Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Creepy Cherub

 If you walk past the house and look quickly, you will see a cherub holding a lantern in the front yard.  You may dismiss the lawn art as tacky, but there's a story.

Shortly after we moved to this house, I went out for a run one morning.  When I got back about 45 minutes later, the cherub was there.  It's really kind of creepy looking and freaked me out a little.  I assumed one of the kids acquired it somehow and thought it would be funny.

I was wrong.

It appeared.  It appeared magically and it is creepy looking.  It has spent the last 8 or 9 years freaking out those who stop to take a close look at it.

"Seriously dude, it's not that bad..." they all say when I give directions to the house.  (Look for the lovely red brick house with impeccable landscaping.  We're the tan house next door with the creepy cherub bringing down her property value.)

You see, I'm pretty superstitious. And I truly believe this thing has something bad trapped inside, so I try to plant things around it to neutralize the ominous vibes I get from it.  I have never seen silver artemisia die so fast as the time I planted several around the base of the creepy cherub.  (In fact, it may be why Artemis got pissed off at me for a while... we're sort of back to friendly, but I never made that mistake again.)  The only things that seem to be able to hold it at bay is rosemary and sage.

One winter we had so much snow, the cherub got buried in the snow.  It was a happy winter where things seemed to be OK and flow nicely around here... then came the spring thaw.

As you can see, the cherub made it clear it was still here and not carried off by a plow.

Eventually it emerged from the snowbank and declared it's triumph.

A friend suggested dressing it up for the holidays.  Feather boas, knit bombing, etc. might be enough to neutralize the way the spell, "Ridikulous!" neutralizes a boggart in Harry Potter.

I'm too scared to do so.

But today, as I came into the house with the cat food, the Cherub told me it was time for me to tell others of its existence.  I don't know why, but like I say, the thing scares me.

If it disappeared in the middle of the night, as quickly and silently as it appeared, I wouldn't object.  I wouldn't ask questions and I would probably breathe a sigh of relief.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A lesson adults need to learn

There is lots of speculation of what is wrong with this country and the world.  In my opinion it's a simple thing.

One of the things we teach kids is to say, "I'm sorry," when they're wrong.  It's a lesson more adults need to learn or, at the very least, remember.

Take, for example, Campbell Brown's crusade against teacher tenure and her dragging the ladies from "The View" into the battle.  Rather than say, "Wow, I hadn't realized I'd been fed misinformation and tenure actually is being a misused term here...." and looking at what is the real problem (the process of dismissing people who are truly bad teachers - and they're out there), it would be one thing.  Instead these folks have become the public face of misinformation and are more worried that they'll look stupid or weak or whatever than accept we make mistakes.

One of the greatest things I teach kids is, "I used to think, now I know."  It is a way to take a misconception out of the personal realm ("Everyone will think I'm stupid...") and into learning ("Oh, I didn't have all the information so now I understand...").

So let me start with this: the Common Core isn't entirely wrong.  Don't misunderstand me, I still believe it to be deeply flawed in its overemphasis of non-fiction texts and gearing towards high-stakes testing (which is a mistake no matter how you look at it), but the way it layers and builds information from one grade to the next is actually pretty logical.  It also lays down a baseline to make sure that it shouldn't matter where you go to school, you are guaranteed to learn science is real and not some mythology that caters to the fantasy that early humans got to play with dinosaurs.

Let me finish with this note to Whoopi Goldberg, Campbell Brown and all those who think teacher tenure is bad and the union needs to be broken:  Unions are not the root of evil.  If so, then I challenge Whoopi to burn her SAG card as an act of resignation.  I certainly hope that Campbell Brown doesn't belong to the National Writers Union.  I ask why you support police, fire, athletic, actors, writers and so many other unions but feel teachers don't have the right to union support?

So you have a choice right now.  You can stand up in public and say, "I used to think.... but after listening to what others have to say and doing a little research (which ALL good journalists should do), I have learned that...."