What I Learned Last Week – June 8

It’s been a while since I wrote a “Things Learned” post.  Most of these are no surprise, and certainly not “news,” but they recently became glaringly obvious again.

School teachers get happier and happier as the school year draws to a close.  Conversely, parents’ faces seem to get longer.  I’ve been at the school a lot as we near the end, and I felt this cloud moving over me as the staff smiled these Cheshire cat grins and threw out a perky good morning!  Parents, however, smile somberly at one another – because we all know what chaos awaits.

There are two sides to every story. As I previously blogged, on the field trip to Annapolis I had nearly a 2-hour conversation with another mom about dogs, kids, Maryland colleges, and divorce. We commiserated a bit, by way of female conversation really, but in retrospect she didn’t really go into details.  Last week at the Heroes Tea, I got an up-close view of the Dad side of this divorce.  Father and son sat directly in front of me and, as son leaned into Dad throughout the presentation, Dad would occasionally kiss his head.  It was the sweetest thing I’ve seen in a while.  Two days later, I ended up in a conversation with him and another mom at Field Day and learned a breathtakingly different side to this divorce. 

There are A LOT of divorced (and blended) families in our district.  There just are.  Is it any different anywhere else?  In our old town, I felt like the only person in a divorced situation.  It seems nearly everyone I meet here either is, or knows several others who are.

There are many more Type 1 diabetics in our area than I knew.  There are a few in the middle school that I know of, and I know there were a couple in high school (including one with an alert dog), though I believe Ava might be the only one in the elementary school presently.  But her teacher’s husband is a Type 1, and one of her classmates has an older sister that is too.  Another of her classmates, whose mom I was chatting with on Field Day – her dad is a Type 1.  There is also a teacher in the 5thgrade –more than likely will be Ava’s – who is type 1 and pumping.

You cannot judge a book by its cover.  By that I mean it’s terribly easy when you’re the newbie, and having nothing else to go on, to look around at the parents on field trips and try to figure out who you want to talk to based solely on how approachable and friendly they seem.  I’ve had great times on the field trips in the past with moms I was simply “stuck with,” and so you could say I got lucky.  On the Annapolis trip we had a much larger group of parents attending and it was a walking tour, so there wasn’t a whole lot of conversation.  I looked to Ava’s cheer friend’s mom, and she didn’t seem very approachable to me, so I left it alone.  This is the same mom I spent half a day chatting with on Field Day, all because I initiated conversation with her.  She was very friendly, and I enjoyed chatting with her.  She and the divorcee dad knew each other and so were engaged in conversation about a number of people and things I knew nothing of, but still – both of them included me in their conversation.

My emotions are still unpredictable. I was worried I’d cry at the Heroes Tea, where my daughter named me as her hero and stood in front of her class and all of their heroes and explained why.  But I didn’t.  Instead, I cried when her bestie cried because her dad, who was running late, finally arrived.  And cried some more when it was her turn to present and she was still upset and couldn’t speak without crying.  Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one in there wiping their eyes.  Meanwhile, I was absolutely sure I was going to cry when Owen “graduated” from middle school on Friday.  But I didn’t.  Or, at least not until the Principal got up there for the closing statements and he started choking up over saying goodbye to this “amazing group of young men and women” who he would miss.  Suddenly, it was like being at a funeral for a stranger and catching the contagion of someone else’s grief – and you find yourself raking through the contents of an obscenely packed handbag for just one tissue.

Apparently, I’m old.  Tearful Mom on the other side of the room sat with us afterward for the reception, and she was saying how she feels old.  Her daughter said, you’re not old – you’re only 27.  I almost spit out my buttercream-iced cake.  I smiled at her as she rolled her eyes and resisted the urge to ask her if she really was 27.  Because IF she was, I would’ve had to punch her in the throat. Either that or blurt out, what am I then – grandma??  Do ya’ll realize I am almost TWENTY years older than her?

