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Category Archives: school

Expectations

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I was recently speaking to a lovely, smart, high raking executive, who’s also a latina, mom, and an immigrant.  She was telling me that due to her particular circumstances her family’s expectations of her were for her to be an unwed, teenage mom.  

For some reason that really struck home.  It was something that I’ve never thought of, that I’ve never reflected back on and yet, WOW…  

Let’s start off with the fact that my parents really have no idea what it is that I do professionally.  My mom knows that I’m smart and wonderful and all of those fabulous adjectives created to be generally supportive.  My dad is happy that I married a good man and that I have a good life and whether or not I actually “do” anything is neither here nor there.  My best guess is that this blissful ignorance is cultural.  

Growing up, I had my own views on things, and one of them was image.  I often told my mom “who cares what I look like now?!  I’m in school, I’m a teen, now is the time to take advantage of my freedom” and I did.  

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Then I found myself on a wonderful journey of life, and learning that had nothing to do with a traditional education, but again to my family my path has always been misunderstood.  To the point that I wonder if I’m crazy, or if they’re not listening.  What’s even more hilarious, frustrating, ironic is that they gave me the foundation for my career.  When I was born my father already owned his own business, so I was typing and taking messages at a VERY early age to the point of being able to run an office by 14.  Yet at one point in my life my father suggested that I was a secretary, which left me a little stunned as I looked at him and said, “Papi, I HAVE a secretary”.  

I gave up on trying to explain to my parents what it is that I do eons ago.  They see that I’m happy (and in my dad’s case he sees that I’m married and happy) and this makes them happy, y ya.  Until I told them about going to the White House with the LATISM Top Bloguera retreat.  

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Yes, they were excited, but what struck me was the phone call I received from my mom after sharing pictures with her, “mija, es que para mi ir a la Casa Blanca y a l a luna es lo mismo“, in other words, going to the White House is as attainable as a trip to the moon.  Which I appreciate.  It is a pretty big deal, depending on what circle you’re in.  For me it was an honor, one for which I am very grateful for, and  but it’s a little overshadowed by my wondering, is it that my parents had no expectations from me or that the world is so amazing that they did not want to achicar las posibilidades (limit my possibilities)?

Either way, I tell you what… it’s given me the desire to aim for the moon!! #SiSePuede #YesYouCan

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Y padres (parents) let’s give our little ones something to aim for.  Perhaps giving them concrete ideas (astronaut, doctor, inventor, teacher, mother, race car driver, all of the above) and positive role models (within the community, not just on TV).  Let’s have our little ones shoot for the moon!  Even if they miss they will land among the stars. 

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The Move

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When you think about the many families who have been uprooted and have lost their homes, I shouldn’t complain, and trust me when I tell you that I am grateful everyday for what we have, but catholic guilt aside, let’s be upfront and honest. Moving sucks.

We recently made the move from urban to suburban and…it sure is dark out here! 

Sure, there are great things like the fact that I haven’t seen traffic since we moved out here, and that I’m conveniently located to EVERYTHING, and that practically everything has a drive through, and did I mention I haven’t seen traffic? But I also haven’t seen people.

Yeah, yeah, there are people everywhere but they’re not as friendly as city dwellers, and I get that same look I used to get in the 70’s in Georgia that went hand in hand with the question, “what are you?” plus people here keep asking me if my very caucasian looking kids speak English…

I’ve just started a new job which I’m thrilled about, but my search for childcare is bleak.  Apparently everyone wants to take care of my kids, but with their kids at their house, and I’m just not comfortable with that. Sittercity and craigslist aren’t as commonly used here, so I’m going  to the churches, even though I’m not a churchgoer, to network for a sitter.

Frick has been a champ, starting a new school mid-year without a hitch, but there’s no parent list, no invitations allowed in the school and despite the fact that I’m making it a point to arrive early to introduce myself to other parents as we wait for the kids to come out, they aren’t very interested in making small talk.

My husband and I keep telling ourselves that it would have been a totally different experience had we moved in the spring or summer.  I guess we’ll see what happens in a few months, and if the first thaw works with the families as much as it does with the foliage!

Burbs or Bust

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Yes, instead of packing I’m writing.  Do you blame me?  I have yet to meet – or tweet – anyone that enjoys packing.  Despite my best efforts to purge continuously, we’ve managed to amass over 5 thousand pounds of “stuff” at least that’s what the movers are estimating.

So why the move?  Well, I was hoping that our move would be to Atlanta, but not yet.  In the meantime, we thought it was time to spread out a little so we’ve rented an adorable little house, slightly larger than our current abode, on a quiet street and with an ample back yard, perfect for two kids.

Is it what either of us imagined?  No.  But it “feels” right.  So Rolling Meadows here we come!!  Granted it’s not another state, but there are some changes so here are my tips on moving to a new area thus far:

