Current Bedtime Stories at Our House

Cover of "Goodnight Moon"

Cover of Goodnight Moon

Currently our bedtime rotation is Hello Washington DC!, The Duckling Gets a Cookie?! and I Love You Through and Through. Same three books every night over and over because that’s comforting and it helps her know what happens next.

“DC,” as Rocketship calls the first book, is great because it has lots of objects she can identify. She points out Obama (a racial ambiguous presidential figure standing on the White House Balcony), eggs (on the White House lawn), flowers (cherry blossoms), books (Library of Congress), boots and train (there’s a page about riding the metro when it rains), ball and kite (on the national mall), and various animals (at the national zoo). It’s fun, because when she’s older, we’ll get to tell her that she actually visited all of those places!

We love the Pigeon books, and I love that this one is a really simple concept she seems to understand — that if you want something, you should ask for it. If your friend wants something, you should share it. And she laughs when the pigeon says, “Hubba-what?” when he realizes the duckling is sharing his cookie (SPOILERS.)

And I Love You Through and Through is a bedtime story because of the line, “I love you when you’re angry.” I bought it when I bought her her big girl bedding, because I knew she would get angry at us for doing a modified cry-it-out with her. We loved her through that transition, even though it was hard for all involved.

However, if I had to read one story for bedtime each night forever and ever, I think it would be Goodnight Moon. I just love the sense of calm and peace it gave me as a child, and I hope it would do also for my daughter. (The copy in our house was actually gifted to me as a Big Sister gift in 1989.)


[Internet MPP] On Equity

A slice of strawberry cake.

Who gets a piece of the cake? How do we know?

I think this is a first in at least a two year series where I take what I’m learning in my Master of Public Policy program and using the concepts to develop my blogging — and more than that, develop my empathy and my activism. For my State and Local Policy Analysis course, we read four chapters out of Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making by Deborah Stone. Each chapter outlined a dimension of policy analysis — i.e. how we know if a policy is good or bad — and how these claims are political and relative. Equity, efficiency, liberty, and security are all goals of public policy, justifications for government action (or inaction), as well as criteria to judge policy.

The first chapter we read was about Equity. I actually have mentioned equity before, in my talk on chores, but in policy we talk about equity because equality isn’t always fair, but equity is an attempt to make a division that is fair, even if it isn’t always equal.

So, what is equitable? Equity is, of course, a political claim. It’s a discussion about who gets what, when, where, and how (which is the classical definition of politics I learned in high school). Or, in the case of chores, who has to do what, when, where, and how. But what might seem straight forward is actually fraught with questions.

How do we define the recipients of a good, or the participants in a policy? A lot of politics has to do with how you define the “in” group versus the “out” group. Since I started with the chores example, I might as well follow through. The current participants in the running of our household are myself and Tim. You might argue that my mom also participates in the running of my household as she sometimes pitches in and does a lot of child care. But I choose to define the household participants as my nuclear family. My mom is in the “out” group; she shouldn’t be assigned any chores. However, Tim and I need to be part of the household management.

What is it, exactly, that is being distributed? When I talk about household management, I am talking about chores that keep our household running; I’m holding parenting as a completely seperate list of tasks. If I were to define household management as inclusive of parenting, it would make sense to add my mom into the participants pool — but because of the way I’m defining the tasks (dishes, laundry, vaccuuming, etc, instead of diaper changes and naps), the participant pool is narrowed.

What is the process by which the good or resource is distributed? I described the process that I used to distribute chores in my marriage already. Part of the reason that process worked was that it was transparent at every step. When I wrote the list, I checked with Tim. When I distributed the chores, I did it with Tim. But other processes might have been seen as fair — like a random number generator. Or a lottery. But it seemed fair to us that we could pick chores that we liked and were good at.

Equity, in some ways, is the most straightforward of these four policy yardsticks, but as you can see — it’s all relative, even as we’re trying to be fair. Different political philosophies might come into this; how you define the “in” group and the “out” group all depends on your philosophy, but these are the basics.

I wrote this as a way to have a framework for my blog, and future discussions. Do you think this is helpful?

You’re Wiser than That

A black and white icon of a teacher in front o...

Image via Wikipedia

My little brother didn’t have school yesterday because they shut down the school for a security threat. Apparently, one teacher made a threat against another teacher, and after he was asked to leave the building returned the next day for work. Third or fourth hand knowledge of the event (because the gossip mill in suburbia is surprisingly rapid) says that what he said was this:  “If you [believe that? argue that? say that?] I may as well shoot everyone and then kill myself.”

This particular teacher (if you know the school district, you can google and find a name — it’s made the national news) was a mentor of mine, especially as a newly transplanted freshman who hated all the “dumb people” she had to deal with day in and day out. He challenged me, encouraged me, and most of all was there for me — as any good teacher would be.

He is prone to hyperbole, and I know he had some frustrations with school bureaucracy. With the budget cuts, with the political climate, with some of the pedagogy, I can imagine him uttering the phrase that was interpreted as a threat as a way of expressing his extreme frustration. However, I can’t imagine him actually perpetrating that violence.  He once kept my freshman history class on lockdown because of rumored threats — not even ones that the administration was taking seriously. He was one of the teachers who told us what he would do to protect us in the case of school violence. He was also the kind of guy who would blithely tell anyone who would listen how he could kill a guy with a wrapped twinkie.

I can’t say for certain what happened. But as I was doing dishes I couldn’t help but think that it’s sad that most of our analogies for extreme disappointment and hopelessness are violent. “I felt like a little part of me died.” “I am dead inside.” “This institution is dying!” “You’re going to destroy everything we stand for!”

It reminds me that violence is the language of the voiceless — it is their last resort, as democracy or the lack there of, as bureaucracy, as the mental health care system, as the economy, as international relations and international trade have failed them.

I trusted my mentor to be wiser than that, to find other discourses and other ways. Be wiser than violence.