Friday, August 13, 2010

Call the Spell Check Police...

I just couldn't let this go. 

The other day on one of the social networking sites that I am on, someone posted about a friend who was excited to be going to college.  That friend had misspelled several words in her original post, including the word 'college.'  Several people went on to poke fun at the original poster and her obvious lack of intelligence.  They also questioned her ability to learn and her place in a facility of higher education.

Several people said (paraphrase) that colleges let anyone and everyone in and not everyone should be allowed to seek a college education.  That made me fuming mad.  How dare they say something so demeaning of others?  Have we become so elitist that we would deny the freedom to better our station to those of us that we deem unworthy?

I am the parent of a child who was labelled 'learning disabled' at a very young age.  We were told she'd be 'average at best' and not to expect her to be accepted into college.  Well, guess what?  She's going to college and she's better than average.  She's been given a chance to succeed even though there were those around her who would see her just survive.  She can better herself and her world, even though she could not read much beyond preschool level when she was in the fourth grade.

A couple of days passed, and I just couldn't let this go.  It's amazing to me that, in the land of the free and the brave, we have other people willing to say that not everyone deserves the same chances as everyone else.  I agree that not everyone WILL go to college.  Some simply do not care to and others who want to will not get the chance because they feel that a college education is out of their reach financially.  Others who want to go may feel that they are constrained by life circumstances (family, children, job) and  can not commit to spending time to get a higher education.  Still, it's encouraging to know that the doors to knowledge are flung wide for those willing to pursue education beyond high school.  

So how dare someone insinuate that simply because another has some spelling errors in a post online that that person is not worthy of education?  If that person truly can not spell some words, perhaps the best thing for her would be to go to a place of higher learning and to be challenged to learn to spell correctly.  Would we deny her that opportunity in order to keep her ignorant?  Why?  It seems to me that educating our citizens to the highest of their capabilities would be a boon for our society.  The more people we educate, the more mind power we have to care for and grow our society properly.  This is the land of opportunity, of free-markets and freedom from tyranny and oppression.  Isn't it?   

There was also accusation of public school failure in the responses.  I'll give ya that the public education system in this country needs a redo.  If only we could backspace and delete over some of the stuff that DOESN'T work (No Child Left Behind), and insert smaller classroom sizes, more teachers, better facilities.  Things that do work and do foster better learning in our children. 

We also need to re-insert the parents and other caregivers into the equation.  It seems that schools have become a 13 year (or longer) on-going daycare facility.  Parents can just drop their kids off and go to work.  Easy.  Peasy.  Then, the kids get home and mommy and daddy are still at work, so they do what they will until their exhausted parents come home and feed them some fast food and send them to bed.  People, we've got to get back in the parenting business.  Working for a living is a reality, but so is the need for parent interaction.  I've heard it time and time again:  Teachers aren't teaching our kids the 3 R's, they are teaching them social skills and basic behavior skills and manners.  Things that should be taught and reinforced at home.

And speaking of teaching at home, some people think that home schooling is the answer.  I guess that would be the epitome of parent involvement, but homeschoolers seem to think that a complete 'check out' of the system is in order.  We can not fix something that is broken by ignoring it.  If a natural gas line on my property breaks and leaks natural gas into the air, I can't just go on about my day ignoring it.  Eventually, the neighborhood will be on fire.  So how is keeping our kids away from public schools, and therefore society, going to help us fix the public school system or society itself?  Someday, those kids will have to be integrated back into society if they want to live and flourish in that society. 

I'm sure some of you will read this and find a typo or twelve.  And I'm sure some of you are reading this and going, "Yea, but what do you think will fix it, Ms. Smartypants?"  I don't have all of the answers, but I do know that being involved with my children and their school and making sure that they are learning not only their ABC's but also how to love, respect, and cherish others is a start.  Learning begins at home.  I hope I'm giving my kids the best head start I can by staying at home with them while they are little.  But I don't have all the answers and all I can do is try to make sure that my children go out into the world prepared to make it a better place.  And if they can not spell?  Well, at least they will know that they CAN change the world, one mispelled wurd @ ah thyme. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

With a heart: Poetry for my babies

To the one I lost and to the one she finally became.

With a heart

With a full heart
And open, waiting arms
I welcomed you into this world.

With a heavy heart
And sad, crying eyes
I said good bye as you left.

