Sunday, November 18, 2007

birthdays everywhere. Yesterday Quincy had a party in a park to go to. Today at party at Randall Museum (sort of a tiny zoo we can walk to) for 2 classmates followed by one for a brother and sister at another park. Last weekend Aidan had one at the Party Place - a place with sort of a giant climb thru structure thing followed by pizza followed by an hour in the "arcade". The previous week he had one at a place that was filled with bouncy things called Pump It Up. The week before that was a mock sleep over and theoretically watching Karate Kid movie (apparently most kids just watched a few minutes then bounced off the walls). The week before that Aidan had his nerf gun party. 3 cousins always celebrate their birthdays when we see them for Thanksgiving. Quincy agreed to do a joint party with Ellie on Dec. 9th. He had told me he wanted a sushi themed party - but that was a few weeks back and he was no longer married to the idea. Julia and I sat down and went over the guest list that I had gotten out of the kids one morning before school when Ellie came over. There are about 5 classmates they said no to and only a few people from past classes to be included. Ellie had more of these people from the past which was part of Quincy's original reason for saying no to a joint party. Understandably he only wants his friends at his party. We're going to have it again at the old preschool - a great young party venue 1) it isn't your house 2) it has both inside and outside play space so weather isn't too much of an issue 3) it is pretty cheap 4) there are lots of toys and also a kitchen. We will do sushi making as an activity and perhaps also snowmen making with marshmallows and pretzels etc. I'm in charge of getting goodie bags so on Friday I headed off to Japantown to see what I could find. We decided to go with paper, pencil, Japanese eraser (they make ones that look like sushi etc). Turns out there is a very nice dollar store there. I selected a few things I liked and brought them home. I showed the bag to Quincy last night and asked him what he thought. This was his response "I think this would be a great party gift to give out. Number 1 it is easy to carry, number 2 it can come in handy and number 3 it is not a lot of stuff we have to get".

At yesterday's birthday I met some parents. One couple I was chatting with have their kindergartener at the other Japanese school in town. The public school my kids go to have only 13% free lunch kids, the district average is around 60% or a bit higher. They said their school is at 90%! Unreal. The program they are in used to be located far out toward the ocean but a couple of years ago it got moved nearer to Japantown in the "projects". Only half the school does Japanese (like at our school). The school they moved to was being threatened with closure. Half the Japanese population departed for other schools - it decimated their program. I was fascinated to talk to them about it. They are vehement in their support for the program although it was not originally one of their 7 schools in the lottery nor high up on their second list. As one of them said, they have to live up to their lefty politics. The dad said it is nice to be able to say high to people he would ordinarily have nothing to do with. They value the "diversity" and the education said diversity brings their kids. I asked if their son had come to them with any stories about dad's in jail, getting shot etc. He said he had heard anecdotal stories but not from his kid. He did say clearly some kids have some behavioral issues and some come to school without breakfast (no food at home). I read somewhere that a lot of these kind of kids suffer from post traumatic stress disorder - obviously making it hard to concentrated on learning (as does an empty belly). I just can't imagine putting my kids in that situation, especially Aidan ("there are no REAL bad guys in San Francisco are there?"). Another dad from our school was sort of arguing with the other dad that he wanted a place where his kid could focus on learning and not be distracted by that other stuff and diversity training was really something modeled by parents and not something you just get at school. I am glad there are middle class folks that are willing to take that leap of faith and enroll their children into schools that don't look like themselves and try to make it better for everyone, but I am also glad not to have to be that family. It is one thing to walk the walk yourself, it is another to make your kids do it. As most any parent, I just want to shelter my kids as long as possible.

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