We’ve Fled America. You Come, Too.

Sep 20 2017

Greg and I have fled America which seems Very Logical at the moment and perhaps something we all ought to consider what with Rabid Isolationism, Fear of the Other, and OCD-Level Pontius Pilate Handwashing out of control in the U.S. right now. Not only will we Let No One In, we’re also set on Kicking the Vulnerable Out, but only after ensuring we’ve Absolved Ourselves of All Responsibility. ‘MURICA! We’re great again now, right?

Unfortunately, due to an overfondness for Harry Potter, Jamie Fraser, and chocolate digestive biscuits, we’ve fled to the United Kingdom, which is preparing to implement Brexit, so I’m not exactly sure we’ve traded up on the segregationist front. On the bright side, at least we’re in Scotland where there’s a whiskey distillery at literally every highway exit so we feel more prepared in case of Utter Apocalypse. I mean, there are worse things than being stuck in a country that knows how to make food from animal innards, fries everything in beer batter, and has hard liquor releases planned for the next 10-25 years. Yes? Yes. Scots for the win.

We’re here on holiday with our two youngest for their Ten-Year-Old Trip, a coming-of-age tradition started by my grandmother for her grandkids and carried on by us.

When our eldest was 10, we took her to Vietnam, the country of her birth, so she could see with a child’s eyes how beautiful and special the country is, how warm and kind its people.

We did the same for our second daughter when she was 10, to Guatemala.

We didn’t for our eldest son, who abhors travel with every fiber of his being and who begged not to be made to suffer with torture devices like airplanes and hotels. Instead, we waited until he was 15 (and until I was done thinking he’d surely change his mind and his whole personality and suddenly be capable of traveling to Guatemala, as well) and bought that kid an XBox so he could finally, violently slaughter outer-space aliens in Halo — as cross-cultural an experience as he wants, and certainly in keeping with American Values. His eyes still sparkle when he talks about it — how HE got an XBox which lasts YEARS while his poor, stupid siblings had to endure TRAVEL which lasts mere WEEKS. Then he giggles with glee at his superior choices. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Now that our youngest are 10, we’re visiting parts of our ancestral homes, in Scotland and England, a trip for which we’ve been preparing for months, and we’re having every Formative, Educational Experience you might expect.

We’ve learned not to jostle the seat of the Rather Cranky Lady in the seat ahead of us on the plane, which is truly a Life Skill.

We’ve learned to be Very Quiet in the car while Mommy figures out how to drive on the left without crashing.

We’ve only yelled at each other a few dozen times, and Greg and I only made one of the children cry twice, so we’re clearly mastering Patience, Kindness, Gentleness and Self-Control.

We’re learning about other languages and cultures; our children, for example, have renamed all the sheep of Scotland “Pre-Haggis,” except when it’s raining, and then they’re temporarily called Soggy Haggis, because obviously.

We’ve done the Very Best Thing in All of the United Kingdom by riding the Hogwarts Express. And, to date, although we’ve been on Loch Ness, to Culloden Battlefield, to famous castles and forts, hiking in the Highlands, and to the Scottish Museum, we’ve also discovered the Second Best Thing About International Travel which is getting pillows and blankets on the plane. “PILLOWS, Mom! This flight is SO FANCY! They hand out PILLOWS and BLANKETS to every single person, and we don’t even have to pay to rent them!” Not to brag, but this is how to parent, friends. Set the expectations and standards bar so incredibly low that the ability to borrow a rigid, synthetic pillow product is EXCITING.

In short (too late), I’ll be coming to you from Scotland and England over the next couple weeks, and you should consider fleeing here, too. Unless you’re already here, in which case, BRAVO.

Thinking of you (but mostly of Jamie Fraser because I’m in Scotland and so JAMIE FRASER),

 

 

 

P.S. We pose for Happy Family photos like this:

But really, we mostly look strung out and exhausted, listening to audio books in pubs because Mom and Dad refuse to let us sleep, like this:

#Reality

 

Marital Strife: Your Help Requested

Aug 22 2017

There’s no easy way to say this, friends, so I’m just going to jump right in.

