Kid Stuff


One thing that’s changed since my kids were kids is that you see children almost everywhere, even places that were considered adults-only thirty years ago.   It was no surprise this weekend to see the La Jolla Embassy Suites lobby over run with cute little urchins given the hotel’s family-sized suites and free breakfasts.   But there were a number of children at the La Jolla Playhouse performance of Sleeping Beauty Wakes, a pop-rock musical that blends the sleeping beauty fairy tale with sleep deprivation science in a way that a child has only two chances of following (yes, slimski and noneski … and slimski skipped town).  There were several families with children at the upscale and romantic Manhattan restaurant, too, as Muri and I celebrated our 43rd Anniversary.   And Sunday, when we went to the races at Del Mar, it was family day and the stands were crawling with kids, which brings me to Top Sites Tuesday Number 112 – Two Thoughts on Tuesday and Thought Number One: Is it really appropriate for parents to bring their grammar school-aged children to the track to teach them to play the ponies … and make bets for them?   There was a very All-American family immediately to our left in the stands.  Before each race, Grampa, Mom and Dad reviewed the Racing Form with Heather, Colton and little Ferndock, helping them pick a horse, then placed bets for them.  Aside from the fact that betting by children is illegal, do you really want to introduce your kids to gambling before ten?   And as of the end of the fourth race, all four kids were ahead and talking about what they were going to do with their money.  Can you say Gamblers Anonymous, here we come?

Listening to the radio on the way home from the park today, I heard a newscaster say that California Schools were planning on eliminating recess, even in Kindergarten, despite the assertion by The Right to Recess Campaign that recess is an important part of the school day and is crucial to a child’s social and emotional development.  It wasn’t the possibility of eliminating recess that caught my attention, however, it’s this statistic: currently, kindergarteners spend 19% of their time playing and the rest on academics and preparing for standardized tests.   Now, I may not read the newspaper every day but I’m well aware that this sort of test preparation goes on but … and here’s Thought Number Two if we properly teach the academics, the children will not only do well on the Standard Tests, they might turn out literate.  It turns out, the announcer said, that California student scores on STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) are up this year.   Checking the STAR website I found that only 50% percent of 7th graders students test as proficient or better in math.  And this is UP from last year.  With teachers preparing the kids specifically for the tests.

So, maybe the horse-playing parents are right.  In betting the ponies, the kids get to learn about odds, multiply their bet by the odds to determine their winnings, and add or subtract to determine how they stand after each race.  I’d say the odds are 3-to-1 that those horse-wagering kids would test as advanced in math on the STAR.   The conclusion is obvious … don’t eliminate recess, spend it at the track.   Heather bets $5 on the Exacta, number 1 horse to win, number 5 horse to show, number 3 to place.  Colton will take horse number 2 in the fourth race and number 5 in the fifth, $3 on the Daily Double.  Ferndock will put $10 on Cozi Rosie to place in the 54th running of the John C. Mabee Stakes.    And Older Eyes will take one gentle push of the button to make me Number One on Top Sites Tuesday #112 … and a score of proficient on the STAR in blogging.

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10 Comments on “Kid Stuff”

  1. Hmmm. I do agree with the fallacy of trying to teach kids to the test. Just wrong, in so many levels there in my mind. Now, the idea those parents had/have of teaching kids the gambling skills, well that I found interesting. Probably because I’ve never mastered anything pertaining in the least to gambling, betting, odds and the like so maybe I could get them to give me a nice refresher course there, huh?

  2. “Is it really appropriate for parents to bring their grammar school-aged children to the track to teach them to play the ponies … and make bets for them? ”

    Probably NOT.

    But, what the heck do I know?

  3. As to your first thought: I can’t imagine a scenario in which that would be okay. But what do I know? I don’t know horse racing and I’m not a parent. Still, I would have been chilled by that sight.

