Saturday, June 30, 2007
Potty Mouth, Epiphanies, and Wiggly Little Boys"No two people are alike, and both of them are damn glad of it."
That's a quotation; that's not me saying "damn," although I
But I digress. No two people are alike, but both of them are expected to progress at the same rate by our public schools.
Our children are expected to learn to read and write by a certain age lest they be labeled "special education" and given an IEP and pulled from the classroom to be tutored in the Reading Room. Most of them are little boys.
Old hippies like me sometimes have a hard time admitting that there really are gender differences that no amount of "environment" is going to change. One of those differences is this: a lot of little boys need a few more years than a lot of little girls need, to mature enough so that their bodies and brains can sit still, together, long enough to learn how to read and write. Whether we like it or not, it is a fact that while a lot of little girls are reading "Gone with the Wind," the little boys sitting next to them are still struggling to recognize letter combinations. It is also a fact that some of these little boys who still can't do it in the third grade, or the fourth, somehow have their own "epiphany" in the middle grades; something in their brain becomes aware of symbols and their meanings and how to translate them to Harry Potter. It wasn't that these little boys didn't TRY down in the lower grades; it was that their bodies and brains weren't THERE yet.
I saw this miracle happen over and over again. With my own eyes I saw it. Sometimes, when I tried to tell other teachers, especially elementary teachers, about this awakening, they did not believe me. "I had that boy in third grade and I'm telling you, Jane, that he just doesn't have what it takes to be a reader, a good student. He just can't do it."
And I'm telling you, Madeline, that I don't give a rat's ass* what the child did in your class. I am trying to tell you that in my class, the boy can read. One week he couldn't, and the next week, he could. And he's ecstatic.
My point? Do I have to have one? I guess I could drag one in by the hind legs if you must have a point. How about this one:
Hold off on the IEP's and the labeling until the kid is in middle school. Tutor, yes. Give special help, yes. Hang a label on his forehead and put it in his permanent record? Not so fast there, Teach. Don't do it Not yet. Not just for reading. Save the labeling for the children who genuinely need the help; don't fill up the room with little boys who just need a few more years to mature.
Same-sex classrooms in the lower grades? Why not? It might work. It would certainly be better for the little girls who, most of them, just naturally catch on to the reading faster; they could move on! It would be better for the little boys, too; they wouldn't feel pressured and might get comfortable enough to relax and blossom, too.
Many of our most highly esteemed scientists, inventors, etc, were late bloomers. Edison wasn't even allowed to continue at his school; he was so slow, he held the others back!
Let's give our little boys a break, what say, people?
And by the way, taking away a child's recess because he couldn't finish his vocabulary words quickly is cruel and unusual punishment. I suppose the boy would then be punished because he was extra wiggly since his 'outlet' was taken from him? Energetic little children NEED to be let loose on the playground several times a day!!! Taking away recesses for punishment or to make more room for standardized test review is the action of a
I put up with this for 26 years. No wonder I had a potty mouth.
And by the way, this guv'ment standard of requiring our tiny first and second graders to sit still for NINETY MINUTES and read without interruption is ignorance in action on the part of whoever thought that one up. Tell me, Mr. Standards: Can YOU sit absolutely still for ninety minutes and read without interruption? I thought not.
*Dammit **, there I go again.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
"Unity in Diversity"
Well now, let's see. . . tonight in class we discussed Madame C.J. Walker, societies that require your father's best friend to father your first child, cultures that encourage little boys to beat up on their parents, men who offer their wives to overnight guests, tribes that stress equivalency and have no idea what "competition" means, the original meaning of the swastika, why FDR was usually photographed sitting down and why he would probably not be elected nowadays, the reason some cultures discourage sexual relations between a man and his breastfeeding wife for at least two years postpartum, how the Enola Gay got its name, possible reasons why Hiroshima's population stuck around even after reading the warnings that were dropped all over the city via airplane a few days before the bomb was dropped, and how all these things had something in common and were relevant to us personally.
This is a far cry from "Some Kid's Dog Ran Off And He's Sad About It," "World War Two In Three Paragraphs," "Two Dozen Stories About Typical American Neighborhoods Featuring Life In Some Culture You've Never Heard Of Instead Of Your Own," "Famous American Authors Except For Twain, Faulkner, Ferber, Wilder, Frost, Sandburg, Hemingway, Irving, Poe, Cooper, Emerson, Bronte, Dickinson, Miller, Alcott, Stowe, Keller, Bradstreet, Penn, Edwards, Franklin, Paine, Bryant, Hawthorne, Longfellow, Beecher, Whittier, Holmes, Dana, Thoreau, Melville, Whitman, Lowell, Wallace, Hart, Lanier, Bierce, James, Garland, Wharton, Henry, Herrick, Robinson, Tarkington, Crane, Dreiser, Dunbar, Cather, Lowell, Stein, Service, London, Anderson, Sinclair, Stevens, Keller, Teasdale, Wylie, Lardner, Untermeyer, Kilmer, Benet, Jeffers, Moore, Richter, Millay, Coffin, Buck, Thurber, Cummings, West, Smith, Warren, Stuart, Michener, Bishop, Williams, White, McCullers, Brooks, Asimov, Dickey, Lee, Updike, Elliott, Fitzgerald, or anyone who looks like them," and "A Complete History of the United States from the Revolutionary War to the Present, the Present Being 1976 and With That Never-Explained Gap Between The Civil War and Vietnam."
So there I am, Diet Coke in hand, discussing things that were a far cry from the bland dumbed-down culturally nonexistent textbooks being disdained and vandalized and lost right and left by bland, dumbed-down kids who figured, and rightly so, that if the penalty for chewing gum was the same as the penalty for standing up and really raising hell then why not go for the big time, discussing, sincerely and actually discussing interesting things, with students whose Big Macs, fries, candy bars, cokes, and, yes, gum, were not in the least distracting and, in fact, made them perk up and pay even better attention, and man that food smelled good but I had no money and couldn't buy any but most people are smart enough to understand that that's how it is sometimes and no, I was NOT tempted to nor forced by my cultural norms to reach over and steal someone else's food because it was so not fair that they had some and I didn't. . . .
What was I talking about? Oh yes.
We had a hella good time tonight, and when it was nine and the campus tried to close down, we were still there talking.
Not one of my students tonight had ever heard of Madame C.J. Walker. I was appalled. She lived less than a hundred miles from the campus and she was big-time, I'm tellin' ya.
I love our textbook. It is absolutely CRAMMED with fascinating things. And it's so well edited that the students think so, too.
