Tuesday, July 21, 2009

In the Deep End

Okay, so everyone in the free world has had something to say about this Valley Club debacle. Allow me to put in my humble two cents.

For anyone uninformed, the thumbnail version is this: Mayor Nutter cut funding for a number of city pools this year. A local summer camp worked out a deal with a private swim club for their kids to swim there (the camp paid and signed a contract.) After only one day, the club revoked the contract, refunded their money, and told the camp they would not be able to return. (Campers also claim they heard racist comments that day.)

Cue the media circus.

I can't stop reading about this case. And at this point, I'm thoroughly annoyed at both parties.

On the one hand, the club's offer was big-hearted but misguided. How are you going to accomodate 60+ kids, most of whom are just learning to swim? They should have worked out a system--20 kids a day during off-peak hours, for example.

Next, the club's president made a numbnut of himself when he said--in an interview!--that the campers (mostly minorities) would "change the complexion of the club." (Wince.)

So, in trying to save face (after everyone from the local Inquirer to CNN had something to say), the club invited the kids back.

Not so fast.

Several parents of campers are suing. The camp refused, and is threatening legal action. (Interesting and little-reported side note: the camp also owes about $70,000 in taxes.) Tyler Perry just announced that he's taking the kids to Disney World in order to "heal their scars".

There's one level-headed comment I've heard so far, that I wish would be trumpeted from the mountaintops. Annette John-Hall is a black columnist for the Inquirer whose articles I really enjoy. I don't always agree with her, but I do respect her opinions, and her writing is terrific. She made an excellent point recently, when the camp turned down the offer to return to the swim club: "What are we teaching our children?" When someone does wrong, but then tries to make things right, aren't we supposed to be the bigger person and forgive? Or do we fight back with a lawsuit?

I wish that instead of hiring lawyers or throwing expensive trips at the kids, someone would just teach them the simple lessons of keeping one's dignity, forgiving those who wrong us, and tolerating the intolerant.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sweet Surprises...

The first sweet surprise of the summer was the arrival of Baby Vincent! My dearest friend, Jennifer, was due July 11...but several health scares spurred an emergency C-section, so the little guy was born June 20. Mom and Dad and baby are plugging along. Those first few months are SO hard...I'm not sure anyone quite prepares you for that. Plus, she didn't even get that all-important first week of maternity leave (pre-baby), where you just get to finish up the nursery, wash all the clothes in Dreft, cat nap, watch "Ellen"...and mentally prepare (as much as you can) for this little creature who is about to take over your life and (literally) suck the energy out of you.

But as a seasoned old mama of a 2-year-old, I know that it does get better. Somebody told me that it gets harder, but I really disagree. Sure, tantrums are a nightmare, and the worrying never goes away, but this creature starts turning into a wonderful little person who fills your heart with the most unbelievable joy. Just tonight, the Teege and I were sharing popsicles on our front stoop, chatting about our day (he informed me all about the bears he saw at the zoo with Daddy). There is no way I could have pictured this three years ago, attached to a screaming newborn and running on 3 hours of sleep. If you don't believe in miracles, parenthood will certainly turn your world upside down.

The second sweet surprise was from my darling hubby! Several years ago, we started a tradition of taking ourselves to a Broadway show for Christmas. Our last Christmas in Jersey City, we were torn between "Spamalot" and "Spring Awakening." I'd heard raves about the latter, but being a former Monty Python geek in high school, I voted for the former. And...it was eh. Some memories are best left un-musicalized. =/

So imagine my delight when the mister demanded that we go on a date last Saturday. He lined up my mom to babysit and whisked me off to the Academy of Music, where we finally saw this amazing little rock-musical. I can't stop listening to the soundtrack. For my non-theater-geek readers, it's based on a controversial play written by a 19th-century German playwright named Franz Wedekind. The musical brilliantly fuses the spirit of the original play with modern rock. Whenever the characters face a particularly tense moment, they whip out a hand-held mike and start singing--the message being that rock serves as the perfect release for teen angst. I absolutely loved it. And the staging--wow! I'm a huge fan of ensemble staging and minimalist sets, if they're done well, and this was unbelievable.

Off to bake some cupcakes (my new obsession--good Lord, am I becoming...gulp...DOMESTIC!?) A very merry 4th to all my little firecrackers out there. :)