Sunday, November 19, 2006

I was so busy yesterday, I forgot to visit Mr Pibbles, that virtual pet on the NaBloPoMo maestra's blog. I got in some virtual hamster exercising and feeding early this morning, so it ought to suffice. Maybe the whole blog posting every day for a month ought to be transmogrified into feeding a virtual pet every day for a month.

Oh, that's right. That's way too easy.

Yesterday, I took the standardized tests towards teaching certification, and it took all morning. I rushed off to show off my vocal capabilities to some of the board members and the rabbi of our synagogue...and I'm now on tap to lead Saturday morning Shabbat services once our current cantor leaves for his new job at another place. Then I went home, napped, and made my way back to the synagogue to rehearse with the synagogue choir and with the folks joining us from Mobile to sing here.

So yesterday was chock-full. I had to keep reminding myself that it certainly wasn't as insane as the weekend I spent working one job after another for nearly twenty-four hours straight. Possibly more on that one in a later post...

What I have fallen into, beginning last night, are a number of things that are once again highlighting what a hardship it can be to try to raise kids down here.

In order of encounters:

- I sat and talked with a friend and fellow choir member who I haven't seen since she was married almost four years ago. We talked about the Praxis tests I had taken, and she asked me how they were, since she is looking at other employment options now that she is laid off from her previous workplace and is basically living off her severance and her husband's income. She discussed with me what it would possibly be like having a kid at this time, and if it would be feasible to be trying to work here and raise an infant.
This is one of the reasons why the decision made at my son's school to go for a full day of teacher development training without child care being offered ticks me off so much. Child care in this city is still in crisis mode and is nearly nonexistent until the kids reach the full day schoolgoing ages, effectively cutting out half of a potential workforce (i.e., parents) that could be helping this city recover. Many extended family members (and potential sitters) that used to call New Orleans home have evacuated the area in large numbers and resettled themselves elsewhere permanently. Add young families who want to raise a family here but are contending with the increased costs of living in this area and it adds up to a big problem.
I had to tell my friend straight out that unless she was going to kick-start a day care of her own, I really didn't see how she could work and care for a new baby at the same time. She protested that her biological clock was ticking, however (she's thirty-one).
On the other hand, she said that her husband's school bills would be coming due very soon, too, so financially it might not be a good thing to have a child now. I wish her luck in whatever she and her husband decide, but this area and this particular time make things more difficult in the childbearing and rearing regard.

-I opened up the morning paper to find this article staring me in the face. Somewhere in the midst of the same section of the paper was this one, too. It's all just awful. It highlights the shortened manpower, the smaller numbers of students, and, most of all, an absolute lack of common sense with regard to these buildings and their upkeep. Read these stories and look at what was left behind. The innocence of a generation was lost in there somewhere, too...

- I went to a Jewish educators' seminar tonight and talked for a bit with a woman who has been teaching in the recovery district as well as in a local synagogue religious school. She had been talking with another woman, who had had to admonish her son that just because they currently live in a FEMA trailer, it doesn't mean that they are white trash.
"Then you need a t-shirt I saw on sale in the Quarter recently," I said. "It says 'Proud to Be Authentic Trailer Trash - Thanks FEMA' "
The comment got everyone giggling, but the woman from the RD told me that some of these kids have clearly been affected by their experiences, which were way more harrowing than having to share a trailer while their homes were being gutted and rebuilt. She herself is teaching kids who had to be evacuated from the area in helicopters. Kids who had had to make their way to empty interstates and sleep on them for, in some cases, several nights over before being evacuated.
The comment that really got me was when she described a parent commenting on her son's behavior: "He hasn't been the same since he was in the water." Presumably, the kid had had to wade his way through floodwaters to some semblance of shelter or safety.

Two steps forward, and one back. We are recovering slowly, but the hurt, the anger, the shock is all just beneath whatever veneer everyone is putting on. And the jury is out on how these kids will live with these experiences, on what they will do with them.

All of us, works in progress...

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