I went to a local school's open house yesterday. It's a big decision, one that I intend to apply some thought and consideration towards. I want the boy to be happy, to enjoy learning, etc. The school is on the short-list of schools for the boy to attend soon. Likely a place where he will have some of his earliest memories.
Speaking of memory, I tried to explain to the boy that even though his is very good now he will likely not remember much of what he has known up to this point. It just confused him and made me question what exactly, the fuck, is wrong with me... I felt understandably stupid, immediately wishing that I could forget why I would ever tell a child such a terrible thing. Wise up, kid! Everything you know will disappear, and soon!
This is why women are needed for raising children. I don't mean that women should do it on their own, or even that they are "better" at it, but only that they are different and that difference is vital, crucial, valued, etc. Most women, I do not imagine, would try to explain to a child that their current frame of reference and the world they know is imaginary and transitory, that it will soon disappear from them, as a matter of dispassionate fact. It might terrify or perplex a child, unnecessarily. This thought had not occurred to me, as I was busy talking when it should have. So, out of my mouth it arrived.
Men don't think ahead as much, or as far, it seems. Women think ahead a little too much, for me. I suppose my approach has been to give the boy whatever information that I have and to let him draw his own conclusions, offering guidance when needed.
This is not good enough. I see that now.
The age of four is maybe a bit young for those sorts of revelations. It is very odd though, to know that most all of the memories that he and I have shared up to this point will simply vanish and become an amorphous past that will be formed within him mostly through our careful retellings. So, I have time to tell him over and over again that I never told him he would forget everything, that will make it more true.
At the school I listened attentively, made the occasional joke that nobody seemed to understand. As an example, the administrator that was giving the tour spoke of how the children, when studying Rome, might march in lockstep as if they were Roman soldiers. I asked how they were at making roads. Ten blank eyes looked at me as if I had just suggested child labor in earnestness. Less than three seconds before that an admin at the school was militarizing children, but the mere mentioning of the famous road building abilities of Romans was apparently beyond the accepted set of references permitted. I opted not to follow up with a mention of Justinian's Codex, Digest, or of the Institutes.
The not understanding of jokes is becoming a real problem. I write too cryptically, or I make references that nobody seems to understand. I'm not trying to be a snob, but I'm beginning to suspect that my online friends are a bunch of dumb-asses. I'm not sure where all of the clever people went, but they are all universally absent from my life now, when I need them the most.
I blame my Facebook persona. It is insufferable.
One parent whose child was already attending the school - and I could never quite figure out what she was actually doing at this open house - fell back as we walked, so we chatted. She asked what I thought a bit about the school a little too eagerly, as if I was on the verge of being inducted into some sort of sect. I explained that everything looked fantastic, that I loved the learning environment, and that all the children seemed very happy and pleasantly attentive to the activities in each classroom. The last of which was instruction on fractions. It caused me to look at the balck-board twice before internally confirming an answer to the teacher's question. I wanted to sit in on the class, take a bit of advantage from the remedial education.
I expressed a little concern to this woman about the low immunization rates at the school. She explained that immunization is a personal decision and that each child's immune system develops differently. She stopped there. I nodded at her, because both of those things are true. All the while knowing that her response excludes a much larger truth.
Vaccinating doesn't put a child in a magic spacesuit, one that can alone protect them from disease. There is no way of knowing if a child is protected except by exposing them to the disease, something that must seem okay with a growing segment of the population. This fact is used as an argument against vaccinations - that they are not 100% effective in every child to which they are administered - which is true. They are 0% effective in children that have not had them if the child is exposed, which is best accomplished by achieving social immunity within the population.
It was troubling, to recognize that the liberal enclave that is (presumably) educated Sonoma would act upon such faulty data, and under the culpability umbrella of it being a personal decision. The assertion itself claims an impossible conjectural knowledge of the development of any given child's immune system and what might be best for that system, to which the parent has no visibility whatsoever. More so, this presumptive position is held even when it endangers the health of others.
I'm all for parents being able to cripple their children as part of the personal freedom that all Americans should wield over the innocent. The ability to experiment freely with the spread of airborne infectious disease is enshrined in who we are as a people. Because what is liberty if not that?
But still, something was eating at me.
The full vaccine conversation was perhaps too much for the parent of a child to undertake, and understandably. People have such divergent views, prepared to defend their stance with all sorts of available online information. The current state of politics is best understood as a precursor to the return of polio as a national epidemic, a sort of canary in our abandoned coal mines. Because, you know... there is information out there that says things, and I agree with those things. Between the libertarians on one side and the liberals on the other, we're all fucking doomed. The root word that functions more as a prefix that I have become most suspicious of: liber.
One side insists that we should die from preventable disease, the other prefers gunshot wounds from bad guys being stopped by good guys. America has a liberty problem. Everyone agrees that it's either a surplus or a deficit, but it's a real problem, and one party has one answer.
California has recently done away with the "personal belief exemption" to immunization. If you wish to have your child attend a public school you will now, at the very least, have to explain to a doctor why vaccines scare you so much. It's important to look your doctor in the eye and ask if he has ever read Jenny McCarthy's peer-reviewed studies on the subject? Clinical trials and real world benefit can be damned in the face of that blue-eyed tele-genius.
If you wish to inform yourself on vaccines then do a Google search for: "Which blonde celebrities best understand the causes of autism in children"
Part of the discussion is very straightforward: Some children will be rendered safe from certain communicable diseases, others will not.
The Wikipedia article on immunization is one place that you might expect would include both sides of this complicated science-story. You would be wrong. The article on immunization makes no mention of its detractors or critics. To encourage them would be dangerous, by providing them the type credibility that Jenny McCarthy's clinical studies can not. Rather, Wikipedia compiles these concerns into their own article, where they can not infect the actual article on immunization.