Monday, January 31, 2011

Found: Religious tolerance on the playground

About a month ago, I posted about a letter I received from my daughter's school. A boy had been found with a weapon-like religious emblem. At first, the principal of the school inspected the emblem, called a kirpan, found it to be dull, and gave it back to the elementary student and his parents. However, another parent complained; there is a zero tolerance policy for weapons, including anything that looks like a weapon. The family, members of a large community of Sikhs in my town, volunteered to not let their son carry the emblem while the matter was resolved.

In the meantime, this caused quite an uproar in the community -- on both sides of the issue. My town has a large community of Indians, including a significant number of Sikhs, a religious minority in India. All baptised Sikhs are required to carry a kirpan -- usually a small, dull, knife-like emblem -- as part of their religious faith. The kirpan represents their dedication to defend the defenseless.  On one side of the issue, we had a religious minority wanting their children to be able to wear an important -- required -- emblem of their faith.  On the other side of the issue, violence in schools is a hot-button issue, and parents do not like anything that could be used as a weapon on school campuses.

Reading between the lines of the articles posted in the newspaper, the School Board clearly wanted to accommodate the Sikh community and allow kirpans in school. At the same time, they had to find legal grounds so that they could have strong grounds for the exception to their "zero tolerance" policies.

In stride, the Sikh community hosted a few events to help the larger community understand more about the Sikh religion and traditions.

Just last week, parents received a follow-up letter stating that the policy had been revised, and kirpans were now allowed in the schools, but there were restrictions. The kirpans had to be small (2 1/4 inches), dull, sewn into a sheath, and not visible (covered by clothing). There will be no random searches for kirpans, but students who violate the policy will not be able to wear one in the future.

I have to say -- I was quite impressed with the balanced and sane approach taken by our School Board. They took a potentially volatile situation, and made rational decisions that weighed both students' safety and religious freedoms.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had more situations where common sense prevailed over fear and irrationality?

With that, I leave you with the picture of my daughters' schoolmate from her Montessori preschool winter program -- a Sikh boy dressed as Santa Claus.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mommytography 365/20-27

More pictures.  No photo challenges this week.  I just didn't have the energy.  And, after looking through my pictures -- it appears to be Buttercup the cat week.

20: Justice on ice
I walked through the Plymouth Ice Festival, and this one was quite striking.  I liked it with the Penn theater in the background.
21 Buttercup in the sun
Buttercup the cat.  In the sun.
22: Robot daddy
Daddy shows off his muscles.
23: Danger, Lassie!

I walked into our living room, and found my cat watching a Lassie movie.  She was quite interested in what would happen to Lassie next -- but I don't think she was rooting for him.
24: Perfect Yoga Triangle pose

My son shows off his yoga skillz.
25: Ninja bath boy
My son thinks any time is a good time for some karate.
26: Flying cat

My daughter was playing with Buttercup.  She flies!

27: Mirror, mirror...

I've always wanted to get a picture of reflecting mirrors.  It's harder than you think to get out of the way of the mirrors!  My daughter thought she was hiding from my picture because she was under the cabinet across from where I was pointing my camera.   Oops!  Mirrors!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mommytography 365/*14-20

365/14:  Momma has tool skillz.

My son got a new bike for his birthday.  Assembly required.

But momma delivered!
365/*15:  Through the windshield

A round window through the car windshield.

365/16: Robin

365/17: Cuddle bear
When I left for work, this is how my daughter's bear was set in a chair.
365/18: Sushi night or Jedi battle?

Sushi night in a geek household.
365/19: Walking pneumonia

Yep.  I have walking pneumonia.  This is my day.
365/20: Technocat

Our cat Cindel claiming the remote and my Blackberry.

More than meets the eye!

My son had his 4th birthday this past week.  We had a Transformers themed birthday party for him with friends and family.  He has become an avid Transformers fan after Daddy introduced him to the Autobots and Decepticons through the original series that Daddy has on DVD.  (I've mentioned we are a house of geeks?)

My son is in love.  He has watched every episode -- in order.  He then tells me all about Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Megatron, and many more of his favored Transformers.

So, we decided to invite an extra guest to his birthday party -- Optimus Prime himself (Daddy was happy to be the stuntman in the suit). 

Seeing my little guy's eyes widen when that red and blue robot walked in the room was priceless!

And then, daddy showed off his latest talent -- he can TRANSFORM!

... this post was brought to you by Mama Kat's writing prompts.  I responded the prompt, "Something unique you love about your significant other."

Mama's Losin' It

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Don't mess with Moxie

A few years back, pre-kids, my husband and I took a tour of Europe. It was an amazing trip.

One of our many stops was the bustling historical metropolitan city of Rome.  Before we headed off to eat, shop and tour ruins, our tour guide gave us some extra hints and tips about exploring Rome.  As foreign tourists, we were easy marks for pickpockets -- so keep a close eye on our stuff.

With that extra note of caution, we headed out on our latest adventure.  Rome was amazing.  the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum...

As we strolled down one of the crowded shopping corridors, a young girl (maybe 11 or 12) popped out in front of us, and started asking me questions.  I wasn't sure if she was trying to sell me something or...

... then I hit me She was the distraction. 

There were two more girls, slightly older, behind us.  I quickly stiff-armed the young girl with a quick sweeping motion, pushing her out of the way. After we got a few steps away, my husband realized what happened as well.  The "handlers" of these young girls were probably in an alley close by.

While this whole episode was disconcerting, I was glad that I acted on gut and was not pick-pocketed.  The event was also a small window into another world where people are so desperate for money that they'll send their young girls out to steal.

I still don't know how I feel about that.

