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As most of my readers know, whenever I blog or leave witty footprints through the social media sites that I frequent (namely Twitter and Facebook), I refer to my children as heirs. I don’t use their names because it embarrasses them; however, anyone who knows me well knows which heir I reference in my pieces, and the heirs certainly know when I’m using one of their personal foibles in my shameless attempts to increase my fan base by exploiting their happenings. Nevertheless, when I don’t identify them by name or gender, it makes me feel as though I’m protecting the heirs’ right to privacy. Although they would beg to differ, I really am trying to limit the number of talking doctor sessions that they will need to schedule once they fly from my nest and into their own. The heirs usually calm down when I remind them that my blogs have a small (but growing) loyal following, so they need not worry about any Kardashian type mass media public humiliation quite yet.

One of the heirs is currently recovering from a concussion incurred while playing in a competitive sporting event, and now it appears that our home has become a head trauma haven. The heir is fine, but as a precaution, I’m now researching non contact sports like badminton and chess. Not to be outdone by a wingless two legged creature, no fewer than four (4) birds have slammed into the front and back of our home and knocked themselves unconscious within the last two weeks. I scored major points with the heirs when I fearlessly wrapped one lifeless bird in a paper towel, spun around three times and tossed the bird into the bushes. The overly dramatic xx chromosome heir was freaked out that I came near the bird, but the less dramatic xx chromosome heir thought it was funny, and the xy chromosome heir thought it was very brave of me to go near a dead bird. The spin suggested that maybe I had watched a little too much of the Summer Olympic Games in London. I had, but the bird was dead, so I thought some pomp and circumstance was in order, hence the shot putter spin and toss. I couldn’t decide if it was better to toss the bird into the trash can or into the bushes. It was five days until trash day and the thought of a decomposing bird in the trash can gave me the heebie jeebies, so I decided to make the bird part of nature’s compost pile under the shrubbery. And no, burying the bird was not an option, although last year I had our lawn care team dig a hole in our backyard and bury a red robin that slammed into our window and died on our deck. But that was different, the red robin was like family. He’d been pecking our window daily for almost a month. It was cute at first, but became annoying after the first three weeks, so after hours of research I inserted rubber snakes and a plastic owl in the tree as decoys. Confused, the red robin (whom we never bothered to name) disappeared for about a week. But upon his return, he apparently flew to the back of the house and did himself in by slamming into a different window. We found him lying in state on the deck. The only thing missing was a note pinned to his fat red chest that read, “see what you made me do?” He deserved a proper burial and was laid to rest in a cushy Stuart Weitzman shoe box.

I was writing near the deck last week when another bird slammed into the window where I was sitting. I watched as the small bird gasped for breath. Not sure what to do to help the bird, I just watched as he stopped breathing. Saddened, I said a prayer and stepped away to get more coffee, because watching a bird die makes you thirsty. When I came back, the bird was sitting up. He must have knocked himself silly. I often threaten to knock my heirs silly or into next week when they get too out of hand, so I was amused watching a bird actually knock himself silly. Since I’m nursing my own little bird back to health now, I sprang into action and filled a small plastic container with water. The finch didn’t flinch when I set the water down near his feathers, but when I crumbled a saltine cracker near the water, the bird flew away. Because I once played a doctor on television, I surmised that the bird had probably suffered a slight concussion.

Over the weekend, another bird slammed into a back window while heir 3 was playing basketball with a neighbor. The bird died on impact. Clearly pilot error. This bird was tossed into the rose bushes before it became a fourth grade cadaver study. The next day, another bird slammed into the window overlooking the deck. The bird appeared to be dead, so naturally I arose to pour myself a glass of wine to toast the bird’s brief life, because, remember, watching birds slam into plate glass makes me thirsty. When I returned, the bird had flown away. He’d probably been partying too hard at a tailgate celebrating the Bears’ opening day victory and needed to catch a quick nap before fighting the Bears game traffic on the expressway.

We recently changed our zip code to one which has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately: high crime and now a school strike. Driving the heirs to schools that require tuition checks for admission, I honked in solidarity as we passed the Chicago Teachers Union members walking the picket lines in front of the public schools on our route. The oldest heir who normally sleep walks through the morning school routine was full of questions about the picketing teachers. I eagerly repeated the sound bite highlights of the issues still under negotiation. I then used this as a teachable moment about the importance of valuing the teaching profession and worker rights and threw in a bit of sympathy strike trivia wondering if the custodial workers were also on the picket lines. And like any dutiful parent who has a captive audience, I then climbed on to my soapbox and segued into a parents’ responsibility in the education triangle. Education is a partnership between the student, the parent(s) and the teacher, but sadly, many expect the teacher to hold up all three legs of the three legged stool. Teachers are blamed for low test scores, bad behavior and the sagging pants phenomenon while some parents send their children to school fueled with flaming hot Cheetos and carbonated beverages from a can. Many blame the teacher when the student doesn’t perform well or threaten and intimidate the teacher when the teacher becomes “overly involved” in the parents’ home situation by trying to teach the parents to model and introduce more nutritious eating habits and the correlation between proper nutrition and learning.

