I had a bunch of footnotes for this post, but I ended up with too many. All of this is my opinion (of course, it's my blog) but there are many others who share it. Follow the googles!
I sat in on my son's preschool class today. The para was out sick, and I fill in for her often when this happens. I am always a little sad...No, reflective, afterwards. I spend a few hours with my son's classmates and walk away a little horrified. There's L, who is far beyond disruptive and disrespectful. I don't know how the teacher gets anything done. He spends the whole day hitting students and teachers alike, refusing to listen, and mouthing off. I asked today if we could send him to the office, and was told that he has been sent so many times, and the only thing that comes of it is a beating at home that the teacher would rather just deal with it. Then there's K, who uses her baby voice most of the day, and if she is not the center of attention(which she is not most of the time thanks to L), will injure herself or start crying uncontrollable until someone dotes on her. There's J, who is clearly spoiled rotten at home and who I would bet runs her household. She bosses the other students, must be first to do whatever is being done, and will scream at, yell at, or hit anyone who dares to tell her no or asks her to stop what she's doing. She has a superiority complex rivaling many adults I have met. There are more examples, but I think that's enough. My frustration lies in the fact that these are the children getting all the attention. These are the children that have received the Rocky Mtn. Optimist good citizen awards in the class (a HUGE deal at our school). I can only guess that the teacher hopes by rewarding them they might attempt to earn it. I drives me nuts. My child has manners, and treats his teachers and classmates with respect. Many of his classmates are wonderful children. This is not the learning environment I want him in. I feel helpless.
these days turn my thoughts to ADHD. I spend way too much time thinking about it, really. I wonder how many of T's classmates will wind up medicated in the years to come. Here's my thoughts:
I don't believe in ADHD. That's too harsh. I think a select few children have it, but most have lazy parents who think raising children should be easy. I do believe in ADD. I know I have no business saying this, I am not a trained doctor, but I have watched this carefully for most of my life. My brothers were test studies for ADD, just when it was getting going in the 80's. My mother's psychiatrists at U. Penn got a hold of both of my brothers and diagnosed one ADD, one ADHD. Due to my mothers mental problems, she made me handle most of the doctors/teachers/law enforcement issues in our home. So I got to field a lot of questions to these doctors, many ritalin specific. I learned a lot. We agreed not to medicate the young one, and the older one with lithium, which he fought tooth and nail (thankfully so, I can say now in retrospect). He was smart enough to know his behavior was his CHOICE, and he chose not to alter it with meds. Hard to live with, but you have to respect it.
anyway, my tangent continues. I think many children diagnosed with ADHD are really suffering from poor diets. I am not alone in this. lots of research is being done right now on this. Here's another one. google ADHD and poor diets. I specifically think that much of the problem is food coloring, particularly red and yellow. Remember when they got yanked off the market in the 80's? They reappeared and all of a sudden, ADHD. My nephew is a typical 13 year old. Feed him a twizzler and he looses his mind. He literally twitches. My neighbors child is an absolute nightmare. Her class went on a field trip today, and she had to have an adult chaperone, she is that disruptive. I have never seen a vegetable go into that house. That kid eats frozen snacks all day long. And her mother ignores her, except to yell at her. her cousin is a friend of my son's (much to my chagrin) and has the same situation and the same behavior problems. No doubt they will both be drugged soon. Doctors will say that the genetic link is strong in the family, since both cousins exhibit the same problems. The doctors will probably not send someone to observe in the homes and see if perhaps this is environmental, and why should they? they have a pill to cure it.
unfortunately, the kids who have the worst diets also come from the poorest homes. And I'd be willing to bet that any teacher or social worker will agree that children of low income parents also receive significantly less parental attention. Mind you, this is a generalization, but I grew up significantly below the poverty level, in a section 8 community where all my friends were also dirt poor. I have a little experience on the subject. I can't recall more than one mother in my entire community that took any interest in her children. She cooked us all breakfast (we're talking 50+ kids a day) because our mothers' wouldn't. Lots of people have observed increased rates in ADHD and treatment for it in low income families, but most of the researchers write this off to the fact that those children are covered by Medicaid which their families use to get them to the doctor. They also hint at a social stigma which keeps more affluent families from seeking treatment. Let's not mention that many parents (again, you can google this) are scrambling to get SSI money because they have an ADHD child. Let's not mention that drugged children are easier to manage. How many of these kids have heard of the of the concept of self-control? You have to teach a child self-control, it doesn't come built in. You have to teach a child respect. It's hard. It takes times and effort. But it can be done. Without ritalin.
drugged children. That's what we've come to.
these are just my opinions.
side notes: You will find more on the internet from concerned mothers than you will scientific evidence. Lots of moms are noticing this. Too many, i think, for it to be some cooky idea i can up with. I am not a health food freak. I think kids should get candy. It's part of the fun of being a kid. I just believe in moderation. And common sense. And actually raising children. I have had 2 things happen in my life that seem to have validated some of my concerns.
1) I personally am viciously allergic to red food coloring. At age 18, I visited several doctors about blinding migranes that gave way to seizures which I had been experiencing my whole life. Several doctors told me that my problems were mental, due to the stress of a seriously abusive homelife. I knew this wasn't just in my head, and started cutting foods out of my diet. I had remembered the stink about food coloring when I was a child, so that's where I started. I tried yellow first, with no relief. Red was my second attempt. After cutting it out for 2 weeks I drank a Hawaiian punch. I was on the floor in 10 minutes. Two weeks later, I re-introduced it again. Same results. I have not had one of those migraines in 11+ years, excepting the few times I have overlooked red in some food. You'd be surprised where you will find it.
2) I noticed about a year ago that my oldest son suddenly was becoming more aggressive, enough so to worry me. He started perspiring more, he smelled funny all the time. I know that kids start hitting puberty earlier nowadays, but 6? Now, I have never in my life bought anything organic. I thought it was a big crock. But I couldn't understand why my child seemed to have such hormone fluctuations, so I decided to give the organic thing a try, fully doubting it would have any effect. To my surprise, after only a week or two drinking organic milk and eating natural and/or organic meats, I had my 6 year old back. No more body odor. No more 13 year old attitude. I have to conclude that he was getting too many extra hormones from the meats and dairy he consumed. Again, it's just my opinion, but it seemed to work.