Thank you, ABLongman Publishing.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Monday, June 25, 2007
The Dead Shall Live AgainAfter the thunderstorms of the past two days, my "dead" rosebushes came back to life.
Come to find out, they need water on a regular basis. Who knew?
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Mamacita's In A Mood Again. Tread Carefully.When my phone rings in the pre-dawn hours (before noon) and I answer it and hear a recording that says "Please hold for an IMPORTANT MESSAGE!), I never hold. I slam the receiver down and loathe you, sight and name unseen. How dare you call me and give me a recording? I do not wait for a recording. If you want my business, have a real person call me. And if your robot leaves me a message and asks me to call THIS NUMBER, as SOON as POSSIBLE, don't wait around too long because it ain't going to happen.
I know who you are, Chase Bank. And I don't know what you want, but I really don't care. And you must not either, overmuch, because you are letting a robot call me over and over and over again instead of hiring a real person to do it. Oh, and if you try to tell me that you're saving ME money by doing that, forget it. Whatever it is that you want from me, you're not getting it, because I don't do recordings, I only do people.
Interpret that any way you want.
And while I'm already having a hissy fit here, I also loathe websites that make me get a login and password to read them. I am not referring to personal blogs; sometimes it's necessary for those to be picky about their readership - I'm referring to when I google for something and I think I've found it but when I click on the website it's some newspaper or 'private' thing and they want me to 'join' and get a login and password and give them my name and address and phone number if I want to read it, which, by that time, I am no longer interested and won't be arsed to bother, because why would I waste my time jumping through hoops for a local newspaper or somebody's idea of an elitist newsletter when I can just look a little further down the Google page and click on something else that is straight-up, contains the same stuff, and likes me enough to let me read it without a lot of fuss and bother?
Newspapers are wondering why their readership is down, and wondering why more people don't read the online version of the paper, and I can answer that question: almost every newspaper article I've tried to read online wants me to give them a lot of personal information, and then log in with a SN and password each time, and I won't do it.
I'm not finished whining yet.
I love to comment on websites of interest to me, but I won't do it if I'm asked to get a login and password. Again, I'm not referring to private blogs that might NEED some privacy for various very good reasons; I'm mostly talking about public websites that only allow "Members" to comment.
I won't become a member of a website just so I can say, "Well put, and I agree completely!" Maybe that's why these websites don't get a lot of comments like that.
My legs are covered with bloody gashes and the shower curtain in the company bathroom is starting to look a bit lacy and I'm not sure the kittens have pooped at all today since I moved the litter box down to the laundry room and their farts are really quite terrible but even so, they are the purry-est, lovey-est, snuggly-est 'ittle kittie girls what ever graced a home.
Mmmmm, baby kittens. I feel all better now.
I still hate recorded messages and snotty login/password websites, though.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
A Good Mommy Would Know These ThingsThe phonebook on my cell phone has been wiped clean. If you are someone who had trusted me with your phone numbers, please email them to me again?
How can I
This plea is for both friends AND family. Hey, it's not like I write these things down on paper any more, you know. And I was never able to memorize numbers.
By "family," I mean my children, too. Sorry, my darlings, but Mommy doesn't know YOUR phone numbers, either.
Oh, and Mom? Ditto.
Thank you all.
Friday, June 22, 2007
This Is All Your Fault, Scotty
I was addicted to a soap opera once. It was back in the eighties, and I had just been RIF'd from my teaching job. I had a new baby, a two-year-old, and a 12-inch black-and-white tv on a little gold stand in the living room of our tiny house. Out in the front yard was a tower antenna with most of the spikes missing, and on top of the little tv was a box with a dial, that didn't work. This was mostly because A. it was all just too old, and B. most of the antenna spikes were missing, and C. the tower antenna had been 'modified;' ie, all the insulated wires had been pecked through by the woodpeckers who didn't know the difference between a steel tower antenna and a tree. (Their bang-bang-clanging on the metal tower 24/7 was really annoying, but what could we do about it? They were up too high to throw things at, and they did not respond to bribes nor threats.) (I'd tell you what my tiny toddlers called those birds, a few years later, but it's hardly politically correct, and no, they did not learn it from me.) (although, what I called those birds wasn't PC, either.)
Anyway, this little tv got two stations: PBS and Days of Our Lives.
So, after Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, and the Electric Company (which was THE GREATEST!!!!!) ("What about Naomi?") (the baby was really too little but I wasn't.) Belle and Zappa and I would play a little, they would sleep a VERY little, I would do a little housework, I would feed them a little, we would play a little more, and finally, FINALLY, it would be my turn. Days of Our Lives. Like sands through the hourglass. Liz and Neil. Doug and Julie. (Doug and Julie's mom were before my time.) Doug and Lee. Doug and Julie again. Neil and Marie. Liz and Tony. Tony and Anna. Tony and Liz. Anna and some thugs who put scars on her back but Tony never seemed to notice even when he was in the bathtub with her. Hope, who grew to adulthood in about three months. Etc.
I was so addicted, that when I was called back to work that next school year, I panicked. How would I know what was happening with my soap?
So I subscribed to Soap Opera Digest.
When the first one came in the mail, I was horrified for two reasons: A. all it contained was old stuff that I'd already SEEN, for crying out loud, and B. I had subscribed to SOAP OPERA DIGEST.
What had happened to me?
So I let it run out and never subscribed again, not even when the Soap Opera Digest hit-squad started phoning me and sending me letters promising freebies if I'd come back to the
But I never did. I never even think about it now.
P.S. Until my friend Scott started blogging about how ANNA is back on Days, and now I'm remembering how cool it used to be before all the soap stars were sixteen years old and possessed by the devil.
P.P.S. I'm not going to start watching, though. I am going to use Scott as my informer.
P.P.P.S. Thanks, hon.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Is Anybody Really Surprised?
|------------------------------------------------------------------------------Your Political Profile:|
Overall: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Social Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Ethics: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Excuse me for just a moment:
YOU WANT PRIVILEGES AND "STUFF" TO FALL FROM THE SKY INTO YOUR LAP WITHOUT YOUR HAVING TO TURN A HAIR TO GET THEM? START RUBBING LAMPS, BOZO. EMERSON WAS RIGHT. "THE HIGHEST PRICE YOU CAN PAY FOR SOMETHING IS TO GET IT FOR NOTHING." HOW MUCH IS YOUR SELF WORTH, WORTH?
ANSWER? "NOTHING," UNLESS YOU EARN EVERY BIT OF IT.
