Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

Today is my 14th wedding anniversary. It's been a great day. I went to lunch with Rob. We got Primantis and ate them at Mellon Square on a georgeous 70 degree day.

I can assure it was not 70 degrees or sunny on the day we got married. In fact, we were in the middle of a large snow storm. We went to Disneyworld for our honeymoon. That wasn't so great either. From walking (yes, walking) to MGM from our hotel to almost crashing and burning on the plane trip home to getting so sunburnt in the two hours of sun we actually had that I could not even stand to have anything touch me to watching NCAA basketball...it wasn't what I had dreamed.

A week later we moved to Pittsburgh. Neither one of us had a job. We had a few bucks from the wedding and we were young and adventerous, so why not? In our first apartment we had a TV, a card table and a second hand waterbed. We'd spend mornings sending out resumes and evenings playing rummy. I got so that I hated rummy. I still, to this day, have no desire whatsoever to play rummy. After a month, Rob found a job. I think we bought a couch to celebrate.

All of this to say, it really wasn't the greatest start to a marriage. But, I know people who had dream honeymoons and moved into their first homes fully furnished...and are now divorced. I love the life Rob and I have built together. I love our kids. I love our home. I love our past. I'm excited about our future. I love that we can spend $12.50 on an anniversary lunch eating downtown and it's one of the best dates ever. I love that he can predict most of the time, what I am going to do and say. And, I love that I can do the same with him. I even love that sometimes those things he does and says are a little annoying. (Like, why does he still have notebooks from computer classes in college in his closet?) I love that we started with nothing. I love that we have fought through some hard times and have come out the other side. I love that we are still together and with the help of God, we always will be.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The (dreaded) PSSAs

Now that my kisd are in third grade, they have officially entered the part of their schooliong lives where they get to take part in official standardized testing. My kids are pretty nervous, which is silly, considering their amazing brillance. But, I suppose it would be hard not to be. The school seems to keep saying over and over again, "Don't be nervous about this thing that we are making a super-huge deal about." And, for the school I suppose it is.

See, I am not one of those people who hates the No Child Left Behind legislation. I really think, in theory, it's very good. Yes, the school district should be teaching my children. And, yes, if they are not, I should be able to send my children elsewhere. I like that children who are in special education have to also be included in the testing results. I really do think no child should be left behind. And, I think the thing that I like the most about it is that teachers hate it. I always think accountability is a great thing, unless I am the one being held accountable.

In practice, though, is a somewhat different story, I feel. It's put wayyyyy too much emphasis on testing. Even my little 1st grader had to take some standardized tests this year, just to give him practice. After all, I can't imagine one of my kids sitting before a college entrance person telling them how wonderful they did on their 3rd grade PSSAs or their 1st grade Terra Novas. It is far more important for the school than it is for my child.

Which is why it is upsetting that my children are getting worked up over something that doesn't even really affect them. The school is doing lots things to make it seem like it's fun to take a teast, but it's sort of like this: suppose there was an elephant in my living room and I told my kids, "Don't be nervous about the elephant, in fact, don't even bother yourselves about it. It's a fine elephant and you don't need to worry about it at all." But, then, I did a cheer about the elephant, sang songs about the elephant and everyday I had them dress up the elephant and then just before the elephant was about to leave, I threw a big party for the elephant. It would be pretty hard not to concern oneself with that elephant.

It seems like maybe it would just be easier if we just gave the kids a stinking test with a simple sentence, "You'll be taking some tests next week." I don't know. Call me crazy. One thing I do know is this: the "good night's sleep" that I'm supposed to make sure my kids get next week is not bloody likely to happen given the pressure they seem to be feeling.