school

Surliness and the Seventh Grader

Daniel started 7th grade (OMG!) in person last month. I must confess that *I* may have been tad bit excited for it. In person! Not virtual! Maybe actual education and learning will be had! Getting back to routines! To be fair, Daniel was excited to return too, so lest you picture me doing excited pirouettes around my house after I dropped him off…well, you’d be correct.

But wow was it difficult returning to the grind and routine of school. What are school supplies? I have to pack a lunch? We need new clothes! School starts when? Where IS the school? That last item is not exactly an exaggeration. Last school year – sixth grade – would have been his first year in middle school, and we were unable to tour it in the spring of 2020 due to that little thing called COVID. Last year was spent virtual, and I think I personally went inside the school twice. Things are SO weird, but I don’t have to tell you all that.

We went to Meet the Teacher night as usual, and Daniel loved his teachers and the classrooms (seriously, they may have been the nicest, cleanest classrooms I have ever seen). I did have a moment of amusement because his Homeroom and English teacher listed the books she was reading, and I was stunned to see she is reading a novel by someone I know from the fanfiction realm. I sidled up to her and whispered, “do you know she writes fanfiction? She’s really good.” She did not know this, so I have sent her some links. Reeling them into the fandom one link at a time…

So here we are about to start week 4. It’s going well. Academically, things seem good, but the school has also continued with the limited/no homework policy, so I usually have no idea what D is working on unless he deigns to share. Like last week he rocked social studies, so I heard about that. Otherwise, it’s pulling teeth to get information. But from the teachers I have heard from, they like him a lot and appreciate his enthusiasm. I’ll take it. I’ve always wanted nothing more than for him to do his best, and after the last 18 months, if he is enjoying school and actually learning, that’s all that matters.

Socially…well, we all know middle school is hell. If middle school had been a concept when Dante was writing The Divine Comedy, I’m sure there would have been an entire level of hell dedicated to middle school. And with good reason.

Daniel was disappointed that a few of his closest friends from elementary school aren’t in any of his classes, but he does have a few other former classmates, so he is slowly (slowwwwlllllyyyy) getting over that disappointment. He hates gym, but who among us did not hate gym? He feels bad because he cannot do a push up, and I’m promising to help because one of my weird splinter skills (along with serving a volleyball) is doing push ups.

My child is a bit surly kind of a misanthrope. He informed me recently that HE is a man and the other students in the school are children, and he will not associate with them because they are less mature. OKKKK. I’m not sure what his definition of a “man” is, but this is where he and I butt heads because I want preciseness in language, so I do a lot of saying, “you are legally not an adult! There are laws about this!” I know this surliness is typical, but yeah, the next few years are going to be GREAT. And damn. I know I’m an introvert and joke about not liking people, but come on! I’m sort of proud, yet appalled? We have a lot of conversations about what is means to be polite socially even if you loathe the people around you. Sometimes our conversations – like much in the last 18 months – seem very surreal.

Ultimately, I spend a lot of time telling him that yes, middle school is hell and everyone is an asshole. Just do the best you can and ignore the ones that get on your nerves. That somehow seems like good advice (based on painful experience) and insufficient? I’m always reminded of a Teaching Fellows summer seminar I went on junior year. One of the keynote speakers was a middle school teacher and basically said this:

The students won’t like you or listen to you or their parents. They will only listen to their peers. They don’t care about school. But other than that, middle school is great!

Way to sell middle school!

We’re getting by. Yes, it’s only 4 weeks in, but I’m grateful he is back in school and that the district has a mask mandate (fairly red county and controversial, so I was pleasantly surprised). It is disconcerting to receive calls almost every day from the school about the latest positive COVID case. I told some friends that “deep disinfection and quarantining” is the COVID version of “thoughts and prayers.” And I’m grateful Daniel seems to be enjoying it or at least dealing with it. I’ve had the joy of experiencing afternoon pick up, and holy shit. I cannot believe how early people line up. I’ve taken entire meetings via Zoom on my phone on several occasions as I have waited to pick him up.

The first week of school, both water containers disappeared. Daniel was nonplussed (the current definition, not the definition I prefer). Then the second week, I saw his water container sitting on the bench outside the front of the school when I picked him up early. I guess it’s true what the say: “if you love someone (something) and set it free, if they come back to you it was meant to be.”

I’m all about signs these days, so I’ll take it in a water bottle.

