My Kid Can Beat Your Kid at Everything!

I survived Parent Teacher Conference last night.

As a parent, I go out of respect. I know the poor teacher has to be there, and she’s amazing. As a teacher, I’m sad dragging parents across six towns to wait in line for ten minutes with me. They worked a long day. I’d rather have coffee and actually talk.

At Declan’s conference, I cut right to the chase, “My kid’s smart, using his intellect for evil, and needs to pay attention.” Except for the “evil” I’d say the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. Say it like it is, I’m not offended. No fluff. I’m not a competitive parent.

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 5.48.10 AMParents, I’ve noticed, need to compete, but we don’t like to say we’re competing. We want our kid to be the best and brightest in the world. The future doctor, lawyer, president, head of the World Bank.

That competition should be right out into the open, parent-to-parent. Let’s have parent contests.

“Hey, buddy, I challenge you for the ‘My kid’s awesome’ bumper sticker on your minivan. Let’s arm wrestle, or play one-on-one hoops. I’ll decimate you.”

We’ll all go home and do pushups to prepare.

But that’s not cool, so we brag subtly. “My kid’s an all-star (insert sport here). I noticed yours plays left bench quite effectively.”

Mine isn’t an all-star. Declan’s working on matching the correct sports to the balls. He kicks basketballs, which makes me cringe. It’s going to be a long season for that coach. We waiting for our call telling us which team we “made.” No sports bragging here.

“My kid read more books than your kid.” He (translate: me) logged more books on the log sheet. I don’t care how many books a kid reads. Number of children’s books viewed is not an accurate measure of reading.

“I read a hundred thousand one-page books which had descriptions longer than the actual text and pictures that took up 97.5% of the page.” Seven thousand books? For a grand total of six pages. Nope, I’m not logging that. As much as I love children’s authors and illustrators.

Read Dostoyevsky. Then we’ll talk. Our log says, “We read Seuss and the dino book AGAIN.”

No award for me. Or him. No competitive spirit. Only fun reading about dinos.

He’s a good kid, despite the fact that when I walked into the school, everyone in the main office from the Principal to the two secretaries said, “Oh, Declan’s mom!” That’s okay. Being on a first-name basis with the principal by grade one gives us special treatment. There’s something we can win. I can say, “My kid’s the captain of the detention club.”  Maybe he’ll get his own chair in the front office and he’ll get to run his own school. That’s something most parents don’t get to say.

No, I’m not a competitive parent. I’m a realist. I enjoyed the ten-minutes of honesty at the conference, came home, and took Declan off my computer where he was busy previewing the Sci-fi movies I’m showing in my class today. Seems he “forgot” to tell me he got “in the red.” Red is not good.

I relaxed with a nice cup of tea. I have time, because I’m not driving my kid around to horseback riding, soccer, ballet, basketball, gymnastics, piano, ski club and 4H. We’ll pick one or two things. Maybe he’ll be great, maybe he’ll just have fun. I’ll celebrate a blue ribbon or trophy or two. Mostly, we’ll just learn about life, people, fun, fitness, and make a few good friendships, I hope.

Competition only stresses me out. I’ll leave that for others.




Spreading Goodness: Thanks for the Award

I got an award–this one’s special because it came from someone who herself has a beautiful blog. Thank you, Allie! Part of the rules were that I have to divulge seven things about myself, then pass on the nomination to fifteen deserving writers.  Fun! It’s like chain mail but with something nice attached instead of a curse.  I generally try to delete chain mail before the curse scrolls up and reveals itself–just in case it has power. I always felt if I didn’t read the curse, I’d be safe.  Today’s honor comes with love, and will be passed on in the same manner. So, in honor of the first “chain award” I’ve ever received, I’ll start.

Seven Things I Probably Shouldn’t Share about Myself:

1. I was the lowest scoring starting varsity player ever on my high school basketball team.  Who knows, maybe someone sucks worse than I did by now, but it was a longstanding record. I was proud. I kept the trophy. People used to bring signs and give me standing ovations if I scored. The only reason I got to play at all is because of my level of dedication–I emerged as a great defensive player.  It’s a lesson I never forget–defense is as important as offense in life. Only no one sees it. It’s important to remember that some of the best influencers often go under the radar, but are game changers no less. I want to be one.

2. I am a history nerd. I love local research, research on social justice, and research on things overlooked in society. I’ve delved into issues like New England mills, gravestones, racism in the North, sports and equality, religion in Colonial era, a bunch of Russian and Soviet stuff, Cold War civil rights, and the origins of very old Japanese martial art that made its way to the United States during World War II. And sneezed in a lot of dusty archives.

