Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My Daily Rant

Dress code for 6th graders & other realted issues:

My daughter is very petite. We are petite people. I'm just under 5'4" & my husband is 5'6". His mother is 4'11" & my mother is 5'2". While there are some tall(er) people on both sides, it's not likely to happen, at least not until the pubertal growth spurt, which, by the way, is much later for women in my family than the current average for American girls now. Is it age 9 now? Is this all the growth hormone in milk & meats? Or is it just a shift for other environmental/evolutionary reasons? Either way, we are late bloomers. I'm talking 15. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Of course, for kids, being on the extreme end of the spectrum on either side is just torture most of the time. Recently I heard John Cleese talking about how he was 6 ft. tall in middle school & was bullied! Quite hilarious the way he told it.

Anyway, my daughter, age 11, wears a size 8-10. My older daughter was the same way but now at 17, she is "normal" size, about the same size I am. Except I think she stole my boobs.  My point is, who cares if we're late bloomers, we catch up later & it doesn't mean there is anything wrong. In fact, women who go through puberty at a later age have a lower rate of breast & uterine cancers. And many go through menopause later. I have had to hold back from telling my girls, tell the early bloomers making fun of you that their boobs will sag & their ovaries will shrivel up much sooner than yours! Also, much of this early menarche can be attributed to chilhood obesity/overweight-ness. So yes, it's hard not to tell my daughter when she's made fun of for "looking like a 3rd grader" that those are not actually boobs, just fat. And have you seen the padded bras in the girls' clothing departments?? WTH? Are we playing To Catch a Predator? WTH?

 I remember my older daughter's pediatrician, when we were new to her office, saying she was so concerned that she was abnormally small that she sent her to get a bone scan of her hand! I was dealing with the beginnings of a very scary severe illness myself at the time & I remember thinking, my god did I miss something? This doctor made me feel like I had been neglectful! The disapproving looks! Of course the scan was normal & why in the hell did I let this woman make me feel like a bad mother? I knew as long as she was growing along the 3rd percentile of the growth chart consistently, as she always had, there was nothing wrong. This doctor was at the time really overweight & her daughter was also pretty big. For all the talk of "fat shaming" in this country, I can tell you we have dealt with quite a lot of bullying, snarky comments, etc. for being smaller. I did lose weight because of my illness but now stay right around the same as I was at 18. I've had women my age glare at me, ask me if I eat. Yes, I eat. I just don't eat crap.

Dress code at school. A K-8 school, mind you. Now, see above for acknowledgment that many girls are well in to puberty by 8th grade & dress code dictates that girls don't have bra straps showing or shorts that are too short. Okay. And if girls wear leggings they have to wear a longer top that covers their bum. This is a general fashion rule/public service that all adult women should follow. Unless you have buns of steel & have had a recent labia tuck, please wear a longer top over leggings ladies! But, my daughter, 11 year old gymnast, was made to feel self-conscious about her body by being called out at school because her top didn't come down quite far enough by maybe 3 inches (a combination of recent growth spurt & the top shrinking a bit in the wash, I didn't think about the outfit "breaking dress code.") So she was left thinking what is wrong with my body? What a blissful time in their lives when girls are not self-conscious about how they look! Thank you, school, for shitting on that! Was this really necessary? It's not like she was wearing a crop-top! So we will spend all this time & effort making girls in a K-8 school feel self-conscious about their bodies & their clothes but pay zero attention to other much more important issues like transportation safety. Brilliant. Who decides these priorities? I think American institutions have just gotten so good at doing things in ways that make the least sense. Latch on to something like dress code in elementary/middle school but completely ignore much bigger issue with much bigger consequences. I have seen so many kids younger & smaller than my daughter get in to the front seat of cars in the carpool line. I have seen first hand just how bad child passenger safety is, how almost no one follows "best practices." Long ago I assisted with a car seat check event with a SafeKids organization & we had 100% car seat misuse! The problem is just as bad with older kids (elementary school age.) Very few stay in a booster seat past Kindergarten, if they're even in one then, though they need them until they are 4'9" AND 80 lbs. I do not know of a single kid other than my own who has been in a booster seat this appropriate amount of time. I just do not understand. I guess everyone just thinks a bad accident can't happen to them. I know better, having been in 2 very severe accidents, one when I was 9 when an elderly lady passed out while driving on the interstate & crossed all the way over the grass median & hit us head on on the other side of the interstate. The 2nd when I was 22 & I am still dealing with the injuries from that accident. I was front seat passenger in that one. Also a head-on collision, but this time with a telephone pole. At 149 m.p.h. And then the car flipped several times, miraculously landing upright but backwards into the 2nd telephone pole. Yes, the driver was nuts & I was stupid for getting in the car with him. Thankfully, spoiled brat that he was, had his adopted father's brand new Mercedes 300E. Airbags & everything in 1994. Paramedics told me they got the call describing the scene & they came expecting to recover bodies. "If that had been any other car....." they said. But I digress.
So my daughter's school often relies on parents to drive other kids on field trips. Now I am not suggesting any of these parents are going to drive like the nutjob that almost killed me. But you can't control what someone else on the road is doing! Seems to me that a car accident, the #1 killer of kids 14 & under, is something we should be more concerned about than THE DAMN DRESS CODE for kids 14 & under. But no, that would make TOO MUCH SENSE! AARRGGHH!!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Financial Literacy

Financial literacy needs to be taught in schools. I think this is one of the most important things we could do in public education. What good does it do high school graduates today to know Pre-Calculus (or any number of other subjects) but not understand banking fees or how their credit report works & how they can screw themselves over for life if they mess this up? Don't we have a responsibility to make sure financial literacy is part of Common Core?? Of course it benefits some to keep huge segments of the population in the dark, so they are the ones signing the car loan with a 20% interest rate because they don't understand or think they don't have any other choices.

Some kids will be taught this stuff at home. Many will not & it is unacceptable to disadvantage young people in this way. The ones that are hurt the most are the ones who can least afford to bounce back from a ding on their credit report because they were sold an overdraft line of credit by a pushy bank employee when they didn't fully understand how it works.

I wish the Republican right would realize that while some may benefit making money off payday loans or 20% interest car loans, society as a whole suffers because of this. If kids were taught financial literacy in schools, they would be less likely to go down a road of desperation and mismanaging their financial lives & possibly their lives in general.

Poverty is depressing. Not just for the adults dealing with the stress of poverty but children who grow up in poverty are more likely to repeat the cycle.

Of course no amount of understanding finances will help if one cannot make enough money to live on. I think it is unrealistic for anyone to think you are going to live a super comfy life & support a whole family working a job in retail, etc. But people should be able to support themselves working 40 hours per week, at least affording the basics: food, shelter, ability to go to the doctor when sick.

Perhaps the Republican right could get behind some of these concepts if it is explained to them how each of these things could affect them.  I know, they just have different brains. They lack an empathy gene perhaps? They can only support something if it directly affects them. Dick Cheney not supporting gay rights until his own daughter came out as a lesbian is a perfect example.

So how about this, Republicans? If a restaurant worker is sick but can't afford to stay home much less go to the doctor, you may become sick when they serve you your dinner. Have you ever had a medical emergency but weren't bleeding out in the waiting room so you had to wait 5 hours to see a doctor? Emergency rooms have become the only option for most working poor people without insurance.  Get in line. And pay higher prices. You're indirectly lining the pockets of all the companies like Papa Johns & Wal-Mart who don't pay their employees well & don't provide health insurance.

If we spell things out for them in ways that explain exactly how some of these things can affect them, we might be able to convince a few to support policies that are good for all of society!