Archives for June 2008

What Should Children Learn in School?

Sometimes I spend the quiet moments of my life lost in thought about questions that I anticipate being asked by my children. Lying awake in bed I stare at the ceiling and think about what they find important and interesting and try to come up with an appropriate response.

An appropriate response, now there is the trick. I could use the fallback “because I said so” or defer to the “why do you think” trick and leave it at that. In fact, I sometimes think that time before I drift off to sleep might be better suited for dreams about me and her on that deserted beach, but that is a post for a different time. 😉

The truth is that I have come to really enjoy these exercises. Some of these questions deal with topics that I haven’t really considered in years and years. What might have worked for the 15-year-old boy I was doesn’t always work for the guy I am today. And so in the quiet of the night I find myself mulling over all sorts of stuff.

Lately I have been focusing on how to answer questions about school. All sorts of different topics are floating around inside my skull:

1) Why are book reports important?
2) Why should you know the names of the capitals of every state?
3) What purpose is there in knowing how to work with parabolas and hyperbolas?
4) Why should people read Shakespeare or any of the classics?

I wonder how many people can really come up with reasonable answers.

All of this talk begs the question of what sort of curriculum do I want for my children. If I had complete control what would I want included? Are there things that I would exclude? What is my bottom line? What is really important?

I can come up with general list, but just how specific can I get. I think that I might sit down and work it all out.

The Allure of Baseball

I suppose that quite a few children dream about growing up to become a professional athlete. I know that I did. For many years I had a fantasy that I would one day play left or center field for the L.A. Dodgers.

As a child it didn’t seem to be too far fetched, it was a dream that was within reach. For many years I was among the best baseball players within my age groups, or so I was always told. It is kind of funny to look back and wonder about whether I was being told the truth or fed a line.

Memories have a funny way of adapting them to what you want them to be. When I think back upon those days here is what I know to be true. I had a very strong arm and good enough fielding skills that I was always placed in the outfield. Coach usually had me bat somewhere between third and fifth in the lineup.

When I was 12 years-old I led the league in homeruns, threw out two runners at the plate (from centerfield) and had a host of other cool things I could mention. All of this in conjunction with many years of playing ball that preceded this convinced me that I was probably going to make the majors.

I can’t recall my parents or any adult in my family telling me that they expected me to make it. I don’t really remember them splashing cold water on the dream either. So for a while I just played and imagined/expected that magically I’d find myself in the big leagues.

Somewhere during those awkward middle school/junior high years I began to learn that I wasn’t as good a player as I had thought. Flipped into a bigger pool of competitors I found myself playing with guys who could hit it as far and or throw it farther. I ran fast, but they ran faster.

I was undaunted by this. Baseball players didn’t have to be huge or tall like football and basketball players. I was of average size so this made me more comfortable. It also helped that I won most wrestling matches. Don’t ask me how or why that is applicable, it is the logic of a child.

It is like asking that crazy chick from the midwest why she thought Culture Club would come play at her Bat Mitzvah. Sometimes you just do things and hope that they work.

When I think back on those days I remember so many things. One of those is how many stats I could recite. Now baseball lends itself to statistics. There are so many things that are measured, batting average, runs, RBIs, strikeouts, wins, losses, etc. I used to be able to rattle off all of those numbers about my team.

Even today I still have a pretty good grip on it, but not like I used to. It bothers me a little that I can’t do it like I used to. I feel like I lost a little something.

But the sad truth is that my love for baseball seems to have diminished a bit. I don’t seem to enjoy it the way that I used to, or maybe it is just that there are so many other things in my life that require my attention.

Every now and then I find myself playing softball with the guys. I still love the feeling I get when I run out on the field. I still get a charge out of that. I remember a few years back playing in a game when I really embarrassed myself.

During my first at-bat the shortstop shouted for everyone in the outfield to move back. My ego, duly stroked, compensated by taking a mighty swing at the first pitch. I was so ready for that ball, I was going to crush it. One little flick and I could send it right over their heads. It was so easy to see.

In my mind I planned on smacking it right over the left fielder’s head. During my second at-bat I figured that I’d fool them by dropping the ball right in front of them. I felt so smug and self-confident. I am sure that I must have been smiling.