  • Get a list of resources from your realtor or the area’s city hall.  City hall is also a great resource for questions like, garbage, water, city stickers and other rules & regs for the area you’re moving into.
  • Call your utility company and change your mailing address with the USPS about 3 weeks before so that you’re not running around last-minute doing these things which could have been handled well in advance
  • If you’re using a moving company know that “insured and bonded” means that they cover their employees and the home in the event of an accident.  Your goods are not covered in transport.  You either need to purchase additional insurance or contact your home owners insurance for a “transit rider” or a “peril count” change.
  • Call the school you are going to move to and find out their enrollment needs, as well as their curriculum.  Remember parents we are advocates for our children.  For that matter, let your child’s current school know that you are moving asap.  My Frick is still little and having her current teacher’s support has been instrumental during this transition.
  • Purge people, purge!! Salvation Army and Goodwill will pick up, plus there are many other (perhaps needier) organizations who are happy to take your stuff (but you may have to drop off).
  • If you want boxes for free, grocery stores on Sundays, Craigslist or check with your mover if you are using one.  If you’re going to purchase boxes, I’ve been told unanimously that Home Depot has the most inexpensive boxes.
  • If you’re using a mover, ask.  Most will breakdown and set-up furniture.  Some will provide wardrobe boxes (I highly recommend these, clothes go from hanging in the closet to hanging in the box to your new closet).  Some movers want your dressers emptied, others will move them full.
  • Always. Ask. Questions. From your mover, from your realtor, from the seller, landlord, whomever.  You don’t know unless you ask and if you don’t know what to ask tell them, “I’m moving into the area, is there any advice you could give me”.
  • Familiarize yourself with the local hospital.  Yes, it’s grim, but I’ve learned from my husband to “plan for the worst and hope for the best”.

Ok, that’s it for now.  I REALLY have to get some packing done.  Really.  Oh and I will update #BurbsOrBust on twitter so stay tuned for the (hopefully) hilarious and (definitely) exhausting process of moving.

“I had no idea” aka “When your child enters school”

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Last year Frick was in PreK.  They played.  They sang.  They danced.  It was so much fun!  So much fun in fact that she craved more.  So we did “homework” at home.  Mind you, I’m not an educator, and I’m not very patient so God bless my cutie for actually wanted to learn with me.

This year as we were “lucky” enough to have been accepted into a Magnet School (urban speak for what suburbanites consider normal).  It’s not my neighborhood school but it holds promise.  The promise of a “better” high school, therefore a greater chance of higher scores and a great college.

Mind you the entire “selective enrollment” process is more like entering college then what you would expect for Kindergarten, it is after all just Kindergarten!  Well here in Chicago we don’t mess around when it comes to the “right schools”. It’s a two-tiered system.  You have you innocent little preschooler tested as “gifted” which are tests administered verbally by college students to preschoolers in an alien environment to ensure the best success.  Well, we did that.  I did not tutor my child in advance like some do, but we did test.  Then we filled out the paperwork requesting entry into one of the “better” schools, stood on one leg, rubbed our bellies, patted our heads and waited… and waited… and waited.

Am I crazy?  Was the question I got from an education reporter, “your neighborhood school is just fine!” Which she’s right, it is.  But according to the current information available from “those in the know” the reason parents are chomping at the bit to get into a “good” kindergarten is because this sets them on a path for success.  The chances are greater to getting in since not all parents at this age are willing to go through the process (trust me, it’s a nail biter and I did feel slightly ridiculous during the whole thing, until I received the acceptance letter).

So why am I telling you the harrowing tale?  Because you my dear, yes you with that adorable baybe pulling at your hair while you read my blog post.  And you, with a 5th grader.  And you, dad, yes you too.  We must not only be involved in our children’s education – as we show them through our actions that we care – but we must be involved in the policies.  We must learn, we must speak, we must make changes.  Or else you too will end up driving 90 minutes each way to get your little one to school in the morning.

To be or not to be, a Latino with a degree…

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One of the many sources of pride for me is that my parents came to the states and were able to build a life for themselves, and their family, I’m sure that you can relate.

 

My Cuban father made it through grammar school before he was put to work to help provide for the family, his family focused on survival over education.

 

My Colombian mother, the youngest in her family, made it through grammar school when father (the sole provider) was killed, so again, survival overrode education.

 

The big difference is that my mom’s family has always emphasized higher education.  Most of her older sisters and brothers are both highly educated and are now educators throughout the country.  Although the means were not available to my mother, she kept this value throughout her journey in life.

 

Fast forward 40 years – did I just tell on myself?! My parents immigrated to the states, both are successful entrepreneurs, have provided for us, and all without the benefits of higher education.  My father learned in the school of hard knocks, and my mother (remember education was valued in her family) returned to school in the states after starting her family, has her GED and some college, but what about me?

 

I took my father’s path.  Yes, I made it past grammar school.  Yes, I love to learn and do so every day, but I’m not a college graduate – wait, did I write that out loud?!  Most people assume that I am, because most people are and because, thankfully, I am educated, albeit not in the traditional sense, but enough about me, what about my children?  I want them to earn a college degree.

 

The degree-less path is not a common path, nor is it an easy path, and although having a degree doesn’t guarantee you any success, it does ensure a certain amount of inclusion, and I want my children to be included in all the wonderful things life has to offer.  The love of learning starts young, as does the reverence for school.  So, I am involved.  I am involved in preschool (remember, I said it starts young?).  I volunteer; I speak to my daughter, her friends, her teachers.  I tell her that she can go to school, learn and be whatever she wants to be.  She can be a mommy and a fireperson and a doctor and an astronaut, as a matter of fact, she is Spiderman as we speak, but she has to go to school and learn to do these things.  She will have to study, it may not be easy, she will get frustrated and she will persevere. We have college funds for them both (although we are hoping for scholarships), and both my husband and I have agreed, we will do everything in our power for them to have a college degree.

 

And me?  Do I think from time to time that I should go back to school, yes, alomejor ahora es el momento.

The morning drop off

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Dear Parents,

When you drop off your kids at school this morning, please pull the fuck over.

I get it.  The safety of your little angels is important enough to warrant the creation of a traffic jam, yet not quite paramount enough for you to get your ass out of the car…

Hum!

 

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