Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Aspiration Anxiety

by B. Strong

Thanks to our imminent "move" to Palo Alto, Quinn is going to be entering his third day care center. This means that I've had the dubious honor of filling out my third set of intake forms. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, daycare intake forms are all pretty much the same. Along with the standard demographic stuff, you're asked to describe your kid's family structure (including pets), development milestones, health, eating patterns, personality, and bowel movements. Not necessarily in that order.

So far so good. Then you get to the questions designed for no other purpose than to increase anxiety in the typical middle class parent. Or at least, I've seen no evidence that my answers to these questions have any relationship whatsoever to how the teachers care for my kid.

First up are questions about your kid's favorite activities and toys. Do you tell the truth, and write that Little Quinn plays 5-card draw for hours on end? Do you fib just a little bit and say that his favorite activity is reading classic literature? (Neglecting to mention, of course, that in your house Calvin and Hobbes and Asterix are considered classic literature.) Or do you fib a lot, and write that his favorite toy is either the butterfly net from his biologist grandparents or the miniature piano from a well-meaning (but obviously childless) friend of the family?

The really hard question, though, is always reserved for the end of the form, when you're nearly to the point of sending the kid off to his grandparents until he can fill out his own damned intake forms: "What are your goals for your child for the year?" Do you again succumb to middle-class anxiety, and write that although Little Quinn is making great progress with his calculus, you'd really like him to improve his matrix algebra?

Or do you instead tell the truth, and write that you really hope he can learn whether a full house with jacks over deuces means three jacks and two deuces or two jacks and three deuces, because damned if you can remember?
Comments:
I don't have kids, but I can only recommend learning bridge. I wished I had learned that before I graduated college. More people out there ought to play bridge. Oh, and taste for whisk(e)y, doesn't hurt, but I reckon that will come along when the time is right.
 
I learned bridge in my second semester of my senior year in college, and promptly developed a bridge habit of around 30 hours per week. If I hadn't already completed all but one required credit, I might still be there.

We've tried to teach Quinn hearts, to introduce him to trick-based games, but he can't fan that many cards in his hands yet. If we weren't moving, we'd probably get him one of those card-holding trays designed for stroke or severe arthritis patients.
 
Try euchre. Much easier to hold the cards, and a much smaller deck if he's trying to shuffle.

(Yes, I spent my high school years in the Midwest; how could you tell?)
 
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