Friday, April 07, 2006

five more minutes

The family vineyards always bear true crops.
I went to wake Rachel this morning because we have to go somewhere, and we need her to adjust to earlier wake-up times anyway, so that she goes to bed a little earlier. I pulled off her covers, gave her a light tickle and told her it was time to get up.
She groaned, much as I do when it's time to get up, and said, "I'm still sleepy!" Yesterday she asked for five more minutes, and then got up. Today, she just ran back to bed once I put her down, and pulled the blankets back over herself.
I love my kids.

back seat parenting

I took the back seat this morning at Evangeline's school, and it was a great feeling.
When I drop Evangeline off at her school in the morning, it's my custom to walk her all the way into her class. It's not needed, strictly speaking, and a lot of parents don't do it, but as long as she doesn't mind, I intend to keep doing it. It's a reminder to her of how much I love her, she sometimes neds the added reminder a parent brings to take her things into class, and it's also an added safety feature, albeit not a deeply necessary one.
(The other kids in Evangeline's class also seem to enjoy seeing me. Several of them address me by name, show me their homework, or share other bits of news with me. They see me a lot when I volunteer at the school, and I think they enjoy the attention I give them.)
Today we arrived at school at the same time as one of Evangeline's classmates, a girl who also was at Daisy Scouts yesterday. Jocelyn and Evangeline walked in together, chatting animatedly about Scouts and other things, and I contented myself to walk a few steps behind them.
It was a glorious, heady feeling, seeing her connecting with a friend like this. It was a visible reminder that Evangeline is growing up and our relationship is growing into a new stage -- and has been all year, actually.
This sense of letting go and being let go, it's a long-term process, but it's what parenting is all about, isn't it?
She's off to a healthy start.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

girl scouts meeting

Today was my first-ever meeting troop meeting with Evangeline and her fellow Daisy Scouts.
All told, it was a good experience, although to be sure there were areas where we could do a little better next time, now that we're better acquainted with how the meeting is likely to flow. The main thing we'll need is to have more hands-on activities fully planned and ready to go, especially given the propensity of one or two of the girls to go all-out silly and rambunctious.
We have nine members registered, although another two girls expressed interest today and only six of our nine registrants actually appeared today. We kept it simple, introducing the girls to the Girl Scout Law, the Girl Scout sign, taking a few minutes to get to know one another, and then engaging in some games to get the blood flowing and help them to loosen up.
I was surprised how many of the girls had trouble making the sign. It's a fairly simple thing � just extend the middle three fingers of the right hand upward, while holding down the pinky with your thumb � but it was still a challenge for about half the girls. I actually had to physically help one girl get her fingers into position so she could do it.
Evangeline and Rachel were the only Caucasians there. That only occurred to me now, six hours later, and I don't think it's dawned on them at all. Good.
Everyone was pretty quiet and serious at the start of the meeting, mostly I think because they didn't quite know what to expect and some of them probably didn't know one another, since the troop is open to all five of the school's lower classrooms. We broke the ice by finding some information out about each other, when I shared that my partner � a 6-year-old named Jenny � was an astronaut who had been to Mars three times in the last six months, discovered America last week, and something else equally absurd. Everyone thought that was funny, and they were a lot more relaxed afterward.
(Amusing side note: We got so loud and silly at a few points that some of the teachers, there after hours, actually stopped by the room to reprimand the children. Imagine their surprise to find three adults there with the girls, in the middle of a troop meeting.)

I had wanted to have some sort of a relay race, to get their blood flowing and getting them engaged, but I had planned that with the expectation that we either would be in the school's cafeteria or could go outside. But since we were in a classroom and it was too chilly to go outside, we played Ring Around the Rosie and Duck, Duck, Goose. (I wasn't sure if they would want to do it, but I know my girls usually enjoy those games, so I took the risk. The girls loved it.)
We're going to have an investiture ceremony in four weeks, at the Girl Scout center, provided we can get the space reserved. That's when we'll formally present the girls with their uniforms, and let them read the Girl Scout Pledge for the first time.

