Civics Lessons

Our kids have gotten to ages that make it possible to reassert the art of adult conversation around and through dinner and homework help.  Also, we’re desperate, and time is limited.  And as the kids listen to us, they swell with questions.

Recently Nathaniel asked, “Is Dada an immigrant?”  “Yes.”  “Is he an American citizen?”  “No.”  “Am I an immigrant?”  It took me a minute to think of an appropriate response: “Yes, but without most of the difficulties that go along with moving from one country to another.”  I can only imagine what my foreign-born son thinks and feels as he hears that word used by adults around him, or catches the news headlines over my shoulder.

This morning, I called the kids back from their wait for the bus to explain that we wouldn’t be having school today.  Across the state, teachers had walked out after the Kentucky legislature had hurried through a bill that will cut into teacher pensions.  I can’t, in good conscience, encourage my university students to major in education when the pay is low and the government seems inclined to pillage one of the few benefits promised to teachers.  Although Katherine and Nathaniel were inclined to be sad that school was cancelled (Katherine’s class was having a pizza party to celebrate passing multiplication tests), they were surprised to see me staring at my computer and shaking my head as I caught up on the middle-of-the-night legislative move.

Our kids have already listened to me explain that our “non-traditional instruction days” (worksheet packets that replace school in the event of snow days, of which we’ve had 10 this spring) will ensure that the kids who have support at home will do just fine–but that classmates who rely on the structured classroom to keep from falling behind will simply be short two weeks of schooling.  As a teacher, I can’t imagine being replaced with a worksheet that may need to be completed while a student babysits a younger sibling, tags along with parents to work, or helps with snow removal.

So it’s been an interesting spring around here!  Our kids are aware of national politics in the usual vague way, but I’m amazed at how many pieces of the adult world are intruding on the basic elements of their lives.  If there’s much more of this, I’m going to enroll my kids at Asbury so they can take history classes from David and sociology from Lisa, so that they have the tools with which to understand these sudden arrivals in their world.



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