On the one hand, I can't imagine making my children do something so clearly wrong.  On the other hand, I've never been a true outcast of society (these girls were likely Roma -- also known as Gypsies), with few options for employment.  I've never been hungry for long periods of time.

This story was prompted by Working Mom Wednesday post "when I trusted my gut..."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Rockstar vs. Band Geek.

How did this...

My son rocking it out.

Come from this???

Me.  High school.  Marching bells.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mommytography 365/*7-13

365/7: Happy boy

My son after finishing his puzzle.
365/8:  Snowed in!

A truck in our sandbox is unlikely to get plowed out until spring.
365/9: Snow dog.

Our dog Annabelle got some playtime in the backyard.
365/10:  Rainbow-snow connection

We made up some spray bottles with colored water.  My daughter had a great time making artistic snow creations.
365/11: Random acts of kindness

My daughter made us all these little notes, and handed them out to daddy, mommy and brother -- for no reason at all. :)
365/*12:  Feeling Upside Down and Sideways

Mommytography 365 Project Sunday Assignment

365/13:  Winter commute

I commute down a dirt road every day.  This was the view on Thursday.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How did you get that scar on your head?

Most people I've met have a scar on their head somewhere, and there is usually a great childhood story behind it.  Everyone in my family has one except my young son.   

Crap. I just doomed him.  I should put a helmet on him RIGHT NOW.

Anyway.  Here's the story of how I got my quarter inch scar through my eyebrow.

Girls giggling.  Hair hanging.  Upside-down red faces.

Recess. Sixth grade.

My friends and I are on the monkey bars taking turns hanging upside-down, with legs intertwined in the bars.

We hang down and face each other.  Giggling.

I hang down, and pull myself up again.  Then I drop my head down again; my blond hair dangles toward the dusty ground. My friend Jennifer (name changed, but we all had a friend named Jennifer in the '80s, right?) hangs down facing me, giggling.  She pops back up again.

I can feel my face getting flush from hanging too long.  Time to pull myself up again. Then...



I'm on the ground. Holding my head.

I realize that Jennifer dropped her head back down just as I was coming up.  Head-on collision.  The back of Jennifer's head struck the front of mine. 

My friends gather around.

"Are you OK?" One of them says.

"Ya. Just give me a minute."  I say, trying to stand back up and feeling around for my glasses.

"BLOOD!!!!"  A girl yells with a blood-curdling scream. 

I pull my hand back, and it is, in fact, covered in blood.  My glasses became a weapon when Jennifer's head collided with mine. My glasses split my head right open along my eyebrow.

I'm walked to the front office and my mother is called. 

"No, no.  She seems OK.  She's just sitting here with a towel on her head, but you'll want to pick her up."  The front lady explained over the phone to my mother.
Side note:  As a mother now, I know this call would have been quite disconcerting, but at the time I was just embarrassed.  Who wants their mom called for a bump on the head?  I was hoping I could just go back to class.
My mom arrives quickly.  As she walks into the office, and I go from a normal shade of light pale to ghost white. 

"Are you OK?"  Asks my mom and the lady at the front desk.

"Ya.  I think I'm just thirsty."  I head out into the hallway to drink from the fountain.

My ears start buzzing.  My mom is trying to talk to me, but I can't hear her.

Everything fades to black. 

Have I mentioned I'm a fainter?

I think my mom actually caught me before I hit the floor. I don't remember doing a "full faint."  But fainters rarely do.

Now back in the office sitting on a chair, my mom -- a former nurse -- assesses my cut.  She decides that taking me to the ER will be too traumatic for her little fainter, and the cut is only worth a stitch or two.   Instead, she takes me home, and she fashions a butterfly bandage.

Have I mentioned my mom is awesome?  Oh, I have.  Well, it's worth mentioning again.

This post was prompted from Mama Kat's writing workshop prompt, "Scarred."

Mama's Losin' It

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Hangin' on

Working Mom Wednesday: Virtual high fives!

I work in IT (Information Technology).

I work in a virtual world.

I rarely see my coworkers and customers.

We operate by conference call, e-mail and instant message.  Globally, in international time zones.  I have worked with some people -- for years -- that I have never met.  Or maybe I've met once when he or she happen to be in town on a business trip.

Do we talk about "personal stuff" like kids, spouses, home life?  Of course. Successful virtual working requires that we can build relationships with people we never see face-to-face. So, yes, I talk about my kids and what they are up to in school.  I offered up my husband's latest attempts to become a movie star.

I also ask my coworkers and customers about their home life. I've found out fascinating things about my coworkers, their culture, and parenting worldwide. 
  • A coworker in Slovakia was required to attend a fathering class at the hospital before his daughter was born.  Awwww....
  • My European counterparts were aghast when I returned to work after my son was only 3 months old (most of Europe has at least a year's worth of maternity leave).  I'm aghast, too.  Ah, well.
  • I've discussed the differences between Montessori versus Waldorf style preschool with a German coworker.  He'd never heard of Montessori, but his son attended a Waldorf school.
  • An Indian software developer I work with recently had to move to a new work location -- his company built a brand new campus for 25,000 people.  His wife was not happy about his new hour and a half commute.  I was dumbfounded by a company has that many employees in one location.
  • I've spoken to my boss's boss's boss about her trials and tribulations with her adopted teenage son.  This gave me a new-found respect for my executive-level manager.
Without these non-business interactions, my coworkers would just be voices at the other end of the phone.  These personal interactions are important for building trust and increase collaboration.  Clearly, there are boundaries to these discussions.  I'm unlikely to discuss my daughter's latest angst, the color of my son's poop, or last tiff with my husband.  Be Positive Mom gave some great guidelines on finding those boundaries.

This post was prompted by...


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