And then I took that swing and missed. I swung so hard that I suspect their might have been a sonic boom, or maybe that is the sound that all that blood rushing to my head made. I swung so hard I spun in a circle, but at least I didn’t fall.

Duly chastened I fouled off the next two pitches and then hit a lazy flyball that was easily caught by the left fielder. I singled the next two time I was up and then lightening struck. Bam!!!

Fourth time at the plate, I was finally relaxed and just playing and that is when I smacked a ball into next week. It happened because I wasn’t trying to kill it. All I did was go up and take a good lick.

It is funny, as I sit here typing I look at myself and see a guy who didn’t get to live out that dream…yet. I still feel like I have a shot. Even though I know that a 39 year-old who hasn’t played organized ball in more than 20 years is probably not the best candidate, I have this feeling.

Want to know a secret? I still feel like I could play special teams in the NFL. It is ridiculous to consider myself to be a full time player, but special teams, well you just never know. I bet that I can still beat the hell out of a kicker.

And now if you’ll excuse me I think that I am going to go see what I need to do to try out for the Raiders. Or maybe, just maybe I may set my sights a bit lower and shoot for a college team. I still have four years of eligibility. You never know, guys older than I am have done it.

Something is Wrong

Something is wrong with me. Something is very, very, very wrong. The old body is doing all sorts of funny things, but I am not laughing. Aches, pains, creaks and whistling noises. A sore throat and a dull headache have decided to keep me company.

I don’t feel right, but than again I can’t say that I feel horrible. Not really sure how to explain it better than that.

Caught myself dancing with reckless abandon in front of the mirror. Is it just me or does Reckless Abandon sound like the type of name that Ian Fleming would come up with. He did come up with Pussy Galore and Truly Scrumptious.

Anyhow, the house was empty and the music was blasting and I just lost myself in it. The rules of the blog dictate that I be honest about things like this and well, let’s just say that I have a body that was built for demolition and not dance.

Ask me to run through a wall, not dance in front of it and I’ll be happier. Boy did I look goofy. Still there is something to be said for letting go and just giving into the happy moments when they strike.

This is the 81st post that I have written during the month of June. Eighty-one posts, whooweeee. Now I just need someone to decide to pay me based upon the number of characters I generate.

Going back to dancing, I have more rhythm than Steve Ballmer and I wasn’t nearly as goofy as Patrick Dempsey doing the African Anteater Dance. Which for some reason reminded me of Airplane, I love that bar fight.

And that leads me to putting up a link to Clint Eastwood’s fine Dirty Harry scene about his policy. Good old Dirty Harry, they don’t make cops like they used to. Wow, just look at Clint then and take a look now and you can see that a little time has passed.

I sometimes forget just how long ago it was that some things took place. It makes me sound old to say that, but heck it feels like high school was last week.

That cute four-year-old daughter of mine saw a woman with very large breasts and said “wow, I bet that she could feed a lot of kids.”

That girl of mine is something else. My father told me that I’ll be lucky not to lose all of my hair by next year and he is right. She is fearless. Willing to climb any tower, bookcase, cabinet, structure whatever. And when you tell her that she is misbehaving she gives you a look that melts steel. Fortunately I wear an invisible suit that makes me impervious to that look o’ death.

On the whole she is a good listener, but she does have her moments. Her older brother once pulled a toy out of her hands and received a big surprise. She took the toy right back and smacked him in the head with it. We had a long talk about why we use words and not our fists.

Something is wrong. I just read this post and tried to figure out who wrote it. It can’t really be me. I can’t be this guy. I am still 19 and living the life. Did life have to go so quickly, there is still so much to do.

Sunday Morning Music

A quick snapshot of what I have been listening to this morning.

White Rabbit– Jefferson Airplane
Ubuhle bakho– Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Graceland– Paul Simon
You can call me Al– Paul Simon
O sole mio– Three Tenors
Born To Hand Jive – Sha-Na-Na (Grease)
Adagio for Strings, op.11-Samuel Barber (video is from the 911 tribute)
Requiem For A Dream
Linger– The Cranberries

Haveil Havalim #171: The Packing for Camp Edition

The Ima has come through again with Haveil Havalim #171: The Packing for Camp Edition.