Tag Archives: Double Digits

I’m very sad today, dudes. Horribly sad. And it’s the fault of, well, I’m not really sure, actually. But it’s horribly appalling is what it is.

Newspapers are no longer a trusted source. At least they’re not, according to the stringent requirements of the fifth graders at Awesome Elementary School.

A little background probably is in order.

The fifth-graders in Ms. R’s class are, like the rest of the fifth graders, responsible for creating a study project. They need to research their topic, put together a nice package of all the relevant information they found, and then come up with an action plan based on that information. The action plan should be something to benefit the community, in some way that relates to the research topic.

Being that these are kids who barely have reached the double digits in age, they’re not the most savvy in the world. Okay, they’re barely able to think their way out of a paper bag, but that’s most fifth graders everywhere. Our dudes and dudettes aren’t unique that way.

Anyway, before we let them loose on the wild and wooly world of the infosphere, we had to give them a little bit of a precis on their own on where they should look for reliable information and where they shouldn’t.

Wikipedia, of course, topped the list of the DO NOT USE section of that lecture. Because, Ms. R said, “Anyone can go in there and write down anything!”

It’s a somewhat jaundiced view of Wikipedia and not really very nuanced in that I think it’s a great resource as long as you don’t take things at face value and start to actually follow up on the research suggested in the article. To me, this makes it a great place to start.

Apparently, that’s not a good thing to say to a bunch of fifth graders. Hence, the NO-WIKIPEDIA stance. That I can understand. I don’t really believe it, but I understand it.

It’s these next two that drove me absolutely bat-guano crazy.

On the trusted list was books. Just books. It seems that, according to the high muckety mucks who create these lists in the upper stratosphere of Awesome Elementary School administration, if you’ve got a printed book, it’s pretty much infallible. Which I, as a writer who has actually published a book but would be aghast if someone used it as a reference book, find a little hard to take.

Anyone can print a book and get it out there. All it takes is money, not truth, not solid, peer-reviewed research. Only money. And yet, because these administrators come from an older generation when print was venerated, they’re steering these kids right the wrong way.

Which leads us to the bit that almost made me scream when it was shown.

Newspapers were on the DO NOT USE list because of — hold on while I try not to scream this last bit — bias. Yes, bias. From an institution that is famous for trying to hard to be fair that it will let politicians knowingly tell lies and never call them on it.


I blame a few certain television news organizations for this one. A deep-set distrust of news organizations has set in so deeply in our culture that even our elementary school teachers and students no longer trust what used to be considered the bastion of impartiality and trustworthiness.

What has this world come to?

I have so much more to rant about on this topic, but I’m going to have to stop here. It’s late (for me) and I’ve still got other work to which I must attend before I hit they hay. Miles to go before I sleep, if you will.

More later.

Maybe. It’s possible I could calm down in the interim. Possible.

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A Moment Of Silence

by Richard

I work in an elementary school. I deal with these little dudes and dudettes every single day.

The horror of Newton, Connecticut, is almost overwhelming.

I’ve tried to write this post for most of the weekend and came up with nothing. Every time I try to gather my thoughts, they simply disappear into the well of despair the parents of Newton must be feeling.

Those kids were no older than 10 years old, most not even into double digits. It’s just not right.

No matter what was wrong with the shooter’s brain, no matter what might have led to this. . . It’s just plain evil. Those kids did nothing. Those teachers and parents did nothing.

And now they have to suffer.

And all we can do is watch, and wonder and hope that it never happens again. And, when it does, the whole cycle starts over again with a different group of parents in mourning and a different group of parents watching and wondering and hoping.

There will always be mental illness. There will always be people who are just plain wrong. But we can change things if we make it harder for these people to get at the weapons that make it so much easier to kill others. But that is for later.

For now, all I can do is sit still and sorry and be quietly relieved it didn’t happen here.

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Birthday Party

As my little dudes get older, I’m finding that birthday parties are becoming a lot less hassle, but a lot more worrying. I mean, when the little dudes were, well, little, they mostly had birthday parties at home. They were productions over which I and my wife, known to some as She Who Loves A Good Party, labored for weeks and, sometimes, months to make sure it was just right.

And, of course, by just right I mean that it was something the adults could enjoy while the little dudes completely ignored everything we’d set up and played off in the corner of the yard.

We probably should have expected this sort of thing considering how we managed the first birthday of all our little dudes. See, we figured that babies that young really couldn’t enjoy the party. Adults, however, could. So we decided to throw a keg party with actual keg.

What? Don’t you judge me. It was fun. I think.

No, I’m pretty sure it was fun. A couple of months after each party pictures started arriving in the mail in plain brown envelopes. I’m pretty sure it looked like we were having fun. Although the inclusion of a whip sort of cast that into doubt.


As the little dudes aged, we started planning the elaborate parties. At one point, I know we even rented a bouncy house and hired a clown who also made drawings of the kids. And, yes, in retrospect, I do understand that was going a little overboard. I think we’ve sort of calmed down.

The little dudes became not-so-little dudes and, when the two oldest hit their teens, they started rejecting the idea of parties completely. That was for little kids. They were grown up. At, say, 13 or so. They wanted to get a couple of their best friends together and head out for a night at the mall, play some games and hit a late movie (all paid for by Mom and Dad) and then head back to the house for a late-night sleepover and more movies. Now that was a party I could get behind.

The youngest little dude, rapidly approaching double digits, still likes to have parties, but not at home. That’s for little dudes and he’s a big dude. Now he wants to go places like laser tag, or bowling, or someplace like that where he and his buds can run around, yell and scream, and generally act like crazed monkeys without getting yelled at. Which is, you know, just about perfect.

I plan on enjoying the heck out of this birthday party, because I have the feeling that we won’t be getting many more.

— Richard

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