Sunday, September 10, 2006

Combinations Part I – Rough Rant, Happy (ish) Ending

A combination of events forced my hand this week, putting Weekend Herb Blogging in grave jeopardy.

School started this week. My sister, a high school teacher in a tough town, has mixed feelings, glad for the steady income doing something she seems to like, while trying to make the short term and long term impact as beneficial and meaningful as possible. A good trick.

Some (i.e. parents) celebrate the start of school as a sort of liberating occurrence. Others (i.e. kids) as the forced virtual ‘incarceration’ of all between the ages of 6 and 17 or so.

That was always my take on the situation when I was between the ages of, say, 12 and 17. But then our junior high school and high school were more training grounds for future gang members than institutions of education.

I think the late 60’s / early 70’s was a tough time for education in general. Vietnam war protests (the brothers of a lot of my friends had been drafted, some already killed, and we were not far away, which was something to think about), the race riots, although those didn’t affect our fairly homogeneous boondocks communities so directly as that we read about it in the papers (those who could read) and saw it on TV, and of course the protests against Nixon, with his eventual impeachment.

The generation clash was at its all time peak. Limits weren’t tested, they were crushed. Drugs, cigarettes and alcohol were so rampant that my high school was forced to establish a smoking lounge on campus. For the students. Smoke billowed out of the student restrooms every time the door opened.

Taking the bus to school, a 45 minute thrill ride through the back roads lined with orchards and poverty-stricken farm homes, you got a full education on the newest items in the drug scene, what they looked like, how to use them, etc. Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill Wine was also a big hit. So, naturally, school itself faded into a sort of dreamy haze.

The little isolated cross roads that made up our school district had formed themselves onto groups that battled openly in the school halls for supremacy. All culminating in a giant rumble towards the end of the school year to see who was the baddest of the bad.

Some years later, arriving at college, and being confronted with young people who did not tank up on the bus to school every day, and who actually knew things, and could really play violins, and had even read entire books, was a sort of shock. It took a few semesters to catch up.

Today, most parents in our current school district, a California Distinguished High School, are very involved in their children’s education. A situation that brings me endless amazement. Some go completely overboard, encouraging (i.e. forcing) their children into too many programs and placing massive expectations on them, but still, it seems like a big improvement over high school as I remember it.

I spend what I consider to be a lot of time with my kids, probably because my own school experiences are still so vivid and disturbing in my memory. Trying to find some kind of balance between involved and controlling.

Now days, also to my constant surprise, most kids seem to really enjoy school as well. Of course there are the friends and socializing. But they also seem to genuinely like the teachers, subjects, and even the homework, which has become more creative and interesting in the decades since I had to do it (but generally didn’t).

However, this year, both kids are in high school. And both are in sports. TeenGirl runs. 5K races through the countryside. And has developed into one of the better runners in SoCal. But we’ve been doing this for a few years, so I know the drill. Lots of events that start at 6am.

TeenBoy is now into football. And still plays on his soccer team. Football, American style, is an activity designed to suck all time and energy from all family members associated with it. The kids practice hours and hours every day. Fine, if that’s what they want to do.

The parents of the football playing kids, however, are also sucked into this new, highly structured clique as well. Comprised of parents who were obviously part of the same cliques in high school and college. Manly men (with huge bellies), highly preened women dispensing air kisses. It’s a scene.

First, there is the non-stop driving of the kids to the endless practices and games, whose start times change on an hour to hour basis, and whose end times are just plain not set. You are on 24 hour cell phone stand-by to pick up your sweaty, exhausted child, along with his mountain of equipment and stinky clothes.

Then meetings are called to organize. The parents. For money raising events. As football is the ultimate in expensive sports. Charity drives. Snack booths at the football games. All have to be manned by parents.

So I spent time recently being organized, and flipping hundreds of really bad quality burgers, along with hot dogs and sausages, at football games to help raise money.

And school has not really gotten into full swing, with all the homework and projects.

So, this is a combination that has really put a dent in my time the last few weeks. It requires occasional deep breathing and some Zen-like moments of mediation.

Hopefully, I am back on track here now. With two food blogs today.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didnt find thing that i need... :-(

5:07 PM  

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