"You Confounding Kids!"
By Mike Laursen
A lot of people complain that teaching cursive handwriting is disappearing from our schools.
Not me. I have what I consider to be unassailable rational arguments for why cursive is no longer relevant. I have unassailable rational arguments for many, many things. Everyone who knows me is lucky I manage to keep them to myself as much as I do.
All anybody uses cursive for is to sign documents, and for that the more your signature varies from the model cursive taught in school the better. It would be more fun if everyone would make up a cool squiggle for signing their checks or use hanko stamps, like they do in Japan. We could all be like Prince!
If cursive has to become an elective subject to free up time for kids to learn the modern-day skills of typing and navigating computers, so be it. It would make a computer nerd like me happy.
Only thing is -- turns out that Zach really enjoys writing in cursive.
Zach is slated to have a short unit in cursive in third grade. Recently though, his teacher wrote his name in cursive on his homework, and Zach was fascinated by it. His interest is surprising considering we've had to work hard with him to get his block lettering neat enough so his teacher can read it. He has already switched to writing his name in cursive at the top of all his school papers.
Frankie points out that it is easier for him to write cursive without lifting his hand from the paper. That might be part of it. He is also aware that there are lots of old things written in cursive, and every now and then a line of text in an ad or a book.
My nice rational ideas of how the world should be, of how my kids should think and should want to behave, are confounded all the time by my actual children.
Whenever I would think about what a daughter of mine would be like, I always pictured a tomboy. I grew up with two sisters, but in a family where they were expected to do everything from painting, to yard work, to fixing brakes and repairing transmissions. They never acted "girly" and were absolutely never exposed to the "girls can't do that" message of learned helplessness that many girls are subjected to.
Kaylee is never going to hear any of that nonsense, either. Not on my watch. When I'm heading to Home Depot, she always wants to go. When I grab a hammer or a screwdriver to fix something, she always tries to grab it out of my hand and do the job herself.
But at an early age, Kaylee received a princess dress as a gift. Something lit up deep in her brain, and Daddy just can't relate. The only princess I'm down with is Princess Leia, and she doesn't appear in the princess parade at Disneyland. At least not yet.
Everyone who knew me as a kid tells me that Zach looks just like I did. Maybe that's why I sometimes expect him to think and act like I did when I was a kid. One of my favorite things was going on road trips with my family. The longer the better. But Zach always complains about going anywhere. I used to love playing games like spotting license plates, but Zach has no interest in any of that.
But it has started to change as he has gotten older. About a year ago he started taking interest in looking at the scenery passing by when we're driving somewhere. I realized that I may have been remembering things I enjoyed when I was older. Maybe sometimes I just need to be patient.
How have your kids confounded your expectations by insisting on being themselves? What tidy ideas that you held have been shaken up by your kids?
About Mike Laursen
When he's not busy not paying attention to what his wife is saying, he's changing diapers and feeding kids, programming computers at work, or puttering around the house fixing something.