Don’t Look Now

I would like to add exterminator to my resume.  Not that this is some great admirable trait to brag about.  It’s not.  But, I hate bugs.  I know they all have a place in God’s vision of creation, but personally, I am skeeved by them.  I don’t want to look at them up close and I really don’t want to squish them.  However, when Owen came downstairs one morning yelling about a 1000-legger in his room, I had to go “try” to be the hero.  Those things run faster than a kid after an ice cream truck, so I knew I had no time to drag out the vacuum (my weapon of choice in the war against bugs) to suck it up – I’d be lucky to even find it.  Upstairs, I grabbed a wayward sneaker and attempted to search for this hairy needle in a haystack of Legos and action figures.  Then Owen let out a blood-curdling scream that would rival a roomful of girls at a slumber party and I all but dropped the shoe.  And the poor little bugger made his run for life behind the pirate ship.   He didn’t make it.

Most of the week went like that.   Making the impossible, possible, through a little ingenuity and a lot more luck.  Ava and I have finally found our groove!  It only took six weeks, a handful of threats, and lots of positive reinforcement.  I have found that we both work best in the morning, right after her 60 carb breakfast and my two cups of leaded coffee.  We both bottom out after lunch, so everything’s gotta be done before if possible.  I have no idea how we’ll make it through 1st grade, which is expected to be at least a full 5 hour day.

Last week, however, she was eager to pick up and continue lessons after Owen got home – while he did his homework.  Afterward, the two of them watched the online programs that comprise her 4 cycles of learning each day – requesting to continue into the next day’s lessons while I cooked dinner.  They sat there, they two, giggling at the actor’s presentations in each cycle.

At this point I’m not sure who the favorite is – Dr. Algae is pretty cool and probably my favorite (you know you’re getting old when a goofy 40-something guy in a labcoat with thinning hair is “cute”) but last week the clear winner in the humor awards category went to Mr. Reed Moore, “Reading Teacher Extraordinaire” (ingenious, huh?)  His Friday shtick included examples of feelings people have and what it makes them do – like sing when happy (here he breaks out in an operatic “Figaro” – hilarious) or yell when angry (this was the pants-wetting throw-back-your-head scream that the kids replayed no less than 8 times).  That same yell they reenacted several times for dad didn’t quite get the reaction they’d hoped for.

So I am thankful that the beginning of the week was no forecast for the remainder.  The minute Owen stepped off the bus on Monday and saw me, he burst into tears.  I already knew something was wrong from the math teacher’s call not five minutes earlier – but I would have to return her call to get the full story.  Owen was so upset I could only understand the part about me forgetting to sign two quizzes (one in math).  This year the consequence of not getting your stuff signed is a “warning,” or, moving your “clip” from green to yellow.  For my stellar student, this is akin to being told he’s been called to the principal’s office for not tying his shoes.

I feel compelled at this point to say I think it’s absolutely RIDICULOUS to punish kids for missing signatures.  Why not just send a notice home to the parents?  Or make a phone call?  Essentially it makes these kids not more responsible for themselves, but responsible for their parents.  If that doesn’t raise a generation of kids with stomach ulcers… well…. I’m just sayin’.

So, Mrs. P told me that when she collected the “signed” quizzes, the one she got from Owen “didn’t look right.”  She gave him a look, to which he responded, “um, my mom wrote really small this time.”  “Owen, do you have something you’d like to tell me?”  At this time my son, ever the sensitive do-gooder, burst into tears.  He was so afraid of getting a warning, my otherwise good kid (who’s also a terrible liar) was willing to forge my signature.  In pencil.  She explained to him that doing so was like lying (I bet this surely calmed him down) and she’d rather he told her the truth than deceive her.

And so I hung up with her, after a very nice conversation about his personality, our personal family circumstances and how rewarding teaching is.  I found Owen downstairs, flat on his back on the couch.  I sat down and attempted to comfort him with promises to be more organized and to come up with an after-school game plan.  He told me his stomach hurt.  It hurts because you got yourself so upset, I told him, but it’s okay because Mrs. P isn’t mad and I’m not mad and- he burst into tears all over again!  Because there was something else he had to tell me and “I know you’re going to be really mad.”  At this point I did what every compassionate mother would do – I busted up laughing. 

He looked aghast until I told him I already knew.  And even more surprised that I wasn’t angry about it.  Don’t you know how many generations of kids have forged their parents’ signatures?  I said.  Like a thousand? he said.  Oh way more than that, I said.  Even I did it. 
YOU signed Nanny’s signature? he asked.  Yep.  And I got caught too.  And I bet she did it too, I said.  Wow, he said.

Oops, I did it again.  Mom is human too. 

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