Monday, August 24, 2009



1. My son, age four, has been given homework this week. Create a diorama. He is four.

2. There is a debate in schools that keeps surfacing about removing soft drinks, or the rights to sell soft drinks in schools. The 'right' to buy them, and drink them.

3. I learned today - from a friend who knows this well - that it is possible, in some markets, to pay $1000 to enroll your 10-year-old in a single-season sports league.

These are related only in that they all seem to create the same 'whattheheck?' impulse in me. A little repellent, a lot confused. Generally, I don't know how we got here. Specifically, none of it seems it should possibly be relevant to me. And yet, that I am close enough to know of it - or to feel it first-hand, means it is.

I guess my questions are the acceptable part of my back-brain-hosted rant that I don't quite feel like putting out there in its entirety, given what my husband does for a living, given that my name is all over this blog. Given that recent blog-world events remind us that there is no anonymity, anyway.

But, seriously, people.

What happened?

I think the unspoken stuff is all about privilege. About the aching sense that if these things were going on when I was the ages of my kids - they would have been dividing things. Things that made a knot in the pit of my stomach - things I couldn't have.

I can see the eight-year-old me, and the single-income mom that was Mom. And I can see being so left out. And I wince. And I wonder what the point of all of this is - and I puzzle over who we are serving.

I have the time to work on the diorama with my son. We will do this, and it will be fun of sorts. He will be proud. And it will require a trip to the craft store for the kind of glue that can stick three-dimensional objects. And Annabeth and I will do most of the work. And pPod will gobble up the attention. And I will still wonder why practicing his letters, or looking at a color wheel, or counting plastic bears... isn't enough for the second week of school.

I will withhold opinion on the soft drink debate - because it is the school's issue, because no one asked me, and because what tiny retirement I have is partly bundled tidily in Coke stock. It isn't directly applicable to my children because it is a privilege specifically for high school kids - but if it were, they would only be buying with money they earned. At least I imagine that to be the case. Except on the occasions when I would surely relent, and hand them each a dollar.

How did we ever consent to Pepsi machines in schools? Were schools that hard up for money? (Yes, we were.) Are soft drink companies that opportunistic? (Yes, they are.) Are our children so indulged that they cannot go to school for six hours without a pop? (Apparently, again, yes.)

And as for sports... my three will be in less-expensive sports leagues - but they will play and I will pay. For their 7-year-old and 9-year-old selves to 'get in the game' now. So they are 'ready.' I will hesitate - at least one more season - from putting my littlest in anything. But the time will come - likely sooner than I can really rationalize.

Which is to say, I will participate in the madness every step. I will participate, and perpetuate and it will grow a little more. And some of it will create that same cognitive dissonance - the sense that I believe this... and still, sometimes begrudgingly, DO that.

And I will continue to fantasize about raising my children on a non-existent remote and kind island. Where their toys are sticks and coconuts, their education is the tides and home-hewn repairs to thatched roofs. Where friends are like-hutted, and everyone gathers to cheer on the Coke truck - when it comes... only rarely (and never delivering to the one-room schoolhouse).


  1. OMG! The island fantasy!!! I have that one, too. Mine usually involves living in Ethiopia or India for some reason, somewhere remote, devoid of anything beyond the most basic infrastructure, and yes, they play with sticks and they learn that nature can be cruel and unpredictable and they learn self-reliance and I don't even know who "they" are because I only have one child...maybe "they" are the three of us.

    Another excellent post. (I just paid $130 for a single season of soccer.

  2. I'm with you. In the book Einstein Never Used Flash Cards, the author's called it "the cult of achievement" - it's nutso! Hang in there and stick with what your values are. Your kids will be better for it.