Widdershins

Yesterday was the first day of school and it was a complete non-event for me and mostly a ditto for the children:

1. Edward said he was exhilarated. I asked him to tell me more. He said, "How do you do more than exhilarated?"

Fair enough.

2. Caroline told me about this and that and this and that that that and then said, "Oh! And then my friend E and I got locked out of the building and someone had to find us and let us back in again."

I had only been half listening to her but that got my attention. You got whatted out of the what?

"E had her shoe slip off and then it took her a while to get it back on again so I waited with her but by the time we got to the door it was locked and everyone was back inside."

I think it says a lot about my development as a neurotic parent that my instinct wasn't to clutch my pearls and contemplate the dangers that might beset two seven year old girls who are temporarily off the adult grid, but instead to imagine how their (brand new to the school) teacher must've felt when she realized she was down a couple of second graders and it was only the first freaking day. Like gakking. I expect she felt like gakking.

"Stay with your class, Caroline," I said.

"Oh sure!" she responded cheerfully. "Except when I can't. Like with E and her shoe."  

3. Patrick went to lunch twice and missed a chunk of his art class but I don't think it was entirely his fault.  Apparently the schedule is set up so that they go to half of their fourth period class, then go to lunch and then come back for the rest of fourth period. I swear Noelle explained this to me when she and her family came over on Sunday night and I had to have her repeat it three times and then have her confirm that what I thought she had said was true. But there it is. It sounded ridiculous(ly) (disruptive) to me but then I can only do one thing per day (watch football OR write something) and sometimes not even that so I'm not the best model for creative time management.  

So Patrick's schedule listed first period, second period, third period, lunch, fourth period etc with notes about block days and A B or C lunches. It also listed times for all of these things but I guess that was a little too detailed for Patrick so he went to first period, then second period, then third period, then lunch (which he ate) and then fourth period only to discover that his class was about to break... for lunch. He went to the office for guidance and she helpfully drew one of those two-sided arrows between lunch and fourth period to remind him that his printed schedule wasn't entirely in chronological order. 

I'm sure he'll figure it out.

4. Caroline and Edward's school decided to try and improve the admittedly dire parking lot situation by redirecting traffic. This is a very clever idea and I approve of it, but they weren't clear in explaining that the altered flow only applies to pickup and not drop off; so imagine, if you will, an opening scene in which dozens of cars are attempting to go clockwise while the rest are attempting to... not.

It reminded me of the Stephen Leacock quote, "Lord Ronald said nothing; he flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions."

PS   I knew as soon as my streak was broken I would start using every excuse not to write, like this weekend when I became temporarily unhinged by watching eleventy billion Euro qualifiers. I think I watched more hours of soccer than actually exist, having entered some kind of footballicious fourth dimension.

Oh. Yeah. As long as we're on the subject I might as well acknowledge: Chelsea is having an appalling start; absolutely terrible; cannot score to save their collective lives; defense is shaky; and just when you think Mourinho could not get any ass-i-er a new week rolls around bing! he surpasses himself. I would not be surprised to learn that under his management Chelsea jerseys are being woven from the pelts of the Smurf - La La La La LA LAAAAAAAaaaaaaiiiiie!

And in October Scotland has to beat Gibraltar (no problem. I could beat Gibraltar) but they also need to defeat Poland, which... hmmm. I mean, maybe! Is there a Scots word that means one is resigned to inevitable defeat while still retaining some painful vestiges of optimism? I'm sure there's one in German... not that they'd ever need to use it.


Overly Ambitious

I think Patrick's Back to School Open House (All Grades) agenda might have been the funniest thing I have read all year:

6:00 - 6:20 pm    This is the time for you to pick up your schedule, turn in forms, sign up for activities in the gymnasium, find your locker, and turn in donations to your 3rd period classroom.

6:20     School director will be in the gymnasium to introduce administrative team, speak about School and answer questions.

6:30 - 6:50    Meet the Department Chairs

6:55 - 8:00   Students/Parents will follow their class schedule. This will be an opportunity to learn about class expectations, curriculum and homework for each class.

    6:55 - 7:00 Period 1

    7:05 - 7:10 Period 2

    7:15 - 7:20 Period 3

Et cetera.

The [brand new] school director was going to introduce his staff, explain his vision and answer questions (answer questions. from parents) in ten minutes? Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha. Have you ever seen what happens when the head of a school asks parents if they have any questions? Fifty hands shoot up and they all want to know why their child is not in band after Spanish this semester because that schedule really worked well for Snowflake last year. And as for the... optimism behind the idea that entire families were going to navigate narrow and unfamiliar hallways to transition between classrooms in five minutes, be given useful information in another five and then zip off again en masse... bwah, I say again, ha ha. Bless their hearts.

Add to this frenetic pace the fact that the school has about 400 students, two separate buildings and - I'm being generous - about 80 parking spaces and it all becomes that much sillier.

