Braselton News

May 14, 2008

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By Kerri Testement

Becoming a mom means carrying a ‘bottomless pit’
There are a few things that other mothers warn you about before you welcome your first child into the world.
You’ll be peed and pooped on more times than you can count — and it won’t matter.
You’ll sleep less than you ever have in your life — and you still can’t catch up on sleep anytime soon.
And, you’ll cut your hair short — in order to prevent all of it being yanked out by your baby.
But there was one thing those other moms forgot to warn me about — you’ll carry around a bottomless pit, a.k.a., a really big purse.
My mom used to carry around a really big purse when I was kid (she still does now that she’s a grandmother). That purse had everything — medication for the unexpected illness, baby wipes for the unexpected messes and tissue paper for the unexpected runny noses.
I always hated that tissue paper she kept in her purse. It seemed like she kept it in her purse until the thing literally fell apart. It was used to wipe boogers from noses, ice cream from mouths and lipstick from cheeks.
Mom also used to keep bills in her purse. She’d pay a bill when there were just a few open minutes in her busy life, such as waiting for food to arrive while dining at a restaurant. Got three minutes? Pay the electric bill; it’s right there in your purse.
I didn’t learn what kind of junk I could throw into my purse until I became a mother.
That first purse was a monster of a bag. It was more like a mini-suitcase than a purse. Like a magician, I could throw more junk in that purse than physically possible — and still have more room for a few surprises.
I use to keep writing materials, magazines, water bottles and even a change of baby clothes in that purse. The strap on the purse finally broke one day as I was crossing a street. Thank goodness the junk in that purse didn’t come rolling out on the street, or there would have been a traffic jam spanning several city blocks.
Even today — with a much smaller purse — there is still plenty of unexpected junk in my “mom bag.”
Of course, there is the hand sanitizer (a must for every mom nowadays), but there is also the disinfecting spray. It sounded crazy the first time another mom told me about keeping disinfecting spray in her purse — but it’s handy. It comes in a convenient travel size and I use it when putting my daughter in a shopping cart or anywhere else that just seems nasty.
Many stores highlight those travel size items — anything from stain removers to deodorant — near the cash registers. It’s so easy to see those things and realize that you need them in your purse, too.
During a recent trip to a restaurant, my purse kept several toys hidden from my daughter. When she’d tire of one toy, there was another one waiting for her in my purse. The steady stream of toys kept her entertained and quiet for the meal.
Today, I found a bitter biscuit lurking at the bottom of my purse. At least I’ll have something ready to go, should my daughter become hungry.
There are also spare batteries in my purse, not only for her toys but for my camera, too. Most purses also feature handy side pockets just for cell phones or keys. There is no need to dig through the junk to get to those items.
You’ll never know what you can find in a mother’s purse. Our “mom bags” are like emergency kits, toy chests and cleaning stations all rolled into one.
Kerri Testement is the news editor of The Braselton News. Her e-mail address is

Maybe graduates will fix broken system
Even as the community celebrates the graduation this month of hundreds of local students from area high schools, there’s a sense that the American education “system” has gotten seriously off-track.
Perhaps that’s not new news. For the last 35 years, politicians, business leaders, teachers, parents and sociologists have been arguing about the quality — or lack of quality — in the nation’s public schools.
But it seems fitting to ask here at graduation time this question: Have we as a nation done the right thing for these graduates and their education?
This is not an issue just about schools, but also about our larger society. Public schools do not exist in a vacuum. Success or failure in schools is largely interwoven with success or failure in the community. It’s a symbiotic relationship — successful schools help build successful communities, but successful communities also build successful schools.
So what are the issues in this debate? There are at least these three major problems:
1. Education bureaucrats who are out of control and who answer to no one. The state and federal education bureaucracy is a system rife with silly fads, inane curriculum ideas and self-serving hacks. This bureaucracy worries more about protecting itself than it does about improving public schools. This self-absorbed bureaucracy needs to be shaken up by more aggressive oversight from people outside the system who would bring a dose of reality back into this la-la land.
2. Politicians who meddle in education with personal political agendas. The only thing worse than an incompetent bureaucrat in the state and federal education bureaucracy are the politicians who try and use public schools to promote their own propaganda. Think abortion, creationism and other hot-button issues that politicians thrust into public schools not for education purposes, but for political aims. It’s also the politicians who have created the over-testing environment that exists in public schools today and it is politicians who are taking away local control of public schools and putting that power in the hands of the state and federal governments.
3. A culture that ignores learning, but glorifies violence and inane entertainment. Some kids may not learn much in school, but they certainly know all about pop culture. They can’t tell you who Winston Churchill was or what he did, but they can tell you who got booted off American Idol last night and the price of the new “Grand Theft Auto” game. Students can’t write a complete sentence, but they can set up a MySpace page and tap out dozens of text messages a day. We live in a cultural environment that is increasingly antithetical to real education. Even worse, too many parents support this cultural shallowness themselves. The result is that other cultures which do value education now have to supply this nation with trained engineers, doctors and other highly-educated specialists. We can no longer grow our own because our own simply don’t give a damn.

Perhaps those graduating from local high schools this month will eventually change this system when they become leaders in this state and nation. The future success of this nation demands that they fix the problems we in the current generation have created.


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