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February 2010 entries

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

On Tuesday afternoon when I picked the kids from Bostley's, Aidan's teacher pulled me aside.  She wanted to know if it were true that I was pregnant because Aidan was telling the class I was.  I filled her in on the big news, and she replied, "I thought he was telling the truth because at circle time he told the whole class how the placenta feeds the baby through the umbilical cord."  Yep, that's Aidan for ya.

Gabrielle was also talking at school, but she basically stuck with the fruit analogies: "The baby in Mommy's belly is as big as plum", that sort of thing.

This weekend, both kids had lots of questions and general comments for me.  Both are excited to hold the baby:  Gabrielle said she'll sit on the couch and hold the baby's head.  Aidan said, "I like babies until they start to cry."  Yeah, well, that's pretty typical, I suppose.  Aidan also asked, "Why do they just drink milk all the time?"  I explained that babies have no teeth when they are born, and he was flabbergasted.  At first he laughed because he thought I was joking, then his little jaw dropped while he tried to imagine a toothless baby.

Gabrielle offered: "Why don't they eat applesauce?  Daddy gave me applesauce last year and I didn't have to chew." [Editor's Note:  For Gabrielle, the past tense is most often described as "last year".  This applesauce incident could have been that morning, two weeks ago, or in fact, last year.]

Of course, this lead to discourse about babies' many deficiencies.  They can't, for example, walk or talk or sit up or use the potty or play with toys or . . .

And Aidan had one last inquiry: "How do babies move inside your belly?  I mean, after your belly gets really huge?"

I think between the questions from my students and the questions from my children, I will have plenty of baby knowledge stored up.  I could, you know, start a blog or something.

Let the Questions Begin!

Last period, a student told me that she was going to bring in a surprise for everyone on Friday.  Someone jokingly said, "Yeah, it's cooked lamb" to which I replied, "I can't eat meat on Friday!"  Then another student asked if I fasted on Fridays during Lent (Lent questions are typical in this largely Protestant community) and I said I was exempt this year because of being with child.

That opened the floodgate of questions about childbirth and pregnancy:

"Does your stomach go right back to being flat after you have the baby?"

"Can you still go on our field trip to Boston in June?"

"Will you be really fat?"

"Will you need a cane to walk?"

"Does it hurt to breastfeed?"

"Yeah, do babies have teeth?"

"Doesn't it feel weird to be pregnant and have that thing in you, moving around?"

"Can you feel it now?"

"What sex is it?"

And so on...

This isn't actually too bad.  Some of the questions scare me...they are in 11th grade for heaven's sake, but then again, I had a girl in my Gender Studies class (also 11th grade) ask why all the fuss on condom commericals about "feeling like the real thing".  She asked me point blank:  "What's the difference between sex with a condom and sex without a condom?"  Welcome to 2010.  I diplomatically fielded the question with an explanation of the history of the lame excuse that some guys give girls about not wearing a condom, and that of course there is a difference, and that is why you have unprotected sex in a monogamous relationship when you are mature enough to accept the consequences. 

I digress.  Back to the pregnancy questions.  One student remarked that health and sex education should be taught when they are in 11th and 12th grade again so that they can actually understand it all this time around.  (Scary thought, that...) I suppose I will be getting more and more questions as the school year and my belly progresses.

Another class told me that they KNEW I was pregnant because:

1. I wasn't drinking coffee.

2.  I had long nails (after two years of short nails...they seriously notice this stuff).

3.  I had a small "baby bump" and started wearing bigger sweaters. 

Ahh, the telltale signs.  This might be a fun -- especially since my students know they can basically ask me anything within reason and I'll be honest about it (within reason!).   

Coming Out of the Closet

It's official:  I'm 11 weeks pregnant with Installment #3 of the Connor kids.  With Aidan and Gabrielle, we announced the glad tidings of great joy pretty early, but since I work at a high school now and the announcement audience is much larger, we decided to wait until I was about 3 months (and the risks of miscarriage were much lower) before making it public.

I was going to wait until I see the doctor on Thursday to tell my principal, but Aidan and Gabrielle keep telling the world about "the baby in Mommy's belly" so I figured I'd better say something before someone else does.  I'm due in September -- not exactly the best timing for school, but oh well.  We'll make it work.

Aidan and Gabrielle (and Mike, obviously -- or well, obviously if you know Mike at all) are super excited about the new addition.  I have a book that outlines my Pregnancy Week by Week and the kids love looking at the pictures of the baby.  Two weeks ago, the book said the baby was the size of a grape.  Aidan's reply? "You need to eat grapes this week, Mom."

Last night, I explained the function of the umbilical cord and placenta (well, as best as I could to a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old).  Then I had them pull up their shirts and inspect their belly buttons.  I wish I could have taken a picture of their realization that they were once literally connected to me.  Adorable!

Phew.  This is such a weight off my chest!  I've been wanting to blog about my pregnancy for two months now. ha!  As far as morning sickness goes, this pregnancy is awesome.  Aidan nearly killed me -- I threw up the entire 42 weeks.  Little rip.  Gabrielle's estrogen was much more kind to my system.  I think I threw up once (yeah, sorry, TMI, right?).  I've read that it might not have anything to do with the gender of the baby (though plenty of other sources suggest it might...makes sense, right?  Aidan's high level of testosterone annoyed my system, and vice versa for Ellie).  I've read that each pregnancy gets a little bit easier on the nausea front.  That has certainly been my experience, either way. 

So there it is.  I'm out of the closet.  And now I don't have to tell my kids to stop talking about their little brother (Aidan's choice) or sister (Gabrielle's choice). 

