Welcome to One Busy Momma! The Blog for Busy Moms by one Busy Mom.....

Welcome to my blog. One Busy Momma is my space to rant about my life and the things that happen in it. I have a crazy life - and instead of focusing on the crazy - I like to focus on the funny. Because if I focused on the craziness - well, I'd have been shipped off to an institution long, long ago. And while, I'll admit, there are some days when being institutionalized sounds PRETTY GOOD compared to making ANOTHER diorama at 1am - I'd rather be right where I am - in my messy house with my not so perfect kids making crooked dioramas in the middle of the night.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Welcome to the 21st Century...

So, a few weeks ago I was chatting with my aunt, who is a former Catholic school educator. And somehow, we started talking about elementary school and curriculum and handwriting of all topics. I mentioned that the big "buzz" in education right now is a debate about whether or not cursive handwriting should be taught in elementary schools. Advocates of cutting cursive out of the curriculum argue that in the 21st century, the only cursive anyone needs to know is how to sign their own name. Everything else will be type written on a computer or some other digital device and that instructional time would be much better spent in teaching "21st century skills".

You would have thought that I had suggested teaching first graders how to play with matches in old, rotting wooden sheds filled with gasoline soaked rags. So shocked was she that she was almost rendered speechless - but not quite. She made excellent arguments for continuing to teach cursive, she really did. But the entire discussion made me think about these so called "21st century skills". What are they? What should they be? How do we even know what these skills are as we are but a decade into the 21st century? And most importantly - by cutting certain things out of the curriculum - are we throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

I must admit that now that we have started this conversation, some of the things my kids bring home do strike me as a bit old-fashioned. For instance - my daughter is in the midst of a tried and true fifth grade right of passage - the 50 states test. I remember having to do this is 5th grade - the test where you are given a big map of the US and you have to fill in the names of all of the states. Time honored tradition - right? But how neccessary is it to know the names and locations of all 50 states by heart? Within a matter of seconds, I can access a map of the US and see all 50 states, their locations, capitals, abbreviations, state birds - you name it. Is it really neccessary to spend time memorizing them? What purpose does it serve other than cultural literacy? I mean think about it - unless you are a geography whiz, do YOU know the exact locations of ALL of the 50 states by heart? I'm sure that most people know the states along the East and West coasts and the Gulf states. But what about the states in the middle, huh? Which one is Illinios and which one is Indiana? Pretty hard to tell by just looking...trust me - I am now an expert. Many of us can identify Michigan as the "mitten" state, and if you've ever bough potatoes, you can identify Idaho by its shape. But what about Alabama and Kentucky, Wisconson and Wyoming? Where pray tell is Kansas? Oaklahoma? Arkansas? Is it essential that we know this? Does it mean that we are unpatriotic if we don't and don't see the need to committ this to memory? Will our kids been seen as "stupid" and "uneducated" if they can't identify Kentucky on a blank map?

At what point does knowledge become somewhat archaic? And who makes that decision? I'm sure that at some point in history it was considered insane to stop teaching kids how to ...powder a wig,  for example. When did we stop teaching people how to churn butter or darn socks? When did teaching young ladies how to bake cakes from scratch and iron men's shirts fall out of favor?Technology is to blame for most of the above. I'd argue the rest can be attributed to common sense and changing values. And yet, in every generation there are people who fight the changes and advances technology brings with it. How many times have members of my parents' generation bemoaned the invention of the electronic cash register and/or calculator because now the check out person at the grocery store can't "make change" without the machine. Is that really the fault of the cash register or the educational system?  Do you mean to tell me that we'd all be better off without the calculator?

So - is it archaic to committ the 50 states to memory? I personally don't think it causes any harm. But I also don't think that Bella will really "need" this knowledge at a moment's notice at any time in her adult life- unless she becomes a contestant on Jeopardy. Or if state identification becomes a hot drinking game in college.

SO what WILL our kids NEED to know 10, 20, 30 years from now? I think it's a really interesting question. I think they will still need some old school skills - basic math facts, reading skills, communication skills. The literature suggests that "soft" skills like the ability to work as part of a team., communication skills, listening skills, conflict resolution skills and so on will be important. We all know that our kids will need some mad technical skills in order to compete. But what those skills will be continues to mystify me.

So what do you think?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Lady Gaga's Mother

Well - if that title didn't hook you in - nothing will. So - I'm learning all sorts of fun things being the mother of a tween- age girl these days. Or, maybe I should say, I'm remembering and re-living all sorts of things while watching my tween-ager hurtling full-speed toward the teen years. One of my girlfriends once said that NO ONE in their right mind would EVER choose to go back and relive their middle school years. How true it is. Not that Bella is going through any kind of trauma or real drama...at least not yet. But what she and her pals perceive as real trauma and create as drama is eye-opening.

And I have to admit - I now see why my mother often seemed like she was at her wit's end when I was in middle school. It 's because she WAS at the end of her proverbial rope! Between the surging hormones, the daily dramas that play themselves out both in the classroom AND at home coupled with the constant questioning of one's mothering abilities as the child in front of you changes and grows on a sometimes hourly basis - it's a pretty stressful time. There is SO much "unknown" territory for me here. And it's not like your girlfriends and Mommy pals can help you out like they could when your kids were all babies.

Sure - babies are all different and unique creatures - but they do share alot of commonalities and there is a general set of rules you can follow and be pretty confident that you are not scarring your kid for the rest of her life. Not so with the tween-age set, I'm afraid. What works for one kid will cause mayhem with another. When one girl seems ready to shave her legs - another will run screaming from the sight of a razor. While one prays for bigger boobs to grow overnight - another one cries at the thought of having to wear a bra to school. For the love of GOD! Why isn't there a book to help us wade through all of this confusing nonsense? Why isn't there a "What to Expect in the Tween-Age years"? Has NO ONE thought of this?

Again - not that Bella is suffering. Actually, things seem to be swimming along - no real complaints....YET. However - I can see what's coming. And some of it is not pretty, my friends. We are getting too old for the clothing stores that I have been relying on for years. Well, where does one go to buy clothing for a girl who has the long legs of a newborn pony, the waist size of a Smurf and the fashion sense of a Real Housewife of New Jersey??? Where I ask you - where? I mean sure - there are plenty of stores out there that I can shop in...if I want my 10-year old to look like a five dollar hooker...and I'm sure SHE'D be pleased as punch with some of these establishments. What has become of my child who used to say - in an uber-cute, high-pitched squeal: "For ME?????" every time I brought home a new dress or tee-shirt now says: "Um - eww." or "Seriously?" or "Um - I dont really think so Mom" to 99.9% of the items I bring home. And when I freak out about such attitude, she is filled with remorse and is my sweet little bunny rabbit once again - but the clothing item in question goes to the back of her closet never to be seen again. It's a no-win situation for me.

And let's not even talk about Halloween costumes. Has anyone noticed that once your kid is finished being a cute bumble-bee, a furry rabbit, Princess Leia or Fiona from Shrek - her only commercially produced options are: Slutty Kitty, Slutty Alice in Wonderland, Slutty Queen of Hearts, Slutty Dorothy..or just plain Slut.Oh and let's not forget Slutty Cheerleader, Slutty Dead Cheerleader, Slutty Zombie and Slutty Dead Zombie Cheerleader. Seriously. You can find all of these costumes at your local Party City, or at any online costume store...or Fredrick's of Hollywood.

Bella has actually decided on a non-slutty Monster High costume for this year. Some Sea Monster's daughter that looks like it will cover all of her body parts and does not include fishnet stockings. HOWEVER - so has her BFF. OMG!!! So, we have agreed to be twin Sea Monster's daughters - this week. But, I can already tell that Bella is having second thoughts about this plan. Last night she asked me if she could change her mind about her costume. And seeing as I haven't even ordered it yet - I said :"Sure - what do you think you want to be?" and without missing a beat she said; "Lady Gaga - but not in the meat dress."

And this got me thinking about an interview that Barbara Walters did with the one and only Lady Gaga. Good old Babs - always getting to the heart of the matter - asked Gaga about her mom and what it was like growing up and turning into this "character" of Gaga. And I LOVED the answer she gave. She said that her mom has always supported her and her crazy outfits and hair-dos and styles. And that Gaga isn't a character - it's who she feels comfortable being - and her mom "gets" that. Barabara followed up with the hard-hitting :"And what do they call you when you go home? Do they call you Lady Gaga or do they call you Stephani - the name you were born with?" And that crazy Gaga said: "They call me whatever they feel like calling me. Sometimes it's Gaga and sometimes it's Stephanie. I'm still Stephanie - but this person - Lady Gaga is like the best version of Stephanie. It's who Stephanie always wanted to be. And my parents get that about me. And it's all cool."

Can you imagine the woman who is Lady Gaga's mom? You will either think she's nuts - or that she's brilliant. Think about it. She let her kid be who she wanted to be. I'm pretty sure that this woman didn't daydream about her little baby girl walking about in a dress made of meat, or a bra that shot out sparks. (At least I hope she didn't!) But she raised a kid who feels confident enough to do it.

Forbes just ranked Lady Gaga as the 11th most POWERFUL woman IN THE WORLD! More powerful my friends than, dare I say it? Oprah Winfrey! Say what you want about her Momma - but that lady did something right. There are ALOT of "famous" women in their 20s and 30s - Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton,the sisters Kardashian...but none of them are on the Forbes list of the 100 most powerful women in the world. Lady Gaga outranks: The Queen of England, J.K. Rowling, Diane Sawyer, the Presidents of several COUNTRIES, Companies and Foundations! And yes, while she shocks and sometimes outrages people - her message is a great one for our daughters and sons. She tells them to be proud of who they are - gay, straight or bi. To love themselves, to value themselves and to value that part of themselves that feels good with turquiose hair, arriving at a party in a giant egg or wearing a dress made of meat...as gross as that must smell.

I do not think I have the courage of Gaga's Momma - but I really want to. I can't ever see myself letting Bella dye her hair blue or wear a dress made of duct tape - like the one she is trying to make as I type. But maybe I should. Maybe I should have a new mantra...not to replace Keep Calm and Carry On - but to enhance it. And here it is:


What would Gaga's mother do??????