Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What's New Around Here?

Well, not the snow, as it is still covering everything, unless it is the fresh three inches we got yesterday. The kids went sledding with their favorite neighbor while I let baby take a nap on my lap. He has a miserable cold and can't sleep lying down.

Aragorn is busy writing a story about a jailer in Medieval Times. I have given up on historical accuracy, accepting instead some pretty creative writing and humor. Lily is vacillating between a story on a botanist/doctor in Queen Elizabeth I's court and a Spanish princess who has been sent to dwell there. She has written a play on the theme, short, but funny, and they are all rehearsing it in the basement. The old living room curtains have been hauled out and hung, along with Christmas lights to give it all dramatic flair.

Eleanor is intent upon thwarting my best Waldorf efforts to allow Arthur to remain in a dreamy, child-like place by teaching him to read. I meet with great resistance from the other kids when I request that he not be taught to read. "What!? Why do you want him to be dumb his whole life? He WANTS to learn! Let him read!" Ah, the critics have spoken, but I remain in charge. Well, sort of.

The girls have their first piano recital coming up this weekend...nerves are a little frazeled, but moral is good.

This morning we had a sticky time doing Hershey's fraction work, too much chocolate was eaten by all, and a good review of fractions, basic and advanced.

Time for Kung-Fu, the latest passion of the family. When the four oldest (13,11,8 and 5) get suited up in their white uniforms, it is very cute. Watch out bad guys, they are ready for you!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Education and What it Means; Yesterday and Today

What constitutes a good education? Like most parents, I have the desire for my children to continue to the highest level of education they are capable of and worry about how we will afford it more than I should. "Yes, you are going to college," seems to be a parental mantra in the civilized world. The dream also encompasses a day when our children will reach financial independence because they are living productive, lucrative lives. As "lucrative" is extremely subjective, I am beginning to see that "well-educated" is just as well.

My husband's grandmother went to school until the age of twelve, when she was sent out to work as a servant for another family. In the mornings she worked and in the afternoon she returned to the convent where the nuns taught them to sew, knit and other domestic skills. She must have also learned further "academic" skills there because she is the best one in the family at French grammar, spelling,penmanship, and quick calculations. I would be a proud parent indeed, if my children end up as talented as their great-grandmother! How could we even dream today, of a child's education ending at twelve and being prepared for the real world? Yet, not very long ago, this was the reality for most people in the world. And they are productive, intelligent members of society, more industrious than many today and even better at grammar and math!

A couple of years ago, my husband's company changed insurance policies. There were meetings for the employees and their spouses to attend to understand the "great new healthy directions" the company was taking. I read the entire bunch of literature they sent, understood exactly how it worked and wondered why I needed a meeting to help me understand that we were getting had. (The "new plan" as some of you may have had experience with, was; instead of co-pays at the doctor and pharmacy and hospital, we now had to pay everything out of pocket until the sum of $4300. Much simpler, much less perplexing. Oh, but they provide a tax-free place to put those dollars subtracted from our pockets. In return, this would make us more responsible for our own health, we had the choice!) So I dutifully went to the stupid meeting, and it was stupid. The only point elaborated upon, the only one even mentioned, was what a great investment opportunity it would be to place the "health savings plan" money in various stock market choices.

What struck me is the questions asked (out loud, mind you) by the executive, highly educated audience present. I was the only spouse there that day, the rest were employees, all at least with a BA. Most of the questions reflected one of two things; A) They had not read the policy or B)They had not understood it.

All of my undermined sense of confidence in myself for being "only a homemaker and mother" vanished that day. The dire warnings that I would "be out of touch" with the professional world" if I took a long hiatus to raise my children lost all of their power to worry me. My brain worked just fine, thank you very much. These nicely dressed professionals with their nice salaries had nothing on me, I felt a tiny bit superior even, intellectually speaking. My clothes were a lot more interesting too.

My only question for the nice lady from HR trying to sell us this great new plan with a smile was; "When we accepted this job and had all these children, we were promised an excellent health care plan as part of the deal. So, our family eats a healthy diet, exercises, does not smoke or drink to excess (all points in the new program for taking responsibility for our own health), yet a child falls and has to go to the emergency room or becomes seriously ill and we have hundreds or thousands of dollars in medical bills, how is this a healthy new direction? How can we be more responsible, please tell me? Financial planning was her answer, thank you!

I knew that I could share this with this wonderful group of highly intelligent "homemakers" and you might appreciate it. You are the best, never believe the contrary! As for those of you who are also working; you have all my respect, I know you are doing everything I am at home AND bringing home a much-needed paycheck.And I bet you read the document before the meeting too!