Fourth Grade

Fourth grade

He’s knobby knees and sharp elbows.  He watches Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who instead of Thomas, Peppa Pig and Super Why. In the car, he sits next to me in a booster seat instead of in a car seat in the back.  We listen to the news, and he asks me to explain things like “hush money,” “witch hunt,” “flipping,” “stabbed in the back,” and “human punching bag.” I should probably change the station.

He is so tall, yet he cried when his bean plant died. He is both afraid of and in awe of his two kitty cat sisters.

He wants me to read to him still.

He is 9, and today he started the 4th grade.  We are in a bit in shock.  When did he get so big?  Where did the time go?  I can feel time’s inexorable march, but it is bittersweet. Right now, he still loves kisses and hugs, but conditions have begun to occur. Not at drop-offs. Or in front of friends. But at night, we can still hug and give kisses. Mostly.

Happy 1st day of 4th grade. Fingers crossed for a good year.

 

Time to Say Goodbye to Summer

It’s Friday at twilight and Jimmy has just brought in the chairs and umbrella. It is our last full day at the beach and we intended to spend most of it outside, enjoying the gorgeous weather and soaking up every minute we could. We went in for lunch, decided to have a short quiet time and next thing I knew, the boys were napping. It happens rarely these days, so I let it continue; the result was that we forfeited the rest of our afternoon outside.

It’s OK. We’ve had a great time, spending hours each day outside, taking evening walks and relaxing. I can’t help but feel a bit melancholy. Some of it is due to the usual angst of leaving the beach and ending vacation, especially when we won’t be back for 10 months.

Most of it is due to my worry that we didn’t maximize our time here; you know, sucking the marrow out of our beach week and all that. We didn’t play in the water as much as we would have liked. We didn’t collect as many shells. We didn’t spend as many evenings chatting into the wee hours while the ocean breezes blew. The truth is, we were tired. It has been a busy summer of work projects, home projects and camp, and I think the three of us were relieved to sit (the adults) and dig in the sand (Daniel).

The end of this trip also symbolizes the end of summer. School will start in a little over a week and we will have a kindergartener. Our lives will begin to revolve around a calendar again; June and August will take on significance beyond “summer” and “hot” as “school” creeps in and takes over.

Time passes and all that.

Maybe I should focus on all the things we did do. Daniel had ice cream every night. He tried crab cake and lobster bisque (sadly rejecting both). Jimmy found a sandwich he loved (a bigger deal than it sounds for my sandwich-rejecting men). We added 6 new starfish and a clamshell to our starfish family. We ended each day sandy, salty and tired. It was a good week.

Now it’s time to pack up and go home. Wash the beach clothes and start organizing the back-to-school items. And maybe one day when the nights are crisp, I’ll put on a shirt I wore at the beach, inhale the scent of the beach and find myself back here.

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The Pre-Kindergarten List

I have a post in my drafts folder on which I have worked daily since Tuesday. I have another post I want to write this weekend. Instead, you get this, my “hello, I’m still here” post, which smacks of desperation and hubris.

What is it about summer that makes it difficult not only to post but to form a coherent thought?

I suppose it is OK. In the South, summer seems to suck the lifeblood out of you until all you can do is see to your basic bodily needs.

I went to a gun show today. That will be a separate post. Daniel is amazing and contrary and infuriating and delightful in one 42″, 36 LB package. How we love him, even when he makes our blood boil 😉

We received the list of things he needs from the Pre-K he starts later this month, and Jimmy and I are practically shaking at the thought of our baby starting “real” school earlier than we anticipated: large backpack, lunch, uniform, no cuddlies/toys, etc. I think Pre-K will suit him, but I am as nervous about it as if I were the child in the class. I hope he likes his new class. If so, it’s likely he will be with them until 8th grade. I’m trying to keep an open mind. We are flexible, right? And no shame if it doesn’t work out and we need to find a different place, right?

It’s August. We are 75% through the year (Note: OK, so not exactly 75% but close enough!). How did that happen? I was in Michael’s last week and they already had out the Halloween/Autumn displays. I was delighted. But that’s not right. Part of me was thrilled while another part was in shock. Too soon!

It seems like only yesterday we brought a tiny newborn home from the hospital. The next year, we had a little one who could run easily. From then on, every milestone has passed with warp speed.

D is a sweet boy and we love him very much. He has learned so much already and amazes, astounds and confounds us daily. Hopefully he will have a great year in his new school.

