Friday, August 11, 2017
We survived the Christmas season. Barely. 'Tis the season to be jolly and merry. Or, if you have "luck", 'tis the season to be cursed and frazzled. Day 1 - Car accident. No injuries, just a guy who cannot drive nor admit fault. Had a police officer mock my car antlers and Rudolph nose. But, the other driver was cited so all's well that ends well. Day 2 - Get rental car lodged up on a snowbank. Husband, all dressed for work, was helpful but not amused. Day 3 - House alarm and visit from police. Day 4 - A badly cut finger. Day 5 - Another badly cut finger. Day 6 - Snowed in for 4 days - inmates were running the asylum. Day 7 - Another badly injured finger. Day 8 - A fun 45 minutes with a plunger. Day 9 - One very startled grandfather meets a flying Nerf pellet. Day 10 - A broken shower faucet and a flooded bathroom. Day 11 - Christian meets the Dean and Santa. And gives both a piece of his mind. No holds barred. Day 12 - Fighting, boredom, tears, dishes and laundry. Decorating cookies, wrapping presents, addressing Christmas cards, attending office parties were some of the highlights of the season. Attending a family office party involves dressing the kids up in suitable clothing (and buying suitable clothing). It also means I have to explain to my 5 year old son how he will and will NOT behave, including a list of approved and NOT approved topics to discuss while meeting Daddy's boss. Explaining to the kids that they cannot have a live dog or an overpriced robotic dog was another fun holiday memory. The Christmas holiday was busy and fun. We sprinkled reindeer food on the lawn and explained to Christian that we did not expect him to clean up any reindeer poop. Where does he come up with this stuff?? We laid out cookies, carrots and milk. Again, explaining to Christian that he could NOT eat Santa's cookies. No matter how hungry he is. Sara left long notes justifying her past behavior and making outlandish promises to be saintly and angelic in 2014. And she also asked for Santa's autograph. Christmas morning we watched Christian open his presents with the enthusiasm of a rabid dog going after a bone. We just made sure to keep our fingers and toes away from him. After Christmas, we spent the day in Chicago with some friends. Christian spent the day terrified he was going to be eaten by a dinosaur skeleton. Who knew taking a little boy to a museum full of mummies and dinosaur bones would be so traumatizing?
Travel update - almost everyone survived in tact. One person was hospitalized but I am assured my kids had no role in the cause. In one week's time, I will disappear for 3 days and 2 nights with my husband and WITHOUT my children. This will be our first getaway in 5 years. My friends (I hope I can still call them that next week) offered to watch our kids. Well, I made sad eyes, begged, pleaded, cajoled and bribed them. It's the best possible escape. We have free child care, warm weather and I do not have any responsibilities! I do not have to attend a single work function. Bon voyage, so long, farewell, sayonara, eat my dust, folks!!! I am crossing my fingers, praying, lighting candles and hoping that my kids behave reasonably well for the kind folks who have agreed to clothe, house, feed and watch over my kids. I feel like a should prepare an operating manual. Some helpful tips - feed early and often. When in doubt, feed them again. Then throw some snacks at them for extra protection. Do NOT fall for the big, sad, tragic blue eyes. My kids make Puss in Boots like an amateur in the hoodwinking department. Also, they hibernate like bears. When in doubt, tell them to go to sleep. And approach with caution when they are tired or hungry. Or just run the other way. Your motto for 3 days should be "survival at any cost".
