Monthly Archives: September 2011

Co-Ed Dorms–WHY??

The college visits just keep on coming around here.  Now that the admissions clock is ticking, SuzyQ has been trying to get a look at the last few contenders before she begins applying to schools.  We have visited colleges in New England, the South, and the mid-Atlantic.  It doesn’t matter where you go, though.  It seems that coed dorms are all the rage.  Some schools even allow coed dorm rooms.  And coed bathrooms!

Am I really the only one who has a problem with this??  When your teen nephews come to visit your house, do you tell them to share the room with your daughter for the weekend?  Are you an advocate of unisex locker rooms at the gym?  No?  Then why is it not only OK but “healthy” or “normal” to house college students in so-called gender-neutral residence halls?  As I was doing some research on the subject, I came across this comment attached to a post on the subject on the Modestly Yours blog:

At rice university (my school) the last floors of single sex housing were eliminated. Typically those floors were stereotyped as prudish and downright strange.
The Rice policy for housing new students is to have single sex rooms but not single sex floors. I know of one incident of a mixed room. They got parental and administrative permission to do so. It has worked well for them.
My parents were actually happier to know I was living next to a room of men. They percieved it as safer to have that type of rescource.
I love my co-ed living experience. I really think with few execptions that we now live in a co-ed world and that it is appropriate for students to learn the realities of gender interaction in college. (Emphasis mine, spelling errors hers.)

Umm..where to begin with this?  So, those who wanted to live in single-sex housing were strange and prudes for desiring some privacy and modesty.  Some parents actually believe their daughters are safer living with men in the room next door?  And apparently, residence halls–not classrooms, labs, or the dining hall– are the best place to learn about gender interaction.  Oh, how successful the brain-washing operation has been.  The kids are not confined by gender identities or concerned about keeping any part of their life private from the opposite sex.  Even the parents are so “totally cool” with their kids’ shacking up, that they will even pay for it.

Guess what else I found out in my research.  The Journal of American College Health published the results of a study on the impact of co-ed living in 2009.  I know it’s hard to believe, but the study found that students living in coed housing tend to engage more frequently in risky behaviors such as binge drinking and having multiple sexual partners.  Shocking, right?  I can hear the arguments already: “Segregating boys from girls isn’t going to stop drinking and hooking up.”  “Student are going to do those things anyway, whether they have to go across the hall or across campus.”  Basically, it’s the same as the old let-the-underage-teens-drink-at-home routine parents used to justify keg parties in their basement for their high school son and daughters.

There is a whole lot one can argue against gender neutral housing.  A big one for starters is the way it has become only fair in order to make homosexual or transgender students more comfortable.  Then there’s the vehement opposition to anything that might impose some morality on anyone.  But let’s keep things simple.  What about the plain old yuck factor??  Cap’n Handy (formerly known as Darling Husband) likes to point out that men’s restrooms are vile and disgusting places.  In an informal poll of teenage boys in my cul-de-sac I came up with absolutely no neat freaks; their rooms are all bio-hazard disaster areas.  And girls, don’t you want an guy-free area at least part of the day?  You know, when you don’t have to feel even remotely like it’s “game on?”  The same could be said for guys.

Yes, I am a prude about this.  I really do see value in segregating the sexes in college housing.  It makes a lot more sense than letting the green-police students have a dorm all to themselves (like the Earth House at Connecticut College).  And the idea that colleges will take my $50K a year and then tsk-tsk at my unfortunate, stone-age morality is down right insulting.

 

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Whatever Happened to Shop Class? Alternate Title: How Darling Husband Gets a New Blogname

Did you take Shop?  Is it offered to kids in your school district today?  Most likely, the answer is no.  You know the drill today: No Child Left Behind, everyone goes to college.  Apparently shop class, which was for those with no chance of getting into or desire to attend college, is no longer necessary since college is for everyone now.  More’s the pity, though, because things still need to be fixed.  Namely, my car.

I drive a performance SUV.  I love that vehicle, and I have babied it as far as maintenance is concerned.  (Can’t say the same for the leather upholstery or carpet.)  Now, though, it’s quickly approaching 100,000 miles on the odometer.  Routine maintenance is more important than ever to keep it running like the quasi-luxury vehicle it was designed to be…just not at dealership service department prices.  An oil change is an oil change, right?  It doesn’t take someone certified in European auto craft to do it.  What I learned after taking it to Average Joe all-purpose auto service is that lots of mechanics either don’t know a phillips from a flathead, and/or they are all out to bleed your wallet dry.  Mechanics like to throw panic-laden phrases at you:

“You really need to have those brakes done NOW, before you get into a crash!!”

