Wednesday, August 27, 2014

HUMP DAY! (And, Even Better: BACK TO SCHOOL!!!!)

Everyone knows what today is.

Yes, Camel. That too.

One need only look at their Facebook and Instagram feeds to be inundated with adorable pictures of shorties headed off for the first day after Summer ended for them, including mine.

Of note, this is Esten's favorite "thinking rock".

Aww.  Too bad, now get your fannies on that bus.

Most kids are all decked out in their fly new threads.  Mine opted for old holey shorts topped with the ONE new shirt I let them pick out themselves (the other new clothes were my selection, because I am THAT mom).  Esten managed to plop a blob of toothpaste right into the mouth area of that creeper, while Clayton forgot to push his hoodie sleeves up and ended up with wet wrists and elbows.

I know....this "brushing our teeth every morning" thing is going to be super difficult.

I even addressed it, absentmindedly, on the sheet I was tasked with filling out in order for Clayton's teacher to get to know her students more quickly.  Two sides of questions, I grumbled as I settled into bed with a cup of tea once all the littles were tucked in.  I was already drained from the evening's ice cream social/bring your crap supplies to school/meet your teacher event where I, pushing the giant jogging stroller down the crowded hallway, dropped a full 32oz cup of ice water and the lid busted off.  The one emergency diaper I had stashed in the basket almost sopped up the slippery puddle, but another parent came to the rescue with a rag before I single handedly injured anyone before they even had a chance to do so on their own.  Esten's bestie's mom watched and laughed, her armpits already perched on crutches from a knee injury.

I eyeballed the book calling to me from my nightstand to carry on my bedtime reading routine, but I held fast and completed that paper.  At the bottom I included an asterisk:

*Please do not let the principal read this, thanks! ~ H. Lee

I remembered having completed similar forms in the past, but I just was not ready this year for homework the night before school started.  Since Clayton was in a looping class the last two years, I hadn't filled one out for him since first grade.  I reread my response to his teacher asking: "In a million words or less tell me everything I need to know about your child - favorite foods, hobbies, strengths, weaknesses - anything to help get to know your little one":

Clayton Lee - lover of apple juice, follower/fan of big brother Esten. Still hangs onto his lisp a bit more than others. Throws an uncharacteristically perfect spiral football. Claims to be a "non-reader" until pushed harder, loves Mrs. Brockmann [the librarian]. Pushes the extremes between loving inappropriately heavy metal music, instigating unwanted wrestling matches with his older brother, and soaking up his dwindling months as the "little brother". Was adamant about Mrs. Purcell [this teacher] being his first choice, was overcome with glee to see the class list, except when he noted his bff's Jordan and Cole would not be joining him. Loves crafts and painting, recently proclaimed that "when you clean out the purple from our brush it does NOT taste like grape". Never met a corndog he didn't love, he will occasionally take breaks from food long enough to play video games. Enthused over water parks, especially loves Kellogg and Silverwood, gets in a major funk when plans change. Has been resilient and helpful at school and home, is sometimes sad that Grandpa just died in the middle of August, who lived with us for the past 2 of Clayton's short 6 years. Still convinced his cop dad is a superhero and that mommy is magic because I can spread Nutella on a graham cracker. Has spent the summer on the tube behind the boat, telling us to crank up the music, flashing us the two-handed devil horns and insisting that we make the ride "more extreme". Will show anyone who is interested his ninja moves. Remembers like a savant if you tell him a reward or fun day is coming and exactly how old he will be when he is due for shots again. Cannot hear or remember being told to pick up dirty socks. Is excited beyond words for this school year.

Suffice it to say, his lisp is gone (and I secretly miss it), and he has added to this list, but it's still pretty much him in a nutshell.  I suppose it was easier to describe him "in a million words or less" than it was here, with these specific questions staring at me.  Fortunately, he inherited Esten's 3rd grade teacher, and I love her to pieces and she has an awesome sense of humor.  Perhaps this was my downfall in knowing I could phone it in on some of the responses.  I tried to stay purposeful and grownup about all these questions about strengths and weaknesses and optimum learning environment, but when asked, "What are your concerns regarding your child?" all I could muster was:

I am concerned that my "brush your teeth every morning before school" demands will not be met after about the 4th day of school.