All told, the meeting went well, even if I did make a fool of myself playing Duck, Duck, Goose with the kids. I'm going to put a little more effort into planning the next meeting � we had been told to shoot for 45 minutes, but the troop leader found out during training that an hour is supposed to be the actual length � such as getting some arts and crafts projects to do, and we're going to see about having the girls start out as Brownies, since they're supposed to become Brownies next school year any way, and that's only a few months away.

true colors revealed

Now at last, everyone can see the true colors of Elmo. (It reminds me of the time that G.I. Joe complained that math class was tough, and Barbie growled, "Eat lead, Cobra!")
I must admit that Elmo is beginning to look positively saintly next to Dora la Exploradora. Rachel has discovered the mindless wonders of Dora through some DVDs we borrowed from the library, and recently discovered a Dora Christmas story book that takes estupido to a whole new level.
It's getting to the point I'd like to shove the little chica (Dora, that is, never Rachel) into her backpack, zip it shut, and toss it in the river. They could drag me before the magistrate, and I'd confess joyfully the whole way, "I did it! I did it!"
No jury would ever convict me of wrongdoing.


Is it just me, or do other people find this quote, attributed to former President Theodore Roosevelt, troubling?
"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
The context I'm referring to it in is an e-mail that's been making the rounds recently, presumably in response to the recent debate over immigration and how the United States should respond to the large numbers of illegal immigrants in the country. Some people favor an amnesty that would give them all at least temporary amnesty, while others are favoring deportation and more stringent efforts to stop illegal immigration, such as erecting a twelve-foot fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Back in the 1990s, when California was discussing Proposition 42 or whatever it was, about providing education and other things for the illegal immigrant population, I heard a lot about all the Mexicans coming into the country, ruining our culture, refusing to speak our language, and taking away jobs from Americans.
I think a lot of those same sentiments are driving the recent anti-immigration push; i.e., the idea that letting too many Hispanics in is going to dilute something essentially American about our nation and turn it into something else. Hence the call for a fence. (I can't help but wonder if that means they consider Mexicans to be vermin like the rabbits in Australia, or if they see themselves as safeguarding our way of life like the Soviets did when they erected the Berlin Wall.)
The truth is that immigrants � both legal and illegal � in America have done a lot to enrich our society. They bring a strong sense of industry, not only to succeed themselves but to build a better life for their children and to support their families back home; they enrich our culture with elements of their own, such as Cinco de Mayo, soccer and the Spanish language, in the case of Mexican immigrants; and they do a lot to keep some industries moving, such as agriculture and construction, since they're willing (or forced, through circumstance) to work for less than citizens and legal immigrants.
And as many have pointed out, it's not like it really is all that easy to enter the country through proper legal channels. When a situation is a desperate one, it's not surprising that many people have chosen desperate solutions like trying to cross the desert and find employment.
None of which means we should turn a blind eye toward illegal immigration, which can cause problems for our country as we assume responsibility for the health and well-being of people we don't even know are here, costs hundreds or thousands of lives annually in failed or misguided attempts to sneak across the border, and so on.
There has to be a middle ground we can find. Non-U.S. citizens receive automatic citizenship after they serve in the armed forces; surely we can recognize the contributions people have made to our nation and society after they have been in our country for several years, gainfully if illegally employed, and at least give them legal residency? Surely we can focus our enforcement efforts on employers who support the illegal immigration industry by paying workers under the table, rather than stripping away the hopes of people who risked their lives to come here in pursuit of a dream that our own ancestors chased hundreds of years ago?
And surely we can cut the crap about how they're harming America by coming here?

Monday, April 03, 2006

the artist's clothing line

I have just created a Cafe Press store featuring T-shirts with Evangeline's artwork. So, if you've been curious to see what her artwork looks like, you can go over there and take a gander. Naturally, since I'm new to Cafe Press, I only have two of her drawings up, and one of them is on only one shirt, while the other is on eleven of them. If you want a different product with one of her drawings, let me know, and I'll set it up for you.
If there actually proves to be any interest, I'll scan some of her other wearable drawings, and put them in the store as well. If it ever comes to that, I can always add additional stores, right?
The occasion for the shirts is the birthday of Evangeline's mother, who is turning 31 this year. Evangeline and I liked the idea of giving her a shirt with one of Evangeline's drawings on it, and CafePress turned out to be cheaper than Yahoo! or Snapfish, which offer similar services.
If anyone does buy something, remember that proceeds will go toward Evangeline's college education.