Produced by Gary Drevitch
Tiny is still learning her grammar, but she tries. Lately, she's been having trouble with her predicate adjectives. So instead of saying she was getting bored of her Pre-K line partner, she said, "I'm getting boring of him." And then there was this, in response to her mother's repeated reminders to get dressed:
"Mommy, you're making me annoying!"
Funny thing is, she was. . .
UPPER WEST SIDE GIFTED AND TALENTED PROGRAM UPDATES
Two pieces of news from the Dept. of Ed. for fellow parents awaiting news of a grade K G & T placement. First, a date for acceptance letters:
From: "Sheppard Dorothy J" <DJShepp@schools.nyc.gov>
Dear CSD3 Parents and Parents of Incoming Kindergarten Sept. 2007,
The gifted and talented score reports and acceptance/non-acceptance letters for Kindergarten through third grade will be sent the week of May 14, 2007. Notification will be sent for both District and City-Wide programs and schools.
If you have any further questions regarding G&T, please contact Nicky Rosen at 917-521-3656.
If you have further questions about District 3 Kindergarten Lottery and how this relates to G&T notification, please contact Rosemarie Mazzone at 917-521-3648.
Second, an opportunty to question princemaker Nicky Kram Rosen herself next week:
From: "CEC3 D3" <CEC3@schools.nyc.gov>
DISTRICT 3 COMMUNITY EDUCATION COUNCIL
Wednesday, March 28th, 2007
7:00 P.M. SHARP!
Joan of Arc Complex
154 West 93rd Street (Columbus Avenue & Amsterdam Avenue)
Presentation by Nicky Rosen
Region 10 Gifted & Talented Coordinator
HELP US OUT HERE
Is there any appropriate response when your wife says, "Tell Tiny to wash her hands. They smell like her vagina"?
TINY MEAN GIRL?
Speaking of Tiny, she may be a budding Plastic.
According to her pre-K teacher at our parent-teacher conference today, she is not at all shy about excluding other little girls - but only the "bossy" little girls, or so she claims - from recess play time, or offering outlandish excuses for her tactics when she's called on it.
Really starting to look forward to the tween years now. . .
BUT WHO WILL SPEAK FOR THE CHILDREN?*
In today's New York Sun, columnist Sara Berman (full disclosure: her father, Michael Steinhardt, is an owner of the paper) bemoans the unjust reality that even private-school students must occasionally have to endure a teacher who is not outstanding, just like (she imagines) public-school kids must:
. . . teacher effectiveness outweighs all other factors as a predictor of student academic growth. If that's the case why is it that schools — particularly private city schools — continue to employ mediocre teachers? Private schools don't have to tackle cumbersome unions or challenge the delicate tenure process: Independent school teachers have year-to-year contracts, and there's hardly a shortage of qualified teachers. . .
So given that elite private schools don't have their hands tied and can fire at will with or without cause, just what does it take to get rid of a teacher who looks at your child the wrong way?
Not surprisingly, parents who have deep pockets are often able to produce the greatest change. "For years, people complained about this useless high school math teacher," a mother of three children who attend a private school in Brooklyn said. "Nothing happened and I swear, hundreds of kids graduated this school not having a clue about algebra because of this teacher. And then one year this teacher taught the child of the school's biggest donor. The parents freaked out and the teacher was fired the next year."
Well, given that their grandfather is worth an estimated $300-$500 million, this shouldn't be a problem for Sara's kids. Write what you know, our teachers always told us.
GOINGS ON ABOUT (FD) TOWN: "MOTHER LOAD" ARRIVING OFF-BROADWAY SOON
Opening April 21 for an eight-week run at the Sage Theater, "Mother Load" - written and performed by (full disclosure: former FD colleague and current FD.com reader) Amy Wilson - promises to be a sharp and bracing evening tonic for the local moms and dads. As the star tells us:
"Mother Load" [is] about the vicissitudes of modern parenting. . . . about how, even though we have everything at our disposal to make our lives easier, it’s harder than ever to feel like a “good” parent, because the standards have gotten so ridiculously high. “Are you doing EVERYTHING YOU CAN to teach your toddler to read?” asks one ad. Well, um, of course not. But how can you read that and NOT feel like a failure? . . . .
