Lakewood Co-operative Preschool
Where Families and Friendships Grow
Dear Lakewood Families:
May is here, and the sun is shining for the moment. Hooray! We have one month of school left before our kids begin their metamorphoses from Bumblebees to Crickets to Dragonflies. Looking around at all these sweet, funny kids, their growth over the past year has been amazing!
We have a pretty busy month ahead. Starting with this Friday—the annual Lakewood Auction! Thanks to everyone for procuring and a special thanks to our hardworking committee; they are putting in a lot of time right now! Let’s be sure to help them in all the ways we can, especially by RSVPing and paying for our tickets in advance. Then, get ready for a really fun evening: dress up, get out of the house, enjoy the food and drinks, and have fun bidding on lots of great deals and exciting activities. Our success in our annual auction has a huge impact on the school—from the scholarships we offer, to the capital improvements we can make each year. So, bid early and often and remember, it all goes to a great cause!
Next, we have LCP board elections. Each year the current board solicits great people to serve on the board and encourages them to run for a position. This is our proposed slate. Some positions are still open, and all positions are up for consideration, if anyone else would like to run. The only stipulation is that you can’t sign someone else up. The election sheet is on the door to the classroom. We’ll put ballots in your box the second week of May, and all voting needs to be in by Friday, May 10. We’ll have a ballot box on top of the mailboxes for you to put your ballot in.
Finally, mark your calendars for some up coming events:
Sunday June 10th. End of year party from 3:00 - 5:00 pm at the Pritchard Beach home of Bumblebee family Deena McCloskey and Jay Brodmerkel (Thank you!!) Stay tuned for more details to come.
Wednesday, June 13th. Last day of school!
Thursday and Friday, June 14 & 15. – LCP school clean up and dismantling for the summer. (If you didn’t set up or do the mid-year clean up, we’ll look forward to seeing you at this LCP rite of passage.)
And get ready for the legendary and much loved LCP all school summer playdates. School’s out, but if you’re looking for some buddies to play with (kids and grown-ups alike!), you’ll be sure to find old and new friends at our M,W,F playdates at local beaches and parks. Look for the summer calendar in your boxes and on email next month.
See you pressed and scrubbed at the auction!
“I used to want it all.
Treasurer: (Jim reporting for Leanne Corcoran)
Parent Coordinator: (Melanie Fix, Jane Schmidt)
Fundraising: (Laura LaForte)
Class Chairs: (Jurate Audejaitiene, Kara Dowidar, Brian Buckner)
Job Assignment for 07-08: Jim will go through all job positions we have now. Send Jim input about all the jobs to see what we should restructure. Plan a separate meeting to talk about job restructuring.
Sick Leave Policy:
Birgitta said other co-ops don’t have a policy in place and just work it out
within their chair and group. We should have official policy on this just so
people know that we have a procedure whereby you can contact your class chair to
ask if you need help. “Case by case basis to be approved.”
Jocelyn said PAC reported not knowing of any co-ops that do this. We’d have to
define what we’re checking for.
Church Liaison: Lauren is meeting with Wanda about cleanliness issues that Wanda is concerned about. Many things are left by Church on kitchen counters. Hopefully, Wanda will be receptive. Church needs to repond to our concerns about water found in vents.
New Teacher Hiring Committee: Christine, Hannah, Krista, Melanie, Jane (Chair), Birgitta, Kara, Erin Deadline is end of March. Posted on CraigsList and our website.
Rochelle Brown is LCP secretary and
mother of Cricket Elise.
jbandtheroche [at-sign] msn.com
“Are we done bonding yet? 'Cause I brought my Gameboy.”
Are We Raising Another “Me” Generation?
I subscribe to an online newsletter called “ExchangeEveryDay” published by the Child Care Information Exchange (www.ccie.com/eed). Every day they send me some news in the world of Early Childhood Education. Sometimes they’ll give information on childcare in different countries of the world, sometimes they’ll cite some recently published article, and sometimes they’ll just summarize information from recent workshops.
Recently my newsletter has quoted several articles about “children and nature.” Since spring is finally arriving in Seattle, these articles have struck a chord with me.
