But first, I had about a half hour of email and organizing for the rest of the day. And there is a wasp in the house that is buzzing around driving me nuts, and will certainly drive Julia nuts. Nuts!
This morning was our PTO board meeting to review grant proposals submitted by faculty, principals, staff, students and parents. This is my fourth year at this meeting and it is one of the hardest meetings of the year. We have to say no to some very good ideas -- because they are not flushed out fully, because they overlap with other school programs, because we don't have unlimited funds. Every year, our PTO is paying for, and asked to pay for, more items that used to be funded by the school district and have been cut. A good example is our school grounds. There use to be money for cutting grass, trimming trees and taking care of the foundation planting. There use to be money for planting. In the past 10 years, all of that funding has been cut. So custodians mow the grass and PTO committees take some care of the grounds. But never enough. And one of our school is just not looking very good. We needs a landscape and playground face lift. This is not asking for new equipment but a few shrubs, pulling weeds, some plants in the flower boxes, and grass, grass, grass.
The idea of a proposed grant to do a little bit of that is a good one, but can we afford that and the books that were asked for, and the OT equipment that was requested, and another five or six big ticket items asked for what the students need for learning. Then I think that school need to be beautiful places as well as good educational places. The balance is almost impossible.
And we look for creative ways to fund as much, or get done as much as we can. Still, it is hard to know that not everything can be funded.
What I started off to write was more about the executive board than our grant applications. This is such a good group of people to work with. When I applied for the LEND program, I had to answer a question about leadership and I wrote that leadership was service. I am by no means a great leaders -- I am adequate and I am very happy I can be that. Working with these people is service to our schools and our kids, but it is also pleasure. I love the unique and experienced voices that we have on our board. I learn something every time we meet. Sometimes PTO is a burden or a stress but at the end of the school year, I am surely going to miss the opportunity of serving this community in the manner I have been able to do this and last year.
Julia is looking at chapter books! She can't read them and really she is not ready to even listen to them. She is attracted by wonderful pictures on covers of incredibly age appropriate books. So interesting. So amazing. Last Friday, I bought two very easy chapter books that have pictures in and among the writing. I think we need these as a transition from picture books to chapter books. We started reading on of the books last weekend and Julia enjoyed it -- more words, less pictures. I wonder if she is picking up chapter books at school. I know they are in her classroom.
I am a bit panicked about Julia losing weight. I don't see her gaining the weight back from what she eats these days. And except for occasional chocolate, she is not interested in anything fattening. Would we could trade appetites we would both be better off. I have explained to her that she needs more calories because she lost weight. If this had been Cheshire, I would have explained first and expected her to respond by eating or trying food that I was serving. Maybe I am under estimating Julia. We are now talking about food!
Evening. Tonight I notice that it is really dark at 5.
I am driving Julia after school today to clinic, then OT, then back to clinic. I decided to stay at clinic the second time through and just read my LEND material for the week. Cultural Competence. I am finding it depressing. How many years has it been since I was training college students in diversity? Are we ever going to learn this as a society? It doesn't help that I heard a story today about a 4th grader with allergies being subjected to bullying. "Gonna' force that into your mouth." Can you believe that?!
When I think about what I/we've had to teach Julia, I attribute the intensity of necessary training to autism or her early neglectful life in China. But what is our society's excuse or reason? We have this country that appears to have been founded on cultural diversity from the get go. Granted it was northern European cultural difference in the beginning, but once we had worked out that English, Irish, French, German, etc. could life and work together, why couldn't we apply it in a global way. Why do we need diversity training and cultural competence? Kids of different skin tones, kids with different religious beliefs, kids who are differently abled, kids who eat different foods -- it is all the same.
When I was about Julia's age, I was learning how to do household chores. I was not an engaged student and my mother was not an eager teacher. She just wanted me to do the work her way, I wanted to do it as fast as I could and go play or read. I think we were still on Wilson Place when she taught me to wipe the table. She used a wet wash clothe and started at one end of the table. She wiped all the crumbs and rubbed at the sticky bits, pushing everything down to the other end of the table. After showing me, she wanted me to do it. I copied her method for awhile but then I found a better way for myself. When my mother saw I was wiping the table a different way, she scolded me and declared that her way was the right way. And even then, I knew she was wrong. And in a way, that disagreement was at the center of all of our disagreements, it was why we never really came together. Ever.
Do we all just want it our way? Are we a society that wants it our way? I've had a similar discussion about school prayer -- I don't mind school prayer, as long as it is MY religious experience that my child is getting. That seems to be everybody's position.