Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Remember when people's eyebrows moved up and down???

I love to watch political news shows like Meet the Press and This Week with Christiane Amanpour. In fact, it's pretty much how hubby and I spend every Sunday morning. I love doing this for two reasons, really. First, I like to be informed about what's been going on around the world during the week. This is especially true, now that I've gone back to work, because I fall into an exhaustion coma after the kids are in bed every day, and I am completely unconscious by the time the 11:00 news begins. (Hell, I'm completely unconscious by 8:30 most nights. Who am I kidding with this 11:00 news stuff???) Second, I get very fired up and mad and excited about it all, and then John and I get into heated debates and discussions that remind me, for just that short, precious time, that I do have a regular brain (not just that "Mommy Brain" that we all grow after becoming mothers, so that we can keep track of the million different little details we need to manage once we have kids) and that I am capable of intelligently discussing (or at least passionately yelling about) topics and issues that are going on in our country and in our world. It's also a great reminder to John and I that we really did have lots of things to talk about before we had kids, and that we were actually pretty good at this whole conversing thing.

But, I've started to take notice of how many of the people on these shows no longer have eyebrows that move. It's actually become so distracting that I have a hard time concentrating on what they're saying. Seriously. Picture this....The extremely serious moderator talking with three extremely serious political "experts" during an extremely serious round table discussion about the war in Afghanistan. The voices are intense. The hand gestures are dramatic. Mouths are turned downward into deep, serious scowls. But nobody's eyebrows are moving! At all. Only the bottom half of their faces seem to work. It's the weirdest thing. How are you supposed to listen to the information being delivered, when you're so distracted by the strange, expressionless eyebrows and foreheads of the people who are delivering it? And, have you checked out the newscasters and the meteorologists? If you're not looking at the screen, you can tell by their voices if the story is dramatic or exciting or sad. But, take an actual look at them, and there's this weird disconnect between the bottom half of their faces and the top. It's disconcerting. Kind of creepy, actually. Like old episodes of The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits.

This Botox and plastic surgery stuff has really gotten out of hand. I mean, I expect Hollywood celebrities to eventually look like plumped-up, smoothed-out, pulled-tight, freakishly expressionless versions of themselves. That's been the norm for a while. But, our newscasters? Our political commentators? I kind've thought that they were somehow supposed to be more representative of the rest of us, you know? The regular folks with real faces that have expression lines and freckles and saggy parts in the places where saggy parts are supposed to naturally occur.

What a world we live in, eh?


(By the way: One of the reasons I think Christiane Amanpour is such a great interviewer and moderator? Her entire face moves when it's supposed to!)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Really? A phone call on the VERY first day of kindergarten? Cut a stressed-out Mommy a little slack, won't you?

I'm officially starting to believe all those other Moms who've been saying things like, "Before you know it, your boys will be graduating high school and moving on with their lives." You know what I'm talking about, right? The ones that always seem to come right when you're trapped in line at the grocery store with two hungry, exhausted, whiny little boys, and you have to buy an 8 pack of Crayola brand washable markers, because that's the one school supply item you forgot to buy for the first day, and you haven't slept in 3 nights, and you know that you're going to be up most of the night doing that slide show for work that you haven't even been able to start during your actual work day, and you haven't made sustained eye contact with your husband or had a meaningful adult conversation in weeks, and you're thinking to yourself, "If either one of my boys says 'Moooooommmmmyyyyyyy' to me one more time right now, I am going to spontaneously combust right here in this grocery line!!!" ??? That's typically when some older woman with kind eyes and a sweet little smile turns around and says, "You should cherish these moments, dear, because they go by so fast." You look up at this well-meaning woman, and you want to rip her eyes out, because, at that very moment, the idea of your boys graduating and moving out, so you can finally get a little alone-time, sounds just peachy, thank you very much. You know those comments???

Well, they're starting to make a lot more sense.


Because my little Foster just went to his first day of kindergarten. Sigh.

The afternoon of his first day, I met Fos and Spence at the bus stop and was greeted with HUGE smiles and hugs and lots of stories about how much fun they had at school. And, dropping my little guy off that morning had really been a breeze. No tears this time around (mine, Daddy's, or Foster's). Fos was happy and excited. I felt genuinely happy and excited for him. Hubby and I dropped him off together and marveled at how much easier it was this time, versus last year, when Spence started kindergarten. In fact, I had planned on writing a joy-filled, optimistic little blog entry called "It's so much easier the second time around."

Then, the phone rang.
At 7:30pm.
It was Foster's new kindergarten teacher.
Calling us at home.
On his very. first. day.

Teacher: "Hi. I'd like to talk with you a little bit about some concerns I have about Foster."

Gulp. Heart starts pounding. Head starts spinning. On the FIRST DAY??? Seriously?!!!

Teacher: "I'm concerned that he may not be aware of where he is in time and space."

What the ???

Teacher: "When I took all the kids to lunch, I taught them what to do with their lunch boxes, and I really went through it with them. But, Foster somehow put his lunch box in the wrong bin. So, I pointed him down the hall to look in the other class bins, but he didn't come right back. I found him playing in the atrium. Then, when we went out to recess for the first time, I told all the kids to line up when the bell rang. Well, I counted heads, and one was missing. It was Foster. He had lined up with a different class. So, I'm just wondering if this is the norm for him, and I'm concerned."

I couldn't breathe for a second. It seemed like such a serious and significant statement: "I'm concerned that he may not be aware of where he is in time and space." It just kind of echoed around in my brain. Really? To me, it doesn't seem that strange that a 5-year old, especially a very adventurous and excited 5-year old like Fos., on his first day of school, would put his lunch box in the wrong bin and then take full advantage of being set free in the hallway to explore his new environment. It's not OK, and I fully understand that he has to follow the directions of his teacher and be safe. But, is it really that weird? It just doesn't strike me as being that odd that a kid might line up with the wrong class on day one of his very first recess, either.