“That serpentine belt is really worn and cracked.  It could go at any moment!!”

And they will take care of those urgent items for you, out of concern for your safety, at the low, low price of…basically a mortgage payment or the cost of a new refrigerator or a set of braces.

Enter Darling Husband, who just happens to be the handiest guy I know.  He’s so tired of paying someone $5 to top off wiper fluid and $130 to change the oil, that he flips his lid and starts ordering brake pads and rotors online.  Then he informs Junior that he will be learning some new life skills come the weekend, so find some work clothes.  And that’s how my garage turns into Shop Class.

I’ve mentioned previously that Junior likes to be involved in projects.  He’s generally happier when he’s tinkering with his fishing poles or designing some new tricked out seating for the boat than he is just hanging around watching TV.  Good thing for him because this car thing had the makings of the mother of all projects.  Front and rear brakes and rotors…in my garage…with simple hand tools.  Even better, though, it meant father and son, working side by side for hours (upon hours!), getting their hands dirty.  And when it was all over, I got new brakes at a fraction of the cost Average Joe mechanic quoted, and Junior had become more handy himself.  He can now talk casually about calipers, torque, and other manly terminology.  He’s my go-to guy if I get a flat tire while we’re out and about, rather than waiting 2 hours for roadside assistance.

So, the morals of the story: If you are not willing to get your own hands dirty, SuzyQ, marry a man who is handy.  Yes, Junior, you still have to go to college.  Darling Husband, you’re my hero.  Your skills saved us a lot of $$$, and you gave Junior some valuable gifts, including practical, real-world knowledge most kids will never get and confidence in his ability to solve real-world problems.  So I’m presenting you with a new blog name…Cap’n Handy.  You hate it, don’t you?  Well, let’s stick with it for a while and break it in.

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A Rant about the 9-11 Anniversary

Is it possible that I am so uncommon?  That I’m the only one in America who thinks that this country has completely lost its mind about how to remember the 9-11 attacks?  In case you haven’t heard, September 11th is officially known as the National Day of Service and Remembrance.  Our Dear Ruler signed this declaration in 2009, calling the day “an opportunity to salute the heroes of 9/11, recapture the spirit of unity and compassion that inspired our Nation following the attacks, and rededicate ourselves to sustained service to our communities.”

Will someone please explain how we could have allowed the memory of the worst attack on our country since 1941 to turn into some kind of love-fest about compassion, unity, and service??  Hey, I’m all for compassion and service.  But those ideals have absolutely nothing to do with the September 11th attacks.  Where is the connection between the acts of hatred perpetrated upon our country resulting in nearly 3000 lives lost and service projects such as the following recommended in teaching materials on 9-11 at Scholastic:

  • Organize a pet adoption drive.
  • Plant trees.
  • Teach others how to recycle.
  • Collect sports donations for a local youth group.
  • Help register voters.

Oh, wait!  Did you catch that last one–about registering voters??  Nothing suspicious at all about the President, who is the head of his political party, calling on school children to drum up voters.

More to the point, though, where is the mention of paying tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks?  What about educating students about the bravery of those who fought back against the attackers on Flight 93?  How about paying tribute to firefighters and police officers everywhere, who routinely sacrifice their lives to protect others?  For older students, what about discussing events that led to these attacks, the warning signs we missed, the painful lesson of complacency?

Instead the lessons will focus on the “spirit of unity,” multiculturalism, and community-building.  Heaven forbid our delicate American youth learn that there are those around the world who hate us and who wish to do us great harm simply because of who we are and what we have achieved.  Perish the thought that school children discover that we have enemies who will act without hesitation to take the lives of non-combatants, innocents.

My children have very hazy, if any, memories of 9-11.  You can be sure, though, that they will not grow up learning that we observe the day as a chance to go out into the community and pick up trash.

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Homeschoolers Go Back to School, Too

For a long time, this Staples TV ad was my favorite commercial:

I still think it’s hilarious, but since my kids don’t technically go “back to school” anymore, I don’t get the same pleasure out of it.  I have to say that this is one of the few times during the school year in which I am actually jealous of those families whose kids physically attend school.

