No. Really. This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You.

First, forgive me while I shake my cane but: ay yi yi, kids today.

The resources with which the modern child is able to communicate never cease to astonish me. When *I* was in seventh grade I would say goodbye to my mother, walk three long blocks to the bus stop, climb aboard the  city bus and tootle off to school. If I was bleeding from the eyes during the day I probably could have gone to the office and someone there might have been able to track down a parent for me, but under normal circumstances that morning farewell was the last contact I had with my family until everyone returned home again.

And it was fine.

Patrick, in contrast, was issued a laptop and an email account at the start of the year and now hardly a day goes by that I don't receive some midday communication from him. Usually it is simply to remind me where to pick him up (his last hour alternates between buildings every day and I am... not so good at remembering) but occasionally he has a school-related request like: could you find a photograph of each these twelve family members for me and then send them ASAP for a Spanish project? [Long Answer: No. Longer Answer: Since I am sure this was not assigned five minutes ago I can only suggest that you ask for an extension and use your time more wisely in the future.]

Today I got a chatty little missive asking me to remind him to bring something or other on Tuesday for writing class, also would I mind bringing him a giant bottle of icy cold water at pickup, oh, and...

"P.P.S. I was sent to the office for being a smart as…terix asterix asterix. (***) More details to come. ;)"

D'Arvit!

The wink! He ended it with a wink! I can only hope the details include "Ha Ha just kidding of course I didn't get sent to the bloody office with only nine goddamned days left in the school year" because otherwise I will have to devise and implement a suitable punishment. And - this is a parental secret so try not to let it get around - punishing children sucks. Not because we care about their angst (we don't) but because appropriate consequences inevitably mean loss of privileges and loss of privileges leave affronted small people with the idea that they have nothing else to do but follow you around, complaining. 

Edward is particularly adept at this and I swear it takes everything I have sometimes not to just snap, "Argh! Fine! Watch Octonauts! Use my phone to call Tokyo! Here's a Kindle! Just... go away!"

Patrick is more subtle but equally annoying. The last time he lost access to his computer in response to a transgression he responded by sitting in the living room. For hours. Reading a dictionary. ALOUD.

PS I started this earlier so I am able to end with an update, which is fortunate because you know how much I like an arc.

When he got into the car I said, "Office? What? What the hell? NINE DAYS. What did you do? Who sent you?"

Patrick answered the last question, "I have no idea" and then, anticipating my disbelief, explained, "I was walking between the buildings and you know that part that curves around the trash? Well I cut across rather than use the crosswalk like everyone does but a couple of teachers were there and one called, 'Hey! Use the walk!' and I said 'The parking lot drag racers might run me over?' because there were no cars around anywhere and the teacher said 'Do you want to take that lip to Mr. School Director?'

"And?"

"And that was it."

I thought about it.

"Stop being obnoxious or else," I decreed.

Thank heavens he didn't ask: or else what?  I might have had to take his computer AND his dictionary away.


The Mills Of God

Caroline and Edward's rooms were most likely designed as two rooms but were built as one long chamber (for what purpose the original owners intended I can only guess - indoor shuffleboard?) When we moved in we put a TV and a small couch one end but essentially used it as the world's least convenient guest room. You know, for those times when you want to sleep five people in one space. Then, when I felt somewhat optimistic that 13a and 13b would become actual humans I asked Steve to put up a wall and in a door to create two separate rooms because the introvert in me (that would be all of me) felt very strongly that even twins - regardless of the sameness or differentness of their sexes [we didn't know what flavor they were until they were born] - need to have their own private spaces.

This wound up being an excellent decision because it has given Caroline a place to keep all of her things while she and Edward trash his room. She has slept in his room off and on since babyhood and more or less permanently ever since he got a bunkbed.

The conversation went like this:

"Oh I love our new bed!"

"Caroline, it's my bed."

"I think we should get some pink sheets, maybe pink sheets with dots, for the top bunk."

"Caroline it's my bed."

"I can put my blankets and my animals right here and maybe build a fort in the corner... ."

"CAROLINE! It's my bed!"

"Of course it's your bed. It's your room. I know that. It's just that I think one part of your bed - probably the top part would be best for you - should have pink sheets and I'll sleep there. But it's still your bed."

