Grandparents Day (Part 3)

November 29, 2009

Performing in front of a roomful of rich grandparents must have been stressful. I am sure that KT the kindergarten teacher was grateful when time for a break came. Many of the small classes at the private school have a teaching assistant. The young man who fills this role for RG’s class took the children to the playground; Grandma and I followed.

The children scattered to various play activities. I spotted RG and another little girl following the TA to an equipment shed. As I approached the conversation clued me in that the other little girl is someone I will call BIP for Bad Influence Peer.

The TA was telling the two little girls (in a gentle and kindly manner) that it was problematic to let them play together because they often got into trouble. They would have to promise to be good, he said, for him to allow their companionship for the rest of the day.

Eager to get to some favorite toys, they agreed. The TA handed them both some hand scoops and they ran off with them.

I followed at a discreet distance. Random Granddaughter and BIP were digging and scooping leaves and dirt in and out of holes with considerable intensity with the two scoops.

I looked at BIP with some curiosity. The word “fox” came to mind, for two reasons. First, she is very pretty. I have no doubt that when she is 15 she will be regarded by the boys as a “fox” (or whatever the slang for an attractive girl is by about 2020.) Second, she struck me as having a cunning, calculating expression, fitting the connotation of cunning, crafty.

I heard RG say to BIP, “Let’s be good today, so we can get to play together.” RG is trying to be a good influence I thought. I could not tell if it was working.

Grandma and I had errands to run and tasks to do on our day on the mainland, so we left, with plans to join the mommies and RG for dinner that night at their house.

Advertisements

Grandparents Day (Part 2)

November 28, 2009

Imagine a school which is something like a combination of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford with a student body of highly intelligent, very creative, frequently neurotic young students. Most come from wealthy backgrounds, though there are a number of “scholarship” students as well, selected on a combination of merit and a desire to promote diversity. Instead of young adults ranging from late teens to early twenties, the students range from preschool to eighth grade. You will find something like the private school Random Granddaughter attends as a kindergarten student.

When Mrs. Random and I arrived for Grandparents and Grandfriends day, we were escorted into a lobby with the other Grands. We were quickly and efficiently registered, receiving a sticker displaying our name, our grandchild’s name and marked with a color indicating grade level (green in our case indicated our grandchild is a kindergartner). A large movie screen presented a show documenting a trip by eighth graders to Vietnam.

I joked earlier about RG “adopting” rich grandparents to get in their will. My prediction has had a slight detour with truth in a surprising way, which I will get to in a bit. However, Mommy (a teacher at this school) confirmed that the Grands day is in part a marketing promotion to bring in students and bequests for this expensive to operate private school.

 

After a brief wait a staff member welcomed us and described the plan for the day. At a little after 9 am the grandparents would go on a school tour, and then go to their assigned classrooms. However, we kindergartener grands were directed to go our grandchild’s class right away, so we missed the tour.

In our kindergarten (one of three) we found 13 children gathered around the teacher listening as she read to them. [Each classroom at the private school has 16 students; 3 were away on Thanksgiving travels.]

Grands gathered in a circle of folding chairs surrounding the class. The kindergarten teacher, whom I will refer to as KT, was a pretty, buxom young woman who spoke to the children enthusiastically and positively. Although I did not encounter the other two kindergarten teachers, I could see why Mommy had selected this woman as RG’s teacher.. The mommies try to be positive and upbeat with RG, and careful about what she encounters in the arts, to maintain her innocence and enthusiasm for life as long as possible.

KT read a story, more of a chant, actually, about picking things out of a bucket. The moral was to pick good things out of the bucket; things to be thankful for. The teacher then greeted the Grands and explained the children would perform “The Gingerbread Man” for our entertainment. The children gathered in groups by characters. Several children got to play each character. For example, there were two gingerbread men (both girls), one blond, one light brown. The characters were always referred to in the singular and performed, spoke, and sang in a group.

We saw Random Granddaughter in a group of three girls, each playing a cow, indicated by a hat with horns.. RG nodded slightly when she saw Grandma in the audience, but otherwise ignored our presence.

KT narrated the play and frequently prompted the children with lines and cues. Mommy later told us that this teacher loves to use drama in her class. “I generally avoid trying to direct plays cast with small children,” Mommy said with admiration.