To "What kind of teacher would be ideal for your child?" I responded:

Isn't this a trick question at this point?
  1. One with a certificate.
  2. One who isn't homeschooling him.
  3. One whose name rhymes with "Mashley Wreckenpaugh"
Thank the Lord Baby Jesus that he DID end up in Ashley Peckenpaugh's class, because I'm sure the other teacher is a super lovely lady, but it takes a TEAM of good-humored individuals to take on helping me raise these boys, and to be honest, acquainting myself with ONE new teacher a year is enough.  The other one being old hat for our family is so helpful.

This is why my friend pool is a foot across and a hundred feet deep instead of 50 feet across and 3 inches deep.  I just don't have the inclination to invite that many people into my planet, and then try to explain to all the new people why it's so weird on my planet.

So to all those moms (and dads) who captured this morning's send off in whatever manner that happened; ala Pinterest props, with signs, toothpaste blobs on new shirts, pouting glares, tears, toothless smiles...all of it, know that I enjoy every one of them just as much as I like sharing mine with you.  To those who didn't happen to catch them?  No biggie.  Life happens.  We aren't required to document everything to enjoy it.

Friday, August 8, 2014

It's Been 20 Years and I Can't Breathe


It's been 20 years and I can't breathe.

Maybe it's because I just really can't believe it.  I've been involved in the process, unhelpful as I may have been throughout, offering little more than snarky remarks and moral support and reminders that our drinks are almost empty.  But I can't really believe it's today.  Like today - today.

Maybe it's because this weekend is upon us, this weekend of hundred plus degree weather that's been dragging on forrrrevvvverrrr and seems like it will never end.  The heat is like Satan's-testicles-in-pleather-pants-hot.  I'm not a fan.

Maybe it's because my Spanx are too tight.

I entered this 20th class reunion idea very reluctantly.  It took long reflections and purging of baggage and dealing with the inevitable responses I got from both The Hubs and The Bestie, which were, essentially, identical:

"But...I thought you hated high school."

Yes.  Sort of true.  So to not only resign myself to attending but to also helping to plan this event was way outside my comfort zone.  To be fair, it began with a bit of a distress signal, one that suggested we might not have one at all unless someone stepped up and made it happen.  Those who did made sure that the "committee", if we can call it that (my throat closes up when I say that) merely represented anyone who chose to show at the designated time and place to make that night's decisions.  Nobody more important than another, you could come or go as you wished.

And somehow, this ragtag bunch of bitches has managed to put together what seems like might turn out to be three days of something worthwhile.

I'm shocked.  Except I'm not.

I certainly don't deserve to lump myself in the same category as those who have put in more effort, but I'm glad to have participated, for sure.  It was like "exposure therapy" in psychotherapy world...where I could slowly get used to the idea before jumping in headlong, an idea that it's now becoming evident as we get closer that not everyone is on board with.  Had I not joined in with this group, would I have been one of those who are left thumbing their noses at this gathering, still schlepping around their harbored hatreds and issues from two decades ago?

I might have had some not so great memories, but the good really do outweigh the bad, and the people?  Let's talk about the people.

They're the keepers of our secrets, the only ones who really understood us when our lame-o parents just didn't get it.  They loved us through terrible skin and piece of shit cars.  We duked it out for first chair flute, first string quarterback, head cheerleader, and first place for the science projects nobody wanted to do.  They've been our backup singers, our personal stylists, our heroes, our shoulders to cry on.  They shared their lunches, their clothes, their books, their hairspray, and their hearts.  They have the most embarrassing pictures of us, and they never judged us.  We watched a Space Shuttle fall out of the sky together and they took on the bulk of cat dissection when the teacher wasn't looking so we wouldn't have to.  Sometimes, they made us cry.  But for any tears, there was a thousand times more laughter.

Whatever life had to hand us, these were the people that were there during some pretty important years.

That's why I'm taking my shorties along to help out with some festivities.  They are at that age where they just.cannot.imagine. a time in life where they don't see their friends all.the.time.  Our neighborhood is crawling with kids from their school, or summer would be just.too.unbearable.  Seeing them and their daily hookup with buddies takes me back to the days when weekends were just too long to go without seeing my friends, the ones who lived, you two whole blocks away.  Torture.

I'm so glad for the FB world and the ability to reach those same two whole blocks away friends who live MUCH further away today, because deep down we're just the same geeky kids that were awkward and lived too far away from "town" for anything fun except to hang out with each other and crimp our hair or trying not to maim ourselves taking shortcuts through barbed wire fences, because...well...two blocks in the Orchards is a LONG WAY.  And I still love the bajonkies out of those people.

