Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Graduate

So Sam's last day of school was last Tuesday, and I'm pleased to report that it went much better than his first day. For both of us. Seeing him there in his little red hat, clutching his diploma made me want to cry. But I didn't.

I have adorable video of him performing in the group musical numbers. I'm tempted to inflict it upon all of you, but it's dark and shaky and noisy and grainy. And although you can still see his adorable little knee bends and fancy jazz hands through all of that, I realize it's all more endearing to a me than anyone else. (Just as V's sobbing and J's hiding behind her hands were probably adorable to V's and J's respective parents. Poor fools.)

But since I'm sparing you the video, the least you can do is indulge me while I brag: In addition to his construction paper diploma, Sam also received the President's Award for Academic Excellence. Since he was the only one in his class to get it, I figure that pretty much makes him the valedictorian of Pre-K.

They did not ask him to give a speech. But he did shake hands with the principal.

Wanna know the cutest thing about it? He was really more excited about the construction paper diploma prop than that silly little certificate signed by the President. He didn't really understand that he got a special award.

The graduation cap, on the other hand, has made frequent appearances in the week since the ceremony. He wore it all day Saturday as we ran around town, and was congratulated by strangers several times. At one point, he asked "Why do people keep talking to me about graduation when I'm tired of talking?"

I was surprised to hear he was tired of talking about it, because he's been really fascinated with all things graduation lately. When I told him that at Grandma and Grandpa's house there are (probably?) a bunch of REAL graduation caps AND gowns that he can try on next time we visit, he wanted to know the full inventory of color choices, and who wore what. Later he asked how people decide what colors to wear for graduation, and we talked about school colors and mascots and all that. I didn't realize he'd taken the whole discussion so much to heart until a few days later when he told me he didn't want to go to high school. It turned out that he was worried that he'd have to wear a cap & gown in a color he didn't like (i.e. not red), and he thought it best just to avoid that risk altogether. I assured him that it'll all work itself out by the time he's in high school. Maybe he'll go to a school that does have red gowns, or maybe he'll have a different favorite color then. He looked skeptical, but has not made further mention of ending his education after eighth grade.

I'm glad. I think he'd miss out on a lot. Although at the beginning of the year I had reservations about sending him to an all-day-every-day program, I could not have asked for a better year. He made lots of friends and soaked up information like a sponge. His teacher, Mrs. S, is as kind and caring as they come, and welcomed not just her students, but parents and siblings into her classroom as well. Grace and I spent so much time there, in fact, that when the graduates paraded down the aisles of the auditorium, Grace climbed out of her seat and tried to join them. She was antsy throughout the ceremony because she just wanted to get up there with the rest of her class where she thought she belonged. And when each of Sam's classmates stood to receive a diploma, Grace would point out her "friend" on the stage.

I'm a little worried about next year, and the years to come, because we probably won't always luck out with great teachers. But no matter whom or what he encounters, I'm pretty sure Sam has figured out he'll have a better time outside the cubby than in it. And I can't really think of a better life lesson than that. Can you?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm proud of the AMA

I just finished an amazing meeting of the American Medical Association. I was elected to a seat on the Council on Science and Public Health, I shook President Obama's hand, and we passed policy that opens the door to a new stance on reform by the AMA.

My campaign was the first really involved campaign I've ever been deeply involved in. There was campaign literature, receptions, lots of hand shaking, and a campaign manager that was so organized it made my jaw drop open more than once. I was elected, by the way, and my man Dave got his pre-election vote counts right within 2%. It was just... remarkable in every way.

As for Obama, that was an experience of a lifetime. As a seated delegate within the House, I was able to sit up front, and as a young person I was able to get in line earlier than most. :-) The result was that I was VERY close to the president. After the last words of his speech were uttered, a rush of people moved toward the barrier just in front of the first row, in order to shake his hand. I climbed over a couple rows of chairs and stuck my arm over some shoulders in order to get my moment, but it worked. I may have lost some dignity and votes in the process, but I just couldn't let the opportunity pass me by. Here is some video and a photo I took with my pocket camera so you can get an idea of what it was like:

Lastly, the AMA passed policy that leaves public options for health system reform a possibly acceptable approach from the AMA's view. This is huge. The organization has long been criticized for obstructing reform, and that's because we're concerned that public systems often elliminate the freedom of physicians to care for their patients as they see fit. I think Obama's speech did a great deal to grease the wheels of progress within the organization. I've met most of the delegates of the AMA in the process of my campaign, and I know first-hand that they have the interests of their patients at the forefront of what they do, rather than their pocketbooks as the press seems to cynically suggest over and over. I'm proud to be involved in organized medicine, because organizations like this can build consensus and do real good for real people. Pass the word along!