I'm back now. Sorry about the hissy fit up there; sometimes, people who want something for nothing just really get to me. And I've had it up to HERE dealing with people who demand exceptions and privileges and honors they did not earn. And no, I am NOT a cold person.
Why, no, I'm fine, thank you. This is really me. Now you know why I don't do politics as a general rule. It brings out the beast in me.
No, not THAT beast. I'm 667, NEIGHBOR of the beast.
Just kidding. Maybe. Okay, maybe not. Get out there and earn your living. Sorry, didn't mean to yell up there. I feel better, though. Do you feel guilty? I don't.
Monday, June 18, 2007
One Father Speaks Out
Thank you, sir, for sharing this with me, and for allowing me to share it with the Blogosphere.
Thank you, also, for being a good father to your children.
First, a little background: My eldest daughter moved out of the house shortly after her 18th birthday, about 5 years after she stopped talking to us. She just turned 21. About 2 months ago, she dumped her boyfriend (a really nice guy with a safe, boring job who loved her intensely and wanted to marry her) and she headed off to sunny southern CA to live the W-B lifestyle. (This is the girl who, while in high school, decided she wanted to be a gangsta rapper. I tried to tell her that a military brat white girl didn't have the street cred.. base housing wasn't ghetto enough.)
For the first time in her life, she's turned to mom and dad for help. Here's what I sent (along with a check for $1000):
As you are finding out, adulthood constantly brings responsibilities and challenges. Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t. We each have different priorities and often our priorities change as we go through life. Translated, this means that sometime we get beat up pretty badly due to choices we make. Mostly, we survive. Hopefully, we can learn. Sometimes it takes repeated smack downs before we get the right message.
One of the hardest lessons to learn is patience, both with ourselves and with others. We want to be successful in our jobs and with our relationships and we want it NOW! Life isn’t so accommodating. For every choice we make, we must necessarily sacrifice other options. Once we start down certain pathways, it gets really hard to make changes.
I want you to think about the type of person you’re going to be when you’re 25, 30, or 40 years old. I don’t mean what kind of career you’re going to have or what kind of car you’ll be driving. What type of person are you going to be?
You’ve proven that you can be mature and responsible. You’ve also proven that you’ve got a rebellious streak a mile wide. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you’ve got to learn to control it—not letting it control you.
Be careful with alcohol. Your grandmother (my mother) was an alcoholic and a drug addict for a good portion of my childhood. I made the decision even before we (converted) to stay away from alcohol. You haven’t lived through the hell I knew as a child and so you don’t have the experience to know just how evil these addictions are, or how badly they can screw up your life. I would caution you to stay away from alcohol, not just because I believe in the teachings of (our) church, but because I’ve seen up close the damage it does. Of course, you’re going to disregard this advice because you’ve already made the decision that it’s your life and you’re free to screw it up however you choose. Just remember, actions have consequences and there is NOTHING you do that doesn’t affect other people—especially the people who love and care about you. Last words on this subject—if you’re going to drink, don’t drive. Sleep in your car if you have to but don’t think you’re up to handling any type of driving.
If you’re going to sleep around, get yourself tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases. You do not know the guy’s history and when you have sex with him, you’re having sex with every person he’s ever slept with. Unless he’s a virgin or has used a condom every time, he’s going to have some type of STD. There should be a clinic where you can get yourself tested from time-to-time.
If you become pregnant, you mom and I will help you all we can. You should know our views on abortion. Life is precious (you have no idea until you’ve been through the process). (Cousin #1) may tell you it’s no big deal—but she’s hardly a moral authority. My perspective is abortion is a form of murder and I would mourn the same as if someone had deliberately killed (little sister #1) or (little sister #2) or you. It would change everything. We can live through a pregnancy, and we’d support a decision for keeping the baby or for adoption. I’m not sure I’d be able to handle having a daughter who, having been taught all her life about the sanctity of life, would deliberately choose such an option. Abortion is a pure selfishness and I would hope that should you find yourself faced with the choice, that you would choose life. Anything else you do in life can be forgiven. Even a drunk driving accident that kills a child can be forgiven. But, despite what society and T.V. may portray, abortion is the premeditated murder of an innocent. This I believe in my bones, even without my faith.
Okay, I’ve paid $1000 for the privilege of passing on my advice. Take from it what you will. I guess every father apologizes for not being the perfect father so there’s no need for me to go down the path of “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you when….” Let’s face it, we both have sufficient problems. Probably the only person I’ve ever met who had her own head screwed on right is your mother. She’s tried her best to help me keep my own rebellious nature in check—not always succeeding. I have my own problems with which I struggle daily.
Now that I’ve covered my major concerns, I few words of practical advice:
Surround yourself with good music. Find music that makes you feel good about yourself. Load up your mp3 player with all types of songs. Find a radio station.
Pay attention to the news—be aware that you may only be getting part of a story. Listen to other people’s opinions, but learn to form your own based on the facts (as you understand them). If new facts come to light that affect your opinion, then change your opinion.
God can not be disproven (you can’t really ever say “I know God does not exist”—you can’t prove His absence based upon your limited abilities). My personal testimony is useless to you. It’d be like trying to describe a rainbow to a blind girl. Until you’ve seen the rainbow for yourself, it’ll never be real for you. The problem is, what if you look for God and he’s actually there? That means you’ll have to readjust your life because there’s no escape ONCE YOU KNOW. As long as you don’t look, you’re not in any danger of finding God. Of course, that doesn’t mean that He isn’t going to reach down some day and swat you. You’ll know it when it happens. It’s happened to me several times.
You may not care for it, but your sisters look up to you. They idolize you. They miss you and love you terribly. Be nice to them. I’ve sent some extra money so you can do something nice for (little sister #2) when you see her. Give your uncle **** (and Aunt *****) a call. He’s willing to bring (little sister #2 visiting LA for the summer) down to you, or to meet you somewhere. He’s looking for an excuse to come down to the zoo or Sea World (he mentioned he’s got some passes). If you’ve got the chance, go to Sea World. Uncle **** is also offering you to stay with them for a couple days (or just overnight) if you can make it up to (city near LA). (Little sister #2) is really homesick right now and would really love to just visit with you. She’ll make crepes for you. With strawberries.
Perhaps things might have been different if only…..
But let’s face it, when you lived at home, there was nothing we could tell you then that you would listen to.