At 5:55 I personally was about tenth in a line of cars that was trying to turn onto the street which eventually leads up to the school. People were parking a quarter mile away. I eventually bailed because I had to get back to pick up Edward from soccer practice and when we came back at 7 it looked like the circus had come to town with hundreds of people milling around outside. I can only imagine how smoothly the whole period one, period two, period three thing worked out. What a waste of time for everybody; teachers, parents, staff, students.

So the newest point in my anarchist parent manifesto calls for the abolition of Back to School night for middle school and higher with the exception of students who will be new to the school. Feel free to sign my petition.

PS You know, as I think about it, Patrick's school reworked parent-teacher conferences last year so that either the school or the parent could request a meeting that night if there was a concern but everyone else was off the hook. If the school thought your kid was ok and you thought your kid was ok then you didn't have to go. It was marvelous.


Can Also Start With A Single Evasion

It's hard to argue against time spent bonding with one's teenaged son while modeling physical fitness, respect for nature, healthy eating and self-sufficiency.

It's all good at 13400 feet.

Macisannoying

But before they left with their itty-bitty tube of toothpaste and their potable water tablets, I asked Steve a couple of times when he thought they would be returning from Colorado.

"Hmmmmmmmm," he answered. "Huuuuuuhhhhh. It's hard to saaaaay exactly."

Which, ok, Lesley Gore. You're not one of my toys. Stomp those Gogo boots. I don't own you. Got it. 

But

I felt compelled to point out, "You know Patrick starts school the day after Labor Day."

He responded, "What time?"

It's like being married to Auntie Mame.

 


Overheard

"Of course I give you things, Edward! I give you reasonable orders."

Whereupon I am pretty sure he gave her a shove off the couch.


Hike

While Steve has spent the past three months diligently - one might be tempted to say obsessively - researching the world's smallest tube of toothpaste (that used by first class passengers on international flights and available on amazon) and other items of ultra interest to ultralight backpackers; Patrick's expressed purpose for joining his father  on the Great Backpacking Trip Part II involved fish. Namely, he wanted to catch a specific type of trout, cook it over an open fire and eat it for breakfast. Daily.

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You'll have to take my word for it, but this is Patrick at his happiest.

PS And I am just going to pass over the fact that Steve somehow managed to find - albeit briefly - better cell service in the absolutely freaking middle of total utter mountain nowhere than we have at home.    


Career Counseling

The day before Steve and Patrick left I went through our netflix queue and moved up the movies I might actually want to see by shoving down everything with 'space' or 'star' in the title. 

This resulted in my sitting down last night to watch what I can only hope is the worst soccer movie ever made. The Miracle Match combined a terrible script with execrable acting and poised both upon the pinhead of the lamest "quote" "underdog" "endquote" story of all time: America sends team to 1950 World Cup and they win a game, 1-0.

Not, you know, the final game or the almost semi-final or anything but still. A game. Against... but I don't want to ruin it for you.

So.

Slow. Hand. Clap. That. Increases. In. Volume. And. Pace. Until! The! WHOLE! WORLD! IS! ON! THEIR... no. Not really.

It was just as uninspiring as it sounds although, actually, I do think you should read the wikipedia article on the 1950 World Cup because - in addition to being about a million times better written than that terrible movie - it is both interesting and strangely moving.

Picture it: the world has been devastated by war. Millions are dead. Germany and her allies are still in disgrace. The Soviet Union is retreating behind its iron curtain, taking large chunks of Europe with it. The US is in pretty good shape structurally and financially, but only about 39 people in the whole country give a flying football about soccer and most of them only can manage it on Saturday mornings because the rest of the time they're busy being mailmen or druggists' assistants. And in the middle of all of this you have poor FIFA hopping around, pleading with countries to send a team - any team - to the first World Cup to have been held in twelve years and wondering who the frog they have to bribe to get some men on the field.

[Thank god they eventually got that sorted.]

I digress.

So I watched this terrible movie and Caroline and Edward watched it with me in the sense that they would float in and sit down for a few minutes when they weren't doing anything else.

At the end, when England loses to the US (oh damn it! sorry) Edward turned to me and asked, "So America had the worst team in the world?"

"Well, maybe not the absolute worst in the world but, yeah, I expect the other teams at the World Cup were better. It's taken a loooooooong time for the United States to put the time and money into even trying to develop good teams."

"And England had the best?" he asked.

"One of them. At that time," I guessed and it might even be true.

"Well, then, that's why they lost."

"Sorry," I said, "I'm not following your logic."

"England started the game thinking they were absolutely going to win and were maybe thinking about the other games they had to play and America won because they were paying more attention."

"Edward," I said, "with insight like that you could be a football manager when you grow up. You'd keep your team focused on the game at hand."

"I could be a what?"

"Coach. Manager. The guy in charge."

"Like Jose Mourinho?"

"Yes. I mean, no. Not like Mourinho, he's a complete jerk but yes, a manager."

I watched Edward ponder this.

"Travel the world," I added. "Lots of seafood."

"I'll do it!" he announced.

Five minutes later he came back into the living room.

