A writing prompt given to my son last year asked him to create a list of five things. I’m revisiting it this year because 1) the list accurately reflects his thought process, 2) not only is it thoughtful and creative, it’s funny, 3) public schools, 4) he killed it on his PSAT, which is not related but brag-worthy anyway, and 5) today is his birthday. This is his list.
I wrote this review for Bookmans.com in the summer of 2012 after reading The Island of Doctor Moreau aloud with my then 12-year-old son. When Bookmans did a website redesign earlier this year and migrated their website database, we unpublished all but 30 posts. I tweaked this post to park it here for now.
According to The Literature Network, The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896) by H.G. Wells, deals with themes of eugenics, the ethics of scientific experimentation, Darwin’s theories and religion. But it’s summer and who cares about vivisecting literature? We care about enjoying a good book, so we’re providing our own guide to The Island of Doctor Moreau.
My wonderful, spectacular, amazing 10 YO artist made a quail family for me. It’s so sweet!
Because he’s not just an artist, but a brilliant storyteller as well, he inscribed the picture with an anecdote including dialogue and a dramatic set-up.
Yes, there is one reason why he loves me. And that reason is because one day I didn’t make him go to school until he finished some portion of some video game. I’m just awesome like that.
The 7 YO also has a gift ready for me — also a school project. Aren’t mothers everywhere indebted to teachers? Since I haven’t had a chance to open the 7 YO’s gift yet, I figured I would post a photo of her holding produce from her garden, which provides yummy goodness for us and our neighbors.
I know. Her eyes are closed. It’s rare that I get a good photo of her with her eyes open. It runs in the family.
This is a typical photograph of my mother. She’s an awesome mom. I love my mom and I swear she wasn’t drinking when this photo was taken — or in the 537 other photos I have of her with her eyes closed (well, maybe she was in some of them).
Considering my son has one reason to love me and my daughter photographs like my mother and my mother is a teacher and teachers make kids give mothers Mother’s Day gifts and I have two gifts, I’m thinking I’m doing an okay job. Or else I’m confused.
Happy Mother’s Day to all you fabulous mothers out there!
Hawt Mz came by the ole cookie booth yesterday. I wanted to tell her something cool like how I wore a Goody comb in my back pocket all day and then leave the story all enigmatically like that. Instead I geeked about books, gossiped about, uh, not gonna say, and then realized I smell like armpits most of the time.
Later the 10 YO, who was sitting behind a plate glass window playing his DS and minding his own business, came to inform me he was getting water for some guy. I looked at the grimy paper cup in his hands and asked, “What guy?” The 10 YO pointed at a man even more grimy than the cup who was peering over the shoulder of a gamer. “Dude, you totally just failed Charlie Check First.” “Yeah, so I’m going to get that guy some water.” “Uh…kay,” I said thinking he would visit the drinking fountain back inside the store and brb. I also took a look at my son’s gaming stuff that he left in the seat next to creepy bum. I wasn’t in the position to leave my 7 YO Girl Scout with all those boxes of cookies plus the cash kitty. She’d totally establish her independence before sundown. Nah, I had to trust the universe. “But after you give him water, get your stuff and move.” I then commenced the “I will f*** you up!” stare at the oblivious bum, daring him to look at me. That took about three seconds before my attention was redirected to cookie sales. I later learned the 10 YO didn’t go to the water fountain. He went down the way to a restaurant and got iced water. Iced. Freaking. Water. The 10 YO and I eventually had the expanded stranger danger discussion during which I asked why he complied with the request. “Because he asked nicely.” I need to lock that boy up.*
I’m thinking uncool armpits and grimy bum were karmic payback. Prior to the booth, the 7 YO sold out her personal inventory. I was on a high about the deal driving home when I watched a car hit an orange tabby, slow down to evaluate the damage, then speed off apparently under the impression that no further action was needed. The cat convulsed then gave up. I’m thinking, I would have to cross major traffic to pull over and cross three lanes of busy traffic on foot to get to the cat, who lay in the turn lane. What if the cat were sick, rabid, or just freaked out? The Hubster would be totally pissed if I put myself or the kids in that sort of danger for a feral cat. Even so, I have empty cookie cases I could use to scoop the cat up. But I’m already running late for the next thing. Would my vet take on a charity case? By now I’m down the street. I’ve always loved orange tabbies. I suck. Not cool. The universe wants me to know I’m a stinky armpity bum and should never be allowed to sit at the cool kids’ table. Oh, the inhumanity.
