Monday, September 28, 2009

Thanks for the (QUACK) great dinner (QUACK, QUACK).

You know how, when you haven't been out in a while ( a long, long, long while), you kind've forget all those social graces and feel sort of awkward and klutzy at the whole socializing thing? (It's probably just me, and the rest of you are socially adept and captivating and enchanting in all social settings, even if it's been ages since you were at a party that didn't involve small children, balloon animals, and birthday cakes shaped like clowns or dinosaurs...) Anyway, my social skills were put to the test when a friend of mine invited us to join her for a delicious turkey dinner feast with her family and friends last night. There were a few older kids there, as well as three big, friendly dogs, so my boys were well-occupied, and hubby and I got to have real conversations with real grownups for a change. It was really fun and interesting to meet these fascinating, and really lovely, people, and I was starting to get back into the socializing groove and feeling pretty good about my conversational skills, until...the quacking started.

Quacking? Yes, quacking. One of the dogs had a stuffed duck chew toy that made an incredibly realistic (and loud) quacking sound whenever he bit down on the squeaker. So, all of the grownups had piled our plates with delectable goodies and sat down outside for eating and conversation, and there was the dog, chewing on his duck. Quack. Quack. Quack. Now, my friend, her family, and most of the guests there seemed to be completely immune to the sound of this quacking. So, conversation just went happily on around me, and I tried valiantly to listen, to chime in, and to seem like a reasonably intelligent contributor. But, here's what I was hearing: "Oh, yes, apples are (quack) actually one of the most (quack, quack) difficult crops to grow (quackity quack) because you can't rotate (quack) them like you would other (quack, quack) crops." I could not keep a straight face, let alone offer any sort of semi-intelligent comment. When one of the guests turned and asked me a work-related question, I heard something along the lines of: "What do you (quackity quack) think about parents who (quack) follow their (quack) children to see what they're (quack, quack, quack) doing during the (quacky) day?" Finally, I just started giggling. I couldn't help it. Every time that dog bit down and "QUACK!" rang out, I just couldn't help it. The kicker was when I looked across the table and caught the eye of another woman who was clearly having as hard a time as I was ignoring all the quacking. We looked into each other's eyes, and it was all over for me. Her face was red, her eyes were watery, and she was trying as hard as she could not to break out into giggles as well. That just made me laugh even harder...

So, my first outing in quite some time proved to me that I need to sharpen up the old social skills a bit and try to work on my focus during conversations. And, I really hope the folks at the table weren't too put off by the nutty school counselor giggling like a madwoman all during dinner, because the company was truly charming, and the food was absolutely delicious. Quack!


Sunday, September 27, 2009

In Praise of My Hubby!

I am writing in total silence. What does that mean? It means no kids squealing, yelling, fighting, singing, pounding, running top speed down the hall (which sounds, roughly, like I imagine stampeding rhinoceroses would sound), or saying, "Mommy, I'm HUNGRY!", "Mom, he hit me AGAIN!", "Mom, come look at this bug!", "Mommy, there's dog poop in the yard!", etc., etc., etc... Why is it quiet right now -- a phenomenon so rare it should be on some sort of endangered phenomenon list? Because, just a little while ago, my wonderful husband packed a lunch, asked each little boy to pack their backpacks with a few toys, and left for a father & sons adventure. And, why did my darling, wonderful, stupendous husband do so? Because I feel crummy, and I really, really need some rest. (Something I am planning to get RIGHT after I finish this post, as a matter of fact! I just couldn't resist writing in this glorious silence before heading off for a cup of green tea and a nap.)

I think today's Mommy respite is due to yesterday's mini-meltdown at the playground where the boys and I had met Daddy on his lunch break. You know when you're not super-sick, but you know your body is fighting something, you feel achy and yucky and lousy all over, and it makes every little movement, decision, or chore that much harder? That was me yesterday, and, by the time we had arrived at the playground, I was done. Only I couldn't really be done, because I still had hours and hours and hours of Mommy duty ahead of me before the boys would be out for the night. (We met John at 11:00am. I'd already been up with the boys for 5 hours, with another 8 1/2 hours to go until the first one would be in bed! It makes me tired all over again, just thinking about it...)