Kids These Days

I'm sitting in the library, next to a student who is supposedly researching material for our next AP essay.  We've just finished a chapter on science and technology, and I've assigned a research essay for which they select the topic and sources.  The thesis must be arguable, and the student next to me is insisting that he can develop a position paper on time travel.  He seems to vacillating:

"I don't know, Mrs. Connor.  There are so many variables.  I don't think time travel can really work." don't say.

I had to explain to the kid next to him that when he misses class, he needs to see me to make up the work.  He reacted inexplicably and boxed my ears.  Ok, actually, he told me to write that part.  This is the same kid who whispers, "She's silently judging me right now" when I do a homework check. 

You should see these guys do their boyfriend routine.  It's hilarious.

Anyway, I am wondering a bit about "kids these days".  For some kids, there is an apathetic response to all things academic.  In a recent in-class essay, I had students staunchly defending mindless TV watching for hours as a way to "unwind after a long day at school".  Others even admitted that they wonder why they watch the shows that they do because the plots and characters are incredibly inane. Why don't they read?  One told me, "I've been forced to learn all day.  Why would I want to read a book when I get home?" don't say.

And remember -- I have AP kids.  Who don't read. 

We like in a fast-paced world that can be ironically consumed with passive activity.  This concept was addressed in an essay we read recently in my class.  Sven Bikerts notes that the pace of reading is determined by the reader -- the page stays the same and we determine our level of interaction.  For TV, the pace is determined by the producers of the show, and we are but passive recipients of their agenda. 

 On the opposite side, consider the Internet.  Another student next to me has been reading and he has been determining the pacing of his reading on the screen.  He selects the links to follow, he lingers over Tiger Woods's eleven a.m. apology, he skips over the basketball highlights.  He's lost in his own world and doesn't realize I've been watching him for a moment or so.  Is this a comparable experience to reading a printed text?  To be sure, it's different, but as someone who often finds herself lost in the world of a book, I can relate to this student's oblivion. 

This isn't a question that can be answered today.  I am not even sure where I'm going with this blog.  It's a stream-of-consciousness of my general musings, I suppose, without a shred of Woolf's mastery.  I apologize.  Feel free to X out at anytime.

The Daughter of an English Teacher

Today, I took Gabrielle to the doctor for her three-year-old physical.  While there, she was asked a host of questions by the doctor ("Who lives with you?"  "Do you ride in a carseat?") meant to assess her verbal skills and probably, to check up on parents who might not be taking care of their children as they should.  A few of the questions had to do with diet.  The doctor asked, "Do you eat fruits?  Do you eat veggies?  Do you eat milk?"  Gabrielle started to laugh and said, "No!" to the last question. 

The doctor tilted her head quizzically and said, "OK, well, do you like juice?"

Gabrielle said, "I don't EAT milk -- I DRINK milk!"

Increase in Teen Pregnancy: Who's to Blame?

I have my agenda for my Gender Studies class posted on my board every day.  Today, a student came into my study hall and observed that I will be starting a unit on teen issues, the first being teen pregnancy.  She told me, "Oh my gosh, that's so weird.  I just followed a girl up the hall who was saying that she was getting old and that she should probably start making babies.  Then she started talking about her sex life.  It was awkward."

I asked if she knew the age of the student in question.  She estimated 9th or 10th grade. 

Can this student possibly be hearing her biological clock ticking?  Where on earth would she even get that idea?   Evidently, she is not alone.  According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, after 14 years of decrease, the rate of teen pregnancy increased three percent from 2005 to 2007.  The organization cites several probably causes: increase of sex, decrease of birth control, decreased fear of AIDS/HIV/STDs. 

Certainly, sex is sensationalized in the media for teens.  A study posted on the National Campaign's website reports that by 12th grade, 64.6% of teens have had sex at least once. 

Why should we care about these statistics?  From an economic standpoint, it costs us $9.1 billion in tax dollars to support teen childbearing.  From a moral standpoint, there are about 743,000 million teen pregnancies a year and only 400,000 births.  From a social standpoint, teen mothers tend to drop out of school, and their children tend to do worse in school.  Interestingly enough, time and time again, teens say that parents have the most influence in their life regarding sexual decisions (again, according to surveys conducted by the National Campaign). 

For my own part, I will present to my Gender Studies class the complexity of this issue in the media.  We'll watch the popular movie Juno, we'll talk the recent glamorization of teen pregnancy in shows like MTV's Sixteen and Pregnant and Teen Mom.  We'll consider the recent Lifetime film based on the true story of girls who promised to get pregnant together, The Pregnancy Pact.

It's almost time for the bell...let the conversations begin!

Aidan's New Favorite Words

One of Aidan's new favorite words is "damn".  Seriously.  I can't tell you where he got this word.  I can honestly tell you that neither Mike nor I swear in front of the kids...actually, we rarely swear as it is.  But, of late, I've noticed that Aidan will use the word "damn" when he's frustrated.  Here's a recent example:

He was holding his Leapster game device and the game cartridge wasn't coming out of the player easily.  He said, "I can't get this damn thing out of here!"

It was so funny, I was at a loss as to what to even say to him.  I suppressed a giggle and told him not to get so upset...I helped him with the game and then we moved on.  I don't want to make too much of a big deal about the word because then he'll use it just to push the issue. 

Another favorite word, or well, words, really, is any form of human waste.  Example:

Me: "Aidan, would you like pancakes for breakfast?"

Aidan: "Did you say POOPcakes?"

M: ""

Sigh.  Apparently the infatuation with excrement is a common preschool dilemma.  All of the boys, particularly, constantly say "poop" and "pee".  I suppose, like all phases it will pass. 

I hope...