Monday, March 31, 2014

The default

Now I can recognize when I'm having irrational thoughts, which I couldn't do before therapy, although sometimes it takes me awhile to see them for what they are.

Still, even when I see them, even though I know the skills of CBT and I'm medicated, I can't make these anxiety-inducing thoughts go away.  They ping in my brain over and over again, which is extremely annoying and the source of additional anxiety.

So I call my GP and say, "I'm experiencing such-and-such, and can I come in because it is almost assuredly nothing but I'm having trouble talking myself down."  Because they know me, know my OCD and GAD, they say come on it.  Doesn't hurt to check you out.

That is where I'm headed today.

I fell down the steps on Dec 27, and my tailbone still hurts.  Although every "medical" website says healing should take place after 4 weeks, it seems the actual discomfort of a bruised or broken tailbone can take years to go away.....if it ever does fully.

I can handle that.

But this past week, my brain took it upon itself to remember that my two students' mother, who lost her battle with cancer in January at the age of 45, had lung cancer that spread to her tailbone.
So even though rationally I know there is an actual legitimate reason for my tailbone hurting (the fall), even though I know the chances of me having tailbone cancer (that sounds so completely ridiculous) are way less than me being killed on my way to the GP this afternoon, even though I know that my body is taking ever longer to recover from injuries as I age, even though I know that because the boys have been waking me up from sleep more often lately which makes panic even harder to manage, none of this matters to the default setting of my brain----the anxious, catastrophic, highly irrational side.

I hate the default setting.  It makes me feel stupid.

Eleanor Roosevelt had it almost right.  The rub is when the thing making you feel inferior is your own brain.  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Yes, I know I'm a shit

There is one reason and one reason only that I enjoy March Madness, and it is the fun of mocking sports fanatics on Facebook.

It brings me an endless amount of pleasure to gently prod people's insanity over men in shorts bouncing balls.  I tend to not have any interest in any kind of team competition.  I don't go ga-ga over the Olympics or school academic teams, either.

I know I carry on about my own obsessions on Facebook at times, like my frustration over snow days, and I'm sure that drives my friends nuts.  It tires them to read one.more.whine about listening to my kids scream at each other for 8 hours or how snow days fuck with their routines. Of course, snow days only occur once or twice a year normally.  This one year has been an exception.

For those of us who don't follow basketball, we have to put up with the salivations of our sports-following friends every.single.spring.

I try to keep my posts witty and light because I really don't intend to insult anyone.

I am merely a person on the fringes of basketball-obsessed society who really and truly doesn't understand any of it.

I'm not as smart, funny or acerbic as Dorothy Parker, but I imagine she was hated for her commentary too.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Things falling apart

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

William Butler Yeats wrote this poem about life after WWI, and as I learned from reading Kevin Smokler's book Practical Classics, the phrase and idea of "things falling apart" has been the subject of much art, literature and music since this poem was published.  

I might argue that this stanza could be an analogy for the implosion of a marriage. 

I am reading the novel What Alice Forgot, which is about a woman who falls, hits her head and forgets 10 years of her life, including the fact that she is in the midst of a divorce.  Gwyneth and Chris announced their split.  A friend of mine told me this week she and her husband are breaking up.

So, of course, my mind is on marriage and "conscious uncoupling" (whatever the heck that means).

The funny thing about this much-made-fun-of phraseology by Paltrow is that it is the exact opposite of what happens in a marriage that makes things fall apart.  While D and I are as happily married as two people can be who have lived with each other day in and day out for 16 years, when I think about our rough patch almost 2 years ago, it was due, in some measure, to unconsciously being married.

Being married, especially after multiple children come into the picture, becomes like driving in one's car to work.  You arrive but you haven't the foggiest how you got there.  It is an automatic that requires little to no effort on your brain's consciousness to make it happen.  I think the same thing happens in marriage.  Suddenly you've been married a dozen years and have no clue how it happened, where the time went, and how you got to be the person you are right at this moment.  It is, essentially, unconscious coupling.