Anyway, we were sitting at the playground, eating our picnic, and I looked over at my happily oblivious husband, whispered, "Honey, I don't feel very good," and then burst into tears. And, my husband, my hero, did exactly what I needed him to do. He put his arms around me, told me I shouldn't try to be SuperMom, and pointed out that the boys wouldn't be damaged forever by an afternoon spent watching TV, while I took it easy until he could come home and take over. And now, he and the boys are off on a male-bonding adventure, and I can go take a nap in my peaceful, silent house.

Life. Is. Good. Cheers!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

A quote from my 5-year-old just a few minutes ago: "Hey Mommy. I was thinking about it, and I decided that I love you a whole, whole, whole lot. But, I don't love you as much as I love chocolate. I do love you more than ice cream though." SIGH.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"A long time ago when I was three..."

I'm having a hard week. A really hard week. The kind of week where you start to doubt that humanity really deserves to survive on this planet, and you start rooting for the cockroaches to take over the earth. The kind of week where you wonder why you try so hard to make a difference, when it doesn't feel like anybody's noticing or appreciating your efforts. The kind of week where you marvel over how often people who are lazy or incompetent or who just don't give a rip still get ahead, because they're so good at kissing the right butts. The kind of week that causes you to have thoughts like: "Why do good, loving people get cancer or get swept away by flood waters while rapists and child molesters get out of jail early for good behavior? Why are so many people being murdered, persecuted, or displaced in the name of religion or politics? Why are there so many unscrupulous millionaires out there, and hardworking people like us can barely pay our bills? Why aren't people who want to have children first required to take parenting classes and apply for a license so they won't ever think it's OK to push their child into a closet and beat her with a wire hanger?" Deep questions. Disturbing questions. Questions with no good answers. So, basically, it's been the kind of week that makes you want to put on your softest, comfiest pajamas, and crawl back into bed until it's over, y'know? (And, it's only Wednesday. SIGH.)

Well, since retreating to my bed is not really a realistic option for me, I have decided to find something to focus on that will help me to appreciate the lighter, happier, more loving side of life again. Where do I go for this sort of inspiration? I don't even need to leave my house! My little boys provide me with enough material to crack the darkest depression (as long as I'm looking for it and appreciating it), and if they're not providing the laughs, my dear hubby usually says or does something giggle-worthy on a daily basis. So, to cheer myself up, and perhaps to spread it around a little, I offer a few tidbits from the last few days:

Foster: "Mommy, remember a long time ago when I was three?" I didn't hear anything after the "long time ago" part, because I was cracking up. He's only been four for two months. The briefest blink in time for me -- a lifetime for him.

Spencer suddenly discovering that he can cross his eyes and then walking around crashing into things. Seriously. He has a big goose egg on his forehead from walking into a wall while cross-eyed. He thinks it's the coolest thing ever.

Hubby being told by one of his elderly female bus passengers that he really should send a photo of his legs into Playgirl magazine. (He does have great legs, by the way. But, he was shocked to hear it from a flirty 80-year old woman. What do you say to a comment like that? "Um, thanks ma'am?")

Spencer and Foster making 16 batches of "poison" and lining them up in our yard, in case any bad guys come around. (I'm not kidding about the 16 batches. There are 16 different containers lined up in the yard, varying in size from a medium-sized wheelbarrow to a teeny little tupperware container, each containing a bit of my boys' concoction.) What's in this poisonous brew they're making? Water, grass, sticks, mud, small rocks, and hand soap. They "brew" it, they stir it, they check on it every day, they add to it, and they ask me at least twice a day to come and look at it. What can I say? Some kids make mud pies. My boys make "poison to get the bad guys." At least they work together and get along while they're doing it.

Foster (overheard while they were playing around in our neighbor's giant evergreen bush): "You know, Spence, Mom still calls us her babies sometimes, but we're not babies anymore. Do you think we should tell her that we're big boys now?" Bittersweet, that one...

Spencer: "Mommy! MOMMY! I can stretch my penis a long, long way. Do you want to see?"
(Oh, motherhood is a constant surprise, isn't it? Every day I hear things that I never, ever thought I'd hear...)