Daddy has a new girlfriend.  Okay, so I didn’t “just” learn this last week.  Usually when he’s single, he wants every last waking minute with the kids that he can get.  But several weeks ago he suddenly wasn’t able to see the kids one Saturday I worked because he “had to work.”  And he’s has turned down every subsequent date I’ve offered him to spend extra time with them.  He went on a business trip to Boston where he had to tour some factory – are you ready for this? – on Memorial Day.  I cry foul.  What factory do you know that’s open for touring on a national holiday? Then I was picking the kids up one day and he called me in a panic because shewas picking him up in mere minutes, and the kids had no idea she even existed yet (he was waiting until he thought the time was right – ha!)  Poor planning does not constitute an emergency on my part.  Apparently the time was right the following weekend, because her car was parked outside when I arrived to pick them up.  Hardly a shock, I know.

My dog is a killer.  Sure, she looks like a sweet poodle, but inside is a wolf disguised in goofy brown fluff.  I let the dogs out one blazing and humid afternoon and fully expected them to do their business and return quickly.  When they didn’t, I got suspicious and went to the window where I saw Sabra lying in the grass under a tree.  I thought, how cute – she’s just chillin.  Wrong.  She bent her head down and I saw that she was chewing on something. Pi was nearby minding her own business.  When I went outside, Sabra ran toward me – all excited – and then remembered her treasure and ran back to get it.  I ran after her and screamed NO!  though at this point I had no idea what it was.  It looked like a square brown piece of cardboard?  No, it was a TURTLE.  And the bitch ran up to me all proud of herself and rubbed her bloody muzzle on my white shorts.  Her front legs were coated with blood. 

I can walk the equivalent of 8 miles on a double shift.  Super cool app on my phone measures your steps each day, and on my first double shift in 20 years I walked over 15,000 steps.  You gotta try this! I’d like to see that 27-year-old momma beat that.

The arrival of summer has me feeling schizophrenic.  We are 3 days in, and I am alternately happy and anxious.  I look forward to lazy sleep-in days, swimming in the pool, and spending time with the kids.  However, I’m spending a LOT of time with my mini-me and she accompanied me to work this past weekend, two and a half hours round trip in the car and she didn’t stop talking.  My nerves were so shot by the time I pulled back into our driveway, I went straight to the liquor cabinet and called it a day.  Seriously, I experienced such a range of emotions on those drives that I’m still recovering from the whiplash this morning.

Personality matters.  This could be aptly named, You Cannot Judge a Book By Its Cover Part 2.  My daughter recently confided in me who her newest crush is, and she prefaced it by saying “he’s not, like, the cutest boy in class” but he’s really nice and he makes her laugh.  She’s paying attention to that stuff! How cool is that??  Yesterday when we stopped at Wawa on the way home, I kind of complained that I didn’t really want to stop because I’m still in my sweaty work clothes and my makeup is a runny mess – and Ava says, you look beautiful, mom.  And followed it up with a verbatim regurg of my own words: Nobody is perfect – everyone is different and that’s why we’re all beautiful.

Those are the moments where I remember to appreciate the life I have fought for, and continue to fight for the life I want.
Miscellaneous Tidbits

There are 63 days until the first day of school.  Or, 63 drinking days left until school starts again.

The highest temperature on record is 134 degrees, in Death Valley on July 10th, 2013.

1.25 million Americans have T1 diabetes – an estimated 200,000 are children under age 20.  Roughly 40,000 are diagnosed each year.  Comparatively, 2.2 million Americans suffer from schizophrenia. 

I was right about my kids’ toilet.  I kept telling Todd I thought one of theprevious tenant’s kids flushed something they shouldn’t have, and that’s why the toilet kept clogging.  Finally, he took it apart and guess what?  A TOY TIARA.  Snap.

Diamondback terrapins are Maryland’s official state reptile. I determined that the turtle Sabra ate, however, is a Painted Turtle (a pond turtle).

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