"OK," Edward said, mollified for no fathomable reason.

....

Huh. Why on earth... ?

Oh!

Right.

So the room was built as this one long narrow space but we stuck a wall in the middle and it resulted in weird outlet placement, which in turn resulted in one of those little annoyances that plague one. So little, so annoying. To wit, I plug in the vacuum in Edward's room and vacuum vacuum vacuum and the cord then stretches out his door and into Caroline's room where I vacuum vacuum vacu...  the cord stops four feet from the far wall. So I have to turn off the vacuum and walk into Edward's room, unplug the cord and carry it into Caroline's room where - work with me here - both of the outlets are covered with those white plastic child safety covers. For the eleventy'ish hundred time I looked at the covers, said arrrggh and started downstairs to get a butter knife to use to pry the cover off.

Wait. I know. Stay with me.

As I was walking back up the stairs I thought, "Huh. This seems like an extremely inefficient way to do this. Maybe I should keep a butter knife in Caroline's closet so it is on hand. God I hate those covers. Maybe I could buy a new vacuum with a slightly longer cord so I don't have to use Caroline's outlets at all?"

.... (go ahead. twiddle your thumbs. it'll come to me eventually)

WHOA!

It was like I had been smacked in the face with a haddock. Caroline is SEVEN. Her father just bought her a swiss army knife. Why in the name of all that is holy do I still have covers on her outlets?

It's like you go on auto-pilot and it can take forever to realize that the coffee mugs should probably live next to the coffee pot, rather than in the cabinet on the other side of the room into which which you unpacked them twelve years ago. I mean, as a random example of something someone might do.    

PS Trying new new layout. Still trying to accommodate the mobile device people without making us desktop users feel like we've just been given those dilating drops at the ophthalmologist*. Feel free to complain.

*You do not want to know how many attempts it took me to spell this word. Many.


I Have No Idea What I Am Doing

+ I sang as I was making breakfast this morning and had just gotten to the part of As I Roved Out in which the girl asks if he's going to marry her seeing as how she's all ruined and the rogue replies no, I won't, I've already got a wife; when Caroline interrupted me.

She sighed, "He's just like Zeus. Going around trying to be with other women while Hera gets more and more jealous."

BE WITH? Good heavens, what on earth have I been letting her read? I hope whichever version she has about Europa and the bull wasn't too... oh dear. I probably need to have a little age-appropriate sex talk with Caroline. Also, why do I sing these songs aloud?

+ I went through Edward's folder and said, "Hey! 14 out of 15 on the math test!"

He immediately said, "What? WHAT? Which one did I get wrong? Are you mad?"

AM I MAD? What is he talking about? Of course I am not mad. How have I given him the impression that I would ever get angry about a math test?

+ I don't even know what to say about Patrick's most recent comic; my first thought was that the mother looks like she hasn't slept in three weeks

AntarcticaSo, to review, I have one child who is far too familiar with the classics, another who appears to be suffering from perfectionist delusions and a third who imagines maternal figures who are destructively indulgent (although the banishment was a nice touch.)


Rorschach

Assignment: First graders had three weeks to research an animal and its habitat, assemble their findings and display what they learned (with pictures)

Parental Reaction, initial: Incredulous

Parental Reaction, eventual: Grudging

Parental Involvement: Absolutely Minimal

Results: Extremely Individualized

 

Exhibit A - Subject: Shark; References: Internet, National Geographic; Used: Powerpoint, stencils, glue stick

IMG_0131

Exhibit B - Subject: Cheetah; References: I KNOW all this already! and fertile imagination; Medium Used: freehand marker, glue stick

IMG_0143

Parental Assessment: Great! But aren't you going to put your name on it?

Exhibit A response: Oh right! Thanks!

IMG_0122

Exhibit B response: The people who know me will know my work.

PS I promised myself I wouldn't say something trite and obvious about how different personalities...


Even A Dour Clock Is Something Something

In general when Patrick tells me about his day I am bracingly noncommittal. There is such a strong Eeyore streak to his narratives; such a pronounced tendency to gloomily suppose that his history teacher will most likely defenestrate herself rather than submit to grading his last paper, that the only sensible response is "Oh well!" delivered with a bright smile and a change of subject.