We'll tell you more after we've seen it, but for now, won't you consider the show for your spring "To Do" list?
WE'RE HAPPY TO REPORT THAT THE FENG SHUI AT BIG CITY ELEMENTARY IS QUITE STRONG. IT'S NOT THE CLOUD CITY OF BESPIN, BY ANY STRETCH, BUT IT'LL DO
Edutopia, the education magazine published by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, this month tackles the critical issue of improving the feng shui in the classroom:
When Nic Taylor returned to his classroom at Bancroft Middle School, in San Leandro, California, after a two-year leave, he immediately felt his spirits sag. The room was long, narrow, and white, with doors at either end. With no windows, and just a few skylights exposing gray skies, "it felt so sterile," recalls Taylor, "not like a creative space." He made an emergency call to Deborah Gee, a Bay Area feng shui consultant, who quickly confirmed Taylor's suspicions: His classroom was suffering from a case of very bad chi.
The feng shui expert confirmed his suspicions? No kidding? What were the odds. . .
The article goes on to offer tips that teachers can use in their own classrooms. For example, "Both teacher and student desks should be in what feng shui considers the 'command position,' facing the entry of the classroom to absorb chi as it enters the room." And we're with Edutopia here. We can't tell you how many times Fellow has come home from school complaining, "I had to sit in the right corner facing the window during reading time today, and so Timmy absorbed all the chi!"
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, YOUR NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL
The city council has decided to back the "milk choice" coalition and throw its inconsiderable weight behind the movement to restore non-skim chocolate milk to the city's school cafeterias, the better to spare children the stress of having to learn how to consume any non-sweetened foods or drinks before they turn 25.
THE FD.COM MUST-READ ARTICLE OF THE MONTH
We're a couple of weeks behind on our Times Sunday magazine, but Karen Olsson's recent piece on a teenage girl and her autistic brothers was admirably, refreshingly, brutally honest. The kicker quotes, in which the girl worries about a future spent caring for her siblings, and the brothers bemoan how their sister, once their best friend, had got "to be old and be a stupid teenager," still resonate here at HQ.
GOOD GOD, HAVE NONE OF THESE PEOPLE EVEN HEARD OF SCOOBY-DOO?
Suburban New Jersey parents are taking the kids along to Saturday meditation classes where the little "objects of patience" learn "about developing love and cherishing others."
GRAMMY WINNER AND SLINKY SIDEWOMAN MAKE TRIUMPHANT RETURN TO BIG APPLE
We took Fellow, Tiny, and friends to the New Victory Theater Saturday for the last concert in a two-week set of shows by Dan Zanes. Before our review, though, props to Zanes and Friends for offering special daytime sets for public-school groups during their stay in town. Tiny went on a class field trip to the New Victory earlier this week, at an obviously heavily subsidized cost of $2.
Now to the afternoon's program: It was great to see the group live again. We hadn't caught them in a couple of years. And of course, this viewer was pleased to see slinky sidewoman Barbara Brousal back singing "Mariposa Ole" with the band after taking a break to have a baby a couple of months ago. (She seemed especially happy to be out of the house.) But someone must have gotten word to her that FD was in the theater, because when we took the kids downstairs to get band autographs after the show, she was nowhere to be found. . .
The show itself was a solid mix of songs from the Grammy-winning "Catch That Train," and classics like "All Around the Kitchen" and Father Goose's crowd-pleasing medley from "Rocket Ship Beach." The only disappointment was the lack of high-wattage guest stars, but we suppose it would have been too much to ask the Kronos Quartet to come out and jam to "Grey Goose," amazing as that would have been.
GOOD LORD, WHO ELSE IS IN FELLOW'S COHORT?
We recently taped a pretty good episode of the History Channel's "Modern Marvels," about the world's fastest car, boat, train, and roller-coaster. We enjoy flipping through the DVR channel guide occasionally to find a few good history and/or science programs to record for Fellow. However, since we usually program the TV to record these shows when they're repeated in the middle of the night, we do sometimes end up with the dilemma we had with this "Modern Marvels" broadcast: If we're not there to fast-forward through the commercials, Fellow has to sit through a battery of disturbing Viagra and Valtrex spots.
