Moxie Mom On Life and Kids

MOXIE MOM on Life & Kids

For Education’s Sake

Voter ballots are being mailed soon. If you are as big a fan of public education as I am, and you are as concerned about the future of public school funding as I am, you might want to check out the information on the League of Education Voters (LEV) website. You’ll find everything you need to know about the initiatives and candidates that support education.

Who is LEV? It is a political action committee comprised of educators, policy makers, parents, students, and community leaders that advocates for education.

Here’s what they do in their own words: “At LEV, we believe reforms plus resources are the keys to improving outcomes for children.  That’s why we wrote and passed Initiative 728 in 2000 to lower class sizes and provide more learning opportunities like preschool and all-day kindergarten for students.  I-728 was just the beginning.  LEV was founded one year later to ensure state lawmakers fulfilled their promises and the will of the voters.  LEV has successfully passed a statewide initiative, worked to pass two constitutional amendments, defended an important education revenue source and pushed for the creation of a seamless public education system.”

There’s a lot at stake for our kids this election. It’s worth reading up.

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School Start Time

Ty and I are still getting used to our district’s new 9:30am start time for the elementary schools. (Leah goes off to school at the same time she did last year, at 7:25, and Curt is gone to work by 6:30, so it’s just us two kicking around.) I knew it would be strange to go from 9:00 to 9:30, but as a work-from-home parent I figured I’d make it work. And we are making it work because we have to, but what I didn’t anticipate is how difficult it is for kids.

Mine would happily continue in summer mode, sleeping until 8:30 if I let him, but what I learned last week, the first week of school, was summer mode isn’t good for the school brain. Letting him sleep only set us up for a groggy morning and, believe it or not, a mad rush out the door. Having too much time can lead to running late, as adults know.

This week, I’m getting Ty up at 7:45. The problem is he’s ready by 8:30 and still has half an hour to kill before walking out the door. Every parent I know is in the same position. In fact, other kids are ready for school by 8:00 and anxious to head out the door. They can’t. Those who walk to school have to wait another hour. I’ve nixed morning movies and video games (but how many kids are zoning on screens? Too many, I’ll wager), and Ty is settling into a reading routine to get his daily reading done in the mornings rather than at bedtime. It works. But I’d rather send him to school while he’s still fresh.

Thankfully, Ty will be a middle schooler next year and his start time will be much earlier. After this year, which I’ve already dubbed The Year of the Big Sleep, he is going to be in a world of hurt, but I suspect it will do him good. Except, hmm, my kids will be getting ready for school at the same time again after a three-year hiatus. I guess I should enjoy what I’ve got.


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On Being Too Good

I started reading The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence for research purposes, but then I got so engrossed in Rachel Simmon’s message that I started recommending the book to all my friends who have girls. To the moms themselves, too, because this book has a powerful message about girls’ (and women’s) potential and the unachievable goal of being “good.” I got interested in the book because I see parents of girls (I am one) coping with subversive relational tactics between girls. According to Simmons, it starts in early childhood.

You know that mean girl behavior we associate with middle school? Those tactics can start as early as preschool. In fact, I recently read a study showing that girls as young as age 3 not only understand “relationally aggressive” tactics, but they associate them with being a girl. Yikes. No wonder our elementary school teachers are tearing their hair out.

Relational aggression is that behavior that attacks relationships. It’s the gossip, the eye-rolling, the rumors, the “he said,” “she said” stuff. Simmons says it stems from our culture sending messages to girls at a very early age that it’s important to play “nice.” Girls grow up equating self-esteem with being Good–modest, polite, and selfless.  She believes this message sends girls’ challenging emotions, deemed unacceptable, underground, and they come out sideways in indirect ways because conflict is bad, unladylike. Recognize anyone?

But it’s not that girls are relational bullies. That’s too simple, and it’s always bothered me that we are so quick to label girls who use these tactics as mean. Sure, teen girls can be mean in highly creative ways–I’ve heard the methods–but why? Where does it start?

Ask yourself if you’ve told your daughter not to say anything if she can’t say something nice. Girls need help with being direct. They need help labeling uncomfortable emotions. They don’t need the message that they’re mean or impolite or girls shouldn’t say such things (really, this message is alive and well). Simmons’ book is not about relational aggression, per se (that’s her first one, Odd Girl Out), but she does show how girls’ communication strategies play a role. Her larger message is about girls’ lost potential, and a compelling one it is. With case studies and research, Good Girl shows how the tendencies to subvert the self to be Good can affect educational choices, ability to hear feedback from a coach, choices in relationships, and confidence in the workplace. Simmons also shows us how to reverse the trend at the individual level, right down to sample conversations.

Have a girl? The book is aimed at middle school parents, but elementary parents benefit too. This is a great summer read to get you ready for next fall’s classroom.

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Embarrassing Parents

When you’re in seventh grade, what could possibly be more embarrassing than your parents? Aparently nothing.

Tonight’s dinner conversation:

Dad: “Oh, by the way, Leah, I emailed Mr. H. to let him know I can come in for your science class.”

Leah: “What? Why?”

Dad: “Because he’s interested in having a parent volunteer come in.”

Leah: “But that’s so embarrassing!”

Dad: “Why? What do you think I’m going to do?” His voice gets high and babyish. “Talk about tucking you into bed?”

Leah: “Nooo, but it’s so embarrassing.”

Dad:  “Why? What’s embarrassing about me?”

Leah: “You don’t even know because you’re you. You can’t know what’s embarrassing about you.”

We get it. We exist. What could be worse? (Oh so many things, but she can’t think beyond Dad in the classroom. Horrors.)

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Recommended Parent Blogs

If you’re a Northwest parent and you’re looking for fun places to go this summer with your kids, I recommend visiting Cascadia Kids for ideas and inspirations. Lora Shinn, the founder of this family travel blog, is a Seattle-based freelance writer who loves family travel.

But family travel articles are hard to publish, so she started this blog for the love of it and to help out the rest of us who have no family travel publications to turn to. (Of course the beauty of a blog is that it’s up-to-the-minute up to date).

Why “Cascadia” and not “Northwest”? Besides recommending areas in Washington and Oregon, she also covers southern B.C., the Lower Mainland, an area not nearly enough Northwest families think to visit. Well written and meticulously accurate, this blog is a great resource for Northwest regional parents. Check out her recommendations.

Another blog I learned about recently is The Fun Parent, a blog started by a mom who wants to pass on her recommendations for fun things to do with your kids (especially helpful when your brain has gone on auto pilot). This blog is aimed at the younger set, 8 and under, and is geared for anyone caring for kids.

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