Although the media often wants to paint this as a race or a poverty issue, that’s only partially true. I don’t have the statistics to prove it, but I would venture a guess that there are just as many poor whites or hispanics as their are poor blacks who play the “blame the teacher for my child’s shortcomings” game. And since a bag of flaming hot Cheetos costs more than a box of instant oatmeal, I’m going to step out on a limb and say that it’s not just a race or poverty issue, it’s an ignorance issue.

Growing up, my nuclear family would definitely have been considered poor by today’s standards. My mother was a stay at home mom when we were small, and I remember a time when my father was laid off from his job for what seemed like an eternity. Yet during this time, my mother always sent us to school with a belly full of something warm i.e. Cream of Wheat or grits and our snacks were an apple or an orange. Our parents also routinely met with the teachers for parent teacher conferences. We were poor, not ignorant, and we were being raised to respect education and the providers of the public school education that we were receiving. There’s a difference between being poor and being ignorant, although today the line seems to be blurred.

Many well meaning, albeit ignorant, pundits and people on social media are making comments that the teachers don’t have a right to strike because the parents of the students rely on their children being in school so that they can go to work. Point has merits, but it’s misguided. The problem isn’t with the teachers, it’s with the parents and their inability to be neighborly.

I met an educated woman last week whose children attend the same tuition required school as mine. When she shared her new address with me, I realized that she lived directly next door to a friend of mine; a friend with children. When I said the friend’s name, the new parent replied (almost proudly) that she doesn’t know any of her neighbors. The homes are single family homes, not condos, so I was puzzled. How can you live right next door to someone and not bother to know their name? And then it hit me.

If you listen closely to the criticisms being raised about the striking teachers, it’s not the issues. The grumblings center around the children not having anything to do or anywhere to go during the strike. That’s a working parents dilemma and has been since mothers entered the workforce in large numbers and single parent households became common place. Putting stranger danger fears aside, in every neighborhood, rich or poor, there is usually at least one kind hearted neighbor on each block or street. The person whom (if families bothered to get to know the person) would be more than happy to provide a safe, supervised environment for a group of children during the strike. An environment filled with puzzles, Monopoly, Scrabble and Uno cards. I know this, because this person was my mother when I was growing up. My mother often served as the back-up childcare provider for many of our neighbors; neighbors whom we all knew by name. Long after the temporary childcare crisis had passed, the children would still return to our house just to hang out with my mother.

Today, we are so fearful that someone will harm our children or take our possessions that we distrust the very people with whom we share street space. And with the internet, you can quickly do a registered sex offender search to make sure that your neighbor is “safe.” Call me old fashioned, but if someone on the block would resurrect the block club party, the city would be a better place for it. If you don’t know your neighbors, that’s not a badge of honor, that’s a shame. When we lived in Memphis, everyone on our street walked down to introduce themselves when we moved in, and most brought a baked good. One neighbor in our new zip code recently brought over flowers, and I in turn invited her over for a glass of wine. Whenever I drive or walk down our new street, I pause and introduce myself to those that I see, not because I think that I might ever need anything from them, it’s just neighborly.

I’ve told myself that the birds slamming into the plate glass windows on our home are simply trying to be neighborly and introduce themselves to us. You needn’t suffer a concussion to meet your neighbors, just slow your car down, smile and introduce yourself and your family and watch what happens. A kindness usually begets a kindness. It’s not a teacher’s fault that you haven’t bothered to meet the nice neighbor on your block, it’s yours. So don’t blame your lack of childcare planning on the hard working teachers, get out there and be neighborly. The nice neighbor that you’re ignoring might be a retired teacher who could help tutor your child or serve as a positive role model. And if the neighbors seem perplexed at your sudden act of neighborliness, just tell them that you slammed your head into a glass window and were suffering from the lingering after effects of a concussion, but you’re better now. So far, my neighborly bird tally score is tied: Concussion Survivors: 2, Plate glass window: 2. Here’s hoping that the Chicago Public School strike doesn’t go into overtime.

