PARENT IMPERFECT: A little-used tense that defies conjugation.

Among many other things, the Parent Imperfect is the father of two children, a son, Vince, age 18 and a daughter, Connie, age 13. After 14 years in the Boston Public Schools, the older of the two has moved on to attend a medium-sized (but not medium-priced) private college in upstate New York. Don’t ask me how that happened. Connie has just now begun ninth grade at Boston Latin School.

I now live with Connie and her mother (my wife), Liz, age…yes. The three of us are trying to figure out what kind of family we are now that Vince has taken his show on the road. We feel lucky to live in the diverse and fascinating Boston neighborhood of Roslindale, home to the best farmer’s market and the largest concentration of dogs in the city.

Parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done, and after most days I think of many things I should have done differently. As a result, I write about imperfect parenting when possible, mostly in secret journals that are burned upon completion. I have now been maintaining this best-kept secret in the blogosphere for over six years. The feedback I get–online and off–keeps me writing…and smiling. And by the way, the world is too weird for us to use our real names here, so I/we don’t do so.

Luckily, I’ve found a group of kindred souls in the local parent group, Quality Education for Every Student (QUEST). The opinions here are absolutely my own, but the parents in QUEST and other similar groups have certainly taught me much about schools and life.

I do go long periods of time without writing here. It’s not just that I’m lazy. Sometimes, so much is going on that I don’t quite know what to write here. If you’ve hit me in one of those times, don’t worry, I’ll be back.


19 responses to “About

  1. Ingrid Nava

    This is great. I applaude your discipline in getting it written – that would be a feat for me.
    Irene, similarly intrigued by theatre, is doing the Freelance Players at the footlight club. I think “auditions” are closed but you could look into it. The classes are Tuesday 3:45-6p. Saturdays are going to be Irene’s day off.
    I’d like to hear more and talk more about the religious ed sometime and also about the OWL experience. Since I have a 9th grade girl I can say this: I doubt the 8th grade girls are really more mature – they probably just are more poised and articulate which makes people think they are more mature – and then they in turn agree. That has its own issues.

    • Thanks, Ingrid. I was trying to get info about the Footlight Club earlier. I guess I should have spoken to you. Maybe next time…

      Your comment about your ninth grader is interesting. I would certainly put her in the “seems mature” category, relative to K and his cohort at the church. We still haven’t made a decision about the UU thing. It’s a great program, but I’m not sure it is the right time.

  2. debbie

    I have a 6th grader who hopes to be at BLS next year and is a soccer player. Just read the blog about basketball – congrats! – but looking for the soccer blog.

    • Good luck to you and your son, Debbie! If he hopes to be there, I truly hope he gets in. It sounds as if you have already decided that BLS is the place for him, which I can now attest is not automatically true. There was more about soccer here earlier in the year and I’m sure more is coming, so stay tuned.

  3. Another Debbie

    I found your blog because a link was posted on the West Zone Parents group. I have questions about both the Hernandez School and the transfer process (am thinking about whether to try to get my daughter into the Hernandez as a transfer first grader.) It would be such a big help in maintaining her bilingualism but her current school has been really good for her academically — so I would really like to have a clearer sense of what the downsides of the decision might be so that I don’t end up moving her and then regretting it.

    Also I thought if you apply to transfer and you get a spot, you are automatically moved and lose the spot in your original school. But it sounds from the blog like you applied for transfer in 1 year, but ended up staying at the Hernandez (and then did transfer the following year.) Does that mean they do ask you to choose to move or not (meaning final decision could be delayed until spring instead of the second-round lottery) or was it just kind of lucky that you had the option to stay?

    My last question was about the Hennigan — I thought that was the one school that had Spanish AWC, but you mention your daughter isn’t going to get any Spanish there. Is the Spanish AWC at the Hennigan only for kids who are English Language Learners?

    Sorry for the lengthy comment, but couldn’t figure out how to contact you other than by leaving a comment.

