Pimp and Grits


You know what?  I’m becoming adversarial in my old age.  I find that lately my tolerance for other people’s abuse, nonsense, negativity, bullshit, chicanery, shenanigans, or mischief is nil.  Except my kids, I suppose.  I tolerate them all right.

Normally, I’m a more submissive type of person, in that I will do whatever I can to avoid conflict – even not speaking up for myself when anyone else with a brain ought to.  I can never figure out why that is.

This school thing has tipped me over some edge.  I’m not sure if this will stick and become a permanent part of my fundamental psychological makeup, but it’s here now.  Just ask my husband.  I’ve verbally bitch-slapped him plenty over the past week.  Nothing major.  It’s just comments that would usually roll off my back are instead sticking in my backside, pissing me off, and are being dealt with.  And no.  It’s not that time of month.

I’m angry.  I’m angry at Stella’s teacher.  She’s a bitch.  How a kindergarten teacher can be a bitch I cannot say, but this person has managed it.  She’s got the warmth of a bipedal great white shark.  Kindergarten teachers are supposed to be perky and kind, not jaws in a denim jumper.

My sweet girl - so worn out at the end of the day Friday that she fell asleep twice on the way home.  That NEVER happens.

My sweet girl – so worn out at the end of the day Friday that she fell asleep twice on the way home. That NEVER happens.

We’re trying.  We really are.  The behavior charts, the discussions about behavior and expectations.  The guidance counselor mentioned that perhaps we could sign a privacy waiver so that they could speak directly with Stella’s physicians.  Oh.  Hell.  No.  Particularly when we can’t get a “dot” every day.  I’ve done the math.  6 out of 13 days we’ve had no “dot.”  In other words, we have no idea if it was a good or bad day.  That’s 46% of the time.  And we’re supposed to allow these people into medical records?

If it were justified, maybe so.  But the worst complaint we’ve had since the first full week of school was that Stella talked a lot or wouldn’t sit and complete work.  A 4 year old in a brand-new uber-structured environment ran her mouth and didn’t want to participate in bullshit remedial worksheets.  I’m shocked.  Truly.  Too bad they don’t have seasoned veteran teachers to help with that.  Oh wait…

photo 1

I usually listen to old stuff by The Cure as I languish for 15 minutes a day in car pool. I may switch to gangsta rap.

But you know what?  My venom and bile aside, I’m careful not to speak or otherwise react in front of my daughter.  I don’t want to color her opinions or experience.   I’m selling their damn candy (and popcorn and cookie dough, dammit).  And I’m documenting, documenting, documenting.  Next parent-teacher conference?  Bring it.

The Way We Weird


Sometimes I flip through my photo stream and am struck by how strange we might appear to visiting aliens from outer space.

The costumes……

Felix isn't sold on being the Evil Queen to Stella's Princess

Felix isn’t sold on being the Evil Queen to Stella’s Princess

The family that crowns together.... I have no idea how to finish that.

The family that crowns together…. I have no idea how to finish that.

And the filth.  Recently, I was getting pissed off by how hazy all my photos were looking.  Every picture I took looked like something out of Glamour Shots from any good 1980’s mall.  I was wondering if my phone was broken.  Maybe my camera was wearing out (Yeah, I’m a techno-ditz).  Turns out it was just filthy.

See? It's like my living room has the atmosphere of Venus.

See? It’s like my living room has the atmosphere of Venus.

Aaaaand Venus post-Windex. Damn that's nasty.

Aaaaand Venus post-Windex. Damn that’s nasty.

 

Precious Your Luck


I’ve written about my son’s strange little hoarding habit, in which he’ll glom onto a certain object or objects and carry them around, even sleeping with them.  He’s like a little squirrel.  I just roll with this now.  Sometimes – at night – it works in my favor.  The Preciouses help him sleep, especially under his Donut blanket.  The night after our summer party, he had quite a Precious assemblage: a small beach ball, 2 bottle caps, and 2 bunches of sticks that had been used to inflate water balloons.  At some point in the night, I heard him stirring.  I was able to get in there and put him back to sleep since he lost so much time trying to pick up all of his Preciouses.

Stick Preciouses.  There are some zip ties in his other hand.

Stick Preciouses. There are some zip ties in his other hand.

Recently he tried to make a corn dog a Precious.  He’s done this with food before – beef sticks, pickles, M&Ms (which do melt in your hands, dagnabbit).  But not like this.  He caressed it. He told it that it was “so cuuuuuuute.”  He looked at me earnestly and told me how soft it was.  This went on for about 45 minutes.  As this was happening right before naptime, I figured I was going to have to break my son’s heart and take away his corn dog rather than allow it in bed with him.  Fortunately, he ate it eventually.