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As most of my readers know, whenever I blog or leave witty footprints through the social media sites that I frequent (namely Twitter and Facebook), I refer to my children as heirs. I don’t use their names because it embarrasses them; however, anyone who knows me well knows which heir I reference in my pieces, and the heirs certainly know when I’m using one of their personal foibles in my shameless attempts to increase my fan base by exploiting their happenings. Nevertheless, when I don’t identify them by name or gender, it makes me feel as though I’m protecting the heirs’ right to privacy. Although they would beg to differ, I really am trying to limit the number of talking doctor sessions that they will need to schedule once they fly from my nest and into their own. The heirs usually calm down when I remind them that my blogs have a small (but growing) loyal following, so they need not worry about any Kardashian type mass media public humiliation quite yet.

One of the heirs is currently recovering from a concussion incurred while playing in a competitive sporting event, and now it appears that our home has become a head trauma haven. The heir is fine, but as a precaution, I’m now researching non contact sports like badminton and chess. Not to be outdone by a wingless two legged creature, no fewer than four (4) birds have slammed into the front and back of our home and knocked themselves unconscious within the last two weeks. I scored major points with the heirs when I fearlessly wrapped one lifeless bird in a paper towel, spun around three times and tossed the bird into the bushes. The overly dramatic xx chromosome heir was freaked out that I came near the bird, but the less dramatic xx chromosome heir thought it was funny, and the xy chromosome heir thought it was very brave of me to go near a dead bird. The spin suggested that maybe I had watched a little too much of the Summer Olympic Games in London. I had, but the bird was dead, so I thought some pomp and circumstance was in order, hence the shot putter spin and toss. I couldn’t decide if it was better to toss the bird into the trash can or into the bushes. It was five days until trash day and the thought of a decomposing bird in the trash can gave me the heebie jeebies, so I decided to make the bird part of nature’s compost pile under the shrubbery. And no, burying the bird was not an option, although last year I had our lawn care team dig a hole in our backyard and bury a red robin that slammed into our window and died on our deck. But that was different, the red robin was like family. He’d been pecking our window daily for almost a month. It was cute at first, but became annoying after the first three weeks, so after hours of research I inserted rubber snakes and a plastic owl in the tree as decoys. Confused, the red robin (whom we never bothered to name) disappeared for about a week. But upon his return, he apparently flew to the back of the house and did himself in by slamming into a different window. We found him lying in state on the deck. The only thing missing was a note pinned to his fat red chest that read, “see what you made me do?” He deserved a proper burial and was laid to rest in a cushy Stuart Weitzman shoe box.

I was writing near the deck last week when another bird slammed into the window where I was sitting. I watched as the small bird gasped for breath. Not sure what to do to help the bird, I just watched as he stopped breathing. Saddened, I said a prayer and stepped away to get more coffee, because watching a bird die makes you thirsty. When I came back, the bird was sitting up. He must have knocked himself silly. I often threaten to knock my heirs silly or into next week when they get too out of hand, so I was amused watching a bird actually knock himself silly. Since I’m nursing my own little bird back to health now, I sprang into action and filled a small plastic container with water. The finch didn’t flinch when I set the water down near his feathers, but when I crumbled a saltine cracker near the water, the bird flew away. Because I once played a doctor on television, I surmised that the bird had probably suffered a slight concussion.

Over the weekend, another bird slammed into a back window while heir 3 was playing basketball with a neighbor. The bird died on impact. Clearly pilot error. This bird was tossed into the rose bushes before it became a fourth grade cadaver study. The next day, another bird slammed into the window overlooking the deck. The bird appeared to be dead, so naturally I arose to pour myself a glass of wine to toast the bird’s brief life, because, remember, watching birds slam into plate glass makes me thirsty. When I returned, the bird had flown away. He’d probably been partying too hard at a tailgate celebrating the Bears’ opening day victory and needed to catch a quick nap before fighting the Bears game traffic on the expressway.

We recently changed our zip code to one which has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately: high crime and now a school strike. Driving the heirs to schools that require tuition checks for admission, I honked in solidarity as we passed the Chicago Teachers Union members walking the picket lines in front of the public schools on our route. The oldest heir who normally sleep walks through the morning school routine was full of questions about the picketing teachers. I eagerly repeated the sound bite highlights of the issues still under negotiation. I then used this as a teachable moment about the importance of valuing the teaching profession and worker rights and threw in a bit of sympathy strike trivia wondering if the custodial workers were also on the picket lines. And like any dutiful parent who has a captive audience, I then climbed on to my soapbox and segued into a parents’ responsibility in the education triangle. Education is a partnership between the student, the parent(s) and the teacher, but sadly, many expect the teacher to hold up all three legs of the three legged stool. Teachers are blamed for low test scores, bad behavior and the sagging pants phenomenon while some parents send their children to school fueled with flaming hot Cheetos and carbonated beverages from a can. Many blame the teacher when the student doesn’t perform well or threaten and intimidate the teacher when the teacher becomes “overly involved” in the parents’ home situation by trying to teach the parents to model and introduce more nutritious eating habits and the correlation between proper nutrition and learning.

