Friday, September 16, 2016

Because it's Friday

What a difference a year makes. At this time last year, my daughter was on the auction block, I was ready to run away from home, and what little homework my kids brought home was more confusing than iTunes. Today, my daughter brushed her hair without me asking, I'm home sick, and the children have not run away. I'm calling this a win.

At 11, Ethel was less than thrilled about going to summer camp this year until she found out that some of the kids from the last couple summers would be going again this year. Fred is rather indifferent about these things, but will sometimes admit that he'd like to stay home once in a while instead. This summer we totally lucked out in the game of childcare, in that my mom agreed to take the kids for a spell over the summer. Yes, that's right, we were CHILDLESS for THREE WHOLE WEEKS!!!!

What do parents do when their children are gone for such a time? That's a really good question, and we spent the whole three weeks trying to figure that out.

Loaded and ready to head to sunny skies.
Ethel doing her best, "I'm not going to cry".

For the kids, there was plenty of fun, sun, swimming, junk food, sleeping, and time with their Nani. Nani has reunited with a friend from high school who is also navigating his golden years on his own, and they have joined forces to navigate those years together. In talking to the kids about how to address him, Fred offered the sweet name of Professor Poopy Pants, after a succession of other names which can't be blogged at this time. The kids took to him like butter to toast, especially Fred, and they had such a great time in Florida, as pictured here:

Hi, Mom! It's so SUNNY!

So what did Mommy and Daddy do for three weeks? Well, I'll summarize it by telling you that the house is clean, the kids' rooms are cleaned and purged, and we kept the three fish and two cats alive. Another big win. Prior to departure, Ethel's greatest fear was that we would let the cats and fish die, as parents are apparently inept when it comes to feeding and caring for animals. The argument makes total sense to an 11 year old, so we agreed to do our best with the pets, but made no promises. We won the bet. We did get to see the kids on Skype on occasion, which was reassurance that they were not running away with the circus. Well, sort of.

We did get out a little and have some time with friends, Daddy tried to learn how to take a selfie, we went away for a few days, and, best of all, I had a break from the never ending cycle of trying to plan and execute meals that all of us would eat. The grocery bill was lower than it's been in 12 years! Sadly, my life is exciting enough that this made me super happy. As in, I haven't been that happy about groceries in a long, long time.

Daddy trying to learn the art of the selfie.
I admit that the last week of the trip, I was pretty anxious about the kids' return. I was both excited and bummed about planning meals, the start of the school year, and early morning alarm clocks. You don't realize what takes up your time until your kids are gone. A friend of mine was right when she said, "It makes you wonder what you'd be doing with your time if you didn't have kids". Yes, this. Nobody needs anything. Nobody interrupts you with demands or fights. The house was so.very.quiet. And clean.

Little humans make such messes. Little humans usually don't clean up those messes. Lucky for our little humans, we got a brand new vacuum cleaner while they were gone! In all honesty, this excited me more than the grocery thing. It's wonderful. We have now taught the kids how to use it, and using it is on their list of weekend jobs. This does not excite the little humans. At all.

We're off to a good start to the school year, too. Ethel started 6th grade and takes the bus for the first time. She joined cross country, and came in 12th overall for 6th grade girls in her first meet. She's got a strategy for placing higher in the next meet. Fred is in his first inline hockey league. Skill-wise, he's in the middle of the pack on his 10-kid team, and is getting better each day. Scouts is back in swing, and we're about to become popcorn pushers. Oh how I love that popcorn.

Where do we go next? Well, Ethel has declared that she is going to make her Halloween costume this year. She wants to be a unicorn. When asked about this costume, I was advised, quite gruffly, "You'll SEE!". Will she trick or treat? "Of course, why wouldn't I {complete with eye roll}?". Stay tuned. Fred is still undecided on his costume.

Until next time.....

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Skipping ahead a little

Junior high open house was tonight. Now, I do get that the students are trying their hardest to make their parents look stupid, but, wow. They are also somewhat embarrassed, I'm sure, but, holy hell.

We arrived to school and the doors were locked. We were told to be there 30 minutes prior to the start of the open house for a chorus meeting. Locked doors was not good. My hot flashes were in high gear, and I was getting annoyed as each door we tried was locked. School doors being locked drives me BONKERS, especially on nights when parents have been invited. I don't care about what prep they have, don't lock the freaking doors.

So, we get in, and Ethel basically just stands there, then tells us to guess where chorus is. We had to be there at 5. It's now 5:10. No, we're not looking for it, you take us to it. This conversation took about 3 minutes. In the hallway. We get to chorus, and the teacher's doing a presentation. A presentation. About chorus. Dude. Now Fred has to go to the bathroom so Hot Dad takes him. I was a singer, I can't say enough about how much I support music (we need more music in schools!!), but, a presentation about chorus? There's a handout covering required rehearsals, fundraising, and materials. Fundraising. For chorus. A class, not an extra curricular. I was horrified. As a tax payer and a parent, I'm offended to be asked to help at a car wash and volunteer time or give money for that and a choral thing in the spring. Seriously, this is shit the schools should be taking care of. I know, I know, that's not how it is these days, but that's crap. People piss and moan about their taxes, but, they stick me with doing shit to make money for a piano accompanist for chorus, which is a school class. Wonder if we'll get a fundraising request from science, art, or language arts. I digress.

Leggings are not allowed for choral performances. That should be fun. Maybe I can ask her to raise some money to hire someone to take my daughter shopping for a skirt or pants and some black flats.