Some people say marriage should be easy, while others say marriage takes a lot of hard work.  I wonder if marriage was easier to swallow and endure when life, and therefore marriage, was cut short due to disease, starvation and the perils of childbirth.  Perhaps this is why so many people I know who have divorced or needed marriage counseling do so around the 14-18 year mark.  Nature is wanting someone to kick off, but modern life makes us just keep.on.going.

Plus, a focus on survival tends to make one not terribly interested in or aware of happiness.  Happiness is a luxury we can afford these days, and sometimes happiness does not coincide with the rigors of marriage.  And when I say rigors, I mean dullness, monotony, and annoyances.

I am always saddened when marriages end, even if they should end, even if they started out on the least solid of footing.  It is a death.  Even when there is relief that the marriage is over, as there would be if a loved one had been gravely ill and in terrific pain, there is grief at the loss of something you had, a way in which you lived, an identity that had been with you for many years.
Marriage is much like parenting, or at least the rigors of marriage become very similar to the rigors of parenting once you become a parent.  Insert the word "marriage" and this clip pretty well sums it up.

Like with parenting, I used to feel pretty smug about marriage.  There is nothing like raising an actual child (or children) to force one to eat tremendous amounts of crow, and there is nothing like living through a rough patch to knock one for a bit of a loop.  My experience has helped me understand better what it might be like for a couple that isn't just going through a temporary blip but has years of prickliness and fighting and resentment built up and cannot find a way to reconcile.  A couple that has long lost the ability to like each other.

That has to be a special ring of hell unto itself.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

This is science

Today has been a true stay-at-home day, which is something I both need and hate.

A day of not running any errands tends to be very productive, as I get all sorts of little things of little consequence to anyone else done (like putting EOBs in the healthcare binder or scrubbing the drains).  But around mid-day, I also start to go a little bonkers, especially since M begins to tire.  At four years old, though, he is tired enough to be whiney and needy, but not tired enough to actually nap.

I am long past being the stay-at-home mom who tries with great abandon to "do things" with my child.  With N, I was forever doing projects that would stimulate her brain.....arts, crafts, playing grocery store with her fake food.  I was smug about how she didn't really need preschool because we did lots of things at home to help her learn.  And that was true, even if it was smug.

Child #3 needs preschool.  I have never taught M his letters, numbers, done arts and crafts or anything with any pre-planning or sincere concentration.  There is too much laundry and cooking and other stuff to do.  When I feed him marshmallows (which the first child didn't eat until she was 6 or something), I do ask him to count them, so I'm not completely useless.

I did have a moment, though, today when I realized that me being a mostly preoccupied stay-at-home mom on my true stay-at-home days is not such a bad thing.  I don't need to go all Pinterest-y on myself  and be the same kind of mom I was when I just had a singleton.

As I was piddling around, M grabbed his dinosaur and bug toys, parked himself at the dining room window and started playing in the sunshine.  He called me over to look at their shadows, a game he plays regularly.  I watch and give him suggestions on how if he turns the figure this way and that way, its shadow looks bigger, longer, more detailed, etc.

This is preschool science.
He is learning.
I am hanging back, watching him, moving between what I have to do and being present with him for the few minutes that my brain can stand it before I get bored with this preschool fun.

And that is good enough.

Why my book club hates me and why everyone should read all sorts of classics

I volunteered to host book club in July, and I feel fairly certain that attendance will be poor.  In addition to family vacations, I have selected The Grapes of Wrath, a 400+ page classic, as the book to read.

Two years now my selections have been voted "Least Liked Book," an honor that gains me guardianship of a lovely paper bowl.

There are at least three reasons why I select classics.

First, I really and truly do love reading classic literature.  After college, when others swore never to read a book of any kind at all as a way to decompress from the rigors of study, I launched into a full-blown classics course of my own making reading Somerset Maugham, Pearl Buck and almost everything E.M. Forster ever wrote.

Second, they are easy to find and cheap.  Libraries have tons of them, and you can find all sorts of editions at Goodwill or Half-Price Books (mostly because college students have sold theirs and sworn off reading for years).  While I don't mind reading modern literature, I really dislike paying $15+ or only being able to find them in hardbound copies.