The 7 YO has another cookie booth in a few minutes.
* Don’t go thinking the 10 YO is all sweet and innocent, he totally belly gut laughed when his friend got his dad to say he liked eating cookies, where cookies was a euphemism. He got busted on that one after the 7 YO had to explain it to me.
In case you were wondering what I’m up to:
Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Dodging balls speeding toward my head from every direction (work, home, family). Fortunately, my team is most kick ass. The book festival booth planned for work is awesome, uplifting, and will make a difference while allowing others to pay it forward as well. I tackled clutter piles and called the Hubster to tell him he deserves more attention than I’ve been giving him with my nose in research, eventing, or convalescing in exhaustion. And the Site Council at the NOW 10 YO! boy’s school has articulated a focus and voted to maintain their current building. Now if only we knew whether we’ll be an intermediate school or a middle school and how to fund it and…. Oh, time to do that kid thing! Pancake supper? Uh…. One sec. Hubster who? Can you ask him to hold?
Last week I dreamed that my son put together an intricate project rather like a LEGO construction. A teacher allowed the smashing of the project (or did it herself). I tried to collect the pieces on a blanket, but was chased away by the teacher before all was gathered.
I scooped up the blanket and dashed off to Spanish. That teacher was busy roving around the school, but never entering her classroom. I chased her around speaking Spanish, though she couldn’t be bothered. Finally, she turned on me and stated that she was all together wrapped up in her thoughts about her husband and would I please go away.
With a sigh, I sat down next to a very sad older man who told me that he had been ordered to quit playing his violin. In fact, his violin had been taken from him by the powers that be. I told him to ignore that nonsense, get a new violin, and chase his happiness. He left to do just that. Later an angry teacher informed me that his building had a no music policy. The man was kicked out of his home as a result of picking up his instrument. I pressed her for more information and she grudgingly admitted that he had a new place to live and was happier, however I had stirred the pot and things definitely should not be changed — even if for the better.
I sat down and cried. The principal stumbled upon me and draped his arm over my shoulders as I cried and cried. Maybe I even sobbed a little.
Aside from the fact that it is clear by the way I can’t easily identify myself or my son as the student that I have a severe detachment disorder, this dream is odd in how OBVIOUS it relates to my ongoing “where the f*** is my kid going to school next year” dilemma. I’d much rather be dreaming about falling, or having my teeth fall out, or being chased by zombies.
But wait! There’s more! I had another dream last night. I was in a huge concert hall attending an audience participation performance. We were all playing along and once in a while an audience member would be spotlighted for a singing solo. Willie Nelson sang from a few aisles behind me! Then a performer handed the microphone to some American Idol flunky who refused to sing. He used the microphone instead to say this was stupid and everyone should bail. A few audience members did just that. Then a few more. American Idol wouldn’t quit deriding the effort and the hall continued to bleed its contents and I stared at more empty chairs. I began to sing louder but just a few joined that effort. I took the microphone and asked if everyone couldn’t just wait. Couldn’t we give the performance a chance to shine? Weren’t we all just enjoying ourselves? Don’t be sheep to the false Idol! Didn’t you hear Willie Nelson sing? Willie Freaking NELSON!
But people continued to leave and I woke up to rain outside my window and the remembrance of a promise to go to church to watch my daughter light the Word and maybe get rid of a few more boxes of Girl Scout cookies.
My last two posts were not simply about moving and fighting. They were about the right time and the right way to move and the fights worth having and when to have them. Obviously, I have some unresolved issues as my memories, my present, and my dreams have smacked up against each other amping my already angsty existence.
* Luke 5:1-11 ish. I’d better just cast my damn net. I don’t know what I’m fishing for, but there’s something in here somewhere I’m supposed to know, be, do. Jesus was the master of teaching through allegory. As I’m not much of an allegorist, or teacher, I probably should quit telling tales of my misspent youth and my frustrating dreamland. So, to be more pointed (or blunt?):
1) I don’t want to move and I don’t want to merge and I am trying to be sensitive that my kids may be concerned about such movement and mergement.
2) I am well acquainted with fighting with my fists, though I haven’t done so in nearly three decades. It typically leads to more fights and bruised people. Fighting with words is not so eloquent. Fighting with solutions to meet the needs of all involved is difficult at best and impossible most of the time. Must I continue fighting a fight that makes me fight with my friends, as well as those who shouldn’t be enemies, for a goal that may not be achievable or if it is it will be achieved after our time?