At the end of Shakespeare’s King Lear, Lear goes mad after learning of the death of his daughter Cordelia. They play is often considered one of the most wrenching and depressing of Shakespeare’s tragic creations. For a time, a happy ending was tacked on to productions. As Wikipedia summarizes:

Nahum Tate produced an adaptation in 1681: he gave the play a happy ending, with Edgar and Cordelia marrying, and Lear restored to kingship. The Fool was eliminated altogether, and Arante, a confidant for Cordelia, was added. This was the version acted by Thomas Betterton, David Garrick, and Edmund Kean, and praised by Samuel Johnson.

This page provides a pretty typical version of the traditional Gingerbread man story.  When I worked as student teacher in ghetto public schools I sometimes told it to small children, taking great delight in presenting the tragic ending where the fox gobbles the runaway cookie man. As I remember, the little ghetto children (growing up in an atmosphere of crime and gangs) took some delight in the violent ending.

At the end of the kindergarten play, when it is fairly obvious that the fox is going to gobble the Gingerbread Man, all the characters gather in the meadow and have a jolly picnic in peace and love. This provides the uplifting and politically correct version of the story suitable for a private school for (mostly) rich children.

After the ending, the children all sang a song. Up to that point, Random Granddaughter’s acting (in what was obviously a bit part) had been a bit perfunctory, but when it came to the song, she participated with great enthusiasm, singing loudly and gesturing firmly.

After the conclusion, each child received a large paper apple and dropped it into a large symbolic Thanksgiving pot, telling the audience what they were thankful for. “My family” was a frequent choice. RG said, “My family…and trains, planes, and automobiles.” As I can say with some confidence that RG has never seen the movie of that title, it was an interesting contribution on her part.

At that point, the children went into the audience to sit on their grandparents’ laps. The grandparents were asked to share a favorite memory of their grandchild.

RG came and sat in my lap. Grandma shared, “We were present when RG first crawled by herself and when she took her first step.”

 

 

 

Grandparents Day (Part 1)

November 26, 2009

“Please take your toe out of your mouth,” said Grandma. It is fairly common for people to nibble at stubborn cuticles, but not many do it on a toenail.

I was reading a book to Random Granddaughter called Zoo Babies while Mommy fixed a roast chicken as a two days before Thanksgiving family dinner. Mama had been studying at the University, and had not arrived home yet. It was the evening of the day Grandma and I had visited RG at kindergarten on Grandparents and Grandfriends Day.

I had found the book at the recycling center, in the trailer where they stack books people dump in the waste paper and they think might be attractive to someone or other and they sell for about 50 cents or so. This book, copyright 1953, was attractive to me because my family owned it when I was nine years old so it made me nostalgic to encounter it again and to bring it as a gift for RG.

Later that night, after dinner, as we drove home toward the ferry, Mrs. Random said, “RG is very limber, being able to stick her toe in her mouth.”

I replied, “Perhaps she can show her trouble-making school friend how to do it and she can go home and impress her billionaire daddy. ‘Look what Random Granddaughter showed me how to do at the School for Very Bright Children,’ she will say when she gets home.”

 

[to be continued]

Tomorrow we will leave early to catch an early ferry and get to the School for Very Bright Children to observe Random Granddaughter in kindergarten.

Although we don’t much believe in spoiling children in our family, with five grandmas and four grandpas, RG is used to a buffet spread as far as choosing among grandparents goes.

Although a few of the children at the SVBC are scholarship children such as RG, most of them come from fairly wealthy families. Many of the wealthy grandparents will be present. I would not be surprised if RG ignores Mrs. Random and myself, or at most pays the most perfunctory attention to us, as she chats up other grandparents, evaluates their bank balances and estates, and drops gentle hints about including her in their wills. She likes the bunnies, squirrels, and chipmunks around our tiny estate well enough, but I am sure by now she has an eye for for pedigreed cats and dogs, as well as for Jaguars and Cougars as well.

Word Press or Blogger?

November 21, 2009

I have tried to use blogger, blogsource, and word press.

I never could get blogger to work for me. It is owned by google, which is the new evil empire as opposed to the old evil empire, which is owned by Microsoft.

Blog source went out of business and lost all the information stored on their host.

I sometimes read blogs on blogger. The blog home pages usually show up with most of the information in Chinese or Japanese. Am I the only English-speaking person this happens to? What is this all about?

An Ordinary Person

November 19, 2009

At the gym where I work out every other day, young people (high school students, college students, recent graduates) work at the desk to hand out locker keys and towels.

Yesterday, the young lady smiled broadly as she handed me a towel.

“You look happy,” I said.

“I AM happy,” she replied. “I am getting married in two weeks.” Her smile widened.

“In a week, my wife and I will celebrate our 44th anniversary,” I replied. She looked happy for us, also.

