Feb 11 2014
My first experience with Valentine’s Day was a perplexing one.
At the age of 7, I arrived in the United States (from the Soviet Union) with my parents on January 19. I started school. Less than a month later, everyone in my class gave me a flurry of pink and red cards, some of them heart-shaped. I didn’t have anything for my classmates, and I didn’t exactly know what was going on, in any case. So I came home and taped the cards up on my bedroom walls, like decorations. For the rest of the school year, people would periodically give me other cards, this time not necessarily in pink or red or heart-shaped, but looking enough like the first set that I dutifully went home and taped them to my walls, too. It wasn’t until I learned to speak (then read) English, that I realized the latter were birthday party invitations I had never responded to, and that the former were for something called St. Valentine’s Day.
It was a Jewish Day School, by the way, but, in subsequent years, I got with the program, never giving a lot of thought to what the whole experience is like from a parental point of view.
I’m a parent now. And here is something else I’ve learned about Valentine’s Day. It is even more complicated than I could have possibly imagined. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 25 2013
As in all parts of the country, cars in California are used as vehicles–so to speak–for brandishing school pride. Graduates of USC, UC campuses, the many Cal States, Stanford, and other places of higher education give nods to their west coast alma maters.
Yet now there’s another genre of institution affiliation symbol, one that starts much earlier than college: elementary school. And not your garden variety “My Child Is an Honor Student” genre of bumper sticker. Those are downright quaint in the context of current parenting culture.
Instead what I’m noticing around town generally falls into two categories: stickers featuring model public schools, i.e. those with high test scores and an active support network, often charters, or fancy private schools. In all honesty, I find public school pride way less irksome, and if anything, it’s often an important symbol, given the ravaged state of public education in this state. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 12 2012
Though our kids typically take the bus to school, not long ago I was one of the many 4th grade parents on the elementary school campus.
Parental chauffeuring was necessary in order to safely transport book projects from home to school. As I walked down the hallway, I was treated to an eyeful of lovely, highly-decorated, well-designed dioramas. Sophisticated and polished. Ones that looked NOTHING like the one Lilly had made. Read the rest of this entry →