Monday, January 21, 2002

January 21-25, 2002

JANUARY 21, 2002

We're doing a lot of worrying in advance at our house these days about middle school. My daughter still has half of 4th and all of 5th grade to go before she moves to the big scary school up the street, but she can't stop thinking about it. What's it like to have a locker? How do you remember the combination? How do you know which rooms to go to? How much time is there to switch classes? Are you required to chat in the hallways like on "Lizzie McGuire"? Is there swimming involved?

I've been chastising her for worrying too soon, but then the other day I realized: If middle school starts half an hour earlier than elementary school, and she wants to get there at least 10 minutes early, I'm going to be dropping her off 40 minutes before my son will need to be at his school, and since we're less than 5 minutes from either school, there'll be too much time in between to do it in one trip. How am I going to manage two? Will my son be old enough to be left alone in a year and a half? Will I need to yank him out of bed to help drop his sister off, then bring him home, then take him out again? Do we know someone who can give her a ride? Should I set it up this far in advance?

Now, I still think it's too soon for my girl to be worrying about anything middle-school related. Clearly, that's my job, and I don't like to share.

+ + +

JANUARY 22, 2002

Apparently, my husband and I are among those responsible for the decline of the American family. I wouldn't have thought so, but I was laying out an article for the Catholic newspaper I work for, and a psychiatrist was quoted as describing how the disrepair of the family unit was causing societal woe, and she mentioned, as one damaging factor, that ever fewer children are living with their "biological, married parents." Certainly the rise in single-parent families is something that has been debated before, and will be again. Though I may or may not agree with her assessment there, I can at least see where she's coming from. But biological? Is she theorizing that adoptive parents are contributing to the breakdown of American civilization? I had to say "What the ..." Well, I was working on a Catholic paper, so I suppose I had to say "What the heck." But it certainly took me aback.

I like to think I'm pretty thick-skinned about the treatment of adoption in the media. I don't get all huffy about commericals or greeting cards or highway signs that are thought to be less than sensitive. And in this case, I suppose, the speaker in question was referring to the number of children floating in foster care, and not to those integrated into adoptive family units. All the same, I deleted that sentence from the article for our publication. Every now and then, I claim the right to get defensive.

+ + +

JANUARY 23, 2002

Ah, luxury. After a couple of extra-specially stress-filled days at work, my boss told me to take today off. A whole day, with the kids at school! They're always home when I'm home on the weekends, and whenever my office is closed for some reason the school always seems to be closed as well. But not today! Today is mine. Whatever shall I do?

There are so many possibilities. I could clean the house in peace. (Ha!) I could catch up on reading all those magazines that have been piling up. I could start in on that big ol' book about the brain I bought over the weekend (Synaptic Self : How Our Brains Become Who We Are by Joseph LeDoux. Looks interesting. Feels heavy.) I could finally start on that project to write an outline for a booklet on PI issues that I promised people on an e-mail list would be done a few weeks ago. I could watch a DVD or go shopping or throw out all the torn plastic bags on the floor of my son's room while he's not looking (he likes collecting and tearing plastic shopping bags, okay? It's a hobby.) But I know what will probably happen: I'll just sit here at my desk all day, drinking coffee and surfing aimlessly around the 'net, checking my e-mail every 20 seconds and waiting for something interesting to come by.

Kind of like I do on days off when the kids are home.

+ + +

JANUARY 24, 2002

My daughter seems to be doing better now in fourth grade. She needs less help with her homework. She seems to be able to find answers in the textbook with more skill than in past months. The math they're doing now is easier for her (unless there's a page on money. Arghhh, money -- let's not go there). She's said numerous times that fourth grade is easy now. She often comes home an announces that a test or quiz was "piece of cake, Mom, piece of cake." Have I mentioned that she's now using lots of new expressions?

I've been feeling good about the progress and confidence I'm seeing. So of course, when I saw my daughter's aide at school the other day, she had to tell me how concerned she was, my daughter was struggling so much with the work, she was so frustrated by some of the assignments, she thought everybody was doing better than her, and so on. Why doesn't anybody at school ever see the same girl I see? I see confidence, happiness, progress. They see faltering, frustration, failure. I don't see her in the classroom, but it's hard to believe that she's that severely different. I think it's just another symptom of the basic dichotomy that's followed us all through school: They look at her with sympathy, and I look at her with hope. Maybe we all need to get new glasses.

+ + +

JANUARY 25, 2002

When my son's teacher brought him to the door yesterday, she announced that the bad news was this big (small space between fingers) and the good news was this big (large space between hands). Which did I want first? I went for the tiny bad news. It came in two parts: One, he has used the "d-word" in class. (At which point my boy, standing nearby, helpfully chimed in with which "d-word" that was.) Two, he had wandered away from the classroom at lunchtime and gotten in the line for another class, causing a certain amount of panic until he was found. I think he's giving the classroom aide a run for her money this year. I promised to talk to him about how important it is to stay with his class, but talking with my son about events that are in the past or in the future, but not happening right now, is usually an iffy proposition. Heck, sometimes talking to him about things that are happening right now is iffy, too.

Then on to the good news: That day, in class, he had written a book report. A book report! His very first. For a jumpy guy with poor fine motor skills, this was big good news indeed. The teacher reported with amazement that after his standard opening of, "It's too hard. I can't do it," he had delved into it and wound up with something that had multiple paragraphs, went into the text at some depth, and ended up with a little analysis at the end. Too cool. Of course, after baiting me with that, the teacher said I couldn't see it for a few days because now he had to rewrite and polish it, and even then she'd only give me a copy because she was going to put it up on the board. Man, how I hate to wait! It almost makes me want to say the "d-word."

No comments: