Friday, October 02, 2015

No More Time For Video Games

As predicted my younger son has no more time for video games now that he is in public school in grade ten.

He wakes up at 5:30 for a very short workout (it should be longer per the coach). He showers, gets dressed, eats breakfast, gathers his lunch, and heads out the door by 6:20. He has a study period after school before the carpool but he chooses to socialize with teammates instead. He goes to practice and gets home at seven. He showers and eats dinner quickly and starts homework by 7:30. I don't feel he is doing enough studying as evidenced by not all As and two present failing grades so what that means is he is asleep by 9:30 or ten. He texts with friends but plays no games at night. He does not watch TV at night anymore on his iPhone either. He just wants to sleep. All in all he is getting 7.5-8 hours of sleep a night, not what doctors say a teen needs but they also say exercise is good for teens so you can't do it all.

I say good riddance to the video games. Now if only my older son would focus in the same manner.

Younger son also sees the amount of work they are churning out and the fast rush though the topics, especially the speed through science and history. They are in week six and already on the third book for literary analysis in English. He now realizes the difference in load from public school compared to his former IB school and also to homeschooling middle school which he now thinks was laid back and easy. He questions why he did not cooperate and why he resisted me. He loves school and the social aspects and is happy to be there.

The only way to succeed with homeschooling high school is with a cooperative student and it is even better if they are self-motivated and have an internal drive to learn and do what the rigor of classes requires. It is even better if they have natural curiosities and enjoy learning about some topics just for fun. If you have to drag your kid through homeschool high school kicking and screaming and fighting and resisting that is not a quality of life that anyone should want to or have to live with; just send them to school and let the school teach them.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

My Son Takes The Bus

As a female I had bad experiences on the school bus but there were also times of neutrality. I also experienced some years of being in the dominant group of controlling bullies. It was a mixed bag but overall my memories were negative. The earlier years were fine but by seventh grade it started to get nasty and by high school the most bothersome was being groped on all the sexual parts of my body as I walked down the aisle and the catcalls and begging for sexual acts. My solution was varied. For a year I walked a half mile to the bus stop of my friend then sat with her the whole time instead of being at my own bus stop with horny beggars. When I was a senior my mother let me take her car sometimes. I also would walk a quarter mile to the last chance stop of the route to catch it at the end so twenty minutes of torture was cut off.

So this year my son is in public school for the first time. I shuttled him to private school both ways last year and it was not fun for me but I had no choice. We decided to make him take the bus. Almost every one of my friends here drives their kid to school to shelter them from drugs or bullies. My thought is a boy in grade ten should be able to fend off the bullies. I was unsure if drugs really are present on our bus. One friend says it depends on which neighborhood you live in. This bus goes to wealthy neighborhoods and to low income apartment complexes on the edge of our district, not in our actual town in a lower income town, as the last stop. 

There is no drug activity on the bus. In the mornings my son waits at the bus stop without parental supervision. Two older girls live next door but their mother sits in her car watching over them before she heads off to work. My son walks to the bus stop alone (five minute walk). They stand in the dark and the girls ignore my son. On the bus my son gets to sit alone. He said no one talks on the bus at all. The kids listen to their iPods and they all sleep. It is still dark when the bus is taking them to school. Homeroom bell is at 7:10. 

I wake up in the morning when my husband is still here. We both make sure our son is awake and getting out the door. The one day last week I chose to sleep in he was late and my husband drove him which meant my husband was late for work. I had not been sleeping well and my husband knew I needed sleep so they did not tell me until later that it happened. I was grateful he was thoughtful and let me sleep but I felt badly that his workday was hut while I could have taken our son in. I am not functioning well on the amount of less sleep to get up when my son gets up. My health is suffering and I am looking for ways to make this work for me. 

Four afternoons we have a carpool to sports practice. The numbers of parents driving their kids to this school of 3250 student is insane. It backs up traffic a half mile down the road. We schedule ou carpool to 45 minutes after school lets out. This means the line with the cones is gone by then. It is an easy drive in and pick up. I only drive once a week. I am so grateful for the carpool. This means I am no longer doig the drive to practice every day. I only do the pick up at the end of practice. I have gained more time in my afternoon now, it's glorioius. It also makes dinner prep possible.

My son takes the bus home one day a week. No bad things happen on the way home either. I do not understand why so many kids are driven to and from school when there is no proof that problems still occur. One family had a problem fifteen years ago with the older sibling so they never let the younger boy try the bus. Maybe you think I am a harsh mother but  I want my fifteen year old to stand up for himself and cope in the world so I want him on the bus. If that makes me a bad mom so be it. 