Hubby (while watching a little bit of Dancing With The Stars last night during our channel-surfing marathon): "You should get a pair of pants like that!" My reply: "You do realize that putting on a pair of pants like that isn't going to make my body look like hers, don't you?" His reply: "Yeah. Yours will look better." And then we turned the TV off...Use your imagination.

Foster (last night, when I was tucking him in): "Mommy, after you sing me songs, do you think we could snuggle and talk for a little bit?" And, we did...

Spencer: "I love you more than you love me, Mommy. And don't say it's not possible, 'cuz it's totally possible! I know it."

OK, I feel better. Cheers!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dear Kitties....Happy Birthday to You!!!

Yesterday, Spence asked me when it would be Sugar Kitty's birthday. Just to be clear, there are actually three "Sugar Kitties". There's Big Sugar Kitty, Little Sugar Kitty, and The Other Little Sugar Kitty. These three (along with Apple -- the giant stuffed dog that takes turns "sleeping" on their beds) are the boys' favorite stuffed animals. Big Sugar came along first -- a gift from Grandma. Spencer immediately fell in love with her and named her Sugar because he said she was "just so sweet." Awwwwww.... Then, along came a miniature version, which was immediately named Little Sugar Kitty. Very creative, don't you think? Shortly thereafter, we came across a twin version of Little Sugar Kitty, so it was, of course, named The Other Little Sugar Kitty. (Why did they name the giant stuffed dog Apple? No idea. Foster said it just sounded like a good name to him, and it stuck.) Anyway, Spence wanted to know when it would be time to have a birthday party for the Sugar Kitties, so I told him we'd throw them a birthday party today. And, what a day we had! I highly recommend doing this, especially on a rainy day.

Our entire day was all about the Sugar Kitties. In the morning, the boys sang "Happy Birthday" to their kitties and then proceeded to play with all of their stuffed animals. Together. Calmly. Without fighting. For over an hour. (If you don't have boys, you don't understand what a miracle that is. Truly, a miracle.) I brought the boys little saucers of milk and goldfish crackers for snack time, and they managed to turn that into another 45 minutes of play. I actually drank an entire cup of coffee, by myself. The whole thing. In peace. Ahhh...

When the stuffed animal party wound down, we decided to bake a birthday cake. We made a real cake. I can't guarantee that somebody won't bite into a piece of eggshell at some point, but I can guarantee that the boys' hands were clean, and that the cake was made with tons of giggles and lots of love. While it was cooling, the boys made birthday cards for the kitties, and we blew up a couple of balloons and played "bop the balloon" all over the house for a while, laughing like crazy. Then, since it was pouring rain, we decided to snuggle up in the living room and watch "The Aristocats". Of course, the boys wrapped their kitties up in blankets, and sat them in front of the T.V., so they could "watch" too...

During the movie, the sun decided to come out, afterall, so we packed the Sugar Kitties into the boys' backpacks and took them outside for a birthday bike ride around our cul-de-sac. At Spencer's insistence, I had to make sure to poke the kitties' heads out of the top of the backpacks, so they could "see" what was going on. (And, yes, I took pictures. Lots of pictures. This whole day has been documented for future laughter...)

After I was informed that "Our Sugar Kitties want to go inside now", we went in and iced the cakes. I just cut the sheet cake in half, so they could each ice their own. Chocolate icing for my chocaholic older son. Vanilla for my little guy. It was hilarious. There was icing everywhere, and not much of it went on the cakes. Spencer had chocolate icing in his ear. His ear! How does that even happen??? The three Sugar Kitties had been "shown" their birthday cards and were set up on the table, so they could "watch" their birthday cakes being iced.

The boys had already decided that the best birthday dinner would be cereal, so we munched on bowls of Cheerios and drank orange juice. Then, it was on to the cakes! We sang "Happy Birthday" again, each boy blew out the candle on his cake, patted each Sugar Kitty on the head, and dug in. So much fun.

So now, the boys are each picking out their bedtime story for tonight. They've already tucked their Sugar Kitties into bed. Of course, with all the cake and ice cream that was consumed, bedtime might not go as smoothly as it usually does. But, it was worth it. Sure, there's icing smeared all over my kitchen, and all three Sugar Kitties desperately need to be washed tomorrow, but who cares? I'm not going to remember that. But I'm going to remember this day with my little boys forever.

