pro and con, for both sides of the issue.

For me, it’s too late. I’m over the age cutoff… don’t even get me started about that, since the drug companies are implying that women over the cutoff age are more likely to already have HPV… and it only takes ONE exposure, ONE time… ugh. Not going there.

So yeah, that’s my take. I’m a confused mommy, and a confused mommy makes a wait-and-see mommy.

July 8, 2006 Posted by | Parenting, Politics, Vaccinations | Leave a comment