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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Wednesday, August 20, 2003

I had an appointment for a phone interview today. The guy called 10 minutes late and proceeded to tell me that he wanted a systems architect who also wrote documentation. Good luck finding THAT! I've given up....there are no jobs for normal everyday technical writers anymore.

Anyhow.... back to the introduction.

I've got these twins, a boy and a girl. As Patty Duke used to say, different as night and day. Boy is profoundly gifted, ADHD and a royal pain in the butt, but is actually a very sweet kid with a lot of angst. He's also so pretty. Big blue eyes, sandy blond hair that lightens to a halo affect around his face in summer.

Girl is suffering from permanent PMS. She's had it since birth, but it's a lot more severe now that puberty is upon us. She's got learning differences and can drive a normal person to drink because so much of what goes in her ears comes out skewed beyond comprehension unless you know her.

Both are in middle school, but in different grades. They've been in a variety of school settings, most of them so horrible that it's comic to look back and remember why I paid all that money for such bad education.

The school saga

First they went to a Jewish day care centre run by a woman who couldn't keep books and made vast mistakes on people's bills. One of their classmates was the daughter of David Mamet and Rebecca Pidgeon. Nice folks, pretty down to earth. MUCH younger than I had thought possible.

Next was a year stint in kindergarten at our local Solomon Schecter Day School. Very successful for girl, sucked for boy. The letter of the week was what finally twisted the knife in his back.

In kindergarten it is customary to have a 'letter of the week' to teach the alphabet. My son had been reading for 1.5 years when he started kindergarten, but that didn't dissuade his teacher from insisting he learn the alphabet. All went according to plan until they got to the letter K. Boy, knowing that this would make a comic impact, came up with all the silent K words he could think of. Knife, knee, knight....you think of it, he suggested it to the class. The teacher was not amused. But I was, starting a lifelong policy of mom thinking kid is hilarious whilst teacher wants to strangle both kid and mom. Oh well... never been much of a conformist.

At the end of kindergarten we went west to Silicon Valley, where I enrolled the kids in a community Jewish day school. School head told us a pack of lies about the school including that the kids swam daily (never went once!), there were special math classes for gifted kids (not!), etc. etc. Nothing he told us was true and the school, well suffice it to say that they didn't hire gifted teachers. Boy's teacher was a stanford lawyer who decided she liked teaching better. This was her first year and she ran the classroom like a law office. We were already looking at other schools by November.

Next we moved to the Solomon Schecter Day School. Another total bill of goods. They didn't stick to the Schecter regs at all, the head (known as the goose for her huge ass by all the kids) was a complete head case who blamed all problems on bad parenting, and again...teachers that shouldn't have taught. Pulled boy out in Nov of 3rd grade and homeschooled him. Pulled girl out in March and homeschooled her. Life was interesting in our house, as I was looking for work, working short contracts, and teaching my kids all at the same time.

Next year we went to the local public school which was WONDERFUL. And free, too! Boy had a terrible teacher but complaints got him moved out of that class. Girl had nice teachers that saw she had LDs, something the Jewish schools denied although she was barely reading in 3rd grade.

However, the job situation was dire and we had to leave in mid April, moving back to the east coast.

So what does a sane mom do?

She decides to pack up everything and send it into storage 300 miles away and drive her twins across the country in a 1993 Caravan with 100,000 miles on it. Wouldn't you?

The trip was the highlight of my parenting life. I said it! Yup, it was a blast. I don't think any of us will ever forget it.

From CA we went to Reno where we stayed one night in Circus Circus. I now refer it to it as chokeus chokeus because the cigarette smoke was so thick. Kids loved the arcades and the show, and Boy especially loved the all you can eat desserts. Nothing like an all you can eat meal to keep the boy happy.

Day 2 took us to Salt Lake City, but not without some very funny mishaps. We almost ran out of gas, not because of bad planning, but because they had a bad storm and the electricity went out and none of the gas pumps worked! We had to go way way out of the way to get gas in a tiny town where everyone had farm animals in their front yard. Different than what we're used to! We went to bed and awoke in the middle of a raging blizzard. My only though was, we need to get over the pass before they start requiring chains. We made it through to Wyoming, which was not charming.

I wanted to drive an hour south and go to Boulder but boy was adament. No way did he want to see the Rockies or my alma mater, even though I hadn't been to Boulder in over 20 years. So we missed Colorado and barely saw the rockies in the distance.

The drive across the prarie to Lincoln Nebraska was eventful only because there were tornado warnings the entire ride. One kid looked to the right, one to the left, I covered front and back. Didn't see a twister but it was exciting listening to the radio and hearing about them crashing through towns we never heard of. Lincoln was the place where the back of the van got smashed in a hotel parking lot. Only damage the whole trip.

From Lincoln we headed to DesMoines, where we called and found the Kosher butcher (Chabad) and he kept the store open for us so we could make shabbas at a friend's house in between Ottumwa and Oskaloosa Iowa. They had never had Kosher chicken before and pronounced it delicious. Stayed with our Iowa friends for 3 nights where their kids and our kids intermingled and my kids both got riding lessons from their dad, a professional cowboy. Tons of fun, then a departure to Chicago.

We stayed with a friend's cousin for 2 nighrts in Chicago, which I just loved. What a great city. After so long in Silicon Valley and then driving across white western America, it was quite a jolt to see so many african american faces. Yes, no longer in the land of the pale! Our housing was in an Orthodox neighborhood where we could eat in real restaurants. Very very nice. We went to the art museum where the kids got to see paintings they knew about from books and we saw a game at Wrigley Field, a livelong dream of mine. It was so cold, but what a great ballpark.

Next we moved on to Cleveland, where we saw a game at Jacobs Field. I hated that stadium although the Kosher hot dog stand was right behind us (serendipitous!). It was absolutely huge and impersonal and the people in front of us were teens more impressed with their boyfriends than the game. All we saw was hair flipping, all we heard was giggling.

We also went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which was a blast. I completely embarassed my children by singing out load to all the music we heard. I didn't care, that museum is made for people exactly my age. I wish we could have stayed longer, but we had another destination in mind.

That night we arrived in Cooperstown NY, where we had an appointment the next morning with the brother-in-law of a friend to show us around the Baseball Hall of Fame. I was so tired and feeling sick that I fell asleep IN the museum. Oh well... I saw everything I wanted to see.

The last night we drove to my brother's house in western MA, and then we were almost home again.

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