Summer vacation looms (already?)
It's the last week of the school year for my two children, which means I am futilely trying to finish up some projects and chunks of housecleaning and clutter-clearing before I turn into a full-time mom again. Not only that, but my son is having finals this week (no longer regular classes), so starting tomorrow he gets to come home early from high school every day (in other words, I get to go fetch him) when he's done with exams.
How quickly the weeks have flown since Christmas and New Year's. Now it's that breezy-wowsy, rushed time of year for gift contributions and hand-made thank-you cards for teachers and bus drivers. It's time to send sugar goodies to school for invigorating the end-of-the-year parties. The neighborhood pool has opened and nobody's mind is on education any more, including the teachers'--watching videos and playing games at school is endemic. Regular routines have already disappeared. This week my daughter and her schoolmates are encouraged to bring a book to school each day for reading on their own. That 180-day school year mandated by the state is not really 180 days of teaching. The bureaucracy takes its toll as it grinds through its ending season. But this is as it has always been. Spring fever and summer madness make the last week of school a wonderful, weird, unsettling, exciting-nostalgic time for kids, teachers, and parents.
This morning at breakfast I explained to my daughter what "ambivalence" means: it's when you experience two "contradictory" feelings about something at once. Like sadness and happiness when you graduate from one familiar school and move on to the unknown next one. Like regret and anticipation at the prospect of having your children around you 24 hours a day for three months. Like weeping and still being somehow glad as you watch your children go off to college, or get married. It's the usual and natural reaction to big change. She's only 10, but she immediately understood what I meant.
I am relieved I have no really big turning points at the end of this school year. My son has three more years of high school, and my little one has one last year to go at her elementary school. I don't have to get out the kleenex this week. I just have to shepherd the flock through the end of another successful year of school and into the pool, with the reassurance that another familiar year awaits us on the other side of our summer vacation.
But my blogging this week will be light and sporadic. In the meantime, here's important reading from Mark Steyn ("Not just immigration, it's societal transformation")--including the laughs and the tears (speaking of ambivalence):
Under the new "comprehensive immigration reform" bill (Posse Como Estas?), a posse of National Guardsmen will be stationed in the Arizona desert but only as Wal-Mart greeters to escort members of the Illegal-American community to the nearest Social Security office to register for benefits backdated to 1973....
But a "worker class" drawn overwhelmingly from a neighboring jurisdiction with another language and ancient claims on your territory and whose people now send so much money back home in the form of "remittances" that it's Mexico's largest source of foreign income (bigger than oil or tourism) is not "immigration" at all, but a vast experiment in societal transformation. Indeed, given the international track record of bilingual societies and neighboring jurisdictions with territorial claims, it's not much of an experiment so much as a safe bet on political instability.
By some counts, up to 5 percent of the U.S. population is now "undocumented." Why? In part because American business is so over-regulated that there is a compelling economic logic to the employment of illegals. In essence, a chunk of the American economy has seceded from the Union. But, even if you succeeded in re-annexing it, a large-scale "guest worker" class entirely drawn from one particular demographic has been a recipe for disaster everywhere it's been tried. Fiji, for example, comprises native Fijians and ethnic Indians brought in as indentured workers by the British. If memory serves, currently 46.2 percent are native Fijians and 48.6 percent are Indo-Fijians. In 1987, the first Indian-majority government came to power. A month later, Col. Sitiveni Rabuka staged the first of his two coups.
Don't worry, I'm not predicting any coups just yet. But, even in relatively peaceful bicultural societies, politics becomes tribal: loyalists vs. nationalists in Northern Ireland, separatists vs. federalists in Quebec.
Sometimes the differences are huge -- as between, say, anything-goes pothead bisexual Dutch swingers and anti-gay anti-drugs anti-prostitution Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands. But sometimes the differences can be comparatively modest and still destabilizing. Pointing out that America has a young fast-growing Hispanic population and an aging non-Hispanic population, the Washington Post's Bob Samuelson wrote that "we face a future of unnecessarily heightened political and economic conflict."The key words are "unnecessarily heightened."...