Hugging on his corn dog

Hugging on his corn dog

I’m not sure how I feel about that.

This strange little dude has my heart

This strange little dude has my heart

Put Your Peddle to the Metal


Yeah so school.  I really am in a better place about much of this since I last talked about it (https://larva225.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/when-you-wish-upon-a-start/).  That doesn’t mean there’s not still frustrations and angst.  That also doesn’t mean I’m not drinking a bit more wine than I should.  But I’ve released the feelings of paranoia, guilt, and shame.  And most of the anxiety.  I still retain some, but hell, I’m a mommy, no?

The main frustration is the lack of communication.  I’ve already shared the bit about the behavior calendar and the smiley faces or red dots of doom.  The problem is that A) more often than not, there’s no dot at all, B) often the paper/folder doesn’t even make it home, and C) when we do get dots, I have no idea why.  What is she doing right/wrong?  We valiantly try to discuss expectations with her, and back up words with our own behavior chart at home, but how can we put stickers on a chart when we don’t know if it’s deserved?

To be fair, I also get stuff like this sent home.  This is a self-portrait.  Stella apparently sees herself very tan and with large boobies.

To be fair, I also get stuff like this sent home. This is a self-portrait. Stella apparently sees herself very tan and with large boobies.

A speech therapist called me last Friday, as the school thought she ought to be evaluated.  I scoffed when they told me that, but hey…it’s their dime and time.  I wasn’t worried.  Sure enough, the therapist told me how smart, compliant, and funny Stella was, and how once Stella realized she was being tested, she tested the therapist back, asking her her own questions using the template of the test questions.  I laughed at that.  In the meantime, I haven’t been contacted by anyone directly – teacher or guidance counselor.

They’ve also started sending home homework to some extent.  One was a worksheet on Monday from the previous week with “incomplete” written on it.  No instructions.  Was I supposed to help her finish it?  Was it a bust?  We did it anyway and sent it back.  And their “Poetry Folders” with sheets to encourage literacy is a joke.  It is – no exaggeration – stuff Stella was reading when she was 3.  I’ve stopped having her read chapter books, since apparently her reading level is a problem. How f’ed up is that?

We did have to attend our first open house last night.  Do you know that they already have us pimping out chocolate??  The second full week of school?  And it’s crap?  World’s Best Chocolate my ass.  Everyone knows Hershey’s or even Nestle would sell better.  Still, you have to be a “team player.”  We just certainly won’t win MVP for this gig.

I'm trying to get creative with this stuff.  We'll see if it works.

I’m trying to get creative with this stuff. We’ll see if it works.

So this school thing.  I’m still not feeling it.  But I suppose we’re adjusting.    In the meantime, I’d love suggestions for the most obnoxious pen/marker you can think of.  It can be gaudy, garish, smelly, or sparkly.  I want this teacher to absolutely know that I have eyes on her when I initial her stupid calendar – when she bothers to send it home, that is.

Heat, Drink, and Be Merry


So some brainiac (me, dammit) decided that it would be “cool” to have a “summer party-“ a casual get-together with casual food, casual drinks, and not-so-casual activities for all the kiddos: their activity list was action-packed.

You have to understand how goofy this idea was at the outset:

  • I’m an introvert. I don’t “throw parties.”
  • I tend to be a perfectionist, wanting everything to be perfect – my house (which is laughable given the lack of opportunity to maintain it since spawning 5 years ago), yard (see previous in parentheses), food, drink, music, the whole enchilada. That does not make for a relaxing experience.
  • It’s Louisiana. In August.

I sent invitations out over a month in advance.  I had lists nested within lists to ensure we didn’t forget everything.  I started gathering materials weeks and weeks in advance: chips, juice boxes, beer, water, beer, beer, and beer.  I had a cleaning schedule to take care of the priority areas of the house while still allowing my children to actually live there.

The day of, I had 2 lists – one for me, one for Will. Both of us had to change clothes multiple times due to the intense sweating.  We left the kids inside with the ultimate babysitter, Spongebob Squarepants.

You know what?  We pulled it off.  It was pretty awesome.  The kids all had a glorious time, and I was so happy that so many kids of so many ages were able to play together so well without many of them knowing each other.  Even the more quiet and withdrawn kiddos participated.

The foam machine is always a success.

The foam machine is always a success.

Pinata!

Pinata!

Adults relaxing.  I finally found a use for my pile of paper cranes and made a garland out of them, but didn't get a picture, dammit.

Adults relaxing. I finally found a use for my pile of paper cranes and made a garland out of them, but didn’t get a picture, dammit.

The big hairy kid in the pool is my husband.

The big hairy kid in the pool is my husband.

Thanks to my ultimate “Ya Ya” aunt, I had an easy and heat-appropriate cocktail to serve alongside the beer.  It was a success.  I’d totally do this again.

Just maybe in January.  And merde.  I just remembered Stella’s birthday party is next month…

Everyone was kind of tired by the end.

Everyone was kind of tired by the end.

When You Wish Upon a Start


(This isn’t a post about a pregnancy scare, but damn that would be appropriate.)

Dear Ms. H,

I’d like to touch base with you, my daughter’s new kindergarten teacher, now that you have spent 7 entire days with my kid. Of course, we’ve already talked plenty, but I digress….

So obviously things aren’t going as smoothly as any of us would like. That “Poor Choices” checklist that you sent home on the very first day – with as many of those poor choices checked as not- was a pretty good illustration of that. Then there was the phone call on day 2 and the conference on day 5. From what I can tell, Stella’s batting .500 now on the good day/bad day hit list.

Ya know, I’m sorry my kid isn’t adjusting as well as some (most, even). But she is only 4, after all, and you’re a seasoned veteran. Surely you’ve seen this before? Trust me: we are working hard at this at home. We’ve been working on this at home now for quite some time. We keep things regular, we discuss things ahead of time so that expectations are set – even using visual cues and behavior charts from time to time, we watch what she eats, ensuring she gets plenty of protein to avoid any kind of crazy blood sugar crashes. I research. I probably know more about sensory issues than any professional.

The first day was rough. I cried like most moms do when she left the house. I cried harder after I saw your “choices” checklist. When we got our first green smiley face on the daily behavior calendar, I felt like a billion bucks. I rode that high through Tuesday afternoon when I showed up for my conference and found my kid sitting outside of class. It seems she didn’t want to settle down and do her work.

That conference was intensely uncomfortable, particularly since I was half expecting a sheepish apology for jumping the gun and not even giving a 4 year old a chance to get her big school groove on for a full week. Fortunately the guidance counselor was there to insist on some positive feedback – to talk about what was going well. Shit, I may have otherwise slit my wrists and just bled out at the conference table. I left feeling horrible. It was punctuated by having to sit in the car not moving with my daughter screaming at me for 20 minutes when we for bogged down in the carpool lane which just happens to snake through your visitors’ parking lot. Why was she screaming? Well, because it was a “red dot” day, and that means no treat or ice cream after dinner.

See? I try. I’m backing you up. Hell, it’s a good thing for all of us that I’m not a professional ball player. I found myself getting superstitious about what I was wearing on Stella’s green smiley days. Fortunately it only extended to jewelry and not something like socks or underwear.

So back to it. Each day when I pick my kid up, I’m nauseous. I can’t wait until she’s safely back in my car and I can open her backpack and the blue folder containing your behavior calendar to see what kind of day she had. Yesterday we got a green smiley. Today it was a red dot. No other information. Just a vaguely circular red smear covering August 20th.

You know how we girls like to mark our calendars with red dots when we get our periods? Yeah. Like that. Bitch. At least we know why those red dots are on the calendar. This dot? I have no earthly idea. Maybe my daughter was reading “at an inappropriately high level” again. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about that comment. That one’s staying with me forever.

So let’s take stock. I think at the end of the day, you probably aren’t the best fit for my daughter. Not saying she’d be a model citizen for any teacher. I know that better than anyone on the planet. My kid ain’t easy. She’s got some tics. But you know what? SHE’S FREAKING AWESOME. How many 4 year olds do you know who come up to you asking if we can “do science?”

So know this: we will continue to back you up here in the home. Hell, I’d love to bring some cool minerals and fossils in to show your class. I’ll go on field trips to help. I’ll bake shit for bake sales. I’ll come in to read. But I’m done feeling shitty. I’m done feeling shitty about your dots. I’m done having heart palpitations, wondering if my kid is going to have a good day. I’ll talk about issues with you and with my kid. But you can shove the red dots up your ass. They’re subjective and don’t mean shit.  

With that I’ll close. Stella wants to read War and fucking Peace.
Love (at an inappropriately high level),

Laura
P. S. My daughter loves going to school every day. If your behavior causes that to change? Then we’ll really need a conference.  

Working on the Change Gang


We’re dealing with the transition that all parents must endure: Stella going off to kindergarten.  And like everyone else, this has been a source of great excitement, fear, anxiety, and sadness.   This change has caused a snowball effect around our household.  Will  takes the kids in the morning, dropping Stella off right on time. I’ve adjusted my work schedule to an earlier time, so I can pick Stella up on time.  This way, we keep her day as short as possible – and save money on before- and after-care.  And since we no longer have to pay for Stella’s tuition, Felix can transition to full-time at their playschool starting next week.  That’s going to be amazing – amazing for him, since he wants to be there more often, and amazing for our household, as we have barely made it financially with 2 kids to pay for.  Their combined tuition – even with Felix only part-time – has been more than our mortgage.

We prepped Stella as much as you can.  She left happy, excited, and feeling beautiful in her hideous uniform.  Y’all, the first 2 days did not go well.  Getting really honest, she is NOT a kid that adjusts well to huge changes, and this is huge.  I’ve already had a “note” and a call with her teacher.  A conference has been requested with the counselor.   I’m having Stepford Academy flashbacks again.  I know that’s ridiculous, but that place did such an emotional number on my family that we’re still tender about that subject.  I know this is different.  This is public school.  They can’t just toss a kid out.  But I just so wanted this to go well.  My heart hurts.

My sweet girl day 1

My sweet girl day 1

Day 2: She's still happy and excited if no one else is!

Day 2: She’s still happy and excited if no one else is!

Logically, I know Stella will be fine.  Like all kids, she won’t love everything about school.  Every day won’t be a great day.  She will not like every kid.  Every kid won’t necessarily like her.  It is going to take my child longer than most to come to grips with all this new stuff – the faces, sounds, smells, places.  I just need these folks to give her time and not give up on her.  I’m trying to remain calm.  The teacher has used the words “make a plan so we can move forward,” so I think that’s encouraging.

It’s hard to take her from a place where she’s been so well cared for and loved – a place that I grew to trust with all of my parental heart – to send her into the great unknown, realizing that at least at first it will not be fine.  I’ve been a nervous wreck all week.  The first 2 days didn’t help.

And my dude….Yesterday was my last “Dude Day” with Felix.  I’ve enjoyed those 2 days a week when it was just us.  I wanted to do something special with/for him, but I was working from home and time and money just wasn’t available.  So I did the next best thing:  I gave him a new Donut I had been sitting on.  It was like his best friend came back to life.

YAY!!

YAY!!

Donut!!!

Donut!!!

Please let next week be better.  Please let next week be better.  Please let next week be better.  Send us some positive vibes!

This silly little boy...

This silly little boy…

Scott to Trot


 

I’d like to send a public “shout out” to HGTV and their Canadian twin phenoms, the Property Brothers, with an honorable mention to “Love It or List It.”  Why?  Well, in addition to being enjoyable and somewhat inspiring television, these programs have been weaponized in my home.

I do hate yelling at my kids. I’m not a yeller by nature.  We also don’t really employ corporal punishment in our home.  Sure, there have been one or two swats for each kid when they were too young to really understand language well and needed to understand that STOVES ARE HOT and YOU CANNOT KICK GLASS/BANG WOODEN TOYS INTO WINDOWS, but those were major exceptions.  Time out threats often don’t have enough gravitas to get their attention.

I guess what it boils down to is this:  I’m a shitty disciplinarian.  I admit it.  I’ve read the books and online experts, but I have to say at the end of it all I’m not sure they’re referring to human children.  Sometimes “quiet, firm, gentle voices” will not be heard over the hellish cacophony that human children are capable of producing.  Yelling, banging on something, or some other threat are the only things capable of redirecting whatever nonsense is going on.

That’s where the Property Brothers come in.  The kids usually choose – with supervision, of course- what’s on TV while we prepare for dinner or hang out in the mornings.   Let’s say for this discussion, it’s evening and they have selected Team Umizoomi.  While I’m stuck in the kitchen within eye- and ear-shot of our only television which is playing Umizoomi, my kids are in the back of the house screaming and jumping on the bed.

I ask them nicely (at first) and firmly to stop and come out and watch the very show that they selected.  They may briefly run a lap around the couch, but inevitably return to my bedroom to do godknowswhat.  This is while I’m at the opposite end of the house trying to prepare food.  It’s not a good system. This is when I wish they made baby gates that were 5’ tall.  I could corral the little jerks in the front of the house with me so I could see whatever mischief was going down.

After several rounds of this, I finally bring out the biggest threat I currently own: “I WILL TURN ON A BORING GROWN UP SHOW IF YOU DON’T STOP JUMPING ON MY BED AND COME OUT HERE.”  Stella will usually run screaming “Not a boring grown up show” before forgetting about the threat 2 minutes later.  My final – and ultimate – touch is to yell “That’s it!  I’m turning on the Property Brothers!”  Howling ensues.

NOT A BORING GROWN UP SHOW!!!

NOT A BORING GROWN UP SHOW!!!

Don't make me turn on HGTV, kids....

Don’t make me turn on HGTV, kids….

Usually, just the threat of the beloved Scotts are enough to get my kids to sit the hell down and chill for 10 minutes so I can finish their meal prep.  But sometimes, I actually turn it on.  I have to admit, I get a sick pleasure from it.

My current leading fantasy is to have the PBs show up at my door, just to spook my daughter.  Maybe a cardboard cutout?

Of course no TV show is as magical as rainbow soap at the car wash...

Of course no TV show is as magical as rainbow soap at the car wash…

Green Eggs and Hamper


One of Felix’s newest obsessions is the white wicker hamper in our room.  Will gets totally skeeved out about it, asking if I’m aware of how gross a hamper is and how many germs are in there.  I suppose I’m more realistic.  That hamper is nowhere near as gross as our floors or couch, and we all spend lots of time on those things.  I mean, I don’t know what he’s doing with his clothes, but….

Kids play in hampers.  That’s just what they do.  They become foxholes, jack-in-the-box boxes, cannons, whatever.

I don’t really have a problem with this, except for 2 beefs: My son first will dump all dirty clothes – you know, the actual stuff that’s supposed to be in a hamper – all over my bedroom floor before dragging it into the living room or kitchen.  This happens multiple times a day.  Usually I just give up and move the dirty laundry into the laundry room.  The other beef is that my son is about 8” too short to throw his leg over the top and climb inside.  This means that he has to holler for me to pick him up and drop him inside.  Unfortunately, this also means he’s about 8” too short to get out by himself.  This means he has to holler for me to let him out.  This happens multiple times until I find something to distract/dazzle him and can sneak the hamper back to the bedroom.  But he always remembers….

Distraction at its best...

Distraction at its best…

He wanted my nasty purple kitchen sponge, hollering for "Purple Spongebob."

He wanted my nasty purple kitchen sponge, hollering for “Purple Spongebob.”

Now he has his own giant orange germ-free Spongebob.  I win!

Now he has his own giant orange germ-free Spongebob. I win!

Marceau Your Wild Oats


Kids are obnoxious.  In addition to being bonkers busy and energetic, my kids are both the “chatty” variety.  I hear that some kids are quiet and shy.  I hear that some kids are “lump-ish,” and their parents have to encourage them to get off of their butts and play.  My kids are full-octane.  All the time.  Every day.  Except….

My son invented his own "mascara brush" and is seen here nearly putting out his own eye.

My son invented his own “mascara brush” and is seen here nearly putting out his own eye.

I don't even know what this is supposed to be...

I don’t even know what this is supposed to be…

There is one glaring exception: when we attempt to FaceTime with my parents.  I try to do that at least 1-2 times a week for each parental unit.  I want my kids to have that real sense of close contact with family other than our household, and unfortunately all of my people live so far away that they might as well be on the moon.  My mom makes a huge effort, flying or driving their RV down three or four times a year.  She takes us on adventures as much as possible – the beach, the Fair – and sends postcards.  My dad occasionally sends awesome fancy shoes (for Stella) and princess gear.  Felix gets an odd truck or two.  But after grinning or making a face into the phone, will my children talk to these people?  Fresh ears?  Nope.

It’s uncanny.  They will both hammer me with chatter – What’s that? What’s that mean? Can I wear a princess gown? I want to watch Spongebob.  Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Sit, mommy, sit.  Blocks.  Color?  Brown paper? I want popcorn.  Can I have a treat?  What’s that? What’s that mean? (Yeah, that last one I listed twice on purpose…That’s Felix’s current catchphrase, which always occurs in groups of two and gets louder with each utterance until you tell him what’s that what’s that mean?).

Then I call my mom or dad.  Both kids suddenly become candidates for mime school.  Stella will say a few rather strange things then clam up.  Felix will do a drive by, maybe ask whats that what’s that mean and leave the field of view.  Occasionally they start sparring over some toy or wrestling.  But they do it largely silently.

My kids on FaceTime

My kids on FaceTime

photo 8

Will has suggested we set up a mock FaceTime screen on those days when we need peace.  It might just work.