Happy Birthday, Dear Sugar Kitties.... Happy Birthday to Youuuuuuuu.......... Cheers!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Joys of Sleep Deprivation

You know how some parents will sigh, heavily, and say, "Oh my gosh. Our baby didn't sleep through the night until she was a year old. I thought I would lose my mind. It was terrible!" Well, I'm pretty sure I haven't had a full night's sleep in 4 years. Why? Because our 4-year old has nightmares and, even worse, night terrors. Talk about a Mommy adrenaline rush. Wait until your little one is screaming at the top of his lungs that there are crabs in his bed trying to pinch him, and you can tell that he actually SEES them there in front of him. Scary. There's no getting back to sleep after one of those.... Luckily, they seem to be lessening over time, but the crying and moaning and thrashing around still happens regularly, and I've become so attuned to it that it wakes me up every time. Now, add in this fun factor: Perimenopause, which first reared its ugly head for me 2 years ago, before I even turned 40, has resulted in night sweats and insomnia at least 4 nights a week. (Ahhhh, the joys of being a woman! And men think they're so tough....They wouldn't last a year in a woman's body! For more about the joys of perimenopause, please check out Why isn't menopause called womenopause?) And the final sleep deprivation factor is....Snoring. Not mine. My husband's. It's especially bad in the spring and fall, when his allergies are acting up. It's like sleeping next to a chainsaw. But, there's no rhythm to it, so I can't accommodate to the sound and drift off to sleep, you know? It's random, and it changes pitch and tone and volume throughout the night. All night. Almost every night. So, you see, when it comes to getting a full night's sleep, I'm pretty much screwed.

Being chronically sleep deprived, I have learned a few survival strategies. Tips, you might say, to make sure that disaster doesn't occur as a result of too little sleep.

1) I write everything down that I'm supposed to remember for the next day, and I put it on sticky notes the night before. That one's a lifesaver. I also call my home phone from work to remind myself to write things down on the sticky notes. It cracks my husband up every time he hears one of my messages to myself -- "Hi. This is yourself. Don't forget that tomorrow is share day at preschool." He thinks it's funny. He doesn't really appreciate the necessity of it, since he sleeps like a baby pretty much every night. (Not a baby with night terrors, either. The other kind. The kind that sleeps through the night. SIGH.)

2) I set the timer on the coffee maker the night before (extra strong setting), so it'll be ready when I drag my sorry carcass out of bed in the morning. I have become that person you see on the commercials -- the exhausted looking one who literally can't function until she smells coffee wafting through the air and drinks down that first cup. It takes me about 3 cups to really feel like a fully-funtioning human being.

3) I never assume that I am as alert as I feel after the 3rd cup of coffee. I turn on the cold air vents or roll down the windows when I'm driving, just in case...

4) I try not to ever set a beverage down next to anything else that's liquid, because I have been known, in my sleepy state, to pick up the wrong bottle or cup and take a swig. In fact, I learned just two days ago what baby shampoo tastes like, because it was sitting right next to my Diet 7 Up. FYI? It tastes terrible. I don't recommend it. I can also describe what it feels like to accidentally drink one of your contacts, in case you're interested.

Well, I only have to make it through 1 hour, 47 minutes more of parenting, before both boys will be snoozing, and I can collapse into bed. And, if luck is on my side, tonight will be hot-flash free, my little guy won't have a nightmare or wet the bed, and my darling hubby won't drive me out of our nice, soft bed with his chainsaw-like snoring. I can only hope...


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The longest school bus ride EVER!

So, today, my school bus nightmare came true. It's probably some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, because I already had anxiety about my little guy riding the bus (see Kindergarten Countdown for more of my neurotic ramblings on the topic), so I probably created some kind of negative energy that resulted in today's mini-disaster.