For eighteen years of my life I was a 24/7 homeschooling mother and so I don't feel that giving this fifteen year old a normal typical common life experience like taking the school bus is me being a slacker mom. 

Monday, September 28, 2015


Lately I am having more moments where I ask myself who am I, what am I doing and why?

I have been meeting a lot of new people since July and so it comes up. Do you work? What do you do with your time since you do not work? They look me over, up and down.

Women my age are in three categories.

1. Naturally aging and plump.

2. Naturally aging and fitness fanatics with great bodies.

3. Cosmetic surgery altered and all dolled up, this usually goes with facial changes, big boobs and a svelte body. I guess when you spend tens of thousands on your face and boobs there is pressure to keep up the rest of your body.

I am number one if you had not figured it out by whatever you know of me by reading this blog.

Due to the weather here fitness is a bigger thing for adults than it is in New England. Up there everyone expects everyone else to be lazy all winter and gain ten or fifteen pounds in that season. Down here we have air conditioned gyms or in home gyms for the unbearable hot and humid summer and then the other three seasons are for outdoor workouts if that is your thing. We more runners here than I ever knew existed. Road races, triathalons and even the IronMan competition is held in our town. Talk about making you feel like a lazy piece of sh** to see people running a full marathon plus biking a hundred miles after starting the day with a swim. They do this usually in 90+ degree heat while I'm sitting at home in the AC relaxing.

This is a weird time for me. The year of the teen living at home going to community college where I'm his mom and we have house rules but he is feeling his oats and wanting no curfew and other freedoms allowed to college students who live on campus. This is the year of adjusting to my younger in public school and trying to help him succeed yet me not really knowing what is going on or how to assist him. On the one hand they don't need me as much but on the other neither of them is an independent being yet.

I have a major block about going to the gym. I just have not gotten into that routine. I need to. I want to. I have been thinking and pondering on it. I have lost seventeen pounds in the last couple of months due to dietary changes (pretty much Paleo) due to doctor's orders for pre-diabetes and food intolerances with leaky gut. I feel good and now I think I might be ready to get into shape. I have the time now, that is no longer preventing me. I just need to get into a rhythm and a flow and find what classes are worth going to and which parts of my workout I will do alone. I do not like working out alone though, it's boring and I have poor accountability with just my own self. For that reason I am considering joining a running group. I do well with positive peer pressure and with schedules and when I know people are expecting me to show up and to perform, I will rise to the occasion and do it. Two new neighbor friends go to that other more expensive gym in town, so maybe I will quit mine and go over there, I don't know.

Rounding out the discussion I should address my marriage. This is the time in some marriages when the spouses divorce due to the change with an empty nest approaching. However I feel closer to my husband now than ever. We have been through a lot. We are a united front on almost everything in our lives. We do know what of the other bothers us or is imperfect but knowing those things and being accepted despite them is a good thing. We are getting more worn out and tired. When things happen (with other people not us) it wears us down, We look at each other and we agree that we want peace and kindness and harmony and love. We do not want drama and problems. We deal with whatever is going on and we try to move back to where life is effortless and comfortable. I guess that is what happens when you are right around fifty, you just want harmony. So when the world is stressful and crazy or illogical or bizarre we look at each other and say, "Thank God I have you as you are normal to me and a safe and good place to hide from the crazy world with."

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Coping With Stress Part 1

There is so much advice flowing everywhere in America. Self-help books promise us joy if only we do what they advise. I don't think enough is said about coping with problems in life that are not in our control. The self-help books simplify it too much..

The positivity movement also spins a lie that if you have a good intention then only good will happen. If you want a thing to happen you must be open to it and state the intention then it will happen but if you are negative in attitude the universe will not give it to you. That is a bunch of baloney. The fact is sometimes life deals us situations that are not ideal and we have no choice but to learn to cope with it as some types of problems will never go away or end, no matter how much we will it or want it. Not everything is within our control.

I was raised by my parents to think that indeed I was in control of everything and thus if the decision was good then good would happen and if I made a bad choice then bad would happen and I'd have to live with it. That is false, the notion that we control everything is a big fat lie. The atheist home I was raised in deprived me of a coping mechanism to accept that a good amount of what we experience in life is beyond our control. In contrast if you believe in a higher power of some kind, it is freeing to accept that larger forces are at work and when we believe in a higher power we have someone to lean on and the power of prayer to help lift us up when we feel helpless and that the current in our life is going in a bad direction but we have no power to change it no matter how hard we try. Thus prayer and leaning on religion can help save us from destruction, despair or peril.