Moving on. Open house begins and Ethel has no idea what to do. And Fred has to go to the bathroom again. Are we supposed to follow your schedule? I don't know. Ok, do we need to go to the front of the building first? I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. !!!!!!! So I make some suggestions, to which Hot Dad tells me I need to chill out or back off and he rolls his eyes at me. Meanwhile, we're just standing in the hallway and Ethel has no idea what we should do. And I am a towering inferno about to melt the floor in the midst of these hot flashes. My clothes are sticking to me. And Ethel is clueless as to what to do. I suggest we go to her locker.

At her locker, she dicks around and tells us to try to open it. She uses every stall tactic in the book, and we have yet to see any classes besides the fundraiser. I mean chorus.

After more jerk faced "OK, now you find the room", she finally conceded to take us to classes in order of her schedule. This can only be accomplished by an 11 year old via comments about how we don't know where we're going, feigning confusion over which hallway to go down, and walking in front of your mother because it's apparently cool to appear out of control of your body and unable to identify when you're walking in someone's space. Then grin and giggle about it while your father rolls his eyes at your mother and shoots her evil eyes because you keep walking in front of her and she asks you to stop. While your mother continues to melt floor tiles.

We get to language arts and meet her teacher. Her teacher suggests that Ethel show us a particular project they've done that deals with the summer reading book. "Oh, you guys started talking about it, that's good", I said. The teacher was like, ah, ya, of course we have (I super paraphrased that, she was super professional about it, but, did reveal a little surprise at my statement) - because I would know that when my kid came home telling me about her day and all the things she did, including the project about the summer reading book. If I lived on Mars.

So next is math. Ethel walks us through the halls to an area where there are three doors, one is closed. The other two appear semi-welcoming with open doors, but she tells us she doesn't have class in those rooms. Her math class is the closed door room, but, the teacher whose name is on the door isn't her math teacher.
----we stand there----I ask what she does at math, if perhaps she has math in the hallway - Hot Dad shoots me an EVIL EYE. Apparently that question was out of line.

After a minute or two standing before the closed door, it's finally revealed by Ethel that her math teacher is also the gym teacher, so she's in the gym and we're not going to go see her. We didn't ever enter the closed door. It remains a mystery to the parents.

I believe this is where I melted the brick on the walls of the next hallway as we debated (a kinder word than what really went down) what to do next, finally settling on the "ice cream social". I figured this was a PTO thing, so I was looking forward to meeting some other parents or something.

We enter the cafeteria to find one of the assistant principals standing over a cooler handing out Klondike bars and other assorted frozen treats. Very ice cream, not too social. It was a needed break, though.

This was where the principal was super surprised when I told him, "We can't be the only ones who just got this picture day flyer today after school. After picture day happened. Today." He was genuinely, 100% surprised by the idea that a 6th grader did not bring home the picture day flyer that they received less than 24 hours before picture day. I want to live in this man's world, that's all I can say about that.

At some point, we got to visit science and that was cool. The teacher did not ask us for money or time, but, did ask us to tinker with some of the small experiments she had set up on the tables. Fred about blew a gasket trying to figure out how the metal ball transformed into a ping pong ball after being dropped into a bowl of popcorn kernels. I seriously thought we'd have a clean up in aisle 'science' when I saw the look on his face. So, that was a win. Ethel didn't really show us anything in there. We left.

Eventually we were led back to the closed door room. Again, we stood there before the three doors, one of which led to a room filled with parents and students learning about what goes on in there during the day. I asked, again, if Ethel has a class in the hallway where we stood, and there it came again - EVIL EYE. Seriously? I guess it's not a good idea to press the tween for actual facts and not just a view of a hallway. Whatevs.

Lucky for us, the teacher in front of the other open door with an empty classroom told us that Ethel has study in empty room (they call it study these days, in an ironic twist, they dropped the 'hall'). Oh, nice to meet you. Ethel apparently sits in front of this teacher, usually reading or doing her homework. Good news!

We finally left the three doorways in our dust (because I burned it all down after a hot flash). I think Ethel saved the best for last, and led us to the art room. This, only after challenging us, again, to find it on our own. I think she really did want to get left there for the night, but, I hear they frown upon that, so we gently convinced her to take us to the art room.

In the art room we got to do a project. All four of us got to color pieces of what will eventually become a collaborative art piece. I assume that's a loose term for it, collaborative, since we really didn't collaborate with anyone. Oh, right, this isn't language arts, that was the first class.

Upon leaving the art room, I ask what is next, and Ethel tells me that's it, we saw all her classes. I was so happy that it was finally time to go home! Until Fred said he had to go to the bathroom. And when I repeated this, "OK, so you need to go potty", he quickly corrected me. "No, poop". Ethel proceeds to mock him for his frequent bathroom usage and for having to poop. About now I'm hoping there might be booze at this ice cream social because I'm about to lose my shit.

Fred drops his deuce, we go to Ethel's locker to make sure there's nothing she's forgotten, and suddenly it hits her that we HAVE to go to the library. Oh holy mother of pearl. Fine. After being ambushed by the local library lady, who was genuinely nice but we don't live in that town thank you, we enter the library. We see a parent I know and we exchange greetings and groans about the joys of he evening, and I turn to Ethel and ask what she wanted us to see. "I don't know, I haven't really spent any time in here".

Good.ness.gra.cious. Keeping my hot, steamy, flashing calm, we agree to head back to the car. We have now been here for two solid hours and I am sure that people can see flames coming off my skin. The weather is tropical, too, which makes this even more fun.

By some Heavenly miracle, she finished her homework when we got home and both kids got to their bedtime routines without yelling, crying, or falling apart. They're both upstairs quiet (this can't be good, or can it?) and I'm about to head up to tell Fred it's lights out.

All I can say is that if I don't start running again soon, there is little doubt you'll see us on the news.