Here's what happened... Today was Spencer's first time riding the bus home from morning Kindergarten. Not wanting to be late, I flew out of work, played havoc with the speed limit, and made record time driving across town, so that I could be on time to meet his bus. When I had called to see what time the bus would drop off, I was told it would arrive "Around 12-ish." So, I was there at 11:49, just in case. I waited at the corner (at the same place the bus drops kids off after the regular school day), looking eagerly down the hill, watching for the bus bearing my beloved child. I chatted with the friendly (and, frankly, pretty easy-on-the-eyes) Daddy who was on the other side of the street, waiting for the bus to pick UP his own Kindergartener for the afternoon session. We all waited and waited and waited... Cute Daddy was starting to get pretty antsy, but his pick-up bus finally arrived, about 10 minutes later than expected. I watched from directly across the street, as his little boy climbed up onto the bus with Cute Daddy taking pictures of every step. I caught the bus driver's eye and gave her a cheery wave, all the while wondering when Spencer's bus would chug up the hill so I could smother him with hugs and kisses. The school bus turned, right in front of me, and continued on down the hill. Cute Daddy crossed over to chat with me a little more about the neighborhood and Kindergarten and such. I was just being neighborly, you understand... My own chattiness had nothing to do with his sparkly blue eyes and nice smile. (Hey, I'm happily married, but it's not like my eyes have been gouged out of my head. I can still appreciate a little eye-candy, can't I?)

Anyway, when 12:30 had rolled around, and no drop-off bus had arrived, I was starting to get pretty anxious. Cute Daddy loaned me his cell phone, so I called the bus transportation line and explained that my little one had yet to show up. The lovely woman on the other end of the phone sighed and said, "Oh, we're showing that your son's bus was there on time at drop-off." I semi-calmly explained that I had been standing on this very spot since 11:50, and that the only bus that had come by was the one picking up kids for afternoon Kindergarten. "Yeah, that's the bus," she replied. Cue the instant migraine! "But, the bus always drops the big kids off on the other side of the street, and I was standing RIGHT there! The bus driver waved at me! Do you mean to tell me that my son is still on that bus???" (All the time, I was thinking to myself, "I KNEW he shouldn't be riding the bus. He's just a baaaabbbbyyyyyy........") Then, with an edge of hysteria in my voice, I asked, "Where is my son at this exact moment?" I was told that I needed to drive to his elementary school, and that he'd be arriving there in 20 more minutes. Keep in mind that, at this point, my little 5-year-old had already been riding the bus for over an hour. What if he had to pee? What if he was crying and wondering why I hadn't picked him up? What if he was all alone and scared on his long, long bus ride?

Meanwhile, I was now almost half-an-hour late to pick up my younger son from his preschool, and I was on the verge of a total meltdown. So, thanking Cute Daddy for the use of the cell phone (and vowing to go get one of my own and then attach it permanently to my hip), I ran home, called my preschool to explain my situation, and headed to Spencer's school, where I paced back-and-forth in front of the entrance like a hungry tiger. The bus was 5 minutes later than expected. Then 10 minutes. Then 15. At 17 minutes past arrival time, I walked into the main office, caught the eye of the secretary, said in a small, pathetic voice, "I've lost my son," and burst into tears. The school bus arrived roughly 3 minutes later...

And, how did Spencer handle his ordeal? Was he traumatized? Did he cling to me like a limpet and tell me how much he'd missed me? Did he say that he never wants to ride the school bus again? Of course not. He hopped off the bus, wiggled out of my unusually intense embrace, and said, "Hi Mommy. That was the longest bus ride ever! I saw you waiting, and I waved at you, but you were on the wrong side of the street. Next time you need to be on the other side, OK?"

What's the lesson here? Well, it's plain to see that Spencer is way more ready for this new stage than I am. Definitely.


Monday, September 14, 2009

I've got nuthin!

I really felt like blogging today. My blog is supposed to be this great creative outlet, right? A place where I can rant and rave and share stories. A spot where I can document the craziness of life and be able to check back in the future to see what was going on, what I was thinking, what my little guys were doing/breaking/thinking, which articles of clothing my husband left on the bathroom floor that day (Today's collection? Black flannel sweatpants, a white t-shirt, boxers, and a pair of socks that really, really, really need to be washed)...

But, today, I've got nuthin!

My mind's a blank!

Just felt like saying that.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

And, I only had TWO meltdowns!

