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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Common Sense Isn't Nearly as Common as One Might Expect

**Disclaimer**
This post has been a long time coming.  It is possible that the grammar won't be correct, it will shift from first to third person a lot and some of the thoughts may offend anyone without a decent amount of common sense.

As I was sitting in class this morning, my phone started vibrating.  An incoming call from the secretary at my son's school flashed on the home screen.  Anytime the school calls during the day, at this point in his life, it can't be good.  He's either sick or in trouble...both are equally bad, in their own way, especially if the situation requires a phone call to a parent who is at work and/or otherwise indisposed during the hours of 8-3:30.

So I leave a lively classroom discussion to answer my phone (which, by the way, I hate doing), assuming there is an important conversation waiting for me on the other end.  I was wrong.  It was a recorded message.  The message stated that the school was receiving several phone calls from parents in the attendance area regarding the power outage that was occurring.

What?!  Seriously!?  Please tell me you're kidding.

You're telling me that there were enough parents calling the school to warrant a phone call to every phone number on file informing them of a power pole which was taken out by a driver, knocking out the power to the attendance area of the elementary school...and...that the power company was aware of and working on the problem!?  Furthermore, the elementary school still had power and everything was ok.

Holy. Crap.

The phone call wasn't a big deal to me. Yes, I left class to answer it expecting to make arrangements to retrieve an ailing boy...or possibly receive news that he'd done something so awful that the school was actually forced to call me.  Side note: I am glad the school has the ability to call a large group of people at once, and I like that they use it to keep families abreast of the happenings at the school.  What really bothered me--or at the very least made me scratch my head--was the fact that so many parents called to inquire about the power situation of the elementary school.

Who does that?  Why does it matter if the school has power or not?  It wasn't 100 degrees outside, it was daylight, teachers will adapt with or without power and the school has emergency lighting to rely on when necessary.  Were parents concerned that without power, the air conditioning would turn off and their children would be hot?  I'm stumped, stupefied and slightly concerned that enough people thought to call the school.  Really?!  Common sense and a little faith in the people who they trust their children with, eight hours a day for nearly half the calendar year goes a long way here.  Every single one of the teachers and staff members would give their life to protect the children and parents are worried about a power outage?!
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In other news, I am sick and tired of road construction.  Every main artery leading from my house to the college is undergoing some sort of major repair that requires all except one lane to be shut down for an extended period of time.  The lane closure wouldn't be a big deal if Nebraska drivers could figure out that merging traffic is similar to zipping pants. Each little tooth has an assigned place to enter as it is moved along and you must be careful in order to prevent a catastrophic injury.  The cars are the teeth here, people.  One car, then another.  Even if the car merging waiting until the last possible minute to change lanes.  Just because they didn't merge as soon as they saw the 'lane closed' sign doesn't mean they deserve to be outcast and banned for life.  It happens.  Stop being rude and just let them merge.  I promise you will not be delayed in your travels, inconvenienced or harmed in any way.  In fact, you will probably get the 'courtesy wave' from the merging driver and you might actually feel like you've done something nice for someone else.  Win-win, if you ask me.

So I challenge you...let a driver merge today.  If you're feeling especially generous, let two drivers merge.
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A little car seat information for those of you with children under 12 years old. 

Did you know that vehicle manufacturers model the seatbelt for an adult who is between 5'5 and 6'1? This means that even though the state law says your child doesn't need a booster seat to raise them up in the seat enough to allow that seatbelt to fit them properly, you are putting your child in danger by using the law to dictate what happens in your car.  

Even if you've 'gone the distance' and forced your child to sit in a booster seat through second grade (common around here) then ditched it because your child felt like a baby sitting in a 'car seat', you're putting them at risk for serious injury and/or death every single time they get in your car.  Or any car, for that matter...yes, that includes the carpool to school--even though it's only a mile to the school (most popular excuse in this neighborhood). 

Humor me for just a moment.  Take a guess at what your child weighs.  Now, assume that as you're driving to school you're doing 15mph--which, by the way, you aren't.  Typically you're doing 25-30 as you're rushing through the neighborhoods to deliver or retrieve your precious cargo.  Anyways, your child's weight and 15mph.  Now, multiply the numbers together.  Yes you can use the calculator that comes with your computer.  

                             Example:  80lbs  x  15mph = 1200

This means that it will take 1200 pounds of force to restrain my 10 year old son if I am in a crash on the way to school, assuming that I'm only driving 15mph.  Yes, over a thousand pounds of force will be thrust upon my child's body as he meets his seatbelt to stop his body from flying into the seat in front of him.  His internal organs will meet his skeleton with that same amount of force.  Just let that sink in. How much force is your child going to receive?  