One last thing to remember. If you’re looking for a stable relationship, you’re not going to find it where you’re currently looking. Exciting is nice for a weekend or a month. But real relationships, lasting loving relationships, are built over time and rely on emotional stability, humor, trust, mutual sacrifice, and work. Trust me on this. Do you think it’s an accident or dumb luck that your mother and I are still married? You haven’t paid attention to my family, but I’ve seen why my father, my mother, my brothers: ***, *** and ***, and both my sisters: *** and ***; I’ve seen up close why their marriages have failed and I’ve learned from their mistakes. Look at (female cousin #1) and (female cousin #2) for more examples of seriously wrong life decisions.
Do you really want to be happy? Are you willing to do the work required to bring happiness or do you want someone else to bring you happiness on a platter? If you’re waiting for the latter, you’re in for a lot of grief and pain and years of loneliness.
We love you and want you to succeed. Someday, when you honestly want our advice (instead of us buying the privilege), we’ll be here for you. If you can learn to forgive and to trust us.
Love, love, love always,
Dad and Mom
Some of us are trying, and praying very hard, for our children. I don't come from a large family--it's just that my mother was married 4 times, my father 3 times. I've only got 1 brother where we share the same parents--the other 4 brothers and 2 sisters are half-siblings. You don't want to know about the constant parade of step-siblings as I was growing up. Americans don't have family trees anymore--it's now crabgrass.
You have my permission to post this e-mail in it's entirety or edited for brevity. Perhaps someone else can take these words and use them, or find comfort that they are not alone as they pray for wayward children. And for all the fathers out there who find it hard to say the words but want to let your children know you love them, I feel the same way. If I had to try and say this stuff over the phone or face-to-face, I'm not sure I'd be able to. I'd stammer and blush and turn gruff.
My two younger daughters are gone for the summer--one in LA, the other at my sister's ranch in New Mexico. The house is so very quiet and I miss them all terribly, even the eldest daughter who hated us for so long and is now turning to us for help.
Again, I thank you for allowing us to share your letter.
Happy Birthday To My Beautiful Daughter
Happy Birthday to my beautiful Belle.
<--This was her first, and Friday was her latest. I won't post her age on here, but she's over 21 if anyone needs to know.
I would have posted then, but I knew she was leaving for Wisconsin with her friends and I can't ever remember that she's got a laptop until I see her with it.
Man, I wish I could win a trip like that! Way to go, Sara's friend-who-won-the-week-long-vacation-and-is-sharing-it-with-my-baby!
Everybody be careful way up there, you hear me?
My cousin C gave me that backpack after her three sons were finished with it, and I wore it for many years, even after my kids were really too old for a backpack. When I got home from school, I wanted them near me, so I would put one baby in the backpack and the other baby in a frontpack and get dinner, wash dishes, etc, wearing two babies. Even now, all these years later, I still catch myself humming and swaying when I stand at the kitchen sink, from sheer force of habit. I also stand a distance away from the sink, from force of that same habit, because you can't belly right up to the bar when there's a baby in the way.
"Belly" has a whole 'nuther meaning now, I'm afraid.
Of course, THEN it was sweet, and now it just makes me seem crazy, but oh well.
Happy Birthday, my princess. I hope you're all having a blast in that ritzy condo up there. Take pictures. Call home a lot. Don't forget, you have to tell Mommy EVERYTHING.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Love Alone Can Awaken LoveThis is, technically, a Christmas story, but I always think of it as a Father's Day story. It's about love, pure love. It's about the love of a man for his wife, which became possible because of the love of a father for his son.
This is one of my favorite short stories. It was in the Literature book my 6th graders used for many years; I was sorry to see that for the latest edition, new my last year of teaching public school, the editors had chosen to remove this story. Their reasoning? "Too many kids these days have no father and would probably not understand the story."
I am horrified.
Here is the story that was removed from this Literature series. I hope you all love it as much as I do.
Happy Father's Day, Dad. I never once heard you say that you loved any of us, but I always knew you did because of your actions. And sometimes, in spite of your actions.
Christmas Day in the Morning
By Pearl S. Buck
He woke suddenly and completely. It was four o'clock, the hour at which his father had always called him to get up and help with the milking. Strange how the habits of his youth clung to him still! Fifty years ago, and his father had been dead for thirty years, and yet he waked at four o'clock in the morning. He had trained himself to turn over and go to sleep, but this morning it was Christmas, and he did not try to sleep.
Why did he feel so awake tonight? He slipped back in time, as he did so easily nowadays. He was fifteen years old and still on his father's farm. He loved his father. He had not known it until one day a few days before Christmas, when he had overheard what his father was saying to his mother.
"Mary, I hate to call Rob in the mornings. He's growing so fast and he needs his sleep. If you could see how he sleeps when I go in to wake him up! I wish I could manage alone."
"Well, you can't, Adam." His mother's voice was brisk. "Besides, he isn't a child anymore. It's time he took his turn."
"Yes," his father said slowly. "But I sure do hate to wake him."
When he heard these words, something in him spoke: his father loved him! He had never thought of that before, taking for granted the tie of their blood. Neither his father nor his mother talked about loving their children--they had no time for such things. There was always so much to do on the farm.
Now that he knew his father loved him, there would be no loitering in the mornings and having to be called again. He got up after that, stumbling blindly in his sleep, and pulled on his clothes, his eyes shut, but he got up.
And then on the night before Christmas, that year when he was fifteen, he lay for a few minutes thinking about the next day. They were poor, and most of the excitement was in the turkey they had raised themselves and mince pies his mother made. His sisters sewed presents and his mother and father always bought him something he needed, not only a warm jacket, maybe, but something more, such as a book. And he saved and bought them each something, too.
He wished, that Christmas when he was fifteen, he had a better present for his father. As usual he had gone to the ten-cent store and bought a tie. It had seemed nice enough until he lay thinking the night before Christmas. He looked out of his attic window; the stars were bright.
"Dad," he had once asked when he was a little boy, "What is a stable?"
"It's just a barn," his father had replied, "like ours."
Then Jesus had been born in a barn, and to a barn the shepherds had come....
The thought struck him like a silver dagger. Why should he not give his father a special gift too, out there in the barn? He could get up early, earlier than four o'clock, and he could creep into the barn and get all the milking done. He'd do it alone, milk and clean up, and then when his father went in to start the milking he'd see it all done. And he would know who had done it. He laughed to himself as he gazed at the stars. It was what he would do, and he musn't sleep too sound.
He must have waked twenty times, scratching a match each time to look at his old watch -- midnight, and half past one, and then two o'clock.
At a quarter to three he got up and put on his clothes. He crept downstairs, careful of the creaky boards, and let himself out. The cows looked at him, sleepy and surprised. It was early for them, too.