Thirdly, classics are full of much more than action and events.  Maybe it is the busyness of modern life, but I find that many contemporary novels are about interesting stuff, but there is a dearth of metaphors, similes, personification and other literary elements that make a person think beyond the action.  Perhaps this is why I forget most of them within 3 months of reading?  There is nothing beyond the plot to help me remember, there are no footholds in which to store my recollections.

With all that being said, I think there are all sorts of classics that people should read, not just the big high school or college required reading classics.  If you've never read Eric Carle books, you are simply missing out.

A mom and her homeschooled daughter recently visited the cottage school where I teach.  The mother explained that she wanted to place her incoming 6th grader in my 9th grade literature class because she has an IQ of 160 and would be bored in my middle school class.  While I have no control over who gets placed in what classes, I wish I had told her why her daughter should read the middle school classics I teach and sit in with her age-level peers.  (When I asked the girl if she had read any of them books I've taught, she had not.  Her mother said she is reading The Iliad now.)

I wish I had told this mother that even if her daughter could read a middle school novel in a day, in an hour, she needs to read every Newbery Winner and Honor Book because even if they don't challenge her intellectually, they will emotionally.  She is, after all, only 11 years old.

I wish I had told her that just because a child (or an adult, for that matter) can read a certain level of book doesn't mean that child should.  I am able to read books about chemistry and physics and understand it to some degree. I am able to pronounce the words fluently.  But that doesn't mean I really and truly get it.

I wish I had told her that her daughter needs to be culturally literate with her peers, and that means reading books that her age-level peers read.  I am 40 years old, with two degrees under my belt, and I can read middle school novels and get a lot out of them.  As much as I consider myself a book snob, I am not so much of a snob as to think there is nothing of value for me in reading books "below my reading level."

To some degree, it is valuable and even necessary to read "bad" or "poorly written" literature.  If you only read fluff, you lose your sense of it being fluff.  It is through the stark comparison between really well-written, deep literature and the stuff that isn't to know just how vastly different they are.

I've read Fifty Shades of Grey and a Tucker Max book, so I'm speaking from experience.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Wrestling with lack of sympathy

Our neighborhood is very quiet, so the police cars, ambulance and blocking off of the south entrance with police tape this past week was cause for much discussion.

During the night, a guy and gal in their early twenties were apparently riding a motorcycle/motorbike down the parkway that parallels our neighborhood, doing excessive speed (I've heard suggestions of 120 mph).  The driver lost control of the bike, his passenger hit the sound barrier and died instantly (we are told).  He continued on the bike, knocked over a small evergreen tree as he drove behind the sound barrier, was thrown or fell off the bike (which then continued on until it, too, fell over).

The neighbor noticed the bodies early the next morning.  No helmets.

The site of the accident, specifically the sound barrier and the destroyed evergreen, have become the homes of makeshift memorials.  Cemetery flowers, small balloons, homemade crosses.

People have been visiting the site, parking along the entrance of the neighborhood.

This morning the friends and family of the victims will be participating in a funeral ride of ATVs, motorbikes, motorcycles on the way to the funeral home, which will include passing by and stopping at the accident site.

And I know this is wrong, I know my feelings are not charitable or sympathetic or kind, but the whole thing really aggravates me.

First, the shallow thing.

I hate, hate makeshift memorials that I see lining highways and expressways.  Aside from looking tacky, they are a distraction to drivers, as if drivers need any more distractions besides their cell phones.

Second, the annoying thing.

In general, even in circumstances that are not this particular one, I'm not sure I understand the need to see the accident site of fatalities.  When family dies in the hospital, it is not customary to visit the hospital room in which the person died.  We have funeral homes and cemeteries for this purpose, to pay respect to the dead and to support the family.  I suspect it is the shock of the event that causes people to feel the need to see "where it happened."  Having never experienced this, I have a hard time understanding this need.

The annoying thing, for me anyway, is that the site of this accident is not a highway or expressway.  It is a neighborhood.  People parking right at the entrance and wandering around is both distracting and dangerous to the drivers who are pulling into the neighborhood.  As much as I hate that I feel annoyed by these folks, who are doing what they feel they need to do to assuage their grief, I feel annoyed nonetheless.

