My Daughter is a StairMaster

Photo by Posh Living, LLC on Flickr

 

It’s practically a parenting requirement that you rock your toddler back to sleep when she has a nightmare in the middle of the night. Each toddler has their little “quirks”–tiny little preferences that soothe them and help ease them back into peaceful slumber. Some need a bottle. Others need a song. Mine?

Mine likes stairs.

As in really likes stairs. Get her within visual distance of a flight of stairs, and it’s like a candy store just jumped up in front of her. She’ll gladly (and tirelessly) run up and down it (with parent in tow, of course) for half an hour if need be, and woe to the unlucky adult who has to separate her from it.

“But wait,” you ask. “Do you mean to say you make her climb the stairs at 3 am in the morning to tire her out?”

No! No no no no no no NO no no NOOO! Of COURSE she doesn’t climb the stairs in the middle of the night.

That would be ME.

I don’t know what it is about the jerky motion of ascending and descending those steps, but it calms her down. And she doesn’t let me off easy, either. If I dare stop and rest, or step back into the hallway to a flat surface, she tells me (in the way of vocal toddlers), “I’m sorry daddy, but I would still like a little more time on the stairs. You can rest later, when I’m 5 years old. Please daddy? With sugar and maple syrup on top?”

Translation: WHAAAAAAAAAAH

To which I reply, “Yes, dear. I would absolutely love to take you another round. It’s only been 10 minutes, and daddy doesn’t really need to be entirely sane when he goes to work tomorrow. Golly gee, I don’t mind my legs turning to jelly at all.”

Translation: Sigh.

My daughter needs an infomercial.

 

Social Promotion and the Death of Education

High School Daze

Good luck guessing which one is me.

For those unfamiliar with the term, social promotion is an educational practice where a student is advanced on to the next grade level whether or not their performance deserves it, in order to keep them with their peers. The theory behind this is that holding them back to repeat the year might cause undue mental anguish and scar their emotions and self-esteem for life.

My response: SO THE EFF WHAT.

I’m old enough to appreciate the value of a child’s (especially MY child’s) education, and young enough to clearly remember what school was like in my day (answer: difficult but fun). And let me tell you: social promotion is a crock of BS.

If your kid is doing badly in school, and you let your teachers advance her a year just so she can be with her friends or to spare her some grief, then you fail as a parent. Consider the following points:

1)      You’re doing your child a disservice. You’re teaching her that it’s okay to be lazy, that it’s all right to have low standards, and that you can advance through life by failing.

2)      The kid is going to hate being left back. Let’s get that clear. It will cause her emotional distress. It will seem like her world is coming to an end, all because she won’t be able to advance a year level. But (and here’s the key point) she’ll get over it.

3)      Putting her in another year level is not going to crimp her social life. She’s going to see her friends outside school anyway. If anything, she might make even more friends. Hopefully the right ones, this time.

Social promotion seems to be pretty widespread in North American schools, but from what I hear it seems to be creeping into Philippine schools as well (including my alma mater, much to my disappointment).

So here’s my request to you. If you’re a parent, make it clear to your school board that you won’t support that kind of policy in schools. Tell your kid’s teacher. Tell their principal. If the child is struggling in school, don’t ask for an easier test. Help your child study for it. And above all, don’t take flak from your kids. If they plead, cry, beg, wail, complain, bitch, comment, or express dissatisfaction at the fact that school is hard, take them aside, wrap them in a comforting hug, put on a sweet, parental smile, and tell them:

“Deal with it.”

A Red Thing by Joe Zieja

My friend Joe over at Loose Threads has taken the plunge (well, more like dipped his foot) into the world of self-publishing by putting his dark fantasy short story, “A Red Thing”, up for sale on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords.

I’m seriously excited for him. Not just because he’s attempting to self-publish, but because his work deserves to be noticed. Joe recently won an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future (though not for this story), which is kind of a big deal. I’ve read “A Red Thing” before, and it is one of my favorite short stories, not just from him, but in talking about short fiction in general.

Here’s the posted synopsis for those too lazy to jump the link:

A red evil has fallen upon the world. The Maji Benkara, demons who crave sensation and pleasure not accessible to them in their ethereal forms, must possess humans to achieve a vicarious life. They rule with magic, with fear, and with cruelty – but they need a willing host to do it.

“A Red Thing” follows one man’s journey through the dissolution of his humanity as a Maji Benkara takes control of him and uses his body to wreak havoc. The lines become blurred between a conscience lost and a power gained, and he must fight every moment to retain some shred of the man he once was.

So give his ebook a try. It’ll cost you only a buck, and in return you’ll get a great tale that you can share with your friends.

Update 7/10/12: The ebook just hit #45 on the Kindle’s bestseller chart for fantasy anthologies (which is wierd, because it’s only one short story, but there you go.)