Saturday, February 9, 2008


I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to respond to comments lately; what little time I've had to spare for the online knitting world I've spent keeping up with everyone else's blogs instead of writing email. (This may also have something to do with the fact that every time I open my email inbox, there are upwards of 40 new messages waiting for me, most marked urgent in some way.)

I made it through this week by the skin of my teeth. The homestretch involved a three-hour meeting on Friday afternoon, followed by a mad dash to the girls' school to bring them the shirts they needed for their Carnival performance last night. The carnival turned out to be quite fun, and, to my complete shock (I so rarely win anything), we won something in the raffle. It's a $100 gift certificate to one of those cooking places where you go and assemble meals that can be put in your freezer. I've been marginally curious about them, but given how much I love to cook, and how much I love my kitchen, it's not something I would pay for myself. I don't mind giving it a try, though, under these circumstances.

On another topic completely, I realize that in my angst-ridden state, I may have been misleading about the whole Older Daughter/new school thing. She's not going off to school yet (thank goodness; I'm most definitely not ready for that!), but she is leaving the very small Montessori school where she's been for kindergarten and all of grade school so far, and going to middle school. When I was a young pup, middle school started in seventh grade, but the times, they are a changin', and middle school around here starts in sixth and goes through eighth. Older Daughter is already young for her grade, and she looks particularly young when seen in juxtaposition to eighth graders. The difference in the number of students is also intimidating; she's going from a very small school to one with about 100 students per grade.

We're looking at a local charter school (part of the public school system in California) which goes from 6-12 grade, which will be nice in that once she settles in, she can be at one place until she graduates. The funny thing is how fraught this choice is. I know that I'm sounding fixated on the past here, but it seems to me that people didn't fret about grade school through high school choices so much when I was in school; college was the big one that everyone worked towards. But now, everyone I know is worrying about whether they're choosing the right place for their child, and whether they'll be appropriately challenged, and not exposed to the wrong kinds of information/people/bad influences. So some part of me feels like I should be panicking, too, and another part of me feels like Older Daughter is going to be fine wherever she is. Speaking for myself, I went through the full gamut of possibilities when I was in school: a small private, religious grade school, all-girls high school for two years, then a large public high school, small private college, huge public graduate school. And in each of those places, there were kids who worked hard, and kids who partied, teachers who expected a lot of their students and got it, and teachers who clearly didn't care and let us slide through. It's true that the private schools had a higher percentage of the former kind of teachers, but the break-down wasn't one-to-one by any means. See what I mean? I keep talking myself into knots over this, even though I know what we're going to do.

I think part of it has to do with the way other people talk about these choices, and feel free to say less-than-supportive things about choices different from their own. Oddly, in a serendipitous coincidence, the Yarn Harlot has been posting lately about people who feel free to say things that seem less than productive in a conversation; that is, things that aren't unproductive simply because they're mean or rude, but because they genuinely do not move the conversation forward in any way. I thought a lot about what she said, because I have definitely been the target of my share of such comments (I'm sure we all have), and over the years, I've come to the conclusion that a lot of them, at least, are things that people say because they're trying to justify their own decisions to themselves. Speaking only for myself, I know that there's something reassuring about having someone whose opinion I value make the same kind of decision I'm making; it feels like a form of validation. On the flip side, though, that can mean that when that same person makes a very different decision than I have or would make, it can feel like a challenge. Even when I know darned well that it's got nothing to do with me. (That, by the way, is a mantra that hit me a few years ago that I think has made me a much less defensive person: "It's not about me", because so often, it just isn't.)

I saw this a lot when the girls were very young and we were living in the Bay Area, which is the home of my heart, and also the home of a lot of very opinionated people who don't mind sharing their opinions. Folks regularly felt compelled to share their ideas of the ways in which I was parenting right or wrong. I remember one time in particular when I was at the park on a weekday morning with a moms group, and a man walked up to us and said, "Now this is how it should be. Moms who stay home with their kids, breastfeeding, instead of putting them into daycare. This is how people should parent. It's really bad for babies to do it otherwise." He then went on about Penelope Leach, etc etc. The funny thing was that I was working part time (just happened to have that morning off), and was not able (for medical reasons not worth going into right now) to breastfeed. At the time, it was devastating. Now, I'm pretty sure that I can safely say, "It's not about me."

All of this is a very long-winded way of saying that when some of my friends ask very pointed questions about where Older Daughter will be going to school, or when they say that I may make this choice now, but in a year or two I'll be running from this school screaming, I think that I can probably safely say, "It's not about me." (To be fair, when I overjustify our decision, as I'm doing here, that is all about me; must work on that.) She's going to be fine, and we're going to be fine.

OK, angst over. As I mentioned the other day, I have been knitting through all of this (stressful meetings are good for that at least). Much earlier, I finished the first of the Rockin' Sock Club socks, and started the second. I can't for the life of me find light good enough to show you how rich this colorway is, and how beautifully it knitted up, but here's a try.
The shortrow heel turned out very well; I haven't always liked them, but this one had no holes, and looks very neat.
The star toe (of which I don't have a picture) looks very pretty, and I'm glad that I did it, but of course we all know that for me there's always the disappointment of not being able to use kitchener stitch to finish off a sock. I promptly cast on for the second one, and then a shiny object distracted me, in the form of the SoSquare socks that Anne's designing right now. Of course, she had to tell me that she was working on them, and that they'd be perfect for Rick, and that the pattern might just need a test-knitter, and I was off. (I've taken to calling her Naughty Anne, to distinguish her from Cyber-Twin Anne, because she's so good at appearing with just the pattern I'm dying to knit, at just the moment that I want to knit it.) So I finished the first one last night, and it turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself.

