Sunday, August 26, 2007

8/26/07 Snooping

This morning, I took the boys to a birthday pool party, that was held, mercifully, at baby's naptime. So Katrina stayed behind while the boys and I went in the water.

I missed most of their water playtime because we were a little late. Then, grossly overestimating how much time we had, I decided to swim some laps myself, while my friends kindly agreed to keep an eye on the boys. I took a break from swimming, looked up, and found all the kids at the tables eating pizza. Oops!

Great place for a party though. Quinton's parents sure know how to throw a party.

Later in the afternoon, I resurrected my old backpack (one of a few items that survived the ill-fated "we're done with babies" sweep) and took Katrina open-housing, largely to practice evaluating kitchens.

First I saw a $1.8M house in unincorporated territory, by following signs, and there was no one there except a lonely, anxious realtor.

Then I saw a $1.5M house next to a nice park, and it was packed with Asian families. They obviously know something I don't, because though this less expensive house was nearby, it was much, much nicer -- better layout, better kitchen, better yard, better location, better feel overall.

However, I didn't like the kitchen! I'm not sure why yet, but right away it struck me as cramped, even though it's in a fine space. The obvious prep place for food is pretty far from the fridge. Plus there's not enough space on either side of the cooktop, and the weird 3-level island isn't inviting.

The lonely realtor at the more expensive house commented that the schools the house is zoned for have "high API scores." I just can't get myself to care about API scores in choosing a house. Is this really a decision factor? Do people really choose a house in Los Altos over one in Cupertino because of a local school's score on this one specific test? It's worth a moment's interest, I guess, and an extreme score one way or another is worth asking about. And I want my kid to succeed as much as the next guy. But isn't there a whole, whole lot more that goes into a kid's school experience -- and life outcome -- than one measure? I'm already not crazy about the way Gabriel's school is run, but its "API" score is very, very low on my list of things to care about. I don't even know what API stands for.

Meantime, in Cupertino, home of the largest Whole Foods Market west of Austin TX, (and whose schools apparently have high API scores), a sampling from the school hot lunch menu:

Monday: Turkey Pizza Pocket
Tuesday: Chicken Nuggets
Wednesday: Nachos/Tortilla Chips
Thursday: Cheese Pizza
Friday: Chicken Patty/Bun

There are "healthy" things available every day, like applesauce or "chilled pears" (code word for "canned"), and milk. But there's plenty of opportunity for kids to eat nothing but junk for lunch. And I've never believed that if you give kids healthy food at home, they'll develop the habit of eating healthy and will avoid junk food. All kids like junk food.

Didn't I care about this when he was at Kids Inc for pre-K, you might ask? The food there certainly wasn't any better. Yeah, but, it seemed more temporary, and all the kids ate the lunch there; it wasn't set up well for some kids bringing bagged lunches.

So, I'll be packing lunches, ones that meet even my low standards. A rare victory of food snobbery over laziness. Tomorrow, he gets a bagel with cream cheese, a Babybel cheese, a bag of grapes, and a bag of cashews, and a bottle of water. Last week, I also packed him a few cookies, and all he ate was the cookies. No more cookies then. Poor kid will be scarred for life.

Maybe by the time he can make his own lunch, he can do so in a brand-new high-API-score kitchen!


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