BAD NEWS, EVERYONE: POLAND SPRING IS ONTO US
We suppose we should offer congratulations to the marketing wizards at Poland Spring. They figured out somewhere along the line that we've all been refilling their water bottles three or four times for the kids, cutting into their sales numbers. And now they have a solution: New 8-ounce bottles, just the right size for lunch boxes, "with added fluoride" and. . . a new, NON-REMOVABLE "Child-Safe Twist Cap" that "reduces risk of choking." Sorry, had there been a risk of choking on the previous bulky plastic caps? Seems to us, this mostly reduces the risk of parents refilling the bottles to get two or three days use out of them. Damn you, Poland Spring.
And, parents, don't even think about conceding that this is for your own good anyway because the bottles could leach harmful substances into your water if you reuse them. It's simply not true. And the government has no regulation on the reuse of the bottles either. Polyethylene terephthalate bottles "sold in the United States are designed for single use for economic and cultural reasons, not because of any safety concerns." At least according to the plastics industry. . .
LITTLE GUY UPDATE: BANGING OUT THOSE MILESTONES LIKE A PLAYER PIANO
A couple of days shy of the six-month mark, Little Guy sat up on his own, in the company of Fellow, who has been boasting of his achievement ever since. A day or so later, Little started propelling himself across the living-room floor via a complicated set of rolls, crawls, and slithers, and successfully turned on the DVD player. And after all that work, he woke up today with his first ear infection.
THE RICH ARE JUST LIKE YOU AND ME. THEY HAVE THE SAME PROBLEMS. THEY JUST HAVE THEM IN NICER BEDS. IN FACT, LET'S DESCRIBE THOSE BEDS FOR YOU NOW.
The Times Home section this week uncorked a major investigation of co-sleeping in apartments nicer than yours, revealing both the quality of the beds children are rejecting:
. . .3-year-old daughter Carolina’s bed, which is a hammered-metal four-poster queen dressed in pink paisley sheets with a ruffle [is] “the bed I would have if I were single,” Ms. Costello [the style director of Domino magazine] said.
and the quality of the beds kids are climbing into instead:
Harrison, age 5, is splayed, sideways and snoring, across his parents’ king-size, Anglo-Indian four-poster. . . .
Fortunately for these parents, whose children are too sensitive for full-scale Ferberizing, there's a sleep consultant to the stars, one with an estimable pedigree:
Jean Kunhardt, a therapist and a director of Soho Parenting in Manhattan, a 19-year-old counseling service. . . is a granddaughter of Dorothy Kunhardt, the author of “Pat the Bunny,” the bedtime story so many were reared on.
OK, WHO HAD GEORGIA IN THE PEANUT-BUTTER SALMONELLA POOL?
The feds have finally traced the strain of salmonella that sickened at least 370 peanut-butter users last month to a plant in Sylvester, GA. Apparently, the strain had legs: It even made it into some Carvel ice-cream toppings. Needless to say, some Carvel customers have been feeling a little something in common with Fudgie the Whale lately.
LINGO WATCH: MOMBLOCKERS
In next week's New York, Amy Sohn will attempt to insert "momblocker" into the vernacular. What's a momblocker?
. . . I was slowly discovering a strange and difficult truth: I married a momblocker. Last year [Time] wrote about “gatekeeper moms”: women who tell their husbands they want their help, but then micromanage every decision. These moms, not uninvolved dads, were the secret underminers of egalitarian parenting. . . . I know plenty of those moms. But in my own circle of artistic, self-employed, super-involved, neurotic, and, yes, Brooklyn parents, I see far more control-freak dads. These are the men you see chastising their wives for not dressing the baby warmly enough or using only the three-point latch in the stroller, not the five. . . .
We're something of a momblocker ourselves. And apparently, Park Slope is just sick with uppity involved fathers like us. Sohn goes on about her irrational resentment of the momblockers on New York's nickel at some length. We were honestly amused, though, by this exchange, which we think states a central truth about the challenges of married life:
I have spent many hours complaining to my shrink about Jake’s opinionated nature: He wants Alice to go to private school; he thinks it’s too soon for us to go on vacation without her; he insists Maurice Sendak’s book Mommy? is too scary for her. “I want to get my own way,” I said in one session, “but he won’t even discuss these things. When two married people disagree, who wins?”
“The one who feels more strongly,” he said.