Greg, the love of my life, father of my children, sharer of my bed, scr itchy batterer of toast, locks the door when he uses the bathroom.

He locks the door.

Every time.

Without fail.

LOCKS IT.

I know. I wish I had a way to ease the blow, too, but in the absence of that, I’m just ripping off the band aid. If you need to stop reading for a bit to catch your breath, I understand. Take your time.

Here’s the truth:

Whenever Greg feels the need to potty, he just… goes.

He stands up, walks out of the room, blithely enters the bathroom without a public announcement and, CLICK, turns the lock.

I don’t…

I can’t even…

I just…

He acts like it’s normal to potty alone.

Like he doesn’t have to make sure all the kids are occupied for the foreseeable future.

In separate rooms.

Plugged into screens.

With enough snacks to last through the full zombie apocalypse.

And restraints.

And a brick wall barrier.

And reinforced cages.

And the suspension of disbelief required to think maybe — this one time — they won’t Houdini and Shawshank Redeption their way out.

Greg acts like he doesn’t have to submit an application in writing to the Sanitary Oversight Commission seeking approval for a Solo Toilet Expedition, then wait ages, like all good citizens, then resubmit his paperwork months later because, after a series of phone calls during which he was mostly placed on hold or disconnected, he learned his application was incomplete… or never arrived… or was lost or misfiled… and finally, give it up as a lost cause LIKE THE REST OF US DO and live with the knowledge we may never get to pee again.

Instead, Greg believes the urge to void is sufficient to qualify a person to potty in appropriate facilities while prohibiting others to enter.

It’s infuriating.

It’s as though Greg believes he’s an adult human. Entitled to privacy. Entitled not to broadcast his boy parts to the household. Entitled to 15 minutes to sit alone, undisturbed, and scan his Facebook feed. Or play a whole game of Sudoku. Or read Wired magazine. Or have one entire, chronological thought, start to finish, without myriad interruptions ranging in intensity from “the dog just barfed on my bed” to “COME FAST THERE IS A LOT OF BLOOD.”

It’s as though Greg doesn’t subscribe to the MacGyver style of pottying wherein one, with extensive training honed during years of difficult missions, improbable scenarios, and close calls, must be prepared for anything, at any time, to go horribly awry. Where one must solve issues that arise only with items on hand like one’s wits, lack of dignity, and a dirty sock. Where one practices one’s Kegles not because one is disciplined to exercise one’s pelvic floor, but by actually having to repeatedly stop midstream to pull someone’s foot splinter or run to check on the stunned child who thought jumping backward off the swing set was a good idea and, “HE’S HURT REAL BAD, MOM.” Not that MacGyver is necessarily all that interested in his pelvic floor, but if he was, this would undoubtedly be his modus operandi.

Listen; I don’t want to be overly dramatic about this whole situation, but Gregory sits there long enough to leave a red imprint of the toilet on his butt and legs, you guys. I mean, I imagine he does. I don’t actually know definitively, because Greg also pulls his undies all the way up, AND his pants, AND he zips and buttons them, AND washes his hands — for the recommended, thorough amount of time — before he emerges, rested and refreshed, which makes me bitter and enraged.

I do not know what to do about this, friends.

When I catch him, I knock knock knock knock knock on the door, and I speak in staccato words to match. Like “WHAT. ARE. YOU. DOING. IN. THERE?” And “O.M.G! DID YOU SERIOUSLY. LOCK. THE DOOR. AGAIN?” And “STOP IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT.” But none of my lurking, knocking and pestering behaviors are working. NONE.

Surely something can be done about this. Surely there’s a way to end my misery once and for all. Surely there’s some way to force Greg into the kind of co-dependence and subservience to one’s children such that he will feel he does not deserves to lock the bathroom door, as well as the kind of unreasonable godlike pride required to believe that if one does actually lock the door, the children will all literally die.

