Kiss my Ass Standardized Tests

I helped my daughter the other night writing an essay for her History class. She’s in the 11th grade, the oldest of three kids. It’s not my first time to help a kid write an essay. I know the drill.

Five Paragraphs
Intro, concluding with the thesis statement which clearly states what the rest of the essay will support.
Three supporting paragraphs. Supporting topic #1, #2, and #3.
Conclusion paragraph with the thesis statement again.

BORING. These essay’s are boring as hell.

But I help them anyway. To write it exactly as the teachers expect.

It’s this way for a specific reason:

Standardized Tests.

Someone has to score them and in order to standardized the scoring system the criteria is very precise.

Without meeting the five paragraph essay criteria, a low score is given.

That’s how it is.

And it’s stupid. It’s stupid, stupid, stupid and it makes me want to smack the standardized testing people right in the face.

Because it’s not writing. It’s following a formula.

And who writes in a formula?

No good writer, ever, in the history of the universe.

It doesn’t teach kids to think or to be creative or express their thoughts in an interesting way.

It just teaches them to write like a robot.

This essay, the history one, made me slightly more angry than usual.

Because the teacher had said, “You must have a counter argument in your thesis statement.”

Um, what? What the hell does that mean?

My sweet daughter, growing more impatient with me by the second responded,
“It’s like you say, Many people think this…blah, blah, blah…but actually it’s this and here is why.”

I responded, “why is that a requirement? You are being asked to compare and contrast two time periods. Why do you need a counter argument.”

Poor sweet frustrated daughter, “Because it’s a history essay. All history essays have to have a counter argument. She says if we don’t have one we won’t get a good score. We have to think of a counter argument.”

Oh…it’s a history essay and it’s required. Now I understand.

I don’t. I don’t understand. At all.

It’s not required that she understand the political, social and economic changes that occurred between the late 1700’s and early 1800’s in US History and the death of the federalist party.

It’s not required that she understand how to express herself in written form.

It’s only required that she follow the essay formula which, apparently, includes a counter argument. But only for History, not for English.

Because if she doesn’t, she won’t get a good score based on the formula of a properly written essay.

And she won’t be able to properly follow the formula when it’s time to write her SAT essays.

And that’s all that matters, right?

And to this I say,

Kiss my Ass Standardized tests. For ruining the art of writing for my children.

Kiss my ass.


an ode to working mothers

When I started looking for my first full time job in 15 plus years, I knew things were going to change. For me, for my kids.

I called a working mom friend with four kids and asked,

“How do you do it.”

She laughed and said you don’t have a choice. You just do it.

“But how?” I responded.

I’ve always worked part time. My jobs have always been somewhat flexible. I have taken many a sick kid to a theatre to sit backstage during the show. I’ve done conference calls while waiting in the line to pick up a kid from school, hiding the phone on the dashboard to keep from being that jerk mom on the phone while in the parking lot of a school. I thought I knew what it was going to be like.

Less time.

And I have to hire someone to do what I used to do.

Ok, no problem. I can do this.

I can do it. I am doing it.

But it’s a problem. In ways I couldn’t foresee.

I am now three months into my full time job.

I’m on my third nanny.

Nanny one decided it was too hard to go to college and nanny 15 hours a week. We liked her but found someone else pretty quickly, thank GOD. The replacement broke her foot and is out for weeks. Nanny three is a miracle, a friend is unemployed and agreed to step in short term. I have no idea what we would have done. It’s ridiculous.

For the record, I can’t actually afford the nanny. I’m gonna be paying her off on my credit cards for a few years now.

That’s fucking hilarious. I am charging my nanny on a credit card.

It’s not factual, my nanny doesn’t take credit cards. She doesn’t have one of those iPhone credit card machine things. But I can’t afford her and the other expenses of living alone. So I overspend. Which is basically the same thing.

So childcare is hard.

There are no sick days in motherhood, I used to say.

It turns out there are sick days for nannies. Wimps.

(sarcasm, seriously, it’s sarcasm)

So onto less time. Less time? Yeah, I was totally prepared for the less time thing.

Are you freaking kidding me? What did I used to do with all my time. My lack of time has reached an all time low. Working mothers have no time. NO TIME AT ALL. I haven’t turned on the TV in weeks. Well, once I turned it on but I immediately fell asleep.

All my lovely, beautiful, amazing, stay at home mom friends who complain about how they just don’t have time for anything right now.

Shut the front door.

You have time. You have no idea how much time you have. Did you sleep seven hours last night? Did you go to the gym this week? You have time.

I knew childcare would be tough. Letting someone else drive my kids. Raise my kids. I expected that to be hard. I was right, it’s hard. No big surprises there. The unpredictable nature of childcare is what I didn’t predict.

The lack of time, I had a hard time imagining. I suspected it would be difficult and it is. Throw moving into the mix and you can forget about it. I have stuffed every closet with boxes cause I am sick of looking at them. And there is no way I am unpacking any boxes in the five seconds i have to sit down and write this blog. I don’t have time to write. And that’s poison for me. Writing, reading, being creative…these things nourish my soul. That’s not about time, that’s about feeding my spirt. And balancing that need and the lack of time is horribly difficult. It sucks. I haven’t figured it out yet. Maybe I never will until my kids are grown and that’s the trade off?

So the big thing…the thing I didn’t foresee, couldn’t predict…is how exhausting working full time can be.

Trying to build a career is hard work.

Yes, it’s called work. I get that. I knew it would be hard. I didn’t expect to sail through it, like some sort of super hero.

I get home, from a long day, maybe it was stressful, maybe i was working on a deadline all day, maybe I am behind on something, or struggling to figure something out. I worked later than i planned, I sat in traffic for 45 minutes coming home. I am late picking up one of the kids from practice, I am worn out. I am done. I have very little left to give my kids. I get home, I have to make dinner, I have to do chemistry homework with my teenager or help write the argument for debate with my son. Or play with my little one. A game, or cars or whatever. And i wiped out. The best part of me, it’s all used up. I have given it to someone else…a job.

This is not complaining. This is an ode. To all the moms who looked wearily at me as I whined about working fifteen hours a week while managing my “household” and I was just so overwhelmed.

Silly little me of the past.

The moms who do it, and do it well…you all are amazing. I am in awe. And my goal is to be like you. To figure it out. As well as it can be figured out. ┬áBecause it’s impossible to be all things to all people, the perfect mom, perfect employee, perfect partner. Right now, I am struggling. But I can do it. I know I can. I’ve seen you other moms out there, leading the way…managing successful careers, loving your kids as well as you can in spite of your exhaustion…showing up at the basketball meeting with your business suit on and still managing a smile and a pleasant discourse. You rock, you working moms.

In closing, I want to say that I realize dad’s work too. And single dads with custody of their kids, even half the time (like my former spouse) are dealing with the same stuff. There is no difference, assuming the work load with the kids is 50-50. I am being completely sexist in addressing this to mom’s only.

Cause I am a mom, and we mom’s stick together.