Wrote this 3.5 years ago and not much has changed. Days are long. Life is short. Some decisions are easy. Some are harder to make. And stick to. Some people change for the better. Others for the worse. As I watch my daughter navigate the murky social waters at school, I see her struggle with confidence and acceptance. She needs to accept herself for who she is. She also needs to accept others for who they are. Some people will not like you, no matter how hard you try. You need to know when to walk away. If someone make you feel bad about yourself, run, don't walk in the other direction. I see her put herself out there only to be rejected. Where is the line between "keep trying" and "they are not worth the effort"? As adults, we face the same struggles. People will lie to you and about you. People you relied on and trusted will let you down. Once someone reveals who they really are, believe them and protect yourself. I am all for second chances. I have been given second and third chances. I learn from my mistakes. I have asked for and given forgiveness. I have trusted the wrong people. I have been burned. I have picked myself up and I have helped others in need. I find it strange that my 10 year old daughter and I are facing the same social turmoil. I have seen girls make her feel bad about herself. Why is the voice of another 13 year old girl more powerful to my daughter than her mother's voice? Why are we more willing to accept and believe the worst about ourselves than the good? I am far from saintly. I struggle daily, even hourly, just to be a good person. Most days I think I do a pretty good job. I stick by my friends who need me and can be trusted. I give people the benefit of the doubt. Being a person who runs and hides from conflict and confrontation, I have kept people in my life too long. Eventually, I realize "I have not had a positive encounter with this person in 5 years. Why are they still in my life?". Some people are selfish, not thinking or caring about the impact their actions and words have on others. Some people are selfless and always think the best of people. I like to think I am somewhere in the middle.
First Grade was equally amusing. We survived Christian's kindergarten year. More importantly, his teacher survived it. She had one rule/law/guideline/suggestion - do NOT, under any circumstances, allow him to be in the same first grade class with his best friend. That dynamic duo is just a little too much to handle for any mere mortal teacher. Imagine the look of horror and fear on his face on "Meet The Teacher" day when he learned that his new teacher works out where Christian does taekwondo. The idea that his teacher and TKD instructor could meet and compare notes on behavior was too much for devious little mind. This is the same kid who tried to convince me that parent-teacher conferences were optional. However, if I felt the need to attend, he should accompany me to defend his honor and face his accuser. We decided Cub Scouts would be a good All-American hobby for him - teach him the pioneer spirit, survival skills, and all sorts of rugged and manly skills. While participating in a Cub Scout, he was nervous about his hiking "skills". Imagine his shock and delight when he learned that hiking is just "a long walk outside in nature". He was rather disappointed that making lava and building/ firing a cannon were not listed as potential badges/activities. On the plus side, he learned the difference between 'dissect' and 'decapitate'. Although I am not sure who was more nervous - his teacher or us.
Update - we survived the kindergarten school year and are entering 3rd grade. Not much has changed. Kindergarten started 3.5 months ago. We are still in the learning curve. First he thought it was too hard, had too many rules, didn't like the snacks and lasted too long. Then Christian discovered things like lunch, computers, recess and the bus ride. Suddenly, school was not so bad. He played soccer at recess, learned computer games and had buddies on the bus. But those pesky rules keep getting in the way. So far, he has gotten busted running into the classroom and sliding on his knees, like he is trying to steal second base, excessive talking, ignoring personal space, not keeping his hands to himself, difficulty following directions, and the all-inclusive - staying in control. I can tell the second he gets off the bus what "color" day he had. Green is good, yellow is caution, red is big trouble. I hear talk of a purple day - which is "outstanding". Christian assures me that a purple day is beyond his capabilities. He instantly tries to defend himself - he was framed, he was provoked or completely innocent. We assure him that his teacher and classmates are not out to get him and he better get himself under control. His defense mechanism are usually short-lasting. He pretty much crumbles and confesses when we volunteer to call the teacher and hear her version of his crime spree. Since no lawyer will take on his case pro bono, there is no trial with a jury of his peers. Frankly, I think they would sell him down the river. He has managed to con all the girls in the class. They play games at recess with him. He plays the "baby" and they are all his mommies. He tries to run away and they catch him. So much for playing hard to get. He was very proud that he got some little girl to make snowballs for him to throw at recess. Luckily, his teacher is immune to the baby blue eyes when he tries batting them at her. His parent teacher conference was equally amusing. First he tried to convince me that my attendance was not needed. He assured me he was doing very well in school and I should just stay home. Not being a complete and total fool, I attended. I know my child pretty well so I could imagine how the meeting would go. I assured his teacher that she has a great deal more credibility with us than the child who will stand there covered in chocolate and blame the missing baked good on his sister who is still at school 5 miles away. Now he has 3 adults who are on to his game. We had to explain (again) that the teacher does not need his input or opinions on what is being taught, or how and when it is taught.