So US News & World Report got it right! Something every Iowan already knew, but at least the rest of the world is going to hear about it – Iowa is the best state to live in! To which, the smart ass in me wants to reply “Well, tell me something I didn’t know!” but the polite Iowan in me says, “They noticed it! Wow!”
So here we are. Yes, my friends, Iowa is officially ranked as the best state. For all of you who still think we grow potatoes or live in teepees — well, bless your heart. You are welcome to your incorrect information, but we really do live well.
The report judges on 8 categories: health care, education, economy, opportunity, infrastructure, crime & corrections, fiscal stability, and quality of life. I like to think we have those things in aces because if we need something or want something, we make it happen. That’s an Iowan for you. Sure, you might hear the farmers complaining in Casey’s but that doesn’t mean they won’t go right out the door and find a solution to the problem. I always say I was taught to take care of myself and everyone else around me. Some farm. Some preach. Some teach. Some fix computer glitches, but we are all doing our part. Although we are most notably known for butter cows and caucuses, I’m gonna say we are a lot more than that!
Our state boasts of a 40 college-educated population. Yeah, let that sink in. That’s impressive, my friends. And that’s counting a whole lot of really well-educated people that didn’t go to college because it really wasn’t an option when they were growing up, plus, at the very least, 92% have a high school diploma. We aren’t all corn fields and hogs, even though I must say I enjoy both! Sign me up for sweet corn and bacon anytime! They say everything’s better with bacon and we’ve got that by the truckload!
Really, there’s no point to this post other than to say I am damn proud to be from Iowa, born and raised. I am proud to say I am an Iowan. I am proud to say “Go USA!” I am proud to be “Midwestern nice.” I am proud to be from a place where you can stand under a tree in the middle of a gravel road, you can attend 3 major universities (plus a lot of quality colleges), you can find a food pantry and a library in addition to a bar even in the smallest town, you can watch bikers from all over the country bike safely across our state any given July, you can get a jaunty wave from a neighbor, you can get the best steak off of a backyard grill, and you can still read the Wall Street Journal off the internet on your porch while watching the sun set.
I am blessed to live in a place where back yards still exist, as do manners, friendships, work ethic, skies you can see, and a desire for quality education. Welcome to Iowa! Love it or get out! J
What else do you love about Iowa? Do you live somewhere else that’s fabulous you want to tell us about? Do you have a memory you want to share? Well, go right ahead.
I’ll say it. What happened in Connecticut scares the crap out of me, and it probably did you, too. No, I’m not a parent, although I parent every day as a teacher and if you asked me to raise your child, I would. Normally, I refrain from commenting about anything in teaching so I don’t get fired, but today, well, today I have something to say.
If we don’t want our kids to grow up worrying someone will kill them or be the one that kills others, please consider these things:
Please spend time with your kids. I know you have to work tons to pay for them, but if you quit trying to buy them Jordans and make them do chores to earn a couple of bucks, they will learn the value of a dollar and be proud when they pay their own way through college. Yes, I speak from experience and yes, I thought it sucked as a kid, but I can assure you I’ve killed no one, and I give my parents endless credit for making me who I am.
Secondly, please expect things of your children. Expect them to learn their times tables, to do chores around the house, to open doors for the elderly, and say please and thank you. If they don’t, don’t give them privileges like movies, skating, or their phones. You can even take things away like their favorite TV show, their xbox, or their favorite hoodie if you have to. Don’t give in because it’s easier for you, and don’t send them to their room if it holds a phone, a TV, an Xbox, a DVR, and a computer. That’s not punishment. That’s a reward and a chance to avoid communication with adults from whom they should be gaining knowledge and common sense.
Oh, and please don’t give in to your children because you want them to like you. They are not supposed to be your friend. They are your kid. You are supposed to be their parent. Sometimes, they won’t like you. That means you’re doing your job correctly, but if you kiss them goodnight or say you love them every day, they’ll get the message that you love them but you are one who makes the rules, not them. No kid should be deciding what the family eats, watches on TV, or spends the family money on unless it’s their freaking birthday and you allowed it.
Finally, you have the toughest job in the world. You have to raise a decent human being in a world that is not so decent. It is not a simple task, but if you do not want to be the one grieving or apologizing, it is your time to stand up and put kids first. If you don’t know how to do that, ask me or ask someone whose children seem to have it together. If you’re doing all these things already and are just sick to your stomach at the world your kids are seeing, then pass this on and hug your kids one more time tonight.
My prayers to all those who have to deal with situations such as this and for those that can help avoid more.
Let me go on record as saying I love Matt Damon. I’m not necessarily a love-proclaiming person. You can ask my husband as he always points out he announced his love long before I did. So I think it should be dually noted that when I declare my love, admiration, and blubbering non-intelligible awe for Matt it should mean something.
Sure, I’m saying this because he defended teachers, but it’s not like it wasn’t always true. How can you not love a man that makes your mouth water more than double fudge chocolate cheesecake? And how can you not love a man that wrote a phenomenal film in Good Will Hunting before he was old enough to rent a car? And how can you not love a man who works that hard at his job that his movies never stink up the $1 bin at Walmart? And how can you not love a man who defends his mommy? See, I dare you to find fault with that! And if you think you can, I’ll invite him to go all Jason Bourne on your ass.
Teaching is not for the weak-hearted. It is for the kind-hearted and that is why most teachers do not attempt to defend themselves. But I will say that very few people go into teaching without the right motives and even less stay in teaching without them. Every day, teachers teach, parent, counsel, nurse, befriend, nurture, and save. If you don’t believe me, go to the classrooms, sit your butt in the back, and watch the future be built.
To say more than that would only get me in trouble, but I will again say, “Matt Damon, you are currently a man among men on a pedestal the likes of which your Oscars shadow in comparison. You can be a spokesperson for education anytime!”