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What’s the Big Deal?

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School is still five days away from starting and already we’re mired in controversy over the President of the United States addressing our kids in their schools. I don’t know what the big deal is. I read what he was going to say—stay in school, get good grades, stay out of trouble. Why is that so different from what I tell my ten year old? President Obama is one of his heroes. Along with Tim Tebow, the quarterback of the University of Florida Gators. Anything these two men could say to my son to stay a straight A student would be fine with me. Heck, I’d invite either of them to dinner—just give me a few days to straighten up, please.


I think we underestimate our kids. It isn’t like when we were growing up, when the news was only on at 6 p.m., and Walter Cronkite was the grandfather of all of us. I began reading the paper when I was about eight; my son began reading the paper—the New York Times, for goodness sake. He’s a straight A student since first grade and reads adult novels. Tom Clancey, for example. I can’t even get through some of Tom Clancey’s novels.


Kids are more aware of the world around them, and I know it’s not just my kid. He comes up with some factoid two or three times a day. Things he read on the internet. Shows he’s watched on the Discovery Channel. Occasionally, I beat him to the punch, but as I get older, it takes longer to read books, to actually absorb all the information. I used to finish a juicy Stephen King novel in one night. Of course, that was when I was in my 20’s and single. I didn’t have a child, a husband, a dog, two cats and a house to worry about. I was also in a coma two years ago this month, and a CT scan last September, when I was also in a coma, but a shorter one, showed I had areas of “cerebral anoxia.” Translation for those not in the medical profession: I have areas of my brain that are dead due to lack of oxygen. I have no recollection of certain events leading up to that hospitalization, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t get back my quickness and acuity. It’s one reason I’m on disability: would you want an RN who can’t remember simple multiplication or is forgetful of words on a regular basis?


But seriously, our kids are more sophisticated than we are. They know when they’re being conned. And since I was a big supporter of Barack Obama, I trust he’s not going to con our kids at this point in his presidency. He’s been honest and upfront on most subjects since he was elected. He’s gotten stuck in the middle of arguments, and mis-said a thing or two. But who are we to judge? Would we be able to handle all the stress of the job of President?


My son was an Obama supporter too. He proudly put up the “Obama for President” sign in our front yard, and angry when it was stolen, or taken down. He’s listened to all of his addresses, and reads what I write about him on the internet. I gather my information from what I read as well. Despite our shaky finances, we donated money to Obama’s campaign, the first time in my life I donated to any candidate. And I worked the phones before the November election, reminding other women to get out and vote.


So, if our township approves it, my son will be listening to the President on Sept. 8th, the first day of school for him. What a nice way to start the year. Maybe it will motivate him to continue working hard in fifth grade and help him feel positive about going to school every day. His fourth grade teacher didn’t motivate him. In fact, she made it miserable enough for him that he didn’t want to go to school. He missed twenty-three days of school last year and still managed to make straight A’s. There’s something wrong with that equation, and I hope the President has figured it out for my son’s sake, and all those other kids who might be struggling along, wanting to quit. If President Obama can’t motivate our kids, I don’t know who can.

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