Today, though, I have to admit he had a point.

"You didn't finish the math test?"

"Most people didn't."

"So you have to complete it tomorrow?"

"Yes."

"But the eighth and ninth graders are going on a field trip to an amusement park?"

"Uh-huh."

"And you're the only seventh grader in the class?"

"Yep."

"Leaving you to the tedium of finding equations for parabolas given three points, in a room which is empty apart from your math teacher, who will have nothing else to do but stare at you, while your classmates are on the other side of town riding roller coasters?"

"Bing!"

I blinked.

"Wow. That DOES suck."


This Is Today's Post

I was pretty certain that Edward was shrieking with laughter but I went to my bedroom to investigate nonetheless; mostly to make sure that they hadn’t knocked my pillows onto the floor and gotten the blankets all twisty. I hate that. I had friends growing up that weren’t allowed into their parents’ room at all (now that I think about it, I recall that some of you have a similar policy in your own homes – very impressive) and I am just sorry that that ship has already sailed.

I expect one day I will walk into my room and find all three kids lounging on my bed eating meatball subs and I will have no one to blame but myself.

Anyway, sure enough the bed was a disaster and Caroline and Edward were tangled in the middle of it; thrashing around, laughing.

“She’s. Tickling. My. Legpits,” Edward gasped.

I reached in and hauled Caroline off him. Edward sat up.

“Your what?” I asked, amused.

“Legpits. You know. Armpits” (pointed) “Legpits” (gestured behind his knees) “Feetpits” (displayed his arches) “Butt… .”

I stopped him right there and told them to pick up the pillows and find somewhere else to torture each other, preferably out of my earshot.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that legpits aren’t a thing.   


Hmmmmm

Thank you so much! I agree with those of you who found it both too big and less readable and I hated the font. Responsive design is supposed to allow things to shift to accommodate different devices but as far as I could tell they just mean iphones. That said it was definitely better on the mobile, apart from the wonky side top and bottom bits. Temporarily back to normal while I attempt to google my way to competence. Oh and Linda mentioned some sort of feed thing - I'll look into that - and there was an excellent suggestion around moving sidebar things up to the navigation bar. Anything else that the less chisel-and-stone-tablet places are doing to make you more comfortable?

Oh. Or if any of you know of a web design person who would be willing to do a little bit of work for a little bit of money please let me know, thus saving us all (well, me) a lot of trouble.

PS This is not today's post.   


Dully But Duly Administrative

I have been fiddling with the site today and I am completely vexed by the process.

Couple of questions for you, if you have a moment.

First, I heard from several of you that you were having trouble with my site automatically redirecting you to other places today. I tried to remove everything that might be causing that and would like to know if it is still happening.

Second, in an effort to become more quote mobile friendly end quote I made some changes to the design. Design. Ha! Go ahead and stick some mental quotation marks around that too. Anyway the whole page now looks gigantic to me on my macbook. What do you think? Is it too weird looking? Steve says he likes it but he's only been able to see properly out of one eye since he had lasik so I don't think he's the best baseline. Could you let me know if you think this is more or less readable (hmmm. more readable or less readable) and what kind of device you're using?

Thank you. Also, I can't remember off the top of my head who recommended Don't Starve as a game for Patrick but I am kinda addicted now. So thanks for that, too, and I should probably share it with Patrick at some point.   

PS Oh sorry! The picture is of a turkey nest and I wish I could bring you further updates but Steve and the children just stumbled upon it in the middle of some random wood while they were all out mushroom hunting. In other sad bird non-news our nesting owls from last year did not come back. Or at least they did not come back to the same tree. I suspect they are nesting further up the hill because the other day I chased off a fisher cat (they're like big weasels) as it was desperately trying to pry its way into the top of a dead tree. My theory was that it was after owl eggs but Steve dismissed this as wishful thinking. He's probably right but either way no baby owl photos for us this year.   


The Boy Who Cried It's Chafing Me

Monday morning - just as we were walking out the door for school; five minutes late per usual - Patrick suddenly announced that his shoes were broken. If this had been one of the twins I would have said, ah, oh well, here, put on this pair instead and that would have been the end of it.