Please, wise friends. Tell me what to do! Remove all bathroom doors? Put spikes on the toilet? Handcuff Greg to All the Children as a symbol of solidarity and sympathy with his long suffering wife who’s figuratively shackled to them all the livelong day?

In conclusion, help me, friends. You’re my only hope.

With love,

 

 

 

P.S. Sorry to air our dirty laundry like this. I think we can all agree, though, that it’s past time to seek help.

I Duplicated My Daughter’s Instagram Feed (Because the Internets Need a Laugh, Dammit)

Aug 19 2017

Dear the Internets,

This is a cautionary tale.

Let’s say you have a kid at college.

And let’s say that college is in Hawaii.

Let’s say your kid chose that college because, OMG, BEACHES.

And let’s say she’s using those beaches to her full advantage.

Let’s say she has an Instagram account.

And let’s say it’s full of beach and bikini pics, because that’s apparently her area of giftedness.

Let’s say you’re scrolling through one day and you see a pic of her with underboob. UNDERBOOB, friends.

 

Let’s say you think to yourself, “Self, you are the mommy. Self, you should DISAPPROVE. Self, it is IRRELEVANT how adorable she looks in this pic. Self, you taught her to never, EVER, put boobie pics on the world wide webs. Self, you should DO SOMETHING.”

But then let’s say you think, “Self, she’s an adult. Self, she gets to make her own choices. Also, Self, because you can see how very white her underboob is, now you know she’s not been sunbathing topless. So HOORAY! LOOK AT HER MODESTY.”

Let’s say you call her and congratulate her on the underboob pic. Because that’s what a mommy does, right? That sounds like appropriate Christian leadership.

“Nice underboob,” you say. “I see you haven’t been sunbathing topless, so I guess there’s that?”

Let’s say she agrees with you entirely.

Then let’s say you decide, because you lack overall good judgement and common sense, that you think it would be the Very Best Lesson for her if you were to duplicate her shot, except with your own, fluffy, 43yo mom bod.

But let’s say when you tell your kid about your plan, she thinks it’s HILARIOUS and not embarrassing at all, because apparently you have embarrassed her So Many Times already, you’ve burned the ability out of her.

So let’s say you go to Hawaii and do it.

Because the world is a horrible place right now, and God knows we all need a laugh.

 

This, friends. This is why you DO NOT TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR. It leads to this type of behavior, and God knows SOMEONE needs to save you from your Good Ideas.

To make matters worse, my kid has friends who are equally unembarrased by me, and duplicated this pic…

 

 

…with me on a public beach, because their judgement is as questionable as mine.

God, I love them.

(Also, that’s a lot of fabric I pulled up my ass.)

The End.

Literally.

Except for this bonus twinsie pic, because that’s what we do around here. #MotherDaughter #CantTellUsApart

And also this twinsie pic.

It’s a real mystery, I tell you. I mean, who’s who??

In conclusion, we can pray a special prayer for the poor college boy who had to take these photos. He’s the real victim here.

With Love,

……..

 

 

And Now Here’s the Longest P.S. Ever and the Story Behind These Pics…

P.S. Once upon a time, a few months ago, my eldest child graduated, utterly relieved, from her Very Conservative Christian high school. It was the one with the dress codes. The one where the book, The Purity Principle, a horrifying account of how a man’s lust inevitably leads men to pedophilia, child abuse and prison (um, what??) was assigned as a biology textbook — yes, A BIOLOGY TEXTBOOK. The one where my kid was cited for the time her sweatshirt fell off her shoulder to reveal a (don’t be alarmed) Bra Strap. The one where she decided to henceforth quit wearing bras altogether because she is Willful and also Her Mother’s Daughter and so Logic dictated if Bra Straps were a Serious Problem, she would eliminate them entirely, bless her Rebellious Heart. The school where there are far More Stories like this one, from both my kid and others.

