Posts tagged ‘school’


The blog tour is over, but I have to return to The Maternal Is Political for a moment here to mention one more essay which I read and thought, “Shoot! that should have been in Mama, PhD!” But on reflection, I’m really glad it’s in this book instead, because I want people getting this message everywhere: it’s important to think about the challenges facing student parents (not to mention faculty parents, and school administration parents, and school staff parents…). Don’t we want higher education to accommodate parents, so that it can better accommodate our kids as future students? Clearly this isn’t related for everybody in academic administration these days, but it should be.

So here’s a passage from “Shown the Ropes,” by J. Anderson Coats:

It’s graduation day at Bryn Mawr College. Today I’m at the top. My hands are cut up from the climb. The kid on my back got ten times as heavy and took way fewer naps. I wrote my senior research thesis while taking two writing-intensive history classes, toilet training the kid, and buying my first house.

But up I went, because I knew exactly how far down I could go.

I don’t leave here with a Fortune 500 gig or a slot at Harvard Law. I don’t leave with a dormful of friends or a shoebox of photographs from May Day.

I leave whole.

I leave enmeshed in a prestigious, uncompromising community that rolled the dice on an underage autodidact with more secrets than pedigree, a community I’m proud to claim as my own because it offered the rope without condition, without favor, without slack. A community that gave me the chance to fly and let it be my own.

Tomorrow will be another climb, and I’ll have to shoulder my way into grad school or a nine-to-five. I’ll have to want it twice as bad and work twice as hard.

But this too is what I leave with: an overarching sense of the possible.

Today I’m at the top, and the view from the clouds is something else.

Pick up The Maternal Is Political to read the rest. And if you want to do something concrete to ease the way for one student mom, here’s someone who’s trying to take on the challenge and could use a little help.


This was a big week for the Grant family, as both boys began new summer programs.

Ben’s attending a language immersion program at the local French-American school in preparation for our trip next month, the first time he’s gone to any kind of class without a parent, or any other kid he knew, or without even visiting the building ahead of time. Typically, he was more concerned about his lunch options than about the whole communication in a foreign language aspect (hmm, I wonder where he gets this from?!) But Tony took him the first day, and Ben quickly found the Lego, so the communication issue was rendered moot: the language of Lego is universal.

Meanwhile, Eli began preschool! After a year away, we’re back at our beloved, rough and tumble co-op, a school recently described in a local paper as the “best educational experience in the Bay Area” (hear that, Stanford?) I took him in and stayed for my work day; later he reported to Tony that he was “half wif Mama, half no Mama.” Today, he did the morning all by himself, and reported to me afterwards, to explain his lack of socks, “Mama, some kids throwed water… and… never mind.” Good boy: handled the water play and isn’t a tattle-tale.

Tony and I are giddy: for the first time in 6 years, 3 months, and 12 days of parenting, we have twelve hours a week of scheduled, reliable childcare.

Slow and Fast

Slow: Our morning routine for 5 1/2 years. With me working from home and Ben in afternoon preschool the last two years, why get out of pj’s in the morning? Sure, we’ve had the regular assortment of playdates and (before Eli was born) classes, but for the most part, it’s been rather lounge-y around here, the weekdays not feeling too different from the weekends.

Fast: Our new up-and-out lifestyle. We’re up at 7 and out the door at 8 to drive 4.5 miles to school (20 minutes; we’re still looking for the quickest route), park (5 minutes; we’re learning the street sweeping schedule), and get Ben comfortably settled in the kindergarten classroom (good morning to the teacher; backpack in the cubby; yellow cardboard boy in the attendance chart) by 8:30. “Rushrushrush!” says Eli as we run down the street.

Slow: The morning pace once we say goodbye to Ben. Eli and I stroll slowly back to the car, stopping to say hello to the dogs parked outside school, to examine small plants growing out of sidewalk cracks, to observe the construction on the building down the street, to count the boats out on the bay.

Fast: The morning pace from 7-8am. Get up, get dressed, get fed, get out the door. Done!

Slow: Eli’s pace from 7-8, as he stonewalls and tries to prevent Ben’s departure for school. “No Buh-buh go school. Li-li miss Buh-buh,” says Eli.

Fast: Eli’s sudden rejection of Ben’s preschool, the school he’s longed to attend this past year. It took only 4 days of kindergarten for Eli to announce “No Li-li go preschool. Just go straight Buh-buh school.”

Slow: These first few days of kindergarten, getting adjusted to our new routine. We don’t know all the kids’ names yet, nor their parents. We haven’t had our lunchroom duty yet, our first parent-teacher night, nor even our first soccer game.

Fast (I expect): This year of kindergarten. Check back in June!

Top of the Slide

Ben’s first day of kindergarten is today, and I’m feeling prematurely nostalgic for his childhood. I’ll chalk it up partly to spending the weekend with some of my cousins, who have kids much older than mine. One, whose oldest son is 17, said it feels like just ten minutes ago that she was reading Goodnight, Moon to him. Another, whose eldest is twenty, said her arms sometimes burn to hold her daughter the way she used to.

Deep sigh. It’s just kindergarten. Eli is home for another year before starting half-day preschool. They will be home for many more years, and some of those years will likely feel very, very long.

But still, something about this transition makes me feel like I’m sitting Ben down on top of a very long slide, and when he shoots out the bottom, a blink from now, he’ll be 18 years old and walking off to college.