Saturday, January 24, 2009

Oh, The Humanity

What a week it's been. What started with hurling ended with snorfling. I guess my immune system got depressed (I don't blame it, frankly) and now I have a cold, too. Which I want to say is unfair, but lots of things are unfair--like cancer and getting hit by a bus--so I'll just be quiet.

Jarrah is in the tub, as we speak, playing with her first Barbie. She got it for her birthday, and it's not even a real Barbie--it has no legs. That sounds weird. It has no legs because it's Mermaid Barbie. Apparently, there are three in the set. She will not be getting the set. In fact, I attempted to spirit Mermaid Barbie back to the Underworld but I wasn't quick enough and Jarrah insisted on opening the box. David and I both argued with her for a while, but then I started feeling like a hypocritical idiot and gave in. Because Mermaid Barbie is sea-worthy, she can spend time in the tub, being groomed with a special comb and Mermaid Shampoo. The Mermaid Shampoo is not an official accessory; I invented it because--let's all think it together--I'm just awesome like that. It's a tiny bottle of hotel shampoo in the same fin-blue as Barbie's scales.

This morning I went with my friend Stephanie to a Magnet School Fair at Balboa Park. It was a gorgeous day in the park--they were also having a Lunar New Year Festival, an Art Fair, and a gathering of hundreds of greyhounds. The building where the fair was held was tiny, with a low roof and no windows. Somehow they had packed every magnet in SD Unified into this space. I almost swooned a couple of times--particularly when a P.E. teacher got up in my face--not because he was mad but because he was screaming over the Mission Bay HS Jazz Band.

I learned a lot at the Magnet Fair. I learned that most of them aim to "serve the Whole Child," which sounds like a recipe for suckling pig. Not that I don't want my whole child served--I do. It's just, as a mission, it's kind of vague. One of the schools has a magnet called "Athletics and Academics." I asked what this meant, and unless I misunderstood, it means that they sit around less than is otherwise mandated by the State of California. All that running around helps them think better, and this also serves the Whole Child. Some of the schools "help create global citizens." To which I want to start nodding furiously, thinking "Yes, yes, global citizens!" but then I realize I have no idea what that might entail.

Some of the magnets were easy to understand, like "music" or "drama." But one school promotes "micro-societies," e.g. the children found their own bank, which they are responsible for running themselves. "Ooooh," I winced. "Do they all end up asking for bail-outs?" Only a few, apparently. I don't know if founding a bank is what I want my 5-year-old thinking about, but then, I am biased--the school that offered African Drumming and Puppetry Theatre had me re-thinking my vow not to choose any school that involved freeway driving. I'm not joking about that one--I am drawn to the drumming and the puppets.

One school featured a panda as its logo because it's a Mandarin magnet. Cute. But the school directly across the aisle also featured a panda, and when I asked why, the director confessed that she had no idea. Probably because it's cute. As we were leaving, a man in a lawn chair with a lap top handed us a brochure for something called "Virtual High," which doesn't even exist because the kids do all their work from home.

"A school where you can't even get them to leave the house. No, thank you." I said with a shudder.

I'm really glad I went, because knowledge is power. Of course, a little knowledge can also be dangerous in the wrong hands, and mine are probably wrong. I will now use this new information as a reason to schedule tours with every public school in a 20-mile radius, especially if they have drumming. (Though one of the schools that offers drumming had labeled their photo "drumers," which does not inspire me with confidence.)

Good thing she doesn't go to kindergarten until 2010. I'll start planning soon. Right after I lie down for a minute.


Aunt LoLo said...

Oh, Mama...I had no idea picking a kindergarten took that much work!!!

Caroline said...

What a great post. Thanks for the laughs. But fascinating. Who knew there was such a cornucopia of educational themes? I feel lazy for assuming William will go across the street to the generic elementary school. I'll have to find a magnet fair around here.

DrSpouse said...

Just heard about the Virtual High on the news, incidentally. By the time she is in high school, you will probably have grounded her indefinitely (for being unsympathetic when you are hurling, or running around with boys who say Arrr, or something) and will be happy for her to be at home all the time.

Marlene said...

Would you invent some things like that for me? Mermaid shampoo? Also, I like drumming and puppets too, and I would drive for them, because that's what I want to give my kid, mermaid shampoo (which takes some of the sting out of the mermaid, after all), drumming, and puppets.

suebrunkow said...

You can check out all the schools (with test scores and parent ratings and comments) at

We were lucky to have one of the best schools in San Diego Unified half a mile down the street from us. After driving by there for 15 years, and getting stuck in masses of minivans, I wanted my kids to go there! But the magnet schools sure look like fun, and I feel kind of guilty not sending them to one.

My two started Kindergarten this year, and it's been fun. I've been volunteering in the classroom (along with hoardes of other Moms, a few Dads, and a few retired folks), there are so many volunteers that I don't think the teacher is ever alone in the classroom. And, they ask us for money a few times a week (Super Science, parent fund for classroom supplies, field trips, teacher gifts, etc). But it's still cheaper than private school.

Sue B

Sam said...

Hey Sue, thanks for your comment! I am so curious about which school that is now! ;) I am hoping to help in the classroom, too--sounds like your school has a really devoted parent connection.

Anonymous said...

Wow, overwhelming! What options! :) I love the one that is "athletics and academics." Like how different is that from any other school? where they do, I hope, athletics and academics? :) xx Lix

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I was touring and viewing and plotting and planning years in advance too.

Suckling pig. Heh.

Tiny shampoo bottles. Clever girl.


Mary said...

I think you will be glad in the end for Mermaid Barbie. I stand by my "Withhold it and it will be even more desirable" mantra. Of course, there is the unfortunate issue of the other two mermaids just waiting to jump out at you the next time you are within 20 feet of them at Target!



p.s. I sure wish I could be Jarrah's teacher!

Aunt LoLo said...

Sam, could you send me your e-mail address, for the Fitness Challenge? Thanks!

The Wades said...

Love the mermaid shampoo! I also love your take on homeschooling--we share similar philosophies! :)

(Though one of the schools that offers drumming had labeled their photo "drumers," which does not inspire me with confidence.) LOVE THIS!!!

SueB said...


The school I was talking about is Jerabek. Now, I have a question,
how do I get added to your theater blog? I"ve looked all over your blog for either an email address or a "contact me", and haven't found anything.