He had never milked all alone before, but it seemed almost easy. He kept thinking about his father's surprise. His father would come in and get him, saying that he would get things started while Rob was getting dressed. He'd go to the barn, open the door, and then he'd go get the two big empty milk cans. But they wouldn't be waiting or empty, they'd be standing in the milk-house, filled.
"What the--," he could hear his father exclaiming.
He smiled and milked steadily, two strong streams rushing into the pail, frothing and fragrant.
The task went more easily than he had ever known it to go before. Milking for once was not a chore. It was something else, a gift to his father who loved him. He finished, the two milk cans were full, and he covered them and closed the milk-house door carefully, making sure of the latch.
Back in his room he had only a minute to pull off his clothes in the darkness and jump into bed, for he heard his father up. He put the covers over his head to silence his quick breathing. The door opened.
"Rob!" His father called. "We have to get up, son, even if it is Christmas."
"Aw-right," he said sleepily.
The door closed and he lay still, laughing to himself. In just a few minutes his father would know. His dancing heart was ready to jump from his body.
The minutes were endless -- ten, fifteen, he did not know how many -- and he heard his father's footsteps again. The door opened and he lay still.
His father was laughing, a queer sobbing sort of laugh.
"Thought you'd fool me, did you?" His father was standing by his bed, feeling for him, pulling away the cover.
"It's for Christmas, Dad!"
He found his father and clutched him in a great hug. He felt his father's arms go around him. It was dark and they could not see each other's faces.
"Son, I thank you. Nobody ever did a nicer thing--"
"Oh, Dad, I want you to know -- I do want to be good!" The words broke from him of their own will. He did not know what to say. His heart was bursting with love.
He got up and pulled on his clothes again and they went down to the Christmas tree. Oh, what a Christmas, and how his heart had nearly burst again with shyness and pride as his father told his mother and made the younger children listen about how he, Rob, had got up all by himself.
"The best Christmas gift I ever had, and I'll remember it, son, every year on Christmas morning, so long as I live."
They had both remembered it, and now that his father was dead, he remembered it alone: that blessed Christmas dawn when, alone with the cows in the barn, he had made his first gift of true love.
This Christmas he wanted to write a card to his wife and tell her how much he loved her; it had been a long time since he had really told her, although he loved her in a very special way, much more than he ever had when they were young. He had been fortunate that she had loved him. Ah, that was the true joy of life, the ability to love. Love was still alive in him, it still was.
It occurred to him suddenly that it was alive because long ago it had been born in him when he knew his father loved him. That was it: Love alone could awaken love. And he could give the gift again and again.This morning, this blessed Christmas morning, he would give it to his beloved wife. He could write it down in a letter for her to read and keep forever. He went to his desk and began his love letter to his wife: My dearest love...
Such a happy, happy Christmas!
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Late Night, WalMart-StyleFirst of all, nice people do not go to the WalMart deli an hour before it closes, on a Saturday night when the store is teeming and overflowing with people, half of whom are in line at the deli, and demand that the one lone overworked deli lady fix a large meat, cheese, and fruit party tray for "right now." Nice people order those a day or so ahead of time, you inconsiderate moron. Also, nice people do not yell at the one lone overworked deli lady and accuse her of being too lazy to serve you when she explains that since she's alone and there are so many customers waiting, she just doesn't have time to fix you a party tray. You are a witless wonder, you are. The brochure in your hand specifically stated that it's wise to order such things well in advance. But then, there was no picture to accompany it; you would have had to READ WORDS. Excuse me for not recognizing your obvious multiple comprehension disabilities and your RBS*, which, of course, explains your behavior quite clearly.
That she was working behind that huge deli alone was not her fault; it was the fault of the store manager, obviously a nitwit, so back off the deli lady and let her help the nice people. She's got enough problems trying to deal with a manager so stupid that he puts one person behind the busiest part of the store on the busiest night of the week; she doesn't need your disgraceful display of bad manners and culture-less vocabulary.
Nice people do not allow their children to skate like speed demons all over the store on those repulsive sneakers with little wheels in the heels, either. Nobody was surprised to learn that these nasty little children belonged to the nasty people who reamed out the lone overworked deli lady.
Who invented those sneakers-with-wheels? I hate you. Parents who see nothing wrong in allowing their kids to skate all over the store on these sneakers-with-wheels? There are no words strong enough to convey my disdain for you.
Parents who turn their kids loose in a big store and let them run wild? I hate you, too.
Kids who open packages in a store? Blech. Kids who sit down in the aisle and play roughly with toys that are not theirs? BlechBlech. Bad parents. BAD parents!
Parents who let their kids eat unpaid-for merchandise? coughcoughcoughthiefcoughcough.
Parents who give their child an unpaid-for toy and let him/her play with it/drool on it/chew on it/mess it up, to keep him/her occupied while riding in the cart, and then, at the checkout, leave it behind? You've got RBS*, too.
It is not because of any of the many political issues that I hate WalMart; it is because the store is always full of clientele that were obviously not raised by MY mother.
Anybody raised by my mother knows how to behave in public, by golly.
I wish all the well-behaved people would rise up in protest, and refuse to let businesses of any kind, who allow public misbehavior in their buildings without calling the miscreants on it, get any of their money. That would severely limit our buying for a while, but maybe after a while the managers would catch on and throw the bums OUT.
I'm always a little twitchy after a WalMart run. It'll wear off in a while.
*Rude Bastard Syndrome
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Where Are All The Fathers?
Sunday is Father's Day. My father died several years ago, a long, slow, drawn-out process that left my mother and my siblings and I drained and sad, and grateful when the final ending finally ended. I loved my father, with all his faults, and charms, and whimsicalities, and more faults, and understanding, and lack of understanding, and singing, and poetry, and callousness, and sensitivity, and many other adjectives, many contradicting the one before, and all true. With his older children, he was a fantastic father. With the younger siblings, his various illnesses had started to affect him, even before we realized it, and things in the house were different. Some of it wasn't his fault, and some of it was. In this way, he was no different than any of us.
Whatever may have crossed his mind from time to time, he never entertained the thought of leaving his family. I'm sure he was tempted to, as who isn't? but he had made a promise and he kept it. In my parents' home, promises meant something. On Father's Day, I will think of my father with love and a few head-shakings and a lot of forgiveness and smiling. And, a few things that I haven't forgiven yet.
