I hosted the Las Madres 2006 holiday party today -- or rather, I provided the house. Everyone else did everything else!
I had to make cookies though. I wasn't done before the first guests arrived, Elena and Megan. They were there with mom Cris to help set up, and I'd suggested the girls come too, because all 3 of my kids adore Elena. Turns out, Katrina spent a lot of time playing with Megan too, which is only a few months older than she is.
First, they helped me finish making these reindeer cookies. The kids loved this.
Then guests, party, food, an ornament-making craft, and a book exchange.
(I noticed that the ornament craft was all girls plus Julian -- he's onto something!!)
When things were winding down, my friend Sonia told me she met another 1st-grade Collins Mom who was so upset about all the work that she and some other parents went to complain to the principal! I was thrilled to hear this -- at last, vindication! A support group!!
Meantime, Julian's "heritage figure" had to get started this weekend, and the weekend was winding down. As we were cleaning up, the really amazing thing is that Cris offered to help Julian with the crafting part of the project -- and they got it done! It sure helps when you know what you're doing (who knew you could cut a popsicle stick into a nose?). Cris is great at crafting. She gave me some interior design ideas too. I need more friends like this.
Meantime, Katrina and Megan colored Tinkerbells. It was so sweet, and so unexpected, to see all this cooperative girl-play in our house. We need more of that. Katrina falls right into the girl role when she's not surrounded by boys.
Julian was adament that his heritage figure be an AMERICAN kid. This includes a flag T-shirt!
We're not done with the project, he still has to write about it, but I can handle that part. Emotionally, anyway -- I think he should be learning to write a 5-sentence paragraph. The crafting stuff...not so much. Not just because it's not my thing, but because I don't see that as essential a school function as learning to write.
Hmm, I sound like an uber-academic parent, don't I! Well, yeah, I don't think gluing and cutting is as important a part of a 1st-grade curriculum as writing, sorry! And I don't think parents should be forced to do crafting, even if they are good at it!
Unfortunately, Julian prefers the crafting part of projects. It's ironic, but Gabriel is actually easier to work with for the writing parts of things. I can't remember if that's because he's older or because it comes more naturally to him. My guess is the latter. It's amazing; our super-literal and engineer-oriented son does best in the fuzzier language arts in school, despite his claimed preference for the math. Meantime, our more open-minded creative imaginative communicative son has a harder time expressing himself in writing. The learning process really is fascinating.
I still insist that this level of help and effort and time -- two dedicated hours of a friend's time to help with a craft project -- should not be imposed upon 1st-grade parents by the school.
And the more I think about it, the content of the "heritage" thing should be accessible to a wider range of parents. Gabriel's passport project might have seemed rather inappropriate in East San Jose, where a large number of the kids are illegal immigrants. "Tell about their experiences getting to the USA." Imagine! Kids with Native American or African-American backgrounds might feel the same way. Some heritages might actually be sensitive. Or, like ours, forgotten, not influential in our lives, or just dull.
Right now I'm too overwhelmed to compose a letter of complaint to the school, but I'd better get to it before the next 1st grader comes around. My weekend hosting a party shouldn't be marred with schoolwork -- the party is way more important!