Old Dogs, New Tricks

A blog for non-traditional students

Motherhood Strikes Again

I’m just going to say this upfront – I am so frustrated right now that I’ve contemplated just dropping out for the quarter.  With that being said, let me set the stage for what’s set me off tonight.

Thursday, as I was leaving a conference about this very blog, my phone rang.  I thought it was my mother calling again to let me know that the bus she had said was late (fifteen minutes earlier) had finally delivered my rambunctious little boy.  If only things had gone so smoothly.  The call was about my son but it wasn’t my mother – it was the principal at my son’s school.  He sort of beat around the bush, sending my blood pressure skyrocketing, as he explained that the school had called the bus back – because three kids had seen my son holding a little tiny screwdriver right before he was called to his bus.  When the teacher asked him about it, my boy – in his anxiety to get to the bus before the other kids did and kept him from getting a seat – lied and said he didn’t have it, then ran out the door.  She overreacted, or just explained the situation poorly to the teacher monitoring the exit to the busses, because he called the principal and said that my son needed to be pulled off the bus because he had a – wait for it – weapon. 

At this point I’m on the verge of screaming, “Where is my son?!  What did you knuckleheads do to him?!”  I understand that people tend to freak out when kids bring potentially dangerous stuff to school these days, but what was really going on here was a little bit of profiling – my son is smart-off-the-charts and not the most socially successful little guy.  I admit it, he’s a little bit of a nerd, and definitely bully-bait.  But the administration took that, combined with his furtive behavior, and assumed that there was loose cannon on their bus.  The end result of all this, that the principal finally got to after ten minutes of blithering, is that my son is suspended for three days.  By the way, for those keeping score, this happened the day after I found out about my apparent-ex having gotten married.

So cut to Friday evening – I’m submitting a paper for one of my Monday evening classes, and added a note asking for permission to bring my son with me, since I don’t have childcare available in time for me to get to school.  In the three years I’ve been at UC, every quarter I have had to bring my son with me at least once.  I always check with my professors before I bring him, even if it’s a quick email dropped that morning when he turns up sick and unable to go to his own school.  In the three years I have been here, I have never had a professor say no – on one occasion, I had to bring him along when we had an exam scheduled; the professor, who was also a parent, said that as long as my son could sit with the TA at the back of the lecture hall, it was fine.  Contrary to what my son’s school thinks, he’s a remarkably well-behaved little boy, as my classmates who know him will attest to.  

Imagine my surprise – or boiling irritation – when my professor responded and said that since it’s not the department’s responsibility to provide childcare and that the lounges are for student use only, I have to make other arrangements for childcare.  He oh-so-kindly suggested that if I couldn’t find a friend or family member to watch him, then I should check with the UC Women’s Services to see if they could help.  If I weren’t a responsible student, I would happily skip class Monday and badmouth the professor by name all over campus – but I’m scrambling to figure out what to do with my son and kindly leaving the entire episode anonymous. 

The irritation here is two-fold.  The obvious part is the completely senseless response of the professor – I mentioned that my son is 11 years old, so it’s not likely that he’ll run around like a toddler and disrupt other classes.  But fine, it’s his right to refuse – this is why I always ask ahead of time.  What really chaps my hide (I just love that turn of phrase) is that UC offers nothing to help student parents in these types of situations.  There is no emergency child care, and the child care that is directly associated with the university a) is expensive, b) has a waiting list and c) is only for preschoolers and younger.  Forget about the fact that it’s located closer to University and Children’s Hospitals than west campus.

So, here’s a lovely example of being a non-traditional student biting me in the … well, you know.  I’ve got to go corral my little pseudo-felon into bed.

*** Danielle

February 28, 2009 Posted by | Generation Gap, Maturity, Student Life, University Policies | 1 Comment

To Facebook Or Not To Facebook

I’m in a quandary.  It seems like I’m being left behind by the waves of people flocking to Facebook as the new way to interact with each other.  Not that this is tremendously surprising – I never got around to making a MySpace page either.   One of the reasons I’m reluctant to join the masses is that some employers now check Facebook and MySpace for potential employees and can use what they find there as a reason to not hire you.  Of course, at the age of 33 and being a Christian single mother, the odds of my having anything objectionable on my page would be minimal.  It’s not like I’m a party animal or an exhibitionist so I’m not likely to have a lot of pictures of myself stumbling drunk or, um…, stark naked.

I also worry that maybe it seems like I’m too old for this sort of thing.  I mean, Facebook originally started out as a social networking site for college students.  Okay, so I am a college student, but as a non-traditional, I often feel like I’m not really a part of college life.  It sort of feels like I can label myself as college student, but it’s just some sort of subtle fib based on a technicality.  But I guess the whole issue is moot now that Facebook is open to and used by all kinds of people.

Then there’s the whole issue of who I might find – or who might find me – if I put myself out there.  My best friend of nearly 20 years just created a Facebook page and while she’s enjoying connecting with her friends, she’s gotten scoped out by people she isn’t even sure if she knows, and certainly doesn’t remember – like people we went to high school with.  She sent me a text message the other night asking me if we knew this woman who had requested to be added to her friends (or however that works) – while the name was vaguely familiar, I couldn’t place her so it makes me wonder who would search me out there.  On the other end of the spectrum is the possibility of finding people who have disappeared from my life over the years, only to discover something totally shocking about them.  For instance, again relying on my friend’s new adventures, she looked up my (nominal) boyfriend who moved to Missouri last March to take care of his ailing father.  I haven’t heard from the guy in months, and since we were together for seven years, my family and friends (both his and mine) frequently ask me how he’s doing.  Well, thanks to my friend, I finally have an answer to that question:  He’s freaking married!!!  Without so much as a note saying “Let’s see other people” or even “I’ve found someone else and I’m getting married.”  I feel vaguely like I’ve been kicked in the stomach and a little bit betrayed – saying nothing for how my family, particularly my parents, feel.

So, while I feel like it’s nearly expected of me to follow the lemming-like stream of people to Facebook, I’m left wondering if it’s a great idea for me personally.  I admit that on those few occasions when I’ve looked up someone on Facebook, I was annoyed that I couldn’t view more of their pages.  So maybe I’ll go ahead and jump off the proverbial cliff and create a page/site/whatever – I just hope the leap works out better for me than it does for the lemmings.

*** Danielle

February 28, 2009 Posted by | Technology | 4 Comments