It is entirely coincidental that our readings today in class were all about parenting, specifically, fathering. Our main reading was a Newsweek essay by psychologist Christopher N. Bacorn. The reading was prefaced by these statistics:
According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, an estimated 24.7 million children (36.3 percent) do not live with their biological fathers. About 40 percent of these children have not seen their fathers during the past year. A heartbreaking number of children have never, nor will they ever, see their fathers. Many do not know who their fathers are. Many of their mothers do not know, either.
"I had seen a hundred like him. He sat back on the couch, silently staring out the window, an unmistakable air of sullen anger about him. He was 15 and big for his age. His mother, a woman in her mid-30s, sat forward on the couch and, on the edge of tears, described the boy's heartbreaking descent into alcohol, gang membership, failing grades and violence. She was small, thin, worn out from frantic nights of worry and lost sleep waiting for him to come home. She had lost control of him, she admitted freely. Ever since his father had left, four years ago, she had had trouble with him. He had become more and more unmanageable, and then, recently, he had hurt someone in a fight. Charges had been filed, counseling recommended.
I listened to the mother's anguished story. "Are there any men in his life?" I asked. There was no one. She had no brothers, her father was dead and her ex-husband's father lived in another state. She looked up at me, her eyes hopeful. "Will you talk with him?" she asked. "Just speak with him about what he's doing. Maybe if it came from a professional. . . ." she added, her voice trailing off. "It couldn't hurt."
I did speak with him. Maybe it didn't hurt, but like most counseling with 15-year-old boys, it didn't seem to help either. He denied having any problems. Everyone else had them, but he didn't. After half an hour of futility, I gave up.
I have come to believe that most adolescent boys can't make use of professional counseling. What a boy can use, and all too often doesn't have, is the fellowship of men - at least one man who pays attention to him, who spends time with him, who admires him. A boy needs a man he can look up to. What he doesn't need is a shrink.
That episode, and others like it, set me thinking about children and their fathers. AS a nation, we are racked by youth violence, overrun by gangs, guns and drugs. The great majority of youthful offenders are male, most without fathers involved in their lives in any useful way. Many have never even met their fathers.
What's become of the fathers of these boys? Where are they? Well, I can tell you where they're not. They're not at PTA meetings or piano recitals. They're not teaching Sunday school. You won't find them in the pediatrician's office, holding a sick child. You won't even see them in juvenile court, standing next to Junior as he awaits sentencing for burglary or assault. You might see a few of them in the supermarket, but not many. You will see a lot of women in these places - mothers and grandmothers- but you won't see many fathers.
So, if they're not in these places, where are the fathers? They are in diners and taverns, drinking, conversing, playing pool with other men. They are on golf courses, tennis courts, in bowling alleys, fishing on lakes and rivers. They are working in their jobs, many from early morning to late at night. Some are home watching television, out mowing the lawn or tuning up the car. In short, they are everywhere, except in the company of their children.
Of course, there are men who do spend time with children, men who are covering for all those absentee fathers. The Little League coaches, Boy Scout leaders, Big Brothers and schoolteachers who value contact with children, who are investing in the next generation, sharing time and teaching skills. And there are many fathers who are less visible but no less valuable, those who quietly help with homework, baths, laundry and grocery shopping. Fathers who read to their children, drive them to ballet lessons, who cheer at soccer games. Fathers who are on the job. These are the real men of America, the ones holding society together. Every one of them is worth a dozen investment bankers, a boardroom full of corporate executives and all of the lawmakers west of the Mississippi.
Poverty prevention: What would happen if the truant fathers of America began spending time with their children? It wouldn't eliminate world hunger, but it might save some families from sinking below the poverty line. It wouldn't bring peace to the Middle East, but it just might keep a few kids from trying to find a sense of belonging with their local street-corner gang. It might not defuse the population bomb, but it just might prevent a few teenage pregnancies.
If these fathers were to spend more time with their children, it just might have an effect on the future of marriage and divorce. Not only do many boys lack a sense of how a man should behave; many girls don't know, either, having little exposure themselves to healthy male-female relationships. With their fathers around, many young women might come to expect more than the myth that a man's chief purpose on earth is to impregnate them and then disappear. If that would happen, the next generation of absentee fathers might never come to pass.
Before her session ended, I tried to give this mother some hope. Maybe she could interest her son in a sport: how about basketball or soccer? Any positive experience involving men or other boys would expose her son to teamwork, cooperation, and friendly competition. But the boy was contemptuous of my suggestions. "Those things are for dorks," he sneered. He couldn't wait to leave. I looked at his mother. I could see the embarrassment and hopelessness in her face. "Let's go, Ma," he said, more as a command than a request. I walked her out through the waiting room, full of women and children, mostly boys, of all ages. Her son was already in the parking lot. I shook her hand. "Good luck, " I said. "Thank you," she replied, without conviction. As I watched her go, my heart, too, was filled with a measure of hopelessness. But anger was there too, anger at the fathers of these boys. Anger at fathers who walk away from their children, leaving them feeling confused, rejected, and full of suffering. What's to become of boys like this? What man will take an interest in them? I can think of only one kind - a judge."
I am really looking forward to next Thursday's essays!
I apologize if I seem a little off kilter tonight. This hasn't been an easy day, and I'm still a bit disoriented. But then, I've never had a student have a heart attack in my classroom before.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Another Mamacita, Who Isn't Joan or Me!How odd to have Google Alerts email me with posts I didn't write, and comments I never said, these past few weeks.
I finally checked it out, and discovered that there is another Mamacita besides Joan and me, and the various miscellaneous women who call themselves mamacitas as a kind of generic term.
Her blog is brand new, and when I get some time, I plan to check it out more thoroughly. It's nothing like mine, or Joan's, but neither of us owns the name "Mamacita," so what can I say?
When you see that "Mamacita" has commented on your blog, however, be sure it's me and not the newbie.
No offense, Newbie.
Hmm, have I been watching too many Scrubs episodes?
P.S. I'm not mad. I'm just surprised.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I've Never Done This Before.I have such respect and liking for Fausta; I consider her a mentor and a role model. Fausta is a highly intelligent lady who is also a kind, thoughtful, and considerate person. I read her blog daily; it's one of my "musts." If I were ever able to populate my local neighborhood with my Blogosphere neighbors, Fausta is a friend I would want very near me. (I've got a list of others I want near me, too. You probably know who you are.)
Fausta has paid me a compliment the height and depth of which have overcome me. I am also scared clean out of my britches, and believe me, that ain't a sight most people would care to see.
She has asked me to be on her next Blog Talk Radio Program with Siggy, another of my idols.