Now, for those of you whose child is under 4'9-5'0 tall...your child's seatbelt will meet the wrong parts of their body to properly restrain them without causing injury.  Their seatbelt is resting over their abdomen and not their hips/tops of their thighs.  The shoulder belt is either a) behind them, b) under their armpit or c) cutting across their neck/jaw area.  When this belt locks up in a crash, as it is designed to do, that force will be thrust upon the soft organs in the abdomen and their neck/jaw line.  Guess what?  THIS WILL CAUSE SEVERE and TRAUMATIC INJURY.  We're talking ruptured spleen and intestines from a 'quick drive up to the school'.  

So, I ask you to think about this: is it worth it?  

Is it worth saving your child from the social trauma of being labeled a baby for riding in a booster seat until they were structurally and developmentally ready to sit in the adult seatbelt without the added BOOST of a backless booster seat.  Yes that's right...a booster seat isn't just called that because it sounded fancy.  It is designed to BOOST a child to the appropriate height to safely ride in a lap/shoulder seatbelt.  Seems silly when you think about the danger you're putting your child in every time they get in the car, doesn't it?  You can purchase these seats for under $25, which is a fraction of the cost of a haircut, mani/pedi, or your Starbucks addiction.  And it could save your child's life.  Small price to pay, if you ask me.  

Unsure if your child still needs to ride in a booster seat?  Click here for a simple 5-step test that will help you make the safest decision.  Still unsure?  Contact me at checkingseats@gmail.com 
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I leave you with stuff to ponder.  Apply as needed to your daily life.  

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
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You catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar.
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READ to your children.  READ with your children. 
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If you have to ask, then yes, your butt does look big in those shorts.
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Bra straps are not a fashion accessory. 
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If your child has to climb out of your car through the cargo area, don't use the car line!
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If you have to get out of your car to let your child out, don't use the car line!
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If you have more than two children exiting your vehicle, go to the last possible spot in the car line.  Otherwise you're holding the whole line up while your children fall out like circus clowns!
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This is a neighborhood school.  Your child can walk/bike/scooter to school. 
The exercise is good for them!
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The school has 'gently' reminded parents that dogs are not allowed on school grounds. 
 This means all dogs, not just other dogs.  
Stop bringing your dog when you pick up your child if you are getting out of the car!
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Children aren't made of sugar.  
They will not disintegrate when wet, nor will they caramelize when hot.  
They can be outside during summer/winter. 
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If your child rings my doorbell more than once after I've explained that my child cannot play/has homework/chores, I reserve the right to ignore them the next time they come to the door.
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Asking for help isn't the same as admitting defeat.  In fact, it's quite the opposite.
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Life is too short to be angry.  Do something nice today--you might just make someone smile.













Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Teacher's Right to Bear Arms

I am a teaching candidate at our local university. I am in my year of field experience--not quite a student teacher, not quite a student who sits in the classroom all day and observes. I have this year of school left before I am placed in an elementary classroom and put in charge of educating, caring for, loving and keeping your children safe for eight hours per day, everyday.  I understand that, upon graduation, I will have the responsibility of creating future generations of productive, competent citizens who will make meaningful and lasting contributions to the society they live in...and the society that most of us will grow old in. My day will not begin when I get to school, as it never truly ends--even when I go home the previous day. To truly make an impact on your children I will not stop thinking about them when I send them home. I will continue to plan, investigate, research, learn and seek out answers to concerns that pop up everyday while they're in my care.  A teacher's job never really ends.  In light of the recent tragedy in Connecticut, as well as a dozen other active shooting events around the country and a mass casualty situation in China, many teachers are now faced with an internal dilemma; one that questions our personal belief system down to the core.  Should we, as educators, be permitted to carry guns in the classroom.  At the very least, should we be allowed to have a gun safe with a loaded handgun in it, in our classroom?

I believe that yes, we should.

The best case scenario puts armed police officers on the scene of an active shooter in a building in about three minutes.  In the first three minutes of our country's most recent tragedy, several people were already dead and several more were wounded.  The school's principal went into the hallway, unarmed, to get a better view of what she thought were gunshots. Unfortunately, she didn't return to her office. What if she would've been armed? Statistics from federal, state and local police agencies have proven that once an active shooter meets resistance from an armed individual they either a) are slowed down due to use of force by the other party or b) kill themselves.  The principal, a teacher in a classroom, the school counselor/psychologist or secretary could've potentially stopped this tragedy shortly after it began had they been armed and prepared.

