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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Adoptive Family Trees: A splintery subject

I found this on this site: http://jimidoodle.blogspot.com/

 We knew it was coming and it finally happened. We had read in many of the adoptive family blogs/journals that the family tree assignment can be dicey for non-traditional families. Monday night, Anna opened her homework folder and spread out the traditional family tree structure on the table and immediately became frustrated that her family didn’t fit into that mold. She said, “I don’t live with my mommy! I live with Daddy and Papa!” She then freaked out when she saw that her mom’s side would have traditional father/mother for the grandparent entries. Since her mom was raised by two women, that model didn’t work either. There were several grunts of frustration and we had to talk her down and assure her that we would work on finding a solution for her to present to her class. It’s funny, as several of her classmates are from non-traditional families as well, so this isn’t an isolated thing in her classroom. Tod did some cut and paste at his school and made a tree specific for Anna. He also drafted this letter to her teacher.

Dear Wendy,

                Anna had several questions about some of the spots on the version of a family tree that you sent home for them to complete with their family.  We have always been very open with Anna about adoption and her biological family, so she was eager to fill out the section about her mother, but even her mother’s family is a non-traditional family.  With adoptions, single parent families, children being raised by grandparents, and family trees reconstructed with divorce and remarriage, many students would struggle completing a traditional family tree, not just with families such as ours.  Thanks to having access to a computer and a copy machine I was able to create a worksheet for Anna to use to represent her family, but not all families have that luxury. 

For your consideration I have included a couple of blank family trees that you may want to consider using in the future.  There are other ways of completing this assignment as well, without the traditional branches.  You could have the student put his or her name in the center of a target and have them work out from the center to represent the adults that serve a parental role and so on as you work out from the center.  Story web format could be used as well. We are not offended, we knew sooner or later this type of assignment would come up, but we also did not want to miss out on the opportunity to make this a teachable moment.

Sincerely,
Tom and Tod. 
We didn’t get angry, we didn’t get upset, we simply showed the teacher that there were other ways to make this project work. It is our hope that she will adopt these changes and consider doing a project that won’t cause stress to kids in non-traditional families. As times change, the family structure is changing as well. Families are blending, families are fracturing. Children are being raised by other family members as divorce is so common place in our society.  And no Rick Santorum, it’s not the evil gay peoples fault.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Parenting School Drop Out

I know what we're doing for Halloween next year.

Ah, the 70’s… so many great movies came out, I hardly know where to start. Over the holiday season, “Grease” aired so, being a musical theatre fan, I set the DVR and waited for the film to record. After it recorded, Anna and I snuggled up on the couch and got busy watching the movie that was a big part of my junior high/high school experience. I don’t really remember all the making out or smoking in the film from when I was a teen, but Anna pointed it out right away. Honestly, we were more concerned with the music and trying to learn all the dances, so that stuff was all extra to us. The making out in the back of the car got fast-forwarded through and the smoking got explained away as “that’s what they did back then.” “Why did they dress that way?” got deferred to “ask Grandma.”
And then came one of my favorite scenes, the slumber party:  boys, alcohol, smoking, ear piercing, and sneaking out of a window. What's not to love? Anna asked if this is what happened at all slumber parties and I said no. She wanted to know why Rizzo was making fun of Sandy, and I couldn’t think of anything so I said “because she’s from Australia.”

Bullet dodged.

But then, the song that I know all too well, and if asked, can probably sing just as good as Frankie, “Beauty School Drop Out”. Frenchie was always my favorite character in the film, as she was goofy and creative, and had a guardian angel. When the song started, I began to sing along, but as I belted out: But no customer would go to you unless she was a hooker! I realized there would have to be some ‘splainin’ to do as I giggled and immediately stopped singing. On cue, Anna asked, “What’s a hooker?” and I offered up my answer to any awkward question asked when Tod is in the room: “I don’t know, ask Daddy.”
Tod, without hesitation responded that it is someone who catches fish. I then chimed in (being the educator that I am), by suggesting we use it in a sentence: “Anna, your grandpa McMillen is someone who is familiar with hookers.” I am certain that this will come up at our next family gathering, I can’t wait.
Grease, it’s the word.