We'll be talking about education, parenting, and, speaking of Fausta and Siggy, role models. There might be some leering involved; I'm making no promises. I will try not to snort or say "shit." I hope I don't belch. I will try to be interesting.
It's this coming Monday, June 11, at 12:00 noon Eastern Time. Tune in and call in!
If you call in and ask me if I'm wearing britches, I'll say "Yes," but since you can't see me you won't really know if I am or not, now willya.
I am, of course, wearing them now. Maybe.
Don't Mess With Me.Why, yes, I HAVE been known to order a Happy Meal so I can give the cool toy to a well-behaved little child right smack in front of an obnoxious little bratty child.
What's that? I'm making the obnoxious little bratty child feel bad about himself?
I don't care.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Some People's Pets Live Like Paris Hilton Used To Live Before She Was Sent BACK To Prison With The Rest Of The Psycho DrunksI am not one of those crazy cat ladies. I know they're animals. I refuse to join the ranks of idiot pet-owners who think their kitties are people.
I have drawn some lines. For example, I will NOT put clothing on my kittens. If they lose their mittens, they'll have to EARN another pair. And when people start ringing the doorbell at all hours of the day and night wanting pawprints and photo ops, I will oblige. For a dollar.
No, my kittie girls are cats, and cats are animals, and animals should not be treated like people.
First of all, I haven't done anything that might be considered "pampering" or "catering" since the three kitties came to live with me.
There is no condo in my living room.
Vera ain't all that cute. I don't pay much attention to her, really.
Helga ain't so purty, either. I never pet her.
Millicent ain't all that, either. Really, I pretty much ignore all three kitties most of the time.
Whenever I sit at my computer, I kick off whatever shoes I'm wearing and usually just leave them under there. In the summer, the shoe-pile consists of dirty sandals. The kittie girls like to nap on top of the shoe-pile. Perhaps they like the smell. . . .
If my feet are still in the shoes under my desk, the kitties sit on top of my feet. Sometimes, they use my legs as a scratching post. I can take a hint. You don't have to push me down the stairs to make a point.
I'll shave my legs already.
Money Talks and Paris WalksI can't blog tonight. I'm too emotional.
Paris Hilton is home at last.
That poor thing, thrust in jail with, with. . . . commoners.
Forced to eat,
She just adores a penthouse view! Darling, she's guilty, but give her Fifth Avenue.
After all, she's not like us. When she drives drunk, you can't expect her to pay the same penalties a normal person would have to pay. No, she's not like us.
She's far trashier than any of us. Think of the stupidest, trashiest, biggest waste-of-earth-space person you've ever seen or heard about in all the years of your life. Now take it down about two hundred levels.
There she is! It's Paris Hilton!
Famous for being famous.
She can't sing. She can't dance. She can't memorize lines and be in a play or show. She doesn't do good works. She isn't seen volunteering at shelters and agencies. She spends thousands of dollars for a hairstyle, and goes out in public looking like a herd of goats nuzzled her head. She can't keep her knees together. She can't hear video cameras humming. She wears clothing that looks like it was pulled out of a dumpster, and pays hundreds of thousands of dollars for it. She doesn't even know that the sentient universe is laughing at her. She doesn't know what "sentient" means. She thinks the French city was named after HER. She thinks she deserves to be above the law, above the rules.
Apparently, that last part is true. What a poor excuse for a judge.
All around us, people are dying; people are starving; people are hurting others, people are oppressing others, earthquakes are leaving people homeless, hurricanes are starting to move in, volcanoes are erupting, rivers are overflowing, children are being sold into slavery, women are tortured and disfigured and raped, homes are being robbed, computers are being hacked, people are telling lies, schools are overcome with mold and rust, babies are being abandoned, men are walking out on their wives and children. . . . but most people only know for sure that Paris Hilton walks free.
What has happened to us as a people, as a society, as the human race, that
There are websites devoted to these moronic nothings. People sign petitions demanding Paris's release from prison! People think Lindsay is a ROLE MODEL for our teens! The fact that Angelina is an adultress with a love child and someone else's husband (at first) is ignored, and she's touted as a hero! My GOD, how did we sink so low?
No, I don't have any ideas tonight. I'm too emotional.
I do have this to say: Medical condition my ass.
Update: She's back in jail. That poor thing.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Thank You For Tagging Me. I Mean That, By The WayI've been tagged a time or two and I like to pay my debts! Some bloggers resent being tagged, but I consider it an honor. Why would I NOT feel good about being tagged? Isn't it a lot like being greeted on the street and asked how I am by somebody who really wants to know?
Unless it's a stupid meme, of course. I've seen a lot of those. Real friends don't tag real friends with Disney princess memes and 'Which breed of hunting dog are you?"
But the Blogosphere has become a comfort zone for many of us these days; we've been here for a few years and we know who our friends are, and who they aren't (more's the pity) and when a friend asks me a question, I'll answer it.
Patriside asked me first, so I'll obey him first. Have I ever NOT obeyed him? He asked me to list eight random facts/habits, so here we go:
1. I like to think that I'm a card shark, but I'm really too insecure to be one. I still smile and pretend I know what I'm doing, though. Sometimes I get lucky.*
2. I thrive in chaos, and when things are quiet and peaceful I can't get anything done.
3. I truly believe that adults should live up to the responsibilities they signed on for, and to renege on them is to lessen one's worth.
4. It is my decided opinion that in public, EVERYBODY should behave themselves: wherever they are, whatever their mood, and whether or not they've had enough sleep or dinner. Unless one is six months old or Trilby, ** behavior is a choice.
5. Without music, I think I would die. I am, however, extremely particular about said music, although I have favorites in every genre. Country and scat jazz, not so much.
6. I am happier when there are fresh flowers in the house. They don't last long, but most lovely things don't. . . .
7. I would kill *** you if you ever laid a violent hand on my children. Or anybody else's children, for that matter, if I could reach you.
8. I loathe my body with a passion few others could possibly understand. It wasn't always so.
* This had a whole 'nuther meaning back in the day.
** Does anybody else remember poor Trilby and the wicked Svengali? (or where that 'quote' came from?)
*** Dead, and I don't mean maybe. People who hurt children for selfish or perverted purposes**** are scum.
**** Same thing.
Thanks, Patriside dear, for including me. After reading my list, I hope I haven't frightened anyone.
Now, sweet Beth has asked me to recycle an old post. How about this one?
Why, yes, I am in a bit of a mood tonight. Thank you for asking.