I did it. Yesterday, I survived Spencer's first day of Kindergarten. And, I made it through with only two, brief episodes of crying, neither of which could be described as full-on blubbering or a truly "ugly" cry. The first happened, suddenly, as we were waiting for the bus. There we were: Mommy, Daddy, Spence, his little brother, Grandma, and Grandpa, complete with camera and videocamera, laughing and celebrating and having a grand time. He held his "My First Day of Kindergarten" sign and let us take multiple pictures of him. He high-fived everybody near him and announced to all of the kids and parents waiting at the bus stop that it was his first day of Kindergarten. I was feeling good, feeling positive, feeling genuinely excited, when Spence looked up at me over the corner of his Spiderman backpack, looking incredibly cute and very, very little in the oversized button-down train shirt he had chosen for his first day, and said, "Mommy, can I sit on your lap while we're waiting for the bus?" I made quick eye contact with my hubby, whose own eyes were looking a bit misty, and that was it. Big, fat tears rolling down my face. Luckily, Spence was sitting on my lap staring eagerly down the street, looking for the bus, so he didn't see my pathetically sad face. As for the loud sniffles -- I have bad Fall allergies, so he wouldn't think anything of that. As it turned out, we were the only parents with a new Kindergartener at the bus stop, so I got lots of sympathetic, knowing looks from the other Moms, and that helped to dry up my tears. Afterall, they had obviously all been through it, and they looked just fine now. More importantly, their kids looked happy, healthy, and excited to go to school.

So, that was mini-meltdown number one. Number two came in the Kindergarten classroom, itself. The school had invited all the parents to come on the first day and stay for a little while, then join the Principal and PTA members for coffee and treats in the library. The first part was great. Spence played on the playground with the other kids for a while, then he got to go inside and find his name tag, hang up his backpack, and play in the room for a bit. All was well. He was confident and happy, the other kids seemed really nice, and the other parents seemed pretty normal and friendly, overall. (There was this one, totally intense Mom, who kept trying to micro-manage the rest of us, and our children, as we put the required school supplies in their bins. I remembered her from the Kindergarten orientation in the Spring. She was the one who, when the teacher asked us to have our kids draw a picture of themselves, kept loudly tapping her pen on the paper in front of her son and saying, "Put more color in your picture! Put more detail in your picture. That's not good enough!" I've gotta say, I was hoping her kid wouldn't be in Spence's class, but it looks like our paths will have to cross from time-to-time, afterall. Super intense micro-managing Mom, meet the Mom at the opposite end of the spectrum. Meet "ChickenNuggetMama." Should be interesting...) Anyway, the teacher gathered the kids on the mat for a "good morning" song, and then addressed all of the parents in the back of the room. She told us she was going to read a story to the kids, and then she'd like us to kiss the kids goodbye and head up to the library. She also pointed out the kleenex box at the back of the room. I was the first one there. I was still feeling pretty good, but I wanted to be ready, just in case. Then, this lovely young woman, who seems like a genuinely caring and interested teacher, read a book called "The Kissing Hand." Have you read this book? It's all about a baby raccoon who is nervous about school, so the mother raccoon gives him a kiss in the center of his palm, and tells him that it will stay on his hand all day, until he sees her again after school. Brutal! I think this sweet-looking Kindergarten teacher is actually some sort of sadist who likes to see how many Moms she can make cry on the first day. She and the other Kindergarten teacher probably have some sort of competition going every year. Who can choose the sappiest book that will bring the most parents to tears? Anyway, that was the second meltdown. It only lasted a minute or two. OK, to be honest, it started when the Mommy raccoon put the kiss in the baby raccoon's hand, and the sniffles lasted as I kissed Spence (who didn't seem the least bit upset and really seemed to just want us to go away, so he could get back to the business of Kindergarten), walked down the hall, up the stairs to the library, and drank my first cup of coffee. Then, I was fine.

So, it's the end of an era, and the beginning of another. I can't wait to see what's coming....

