Monday, April 30, 2012


Pure Parental Exhaustion

We need live-in help.

Late Spring is always difficult.  It’s the end of the academic year, so that brings with it the Revenge of the Rubber Chicken Circuit -- a cascading series of evening events calculated specifically to defeat family time.  Each event is worthwhile in its own right, of course, but the sheer number of them becomes wearing.  At this morning’s staff meeting, it took several minutes just to find one day without an external conflict; by the end, we were calling out dates like auctioneers calling out bids.  We found one in early June.

It’s hiring season, so the interviews are piling up.  That’s great, and I’m happy to be in that position, but you can’t exactly coast through interviewing candidates.  As final exams loom, faculty and students have the shortest fuses of the year, with predictable results.  This is when the grading emergencies hit, the surprise resignations stream in, and the fiscal year whimpers to a close with everyone trying to find juuuust a little bit more.

The Boy has baseball, which has practices two nights a week.  The Girl has softball, which has practices two other nights a week.  They start their games this weekend.  Naturally, the games don’t follow the same schedule as the practices.  They both have music lessons once a week (guitar and piano, respectively).  She has her first communion on Saturday; family is coming from out of state.  She has communion rehearsals Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights this week.  He has a science fair on Thursday, for which he has been working on his project -- a solar room heater --  for the past two weeks.  He won his class spelling bee, so he represents his class at the townwide spelling bee Friday night.

The Wife is coordinating a 5k run to raise money for The Girl’s school, to help offset the latest round of budget cuts.  The school has never done a 5k before, so she has had to make it up as she has gone along.  She has organized a team of volunteers -- some runners, some not -- and the team meets two nights a week.  She also coordinates logistics and publicity for the run, which is in a couple of weeks.  Since nobody in the group has organized a run before, they’re inventing everything as they go along.  As is usual in suburban politics, plenty of people say “yes” and then don’t do anything.

I submitted the book manuscript last week.

The nightly homework ritual is getting worse.  The Boy has his statewide standardized test this month -- thanks, President Bush! -- so the school is ramping everything up in preparation.  He spends thirty to sixty minutes a night doing math homework, all of which I have to check.  (Even worse, much of it is geometry.  Geometry and I are not friends.)  He had an alarming amount of homework over his spring break -- I don’t remember that happening in fifth grade -- and is doing some sort of project just about every night.  Of course, most of them require materials that require errands.  Why teachers do that, I have no clue, but they do.  

If you do the math, you’ll quickly find that the number of committed nights per week exceeds the number of nights in a week.  That means daily coordination of what amounts to the parental shuttle service.  We usually have at least two externals per night, but this week it’s up to four.  

Individually, each component of the schedule is worthwhile.  But taken together, it’s madness.

I know I should be counting my blessings.  I will, as soon as there’s a free day.  Mid-June looks possible...

I submitted the book manuscript last week.

Good for you!

The Boy has his statewide standardized test this month -- thanks, President Bush!

I'm sure the Jeb Bush is glad that you aren't giving credit where credit is due. He is the education wonk in the family.
I was just thinking earlier this evening that it seemed late in the semester for the Rubber Chickens not to have made an appearance. This posting makes grading final homeworks, exams, and projects seem like a relative cakewalk.

Thankfully it doesn't sound like one standardized test a month!

Congrats on the book! I look forward to seeing it.
Ah - the argument for human cloning - or robot slaves - or unemployed and doting grandparents.

Three communion rehersals? Do they have to juggle wafers or something? Trying to build up tolerance so none of the kids get drunk on communion wine? I'd be tempted to "forget" to go.

Exhale and think in your head "Juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuune"

This too shall pass....
Today I was reminded of how grateful I am that it's not the end of the fall semester, with all the holiday craziness that needs to be done exactly at the same time as work stuff. My CC had finals ending on December 22 for the past few year, so it pretty much has been the same 'due date' for all of it.


I was also wondering about the three communion practices. Our church had just one, the night before.
DD, you live in a town that is based on overperformance. Not that towns that are based on underperformance are such a great thing.
Interesting... here in MO when the 5th grader had his testing "ramp-up" it consisted of less work, not more. The idea being that the kids should 'rest' before the test. The entire testing event has left me frustrated and angry. Why bother sending kids to school for any more time than the test itself if the entire process of learning shuts down for three weeks?!? By the way, I don't know what they have your kids do after the testing in the morning but here they give them candy, soda, and three hours of recess. And it's worth noting for those of you without children, this goes on for many consecutive days. I don't mind the recess (I think they should get more than three 15 minute breaks in a normal day) but the feeding of junk food and lack of learning are terrible things.

Also, one night of communion practice is plenty.
Congrats on submitting the manuscript! woot! woot!

And you can also thank Ted Kennedy for co-sponsoring No Test Left Behind ;-)
we know the feeling.. last night the 5th-grader had to produce a painting in the style of Pisarro, the 8th-grader had to prep for a math test which will determine his high school math placement and hence the rest of his life.. no pressure though.. bah.

Here's a link that may be helpful for your wife, on race organization

Bravo to her and the race committee..
Perhaps a quick note to the school about the overabundance of homework/projects is in order. And why are you checking his math homework? Surely this is something to be done in class, by peers if possible.

At any rate congrats on the book and good luck getting through the next month!
When I had first communion (& confession), I'm pretty sure we had classes once a week for a couple of months. Less how-to and more theology, tho.
Congressman George Miller (D - Ca) also sponsored that legislation - and still apparently stands behind it.
If you seriously want live-in help for a month or two, I could do it for the cost of a plane ticket and board. Stupid Bush/Obama economy, I'm living in my folks' spare room. So I'm down for an adventure.
Just curious - is it a school requirement for you to check your son's math homework? If he's doing well enough, I'd be tempted to reduce time spent there.
Not trying to cause TOO much trouble here, but I am not sure you can blame Bush or anyone in the last decade for the onslaught of standardized testing in elementary school. I remember when I was a wee lad in the late 60s and early 70s we had regular testing as well, that lasted a week or more.

These tests were known by the states from which they came, "The California Test." "The Iowa Test." And these tests were often used for placement.

It seems that, with the "no child left behind" initiative the complaint really isn't about the testing so much as holding the teachers and schools accountable for the outcomes. Perish the thought that, at the end of the day, the producers would be measured by the quality of the output!

So let's break that particular discussion down this way:

1. Can we agree that for any job there should be a way to assess how effective an employee is at performing that job?

2. Should your promotions, or continued employment, be contingent on how well you perform your job?

3. Is the education of children important enough to make sure that those performing their task are doing it well?

If we answer yes to these (and why shouldn't we?) the then next question, the one that really is the heart of the argument, is:

4. How can we measure the ability of the teachers (employee) to produce the desired outcome (an educated student)?
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