Monday, August 27, 2012

Dreaming in Numbers

Last week I had a dream I was back in high school math (did I say dream? I meant nightmare), only I was married to my husband, Ed, who was in the class with me.  The teacher was my daughter Olivia's 4th grade teacher and she wanted me to finish some big math project before the end of the class (even though I'd been out of the room most of the day--probably making copies for her).

I didn't want to do this project because it was one of those that had lots of steps and are supposed to help you learn the basics (even though you may already understand it).
I tried to tell the teacher I didn't have all the stuff I needed to finish the project, hoping she'd let me just skip it ('cause it was high school math, and I'm grown up and married, and she's my daughter's 4th grade teacher who I had done a lot of volunteer work for, including cutting out 600 paper apples with the die cut machine).  Instead she said "That's okay, all the markers and counters are over there so you can finish".


really didn't want to do this project, as I'd already passed both 4th grade math and high school math.  It was going to take too long and it was almost the end of the day and end of the school year.  And Ed was already done.  (If you're married in high school, can you just do one set of homework?  Washington is a community property state, after all.)

It was at this point that I started waking up.  I was still in that half-conscious zone, where if it had been a real nightmare I'd still be freaked out and my heart would be pounding.  But instead the solution to my math problem came to me (as if in a dream, or half out of a dream):  multiplication!  All I had to do was multiply the numbers to solve the problem and then I'd be done with it!

I'd forgotten about this dream until I ran into Olivia's teacher yesterday at the store and told her about my dream, much to Olivia's embarrassment.

And what message should I take from this dream?  If you're a grown up you get to skip a lot of the boring steps?  Math isn't fun? Or multiplication will save your ass every time.

(I'd like to dedicate this dream to John Scieszka's Math Curse, which perfectly describes my relationship to all things numeral .)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

An Ounce of Prevention

Lady parts are back in the headlines again, their magical properties,  proper manners and property rights.  Pro Life and Pro Choice can be argued endlessly and never agreed upon by more than two people on any given day, much less the days leading up to a presidential election.

I know a thing or two about Lady Parts, having been a proud owner these many years.  I have used my magic for both good and evil and have a little something to say on the matter.

When it comes down to Right to Choose versus Anti-Abortion, there are more than two sides to the debate.  Everyone has a story, a different set of circumstances and none of it is black and white.  Here I am, an educated middle-class woman with a liberal democrat ideology and a host of friends who say we must have the right to choose.

But what if we don't get to choose?

Once upon a time, I was a happily married mother of one, planning to add to our family with another bundle of joy. I saw my doctor, I took the vitamins, I peed on the stick.  Happy, happy, joy, joy--it was positive, I was pregnant.  Then at eight weeks I began bleeding and miscarried.  To me this was a child I'd lost.  A planned for, dreamed about, wanted baby.  At eight weeks, with no heart beat and no chance of survival, this was still a child.  I cried, I grieved, I blamed myself. Eventually I went on to produce two more healthy children, but my miscarriage has colored how I view this issue. 

Can I say that it's okay to abort a fetus at eight weeks because it feels no pain, has no mental cognition, no finger prints, no rights?  I think of the child I lost and cannot say for sure, cannot know when life really begins or even when it ends.  That is my set of circumstances, my opinion, my personal feelings.

On the other hand, the thought of someone as out of touch with what goes on in my uterus as Todd Akin telling me what I can and cannot do with that magical organ makes my blood boil.  This is not the price of gas, the rules of the road, or Roberts Rules of Order.  This is my life, my uterus and my own damn business. 

I choose to believe the Anti-Abortion groups really think they are preserving innocent lives when they picket Planned Parenthood and try to pass broad legislation on reproductive rights.  I may be giving some of them more credit than they deserve, but I think of the child I might have had and realize they might not be able to see past the word "baby," either.

The male politicians with a limited understanding of basic human biology, the teenage girl who feels betrayed and trapped by her own body, the Christian groups who feel it is their divine duty to protect us from ourselves and the mother who can't afford another mouth to feed will never agree.  Too many different view points, backgrounds and circumstances.  Doctors can study it until the end of time and still not be able to pinpoint when life begins and a cluster of cells becomes a human being.  It seems this is one of those things only God can know--when we reach those pearly gates and He explains it all to us, it will all seem so obvious--but for now perhaps it's time to let it go.  Give this decision making process over to the woman, her doctor and her god.

Yet, there are still unwanted, ill-timed and dangerous pregnancies occurring.  Perhaps we're all going at this argument from the wrong end.  Maybe instead of fighting over what to do or not to do about unwanted pregnancies, we could put that energy into helping women prevent these pregnancies to begin with.  Support Planned Parenthood instead of bombing it, help those women find decent jobs and reliable child care instead of hurling insults at them.  And, yes, there is still the birth control issue to get through--who pays for it, who can use it, is my church-run hospital legally obligated to provide it--but think about how much time and money has been put into the abortion debate.  Divide this number by 100 and we could still have this problem solved before Todd Akin concedes the senate race.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Post Apocalyptic Soccer Mom

It recently occurred to me that with my husband coaching our middle child's team, our oldest with a new driver's license and our youngest turning in her cleats, I could go this entire soccer season with out attending a single practice.  For those of you who have not experienced youth sports, you may not realize the significance of this.  (And I'm sure there are a few die-hard team parents out there who would think this bad thing--how can I connect with my child without team sports?)  And while it may be the end of an era, please consider this:  while you're watching your kid do drills in the rain, after a long day at work, and having grabbed some greasy fast food for dinner, I will be at home, in a quiet house, enjoying a hot dinner and maybe a TV show. I will have my life back, if only temporarily.  I have had a kid in team sports for ten years now, with nine years of soccer, and five of those years I had all three kids in soccer. 

Consider this word problem:  Kristin has three kids playing soccer and their practices are all on the same nights, at two separate fields and three different times. Kristin must feed all three children before she leaves the house.  Her husband often isn't done working until one hour after the first practice starts. How far into soccer season before Kristin loses her sanity?

Whatever will I do with all this free time on my hands?  I feel like the lady on the Swiffer commercial who suddenly has time to read, now that she has the special duster (except, of course, I don't dust).  Then I realized there might be a niche for a professional soccer mom.  I could take your kid to practice, making sure he remembers his shin guards, be in charge of the snack schedule, provide an endless supply  of clean soccer socks and keep track of where the next game is.  Meanwhile, you can be relaxing at home, unwinding with a nice glass of wine.  (This has always been my gripe with my kids' extra curricular activities--no adult beverages with dinner, as drunken soccer moms are frowned upon.)

I must confess I have already broken my Zero Tolerance on Practices. My daughter had her first practice of the season and I came by for the second half of practice (after having taking the youngest to swimming lessons--so much for my adult beverage with dinner).  I wanted to see who was on the team this year and visit with the other parents.  I suppose there will be a few more practices that my husband can't make it to on time and I will be called back into duty, but this reminds me that someday I will not need soccer balls and extra shin pads in the back of my stinky minivan.  One day I really will have my life back and then what will I do? 

I will be enjoying an adult beverage with my dinner and reading my book in peace.