As for tagging, well, if you want to do either of these, by all means please do. I will love reading what you have to say.
A bit of a mood. Definitely.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
The Post Where I Tell You All How I Help Keep WalMart InefficientI am not a WalMart fan. I'll say it right out.
This town has one of the largest Super WalMarts in the world. Seriously, we do. I still don't care for it.
Oh, I go. (Hula, I GO!) And I always find bargains. (2GB memory cards for $14.95!!!!) But I think what I hate most about WalMart is the waiting.
Today, Hub and I went to WalMart to buy milk, two flats of petunias, and kitty litter. (The Three Graces poop a lot. . . .)
We waited in line at the checkout for over twenty minutes, and it did not move. There was one poor little cashier working the checkouts in the outdoor/garden section, and she was held captive by an old man who couldn't accept the fact that his potting soil coupon wasn't viable. He would not budge, and neither did the long, long line of customers. Several gave up, abandoned their carts, and left the store. Nobody came to help this lady, even though she called for help several times.
We finally went back to the main part of the store and tried to find an open checkout there. Out of about thirty registers, three were open, and all three had lines backed up to Kingdom Come. There were employees everywhere, and nobody to run a register.
This is the same WalMart where, a few weeks ago, Hub watched a grown man have a meltdown over the long lines and ridiculous delays. This man went berserk, in fact, and a WalMart manager actually showed his face and called the police. In this town, it was big news.
Not the berserk customer. The WalMart MANAGER who was actually spotted!
I hate it when frustrated people abuse the cashiers, though. Hey, it's not their fault. Leave them alone!!!!!! They're working as fast as they can, and it's certainly no fun wondering how the next customer is going to yell and place blame and use potty words, just because the cashier is the only handy WalMart representative around. Shame, people.
I'm not sure what the point of this post is, unless maybe it's to laugh at Hub and me a little bit, because, for all of our raised eyebrows and whispered opinions and little games of send-the-manager-to-hell while we waited, the fact remains that we waited, and WalMart got our money anyway.
As long as that keeps happening, why would they hire more cashiers?
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Success Stories.My friend Wes, he who first persuaded me to start this blog several years ago, and his lovely wife Jawa Girl, stopped by this afternoon to see
Today, though, we talked about little kittens, families, travel, gravy, and old friends (specifically, one I saw at Snow's today: Hi, Brian!
I have a lot of former students who are professional musicians, in one way or another. Yes, I take full credit. I did my best to expose them to live theatre and music, in the public school's teeth, and it wasn't easy. I had to battle coaches and bus drivers and basketball-season-ticket-holding administrators and parents who couldn't understand why younger siblings couldn't go with us and something called the "fifty-mile rule" which didn't apply to athletics but which suddenly became important when a theatre was 51 miles away. . . .
Ah, well, those days are over. (. . . trying to suppress huge grin. . . .)
Full credit. Me. That's right.
Just kidding. Way to go, Brian and Wes. And Jeremy. (Buy their cd's.) (Please)
In other news, Hub and I went to Snow's today and didn't have to sit in the smoke! Cancer Man and his ancient cronies were nowhere to be seen.
I don't want anything bad to happen to any of them, but it was sure nice at the restaurant today with them not there.
You know Snow's must be really good if people risk the presence of Cancer Man and his wrinkled cronies to get a burger there. And that shaved ice. . . . . mmmm, love it.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Typos and Tiananmen Square
I love the New Yorker.
Stupid people, maybe not so much.
As Hub and I were pulling into the parking lot at Lowe's the other day, a truck pulling this trailer parked at the far end of the lot.
As soon as the trailer came to a stop, these five heads peeked out. In synch, they followed the movements of the people and the cars. They didn't even look real.
I am not a horse fancier, but the whimsy of the scene, five horse-heads moving in almost perfectd synchronization, peeking out of a trailer. . . . well, it was cool. It was like a wind-up toy.
Let's just not tell the Godfather about it, okay?
Friday, June 01, 2007
100 Words That All High School Graduates - And Their Parents - Should Know!You all probably know that I am a "word" person. I love the language and I love words and I love etymology. Words are a lot like people; they have a history, and often, that history is fascinating. I mean, check out "testify" in all of its incarnations, some time. You'll never read or watch "Perry Mason" without giggling, again.
Um, for all you young people, Perry Mason is a fictional lawyer, of both book and tv show fame.
I have always emphasized to my students that everyone has at least three vocabularies: the speaking vocabulary, which is the smallest; the writing vocabulary, which is a little bit larger than the speaking vocabulary; and the reading vocabulary, which is the largest of all, for most people.
The more words we know, the more we can understand what others say and write. The more words we know, the less likely we are to be fooled, or taken advantage of. The more words we know, the better able we are to discern true from false, right from wrong, deception from truth.
The more words we know, the more fun life has to offer us.
The more words we know, the more dangerous we can be to those who wish to hold power over us. Why do you think gang leaders and dictators and ignorant moonbat 'preachers' forbid their followers to learn?
A large vocabulary, used properly, is an indication of education. It is not an indication of where one got that education, but it's definitely a symptom of being learned.
I don't know the authors of some of these quotations, but I'm using them anyway:
Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave. - Henry Peter BroughamIt is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it. - Aristotle
He that reads and grows no wiser seldom suspects his own deficiency, but complains of hard words and obscure sentences, and asks why books are written which cannot be understood. --Samuel Johnson
Ignorance deprives men of freedom because they do not know what alternatives there are. It is impossible to choose to do what one has never heard of.
Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among rocks.
A child who is protected from all controversial ideas is as vulnerable as a child who is protected from every germ. The infection, when it comes - and it will come - may overwhelm the system, be it the immune system or the belief system.
When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge. -Einstein
Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts. -Baruch
To be ignorant of one's ignorance is the malady of the ignorant. -B. Alcott
The knowledge of the world is only to be acquired in the world, and not in a closet.
It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated.
Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper.
Educated men are as much superior to uneducated men, as the living are to the dead.
Okay, enough quotations. I've been collecting them for thirty years and sometimes I get carried away.
Here is what I pulled straight off the 'net from someplace. . . . Be honest with yourself, now.
"The editors of the American Heritage® dictionaries have compiled a list of 100 words they recommend every high school graduate should know.
The words . . . are not meant to be exhaustive but are a benchmark against which graduates and their parents can measure themselves. If you are able to use these words correctly, you are likely to have a superior command of the language."
Here they are, crossword fans. The ones in bold are the ones I had to look up. TWO. Hah! I musta majored in, like, English or something.