OK, obnoxiously enough, Blogger won't let me access photos any more. What is that about? And after I checked with Anne to see if I could show you pictures, and all. Grrr... Well, if you go to her site (linked above), you can see her beautiful So Square Socks, which are a very fun and quick knit, and which fit like a dream. And I will come back and edit this to include pictures when Blogger gets a clue.

Added later:
And here's the pattern closer up:
That's Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn. I'll post the details later.


adrienne said...

i think your single "serendipity" is absolutely the mostest beautiful thing in the whole wide world!!! VBG!

an unbiased opinion,if there ever was one!

hope your next week allows you more knit time.

Anonymous said...

I completely understand the angst concerning school decisions. I ran into that while I was still pregnant, believe it or not. The folks in Boston were nuts (no offensive to Bostonians--these were mostly people from other places), because waiting lists for the "good" daycares and "good" preschools were so long that you had to get on them while you were still pregnant. How could I make a decision about my kid when I hadn't even seen my kid yet? That was just nuts.

My first decision for daycare was an agonizing one, but it turned out beautifully. Although the place I chose was a "no-name" place, definitely not on the "in" list, it was absolutely perfect. Both my children had a wonderful time there, and their daycare provider became a dear and trusted friend.

When there is so much pressure from your own social circle and from the greater community to worry about such things, it really is hard to resist that. But you've been parenting long enough to trust your instincts. Very few decisions are permanently damaging--just as very few decisions are the single "right" one to make. You know your daughter best, and you know best what you're looking for in her education. All the others (well-intentioned or not) can go take that proverbial leap! :)

Rachael said...

Well, I know you know, working in higher ed as well, that the parents involvement in the child's education (period) has much more to do with their success in the long run than WHERE they go to school.

I know that's not a helpful statement in a decision making way, and I'm sure it is agonizing, but what I mean to say is that rest assured that the fact that you care SO MUCH will make a much bigger difference in her life, education, and eventual happiness as an adult than if you sent her to the *best* prep school in the country.

I'm sure there are kids at those schools who would do anything for their parents to care more about their happiness in general and less about appearance and the one- up-manship that can come with all that.

Stell said...

Oh school selection angst, I went to 8 different schools, and really want a nice settled and intelligent friendly space for my kids - Toby is also shifting from Montessori to standard state school this year, which is sad, I love the M philosophy but it just isn't offered here for kids his age. Tess is a neat kid, and you will make a good choice, and if it doesn't work out that well, you will continue to make good choices for her and with her until she can make her own. Its the worry and the prep and the caring about her as a person that make you a good parent - don't ever worry about doing that, I'd worry if you were not worried about the choices you need to make.

Hope there is more knitting time next week.

Heddy said...

Hi, My birthday was Feb. 2nd too ! I was away for a week, and catching up on my reading and thought "Cool! - a birthday twin!" and thought I should wish you a belated happy birthday!

Bea said...

I've got the comment page open in a different tab so I can read, comment, read, comment, read, comment because this post is long.

Yay! for winning a prize!!

I think you are right that your daughter will be fine no matter the choice you make. I love the idea of the charter school. She'll make good friends and keep them all the way up. Which is nice. More personal I think. Its such a hard decision so I can see why you are waffling. Glad you have a good idea what you'd like to do!

The socks that rock sock looks great. Love the patterning and the beautifully done heel. Now that sock from Anne is wonderful as always. Such a guy sock too. Might have to show it to Chris, but only after I knit some shorter socks first. These seem to go on and on and on...

Happy evening to you!

hopalong682003 said...

Hi. Thanks for the kind comments and restaurant suggestions that you left on my blog. I still haven't figured out how to respond to comments via e-mail rather than posting directly in my blog comments. There's got to be a way!!!

Congrats on winnng the prize. You'll have to let us know how it turns out.

Marianne said...

Congrats on the prize, and hoping you'll post about the experience.

Gee, it never occurred to me that you wouldn't know 'best' about parenting those girls of yours...or that you hadn't already taken into account various issues regarding your choice. I do like the idea of the charter school and staying in one school for all those grades.
Gorgeous socks!

Anonymous said...

In this election season, I have noted how much everyone makes of where a candidate stands on an issue rather than how they got there in the first place, which I think is a far more important measure of competence for office. The same thing applies to the school choice - there are lots of good schools, and exactly which one you choose isn't so important as how you choose. From what you've written, you are doing that right - with your daughter's best interests at heart, with a deep thought and consideration, with true concern. To echo others' comments - that is good parenting.

By the way, it's always hardest with the first one. Remember that when your daughter hits age 13!

EGunn said...

Tough decisions! Really, though, the student matters more than the school or the teachers in the long run...there will be opportunities to excel or to fail anywhere your daughter goes. Learning to succeed anywhere is part of growing up, which kids seem to handle much better than we adults think they can!

Your socks are beautiful! Hope there's more knitting time and less worrying in the week to come. =)

Alwen said...

What pretty reds in the socks.

I don't want to think about schools right now -- they make my stomach hurt.

Willow said...

Schools: I'm glad I'm beyond that stage. How well I remember it. Looking back, I know we made good decisions generally by looking at the CHILD not the school. You know your daughter best. Small charter schools can be great places b/c the student/teacher ratio is smaller.

Knitting socks helps with the stress. Keep on knitting! They are lovely.