Before you jump all over me, please understand I am not saying that guns in schools are the only way to keep children safe.  I am also not saying that a gun carrying staff member in every school will prevent these tragedies from happening. I do not feel that teachers should be mandated to carry, nor do I feel that we should pay an armed security guard to stand outside every door of every school in America. I am not an extremist who believes this is the only answer. I am a future teacher who doesn't want to be a 'sitting duck' waiting for the next lunatic to turn a building that I might be in, with your children into the O.K. Corral. I want the opportunity to be proactive instead of being forced to be reactive to the shooter because too many people in our country are afraid of giving the good guys a little bit of power.

I read an article last night while I was writing this post, as I was looking for answers to law enforcement response time and statistics in active shooting events across the web. The author makes a very valid point when he talks about banning certain types of guns (or guns altogether). The bad guys will get guns regardless of their legality or availability in our country.  Adding a "No Weapons Permitted" or "Gun Free Zone" sign to the front of a building is similar to storing your most valuable  asset, most prized possession on your front lawn for the world to see and walk away with.  We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect our homes, jewelry, vehicles, finances and personal information from the bad guys, yet we refuse to allow our schools to be protected by the people who know them best.  You trust me with your child's education, molding your child's brain, sculpting their future and giving them the tools to succeed in that future. I will spend more time with your children than you do for 180 days every year, I will care about your children like they are my own, I will celebrate with them, I will get frustrated alongside them and I will give them every ounce of dedication and knowledge I possess.  I will take a bullet for your children, just like so many of my colleagues. I don't want to be forced into that decision though....and by allowing teachers to be trained to carry a gun, and allowing that gun to be in a school building, I might not have to.






Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hypersexualization or Paranoia?

My 9 year-old son told his sister that she has a 'dirty mind'.

This is a problem for me.

I can handle questions about sex, what a sex therapist does (thank you, Survivor) and even the random inquiries about the box of feminine products sitting next to the roll of trash bags in my bathroom closet. However, when the youngest of my two kids is using terms like 'dirty mind', I go into a tail spin and start freaking out. Why is he using that term? Does he know what it means?  Who told him? What did they tell him? And why does he feel his sister is being 'dirty' when she talks? It's enough to send me into a frenzy of Googling and interrogation without making him feel that he can't be open with what he learns at school.  Yep this is the product of a child in his class.

Apparently my son reacts, as I'd expect (he is NINE), to jokes about butts, farts, nudity and any other bodily function or body part that boys his age find hilarious.  This caused another child to tell him he has a 'dirty mind'.  My boy, being the follower of this other child that he is, decided to adopt the term and use it even though he isn't 100% clear on the meaning or when to use it in the correct context. After a long conversation I was finally able to get this out of him and explained that it's not a good idea to use terms when he isn't sure of the definition. I also explained that by telling someone they have a 'dirty mind' he could've gotten himself in a lot of trouble at school, had the other child gone home and told their parents. Sigh.  Lucky for him, he tried it out on his sister instead of a female classmate. He said something about a "nuke" in a game and she thought he said "nude".

This brings me to the question: are children being exposed to the idea of sexualization and the human body at an age that is entirely too young or did I freak out unnecessarily?

I know he is a boy and all things human body-including boobs, balls, butts, penises, farts and nudity-are going to crack him up. However, I don't want him to think that this is dirty, but rather a natural part of growing up. I liken it to the way he finds video games fun and playing in the mud enjoyable, etc. This morning though, as we were watching The Price is Right, a large breasted woman was running bouncing up the steps towards the stage and he said, "whoa, she needs to stop running". When I asked why, he got the deer-in-headlights look and mumbled that she was going to trip or something. I pushed harder, since I knew this wasn't what he meant. He said that she has huge boobs and they are bouncing all over the place so she shouldn't run. WHAT?!  Why is this the first thing he saw when looking at her and the first thought that popped into his head?  She was wearing garland around her forehead for crying out loud, why didn't he notice that?! I didn't push the comment any further since I didn't want to shame him or make him feel badly that he told me the truth...but it bothered me all day. Does he really see a woman's boobs before anything else when looking at her? Would it be this way if cleavage wasn't so plentiful every single time he turned around? Or is he just a typical 9 year-old who finds boobies hilarious and I need to relax and stop over analyzing? I just hope he isn't learning from friends that a woman's breasts are objects of sexual desire, and truly just sees them as a funny part of the female anatomy...at least until he's 30!