At a three day Working Forum on Nature Education for Young Children in Nebraska, the following points were brought up to summarize why it is so important to promote nature education in early childhood:
Wishing you a happy spring time in the out-of-doors,
“Ten bucks and I'll tell you where all of 'em are.”
Pied Piper is kids' entertainment at the Mt. Baker Community Clubhouse, some Saturdays at 10:30. Suggested donation is $2.
Last Saturday: Seattle Mime Theatre Performed at Pied Piper
May 19th: Last Performance of Pied Piper,
One You Don’t Want to Miss!
“That's his father's idea.”
“They're OK, I guess. I just wish I could change the font.”
When my son, Xavier, was 18 months old, he picked up a cucumber at the supermarket and started shooting it. We don’t watch power rangers or the like, he doesn’t have an older brother who models a lot of superhero play, and he hadn’t started daycare. My first instinct was to turn around and walk quickly in the opposite direction in hopes that nobody would realize the violent toddler lunatic was mine. Luckily, I’ve taught preschool long enough to know there is hope for my son. In fact, I knew he was probably experiencing very healthy developmental urges and that I was the one who would be instrumental in either subverting these natural inclinations or channeling them into something constructive.
Real guns are nothing to fool around with. The Dragonfly class recently had two police officers from the south precinct talk to our class about gun safety. (Don’t touch any gun you find. Tell an adult immediately. Some guns look pretend but can be real.)
When it comes to children pretending to shoot things with their fingers or with objects they’ve manipulated into gun-like shapes, what is a teacher/parent/caregiver to do?
You have three options:
If you ignore the gun shooting completely, children are likely to become terrors. They will not learn how to contain their “power” or use it for good. They will certainly not learn how to respect the boundaries of others, nor will they be learning societal norms. Chances are they’ll be sent home from kindergarten for pretending to shoot the principal. (Zero tolerance is really making this world a better place…)
If you tell children that no play violence is allowed, children feel confused and shamed. After all, you allow the girls to play “mean sister” in the housekeeping area, but we know that it’s not okay to be mean in real life. To children, play guns are just that: play. All children are mesmerized by the propelling motion of things that shoot through the air. Children love the idea of causing something powerful to happen with the pull of a finger. They’ve also figured out that there is something tantalizing about guns, even though most preschool age children don’t even know what bullets are or look like. (When I ask three year olds & young four year olds what their pretend gun is shooting, they’ll often say fire or water). Yet, logistics aside, these children have absorbed the powerful symbolism guns hold in our society. A power that even grown-ups are afraid of.
So, do children stop playing with guns when you tell them not to? Don’t be naďve! Of course not! They’ll play when you’re not looking. And we all know how much more fun that makes the game. Unfortunately for you as a parent/teacher, by forbidding the violent play outright, you’ve passed up your opportunity to talk about the true dangers of violence. You’ve lost your opportunity to set limits within the confines of the violent play itself. And you’ve likely produced a feeling of shame in your children. They are intuitively drawn to guns and now you are telling them their instincts are naughty? Authors and psychologists who research the psychology of boys have spoken on how harmful this can be to a boy’s psyche at an early age (Gurian, Pollak).
I guess by now you’ve figured out that number three is the correct answer, at least in the idyllic space we call
Teacher Erin’s Mind. If you’ve been a parent in my Dragonfly class, you’ve noticed this funny phenomenon:
At first, when kids find out that Teacher Erin thinks building guns out of
manipulatives is OK, the kids are wild
with delight and excitement. For the first few weeks, they are literally trigger happy. So it becomes part of our
curriculum. We have many class meetings, trying to figure out how to keep people’s feelings safe in the midst of our
play. We have opinion polls to see who likes pretend guns and who doesn’t. (Girls often start out not liking them, but
change their minds as the year progresses; they are learning that girls don’t always have to “play nice”.)
We also brainstorm ideas and vote on agreements for the classroom community surrounding pretend gun play,
such as “you must ask before you point”. And so, after the initial flurry of gun play and all this social negotiating,
the play really starts to lose its excitement and the children miraculously move on to some other area of interest
(such as rocket ships). If I had outlawed the play altogether, I would have prolonged its endurance rather than
shortened it. Remember how long you dated that guy in high school that your parents hated?