Although the media often wants to paint this as a race or a poverty issue, that’s only partially true. I don’t have the statistics to prove it, but I would venture a guess that there are just as many poor whites or hispanics as their are poor blacks who play the “blame the teacher for my child’s shortcomings” game. And since a bag of flaming hot Cheetos costs more than a box of instant oatmeal, I’m going to step out on a limb and say that it’s not just a race or poverty issue, it’s an ignorance issue.

Growing up, my nuclear family would definitely have been considered poor by today’s standards. My mother was a stay at home mom when we were small, and I remember a time when my father was laid off from his job for what seemed like an eternity. Yet during this time, my mother always sent us to school with a belly full of something warm i.e. Cream of Wheat or grits and our snacks were an apple or an orange. Our parents also routinely met with the teachers for parent teacher conferences. We were poor, not ignorant, and we were being raised to respect education and the providers of the public school education that we were receiving. There’s a difference between being poor and being ignorant, although today the line seems to be blurred.

Many well meaning, albeit ignorant, pundits and people on social media are making comments that the teachers don’t have a right to strike because the parents of the students rely on their children being in school so that they can go to work. Point has merits, but it’s misguided. The problem isn’t with the teachers, it’s with the parents and their inability to be neighborly.

I met an educated woman last week whose children attend the same tuition required school as mine. When she shared her new address with me, I realized that she lived directly next door to a friend of mine; a friend with children. When I said the friend’s name, the new parent replied (almost proudly) that she doesn’t know any of her neighbors. The homes are single family homes, not condos, so I was puzzled. How can you live right next door to someone and not bother to know their name? And then it hit me.

If you listen closely to the criticisms being raised about the striking teachers, it’s not the issues. The grumblings center around the children not having anything to do or anywhere to go during the strike. That’s a working parents dilemma and has been since mothers entered the workforce in large numbers and single parent households became common place. Putting stranger danger fears aside, in every neighborhood, rich or poor, there is usually at least one kind hearted neighbor on each block or street. The person whom (if families bothered to get to know the person) would be more than happy to provide a safe, supervised environment for a group of children during the strike. An environment filled with puzzles, Monopoly, Scrabble and Uno cards. I know this, because this person was my mother when I was growing up. My mother often served as the back-up childcare provider for many of our neighbors; neighbors whom we all knew by name. Long after the temporary childcare crisis had passed, the children would still return to our house just to hang out with my mother.

Today, we are so fearful that someone will harm our children or take our possessions that we distrust the very people with whom we share street space. And with the internet, you can quickly do a registered sex offender search to make sure that your neighbor is “safe.” Call me old fashioned, but if someone on the block would resurrect the block club party, the city would be a better place for it. If you don’t know your neighbors, that’s not a badge of honor, that’s a shame. When we lived in Memphis, everyone on our street walked down to introduce themselves when we moved in, and most brought a baked good. One neighbor in our new zip code recently brought over flowers, and I in turn invited her over for a glass of wine. Whenever I drive or walk down our new street, I pause and introduce myself to those that I see, not because I think that I might ever need anything from them, it’s just neighborly.

I’ve told myself that the birds slamming into the plate glass windows on our home are simply trying to be neighborly and introduce themselves to us. You needn’t suffer a concussion to meet your neighbors, just slow your car down, smile and introduce yourself and your family and watch what happens. A kindness usually begets a kindness. It’s not a teacher’s fault that you haven’t bothered to meet the nice neighbor on your block, it’s yours. So don’t blame your lack of childcare planning on the hard working teachers, get out there and be neighborly. The nice neighbor that you’re ignoring might be a retired teacher who could help tutor your child or serve as a positive role model. And if the neighbors seem perplexed at your sudden act of neighborliness, just tell them that you slammed your head into a glass window and were suffering from the lingering after effects of a concussion, but you’re better now. So far, my neighborly bird tally score is tied: Concussion Survivors: 2, Plate glass window: 2. Here’s hoping that the Chicago Public School strike doesn’t go into overtime.