Third, the "this just makes me an asshole" thing.

If there is anyone for whom I feel great sympathy, it is the child of the motorbike driver, whom I believe is 4 years old.  Not only do I feel sympathy for her because she lost her dad, I feel sympathy for her because I wonder how secure her life has been up to this point.  Her dad was 18 when she was born, and I don't think anyone is ready for the responsibility of parenthood when still a teenager.  I'm 40, and I have many times when I think I am not ready for this responsibility.
It makes me angry that this guy did have a daughter and yet was running around on a Monday night in the wee hours with his girlfriend, driving without a helmet on a motorbike, using excessive speed.  I can't muster a whole lot of sympathy for the victims.  It was an accident waiting to happen.

And I feel guilty for thinking all this stuff.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A series of new projects

My first project should be finishing and filing our taxes, but that is some boring stuff.

(One of the ways I know I've calmed the heck down about a lot of things is that I used to file taxes in January.  Of course, maybe it isn't I've calmed down.  Maybe it is that taxes are now just one of 8 million things I have to remember to do.)

Anyway, I have been finding new more-fun-than-taxes projects, further adding to my "to-do" list.

The first project will be done by Spring Break (so help me).  I wanted to do it last fall, but teaching took up more time than I expected, and fall seems to be a very busy time of year anyway.

I am making little sit-upons for G's kindergarten class so they can go out to the Reading Garden at school and not get their bottoms damp or dirty.

A small project I just finished was to add small tiles to border the kids' bathroom mirror.  I had painted around it, but I never liked it.  I still had some grout left over from other tiling project, so I bought a $4.99 sheet of tiles at Home Depot and voila!

Also on my to-do list:  Clean the kids' mirror.  Ew.

My final indoor project is repainting the table and chairs that used to belong to my mom and dad.  They bought them used when I was little for $350 (this price included a hutch and sideboard, so I got the frugal gene TOTALLY honestly).  Mom and Dad still have the hutch and sideboard, but they bought a bigger dining set which matches the dark shade of wood.

We had had the set as our kitchen table, since we have a matching hutch and table/chair set in our dining room.  But the top of the table had completely lost the varnish, so everything was staining it, and I couldn't help but wonder how clean it was actually getting even when I took heavy-duty sanitizing products to it.  It was more disgusting than my bathroom mirror.

I decided to switch Mom & Dad's table/chair into the dining room and paint it, and to use what has always been our dining room table as our kitchen table.  (We didn't have a formal dining room in our first house so we bought a casual, informal set which looks fine in the kitchen, and even better than Mom & Dad's because it is a lighter wood.  Plus, the top is a veneer so we could almost blow-torch it, and it would be fine.)

This is what Mom & Dad's table/chair set is looking like:

I think it will end up looking nice and even matching the rug underneath(which can't be seen under the paint-splatter sheets.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It felt like victory

Every year, the kids' school has a Character Parade in the late winter.  Students dress as a character from a fictional book.

In the past, N has been Junie B. Jones, Brittany Chipmunk, the Mad Hatter, and Frannie K. Stein .  This year she was Opal from Because of Winn-Dixie.

G decided he wanted to be Wall-E, so I checked out a variety of library books so we could actually read about Wall-E.

And then he began explaining his design for the costume.

Anyone who is a fan of Peter Jackson's films has heard of Weta Workshop.  Apparently, even though my son has never heard of Peter Jackson or seen his films, he knows that such an amazing company exists.  G also thinks his mother works for said company.

G has vision and is detail-oriented, which are great qualities to have.  They are also maddening in a 6-year-old boy who really and truly expects me to somehow weld together a Wall-E likeness using the welding tools and the steel I don't have.

After much discussion, frustration (mine) and tears (his), we came up with this:

He wanted the wheels to look real, so I had to find bulletin board edging.  He wanted the eyes to look real, so I had to destroy a pair of sunglasses.  I used almost an entire roll of duct tape on this costume.

But he was happy in the end.  I was just glad it was over.

G insisted that he have the boot and plant that Wall-E saves.  Since he was more or less immobilized, M served as "the cockroach" of sorts, holding the book and boot.