In my suburban neighborhood, the first day of school is an unofficial holiday.  Moms and Dads all gather at the bus stop in the morning and afternoon with cameras to record the day.  A moms-without-kids lunch date happens at a local restaurant.  Everyone excitedly talks about their lists of things to accomplish while the children are in school.

Not so for us homeschool parents.  My kids are still here, just like every other day.  I suppose I could join the other moms out at the bus stop to chat, but that would seem sort of silly.  I doubt anyone would mind if I attended the lunch date, but I wouldn’t have much to contribute to conversations about this new teacher or that dress code policy or the job of Room Mom.  I can’t join in the excitement about JV football or marching band.  And my list of things to accomplish during the day might include some ambitious projects, but those will certainly be interrupted by calls for help with some research or a quick read of an essay rough draft.  Inevitably, this will occur just as soon as I get the roller loaded with paint or as I’m about to put my ear buds on and head out the door for a walk.

Don’t get me wrong.  Of course there are benefits to homeschooling which emerge at this time of year.  We don’t have to worry about sleeping through the alarm and missing the bus.  No one forgets his lunch or permission slip.  And one of my personal favorites, I don’t have to participate in the total scam of shopping for the particular supplies required for each grade, homeroom, or class.  I leave it up to my own kids to pick their favorite type and color of pen, choose spiral notebooks over binders, and decide whether they will make index cards of vocabulary words or not.  Plus, I only have to provide tissues and Lysol wipes for my own household, not an entire student body.  Let’s not forget the relative ease of making dental, orthodontic, or other appointments when you don’t have to worry about your student missing a quiz while they were getting brackets adjusted or copying the notes they missed while they were getting their teeth cleaned.

OK, so the perks of homeschooling far outweigh the short-lived relief of the first day of school.  However, I know I can’t possibly be alone among homeschooling moms when I wish that every once in a while, I could just put my kids on the school bus and wave after them.  Maybe let them wander around the public high school to see what they are missing–or not.  Maybe they would gain a little more appreciation for just how good they have it: going to the bathroom or getting a drink whenever they feel like it, not having to listen to a teacher drone on and on until everyone finally gets it, setting their own schedule and either living with the consequences of it or reaping its rewards.

“Most Wonderful Time of the Year”?  Maybe not.  Maybe just a bittersweet time.  And a time to shine a spotlight on exactly how uncommon we are around here.

 

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Is a Peach Ever Worth $2.50??

I confess.  I broke down and ordered the Oregon peaches from that wildly over-priced mail-order fruit company.  I actually paid $44.92 for 18 peaches.  That’s $2.50 per peach.

This isn’t them.  Can you tell?  They certainly look an awful lot like the ones that arrived 2nd-day air on my doorstep today, all individually wrapped in tissue paper and cushioned with foam pillows.

This isn’t the first time I have caved and shelled out big bucks for peaches.  One year I even asked for them for my birthday.  We were stationed in Hawaii then, and I knew it was my only chance to get a decent peach until we returned to the Mainland.  So what’s my excuse this time?  I miss peaches.  That’s all.  It made me extremely cranky to have to find a new breakfast routine to take the place of my usual bowl of Cheerios with a peach cut up on top.  Blueberries were plentiful for a while, but they just don’t have enough flavor.  And bananas?  Not even close.  Why not just buy some peaches from the grocery store, you ask?  Umm…have you tasted those sorry excuses for peaches ever.  Please.

Extravagant?  Yep.  They are so expensive, it’s embarrassing.  But who among us doesn’t have our little indulgences?  Premium channels on your cable.  Weekly manicure.  Regular root touch-ups or highlights.  Snobby wine or boutique beer.  Subscription to Us or People magazine.  This is America, after all.  We’re known around the world for our over-the-top behavior.  Does Disney World or the ’57 Chevy ring a bell?  And yes, I know there are people who don’t earn $2.50 in a month or who get their food from trash heaps.  At least I’m supporting some American farmer–who just happens to live 3000 miles away from me.

So to all of my friends who are buy-local enthusiasts:  I’m sorry.  I’m weak.  It was the peaches; they called to me.  And to other members of the Uncommon household: I’m rationing them out carefully.  They know better than to get between me and my peaches.  Oh, they know.

 

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