Lastly, another important reason that children engage in pretend violent play is that it’s a safe way to act out their fears. I see little boys in particular acting our their vulnerability time and again. They are scared of so many things that they cannot control. Death is looming out there and they are trying to make sense of it for the first time. I’ll see one child being “slayed” by a sword, and the next minute the dead child comes back to life with a powerful cry. When we do story dictations, I often hear stories about volcanoes exploding and people dying or machines sucking up the people into outer space. These play scenarios don’t reflect merely children fascinated with violence; these scenarios reflect children trying to make sense of a world that contains violence. And isn’t that what we as grownups still strive for?
Our latest agreement in the current Dragonflies class emerged recently that in order to play pretend guns, you need to build a designated space out of blocks to contain the gun play, so it’s a designated shooting area. This way, classmates not participating in the gun play will not be subject to gunshots in the middle of their kitty game, or in the middle of cooking their dinner. I am proud to say this was totally child-initiated; I was not the one who made this suggestion, nor was I the one who voted it into our classroom constitution. The children are learning what it means to live in a community. They are learning how to respect one another’s diverse ways of thinking and being. They are learning how to create a world that is less violent. So for the sake of peace, let them keep playing in the way they are wired to play.
“No, they don't bobble.”
“You expect me to believe nobody in the entire kingdom had the same size slipper?”
“We're a family, Tommy. We don't have a slogan.”
Welcome to April. Or possibly May. The three-week early daylight-saving-time switch really messed with me this year. And my computer broke so I had to wait for the new one and then install all new software on it. And I was on Maui for a couple weeks and they put deceptively large quantities of rum in those drinks. Plus, I had to get my tuxedo cleaned for the LCP auction. (It's at the Rainier Club; you can't show up in polar fleece and sandals.) So that's why this one's late.
A few months back, I mentioned the possibility of looking into the various causes of children's accidental deaths. Bereft of article ideas, I'm now making good on that threat.
Millions of years of natural selection have bred parents that worry about their kids, and for thousands of generations, the worries changed little: starvation, disease, carnivores, or an imbalance of the humours. But in the last 150 years or so, the threats have changed. Polio? Pfft. I worry about whether my daughter is being solicited through Club Penguin (you'll find out soon enough). Overall, the modern world is certainly a safer place to grow up, but Parental Worry Capacity is hardwired in our genes and remains constant, regardless of actual threat levels. The question is then: Are we worrying about the right things today? They say worry is a waste of time, so worrying about the wrong things is even wastier (shut UP, spellchecker). Instead of worrying, we could be thinking up clever retorts to long-ago insults, perhaps accompanied by elaborate revenge scenarios. Still a waste, but more enjoyable.
Now way back when I was a lad, the world was different. Only race car drivers owned helmets. Seatbelts were merely a suggestion. Riding in the beds of pickup trucks was routine. Every pool had a diving board. Schools didn't just allow peanuts; they served them, smashed between bread slices dripping with preservatives, with a side of pesticide residue. My archery set had arrows with sharp metal points. The majority of my toys would not be allowed in carry-on luggage today. I was turned loose in the morning and told to be home by dark. There were no child-proof caps or antibiotic hand soaps. People smoked in my presence. The sky was frequently darkened by flocks of pterodactyls, for I am ancient.
Clearly, parents back then wanted their children dead. But not me; I'm different. Unlike my parents, I won't have Social Security to fall back on, so I'm going to need guilt-ridden offspring to support me after I waste all my money on food, clothes, medicine, and tuition for them. Therefore, I'd like to know how to postpone my children's deaths for as long as possible, or at least not have them die on my watch.
Disease takes the lion's share of kids, but once you've immunized them, you've done about all you can. Accidents, on the other hand, are—by definition—entirely preventable. And by preventable, I mean reasonable precautions. Even for childhood death prevention, there comes a point of diminishing returns, or a course of action that is more costly in terms of benefits forgone. For example, auto transport will cause thousands of children's deaths this year, 100% of them preventable, but to prevent them would entail forgoing millions of miles of auto transport, and frankly the kids spend too much time in my house already.
