Here Fishy Fishy…heeerreee Fishy Fishy…

We may or may not be the wards of several fish this holiday break- courtesy of the charter school’s kindergarten class.

Immediately the jokes began about how long it would take me to kill the class pet, because I have a bit of a track record with fish.

I maybe, kinda, sorta, inadvertently boiled our last one.

On accident.

Poor fishy resided in a nice bowl on top of our mantel in our old home. Months went by, and fishy was a happy swimmy member of the family. Then the cold months began and like I did in that house every time it got cold, I flipped a switch and the gas fire place went ‘poof” and we were all warm and toasty.

Including fishy. On the mantel.

Mmmmmm, dinner.

Now mind you this fish belonged to us and only us…not an entire crew of 5 & 6-year olds who will no doubt need therapy if I kill their class pet.

…but as it turns out, many of YOU have already killed class pets. LOTS OF THEM. Early today I twittered about the prospect of becoming foster-fish parents and you people came out of the woodwork to tell me your class pet stories.

Oopsie (who has the cutest Etsy shop) says, “After the Class Pet spent the week at our house, they opted for a stuffed animal class pet. No lie.”

The Smart Mama tells me,  “Have killed class pet before. Trust me – they do NOT notice replacement fish – just make sure your kid doesn’t know either…And, by the way, my mom killed class hamster – nobody noticed the replacement hamster either.”

HawaiiReality cracked me up, “Girl, My cat ate gerbil I brought home.Parents got replacmt.Iwas scaredclass wood b able 2 tell difference.But they couldnt”

And although this pet didn’t die…I’m still laughing over the message I got from Josh, “3rd grd-brought class hamster home for xmas. disappeared that night for two weeks. Day before school starts – hamster alive in sock drawer

I’m confident I can keep the class fish alive. CONFIDENT. Why?

No more gas fireplace.

Plus I think I’m going to set up a webcam on the tank so Twitter can warn me if any of them seem to be going belly up.

Taking Control

I’m sitting on the couch with my 5-year-old.

As I type, he’s watching a PBS special on the origins of the universe. This is on his insistence I change the channel from the cartoons previously enjoyed by his sister and I.

As I sit here and learn all about how the stars and galaxies were formed and my son asks me how the ‘proto-Sun’ was created, I have a hard time believing just last week I was sick to my stomach over his parent-teacher conference.

Rolls and plays with his pencil.
Doesn’t like coloring.
Doesn’t like worksheets.
Disrupts class with questions.
Recommend consult with pediatrician, possible ADHD.
Academically on track, same as rest of class.

Confused, dejected, and on the defensive I sought all the information I could find. I talked to friends. I talked to family. My husband, in the midst of his most grueling work week in a year, weighed in as much as possible.

I talked to our pediatrician. And I questioned the difference between the protective nature of my children, and criticism.

I also took a good, hard look at the a room full of 30 Kindergartners, one teacher, and one aide and admittedly ‘no time for individualized learning.’

I am a product of public schools. I got a great education, so did my brother. I believe our local public schools are fantastic, among the best in Los Angeles County. Our teachers work extremely hard to not only nurture our children, but also to meet and exceed the standards placed on them. They are heroes.

However this system is not ideal for every child. There is no room for imagination. There is no room for nonconformity. There is no room for a 5-year old who likes science experiments as opposed to worksheets. The overworked and underpaid teacher does not have the time nor the means to handle any boy who does not fit inside the very ridged guidelines the class must have in order to succeed.


Unless you have school district who recognizes it’s limitations and attempts to thwart the system.

Our district has opened it’s first charter school. And by the luck of the stars there was one spot, opened the night prior, in the kindergarten class. Upon hearing the news I threw on some clothes, hurriedly raced the 5 miles down the road (while throwing up in the car, wondering if I was doing the right thing) and enrolled my son.

I filled out the forms like a crazed lunatic, knowing the first mother or father to turn them in got the spot. I nearly parked myself on the school secretary’s desk until I was done.

Project-based learning. An emphasis on international relations, recognizing the students as citizens of the world. Small class rooms (no more than 20 students).

“Modeled after successful schools such as International School of Monterey, Guajome Park Academy, and Bill Gates’ High Tech High, we have a learner-centered approach using facilitators.”

My pencil-rolling guy (who tears apart my living room looking for ‘parts’ for all his inventions) will start after Thanksgiving break, his first day will be a field trip.


His sister is a legacy. And Mom is about to learn-first hand-about charter schools, the public school system, and taking a pro-active approach in managing how her children are ‘labeled’ and taught.