On the day of our anniversary, we will visit Random Granddaughter’s kindergarten at the school for Very Bright Children. Last night my wife and I chatted about it.

“She is supposed to perform in a play for the parents,” Mrs. Random said. “I hope she doesn’t break down and start sobbing in the middle of it. She gets herself so worked up.”

“She wants to be the center of attention and then she hates being the center of attention,” I said. “I hope she learns to deal with being just an ordinary person like the rest of us. Though, of course, she will be an extraordinary ordinary person.”

 

A few weeks ago we received an invitation to come to “grandparents day” at the School for Very Bright Children where our bratty, trouble-making grandchild attends kindergarten. Are we going to attend? Does the Pope bring all his Cardinals to watch the bull fight?

Perhaps we will wear t-shirts that say

We don’t know Random Grandchild!

There is no Genetic Connection between us and this child!

Will adopt your grandchild for food (as long as food is organic)!

I have been told that RG is hanging out with the worst child in her kindergarten and giggling inappropriately.

My theory is that her peer is an extrovert and a show-off, and that RG  (very introverted)  has turned herself into a “sidekick” and “hanger- on” to get attention and applause in a parasitic manner.

I have also heard that she is being mean to other kids, and becoming a bit of a bully.

No doubt, there is probably some little David-like child in her class, and she is turning on this poor child to torment him or her.

As her Mommy (birth mother) is a teacher in the same school, Mommy is hugely embarrassed by her daughter’s behavior.

This reminds me of a story, and a possible strategy, though it is one that would horrify the mommies.

RG Enters Adolescence

November 11, 2009

My wife and I just spoke with Mommy (Random Granddaughter’s birth mom and my daughter’s partner) on the telephone. Life is fairly stressful for the family. My daughter is struggling with her graduate school classes, though it is hard to know what is going on as she always lamented she was failing all the way through school when she was doing fine.

RG (no surprise to me) is going through full-flown adolescence crises in kindergarten. She is picking the worst peers for buddies and acting up in class. Her food drama queen episodes have escalated beyond belief. She doesn’t have an inappropriate romantic friend yet, but that may only be because she is keeping him or her a secret.

Let’s see. It’s only November. Will she be suspended by January?

I spent the last few days at a seminar for instructor candidates for AARP driver safety classes.

The seminar was led by two retired public high school principals, a handsome, intelligent, and competent married couple. Generally, they don’t tell their regular Driver Safety classes they were school principals, as it intimidates the students too much.

 

I sprayed my hands with sanitizer throughout the session and did not come down with my wife’s flu, (though I think I have it now.) I told everyone not to touch me. I have no way of knowing if anyone is now sick from being around me.

 

The other four candidates were very interesting and competent. One was a retired army sergeant. At dinner he told us about his military service in Vietnam. He flew as a passenger in small reconnaissance planes a few hundred feet above the ground to map the landscape, as there were no photos from satellites or from unmanned drones in those days. “When the planes returned, they were full of bullet holes, but I never was,” he told us. Though when he got home from Vietnam he got beat up in a bar by people angry about the war.

Another candidate is a police officer from a small town. When he talked about unsafe driving and about often happens when people drive unsafely, he brought a lot of credibility to the discussion. He was very friendly and unassuming, and we all liked him, but we agreed he should not tell his students he is a cop until well into the class.

The third candidate teaches driver training to high school students. I think he is looking forward to working with grown ups.

The fourth candidate teaches employee training sessions for a large supermarket chain. She is very competent and personable and very sharp on her timing.

The instructors directed each of us to make a six-minute presentation on the second day of the class. The warned us, “Everyone talks longer than they think they do.”

Each instructor candidate displayed a unique personality and style, while making a competent, articulate, well-organized presentation. Each ran over his allotted time, except for the supermarket trainer, who was spot on to about five seconds.

At the start of my presentation, I said, “I will cheat,” and put my timer on the podium. However, at dinner the night before, I asked to one of the instructors the answer to a question I could not locate, and said, “With your permission I will cheat.”

He said, “That is the first time one of my candidates has asked me if it is OK for him to cheat. I will say, ‘That is fine.’” Then the cop helped me cheat, also.

So at the start of my presentation, I said, “If the principal of a school and a traffic policeman helps me to cheat, I will call you both as witnesses when I get hauled into court.”

The other presentations were better than mine, although mine was OK. At the end, we (politely) gave each other feedback and criticism. To me, they said, “We were really worried at the beginning of your presentation, but you got there quite well at the end.” I interpreted that as, “For a crazy person, you do quite well.”