Have a great weekend 🙂

Career Paths Not Taken

 

Careers I Abandoned by the End of Elementary School

  • Singer – my family used to call me “Juice” for Juice Newton because I loved the song “Queen of Hearts.” They did not necessarily mean it as a compliment.
  • Artist/Chef – I think I was going to cook during the day and paint at night.  The fact that I have no artistic ability did not deter me.
  • Family Doctor – No specialty for me.  I wanted to be a simple general practitioner.  I think that I had played one too many games of Life and was lured by the high salary and respect a doctor commanded.  I abandoned it when I realized I didn’t have a burning desire to heal people (at least physically).

Careers I Abandoned by the End of Middle School

  • Lawyer – I was disillusioned by a meeting with a bona fide lawyer during career day in the 8th grade.  He told us it didn’t matter whether he thought his client was guilty; it was up to him to defend his client and for the prosecution to prove their case.  I was shocked.  How could he defend someone who might be guilty of the crime for which they were accused?  Oh, 13-year-old naivete and innocence.
  • Advertising Account Executive – Wow, dreaming big here.  I pored over the career books in the local public library and kept returning to a career in advertising.  I liked to write and liked the idea of helping create influential campaigns.  Or something like that. Or maybe I was presciently tapping into the creation of Mad Men.

Careers I Abandoned by the End of High School

  • President of the United States – I briefly thought about being the first female President.  I would be a benevolent dictator and the country would reach a new golden age under my careful, wise governance. And then I realized I didn’t really have the stomach for politics or the fact that I’d need to lead a squeaky-clean life.  This was 1992, and I was 15-years-old.
  • Actress – I started participating in community theater when I was 8 and also performed in school and church plays.  Of course I would at some point fantasize about becoming an award-winning actress, a stunningly-beautiful and talented movie star.  I eventually realized that I liked to eat and didn’t really have the mentality or the drive to be a starving artist.

Careers I Abandoned by the End of College

  • School Psychologist – I was awarded a Teaching Fellows scholarship and when I entered college, my ultimate career goal was to be a psychologist, and I hoped I could fulfill my Teaching Fellow requirements by being a school psychologist.  That plan was foiled because at the time, school psychology was not one of the approved jobs.  Wouldn’t you know that a year or so later, school psychology was added.  By then it was too late though because…
  • Psychologist – I eagerly took my first psychology course and couldn’t wait to learn all about the mysteries of the mind.  I was disappointed, though, because everything about our personalities and feelings seemed to be reduced to chemicals and mis-firing synapses.  I wanted to be a therapist and help people using words, not drugs.
  • Teacher (Theater, ESL, English) – Oh, I tried so hard to find a teaching path that worked for me.  I thought about teaching theater.  After a class project, I thought about teaching ESL.  I finally settled on teaching high school English because I was an English major, loved literature and wanted to become a professor eventually.  Small children were not for me, so I thought high school English would be fun.  I completed student teaching and all the requirements for licensure but admitted to myself shortly after graduation that my heart wasn’t in it. 
  • Professor – Once upon a time I dreamed about being a comparative literature professor.  My languages would be French and German. I had been accepted into the MA program in English at NC State and planned to pursue a doctorate elsewhere.  After I decided not to teach, I realized that being a professor was kind of like teaching and it seemed silly to pursue it.  Plus, I was tired of school and wanted to work.  I also liked the idea of, you know, making money. One day when I retire, I plan to return to grad school to earn a graduate degree in English for fun.  Yeah, I’m weird like that.

Careers I Abandoned by the End of Graduate School

  • Public librarian – I entered grad school thinking I wanted to be a public librarian.  I wanted a job that wasn’t very stressful and didn’t ramp up my anxiety like my current workplace did (keep in mind that my anxiety was self-induced. My job was in no way stressful).  I was tired of what I was doing and thought that being a librarian would be fun and a change of pace.  Keep in mind that I knew nothing about actual librarianship at that time.  After a few courses, I decided that I was interested in other things and hated cataloging.

Career Paths I Am Likely to Abandon in the Future

  • Business intelligence developer
  • Lady of leisure
  • Information broker
  • Market Researcher
  • Benevolent despot
  • Web developer
  • Social media researcher
  • Lottery winner

In short, I’m 34-years-old and still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

What was the most surprising job you wanted to have when you were younger?  How do you feel about what you are doing now vs what you thought you would be doing?

PS

  • People are starting to find my blog via searches for “Trixie and Jim fan fiction.”  I am highly amused by this.  My work here is done!
  • I’m having a touch of writer’s block (obviously-see above post).  Inspire me – suggest a few topics for me.  Anything goes, even if it’s silly.  Or, questions?