Now, to be fair, the school had some lovely, wonderful things about it, truly. There’s no doubt the staff there Meant Well. There’s no doubt they were dedicated to their work. There’s no doubt they were working hard to shape a generation of people who can change our world for the better. Unfortunately, their views on sexuality, women, and modesty rules were simply Not Some of those wonderful things.

Nevertheless, the summer before my daughter’s senior year, she signed the Dress Code. Her mommy stood beside her, telling her if she wanted to attend This School, she had to not only sign it but agree to abide by it without complaint. It was a prerequisite for attendance, and if she didn’t agree with it, I told her, I’d happily sign her up for a different school. She could choose, but she needed to choose to live by the rules if This School was her choice.

She signed it.

Then, in early October, five weeks after school began, the administration issued a new dress code. New rules. New specifics. No warning. Just a sudden shift of policy.

My daughter disagreed with much of it. No yoga pants, for example, but body-hugging, stretchy jeans were fine. Athletes could wear their work-out gear to school if they had practice in the afternoon, but my daughter and her dancer friends — despite 20 hours per week of rehearsals starting immediately after school, and long pants and zip-up jackets as gear — could not.

She felt suddenly examined, under a microscope with her adorable, fit dancer body and emerging sense of self; teachers and staff watching her body closely for rule-breaking. She began to write papers on Modesty Culture and Purity Culture and ways they lead to Rape Culture. She became grossly uncomfortable with the heightened interest in her butt and breasts and how much of those, exactly, the teachers could discern by studying them. She felt yucky every day, and she asked me what she ought to do about the new dress code. Should she abide by it? I told her she should abide by the first one she signed — the one we talked about and thought about and agreed to follow after consideration about whether she could do so. But changing the rules? Nope. She didn’t have to abide by those.

I talked to the principal. She did, too. I explained she would be following the code she’d agreed to but was not responsible for the sudden switch. We both told him how uncomfortable she was with the perpetual eyes on her body, adults looking to see if she was too sexy, blame for boys not being able to pay attention in school. This, in jeans and baggy sweatshirts. But the Bra Strap! The principal said he was “sorry she feels that way.”

The teachers, of course, were trying to be consistent and to apply the rules the administration dictated. They were wrong, I believe, but they were caught between bad rules and their leadership.

As for me, I was raised in conservative, fundamentalist Christian culture. It took me decades to unravel what modesty means, how I was responsible — or, more specifically, not responsible — for the behavior and thoughts of others, and how I might patch together a better understanding of how “modesty” relates to loving God and loving my neighbors as myself, on which Jesus said hang all the laws. The more I studied the more I realized the impetus forced on women to dress in a manner so we don’t cause men don’t objectify us, lust after us, and the more angry I became. It wasn’t only unfair, it also wasn’t what Jesus taught us about how to love one another, and it was purely subjective, utterly illogical, and always in flux. There was no way to “win” in modesty culture. No way to ever be blameless.

There’s not a static definition of modest clothing, after all. It changes, always, with the culture of the time. Christian women these days, in nearly every denomination and sect, are able to show their elbows, their ankles, their knees — body parts that were considered sexual in Victorian times. And yet we Christians forget that it was a rebellious woman sometime, somewhere — an “immodest” lady who shunned the dress code of the time, who refused to follow it — who led to our ability these days to wear capris, t-shirts, to go for a run, to swim at the beach. Instead, I watch Christians defend our current conservative culture’s understanding of what “modesty” means. As though these rules are hard and fast. As though a man lusting after a woman in leggings is her fault and not his. Elbows, after all, were once a temptation, and yet we no longer believe a woman’s elbows will lead a man to sin. You know why? Because culture changed. Because our expectations of men changed, too. If everyone throughout history believed we ought to adhere to dress codes of the time — enforced those codes and never challenged them — we would still be wearing high-necked collars, long sleeves, boots, and long skirts in our recent 90 degree weather. Thank God for the women who challenged those notions! Thank God I can sit outside while I type this, in my sleeveless REI hiking dress — knees and ankles on display before God and man, harlot that I am — and enjoy the sunshine.