3) Also, for the love of whatever you love, can we who comment on news stories agree to stop being vindictive and quit punishing kids? Could we work together to support kids? I know there is a better way. If you are ever presented the opportunity, please persuade people to be pissed all they want at whomever they want but that their vengeance shouldn’t be exacted on children?
4) I really need some untroubled sleep.
**In case it’s not obvious, I’m the sinner and I’m not entirely sure if I want to answer the door, much less how to answer.
I’ve discovered that, for work, Twitter is a billion times better for getting my info/gossip fix than anything else and that I act like a total techie jerk when my boss sends me a message like, “This is something so and so should know about ASAP.” Meanwhile I’m thinking, “Yesterday’s news.”
And so if you’ve been following my personal Twitter feed you know that lately I’m all about my great parenting and how God commands my kids to acknowledge my great parenting. This swim suit spied at My Parents Were Awesome would enhance my great parenting, don’t you think? You can tell it’s the perfect swimwear for moms by how it accentuates the firmly-held hand of a young ‘un being dragged to the water. Seriously, I hope someone on Project Runway makes this suit this season. It’s freaking awesome! This is where you say, “Your obsessions are yesterday’s news.” Fortunately, I obsess a lot.
It’s hard not to. Moms get the blame for everything and when they aren’t the target for blame, then they are self-questioning or loathing. Choices, so many choices, with their pros and cons leave us looking over the fence where indeed the grass is greener (bending light, yo). Should I continue to pursue systems think, inquiry-based, performing/visual arts focused education for my kid in a happily diverse school? Or am I, like Hitler’s mother, creating spoiled darlings by encouraging their artistic ambitions though they have no talent? (Yeah, she totally got the blame for that! Fortunately, my spoiled darlings do have talent.) Screw it. If I’m going to mess up my ankle biting rugrats no matter what, then I’m going to have fun and I’m going to do it in that swimsuit.
I’m at a conference. I’ve left my life in the hands of Handsome Hubster, whom I continue to trust though he’s given me plenty of reasons to question this tendency of mine. One thing he likes to do when I’m gone is throw things away, things like integral pieces of expensive gadgets and all my tax receipts. Consequently, I don’t go away much.
Hubster claims to love the children, so I trust him with them as well. This is the third time I’ve been away from my children in the 9+ years I’ve been a mother. Three years ago, I left my kids with their dad and this is the result:
Aren’t they cute? A-DOR-able! Even so, they need me home. They may not realize it because this trip all they know is movie night is every night and chicken nuggets are the order of the day. Even so, I predict that upon my return, the kids will realize Hubster trashed their treasure, sucked their awesome, and, yes Hawt Mz, yucked their yum.
Cookie season is a major event for the girls in green. They love the excitement and enticements that accompany those sales. In Arizona, boxes are slightly more expensive because they offer so many scholarships to the girls. Last year, our troop sales were incredible and we paid for visits to Build-a-Bear, Rocks and Ropes, and Camp Creepenstein, as well as donating boxes of cookies and cash, and still they put aside a large chunk for later. I hate cookie season.
I have trouble selling the boxes, trouble chasing down the folks who ordered boxes, trouble getting money for the distributed boxes, and worst of all trouble with the self-control of the two adults living under my roof. But the season is here and tonight the Girl Scout leaders for the 7 YO’s troop launched into the various incentives for the girls, possible ways to promote the cookies, and the TONS of (annoying but necessary) rules. I hate rules. They confuse me.
Brownie Leader: You wouldn’t believe some of the things that have happened. For example, parents were taking the cash from the sales and writing bogus checks to the Council, so there’s a rule about that. Also, when staffing a booth, parents can’t stand off to the side smoking and yacking away.
Me: Well, I don’t smoke but the yacking sounds fun.
Magic: A friend of mine just returned from Brazil with a ton of slides.
Me: Oh, I guess I’d be interested in a slide show.
Magic: No. I mean we could take the cookie money and go to Brazil. DUH!
Okay, Magic didn’t actually say, “DUH!” to my face, but I would have if I were her. See? Rules confuse me. I’d like to take the cash, write a check, and stand off to the side yacking about Brazillion trips.
In January, the 7 YO girl will take your orders for cookie sales. If you live far, you can buy boxes for Troops to Troops, our troop charity (TBA), or Joseph’s Pantry. Just send me cash and I’ll cut a check to the Council. Okay, not really. You should send a check. And you should buy lots because if George sells 3000 boxes ($12,000 in value), she gets a lap top.