    As to your second thought: I agree completely. As a child, I was well-educated. I also may have had a natural aptitude that other children lacked. But I was taught “taught to the test” (though I did take standardized tests). In fact, when I took the SATs, I didn’t do nearly as well on them as I thought I would. But it didn’t matter; I got very good grades and I have an understanding of history and current events, I can read, write, think for myself and catch on quickly to new things (most of the time– though less so as I get older). Standardized tests don’t teach that. Our education system is failing children… but it’s hard to know how to fix it.

  4. Cheryl P. Says:

    Not trying to veer away from the seriousness of the content but your wording “slimski and noneski and slimski skipped town” cracked me up. Really funny clever stuff. Also, the comparison of placing bets to improving math skills. Funny

    On to the more serious point of your post…That just ticks me off about the removing recess. On one hand America’s First Lady is out and about touting “do something about childhood obesity” then we turn around and make sure that kids don’t move around. If anything there should be more recesses, even if it is just a 10 minute walk around the building to clear their heads and get some deep breathing done. They would work smarter with the little break thrown in.

    By all means just let’s concentrate on the mind at the expense of the body.

  5. Deletrius Says:

    Childhood is being ripped out from under us!

  6. Trina Says:

    First, Happy 43rd Anniversary, that’s an awesome accomplishment!

    As far as taking kids to the track, I think it’s an interesting question. On one hand I think it would be cool to let the kids watch the races and learn about the horses. As far as letting them bet… isn’t that similar to letting them help you choose lottery ticket numbers? Is it so terrible to teach them early on they sometimes you win and sometimes you loose? I understand the reason for an age limit on betting and I do support that, children should not be betting, but in a controlled environment is it really all that terrible?

    School testing… I think it’s crap. I remember my teachers teaching us to pass the TAAS tests (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills) They skipped the actual skills and taught us test taking skills like on multiple choice answers narrow out the obvious wrong answers to increase your chances to get the answer right. I remember spending months practicing taking the test and then D-day where you had to sit in the same classroom all day and take the stupid tests. Some were even timed tests so if you wanted to check your answers you had better fly though the first time to hopefully have time to do the checking.

    PLEASE! Stop the stupid tests and just teach the kids skills that will help them in life.

    And finally. you can take recess out of schools when they stop serving french fries, pizza, chicken nuggets, and soda at lunch and start requiring a nice break between classes to make up for missing the 30 minutes of mindless play with friends they never get to see outside of school.

    LOL Guess I made a post out of a reply – Oops!
    Clicks for you!

  7. Wolfbernz Says:

    Hi Bud

    I don’t think taking kids to the ponies to learn the betting end is the brightest thing to do. I remember when I was young we went on a trip to Vegas. My father was an investigator for the secret service. He was told by my mother “Frank you show these children how bad gambling is” and each time he put money in the machine he would win win win. So my sister and I went back to the hotel and took all our spending cash snuck into the casino and spent all of it and didn’t win a thing… Did we want more money, you bet the excitement we saw when the winnings came in was overwhelming. Did we learn a lesson, no. Do I gamble today… Heck no I work to hard to throw money away so maybe I did in the long run.

    That’s great I want to teach a bunch of children that have no outlet to get the wiggles out of their little bodies… This would not be an insane job at all. I think a decrease in pay for such a job would suffice also….. OMG!

    Clicks for you bud

  8. Rick Gleason Says:

    Sorry Bud, I couldn’t figure out how to contact you otherwise. I thank you for including my site on your list of blogs you read. Just a correction due to the evolution of my blog it’s old name “In My own Write” — as you have it listed — has changed to “Things I Share With Friends”. I think it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.

    Thought you might want to make that change. Feel free of course to delete this comment as soon as you’ve read it. Sorry for the hassle!

    You can contact me directly at

    All the best!

  9. territerri Says:

    All I can say is, “BRAVO!” This here is one very fine piece of satire!

    Okay, I can actually say more. Seems like schools are always struggling. The kids aren’t learning because the class sizes are too big, or the parents don’t care, or the kids are so wrapped up in dysfunction that they can’t focus. And the answer is take away recess? Which is only going to contribute to the obesity problem in America because kids don’t get enough exercise as it is.

    We can’t win!

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