Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Princess Tiana has Arrived!

At 35, I'm too old to have felt the power of the Disney Princess machine. During my princess impressionable years the movies were still being pulled from the vault every several years. I didn't have access to Sleeping Beauty until I was in middle school.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not looking forward to The Princess & The Frog. Mirette and I have had a standing date for two years to see it on opening day.

I hope I don't embarrass her by crying!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Awkward Pause

Our trip to Florida was overwhelmingly positive. The elementary school seemed great, the principle gave me a tour and pointed out the ethnic, cultural & religious diversity of the student body. Routine statement or special notation for one of the few black parents? Probably the latter but I appreciated the sentiment. The local parks & recreation facilities well maintained and active.

We were able to meet a couple of my message board friends and that went really well too. One has a daughter a year older than Mirette, and it seemed like they have the potential to become friends. The mom is a natural birther & breast feeder which I didn't know until we met in person, so needless to say we got on like a house afire.

The black woman I met was sweet and we'll probably meet again but she gave me a jaw dropping moment. Her is mom biracial, her dad black and we met on a SAHM of color board


She nonchalantly said that she hoped her daughter would have "good hair" like my kids. I felt like I was in a time warp or speaking to a 70 year old woman. I honestly had no idea that there were black women who still dropped that phrase in casual conversation. How we really feel about natural hair vs processed hair is another story. But I guess that I've been fraternizing with the black granola set too long. Even my grandmothers know its not considered an acceptable thought, much less one expressed out loud.

Etiquette aside, I just felt sad. Sad that she hated her own hair so much & sad that her adoration of "good hair" was going to impact her daughter's perception of beauty & self worth. I did give a short little speech about loving the hair you've got, embracing the naps, black hair is problematic when we try and make it something it's not etc etc etc but it was falling on deaf ears. But it underscored the need to actively work against such ideas in my family, because the world at large still has a lot of catching up to do...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Head Start

I really needed to see this. I instantly recognized two of the centers in the article from my childhood neighborhood and several were not familiar but the streets were.

My mission to find the perfect elementary school in Florida had reached a fever pitch. I've found a promising school with a gifted program, so now all my energy can be channeled into obsessing over whether or not they will "do well" on a psych education evaluation. I'm confident that I'm not transmitting my sense of desperation to the kids about the test, I haven't even mentioned it and probably won't until the night before their appointment.

But my state of mind was given a serious jolt of reality by the Slate piece on inner city day cares. The bright, cheery reasonably well staffed institutions, on tree lined streets surrounded by well maintained homes have little in common with the choices my mother had for me as I entered elementary school. My own IQ test almost 30 years ago ensured that I would be placed in a school a couple of miles away but infinitely different from my zoned elementary school. I would remain in the Astor Program until middle school, and that experience was largely positive. But not without its pitfalls.

The small, progressive private school my children currently attend has the resources and staff to individualize the curriculum to each child's specific needs. It is ideal in many ways. But the demands of most public schools don't make that feasible. So I'll pack the kids up to "talk to a fun teacher" and not sweat the outcome. I vividly recall the day of my test, what I wore, specific questions etc. It was a day that literally changed my life. I have no doubt that my parents, my mother in particular would have come up with another option had that Astor Program not panned out. But whether or not my kids test well, their zoned school will be a viable alternative. Which was not a luxury my parents had.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Regretsy.com

I should be above caring but I still hope this woman's items end up on regretsy.com. Though I won't go as far as nominating her. I don't think...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Staying Quiet

I've gone the "we're not religious" route when explaining to various people why we won't be enrolling our kids in any Christian centric private school when we move to Florida. I feel like saying anything else might be construed as confrontational, which is obviously my baggage to deal with. If pressed I'd elaborate as opposed to lie but so far it hasn't come up.

Fortunately I don't think our lack of faith will be an issue. For all the smack that I talk about our soon to be locale, you can actually buy alcohol there on Sundays.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Florida: The Last Resort

Having visited my FIL many times over the years that he has lived in Florida, I am all too familiar with the type of person who packs up and moves there with the hope that sunshine solves problems. Tired of winter, they fully believe that a permanent vacation lifestyle awaits them once they cross the border.

These people run the gamut from unskilled laborers to blue collar workers with the occassional misguided professional thrown in. These folks are often shocked that their problems follow them. That a laid back work ethic-i.e. no work ethic at all- ultimately won't serve them any better in Florida then it did in their original location. 

Trolling message boards has given me a behind the scenes look into how some make the big move. Basing the availability of plumbing jobs on the number of plumbers listed in the phone book. Not being concerned with an elementary school because their child is only four and won't be going to school until next year. 

For the record there are a number of current residents on these boards who try to talk some sense into their potential neighbors. Often times the voice of reason will be accused of being a naysayer and not wanting to share life in paradise. Given this economy, how anyone in their right mind relocates anywhere with children in tow with nothing but airline tickets and moving expenses is thoroughly beyond my comphresion. 

As is often true in life, the most active/vocal participants on these boards are also the most crazy. So it can take a little while to find birds of my feather but I am making headway in the potential friend department. Stop the presses, I might even have a black friend ! She's a Navy wife who'll be on the move at some point but, if there's one there might be others.

I've also found a schooling option we could be happy with, I'll know for sure after our visit in a couple of weeks.

All in all, things are shaping up ok. Even if technically Florida is a last resort for us as well!