With a joyful heart
And pink, dazzling lines
I knew you had finally come back to me.

With a grateful heart
And happy, smiling tears
I held you in my loving arms at last.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

DDouble DDuty?

Wondering through the web-o-sphere like I do on occasion, I came across a very interesting photograph of a woman breastfeeding.  Duality, by Rachel Valley portrays a mother and a lover, nourishing her baby and her relationship with her partner.  At first glance, this photo may seem a bit extreme;  some even described it as "weird" and "over-the-top." 

At first I was inclined to agree that the photo was grotesque, but upon further ponderance, I began to understand the implications.  This isn't the photo of a two-headed woman (although we all know that women have it going on in the brains department) but of a woman who can be those things, in those instances, that she needs to be.  She can be mother when baby is hungry and lover when her partner hungers for her.  Beyond that, she can be woman and be comfortable in her role as such.  I really began to see the beauty of the photo, the beauty of the woman, and realized that it stirred in me a passion to be all things to all those that I love and cherish. 

I also began to wonder why Rachel Valley had decided to do this photo.  Was there a need, a niche, where a photo such as this was warranted and appreciated?  I found a link to the photo on a forum intended for women (and some men) who are breastfeeding aware and supportive, yet some of the comments were less than cheerful in attitude or favor.  Obviously the photo did not say the same thing to all people, even those who might be best equipped to understand the 'duality' of the woman and the breast. 

Then I read about a mother being discriminated against because she is breastfeeding her child in public.  The stories are astounding.  Mothers are being harassed at baseball games, at public parks, in restaurants, at the YMCA.  The list goes on and on.  These mothers are simply fulfilling their rolls as mothers,  yet they are being asked to move to the restroom or to otherwise hide the fact that they are feeding their children.  I couldn't believe that people would be so rude and hateful and thought that surely it was either ignorance on the part of a few employees, lack of training on issues regarding dealing with the public and the law, or both.  Perhaps there were a few squeaky-wheel patrons at these places who threw a tantrum because they thought they might have seen a peek of skin while the mother was latching her baby.  But as I read the comments sections of the articles, I began to see that there was an overwhelming amount of people who harbored hate for women nursing their children.  

As I read these stories, I began to realize why Duality was such a needed piece of artwork.  People in this society really do lack a true understanding of the purpose of the female breast, and of the female body in general.  We've been told that our bodies are gross.  We hear it at church, in school, from our friends, family and in magazine, on T.V. and on the Internet.  When the subject of vaginas comes up in those venues, it's usually in a strictly sexual context.  Breasts are lumped together with vaginas because they, too, can be used as avenues for sexual gratification.  The female form, in all it's incarnations, has been vilified as a sexual tool since biblical times.  Forget the fact that, since before biblical times, vaginas have been used to birth our children and breasts have been used to nourish them.  Twats 'n' boobs are simply sexual, end of story, now go and repent for even thinking about them. 

But what if we could see the beauty in both the sexual aspect of a woman's body and the wonder that is a mother growing and continuing the species?  After all, at the very basest of thinking,  babies are a product of a sexual act.  My babies, my children, are the bi-product of love and caring and an animalistic urge to nurture and grow.  Sure, sex got them started, but love and my body grew them.  My body birthed them into this world and my body gave them nourishment when they were young and vulnerable.  There was a time in history when a child who lived to the age of 5 was revered as strong and capable of carrying on an enduring blood-line.  During those times, it was common-place for women to breastfeed, so it just goes to suppose that breastfeeding helped that child survive and thrive.

Why does it have to be one or the other?  And why do breasts, and the female body, get to only be used for sexual gratification?  What if, at the very least, we all put aside our own fears, short-comings, or anxieties and showed kindness and gentleness towards the smallest and most vulnerable of our species? 

I want to close with some advice for those of you who read this and who get a bit squeamish when you see a woman (or even think about seeing her) breastfeeding her baby.  To you, I ask for just a small amount of tolerance.  When those sirens go off in your brain and your internal dialogue is screaming "WARNING SEXUAL OBJECTS BEING EXPOSED," how about just turning your head and tending to your own business?  If YOU have an issue with the mother nourishing her small and innocent child, try to use discretion with yourself and your actions and words.  And if you can not understand the woman, try at least giving some respect for the mother who is just doing with her body what nature has intended.