Monday, September 20, 2010

And maybe a good kid, too.

Each year, sometime after the first day of school, I spend some time looking over the second grade curriculum. I scan the long list of concepts with no plan of attack in mind; I just want to get into my head at least a vague idea of everything I need to teach these kids before their bus rolls away from school on that final June day. It’s always depressing, overwhelming, scary – whatever the adjective is for when the task before you is so immense that you just want to fake your own death and go live on a beach in Mexico. I know you might be saying, “Come on, it’s only second grade,” and I thought the same thing before I was the one teaching it, but take my word for it, there’s a hell of a lot of stuff to cram into these kids’ heads in second grade.

But I’m not complaining. I’m just stating what’s what. Each year, I do what I can and I get most of it in there. Some falls out. I pick it up and try to shove it back between their ears. Sometimes it stays. A lot of it falls out during the summer. But whatever happens, I try to give it all to them in a way that makes it stick. In the end, I get a third grade teacher at my classroom door saying, “They’re telling me you never taught them this.”

And now, we have this baby coming, and we don’t have to just teach them cursive, and how to add double digit numbers, and what a contraction is, we have to teach them everything. Ev-er-y-thing. How not to take poo out of the toilet. How not to play in traffic. How not to put your head in plastic bags. How not to believe most of what you hear on Fox news. The list is beyond imagining, and that’s a hard thing for me to accept. Before doing anything, I like to take in the scope of what’s before me – get a handle on it, and for this thing that’s coming? That’s just not possible. This appears to be one of those maddening situations where you just hold on for dear life, do the best you can, and hope you make it out the other side with your sanity intact and a job well done. And maybe a good kid, too.

60 days until baby.


  1. Well get used to it, you can't expect parents to do things like... parent. :P

  2. Unlike with NYS grade level requirements, with your own child it comes naturally, organically, and more easily. Relax and enjoy the teaching. It is an amazing process! You and Linda will be great parents.
    (Although all bets are off when they are teenagers, they do somehow turn into charming adults with your guidance!)

  3. Oh, you two do have a lucky child! Lately I have come to believe that one of the things that defines different parenting styles is what we choose protect our children from. For example, Mark and I have chose not to have a television (afraid of advertisements) but we have taught our children how to build bonfires in the backyard (on their own, with permission). Sometimes people are surprised at what may feel upside down, but what goes into children's heads is as important as protecting their skulls with helmets. In our culture, it feels to me that we protect children's bodies more than we protect their souls. Finding ways to encourage freedoms and explorations and good long childhoods have been primary goals around here. Well...that was more than you asked for! Sorry. You're right, though, parents think about parenting all of the time. The humor helps, and you both sure have that - clearly! A.

  4. Yes, exactly what Amy said! Teaching kids to count is fine,but teaching them what counts is best!

    Bob Talbert

  5. In our culture, it feels to me that we protect children's bodies more than we protect their souls.

    Teaching kids to count is fine,but teaching them what counts is best!

    Thank you very much - Amy & Tony - for these two great quotes - they're keepers.