Monthly Archives: September 2009

Dear Neighbor

Dear Neighbor One,

The proper words would have been “thank you.”  After all, I did you a favor the other day. You had driven to pick your daughter up from school because you were supposed to take one of her classmates home. Your poor daughter was distraught with tears streaming down her face because she did not want to ride home, she wanted to walk home with her friends. You asked if she could walk home with my son and I. Since we live right next door to you I said, “sure!” and “no problem!”

Your daughter and my son enjoyed the walk home and they played in our back yard for a little while. When you got home you opened my back gate and took your daughter home. I yelled goodbye and waved to you both as you left my yard, but you didn’t so much as turn around to offer a thank you.

I think that’s rude.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Neighbor Two,

You did not give up your babysitter for me. I called to ask if she was available to sit for us and she said was watching your kids during the day but would be free that evening. She even checked with you a second time to be certain you didn’t need her that night so she could sit for me.

But today you said I took your sitter, that you were going to need her all day AND night. You suggested that we share her. Because I’m so nice I’ve agreed to let your kids come over to my house, or my son go over to your house while this nice young lady baby sits all three children.

I’m not thrilled with the arrangement but it will have to do. Mostly I just want to say, who do you think you are? Telling Neighbor Three that I stole your sitter? Really, when were you planning on telling the sitter you needed her that evening? After you failed to come home at the time you’d originally agreed to?

By the way, you don’t pay her nearly enough to watch your kids.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Neighbor Three,

Don’t believe anything Neighbor Two told you about me stealing her sitter. It’s not true.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Neighbor Four,

Hello! I live right next door to you. You can acknowledge me when you see me. You don’t have to pretend I’m invisible. In fact, when I am standing and talking with a group of neighbors, it’s NOT appropriate to ask them as you point to me “What did she say?” You can ask me directly. I speak English.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Neighbor Five,

Please keep an eye on your children. Your three-year old should not have been found all by herself half a mile from your house. I find it disturbing that you had no idea she was gone in the first place.

Your five year old is a cute kid, but he’s legally blind, and therefore should not be riding his bike in the street without supervision. By law, the three year old does not count as supervision. And Neighbor Four isn’t much better as I’ve seen her instruct your kids to cross the street as fast moving cars are approaching.  

Don’t feel too bad about that though.  I don’t think she likes me either.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Neighborhood,

Seriously? What the hell?


Filed under neighbors

Everyday Math

So the new school year has started (Hello Second Grade!) and along with it, homework.  Every night.  Homework.  And it’s really no big deal, this homework.  Except… EVERYDAY MATH.  It’s a math curriculum that was supposedly developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project.  From what I can tell, the University of Chicago is a place where they apparently don’t know shit about math, or how normal people use math in everyday situations.

Case in point, my son’s most recent math homework: a review test to cover the topics that he learned in EVERYDAY MATH back in First Grade.  Topics like telling time, and using hatch marks to count, and filling out number grids, and counting by 2’s and by 5’s, a little bit about money, and simple addition and subtraction.

Here’s the rub.  The simple addition and subtraction problems?  Each one is accompanied by a drawing of a domino with a corresponding number of dots on it.  So 5 + 3 = fill in the blank, has a picture of a domino with 8 dots on it.  Too dumb to memorize or add in your head or count on your fingers, well, search your house for a domino and add up the dots to get your answer.  Because, yeah, that’s how normal people do math everyday, right?  Calculator’s be damned!  But if you can’t find a domino, don’t worry, your math test will have a picture of one on it and you can simply count the dots to get your answer. 

When I was in school, they didn’t put the answer right on the test like that.  If they did, that would have probably been called CHEATING.

But perhaps I’m wrong.  Maybe that’s how you do your taxes every year?  You swipe your child’s train game domino set and start counting the dots while they are wailing in the background about the unfairness of it all?

I say this: you want to teach a child real math?  Math they can use?  Math they can use every day?  Teach them to count on their fingers or give them a calculator.  Both are easier and more portable than a set of dominoes.  Did they not sell calculators in Chicago when they developed this program? Had the creators of the program lost their fingers in some grisly accident?  If so, how did they pick up their dominoes?

And the number grids?  They look like a chunk removed from a blank crossword puzzle, with one number filled in somewhere along all the empty boxes.  Somehow, don’t ask ME how, my son knows that you fill in the horizontal boxes by increasing the numbers by 2 or 5 or something, and the vertical boxes by increasing or decreasing the numbers by 1 or something.  Or maybe I’ve got it reversed.  Or totally wrong.  I don’t do this everyday, so what do I know?  I just know that NEVER IN MY LIFE have I been told to fill out a funky grid like that.

A giant plain number grid that looks like empty graph paper is to be filled in by columns, rather than rows.  It teaches the children to look for patterns.  I contend it’s far easier to count by ones and just go ahead and write: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12….  My son insists THAT TAKES TOO LONG, and instead spends precious minutes (hurry up and finish your homework it’s dinner time and then you’ve got swimming practice!) calculating the number directly under each number.  So the number under 10 will be 20, and directly under that will be 30.  The number under 8 will be 18, then 28, and so on and so forth until he’s filled out each column. OMG THE INSANITY!  My friend’s son, who also contends it takes too long to count by ones, fills out each square several times.  If the number grid goes from 100 to 199, he writes a 1 in each square, then goes back and writes the 2nd  digit in each square, and then finally gets around to writing the 3rd digit in each square.  To that I say, what the hell? and how is that faster? 

Oddly enough, they seem to be teaching the children how to tell time on a clock the normal way, by looking at the hands of the clock.  I’m not sure why they aren’t using sundials or a pendulum clock for this exercise, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did.

And money?  They’ve taught the kids to represent money by drawing circles with letters in them.  A penny is represented on paper with a circle with a P in it. Or sometimes, just the letter P.  A dime, a circle with a D in it, or sometimes, just the letter D.  Learn this, because if it’s truly EVERYDAY MATH, then I suspect the next time you venture into a Walmart, that little smiley face on the blue sign is going to tell you that the dominoes you’ve come to purchase to help you with your child’s math homework cost QQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQDDPPPP, and not $7.99 as you’ve come to expect.


Filed under homework, learning, math