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The Lent Project: Day 9

It's been a rough 24 hours. I rarely highlight the downs of parenting, but yesterday may have been the worst in 2.5 years of being a dad. 

In addition to me still dealing with the headache from a fading cold...there was blood. Twice. My lip from a Cole headbutt--he didn't mean to, we were being silly, but still he has no in-between function between hard little boy play and quiet. It's zero or 60...he has no 30. And he was scared because he visibly hurt me and I was upset so he was upset. I tried to turn it into a "everything is ok, but this is why we ask you to calm down and be gentle" teaching moment. He's just not there yet. 

The second cut was his foot. No clue where it came from and it was just a scratch. But (start your awww motors) he wanted me to "fix" it thinking I could simply make the cut go away. How do you explain to a 2.5 year old that his body will need a few days to heal? I asked if he wanted a band-aid me to clean it. I did manage to get the washcloth and some antiseptic spray on it, but his disappointment at it still being there was evident. He's at that phase where he wants you--really Mama--to kiss all the boo boos. I managed to get him in socks to forget about the scratch for awhile, but he'd eventually want the socks off, notice his foot was sore, and then the process of whining about the wound would start all over again. 

On a normal day, this wouldn't be anything horrible. But there were numerous other issues...everything from peanut butter smeared on his door to Leda spilling her sippy all over her pants to loosing key comfort items. At one point, he ended up sitting on the living room floor watching Cars 2 (yes, it's back) in his Thomas swimsuit, wearing socks. And you know what? I didn't care. I was ready for Kelly to come home. 

And let's not even talk about the fact that, at one point, Cole was up for around 3 hours overnight. Just in his room playing--he didn't need attention until he was being loud enough to wake me up. I actually fell back asleep and woke up again 2 hours later to him still in there making noise. I did the go in to shush him thing when Kelly took the dog outside at 2am. Yep, sometimes it's like that. 

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On the plus side, after a shower I felt much better yesterday evening. Enough to go to the community meeting being held about our Comprehensive Planning process. Which sounds about as fun as watching paint dry, I know, but it was super interesting. And my philosophy was that if I didn't go somebody else would and possibly give different answers. If we care about our village, somebody needed to be there to voice our values. 

As I told me friend who is one of the village trustees this morning, I was fairly impressed. Which is something rare to say about government, I know. Our last Comprehensive Plan was in 1990 so that's over 20 years old. It's time to see where the current generation of residents have priorities. Though the crowd that was there last night (the project is ongoing, thank goodness) tilted children-out-of-house, older, aging hippie. 

The village I live in is an older, mature-tree type suburb that is mostly residential, very diverse, and very historic. But even with all that going on we have pockets of grumpy animosity like any town. The renters versus the owners, the school parents versus the retired seniors, business versus residents, expensive million dollar homes versus tiny homes on tiny lots. And everything in between.

So I grabbed a cup of water and a cookie--yes, refreshments!--and settled in for an interesting presentation. Small groups had met previously to decide on choices within each main heading. So, for Arts and Culture, there were maybe 10 topics and our job last night was to use high-tech voting devices to pick our top 3 as a group for the Village to focus on going forward. Not that we won't eventually get to all 10. Just more of a gauge about public interest of where to start and focus. 

It ran down through housing, parks, schools, environment, transportation, business, culture, the whole range. Do you want more police or more bike lanes? More public art or better water quality? We're complicated enough a town that very few things get huge support. Out of 10 choices, the winner in each category would get 20% but still interesting to see. People want better water quality but not necessary more telecommunications. We want more neighborhood parks, not necessarily more funding for library. 

It was all quite democratic.

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Another response to the Obama universal preschool push.  Posting out of disagreement, but still worth seeing what others are saying. I find this line of argument is common in our local debate about early childhood education funding. 

But I find it misses a few key points. It tries to cherry pick the science in a way that is best compared to saying we should measure the success of a Quit Smoking program by whether a smoker has cravings at 6 months. If we try to measure that way, you're missing the larger opportunity to find out whether quitting smoking improves your quality of life in a decade via overall health. You may still have cravings, but you also don't have cancer. 

Same goes for preschool. I'm tired of hearing the line about how Head Start benefits wear off at a certain age. Hey, so let's quit funding it since it doesn't work! Well, the problem is that it isn't just cognitive function we're after via preschool programs. We're after social skills, early literacy, health and well-being from being exposed to better nutrition and exercise, etc.. 

I also hate the "blame the parents" mentality that tries to abdicate the role of good schools in favor of better home life. This actually popped up onto the Schools heading of improving education last night at the meeting...improving the "family" part of education was on the list of choices to vote for. You hear the complaint often that parents need to do more at home. Which is true. But that's not the job of schools to go into the home. The job of schools is to cover the public part of the education process. Too often we hear "schools are doing enough it's the parents who need to do more." We can't legislate the home though. We CAN run our schools, teachers...and preschools. 

If anything, I may even argue that schools have a greater duty to situations where the parents aren't involved. That student needs even more help and education than a student who comes armed with the tools and skills necessary to succeed already. Home life isn't neutral. But regardless of what that home life is we have a duty to each child. 

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If you need a heartwarming story to make you feel better after all this, I invite you to read what made my day this morning...

It's a story out of rural Mississippi where a local newspaper published an article about their first known gay wedding in the county. It got instant hate mail, cancelled subscriptions, and the most ever negative comments of anything else the newspaper has ever printed. 

But read the owner's editorial in response to the hate. It's beautiful and successfully captures not only something positive for gay marriage but says something positive about the way communities should work in general. Very nice defense of civility in a divided age. 

The job of a community newspaper is not pretending something didn't take place or ignoring it because it will upset people. No, our job is to inform readers what is going on in our town and let them make their own judgments. That is exactly what we did with the wedding story. Our reporter heard about the wedding, attended it, interviewed some of the participants and wrote a news story. If there had been protestors at the wedding, we would have covered that the exact same way … but there weren't any. We never said it was a good thing or a bad thing, we simply did our job by telling people what took place.