So, to honor those THIRTEEN years (and not just two or three), we will converge tonight upon this town, not nearly enough of a representative group for the size of our original class, but my hope is that when those who are there get word out about what a great time they had reconnecting with each other, the rest will want to show up in another ten years.

Or not.  Either way..."The Committee" is officially done and due a drink or two for their efforts.  Cheers to that.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Some Concrete Is Best Suited for Headstones

***Apologies now, I realize this is an old topic, but it never posted***

Moving on now.

I really am.  I'm not interested in whether anyone "believes" my position or someone else's position on any given subject.  It's obvious that I deal exclusively in facts and that hurts people's feelings sometimes.

They need to get over it.

The dude that owns the Clippers made some racist remarks.

And people....people that I KNOW?  They got all kinds of upset that people close to that old wrinkly nutsack set him up and coerced him into saying the N word.  And now we're supposed to feel BAD for him because....he has CANCER.


I digress.

I simply was trying to point out that despite anyone's shining public service, their years of planning a project, devoting time away from their family, their hours of volunteering and fundraising and whatnot....there were....rules violated along the way.  There were Idaho Open Meeting Laws that were sidestepped.  There were two sides of a fence played.  There were hands that were unclean when the table was approached.  There were statements made, on the record, then promptly denied.  There have been statements made and out there IN PRINT on the interwebz just BEGGING for someone to research for themselves that absolutely are in conflict with what is being said....but's easier to just say, "That lady is being a meanyhead and acting like a 6 year old."

Yep.  That's me.  The meanyhead who fact-finds for a living, who digs up truth, gets it on the table, and THEN formulates the best, most FAIR decision for everyone.  That's me.  I don't know any other way to do it.  I'm not in any business that forces me to sell my soul to the Devil to get ahead in life.  I'm not in sales, I don't advertise on my blog, I have like....3 readers....and I'm not out to win any popularity contests.  If you're gonna drop me as a friend for calling someone out on their bullshit, don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

I guess I got it from one of MY Grandmas...maybe because she wasn't rich...DIDN'T have a gold convertible....didn't have a car AT ALL.  But she COULD smell bullshit a mile away.

She also, likely without hesitation, fed a kid who tagged along home with my uncle, a kid who was getting the sense knocked out of him by his own grandma, his grandma who took him in when his impossibly heartbreaking parent situation left no other option.  My grandma did it up until my great grandpa heard the kid's grandma was looking for him and, that, along with his patience running thin at the already full-of-kids dinner table, ran him off one night, and I'll say it's likely her only regret was not standing up to her own father that night and keeping the kid there.

That kid didn't go home.  He hunkered down by the creek that night.  But not all night.  Hunger kicked in and he found himself, like other children of The Great Depression, a sudden burglar, breaking into the local store for something to put in his belly.  When the noise rousted the owners, events of that night turned south, and that kid cowered in a hiding place, pointed the gun borrowed from a friend's house out into the dark and squeezed, its bullet landing in the skull of the local Sheriff who'd come to check out the ruckus.

Oh, how influential we are if only by accident on shaping the path that children will follow.  How infinitely more important that influence is than any measure of self-important influence we may wish to have around our business associates or social circles.  How differently things could have been for everyone involved had one more adult been a bit more understanding, compassionate, patient.

I wasn't there, I can't imagine the hollow feeling that crept through everyone who'd had a chance to do the right thing and didn't.  But that was a different time.  Lucky for us, THIS is a different time.  We have a chance to stand up to those who don't really have the best interest of our children at heart, who have lost sight of the real cost of not taking care of our youth.  Because if we can't do that, and nobody uses that pristine chunk of concrete, it's essentially a monument, and in my book, a pristine chunk of concrete used as a monument is better known as a headstone.  It seems that those decision makers we have selected to run our show are more interested in having a facility serve as their own personal legacy landmark than they really are having it be a community spot for growth and recreation for our youth.

And if you look through history and what happens when we turn our backs on our youth, I believe the results speak for themselves.

Would it have killed you to let them have fun?

On a sidenote, if you're curious to know how things played out for that kid or you're just into local history, I really recommend you pick up a copy of The Boy Who Shot The Sheriff by Nancy Bartley.  Let me know what you thought of it, or if you've already read it, tell us what you think.  It's a great look into how our nation learned to face its deficiencies in facing youth crime and how ill-equipped we were to nurture the children they still remained despite their actions.  Anyone in the periphery of CASA, juvenile probation, foster care, or even our school system is well served to observe and learn from this piece.