As G walked through the halls, the kids around him marveled at his costume.  At one point, the halls were filled with the sound of kids chanting, "WALL-E!  WALL-E!  WALL-E!"  Kids were trying to smack his hand (in high-five fashion) as he walked among them.

As goofy as it sounds, I felt so stinking proud of my little dude, my obsessive, detail-oriented kid whose vision had driven me bonkers but was wowing the kids in his school.  It made me feel like he will end up ok, despite all my worries and worst-care scenario stories I play in my head.

After the parade on our way home, I asked him how he felt hearing the kids chant "Wall-E!"  He responded in his characteristically G way, "I thought it was kinda ridiculous, and I thought they'd try to kiss me."

The victory, I guess, was all mine to savor.

Monday, March 10, 2014

More on semantics

Perhaps in my last post it seemed I was poking fun of people who say God directly spoke to them, but that was not my intention.  For as many different people as there are in the world, there are as many different ways for God to speak to them.  I only know what feels comfortable and real to me, and I've written about it.

Yes, this kind of language makes me feel weird.  It is not something I grew up hearing.  Now that I'm attending a Christian church, teaching at a Christian cottage school and, in general, meeting more people who are of different belief systems, I am hearing more of the lingo.

There are others phrases that I've heard that have strange connotations to me.  Hearing people speak of being "convicted" and of "testimony" makes me think of legal proceedings, not God.  The only reason "testify" in terms of religion doesn't completely catch me off guard is because I like soul music.

Like with the word blessing, though, my issue is also the overuse of language to the point that it loses its relevance and meaning.  I don't doubt that God speaks to people, but if God speaks to a person about a critical life decision but also speaks to him/her about what car to buy, I have a difficult time reconciling that God really speaks to people about both the very important and the minutiae of life.  I'm not saying it isn't real to them; it simply sounds weird and unbelievable to me.  But I don't know God's mind or how God works or anything other than what I feel/think and believe.

My middle schoolers are reading Dragonwings, and we discussed a phrase in the book in which one of the characters says "We see the same thing and yet find different truths."   I both agree and disagree with this phrase and how it relates to so much in life, especially religion.

I think people often see the same thing and see the same truth, but the language they use to explain the truth is very different which makes it seem like a different truth.

In the novel, the characters are looking at the stars and picking out constellations.  The Americans have different figures, names for the figures and stories behind the figures than the Chinese immigrants.  Ultimately, though, the truth is that the stars form pictures and we all, regardless of our culture or religion or age, learn moral lessons from the stories behind the stars' formations.

The core of the seed is the same.  We all have different names for the seed and the tree that it grows into and we do different things with the fruit it bears, but we all know it is a seed.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Getting morality/religion/God through the classics

Someone recently asked me about teaching literature, and before I knew it, I was blabbering about the depth of the writing and how much great, meaningful, existential stuff is there and blah, blah, blah.

After writing my post a few minutes ago on religious semantics, I thought about the service today, in which the minister discussed Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by Satan.  The minister of family life spoke about how he found himself in the wilderness of Target, being lost and uncertain.  Every time they spoke of wilderness I thought of Victor Frankenstein, traipsing around the mountains, searching for his monster, figuring things out, struggling with God and Victor's own ill-fated attempts to play God.

When I think of many classic writers, they were often intellectuals who either didn't subscribe to any kind of belief or had serious issues with religion. Certainly not all were like this, C.S. Lewis being one who was well known for his religious/theological writings.  Perhaps this is why I feel such a kinship with them.  Perhaps their own stewing and wilderness walking, laid bare in the pages of their books, is where I feel most comfortable.

I am discussing The Count of Monte Cristo right now with my high schoolers, a book that is rife with issues of morality, forgiveness, death, resurrection, revenge, pride, humility, and God's power.  Reading it, thinking on it, researching literary criticism about it sometimes feel to me like an effort in prayer, of sorts.

An effort in figuring things out for myself, in language I understand and have no semantic issues with.  

Thinking things Lenten

Prior to today, it had been since early February that I made it to church with the kids so Lent snuck up on me.  The only reason I knew it was coming was from Facebook, the only place I ever find out what is going on culturally/socially.  Not watching televised news tends to keep a person one step behind the masses, which is not really a bad thing.

