Site Meter

America vs. The World

The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart. — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Rules are rules

Manda is half of Friday Chick Blogging.

I swear I'm not a strict person, but my teaching career has made me believe that rules are the best. The may be frustrating a times, but they're for the benefit of both kids and teachers.

As the acting director of a child development center, a lot of my day consists of following rules that may seem pointless but were put in place for a reason. Let's go through my long and busy day to see rules in action...

7:30 — I'm at work. By 8 I'm sitting at a table with five kids smushing playdoh into "balls," "fish" and other important things. Soon enough I hear "I finished." and before the kids flee they toss their dough into a pail. "Remember to clean up! Thanks!"

8:45 — Reading Where the Wild Things Are to two year olds (who are dazzled by wild things, but not so interested in Max's long adventure). I'm called to a mobile infant room to look at poop. According to our exclusion policies, kids leave if there's blood in their poop. So, I call the family and send her home. "The baby is constipated!" they say. "Well, that's fine. I just need a doctor's note saying that. It's our rule — I'm not a doctor so I can't tell." Parents agree without argument! Victory for Acting Director!

9 a.m. — I flee to bathroom where I read the newspaper for five minutes.

10 a.m. — Other teachers and I shuffle children around so every classroom is in ratio. That means there's one adult for every four kids under 2.5 years and 1:8 for anyone older. Argh.

11:15 — A child returns after one day out with head lice. I research lice and type a notice to put up so parents can check heads for lice and nits. As I do this I have a 15-minute argument with another administrator about the notice. "You do whatever you want," that person says.

"Well, I follow the rules. That's what I want to do." Jeez.

12:30 — Child sent home earlier returns with note from doctor. Excellent!

1:15 — Lunch delayed as I wait for mover and electrician to stop by. Mover moves filing cabinet so that the "way of egress" from behind the desk is big enough. I can totally fit, I tell him. But I'm speedy and fit. So, we have to follow the rules written for the not-so-fit. Electrician promises to undo what he did last week since the rules weren't clear. He and I learn a whole lot about Certified Safety Outlets.

2:30 — Complete immunization report — giant document of children's names, birthdates, lead test dates and TB test dates. Spend half the time trying to read messy handwriting and faxed health forms. Fax machines suck.

4:30 — Time for me to go. But no. There are wayyyyy too many toddlers and not enough teachers. I play outside with the little 'uns to get us in ratio. Sweet children feed me "pasta, cheese, pears, juice and cookies" — all made from dirt and sticks. Delicious! Only one child eats grass! "Yuck, yuck! Don't eat grass. That's not food. We have to pretend to eat outside."

6:00 — Trying to leave out, I hear it from teachers who want days off, parents who want to know an odd array of things (do you have a container for caterpillars? will my kid get lice? do you have change for $20?).

6:20 — I finally leave! With my bike helmet. It's not a rule for me to wear one, since I'm an adult. But heck, who needs a rule? It's smart just the same.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bye Bye Blairie

Bush is running out of European buddies. Mere months after Berlusconi lost one of those too-close-to-call elections, Tony Blair has just announced that he too will step down soon—and none of his likely successors seem to be pushing a pro-American agenda too hard.

But don’t take this as big score for Europe against the US. First off, Blair announced his imminent retirement even before he won his record third term, so this is hardly shocking news. And let’s not forget that while several pro-Bush leaders have gone by the wayside (Aznar, Berlusconi), we’ve also seen the most anti-Bush leader of all—Germany’s Schroeder—replaced by the more conservative (and pro-American) Merkel. Even the stereotype of the anti-American Old Europe is fading away; as Bush plays nice with E3 powers over Iran, images of the asshole cowboy are becoming increasingly confined to San Francisco newspapers and university blogs.

Finally, individual members of the EU seem to prefer the more laissez faire economic style of America and Britain than the pseudo-socialist French model—and let’s not forget that the competitive nature of capitalism is as core an American value as democracy.

So as we bid farewell to Teflon Tony, we should recognize that he’s leaving behind a Europe that leans toward the Atlantic. Take that, Chirac.
Jeff Goldstein is a wanker.