"Question," he said.

"Answer," I responded, because I am annoying like that.

"If I become a manager would I actually have to watch football? I mean, actually watch it like, every single week?"

"Yes," I said.

"Then forget it."

+

PS Jan, hi! Sorry, I meant to write this the other day but yes Caroline is taking Mandarin again this year because you asked me, which reminded me to ask her and she said absolutely. So I emailed the school about their Saturday class and they can take her back again. So thank you.


Flip Side

Edward checked out a five hundred page book on optical illusions from the library and I just started a most interesting work on the global and historical importance of the cod fish; so as far as he and I are concerned we could stay in bed forever while Steve and Patrick are gone. Yeah, ok, maybe bring the box of Cheerios in around ten and then some sandwiches in the afternoon but apart from that we're good. 

Meanwhile Caroline is about to murder us both and is spending an inordinate amount of time online researching whale pods. She is also emailing her various grandparents and calling my mother whenever possible.

I took them out for dinner tonight at our local local place and when the waitress asked if they were looking forward to school starting, Caroline blurted, "Oh god yes!"

And then seeing my look of disapproval amended it to, "Christ, yes. I mean, christ yes? I mean crivens! Gah! Whatever! Yes! I can't wait to be back with people!"

Edward and I, although we consider ourselves to be people, chose not to take it personally. As bizarre as it may seem, we understand that there are individuals who do not want to spend their free time reading books while curled up under a soft blanket. Weird but true.

Fortunately for Caroline, the entire world is geared her way and she only has another week until school starts.

Speaking of Caroline I just found these from the days after they were born. She was... mighty.

Picture 063_2

Picture 050

Picture 054_2
Picture 060

PS I put these up before, didn't I? I can't remember. Probably, so sorry for the repeat. I found them all in a folder together and slapped them up before it occurred to me that they were most likely in there because I had posted them recently. Oh well. It was late. Not 'it late here' just normal late.

PPS Speaking of late I realized last night that bedtime has slipped around here to the extent that Caroline came strolling into the living room last night at 11:30 looking for a book and didn't even pretend she was sleep-walking. Then she suggested we should watch TV. 


Faut Souffrir Pour Etre... BĂȘte

There is a pair of Cherokee jeans currently for sale in the girls' clothing section at Target. They are light blue denim with flowers embroidered across the front and down both legs and Caroline fell instantly in love with them. They are pretty. They are also something called Super Skinny and when Caroline (47 inches tall; 48 pounds; body mass index - I just looked it up - in the 33rd percentile) tried on her usual 6X (she has short legs so we roll the cuffs) the fabric gripped her calves like quicksand and she could only, just, pull them up over her thighs.

"I adore them!" she said. "But they hurt here. And here. And here."

I looked at her sympathetically.

"They don't fit," she acknowledged.

We moved on to the laundry detergent aisle but I am still shaking my head.

Target, you disappoint me.


Like Belly Buttons

If there was a conversational equivalent to stepping out of the shower and wrapping oneself in a nice, clean bathrobe this would be it. I feel like saying ahhhhhhh and wriggling my toes and letting bluebirds fluff my hair with a towel.

So. How have you been?

Steve and Patrick left yesterday for their second (annual) (apparently) Great Colorado Backpacking Adventure and although I miss them already - well I do. in theory - it has been very... restorative to have no one and nothing to worry about but myself and the twins.

It's so quiet.

Patrick is a great big brother; truly a Pied Piper genius in his ability to create and implement games but my god they always involve shrieking and whoever said something something about the joy of children's laughter had clearly never heard it. Our most recent round of house guests included two (absolutely delightful. love them dearly) small people and as much as I appreciated Patrick's boundless patience and inventiveness and willingness to entertain the younger kids... for four days it sounded like goats were being skinned alive in my basement. Honestly. I could hear them even when I put my head under the bathwater.

So I'm disappointed with myself for breaking my streak here but at the same time I am objectively interested in the fact that I could reach a point of, huh, what should I call it, extro-aversion? that talking to you (or calling my mom, or opening Twitter, or texting a friend, or emailing my brother) became, increasingly and cumulatively, difficult for me. I wouldn't have thought that there was a correlation between physical, actual demands for my attention and the more virtual ones.

After one two many sleep and quiet (quiet. so good) I feel much better now and I had an epiphany. One that I wish I had had much earlier in life because I think it could have saved some relationships that I regret losing. The fact is that I need to be alone. I really need it. A LOT. Every day. And it has nothing to do with you and how much I like or love you or whether or not I will be there for you in a crisis. I will be.

But that wasn't it; I have known that for a while.

The epiphany was that in the future I need to be more honest about it. And I am not going to feel guilty; I am not going to feel like I am just not trying hard enough; and I am not for the love of all that is holy going to try to rally past my endurance because I have attempted that for over twenty years and even when I thought I succeeded, I failed. 

To paraphrase that thing about fools: It's better to be thought a reclusive oddity and spend a sufficient time on your own, than emerge too soon and confirm it.