Friday, September 28, 2007

Sensitivity Training AKA Save the Jell-o!

I’m all about cultural diversity. Really. Maybe I’m na├»ve but I believe anyone should be allowed to come to America in search of a better life. My family did. But when they got here, they learned the language and respected the traditions that were here long before they arrived.

My friend’s daughter is a teacher at the school in this news story. Noble profession, shaping the minds of younguns. There’s a Muslim family that has been raising hell for a few years now and making everyone uncomfortable. Once it was because the mother wanted to teach children about Ramadan in school. HELLO!? This is a public school! Do they want me to come in and explain transubstantiation?! (Grew up Catholic y'all so I know what it means!) But she pushed until she got her way. Then she pushed again because she wanted to remove pork from the school lunches – and anything gelatin based! – because it offended her Muslim sensibilities. WTF!? My kids lunch menu has a little asterisk next to anything that may contain pork. They can’t manage to figure that out and bring their own lunches that day? Who says you HAVE to eat school lunch? And what’s more – last year when some parents asked for peanut based things to be stricken from said menu when everyone suddenly had peanut allergies, they were told that was too drastic.

This woman (yes, the one quoted in this article) has now pushed to have all traditional American holiday celebrations stopped. So they’ve now sent a letter home saying there will be no more decorations or parties at school during school hours. Get outta here! These aren’t religious holidays at school! Easter is about the Easter Bunny, not Jesus. Christmas at school is about Santa Claus and presents, not Jesus. Halloween is about costumes and candy. Someone tried to say it’s a pagan holiday and it’s about ghosts and goblins. Tell that to the next fairy princess you see trick or treating. Go on, call her a little heathen when you see her trot by with her shiny dress and evil shoes.

And furthermore if they don’t like these standard American practices, they can send their kids to a private Muslim school. That’s right, you must pay for the privilege of telling the school what they can and cannot do. Take it from me – I pay quite a bit of money every month to send my kids to private school. Why? Because I don’t like the public school system here, that’s why. I don’t agree with their system of social promotion, the way they handle discipline problems and I don’t like ghetto ass parents, either. Yeah yeah, I know not all of them are ghetto, but the ones we dealt with certainly were. Surprise! If you stand outside calling your children horrible names, that’s how they’re going to talk to other people. No kindergarten teacher should have to deal with that.

If I moved to a Muslim country, I'd be expected to wear a hijab and dress conservatively, right? And I would do so because that's their culture, and in moving to THEIR country I would be making the choice to immerse myself in it, and respect it. I would never assume that another country should conform to the expectations I brought with me. If I liked the culture in my own country so much, I'd have stayed there.

So I got off subject here. My whole point is that public schools are exactly that – public. They are run with American tax dollars. They usually celebrate American holidays – who’d have thunk it?! Either accept it and become a part of it, or pay to send your kids elsewhere. You do have that choice, afterall, it’s a free country, right?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"The Talk"

My husband took our older son out last week to see Resident Evil Extinction. The horror! The closed eyes! The hands over ears! Am I referring to my son’s reaction to the movie? No. His reaction to “The Talk” his dad tried to have that night to open up some dialogue about the famed birds and bees. (yeah and the movie, too, if we’re being honest here)

Yes, my son says it just like that… The Talk. And he makes those little finger quotes, too. Apparently Dad didn’t get too far, bless his heart, because our poor son was mortified that his father was trying to talk to him about VAGINAS. In fact, my son threatened to hide under a table if asked to verbally repeat this horrible word. This was just in the most basic sense of “You know that girls and boys have different parts, right?”

Okay – it was my idea that my husband initiate The Talk since our son is in fourth grade. Now, I don’t know where you went to school, but in my grammar school, kids knew allll about the dirty things that adults did, and speculated about them often. A lot of that info was wrong, but a lot of it was surprisingly right. So when my son asked to get his own deodorant instead of swiping Dad’s, and then asked to use my hair dryer….. I figured now was the time he was becoming aware of his own body and as such, probably those of the fast ass girls in his class, too. (Just kidding, they all seem very nice….. so far) And remember my post not long ago – he did tell me he has an 8th grade girlfriend!

Wow I just realized I totally overuse the ellipsis...or as Wikipedia says, “colloquially, dot-dot-dot.”

I’m not quite sure at what point my husband gave up trying to talk to my son about his body or other people’s bodies but I do know that later on that night he was not too happy to have Mom try to revisit the conversation. I made some jokes to open it up, then asked him what he’s heard his classmates say about “this stuff.” He plays dumb, “What stuff?” I explain as gently as I can, “Sweetheart, you know, when boys start to be preoccupied with their penises.” Still he feigns innocence, asking for an example. SO in my parental ineptitude, I offer “schlong”. My dear sweet child finally stopped laughing long enough to tell me that one of the kids in his class calls it The Limo. Then he spouts out “how about long schlong!” and at this point I gave up, too. I just told him that we’re here to answer any questions he has without lecturing or going into too much detail, and believe me, he’s thankful for that. No one wants to hear their parents say these things. So we’ll revisit this in 6th grade when health class starts talking about things like erections…. At which point I’m leaving this whole thing to my husband. After all, he figured it all out, right??