Friday, October 28, 2011

Are There Any Alternate Pronunciations?

Our town is holding a town-wide charity spelling bee. My kids can't wait to go watch it.

At first, they didn't quite grasp the concept of a spelling bee, but I could tell that my son-- who can turn anything (raking leaves, taking a shower, putting socks in the hamper) into a competition-- was intrigued. Third graders don't have G.P.A.s or class rankings (yet) so the notion of a crossover between academics and winning is no doubt very appealing.

"What kind of words do they spell?" he asked. "Words like vegetable?"

Yeah, no.

Presented with a perfect opportunity to show rather than tell, I pulled up some clips on You Tube from the Scripps National Spelling Bee. We watched kids spell words like guerdon, phoresy, periscii and cymotrichous. Say whaaaa....?

Now we have our own in-home spelling bees, with the kids asking me for definitions and sentences and then pretending to write the words on their hands as they spell them. It's hysterical (language of origin: greek).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Feeding into the Crazy

I hate owing. Whether it be money, play dates or even simply borrowing books from the library, I am on a heightened sense of imbalance until I have exactly repaid my debt. Yes, I know, I'm crazy.

I've actually had to restrain myself among very close friends because it seems ridiculous not to let someone buy you a frappuccino on your birthday or host the play date two times in a row because it simply worked out that way. But even just writing this I can feel my back teeth grinding together in anxiety.

So IMAGINE my distress when my first grader lost 3 books from the book bag she brings home from school every week! Granted these books were the size and width of birthday cards so I'm willing to accept that they may have gone out with the recycling, but even being super careful the next week she lost two more! I felt physically sick. I searched high and low, knowing that they were in the house somewhere. I have never lost a book in my life, but this teacher is new to us; she doesn't know that!

Eventually I gave up and told Minx to return the remaining 5 books and we would replace the rest. Guess what?! When she got to school the teacher only found 4books in her bag! Aaaaaaaarghh!!! WTF? Seriously, if someone is playing a practical joke on me, stop right now! The men in the white coats are already knocking down my door.

Friday, October 21, 2011

We Are Not in Kansas Anymore

I am utterly convinced that one of the top raisons d'etre for middle school is to give parents a heart attack. I'm serious. My daughter just started middle school this year (in 5th grade!) and I can remember in June being told, "Don't worry, we REALLY coddle the 5th graders". What a crock! The school has gone out of its way to withhold information that would make the transition SO much easier.

Here's what we didn't know going in on the first day (what I did know could be tattooed on my pinkie toe): we didn't know who was in her class, her homeroom teacher's name or her schedule. We didn't know what the policy was for staying after school. In fact there really isn't one. Apart from one form signed in week 2 my 10 year old can walk out of school at 2:30 and do whatever she likes. Maybe that's why her school photos this year included two free "Smilesafe Safety ID cards" which have a picture of my daughter above instructions on what to do if she is kidnapped.

I got a school bulletin in today's mail which talks a little bit about some of the clubs she could join which would have been useful, oh, about 6 weeks ago. I especially enjoyed the section on upcoming events, all of which have already taken place. Meanwhile, these kids are expected to show up on time, homework done, musical instrument in hand, gym shoes on feet (as relevant) working on not a Monday-Friday schedule which would be FAR too simple but a 6 day schedule. WHY????? And let me tell you, there is NO margin for error.

It all adds up to a whole lot of unnecessary stress, both for students and the parents who are left to pick up the mess. I'd bring it up at the parent/teacher conferences but I just found out - through another parent, not the school, natch - that they don't have such a thing unless you specifically request it. Fabulous.

Move over "Occupy Wall St.", I'm in the mood to protest.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Picture This

The email I sent to the photographer who took the kids' school pictures:

Hi there,

Today was picture day for my son, a third grader at [elementary school].

When I saw him after school he had his (very casual) collared polo-type shirt buttoned (actually, snapped. Snapped!!) up all the way and I asked him why. It looked really awful-- extremely nerdy on it's own and, coupled with his crewcut, very gang-inductee/prisoner. He told me that the photographer's assistant told him to button his shirt. And, because he's eight and a good boy, he did what he was told.

While I can appreciate some "styling" of the kids-- making sure they don't have crazy messy hair or a collar that's folded in or food on their face-- I absolutely do not understand why you or your staff would undertake wardrobe decisions. And what a decision. Good grief-- who buttons up any shirt to the top button? Was he going to put on a tie? I can't imagine the picture.

You do always get great shots of the kids and maybe you can finesse something for my son with photoshop... otherwise, you'll have to let me know, please, when you are doing the reshoots.



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Overdue Lesson

Wednesday is Sundae at Carvel; it is also library day for my son's third grade class, which means that my "What goes in the backpack today?" mental checklist for Wednesday includes library books.

Note that I said my mental checklist. I know that I should let my children take full responsibility for getting their school stuff together and that forcing them to deal with the repercussions for forgetting things might in turn further foster their independence and reliability (teach a man to fish, blah blah blah). And yet, I can't help but act as the safety net, prompting them along the way (Do you have your homework? Gym today, wear sneakers. Make sure you have your cleats and shinguards.).

Last night I reminded my son that he should locate his library books in the sea of books, baseball cards and sudoku puzzles on his bed and bring them down in the morning. He barely looked up from what he was reading and said goodnight.

This morning, as he packed up his homework I again mentioned the library books (I can't help myself!). He went off to find them and came back empty-handed. Knowing that, even at age eight, he is very advanced at male pattern bad searching (a.k.a. Can't Find the Butter syndrome) I headed upstairs and took a look. No library books.

"Maybe you returned them to the town library?" My son suggested, also very advanced in the art of blame shifting.

I didn't think so, but after the kids got on the bus-- and after tearing the house and car apart-- I called the library to ask if somehow I had. I just couldn't imagine where else the books could have gone. The librarian told me that they do hold books from the elementary, middle and high school libraries that have been wrongly returned to the town library but that currently there were none in the pile from my son's school. But, she added, if it wasn't clearly labeled, it may have gone in the donation pile. Great.

Preparing myself for a morning of fruitless searching through dusty books, I called the school library to find out what the titles were that my son had checked out.

The answer? NONE. Turns out the third graders go directly from library to recess so the kids leave their books on a ledge outside, often forgetting to pick them up on their way back inside. Those forgotten books are brought to the library by the recess aides and checked back in.

So my son didn't lose his library books. He just forgot them outside. And then forgot that he never even brought them home. And then tried to put it on me. Hear me now: My enabling days are over!

Thursday is library day for my daughter's first grade class...

Friday, October 14, 2011

I'll Gladly Pay You Tuesday...

Made this for a Crazy Cake Walk fundraiser at the kids' school. We decided to call it Patty Cake (groan). It feels like I cheated on my cupcake self.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Proof It

The principal at my children's elementary school is not what I would call charismatic. Or a man of the people. Or warm and fuzzy. If pushed (fine, if given any opportunity), I'd say he's a little twitchy and a lot awkward.

As I was preparing to send an email referencing an upcoming school meeting with the principal, I noticed, to my delight, that my iPad had auto-corrected the man's name to read Mr. Aloof.

Oh, auto-correct. You cheeky monkey.