Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Epic Fails of Crap Mom

And now for a wonderful new feature. . .

The amazing adventures of our latest superhero, Crap Mom!

So Spirited's last piano class was today.  He's missed a couple piano classes already because I, Crap Mom, signed him up for a class in September that is practically impossible:  Saturday at 10am.  I realize normal people don't have a problem getting to a 10am class even when they live 35 minutes away, but I do.  Partly, this is because I teach all day Fridays and am tired and want to sleep in.  Since I want to sleep in anyway, if it looks like snow, which makes me nervous anyway since I'm anxiety-ridden about driving (though getting better), I just don't take him.  See?  Crap Mom.

Well, every normal person realizes that the last class is a recital, right?  Not our Crap Mom.  Because she didn't bother to call even though she is supposed to when missing a class.  So we turned up thinking we were early, but it turned out they were practicing for the recital beginning at 10:30.  Who knows what time they were supposed to get there?  (Not our Crap Mom!)

So he went with his class and I went to the recital hall and sat, sending Husband updates about the whole thing.  (We try to make sure neither of us misses a recital, but I wasn't going to tell him to jump in the car.)  I was a bit weepy when I saw the dancers and the choir (both things I had done for at least three years as a kid -- and that Spirited shows zero interest in).  Then the piano class was up.  Where's Spirited?  Am I not able to recognize my own kid?  Usually I can pick him out of any crowd in an instant.  Where's Spirited?  Is that the entire piano class?  Aren't there two that should be performing?  Maybe they're doing two groups of piano.  Where's my kid?  Is there another group coming out?  No, Strings is up next.  Where's Spirited?  Did he have a meltdown backstage?  While I've never known him to melt down in public (he saves his most dramatic emoting for home, where he can stomp and scream and slam and throw his toys), isn't finding out that you're supposed to be performing and not knowing what you're doing a recurring nightmare for many?  Maybe he freaked out.  Where is he?   

Too worried about what happened to Spirited to care too much that I was being incredibly rude by not watching the rest of the recital, I got up with all my stuff (including the grading that I couldn't get to because I was watching the recital rather than waiting outside his class) and went in search of him.  He was fine, running around in a big room where the kids hung out before they went on stage.  He got playing with a friend of his from another class that he knew from his Montessori school and just didn't pay attention to when he was supposed to be performing.  He was upset and wanted to cry but didn't.  He told me later that this was the worst Saturday of his whole life.  We went to Starbucks for a coffee (for Crap Mom) and pumpkin bread (for Spirited).

Sigh.  Lesson learned:  always call when Spirited misses a class.  It may be fine for me to be lackadaisical about classes I take, but:  Don't fuck up where your kid is concerned.

Stay tuned for further adventures of. . .Crap Mom!


Tuesday, January 12, 2016


So it's winter, David Bowie died (I'm so upset about this it's embarrassing), and I'm having a hard time keeping chipper with the new quarter starting and snow and all.  So let's talk about Absurdist Child.

So you know how everyone wants to have gifted, quirky kids?  Yeah, forget that.  Absurdist Child, who I'm renaming Spirited! until he earns a new name, is completely tempermental and OCD.  Absurdist Husband mentioned that since his eggs were hot, maybe he'd like to eat his sausage first.   (Sacrilege!) While I was shaking my head and then holding it in my hands out of Spirited's view, Spirited explained that there was no way he could eat his sausage because he always likes to eat his egg first and that is just what he does.  (He loves to say that "people are different, and I'm X")  He also said "come look -- my egg is in the shape of South America!  Last week, he ate his egg in the shape of the United States, marking out California and Florida each time.  That is super cute.  This is the same kid who does his 30-minutes of PBSKids games and gets really mad at himself when he does not nearly do as well as a time before.  He gets really mad.  And he told me the other day to not bother saying that it's not about how well you do, but whether you're enjoying it and trying.  He said he's just not like that.  (See how my hardwon wisdom falls on the deaf ears?  Dude, it took me 40 YEARS to figure that out.  This is gold.  Yeah, not so much.)

