Saturday, April 26, 2014

the dentist, Indiana and death by standardized testing

A wind farm that we passed on our travels through Indiana and Illinois. Pretty cool things, these wind farms. 

Well I'm just going to sit down and start typing. Because I've decided that sometimes just hitting the keys and seeing what comes out is the best way to sort things out. Avoiding the backspace key. Finding out what is hiding in your own head when you're not even sure what you're thinking about.

This week has been busy. You know what, every week is busy in its own way, but this one has been busy in a different way. Flying home from Indiana on Monday and then spending the day in a leaned-back dentist chair on Tuesday. This may sound like a terrible fate to return home from vacation to, but the dental hygienist and I were laughing together as I got comfortable in the chair with my kindle on my lap and my earphones in my ears. A trip to get fillings and a crown is felt like a trip to the spa. Granted there were drills and mouth-vaccuums in there somewhere, but what I was really looking forward to was putting my feet up and listening to my audiobook.

Then Wednesday was back to school to prepare for standardized tests next week. Standardized tests. They are going to be the end of me, I say.

I started to let this post take a turn in that way. Talking about standardized testing. Talking about this test-heavy culture we have created. Typing out my frustrations watching 11-year-olds spend two hours a day for 4 days straight on a test. A test that shows if they are "smart enough". A test that shows if I'm a good enough teacher. A test that does not take into account their language abilities or their home life or their lack of home life, or for some of my students, even the lack of a home.

But no, that's as far as I'm going to go with that. For job security reasons and for hating to complain reasons and for getoffyoursoapbox reasons.

When I was in Indiana last week for spring break I have to say that I fell in love pretty fast and hard with Bloomington. All week I have been dreaming about picking up and packing up the baby and our little apartment and just putting down roots there. That's not really how life works, but it sounds really tempting. Telling someone this only led to the reaction, "Indiana??"

Yes, Indiana.

Gosh dangit, those people were just so friendly. I had a feeling it would be the place for me on our last leg of the plane there. I was sitting on the back row of the plane with the baby on my lap. The rest of the plane had filled up except for the two seats directly next to me. If there's one thing that will make people avoid you more than a bleeding rash completely covering your body it's a toddler on an airplane. Those seats are for the unluckiest of them all. The ones who have lost in the reaping. I tried to not let it get to me; people coming to our row, seeing Sage, and turning around to frantically find any other seat, overhead bin, or open bathroom that they might be able to claim instead. But lo and behold, an overly-tan couple sat down next to me, raving that they were so excited to have found two seats together after their flight from Cabo had been delayed.

I smiled and made a joke about babies keeping the people away.

"I want you to know that we love kids and we love traveling with kids."

That's all it took for me to feel so much better. To feel like the people of the world were good that that I didn't have a contagious disease.  Sage sat quietly on my lap the entire flight and ate snacks and watched movies and did puzzles on the iPad. We read books and looked out the window at the tiny lights below us. He was perfect. I wanted to shout "BOOYAH SUCKAS" as the plane descended into Indiana... but I didn't. When we landed and as we were waiting for our turn to get our bags and get off the plane, the couple next to us took a second to congratulate Sage on his stellar behavior. Then, the husband looked at me and said "you did great too, Mom."

Oh holy mother of Moses my heart just about leaped out of my chest. A complete stranger complemented me on my parenting right when I needed it. On cue the flight attendant came from the back and said that he was so impressed on how well behaved Sage was through the flight.

Just nice people, those Indiana folk.

And Bloomington was the little hippy center in the middle of this hospitable state. People who walk everywhere and ride bikes and buy local and recycle and hike. So many things to do outside. And everything is so green! I'm officially a big fan of Indiana.

Okay, enough typing for tonight.

I really want to get back into the habit of writing these posts. Those posts where I start out with nothing to say and end up with a stupid amount of words.

They're really good for my sanity.