A number of people I know have given up Facebook for Lent, while others are giving up beer or whatever vice or distraction rings important to them.

I, however, do not ever give up anything for Lent.  Ever.

I very much remember in college fasting on Ash Wednesday(s) which made me, an already moody individual, feel like I was going off the chain.  A hungry moody person is the pits.

So much of my relationship with religion has been doing things I didn't want to do only out of guilt or pressure, and I have come to the place now where I think that is a really shitty way of trying to be a better person and forging a sense of conscience, morality and Jesus-like-ness.

I tend to live a pretty moderate life.  I don't drink alcohol with any great frequency. I don't smoke.  I don't spend money on purses or shoes or jewelry or going out to movies.  My time on Facebook tends to be pretty limited most days, unless it is a snow-day in which case FB acts as the barrier that keeps me and Child Protective Services apart (and that, no doubt, is a good thing).

If I did give up something, I would be doing it only out of guilt.  And I won't do that anymore.

For me to adopt things I should do instead of things I shouldn't do.....well, I try to do that anyway.  I try to be as nice and supportive of people as I can.  I try to be thoughtful and give to others of my time and talents.  If I gave too much of my treasure, I would be doing so out of guilt....and, to reiterate, I'm not following that path anymore.

I am a problem-child, for sure.


N asked me the other day if we are Catholic or Christian since a school friend of hers asked.  I said that I was raised Catholic, and we attend a Christian church.  I could have gone into much further explanation of how she is not an official Christian because she hasn't been baptized, that according to the "rules" I am the only one in the household who will go to heaven because I am the only one who has been baptized, although this would be Catholic heaven, and I can't speak to whether I would go to Christian heaven.  I could have explained how Catholic falls under the umbrella of Christian, that they are not mutually exclusive but to instead think of them as the brand names of belief.

But I didn't because she is 10.  I think so much of this is rubbish myself so why strap that to her back?


As an English teacher, I find myself getting bound up in the language of religion, a real sticking point with me sometimes.  I recently read this article, which I enjoyed and agreed with.  Feeling blessed or being blessed is the trend phrase of the moment, like "just sayin" or "I KNOW, right?"  As with those, I become very tired of "blessed" and its overuse.

Blessed is something done TO someone.  When I sneeze, someone blesses me.  If I went to service or mass, I would be blessed by the priest or minister.

Grateful/thankful is something experienced by us.  God does what God does, and we can be thankful for it.  But if God blesses my family with good health, is God then cursing another family whose child died of leukemia?

Without meaning to, the overuse of the word blessing has perpetuated the idea of the "haves" and "have-nots."

Yes, it is splitting hairs, but as teaching English again reminds me, so many of the words we use paint a picture that we may not fully understand.

To go along with this is my great dislike of the phrase "too blessed to be stressed."

I could go on and on (and I have, in this blog) about feeling like because of happenstance, being born in the US in the historical time I was born in to parents who raised me as they did, I am not allowed to feel whatever it is I feel at any given time.  As if having running water and food in the fridge makes me utterly immune to grief or despair or anger or anxiety or any of the negatives associated with just.simply.being.human.

To continue this discussion of religious semantics, another phrase that weirds me out is when people say things like "God spoke to me and told me...."

By saying "God told me to," it removes the individual's own free will from the discussion. Doing what God says is all well and good until and unless someone says "God told me to......hijack an airplane."  And this is why I have a problem with this line of speaking.  Too many people do (and have done) too many terrible things in the name of God.  So when I hear someone speak in this way, even though they are probably very good people who mean no ill by it, it makes me think they are Crusaders and generally pretty extreme.....and generally should be avoided.

It makes me want to ask (which I never do), does God tell you everything to do?  Did God tell you to paint your wall eggplant instead of fuschia?  How do you know it was actually God and not your own sense of self, your own desires which are strong enough that they might seem like God directly whispering into your ear?  Having OCD I know that just because something pings in my head 10,000 times doesn't mean it is God going, "Carrie, listen to me!!  Carrie, listen to me!!"  That is just my brain on its OCD rotation.

