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The Lent Project: Day 38

Warning! Warning! Potty training story in the first section! TMI ahead. (But it's so darn cute!)

If you're a parent, you know there is no such thing as bathroom time to yourself. The kids are either waiting for you outside the door. Or pounding on the door. Or in the bathroom with you. In this case, Leda was in the room and Cole was in the hall outside. He'd just thrown Cookie Monster at me and I gave him the usual speech: Daddy will be done in a second. YOU could go sit on your potty, too.

Usually, I get a dead stare or laughter. Today, however, Cole raced to his room and grabbed his plastic chair and dragged it to the living room. When I finished, I expected to see him putting his cars inside. To my surprise, he was actually sitting--fully clothed, sure, but I'll take it!

"Oh wow, good job, buddy! That was exactly right! Thank you! Awesome! Would you like to sit on it a little longer?"

"No." (Cole grabs potty and quickly takes it back to his room where it lives.)

Then came the part that cracked me up...he was asking to go to the kitchen. And it looked to me to be a different topic altogether...I figured he wanted milk or crackers. Nope. Little man goes straight to the treat drawer and wants "special treat" (M&Ms) for proper bathroom behavior. (He usually gets it for telling us he needs a new diaper, not complaining or wiggling too much during a clothes change, etc..)

I laughed straight at him. Loudly. He smiled. He knew this was a bit of a stretch, but I gave him credit where it was due. A) He had correctly done something we've been trying to get him to do forever B) he was bold enough to associate his moderate attempt with the courage to ask for what he wasn't entirely sure he deserved. The whole thing was a bit cheeky, but that gets rewarded in my book.

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Bike update: Everything is done on my bike except for the pedals. I was hoping to pick it up last night--not that it's warm and beautiful for riding around here--because the store was open late. But they had to order my SPDs from a different vendor and they won't arrive until this afternoon...when they are only open to 6pm. So looks like another Saturday family trip to the bike shop. I'm pretty excited though. My order from REI is on its way, too...which has some cold weather gear in it that may just allow me to get outside soon.

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If you don't live in Chicago, the hot topic around here right now is the fact that Chicago Public Schools have around a $1 billion deficit. Billion, yes. So in an effort to close some "under-utilized" schools, they released a list of 61 schools yesterday. Closings that will affect around 30,000 students...mostly on the south and west sides. Gang territory. Far away from the neighborhoods where these students live.

Kelly and I have been having dinner chats about the situation and I think we're in relative agreement that we understand both sides. The new CEO of the schools is a very smart woman who answers some hard-hitting questions well. This move will not only save CPS money, but will give children who currently do not have access to libraries, technology, air conditioning and labs the same resources that other students have.

At the same time, however, if it were Cole or Leda...especially the 2,500 special ed students with IEPs who are doing ok at the school they are in...I'd be upset. Very upset. As a parent, we expect not only a nearby neighborhood school, but a school with good facilities and good teachers.

Now, the CEO has a valid point...where was the neighborhood rage when these schools started to go downhill last decade? True. But you have to also consider that the neighborhoods largely affected are minorities and lower income. High crime. High unemployment. Some of these families are struggling to get by let alone get ahead educationally. If anything, they need the resources brought to them, not moved.

As Kelly and I agree about though, what's CPS supposed to do? They have a lack of funds and if there's no money there's no money.

What adds an extra level of sadness, for me, is that several of the schools that are closing are names I recognize from my time at the museum. I used to frequently work in the group center where teachers would bring their classes in and one advantage to being so nearby was that they could use us as a science source. Which, as you know, I think is so vitally important to today's students to know all about.

Not that they can't still come in...all IL students K-12 get free admission to the museum if they come with their school group. But I hope whatever new school they end up in has the same dedication to science-related field trips. Even if they used to get on my last nerve on the days we'd have 5,000 school children in the building!

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