3. I appreciate the people who were unkind to me in high school.  They made me into the witty, fun, compassionate person I am today. Today, we take a zero tolerance policy toward bullying. I never tolerate it in my presence, but in my life, negative experiences often have had positive influence–I just have to look a little harder. They always teach a positive lesson. I’m grateful for that ability to see that.

4. I started this blog as a promise to a friend. And he had to beat me up to do it. I’m eternally grateful, because I’ve met many people who are truly amazing, and through them, I have chosen to try to reach that bar myself.

5. I have changed my views on life as a teacher.  I was lucky to have had a top quality education, both in and out of the classroom. I never take that for granted. I want my students to have incredible lives. I want them to use their inner genius to be game-changers and innovators. And when they do, I hope that they’ll come back and give me free copies of their books or tickets to their TEDx talks.

6. I fired myself from my own business.  This sounds harsh, but my husband is an entrepreneurial rock star–a true visionary.  I had to learn to stomach the risk. I’m grateful to my many entrepreneurial friends who have taught me this lesson–your $5 copay is on the way. I am now truly enjoying the business he created and proud of its growth.  Even though I have a career of my own, I think I’ll take him up on his requests to “employ” me as a staff writer. Everyone needs a staff writer. Even if it’s a writer who never shuts up.

7. I often pull posts so I won’t get myself into too much trouble. Sometimes, I’d like to talk about education and ed reform but it’s always safer to write about green beans, sustainability, or the silly musings of a five-year old and not fight windmills. Truth is, I should probably post more things that matter–the deep stuff. It’s not easy. More than once, a serious writer has told me to release a post–“You’ve got to bleed on the paper.”  And maybe one day, I will. It’s that important to be real.

Fifteen people I nominate for this award:   I read lots of blogs.  Please consider reading these yourself.  Some are touching, some are fiery, some are stepping-stones to books or other projects, but contain brilliant writing just the same.

My Nominees: 

The Green Study tells simple stories about everyday life. And I love every one.

The Outdoor Canvas “Motorcycles, Hiking, Nature Photography, and Thoughts” is a blog about living the way life should be lived–outdoors, simply, and enjoying the gifts in the natural world.

Wonderful Buddha is serious and lighthearted at the same time. It contains some of my favorite poet-philosophers–Rumi, Kabir, Hafiz–swirled around with striking photography and a section of good, clean zen jokes.

BeeBee’s World is full of beautiful imagery that I read when I need a smile. My favorite post on this blog is still a short family history called “Legacy.” 

The Altucher Confidential is by recovered economist James Altucher, currently writing on the topic of making life wonderful. He is indirectly responsible for the existence of this blog. I remember James’ writings from the old days, and quite honestly–though I’m a sucker for a political or economic pundit, I like the zen James better. James is also an author whose books you should read if you need to be lifted up just a bit.

Kamal Ravikant is an author, entrepreneur, and direct reason this blog exists. His blog Founder Zen has some amazing short pieces on it–the type that make me wish I wrote like that. Truth be told, however, you’ll really want to read his first book. The reason I say “first” is because I’m rooting for the many more I hope will follow. 

Lesley Carter’s The Bucket List is a serious blog about adventure, family, and culture. She posts quite often, and through her I feel like I’ve done some living vicariously.

Pat Wood is a fiction writer extraordinaire. I love to read her stories, both mystical and realistic.

Simple Tangles–Benedicte’s blog about the her family, life, and her unwaverable spirit humbles me each time I read it.

The Room Mom–Caitlyn is a teacher, mom, and thoughtful crafty person whose ideas I love to steal for my class and life.

Elle’s blog Living with Passion has the theme “Forty Things to Do Before Forty.”  It’s witty and energetic, and well worth a read.

A beautiful blog about life and the humor of the everyday–

Kat B’s travel blog, Travel, Garden, Eat has stunning pictures and experiences we all long to have.

Anna Boll’s blog, Creative Chaos tells about the life of a writer, mom, teacher, and illustrator. She is one of the most talented illustrators I know. You’ll be seeing a lot from her! She already won this award, but I’d pick her again.

Cool Cat Teacher Blog–Vicki Davis is a rock star.  Anyone interested in education should be reading her blog.

The Rules:  1. Thank your nominator (done). 2. Add the badge (done) 3. Share 7 things (done) 4. Pass on award to 15 nominees (done) 5. Inform nominees by commenting on their wall (almost done).