But, I guess Fos was the only one who did these things.
Of course.

My little guy. The one who pushes buttons and tests the boundaries of every authority figure in his life. The one who is fascinated with everything and easily distracted by the sights, sounds, and smells of life going on around him. The one who has always headed fearlessly out to explore his world, with no need to hold hands or cling to parental legs. The one with the sparkling blue eyes and amazing smile, who gives the most heartfelt hugs in the world, and who ends every day by saying, "Good night. Sleep tight. Don't let the bed bugs bite. I love you more than you love me. Yes, possible!" My funny, creative, stubborn, affectionate, and totally unique little guy.

I'm glad his teacher wants to keep the lines of communication open. Really, I am. When I met him, I instantly thought that he and Foster would connect really well together. He seems to have a great sense of fun and passion for teaching. He seems genuinely interested in getting to know "his" kids. Hubby and I will, of course, back him up when he feels that more boundaries or discipline are required. And, I am a firm believer that schools and parents have to work as a respectful team to help kids succeed.

But, did he have to call on the very first day? Couldn't he have waited to see how the first couple of days played out, just to get a really good feel for how Fos is adjusting to kindergarten life, before questioning his mental capabilities and awareness? Did he not know how such a phone call might affect loving parents?

Seriously. I lay awake all night after that call, tossing and turning, (as hubby snored away) wondering if there could be something seriously wrong with Fos. Wondering if I'm going to get the call that the school psychologist has been called in to evaluate his "awareness of where he is in time and space." (That phrase is forever burned into my brain, in case you couldn't tell.) Wondering if he's going to be OK in school and successful in life. Wondering if his teachers are going to like him and understand him and motivate him, or if they're going to label him as "that bad kid who doesn't follow directions." Thinking about the middle school students I counsel every day. The ones who battle with authority or live to be the class clown or view the world differently than most. The ones who don't quite fit in. Thinking about how their parents have had to hear concerns like the one I just heard from Foster's teacher. Feeling such a renewed rush of empathy for them. Knowing that they spend many sleepless nights worrying about the children they love so much and hoping things will turn out OK.

And, so, here I am, after waking up at 2:00am. Again. Worrying about how Fos will do tomorrow, on his second day of kindergarten. Crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. Hoping he has fun. Hoping he follows the rules. Hoping he makes new friends. Hoping this teacher will like and appreciate my wonderful, challenging little boy and nurture his love of learning.

Ironically, Fos woke up just a few minutes ago, crawled into my lap, and buried his little head into my shoulder.

"What's wrong, sweetie?"

"I had a bad dream."

Maybe I'm not the only one who's worried about tomorrow...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sometimes you just need life to smack you in the head to get your priorities straight.

It's been a rough couple of weeks. Organizing an orientation for 200 new 6th grade students. Nightmare. Figuring out how to help keep things running smoothly with a new principal, new assistant principal, new head secretary, new PTSA, and multiple other new staff members, all while trying not to lose my mind and be a fully-functioning and capable school counselor for the students, parents, and staff with whom I work. Not a nightmare, but pretty damn crazy. Oh, and then there's not knowing if my position is going to become full-time (please, please, please....) when my partner counselor goes on leave in two weeks to have fun, expensive adventures that I will probably never be able to have myself. That means paying for daycare we can't afford and don't even need at the moment, because we have to reserve the spots in case I get to go full time. But no one in charge will make up their mind and tell me what the bleep is going on!!! Oh, and did I mention that my little Foster is about to start kindergarten, and my little Spencer has just become a first-grader, going to school all day for the very first time? Probably goes without saying, but I'm a bit of a wreck...

So, it's Friday night, I'm shaking off the week's craziness with a big ol' glass of cabernet, while my boys watch a Tom and Jerry movie in their pj's and stay up past their bedtimes. (They are SO stoked right now!)
Frankly, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself when I logged on to do a little writing tonight. Whining in my head about how hard things are right now, how life's not fair, blah, blah, blahdee blah, blah... Just throwing a big old pity party for ME. I was all ready to bitch and moan about every little thing that's been on my mind from work drama to chronic insomnia to the insanity that has become our United States political system. Verbal diarrhea to rid myself of all the crap in my head, y'know? My own little version of self-directed therapy.

And then...

...I read a blog entry, written by this amazing woman named Kami, and it was a big, fat reminder of just how lucky I am and just how good I have it. Her best friend just lost the love of her life in a horrible accident. Kami wrote eloquently about being in the hospital, hearing the doctor's comments, waiting to see if he'd make it through the night, consoling her friend and feeling helpless to do anything substantial to take away her  pain. I can only imagine the agony these women are experiencing right now.

It was moving, heartbreaking, so completely senseless and tragic.

And, it was a great reminder that life is precious and short and can be taken away in a heartbeat. That you have to let the crap run off your back. That it's OK to whine for just a little while, and then you have to tell yourself to suck it up and to focus on the joy and love and moments of happiness that occur all around you, every single day of your life. That you have to choose to brush off the ugliness and to appreciate the beauty that is in your world.

I am so lucky. I have beautiful, healthy, imaginative, wonderful, feisty little boys. I have a husband who loves me and is my very best friend. I have an amazing family, wonderful friends, and a warm, nurturing little home. I have a job that fulfills me and challenges me and that I take such pride in doing well. My world is filled with love and laughter and music. And, I need to appreciate every precious second of it.

I love my life.