Before the BBQ I took the kids to the park. We ran into Sophia and her mom there. I hear a lot about Sophia from Hongmei, she’s apparently at the park a lot during the week. It turns out that Sophia’s mother is running for Alderman for our ward. She was pretty nice about it, and was mostly just chatting normally while wearing a little name badge that indicated what she was running for. Sophia’s father on the other hand set off my politician slime alarms. It was a little weird. It was like he was trying to do the natural just chatting thing his wife was pulling off and at the same time he was trying a little too hard to try to get people to talk to him about “issues”. To make matters worse he was doing it as though he was not a real person but a poorly written bot. For example, he asked how long we’d been in the area and where we lived. I told him that we lived on [busy road] near Tufts, while pointing in the appropriate direction. He commented that it was a nice area, and I agreed with the caveat that I did worry about traffic. Somehow he made a leap from my having concerns and living near Tufts to me being concerned about Tufts students, and started going off on how people in the area were concerned about Tufts students. It was not what I’d said at all. Granted I’ve had cars vandalized twice, probably by Tufts students, but no matter who gets elected to what I doubt Tufts is going anywhere, and where you have a university you necessarily have undergraduates who occasionally get really drunk and do really stupid and possibly destructive things. What possibly good could bringing up Tufts students do? Mildly irritated I corrected him: when I said I was worried about traffic, what I meant was that I worried about my small children getting hit by cars. I clarified the exact intersection that I lived near and noted that there were a lot of accidents at that corner. Unfazed the bad bot program forged on and since I was talking about traffic accidents he assumed I was talking about the rotary that’s about half a mile away from the intersection I’d just specifically named. Truly, it was as if he were picking out random keywords in what I said and spitting out the "issue" it probably belonged to. Sigh. Schools also came up and he assured me that the Somerville School District was very good, but was unwilling or unable to say why. I specifically asked about gifted programs since he brought up the subject of schools and got a non-answer. Is there a specific term for a human that people would consistently guess was a poorly written piece of software in a Turing Test? Anyway, my conclusion was that Sophia’s mom would do well to leave her stupid husband at home.
Speaking of schools, thanks outerjenise for your post on local Montessori schools. It was great and informative. I continue to be worried and concerned about what we are going to do with our kids when it comes time to enroll them in school. Various people keep recommending private schools to me, including random strangers in the toy store or book store when I haven’t even brought it up, and they all sound pretty good, but then they all cost in the neighborhood of $20k a year and my first thought is always that $20k was the estimated cost of MIT my freshmen year, and that included the price of the dorm room. OK, that was 22 years ago, but still. It’s a huge number and we simply can’t afford it. The proposed Chinese Immersion Charter School hasn’t updated their site since February when they failed to get a charter, causing me to wonder if their claims of continuing to try for a charter are really true. I worry that in a traditional classroom Margaret might be inclined to get into a power struggle with her teacher. My girl is a bit of a control freak and a perfectionist, with a clear sense on how things ought to be. She can be reasoned with if (usually) if you explain to her why you want her to do X, but I doubt public Kindergarten teachers would be amenable to explaining themselves to a five year old. Duncan is mostly more willing to go with the flow, but he is really easily bored. My current theory on his size issue is that eating is just too damn boring for him, so he loses interest after a few bites; anecdotal evidence seems to support this theory. I think I want Margaret in a classroom where she can be self-directed, and I want both of them to be free to learn at their own pace. I have no idea how I can accomplish this without spending money we don’t have. I’m guessing right now that we might just have to send them to the local public schools and then work with them at home as well so they actually learn something. This is more or less what my mom did, and it’s the only viable strategy I can think of unless I find a charter school: treat the public schools as free daycare and teach them at home since in my experience most elementary school teachers are incompetent.