01 October 2011

Oh my my

This week, I've been all over the map (figuratively this time, not literally), devoting time to causes, back-to-school nights, and finding a new primary physician because mine announced she was moving an hour away, and I am not driving an hour to go to the doctor (who has apparently forgotten that I was having a little issue with paralysis earlier this year... I wasn't doing too well driving three blocks). And if the kids have to do a lot of paperwork for college applications, I'm not sure it's anything compared to what the parents have to fill out. Digital signatures, for crying out loud. Not that that is everything, of course, but that was making me crazy enough last night.

It's October. October. I feel like I missed half of this year.

Then again, I did, rather.

It's going to be a busy week. It's going to be a rather chaotic month.

Tonight, I got an email from the son who was forwarding me a College Board come on: Take the SATII Language with Listening! Earn college credit!

Errr, I wrote back to him, you already scored over 700 on a language SATII, earned an AP 5 and an IB 7. You think you still have something to prove?

I could hear him laughing from his room.

This is what is pushed. More tests! More tests! Create a nation of test-takers! Teach them to memorize, not to apply, and god forbid, not to think!

I tell my kids, "You want to be culturally literate? You have to watch this movie. You have to visit this country. You have to read this book. You have to try this food. Everything is interwoven. Understand history and your friends and your enemies through their words, your eyes, your ears, your stomach."

People stare at me when I suggest this, the same people who can't believe that my kids bring tandoori in their lunch one day, kalbi the next and boeuf bourguignon another day, with a generous dollop of vegan whatever I happened to make the night before. My kids read Swift and Orwell and Atwood on their own, for fun. They've seen the Hermitage, camped out in bear country, ridden on horseback through lava fields, watched ballet, heard Beethoven's 9th performed with a full orchestra and chorus, traced the path of the Milky Way in midwinter. They've done charitable work on a large scale, but also gotten a can off the shelf for the elderly person who couldn't reach it. You can memorize all you want, but you won't know the facts until you live them. You make the most of the opportunities that are handed to you, and create the opportunities that you can. Fortunately for me, my children get that.

I suppose that's what matters.

This then, is a taste of October.

Go listen to some good music: "Oh My My" from the album Blast From Your Past by Ringo Starr. It's been a wild week, promises to be another, and yes, my passion meter is on overload at the moment. I've seen a lot of hysteria (about various things) of late, and never underestimate the power of hysteria as a contagion.

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