“But that’s him every time!” I cried.
NOW IF ONLY WE COULD GET THEM TO FINE NOGGIN FOR AIRING "THE UPSIDE-DOWN SHOW"
FD.com congratulates the FCC for its record $24 million fine of Univision after the Hispanic network claimed that it met federal requirements for educational children's programming with “the Latino soap opera 'Complices al Rescate' ('Friends to the Rescue') and other so-called telenovelas."
The penalty is. . . expected to send a strong signal to broadcasters that they will be expected to meet their required quota of shows that educate and inform children, after years of permissive oversight in this area.
We're down with that.
THIS BARBIE LAYS TEFILLIN, NOT KEN
That's Tefillin Barbie at left (actually, the Hagbah version), and she's the creation of "post-denominational" scribe Jen Taylor Friedman of Riverdale, who, along with her cheeky doll-adapting enterprise, "is believed to be in line to become the first woman in history to ritually inscribe a Torah, commissioned by a Reform shul in St. Louis." That historic task, the Jewish Week reports, has understandably led to some production delays for Friedman's $95, custom-modified dolls, although she has at least 20 standing orders for new models.
As could probably go without saying, Friedman is a strong believer in gender equality in religious practice, even for busty blondes. The Jewish Week reports that Friedman will use any profits from Tefillin Barbie to acquire and restore tefillin to be lent to women who can't afford their own.
A LITTLE DROP'LL DO YA
Slate reports on the remarkable findings of a study testing whether nightly use of atropine eye drops could head off nearsightedness in children. Man, could it:
After two years, on average, the children's nearsightedness had not progressed in the atropine-treated eyes but had dramatically worsened in the placebo-treated and untreated eyes. Similarly, atropine-treated eyes did not become deeper, while placebo-treated and untreated eyes did. No serious adverse effects were observed in the course of the research.
NOW THAT'S A HEADLINE
And the truly amazing thing is that there wasn't even room in the headline for the actual news: The middle-school principal was found naked, with sex toys, watching gay porn in his office -- and dealing crystal meth! This is easily the biggest blow to Allentown's image since the Billy Joel song.
ALTHOUGH THIS HEADLINE IS A PRETTY SOLID FIRST RUNNER-UP
What is it with the suburban moms? Like Letterman used to say about Madonna, they love to shock us. First came the "Cosmopolitan moms" and their martini playdates. Now there are the pole-dancing parties, which sometimes go on while the children are right downstairs:
At [instructor Johnna] Cottam’s home the other Friday, the women pole-danced for a couple of hours, a black light placed in front of the hearth to set the mood (as opposed to the upturned red wagon that one of Ms. Cottam’s 2-year-olds had left behind). Before the lesson, Ms. Cottam poured white wine into glasses, and toasted: “To the pole dancer in each and every one of you, cheers.”
As her husband entertained their boys in the basement, Ms. Cottam taught the women tricks to try at home, with or without a pole. Every so often, she wiped the accumulated hand lotion from the pole with Windex.
SO LADIES, GET YOURSELF DOWN TO YOUR LOCAL SUPERMARKET AND BUY A PINT OF BEN AND JERRY'S NEW YORK SUPER FUDGE OVARY CHUNK NOW
A new study finds that eating full-fat ice cream every day could help women living with infertility caused by a lack of ovulation. Researcher Jorge
Chavarro, in fact, worries that current federal dietary guidelines, with
their emphasis on low-fat dairy, "may be deleterious for women planning
to become pregnant."
HOW'S THE NEW JOB WORKING OUT SO FAR?
In an effort to blunt reasonable criticism that mayoral control of New York City public schools has turned the system into a benevolent dictatorship, mayor Michael Bloomberg has appointed Martine Guerrier, a public school parent, as "chief family engagement officer." Earlier in the day that he announced Guerrier's appointment, according to the Times, Bloomberg said:
"Most parents really are pleased, and you can see it in that most parents are staying in the city. They’re not leaving, and they’re sending their kids to public school.”
When asked about the mayor’s comments about parents being pleased, Ms. Guerrier initially replied, “I don’t think he said that.”
But when she was assured that he had, she said, “I would say that most parents have concerns and issues that need to be addressed. I would say that there is an opportunity to do things better.”