And, to all of my wonderful friends, who called to leave me messages of encouragement and to see how I was doing on this momentous day....I love you, and I appreciate you, and I couldn't navigate these crazy Mommy waters without your help and support. Cheers!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Kindergarten Countdown

It's almost D-Day. (Or "K-Day", I guess you could say.) In 3 days, I will walk one extremely excited little boy down our block and around the corner to the school bus stop for the very first time. Gulp. Spencer is completely ecstatic and can't wait to ride the bus "Just like all the big kids, Mom!" I, on the other hand, can't help but look at him and think, "HE'S JUST A BABY! HE'S WAY TOO LITTLE TO BE ON THE BUS! THE BUS IS SO BIG! WHAT IF SOMEBODY IS MEAN TO HIM? WHAT IF HE SITS ON SOMEBODY'S GUM? WHAT IF HE ACCIDENTALLY LEAVES HIS BACKPACK ON THE BUS? HE'S SUCH A SKINNY LITTLE GUY! NOOOOOOOOO..."

I'm not really having a hard time with the whole transition to Kindergarten, itself. In fact, I'm genuinely excited for Spence and all the cool learning and new friends and fun times that lie ahead for him. It helps that he's really confident and happy and SO ready for this next step. (With that said, I'll probably be a blubbering idiot all day on Friday. All this big talk, and I'll most likely burst into big, ugly, snotty tears the second the bus drives away... Just in case, I arranged my work schedule so I wouldn't have to go in on Friday. My middle school students really don't need their counselor to be an emotional wreck that day. Doesn't inspire confidence, y'know?)

Even though I'm not too freaked out about Kindergarten, this school bus thing is a real issue for me. It's not like we have a choice, because I literally can't get Spence to Kindergarten a half-mile from our house when he's supposed to be there, then get Foster to Preschool on the northern side of town when he's supposed to be there, and finally get myself to work on the southern side of town anything close to when I'm supposed to be there. It's physically impossible. My head would explode. Seriously. I'm talking spontaneous combustion here. Nobody needs that.

Thus, the bus...

My husband thinks I'm nuts, by the way. For countless reasons, actually, but most recently because of this bus issue I'm having. "I rode the school bus every day," he says. "I loved it. I saw all my friends on the bus. We had a great time. Spencer will be fine." "Did you (sniff) ever get bullied? Did kids make fun of you? (sniff, sob, sniff) Did the bus ever go in a ditch in the winter time?" "No, honey. He'll be fine." I never rode the bus as a kid, so I don't share my husband's confidence. And, Spence is JUST A BABYYYYYY!!!...

But, I'll walk him to the bus this Friday, just so he can try it out on his first day. Then, I'll jump in the car and follow that bus to see what path it takes on its journey to Kindergarten. I'll be there to meet Spence when he arrives at school for the first time, and I'll do the "Meet & Greet" with his teacher. Then, I'll walk out the door, leaving my little guy to begin his new adventure. I might just treat myself to a skinny vanilla latte and a cheesy entertainment magazine. And, a short 3 hours later, I'll be at the bus stop to meet him when he gets off the bus after his very first day as a Kindergartener. Wow.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

I admit it. Sometimes I wish I was Canadian...