We are all guilty of thinking we know what God wants for us, which makes us all a little too big for our collective britches. I tend to believe God has bigger and better things on his omniscient plate than me and my piddly issues, and so for this reason, I have a world of uncomfortable feelings whenever I hear someone speak this way.

Sometimes it is laughable how hung up I get over authority, control and semantics when it comes to God.  It's not you,'s me.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Leaving it up to her

N is very much the child who wants to try new stuff.

She asked to try out for Future Problem Solving, and when she didn't make the team it was really no big deal.  I expected to have to console and coddle a bit, but there was no need.  She doesn't seem to wear her heart on her sleeve as much as her mother did at a similar age.

She received an invitation to try out for Written Assessment, and we were both surprised when she did make that team since most of the time 4th graders' scores do not qualify them.

Every Wednesday at the end of the day, she would go pick up her written assessment practice tests.  At first, she was all gung-ho and filled them out with enthusiasm.  I helped her answer the ones with which she wasn't familiar and even prepared some review sheets with definitions and such.

I found myself sometimes asking, "Have you gone over your written assessment sheets?" but I didn't want to drive myself and her nuts with badgering.  

Today is the competition, and yesterday she was all, "I'm so nervous.  I wonder how I will do?"

I just kept my mouth closed.

I wanted to lecture her on, "You've got to prepare and study if you want to do well," and all the other mom-things I could think of, but I didn't.

There are enough things I have to harangue her about, and I didn't want academic competition to be one of those things.  It is just not important to me and seemingly her as well.  Ultimately, she has to learn that to do well an individual has to plan and prepare.  It is her call, her choice, and she is the one who has to live with the consequences.

Although, given her glibness about making and not-making teams, I doubt she will be that upset if she doesn't do well.

It is me blogging about it, as I do other things that

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Snow day #895,847,502,399

Yesterday was another snow day.

I handled it pretty well, mostly because I was miraculously able to get a telephone interview in for the article I was working on, finish the article, and receive lots of email praise from my editor (Ra-ra, Carrie you are awesome!).  I also made mulligatawny soup, pear cobbler and homemade french fries.  I finished two sit-upons that I'm making for G's kindergarten class to use in the reading garden at school.  I finished reading The One and Only Ivan (a kid-book that only requires minimal concentration).

(Ok, that telephone interview wasn't technically a miracle.  Mindless video games for children can be a blessing.)

I anticipated that today would be a snow day.
I braced myself for it.
I knew that if my district would cancel school based on the forecast of snow coming in 5 hours but no actual snow on the ground or falling from the sky, they would definitely cancel another day of school when snow IS on the ground, and the roads are middling at best.

Today sucks.
And it's not because of the children, per se.  They have hardly been irritating at all.

I've counted Girl Scout cookie booth money.
I've finished the taxes.
I've retyped all the passwords on a clean and uncrimped sheet of paper.

I have zero motivation.
I am bored, bored, bored.

There is plenty I need and want to do.


1. Read The Grapes of Wrath or Brilliant Blunders (but these are books I cannot read when children are around because I need to concentrate and extended periods of concentration are not something that happens when 3 kids are in the house due to near constant interruptions to fix a Lego or get someone a snack or find something that the child hasn't seen in 6 months and cannot accurately describe.)

2. Deposit cookie booth money at the bank (but do I really want to go through the hassle of badgering the children to "GET DRESSED MOTHAFUCKAS!!" (in my head) for something that isn't absolutely necessary and required by school.)

3. Repaint the dining room furniture (which requires going out to buy paint with the kids (see #2 above) and uninterrupted time (see #1 above).

And I don't want to talk to the kids because I had Saturday and Sunday AND MONDAY, listening to them tell me things about the 19 American Girl dolls they don't actually have but think they may one day have and so these dolls are within the imaginary play repertoire which I find terribly confusing because I cannot remember what is actually real let alone keep up with things in the realm of the pretend.

I don't really want to have my child stick his fingers (which smell like butt) in my face and proceed to tell me, when I say they smell like butt, that he was scratching his butt.
This happened YESTERDAY.

