The School Missive

We are four months away from Maggie’s first day of school – real school, that is, as opposed to nursery school. Recently, I seem to be reading a lot of articles about overzealous notes sent home with children and/or sent to parents.

Maybe this is a new thing. More likely, I’ve skimmed past these for years, and it is only since we have received confirmation of Maggie’s school a couple of weeks ago that I’ve actually noticed them.

So this recent one is a dire warning about Instagram. It has a straw man argument about the Instagram terms of service, and then goes on to imply that:

a) The internet (well, instagram, in this case) is an unhealthy place for children, and
b) Good parents should shelter their children from the world instead of prepare them for it.

The first one, I understand. For many people tasked with raising children, the internet is strange and unfathomable — after all, when I started university, there was no Google, no Yahoo!, no PayPal, no Hotmail. And I am a parent of a four-year-old. School administrators can quite easily be my age (but understandably less web-savvy), or older (and even more understandably less web-savvy).

Fear of the unknown is common. And the belief that new technology is causing moral decay in the new generation dates back at least as far as the written word.

The second one just gets my goat.

I mean, I get it. I get the people who don’t have kids — or even those who have them, but aren’t, you know, professionals responsible for the care and development of children — and look at particular situations and say ‘you should have taken more care there.’ Hindsight is great.

And I can understand the group of parents who give in to fear, and must protect the children at all costs.

But how in the world can a person dedicated to educating young people promote an agenda of avoidance over preparedness?

Or, more greedily, what can I do when I encounter this? Because I do not doubt what I would do. I read that letter, and I wonder — do I write back? Call the school? Visit the head teacher? Try to change schools?

I believe that kids will pick up the culture from their environment. This means that good parenting is most often setting a good example, and less often the lessons you intend to set. (Also: remember that kids notice more than you think they do.) And it means that the general approach and philosophy of a school is more important than the ability of any given teacher.

Can a school that prefers sheltering children to preparing them really succeed at the latter?

Methinks this is a hypothetical puzzle that will receive a lot of brain time …

Zero

Last night, Maggie explained zero to me.

Do you know what zero is Daddy?
What’s zero?
It’s none. Like, how many elephants do you have? That’s zero.
Elephants?
And do we have imaginary cats in the house? Yes. Of course we do.

Of course we do.

To the races!

My wife is a runner.

This is mostly neither here nor there for me, except when a race morning happens to be a cold morning, leaving me shivering in a cold field somewhere for an hour.

And it has been neither here nor there for Maggie, except when a race morning happens to be a cold morning, leaving her shivering in a cold field somewhere for an hour.

Until recently.

As it turns out, many of these races also have kids races included. Which means that shortly after this happens:

This happens:

It also turns out that Maggie has inherited whatever gene it is that prompts people to join in these things. So back in March – and, yes, that’s how long it takes me to go from taking a photo to sharing it – Maggie ran her first race. Once her mother had sped off …

… Maggie ran …

… and ran …

… and ran …

… and crossed the finish line …

… and collected her medal:

I’m worried that I won’t get a break from these cold mornings in the middle of a field somewhere anytime soon.