I'm pissed off today. And, I'm mad that I'm mad, because I was planning on writing about the incredibly fun night I had with my hubby and boys yesterday. Instead, I find myself filled with frustration and needing to vent it somewhere before I can get back to focusing on all of the wonderful things in my life. Here's a disclaimer for any of my followers who might be checking in: This post is not about being a parent or a spouse or the silliness of life in an 1100 square foot house with two little boys and two big dogs. It's about being a caring, interested, and totally disgusted American today. Sorry, folks, but it's about politics. So, please feel free to stop reading. It's not my normal kind've post, that's for sure, but it's affecting me. It's on my mind, it's in my heart, as a mother and a school counselor and someone who cares about kids and who really, really wants to believe that my country is worth taking pride in. The truth is, I'm embarrassed to be a United States citizen right now. Sorry if that offends, but it's the truth. Frankly, I've been embarrassed by the actions and attitudes of my country before (maybe because I grew up in New Zealand and saw another way of doing things), but, over the last year, I've been starting to feel a sense of patriotism again. I've seen that people are working hard to do something, to change things in a positive direction, to try something different in order to get our country back on track. The in-fighting and ridiculously immature partisan bickering (on both sides) makes me want to tear my hair out and scream, "YO! All of you people who were elected by us and are getting paid a helluva lot more than I am to, supposedly, represent the needs of all Americans! Maybe you could pull your heads out and start thinking about what's good for the whole country, instead of just what's good for your own, personal, cultural, religious, ethnic, tax bracket, or the special interest groups that contribute to your campaigns, eh? How about trying THAT for a change?!!" Even with all of this adolescent political behavior, I have been able to hold my head fairly high as an American citizen over the last year, because positive changes are at least being discussed, sought, and attempted. But, the recent unexpected and ridiculous uproar over our President giving a positive, pro-education, stay-in-school message to students in as many schools as possible throughout our country, just about makes me want to pack up my little family, jump in the car, and head north. Waaaaayyyy north. Across the border into Canada, never to return. As a school counselor, and as a concerned Mom, I am shocked and embarrassed by the ignorance and shortsightedness of my fellow Americans. I cannot believe that anyone, regardless of their political affiliation, could honestly think that, in a country whose dropout rate is shockingly, and unforgivably, high, a message from the elected leader of our nation, aimed solely at inspiring all students to stick it out, to set goals, to follow their dreams, to reach for the stars, is a bad thing. Whether you agree with his politics or not, President Obama is unarguably a major American success story. What a great example to all students of all cultures that, if you face your challenges and stay with it and work hard, you can achieve great things. I'm sorry, but nobody can argue against our President being a really awesome example of what education can do for a person. At least, no sane, semi-intelligent, person, that is. Just imagine the young black high school freshman sitting in his school desk chair, thinking he can never reach his goals, hearing this message and knowing that it is going out all over the country. You can do it. You can achieve. You can succeed. Regardless of your family background, your gender, your culture, or the color of your skin. You can achieve, and getting your education is the path to success. What about so many young female students, who are still getting the message that getting married and having babies is all they should aspire to? Well, think about the power of a pro-education message from the leader of our country on those girls. A leader who has a highly educated, well-respected, amazing spouse and two daughters. Think about it. I could go on and on and on..... Think about the kids with single parents or non-traditional families. Think about the kids who may be gang-affiliated or drug-involved, and who are ready to give up on education all together. This message has the power to reach kids who may not have been reached before, and to inspire them to stay in school. Why? Because the person delivering it made it all the way to the White House, and he's saying that education is the way to achieve your dreams. Isn't that what every caring parent wants for their child? It's not about being a democrat, or a republican, or a libertarian, or anything else on the political spectrum. It's about kids getting an education so they can become whatever they want to be. So every child will have more opportunity and freedom and self-respect. So every child can learn to question what is happening in the world and maybe figure out ways to make it better. We teach our children about global citizenship. We teach them about government, and civil service, and giving back to their community. We teach them critical thinking skills, so they can make educated decisions in the future. What are we teaching them if we say, "Sorry, honey. I don't want you to listen to what our President has to say about staying in school, because I don't agree with his health care reform package." Give me a break! This isn't about you, or me, or our personal political agendas or belief systems. It's about empowering kids. If we can't come together on an issue as important as kids and education, perhaps our society really is doomed. It infuriates and disgusts and depresses me. I work so hard to inspire my students to stick with it, and to keep trying, even when it seems impossibly difficult. I try, desperately sometimes, to find ways to reach kids who are seemingly unreachable and to help them see that education is a tool to get them where they really want to be in life. I was ecstatic when I heard that this President was going to do what only a few have done in the past. And that is, for this one hour, to use his power and his position, not to forward political agendas or solve disputes in foreign countries or try to bring bipartisanship to Washington DC, but to inspire our children. American children. To learn. To grow. To move forward. To face adversity and to use education to achieve their dreams. What could be wrong with that? If his message only reaches one child and inspires that one child to stay in school, it will be worth it. And, I don't care if that child has democratic parents, republican parents, disinterestd parents, or no parents at all. It will be worth it. And, every single President should do this every year from now on. Because, if you don't believe that your Presidential power should be used to inspire children -- the very future of our country -- to reach for their dreams and to get a good education, then you should never have run for President in the first place.

OK, I feel better after getting all of that out. If you disagree, I welcome your comments. If you are as angry and frustrated as I am, I welcome those as well. And, if I offended, sorry, but this is my blog, so I get to say what I want. Now, I'm going to go kiss and hug my little boys. Cheers!