I don't want to get anyone dressed in 17 layers of outdoor wear and have them come to the door, and BANG on the door, and have me fix a mitten or wipe a nose or get down a sled or make up food-colored water in spray bottles so they can paint the snow.
That was YESTERDAY (and every other of these snow days).

Call me a one-trick pony, but I'm finished.

So today at 10:39 am, I am still in my pajamas, teeth and hair unbrushed.  Beds are unmade.
The boys had Saltine crackers for breakfast because that is what they wanted, and I simply am too unambitious today to care.

I did take a load of laundry out of the drier, but I doubt they will be folded today.

Like every other parent in the midwest who is on their zillionth snow day of this school year, I beg of you Zeus, God, Allah, Yahweh, Indra, Rangi, and any other major or minor god of everything or weather in particular.....

Let this winter end.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Assessment results

This week I met with the psychologist to go over G's psychological test results.  I went in hoping for some answers, some definitive answers, but as is the case in parenting, there are very rarely clear-cut answers to anything related to one's child.

But really, how often are there clear-cut answers in life?

What we know with relative certainty is that G doesn't appear to have any learning disabilities or difficulties.  He rated average to above average in everything, with an IQ of 109.  His spatial skills were in the superior category.  Although his language skills were fine, they were well below his spatial abilities causing an imbalance of sorts in what his left-brain and right-brain can do or will do.

The psychologist said G is an enigma, to which I had to laugh.

He scores as likely having Asperger's, but he has virtually none of the communicative issues associated with it (blank facial expressions, not making eye-contact).  What we think is that his other sensory issues are strong enough to skew the test.  If it wasn't for his sensory issues, he wouldn't appear Asperger-ish at all.

Some of his intelligence scores and other behaviors the psychologist noted while testing him make him appear to have attention issues (ADD/ADHD), but in-school reports show no attention issues at all.

He doesn't appear to have issues with depression.  He does appear to have some issues with aggression and anxiety, but not severe enough to put him in the "danger" area, where the psychologist would see there is a clinical diagnosis needing to be made.

The psychologist said all this should make me feel better, and it does in that there is nothing glaringly amiss.  But at the same time, having a diagnosis of something would give me a better guide for managing G instead of feeling like I'm flailing and trying a little bit of everything to help him.  It would, if nothing else, give me a place to hang my hat (which is selfish, I know).

Basically everything I started to do with G in December/early January (periodically seeing a psychologist and starting OT) when I didn't know what was "wrong" or "not-wrong" with him is what I should be doing and what we should continue to do.

Some of G's issues may really and truly be maturity.  His brain appears to be ahead of his emotions.

Meeting with the psychologist was especially weird since on Monday I had had a conference with G's teacher.  According to her, G's reading skills have him "this close" to being recommended for the talent pool for kindergarteners.  I actually said, "No shit?" when she told me he is reading at an end of 1st grade/beginning of 2nd grade level.  Twice this year she has sent home notes about how he helped a classmate, offering kindness to them or looking out for them, a clear sign that he is very able and willing to be empathetic to others.  On Monday, she said because of this compassion, others in the class look to him as a leader.

An enigma to be sure.

In all honesty, I expected his IQ score to be higher, given the questions he asks and the things he thinks about.

Two Fridays ago, having just come from OT, he asked me in the car, "Mahee (how he says mommy), who will be our new mom when you die?"  The next day, we watched the Disney movie Brother Bear.  After it was over, I said, "Wasn't that a great movie about brothers?" to which he replied, "Yes, and truth and death too."

He is such a existential thinker, and though I don't hang with other 6-year-olds, it is hard for me to think that they ponder evolution and watch BBC shows on geological time with such interest as he does.

Of course, I also don't believe that an IQ score is truly indicative of what a person is or is not.  I know it is more than a little ridiculous to give even a minute's thought to his score, but I would not be a mother if there wasn't some snippet of parental pride affecting my thoughts.

So what to make of all this????

Keeping carrying on as we are....seeing the psychologist, attending OT, reading him child-appropriate books on anxiety to help him manage his worries, reading every parenting book known to man on "sensitive" children, and blogging here as a means of working through the challenges of raising my especially challenging (for me) but especially special boy.