    • We should probably talk, but my quick answers are the following:

      1. If your daughter is in a place that she likes and that you like for her, then DON’T MOVE! We really prize bilingualism, but there are other ways to strengthen that. The Hernández is a very good school, but it is part of the BPS and faces all of the challenges that go along with the privilege. It is also a place that has lived through a HUGE transition in leadership very recently.
      2. We are not sure about the transfer process, but it seems that if you apply to transfer and get the transfer, they make the transfer. If you decide then that you don’t want to change, it is a hassle to stay, but it can be done if you have the support of the principal of the place you want to stay.
      3. “Bilingual AWC” is a so-called “sheltered English immersion.” The focus is on teaching English to non-native speakers. There is very little Spanish taught.

      Thanks for your thoughtful questions and let me know if you need more info.

  4. Another Debbie

    My daughter’s current school, of course, is ALSO part of the BPS. Thanks for the quick reply. I would love to talk to you further actually probably both about the bilingualism and the schools; any chance we could talk off-blog? You have my email address from the comments I’ve submitted, right?

  5. “I figured that,” as they say in the black-and-white Westerns. Like you, I’ve seen too many hyperactive parents make moves that seemed like a good idea at the time. I’ve probably even been one of those parents. Just this year, we way underestimated that importance of continuity and consistency in a child’s life.

  6. A happy parent of an Irving Student

    The Irving had some issues in the past, but the new Principal, in coordination with excellent staff has worked wonders and my daughter is having a very good year there in their AWC program. Not one day have I worried about her safety. I’ve been thrilled with the apprenticeships!

    feel free to e-mail me directly with questions.

  7. Another Debbie

    I think one of the other pluses about going to the Irving for 6th grade AWC is that the track they have set up from the Roslindale K-5 feeder schools means there will be a lot of 6th graders who are new to the school at the same time. And that should open up more opportunities for new friendships and shifting around of friend groups.

  8. Margaret Minor Wood

    Dear PI: I am a latecomer to your blog, but I am a current parent at the Irving. I was very sorry to hear about the way BPS handled the notifications. They do have a way of sticking taking the most untactful course possible. My daughter has thrived this year at the Irving and there are many good things to say about the extended day program and the principal. Please use me as a resource for any questions.

    • Thanks. Since writing about my surpise here, I’ve heard a lot of good things about the extended day, now that some of the bugs seem to have been worked out. But even those psoitive comments seem to suggest that aprents like the program a bit more than students. Does that ring true in your experience.

  9. PI- love what I’m reading here about BLS (I’m a dad of 2 students there), homework vs. personal time, and the rise and fall of family reading. Would love to share a new summer reading opportunity with you sometime. Email: phtbennet@raisingstones.com

    • Thanks. It’s comments like yours that will get me back from becoming a Twitter refugee. I can report that Connie put down her phone this week and got immersed in a book for the first time in months. I’d love to hear about the summer reading opportunity.

  10. Hi PI!
    Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and experiences as a parent– it is because of passionate and articulate people like you that change is made! I greatly enjoyed learning about your insights through your blog.
    My name is Claire and I am a recent graduate of Tufts University, currently working in the field of international education. My passion for education and tutoring has always led me to work with similarly like-minded people– and my most recent endeavor is a partnership with a new tech start-up called Quickhelp. This app works with mobile technology and machine-learning to improve parents’ ability to conveniently find personalized (and affordable) tutoring for their children.
    If you were willing, I would love to speak with you on the phone or via email about this new app and your thoughts as a parent. I have no doubt that your feedback would help me immensely! If you are willing, my email address is clairequickhelper@yahoo.com.
    Have a lovely MLK Day!

  11. I am writing a piece about tracking in SF Public schools and would like your permission to use an excerpt from one of your posts. This is my blog: http://sfpsmom.com/

  12. Vicky from Germany

    Hey everyone,
    I’m a student from Germany and currently I’m writing my bachelor thesis about the reformation of the school choice system in Boston in 2006.
    Within my bachelor thesis I’m discussing the Boston mechanism with its pros and cons. In that content the WZPG recommended to parents the following in October 2003:

    One school choice strategy is to find a school you like that is undersubscribed and put it as a top choice, OR, find a school that you like that is popular and put it as a first choice and find a school that is less popular for a „safe“ second choice.

    I was hoping to find a souce for this quotation, but I was not able to find one. I hope that maybe you can help me out here.
    Also, by now you have implemented the Gale-Shapley mechanism in Boston since 2006, do you have any further insider information about this mechanism, if it really is strategy-proof and if it actually does eliminate justified envy?
    I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
    Best wishes from Germany

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