Patrick, however, only ever has one pair of shoes at a time.

[This is not because I care any less for him (although to be honest I am never madly in love with anybody who chooses five minutes after the last possible second to inform me in my role as quartermaster that they are without a vital piece of daily equipment) but because he has always been so exceptionally finicky about what he will put on his feet. Around age four he decided that Lands End jungle moccasins suited him so that is what I bought him, swapping the old pair for a new one in increasingly larger sizes (I once tried to have him alternate between two pairs of the same size but he took one pair in aversion and they languished unworn until he outgrew them so I gave up.) Then a few years ago Lands End made that questionable decision to put all of their quality assurance people on a rocket ship to Mars, thus rendering their merchandise susceptible to sudden and violent fall-apart, and things were really tense around here until we found a pair of New Balance sneakers that Patrick passed as "ok".

So he had an orange pair and then a blue pair and then an orange pair again and most recently this green pair that had apparently "broken" while they were down at the farm.]

"What?" I said. "We have to go! What do you mean broken? Lemme see them."

Then I said, "Huh" and stared at a pair of dirty torn shapeless lumps, one of which was being held together with a piece of honest to god twine.

"Dad fixed them," he explained.

"Good grief!" I said, "Why didn't you tell me sooner? You can't wear those to school!" and I rummaged around in the shoe cubbies until I emerged waving a pair of non-sneakers that I had optimistically purchased last winter (Fall?) in the hopes that I could talk Patrick into something a little nicer to wear with khakis.

"Put 'em on!" I snapped and then watched impatiently while Patrick half-heartedly poked a toe into one.

"GAH! WE HAVE TO GO! Give me that!"

I grabbed his foot and the shoe and shoved and wiggled and told him to flex bend point and shimmy.

"There!" I said. "Let's go."

Patrick moaned. "It feels like my foot is stuck in a bear trap. It's like my bones are being crushed in a vice."

So Patrick went to school in shoes that were held together with twine and duct tape and - not for the first time - I was grateful that we do not live our lives in the public eye.

Mark the sequel: It took me two days to find time to get him to the shoe store to replace his shoes; two days of his clomping around like Clementine in her herring boxes without topses.

Since we only ever buy one kind of shoe, we breezed in, made a beeline for the correct shelf and found it. I handed it to the nice young man who greeted us, saying, "We need this in a... oh. Actually I guess we need to get his feet measured first. I think he's a 6?"

Actually Patrick was wearing a 6 1/2 and after measuring his right foot the guy stood up and walked to the other side of the store to get a different Brannock device.

"He's definitely in a mens' size," he explained and ticked that little thing until he was satisfied. "Yep. 8 1/2 mens."

1. The shoe that Patrick rejected, thus earning my ire, was a child's size 5.

I laughed, "I guess maybe that shoe really was uncomfortable. Sorry! But if you hadn't complained about every little thing that has touched your delicate toes for the past twelve years maybe I would have believed you."

Patrick said, "You know when you say 'sorry' followed by 'but' it's not really an apology."

So I had to apologize again. And then I had to apologize for laughing because the memory of me stuffing his little man feet into big boy shoes and snapping at him makes me giggle. I was just really, really wrong. It happens.

2. Adult shoes are OUTRAGEOUSLY EXPENSIVE compared to kid shoes.

3. Patrick selected a pair of lurid green on green sneakers with a weird scaly design stamped around the bottom. If I hadn't paid for them I would not have believed that it was possible for anyone to manufacture these shoes for grownups.

"You look like a reptile," I said.

Patrick surveyed his feet. "What? And I murdered my tankmates and used their skins to make myself some shoes? That's a really disturbing image, Mom. Where do you get these things?"

PS Patrick has always had some mild sensory stuff and following my Path of Least Resistance parenting model I have generally just accommodated him. I mention this partly because [see above] it's obvious and partly to let anyone who is currently coping with a little kid prone to sensory overload that it can get better. Severe and moderate sensory issues can improve with therapy and milder stuff like Patrick and his preferences can be outgrown. Patrick still does not like jeans, shirts with buttons, tags at the back of his neck, sleeping with a pajama top or any sock not made out of bamboo... but he'll wear them.