Could someone please tell me how my seven-year old turned into a teenager?

He was completely tempermental with a very low frustration tolerance all of the Fall from Hell, which is what last fall was, though I dare not call it that at the time. (I was trying to cultivate a "good attitude," and trying to get through it without gritting my teeth about it.  I pretty much suck at all that -- I'm not a natural-born grin-and-bear-it person.  I admire it, but I cannot be it.) 

I'm not quite sure how it happened, but in the last weeks since I've been home (though I was working a lot) his reading has absolutely bloomed.  While we had read Magic Treehouse before and he'd read it on his own but wasn't very into it, he suddenly got very into it and is now gobbling them up, especially, naturally, at book time.  But other times too.  Now, a part of this is that I've taken him to the library religiously (really -- I don't go to synagogue or church -- going to the library is the closest to religion I have!) and supported him in his Magic Treehouse acquisitions, but he's doing the reading.  We've gone to the library for ages, though it fell off during the Fall from Hell.  An important facet of his love of Magic Treehouse, I think, is that they have numbers.  He's into anything with numbers, so now he wants to read all of them.  (He's also driven to acquire whole collections, like his racecars.  My goodness, what does this mean?)  He has a list.  He fills in the number when he's acquired the book.  (He's a nutter!)

This morning he told me that it's so sad that half of the rain forests are gone.  (I agreed with that one.  I tried to tell him that this is why it's so important that we know about it, so that we can try to stop the destruction, but do I know what to do about it?)  This evening he came in every few minutes telling me about some horrible fact about tornados and 20 tornadoes a week in Tornado Alley during tornado season.

These gifted kids!  You know, I'd love some help with him.  What do I know about math and number-love, after all?  I love words.  I shrug at numbers.  Wasn't particularly good with math.  Thank goodness for the reading -- I know something about that -- and he reads the Research Guides, so he's learning stuff all the time, which is good because we haven't had official homeschooling since before the holidays. He finished the Life of Fred primary series and is now somewhat into the intermediate series.   What to do with him?  For him?  I'd love for him to do an academic talent search because they give you info on what your child needs, but he gets so frustrated!  The book I have on math giftedness suggests that a kid with a low frustration tolerance should probably wait until 4th grade to do it.  Spirited is in 2nd grade!  What to do with him until then?  He'll be in calculus before I can get my bearings (or learn calculus).  We've also got to get him out into some kind of activity or club, so he can hang out with other kids, preferably likeminded, though as academic as he is, he's not a kid to sit in the corner doing math or reading a book unless he's alone.  

What should we do for MLK Day?  MLK is the only historical figure he really knows and who has been held up as a hero or moral leader.  (Okay, so we've done some things very very right.  He also doesn't watch any violent TV.  I've recently been reading Dr. Spock for the first time and felt great when Dr. Spock warned against violent TV and its dangers.)  We should do something, but what?

Any ideas what to do with these math kids?  These low-frustration tolerance kids?  It's so hard, just like it's hard for me to help him go to sleep, because I have those same challenges!  Absurd!

Monday, January 11, 2016

It's Starting Again

A new quarter. I'm not ready.  I do love my job -- or at least significant aspects of it -- but, my word, I'm not ready. (Syllabi have been revised and everything. I just mean psychologically.)  Even though I love my job, it's so easy for me to look on another quarter with dread.  Too easy. I have a bad attitude, I know.  I also got only a couple days of break when I wasn't grading or writing syllabi or getting some training on important tasks.  The lack of time off is significant.  And how that affects my family is also very significant too.

It's also winter, and something in me looks outside and sees all that snow and is absolutely convinced that the snow is a blanket to snuggle under.  Wake me when the daffodils are up.

I'm already dealing with recalcitrant colleagues not doing their jobs and grumpy-making confrontations-to-come and students who call me "Mrs." and past students who ask me to email them back immediately.  How can I learn to leave it all at work?  How can I learn to leave it all at work when I often work at home as well?  Especially in the winter.  I wonder if blogging or journaling at the end of the work day would be helpful so I can more consciously regroup.

Any advice?