The reasonable parent will take reasonable precautions, but in order to know what is reasonable, we must be armed with accurate probabilities. Much of what parents do is common sense, but as Einstein said "Common sense is nothing more than a series of prejudices acquired before the age of eighteen." If your prejudices are accurate, bully for you. But we all have our own peculiar ones (I avoid countries whose names end in -stan, and restaurants that prominently feature the word fixin's), and maybe they could use a reality check.
My parents, for example, hated guns and forbid me to have toy guns or—heaven forefend—a BB gun; they are simply too dangerous. They had no problem with my having a mini-bike, however. My friend Mike's parents, on the other hand (the one made into a gun shape), would not let him have a mini-bike; they are simply too dangerous. But they thought a BB gun was a perfectly reasonable toy for a lad. (We often met in the woods and traded our prized possessions for an hour.)
So whose parents had a reasonable and enlightened view of childhood safety, and whose were nervous nellies? I don't know. But I do know that tearing down a trail on a mini-bike after shooting stuff with a BB gun—all with no more safety gear than a cotton T-shirt—is as good as it gets for a 12-year-old boy. But wouldn't it be nice to know how often someone does actually put somebody's eye out with a BB, like Ralphie almost did in A Christmas Story? (Fun Fact: the role of Ralphie's dad was turned down by Jack Nicholson.) Or how often some kid has a life-changing injury on a motorized conveyance? Now that I'm a parent, what should I be worrying about? Are two kids enough? Should I add a third as a genetic backup, or would I—as I suspect—become proportionally more lackadaisical? (After all, back when families were larger, childhood accidents were more common.)
Armed with only Google and a broadband connection, I tried to find some answers.
Travel back in time with me now to the year 2003, the most recent year for which I could find national mortality data. (Actuaries never rush.) It was in many ways a simpler, quieter time. A president with a 70% approval rating had toppled a ruthless middle-east dictator in mere weeks. OutKast and Fountains of Wayne streamed from "iPods" (a music-playing contraption popular with the young). Female pop stars kissed open-mouthed on award-show stages, Nemo was found, and Porsche made its first SUV. And there were 81 million Americans under the age of 20, twelve thousand (.00015%) of whom died from accidents (some certainly iPod related, though I lack hard data on that). For comparison, three times as many died from disease, and a quarter as many were murdered (some certainly with or because of iPods, though again I lack hard data).
Here's a table that breaks down the accidental causes. Clip and affix to your refrigerator with a novelty magnet for maximum safety awareness, especially if you are raising boys, who seem not to do well in captivity for they have three times the accidental death rate of girls. In fact, based on my research, I recommend converting your boys to girls until they reach the age of 25.
If we look at kids 0-13, the results change slightly; now accidents edge out disease as the leading cause of death, but the proportions are about the same. But when I look at Table 1, I think Where are the guns, knives, and electrocutions? How many drownings occurred from not waiting an hour after eating? And what fraction of those poisonings were from Halloween candy? It turns out that media-friendly mishaps are so rare that they get lumped together under Other, but here's what I was able to find out about freak accidents by trolling the murky waters of the internet. (All figures should be taken with a modem-sized grain of salt; get yours at www.salt.com.)
In a typical year:
In nosing around the web, I found that two types of childhood deaths are controversial: gunshots and peanuts. In the gunshot debate, one side says accidental gunshots to children under 12 account for fewer than 10 deaths per year. The other side says thousands of kids are shot each year. It seems like the lower figures are closer to right, as the higher figures define children as anyone under 20, which ropes in a lot of gang shootings and other criminal behavior that isn't accidental. One web site claims there is one child killed each year for every million guns in the US, but also one child killed for every 11,000 swimming pools, which would make pools almost a hundred times more deadly than guns. (I've always found it interesting that my child's pediatrician asks if I have a gun at home but not a pool or a dog.)
