Tag Archives: Privacy

In light of recent events, change comes with a heavy cost.

13 Jan

After September 11th, there were many security precautions and procedures put into place to make our shell-shocked nation feel like a safer place. Many of them were successful and are still in place today. Other policies worked out better on paper.  We all remember the stories that hit the news of these new policies being taken to the extreme. The woman being forced to drink her own breast milk, old ladies in wheel chairs forced through the indignity of full body searches, and from these experiences the policies were examined and adjusted, humanity was preserved.

It comes as no surprise that after a gunman opened fire in Sandy Hook Elementary School last December that schools across the nation would be reviewing their safety procedures, our school being no exception.  Upon return from the Holiday Break, the following new Drop-Off and Pick-Up procedures have been put into place.

1)      Parents are no longer allowed to accompany their child(ren) into the lobby of the school.

2)      Parents are encouraged to use the car-line to drop off and pick up at the back of the school.

3)      A buzzer has been put into place should a parent have need of entry into the school.

When I first heard of the changes, I was not concerned. I usually walk around to the back of the school to pick my child up any way. There were mutterings from other parents, but I figured give a week or so to adjust and the kinks would work their way out. Just give it time. We as parents want the same thing as school administrators. We want to feel confident in the safety of our children when they leave the security of our arms. We love our teachers and want them to have a safe place to work and nurture our children. We want the secretaries in the office to never have to face a gunman in the eye.  We all want or school to be a safe place.

Well, after the first week, I can say that things as written are not working. Or maybe they are, it just depends from whose point of view you are looking. The staff is carrying out the policy as written. Parents are forming long lines of cars in all directions waiting up to an hour to pick up their children. The school secretary is guarding the door to ensure that no one enters and to direct the influx of parents on foot around to the back of the school where the children are being held awaiting pick-up.

There are a few problems that seem to be growing out of the new procedure, mainly in the afternoon at pick-up. First, who wants to wait in line for an hour to pick up their child from school? The exhaust fumes from idling cars are practically visible as I push my stroller down the street.  I’ve seen at least one vehicle drive the wrong way down the street to get around the car line and on his way. I don’t know if the intersection was blocked but I can see a potential for danger there. Second, if you are walking up to pick up your child, there is no sidewalk to connect the front of the school to the back of the school where the holding area is. This leaves us the option of either walking against traffic through the car line, or walking through the school grounds themselves. The solution here is simple, put in a sidewalk.

There is another problem growing that is much deeper and if allowed to continue may be much harder to remedy. Our school was a vibrant and thriving learning environment that encouraged parent participation. We were encouraged to volunteer in the classroom; we were invited to come in for breakfast and lunch with our children. Volunteering in the workroom topped our teachers’ wish-lists every year.  Now staff that were once friendly and outgoing treat us as if they’ve never seen us before, and as if we are about to storm the school.

When and why did the parents become the bad-guy? Don’t we all want the same thing? With this new policy, the door has been slammed shut in our face. We are left out in the cold befuddled, bewildered and betrayed. The faces I’ve seen and the parents I’ve talked to are hurt and angry.  They no longer want to volunteer in a place where they no longer feel welcomed.

What message are we sending to our children?  Is this what we want our kids to take away from the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary? Trust no one. Not even Mom and Dad, nor your best friend’s Mom and Dad? Is this the culture that we want our children to grow up in? A culture of anxiety and mistrust of the people and the world around them is no way to live a life.  There has to be another way.

The morale of our school is plummeting. We need to work together, parents alongside administrators in a collaborative effort to put safety first, while still maintaining what made our school so great to begin with. Please, don’t shut us out. We had a great school.  I don’t want that sentence to be in the past tense.

The End is Upon Us!

21 May

Kindergarten is almost done.

Summer vacation is almost here, and I can’t believe the year that we have had.

Sniffle, sigh… it seems like just a couple of days ago that we were walking into her school a family of three ready to start the new adventure in our lives that is kindergarten. She looked so cute in a red shirt and jean shorts with her hair brushed and teeth clean just bouncing in anticipation. When we walked into her classroom she did not hesitate a moment. She hung her backpack up on her hook and took her place at her little desk. Her teacher had already placed a couple of activities on their tables for them, so she picked up some blocks and started playing with them.

I’m not sure she even noticed when I leaned over to kiss her good-bye. After a few minutes of unneccessary loitering, I figured it was time to head for the door. At this point, I had to pull my husband out by his elbow… Then he stood in the doorway for a few minutes just watching her.

Fast forward to the end of the year:

Here are some Kindergarten Rules as they really apply:

Follow Directions the First Time They are Given.

Translation: see Stay on Task, one cancels the other when at home.

Keep Feet, Hands and Objects to Yourself.

Translation: This apparently does not apply to any manner of germs that will come home to share with your friends and family. This year we had at least 5 confirmed cases of Strep throat and 3 mystery viruses.