fun stuff

i don't think i'm done with the 30 thing, but since i can't seem to sort my thoughts out i'm just going to drop it for now.

there are lots of fun games popping up. think again links to a fun car game, and a school yard blogger links to a totally sweet dog quiz. i thought i'd contribute one from the h2g2 site. (yes, i really like this book. yes, i'm super excited to hate the movie, like all the other fans of the book). after the intro click games and then video puzzle. it's tons-o'-fun!

On 30

I really wanted to give some sort of eulogy to the past 30 years before I was done with them, but then I remembered that Audre Lorde had already done it for me.

Haunted by poems beginning with I
seek out those whom I love who are deaf
to whatever does not destroy

or curse the old ways that did not serve us
while history falters and our poets are dying
choked into silence by icy distinction
death rattles blind curses
and I hear even my own voice becoming
a pale strident whisper
At night sleep locks me into an echoless coffin
sometimes at noon I dream
there is nothing to fear
now standing up in the light of my father sun
without shadow
I speak without concern for the accusations
that I am too much or too little woman
that I am too Black or too white
or too much myself
and through my lips comes the voices
of the ghosts of our ancestors
living and moving among us.

Hear my heart's voice as it darkens
pulling old rhythms out of the earth
that will receive this piece of me
and a piece of each one of you
when our part in history quickens again
and is over:

the old ways are going away
and coming back pretending change
masked as denunciation and lament
masked as a choice
between an eager mirror that blurs and distorts us
in easy definitions until our image
shatters along its fault
or the other half of that choice
speaking to out hidden fears with a promise
our eyes need not seek any truer shape-
a face at high noon particular and unadorned-
for we have learned to fear
the light from clear water might destroy us
with reflected emptiness or a face without tongue
with no love or with terrible penalties
for any difference
and even as I speak remembered pain is moving
shadows over my face, my own voice fades and
my brothers and sisters are leaving;

Yet when I was a child
whatever my mother thought would mean survival
made her try to beat me whiter every day
and even now the color of her bleached ambition
still forks throughout my words
but I survived
and didn't I survive confirmed
to teach my children where her errors lay
etched across their faces between the kisses
that she pinned me with asleep
and my mother beating me
as white as snow melts in the sunlight
loving me into her bloods black bone-
the home of all her secret hopes and fears
and my dead father whose great hands
weakened in my judgment
whose image broke inside of me
beneath the weight of failure
helps me to know who I am not
weak or mistaken
my father loved me alive
to grow and hate him
and now his grave voice joins hers
within my words rising and falling
are my sisters and brothers listening?

The children remain
like blades of grass over the earth and
all the children are singing
louder that mourning
all their different voices
sound like a raucous question
they do not live in fear of empty mirrors
they have seen their faces defined in a hydrant's puddle
before the rainbows of oil obscured them
The time of lamentation and curses is passing.

My mother survives
though more than chance or token.
Although she will read what I write
with embarrassment or anger
and a small understanding
my children do not need to relive my past
in strength nor in confusion
nor care that their holy fires
may destroy more than my failures.

Somewhere in the landscape past noon
I shall leave a dark print of the me that I am
and who I am not
etched in a shadow
of angry and remembered loving
and their ghosts will move
whispering through them
with me none the wiser for they will have buried me
either in shame
or in peace.



And the grasses will still be

i found this article in the Times today interesting. one paragraph in particular caught my attention:
A report released last month by the National Association of Scholars, an independent group of educators, outlined proposals that make more sense than those endorsed by the governors. Written by Sandra Stotsky, a former associate commissioner of education for Massachusetts, it proposes that students entering ninth grade be given a choice between a subject-centered curriculum or a technical, career-oriented course of study. The former would look like a traditional college-preparatory curriculum, with an emphasis on humanities, sciences or arts. The latter would include a number of technologically rigorous programs and apprenticeships. All students, regardless of their concentration, would be required to complete a core curriculum of four years of English and at least three years of mathematics, science and history. Students graduating from either program would be well educated and prepared for higher education.
sounds like the public high school i went to. i think this country could take a lesson from New Castle, Delaware.