In this series of blog posts I am going to write off the top of my head about ways that Americans cope with stress, the good and the bad. There is no one right way to cope but there are some bad or very wrong ways to try to cope that can wind up being more destructive than the original situation that the person is trying to get a break from or to detach from.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Attended Parent Open House

In week two of school my husband and I attended the parent open house night. This was the first thing like this I ever attended so it was all new to me. We were told via email to print the attached form and fill in the blanks with our child's schedule then to bring that with us.

We basically moved to each classroom on our son's schedule. Including with the bell ringing. We had ten minutes (only) to hear the spiel the teacher wanted to give. These ranged from off the cuff relaxed talks with time for Q&A to very detailed PowerPoint presentations. The handouts ranged from many paged to none. I had brought the contracts and syllabi with me. In some cases no syllabus was given to the student but we were handed it.

We walked away having learned a few things.

1. It is vital to attend these if you want your student to succeed. We found out some things to help the student learn that our son said he was never told. More was said orally than is on the handouts they gave the students. For example the free tutoring was explained and also one class puts all the teacherr's notes online every day.

2. We have the email of each teacher and they all encouraged communication between parent and teacher, and student and teacher.

3. The grading policy and the test retaking policy was explained.

4. The process for how to handle work due on a day that the student will be absent or how to handle coming back when out for being sick was explained. This is not so easy to handle.

5. I asked which textbook he needed to bring to class vs. which classes had an in-class textbook to use. (This is so different from when we were in school.) This is important as I could not find a backpack that was large enough to hold all the required binders and papers plus the textbooks. They simply do not make one that large!

6. We got a sense for the personalities of the teachers. One seems overly strict and not nice but she has intentions of rigorous learning. We will see if our son can handle that level of rigor in this Pre-AP class. Time will tell. All the teachers seemed to really want the kids to learn. None seemed burned out  unlike a bunch of teachers I had in public school. One looked to be only 24 or 25 and she seemed the most enthusiastic and was using the new online portal to the maximum capability.


We were really glad we attended. We are trying to learn the systems in the school so we can help our son navigate. He doesn't need us to dictate it all but sometimes we know a thing he did not know about so it helps that we have this information to help guide him.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Attended Student Orientation

Since my son was a newly enrolled student I attende orientation with him. The school has 3850 students so they held two sessions, a different day for grades nine and ten than for eleven and twelve. An emailed added on to the agenda the taking of the yearbook photograph so we had to think about state of the haircut and what shirt to wear. 

We went in the morning not knowing what to expect. He was handed a sheet with ten steps at the main desk. It said to go to each station in the order it was on the sheet. This was also the release of the schedule. Basically we did things like pick up his textbooks, get the student ID photo taken and the ID given out, browse school clubs, pay for lunches, so forth and so on. It went pretty smoothly exccept for an issue of having been charged for the wrong grade's vocabulary text. 

After all that I made my son find all his classes. He did not feel this was necessary. Passing time is seven minutes and you need it all to move from one end of this huge school to the other. I think I walked a couple of miles in this process although since they are making him take some freshman classes, those are clustered in the freshman wing so those are short walks. 

We opened the locker which was oddly tricky. 

It was not until a few weeks later that we got an email saying many had messed up the photo shoot for the yearbook and apparently it was in another room without being on the list and no signs around. So the photo my son had taken was only the ID photo not the yearbook. Oh well. Photo makeup day is coming up next month. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Grades Are A Goal Now

I blogged last month that my sons don't care about grades.

With younger son enrolled in public school my husband and I have been trying to bring our son's opinion around to the party line in America, that grades (and the GPA) is everything.

Actually now that he has begun week four I see that the grades are trying to train best behavior so they do serve a purpose. The end goal is to learn self-organization and time managment although so much is spoon fed. Perhaps I should say the goal is to become capable of delivering on time on the deliverables. It is about knowing what is due when and getting that done. The assumption is once they know the expections of a teacher's class they can do the same when they are in college and working off the syllabus that does not usually have hand holding by the professor. Some or perhaps many American studdents struggle with that though in their first year of college and some can't adjust and drop out.

Anyway I just wanted you to know that although our family's original goal was curiosity about the world, actual learning and often going deeper rather than shallow and wide, and although we feel that that alternative view of education and learning in the youth years has value we have switched gears to play by the American schooling's view of what they think an education is and so we are teaching our son to do what he is told and play by the rules, even if the methods or goals differ (memorization in the short term then forgetting or cramming to study or spending one week on a country then moving on). Younger son has entered that system so when in Rome...