These days, it feels like I'm losing my grip. Sometimes I don't see her until night time, bed time, just enough time to say goodnight. In the mornings, she's got zero period, so she's out the door before sometimes I'm out of bed. Her math topics are starting to get away from me... I remember quadratics, but ask me to do that now, I have to do research. I know my history, world and US, enough so that I can always provide her with more context. But her English class is asking her to read books that I don't remember if I ever read them. Did I read Night by Elie Wiesel? Maybe not...
When it comes to her music, forget it. She left both me and her mama in the dust years ago. Her mom and I never studied music, never really picked up an instrument. But this is where it seems that she's going. Certificate of Merit on the piano. Playing Carnegie Hall in NY earlier this month. She has her own flute students, and she's making real money teaching.
This is what it feels like to start losing your grip on that little baby girl you held so close and threw around so easily. That had such a hard time reading three pages of Dick and Jane on the floor of her room. The loosening of the grip is just so barely evident now. I really have to be conscious to feel it, it happens so slowly. But I want to experience it, I want to realize when it's happening. Because I don't want to wonder, some day, She's gone... when and how did that happen. It's happening... Right. Now. Embrace it.
At the last minute yesterday, after I completed a 4 mile run from Forbes Mill to the Dam, and after assessing the uncongested condition of southbound highway 17 through LG, we decided to head over the hill and spend the day at the boardwalk.
We go there once, maybe twice a year, and it's always fun, pretty close, and we even sometimes hit the beach. They are always full days.
This day, though, marked a bit of a milestone in Penny's deveopment and young life. She thought ahead, before we left the house, to bring some of her own money, just in case she wanted to buy something special. Maybe she wanted to feel a bit independent. Fine with us, we thought. She does have a bit of a stash of cash since she's been providing flute lessons to the sister of a friend of hers. So she ended up bringing fifty dollars with her, in her own wallet, safely stashed in her own purse.
While at the Boardwalk that day, we haad plenty of treats, from slurpees to ice cream to pizza. Later in the afternoon, though, Penny decided that she really wanted to try some sort of lemon ice type of treat. She also insisted that she will treat the family. We had a stack of coupons that we got from buying a season pass, so that eased the financial burden somewhat, but at the end of the transaction, Penny pulled out her own money, handed it to the attendent, and got the change on her own. The rest of us, well, maybe just mama and me, watched in amazement how maturely she handled the entire event. No drama, no looking to her parents for guidance like she usually does, just calmly ordering, paying and receiving the goods. Nice job.
I was used to paying for everything that day, but this was a pleasant surprise, to get treated by my daughter, with money that she had earned from the outside, ie, not from the family by doing chores. It probably won't happen again for a while, but just the fact that it did, in the way it did, was really cool to see. Priceless.
Today was Cell Phone Friday at UMS. You can read more about in the principle's posts here and here.
I wrote a response to one of them, and I felt like cross posting it here; find it below. After writing it, I felt ever more strongly about those kids, maybe not many in our neighborhood, who won't have a device to use on these Cell Phone Fridays, or every days, if that's what it turns into. I grew up with parents whom I know would not have been able to afford to provide such luxuries to sixth graders, so I am somewhat reliving a less than happy memory, of knowing that other kids will have the cool new stuff, and I'll have either the old version, or none at all. And middle school can be, or is, where all that awkwardness starts.
Here's my reply to the post.
Just curious, but it seems that when you use the term 'cell phone', you are also referring to pretty much any device that has apps and internet connectivity, correct? If I'm not mistaken, UMS has open wifi, so while at school, it doesn't matter how the user is connecting, either via wifi or 3/4G. Donâ€™t mind if I substitute the term â€˜cell phoneâ€™ for â€˜device.
I honestly don't think that the UMS student community will have a problem with allowing device usage during the school day. As you say, some students already may be doing this and some are accessing the net via laptops or their Chromebooks. We have a good, engaged and involved student and family body, and Iâ€™d like to think that things like cyber bullying will be very rare. Distractions and wasting time watching cat vids (or most likely, Minecraft vids) on YouTube are the real â€˜threatsâ€™.
What I'm more concerned about in all this are the kids who don't have connected devices. It might be that the student may not have shown a level of maturity and responsibility yet, and so the parents aren't ready to provide a device to him or her. Or it could be that the family simply can't afford the cost of the device, and the monthly service fee. With all the other students busy using their devices and their apps, and here's one kid without, that one kid without will need to come up with a reason why she doesn't have one. Now that's some middle school awkward if I've ever seen it. And I've seen it, lived it.
Alternatively, what might happen is that all the other students are so busy staring into their screens, they don't notice those others who don't have them. Devices and their apps are bottomless attention sinks.
It seems that what weâ€™re stepping into here is just the initial allowing of devices to be used on campus, at break and at lunch. That is the first step, I agree, just as I agree that there wonâ€™t be much of a problem with it. What we need to start talking about immediately next is how will we integrate these devices into the learning process. Yes, next fallâ€™s sixth graders will be a take-me-home Chromebook, but thatâ€™s different than a small, handheld device. Or is it, in the context of the classroom and the learning thatâ€™s going on there? I could argue both that itâ€™s different, and thatâ€™s itâ€™s not. Thinking a bit more, will these devices be required to use a standard app as prescribed by the teacher, or will the lesson be app-agnostic, and the device becomes more of a research tool? These are the kinds of things Iâ€™d love for you to start talking about next.
One question that I do have is: How does UMS's evolving policies regarding connected devices compare to peer schools? What are the other middle schools in the district doing in terms of setting policy? What are other schools in the region, and in the state, doing?
Mr Feinberg, thanks for taking this subject as serious as you have been. It can be a big adjustment of many different kinds for many different people, and I am happy that you are facing the situation with both eyes open, cautious but optimistic, and with all the openness this calls for.
The first dance starts in just a half hour! I'm sure all the girls are excited!
Here is the text from the school announcement: The sixth grade dance is today. The dance will begin at 4:00 pm, and end at 6:00 pm. Tickets for the dance will be sold today for $6, and $7 at the door. Get one dollar off with an ASB card. Pictures will be taken and sold for $2 at the dance. If you get tired of carrying around your belongings, there will be a coat and bag check. You must be picked up in the cafeteria no later than 6:10, and dress code will be strictly enforced. Hope to see in our Journey Under the Sea.
I'll still be out and about at work when the dance begins, but I'll be there to pick her up. And the latest news is that I'll also be picking up two of her friends to take home. You'll see a proud dad snapping pics of this Big Event!
Our sixth grade girl has her first dance coming up at school. It's this Friday, from 4 to 6pm. She has to buy tickets, they are less expensive if she buys them early, and gets a discount if she shows her ASB card, all that good middle school stuff. It's just way too cute.
I picked her up from fiddle/voice teacher Verlene's studio this evening, and Penny is excited. She tells me he's excited. She tells me that mama said that I'm excited for her. I guess I am.
The dance goes from 4 yo 6pm on a Friday night, er, afternoon.
That's just too darn cute. Sixth grade.
I hope to post some pics of her from her first dance.