In the peanut debate, one side claims a hundred kids die each year from anaphylaxis caused by peanut ingestion, often caused by increasing use of peanut products in various foods. The other side says it's closer to one (I could find no official-sounding data) and that schools are overreacting with peanut-free zones on the advice of their attorneys. The good news is that according to medical web sites, their are no known peanut deaths caused by anything other than actual ingestion. Kissing or shaking hands with a peanut eater won't trigger a reaction, they say.
As for BB guns vs. mini-bikes, my parents were the negligent ones. I could find no documented deaths of a child from a BB gun injury (although I'm sure there have been some; I've read The Darwin Awards), but some eye injuries. (Safety glasses, people; they cost $5). Motorized conveyances, however, (and I'm lumping mini-bikes, dirt bikes, and ATVs together) kill hundreds and maim thousands yearly.
Now maybe you're thinking "Bill, my children don't have BB guns or mini-bikes, but I do have a trampoline and, like you, I put it on the roof of my garage. How can I find out how dangerous that is?" The problem with the Web is you can't just ask it "How dangerous is the trampoline on my garage roof?" (It's the only place I had room for it, BTW.) But what you can do is search on trampoline injuries children and see how many hits you get. Be especially concerned when many of the hits are paid ads for law firms. Here's a sample of what I found:
Well, maybe this isn't such a good method after all. A million hits for "iPod injuries children"? It's almost like you can't trust the internet anymore.
Regarding trampolines: the American Academy of Pediatrics has this to say: "Never purchase a home trampoline or allow children to use home trampolines." Hmm... But they're cool with dogs and pools.
Speaking of childhood dangers, it's time for a Sex Offender Fun Fact: The majority of sex offenders give false information about their place of residence when registering. Imagine that. It's almost like you can't trust convicted sex offenders anymore. It's actually a relief that most of them lie because there are several child rapists listed near LCP on the King County sex offender web site. (The Seattle Police sex offender site even has photos.) One address is across the street from the park. But take heart; odds are he does not live there.
OK, so what about poison Halloween candy? According to snopes.com, there are no documented cases of Halloween candy being intentionally poisoned, with the exception of a father murdering his heavily-insured son in 1974 by lacing a Pixie Stix with cyanide, trying to make it look like a random Halloween candy poisoning. Pins and needles, however, have been found ten times since 1959, the worst injury being a women needing a few stitches in her mouth.
Other things that never really happened:
But that doesn't mean these things couldn't happen, so remain vigilant. They're going to discover something awful about iPods any day now. My money's on brain tumors.
Where Have All the Diving Boards Gone?
Diving boards have been disappearing like dodo birds. When I was a lad, we would frequently seek respite from pterodactyl attack by jumping off the diving board at the local pool. They even had what was called the "high board" which was at least two stories, but seemed as high as the Space Needle after you climbed up, and back down again the first few times. Where did they go?
Now I know some of you are muttering "damn lawyers", but the answer is really "damn juries". In 1993, a Washington 14-year-old did a "suicide dive" (head first, arms at his sides) and broke his neck, leaving him paralyzed. Tragic, yes, but hardly the diving board's fault. Nevertheless, everyone got sued, lawyers got half of the $10 million, and jackpot juries have been paying off ever since. Insurance liability costs for pools with diving boards can now cost more than the pool itself. (I made that up, but it sounds cool, which is the spirit of internet research.)
Sometimes, though, a stiff insurance bill alerts society to the real costs of a dangerous activity: life insurance for smokers costs more; house insurance on the Gulf Coast costs more. Are diving boards really a danger we've been blind to?
It seems in this case, no. The Consumer Product Safety Commission calculates that there are 50,000 serious injuries (including 4200 drownings) in swimming pools each year. But diving board injuries are rare enough that they don't even merit their own category. According to a Wall Street Journal article, Pool and Spa News estimates 20 spinal cord injuries a year (but doesn't say if that's a recent year or one of the diving-board-infested years of my youth).
You can look at photos, buy prints, or upload an album of your own.
And baby Martin makes three (kids, that is). [Monica, watch out that you don't become proportionally more lackadaisical regarding safety. --Ed.]
Cricket Sophie's birthday
Crickets on Pajama Day