Thursday, July 17, 2008

Give me an L

With a son graduating from high school and a daughter going into the 11th grade, my own teen years have been coming up in discussion a lot. I'm probably also just at "that age."

I epitomized the word Loser to the point where it is hilarious (along with being somewhat pathetic). I was "overweight" (at 135, for God's sake), wore glasses, and (the kiss of death) had a really good vocabulary. I was also a bookworm. But wait, it gets better. I lived on a dairy farm and grew up running barefoot through cow manure and our house was across the street from the barn. Every day when I got on or off the bus I had to listen to "Ewww, is that smell coming from your house?" They referred to the farm as Cowshit Corners. We didn't have much money (farmers don't) so I wore hand me downs that were always about 2 years out of date. In the summer, we sat by the side of the road selling sweet corn $1.00 a dozen (but you got a baker's dozen).

I... was an Albany County Dairy Maid. I belonged to a square dancing group called the "Top Teen Twirlers." We performed at fairs in 1976, dressed in "period clothing" from 1776 and 1876. I was on the yearbook committee and in the cross country ski club and chorus and I carried the banner in the school marching band. Is it any wonder I grew up to become a Librarian who knits?

On the bright side, I'm also back on track with weight Loss.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

And your little dog, too

Cultural literacy is, apparently, one of my favorite topics with which to bore my children. Say the words to them and they will groan, roll their eyes, and say "Yeah, yeah, and your little dog, too, we know." I am a Pollyanna and therefore look upon this as living proof that something I've said to them (ten milion times) over the years has actually been heard and retained.

The dictionary definition (you knew that was coming, didn't you?) is "the ability to converse fluently in the idioms, allusions and informal content which creates and constitutes a dominant culture."

I think part of the appeal lies in the ability to convey a lot with a few words. Think about what went through your head when you read the words "and your little dog, too." Did you see the Wicked Witch of the West? Could you hear her voice? Are you looking over your shoulder to see if she's coming to get you? What other expression could I have used that would have invoked such vibrant imagery, complete with sound effects?

It's also fun. There's a joy to be found just in knowing that you got the allusion. Search for the words cultural literacy online and you'll find quizzes, books, blog entries and, of course, the ubiquitous Wikipedia article. And if you don't have a basic level of cultural literacy in whichever country you find yourself, your ignorance will show every time you say "Who?" I myself am sadly lacking in the areas of film and music. Refer to a famous actor or singer and I will inevitably say "Who?" I'm much better if you name a movie or song, however, and if you refer to a book character, I'm Golden.

This is why story is so important. Stories are a vital part of every culture. Mythology, fables, folktales, Tall Tales, classics, and Bible stories all live together at your library. Our children need to know what it means if someone has the golden touch or if something is a real David and Goliath story, and they should know to watch their backs when someone says "And your little dog, too."

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

College Orientation

I just attended two days of mandatory parent orientation whilst my older child attended his two days of freshman orientation. May I just say "They didn't have that when I went to college!" My parents helped me unload my stuff on moving in day, hugged me goodbye and never looked back. I found myself surrounded by people happily screaming back at the cruise director style program director. Large groups of people in a frenzied fervor screaming "When I say UA, you say You Know, when I say Purple, you say Gold, when I say Great, you say Dane!" You can just imagine how I loved that.

I learned about all of the services available to my child - counseling, medical, financial, social, and yes, even academic advisement. His ID card is a true sign of big brother watching you - it is his room key and it holds all of the information about his food plan and it acts as a debit card for snacks, the bookstore, copies at the library, etc. I assume that with that card they can access his medical information, his grades, and so forth. I'm happy to say you're allowed to punch a hole in it because that may be the only way he keeps it for more than a day.

I have my very own parent liaison (who I share with thousands of other parental units) whom I can call with any concerns and she will direct me to the correct department. At the health center my child can get treated for colds, strep throat, the flu, chlamydia, and pregnancy. They sell condoms - 175 for six bucks and if they don't work, you can get the morning after pill there, too. Not to worry about cost - they'll put it on his bill and I can pay for it electronically with E-Pay. In fact, I can add money to his account any time from the comfort of my home and he will have instant access to it. Lucky me.

I learned that I can bring him to school on August 22nd no earlier than 9 AM. They recommended NOON, but realized that no one is going to listen to them. At 4:30 there will be a family bar-b-q and at 6:30 they would like to see us all go bye-bye! He'll already know who his suitemates are and will, presumably, have been in contact with his roommate for several weeks, ironing out who will bring what. This is extremely important since their rooms are about 8x10. At least he won't be tripled since he'll be in the Honors Dorms.

Now, I naiively assumed that my son was also getting all of this same information about who to see when and for what, but noooo. He was playing team building games (kill me now, mom), enduring the same mind numbing chants as me, and attending lectures on sexual assault and alcohol abuse. I'm sorry, but he's not going to need that. What he needs to know is where to go when he loses his room key and how to find his classes.