Stay on Task.

Translation: This teaches the skill of how to completely ignore your Mommy when it is time to stop what you are doing and clean your room as requested. Of this, my daughter is a master.

Use an Appropriate Voice at All Times.

Translation: New “friends” will have LOTS of interesting information for you to share with Mommy. Example: “Mommy, tattoos really hurt. They put them on you with a needle. So they really, really hurt. Did you know that???”

Respect People and Things.

Translation: Once you are out the confining limits of the classroom, feel free to let it all out every chance you get. All that energy has to have an outlet you know. Isn’t it one of Newton’s Laws of physics? If not Newton than surely this is covered by Murphy!

As the days count down I reflect on the year that has passed. The changes that have occurred, including adding a brother and loosing six teeth,  and I focus on this: Summer Vacation means that I have three months to keep all the good things she learned at school locked in her mind, while trying to ERASE the bad!

Tattoos anyone????

Tearing Down the Fences

19 Apr

A weird thing happened this week that has really got me thinking…

Chain Link Fence

Chain Link Fence (Photo credit: camknows)

A couple of days ago, my husband had just walked out the door to run an errand and there came a knock on the door.  I was nursing the baby and thought he must have forgotten something, so I answered the door while still nursing.

To my surprise, it was not my husband but a little girl whom I had never seen before. “Um. Hello?” I said not really knowing what else to say. Keep in mind I am holding the door open with one hand and trying to nurse a baby with the other.

“Do you have a daughter?”, the little girl replied.

“Um, yes”. Was my brilliant response as I tried to detach the baby gracefully, while trying not to have a Nat Geo momement at the front door.

“Can she come out and play?” the little girl asked.

So I call my daughter to the door. “Do you know each other?” Two heads shake. I look around. No parental type person around to make introductions. No one to be seen at all. Yet here is this girl standing at my door. I have to admit, I am at a total loss here. My daughter loves to make new friends, and thinks that everyone is a friend just waiting to be had. I love her open heart, but really have to work on the stranger danger bit. I digress.

I tell them both that we are doing homework at the moment, and perhaps another day would be better to play. All the while still scanning the horizon for a parent or older sibling or someone. There is no one.

I ask around, and no one knows who this girl is, where she lives or really anything about her. Which is very strange considering she appears to be about 6 or 7 years old.

Which makes me sad and perplexed at the same time. I can’t help but remember back when I was a kid… Yes, that lovely phrase that immediatley generated eye rolling when uttered by our parents. Back then, there was a group of us who played together ages ranging from 5 to 9, I guess. The normal games: tag, kickball, hide and seek. It was all our parents could do to get us to come back inside when the street lights come on…

So what has happened to just letting our kids out to play? I’ve been pondering this all week while trying to find out more about the mystery girl.

My conclusion is this: too much privacy and too tall of fences.

No one knows each other anymore. Think about it. Growing up we lived on a corner lot with a chain link fence where we could see who was doing what. We knew who was playing football on the island and who was riding their bikes. Mom’s could look out the windows and know where their kids were and who they were playing with. Most likely they were talking on the phone or at the kitchen table with at least one of the other neighborhood moms anyway.  As a teen I used to fantasize about having a privacy fence so I could lay out naked. Well, that never happened. But these days as I drive past subdivision upon subdivision with regulated privacy fences, who knows what is happening behind those fences.

Privacy is well established. At the sake of community. Most people might be on a first name basis with the people whose houses are directly adjacent. But other than that, it is nodding acquaintance at best. This poses not only hazards to our children, who we no longer feel safe to say, “go outside and play till dinner is ready”. But also a disservice to ourselves as moms.

While I wasn’t all that interested in knowing what all those women were talking about as we ran inside to grab drink or go to the bathroom. It was plain to see that there were solid bonds of friendship there. They watched out for each other’s kids just as they would their own. They talked and laughed together at the end of the day while one was making dinner, another was sitting at the table keeping an ear on her friend and an eye on the kids. For a lack of a better way to describe it, I would call it community parenting. As kids, we were just as likely to be corrected and or encouraged by any one of the neighborhood mom’s as our own. Nothing escaped their notice either. One or more called my mom at work to tell her that my sister and I were fighting on top of the old clothes pole. (That thing that was in all backyards to attach a clothesline to the house). She also got a call on the day that my sister was chasing me around the yard with a butcher knife.

The community of moms back then was incredible. It is in this spirit that I am writing this blog. As moms we should have other moms to talk to, to lean on, and to learn from. There are days where we need that extra encouragement. There are days were we need talked down off a cliff. If not from another mom, then who? Let’s tear down those fences and reach out to each other. Lend a hand, lend an ear, lend a shoulder.

Let’s try for a little less privacy.

As for the mystery girl, I’ll do some investigating and give her a chance. If it was you… ?

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