Eventually, my kid who attended a private Christian school grades K-12 wanted Anything But That for college. She was exhausted by the rules meant to keep students “safe,” but which caused harm. And, in her words, “I just feel like Jesus cares more about things other than my bra strap, Mom.” Truer words, right? Truer words.

So now my kid is in Hawaii, living by the beach and wearing All the Bikinis, with her ass and underboob showing. She’s also a hard worker, conscientious, smart, hilarious, and she has a fantastic community of amazing friends who support and love each other well. She’s confident, and she knows who she is. She’s fiercely achieving her academic goals. She’s done with the bullshit parts of religion, and she clings to a Jesus who challenged cultural norms to love people well. She knows what she believes and why she believes it. I could only be more proud if she would wear a damn helmet when she’s on her boyfriend’s Vespa. (PAY ATTENTION, CHILD; THAT’S ALL I WANT FOR MY BIRTHDAY.)

Quick Question RE: Toilet Paper and Whether It Is the Children Who Are to Blame, or Me. Probably Me.

Jul 22 2017

Quick Question: Who is to blame — the children who, though adorable, are apparently feral, or me for failing to write the legislation appropriately?

The Situation: Ran out of toilet paper yesterday.

We had an entire bag full of it, and yet when I needed it, it was gone. Vanished. POOF. Disappeared in a cloud of TP smoke. I imagine. Since I wasn’t there to witness the actual disappearance.

On the bright side, my children leave dirty clothes scattered just everywhere in our house, especially the bathrooms, so used socks and T-shirts suffice where toilet paper is lacking. Yes, I know it’s gross. I assure you I’m thoroughly aware of the exactly how repulsive it is to use a sweat and dirt crusted sock to wipe oneself. But people who live in the jungle must use what’s at their disposal, yes? Yes. Don’t judge.

I went on a mission to find the missing toilet paper. I swear we had a bag full. And since I just recently gave my children the Toilet Paper Speech again, its absence was a mystery. For those of you who live pristine, lovely lives — and pretty please message me all the details because I swear on Jesus’ Holy Name I need a few precious moments to live vicariously through you — the Toilet Paper Speech goes like this, liturigcal reading style:

Parent: Darling, darling children whom I love to pieces — sweet children who I endlessly adore — what, pray tell, is toilet paper for?

Children: For wiping!

Parent: And, beautiful babies, who are precious in God’s sight, what exactly do we wipe with toilet paper? 

Children: Our butts. Also, vaginas if we have them.

Parent: And, little ones who seek to obey their parents and honor them all the days of their lives, are there exceptions to this rule?

Children: Yes, but only two.

Parent: And what are those two exceptions, cherubs?

Children: Wiping up our pee dribbles and poop smears on or around the toilet. Also, bloody noses.

Parent: Because…

Children: Because “Thou shalt not leave the water closet without conducting a detailed search for body fluids left behind. We are like the Marines; we never leave a man behind.”

Parent: And? …

Children: And we wash our damn hands!

Parent: Yes! Yes, abidingly perfect tiny humans. Yes. This is an Eternal Truth, and doing this will make Jesus happy. And it shall make your mother less likely to screech at you from the toilet. What, however, do we not use toilet paper for?

Children: Neither for cleaning the sink when it is chore time and we are too lazy to find the sponge, nor for mopping the floor because climbing the stairs to find an ancient towel from the laundry room is too odious. Neither for decorating our rooms, nor for wadding up to have a giant snowball fight. Neither for hiding under the front porch so we can take a dump without coming all the way inside, nor for wiping up the gallon of red sugar-free fake juice product we spilled on the floor.

Parent: Yes, sweet babies. Yes, all of this is true. And all God’s people said…

Together: Amen.

You can see why I was baffled. We are CLEAR on toilet paper in these parts. TP = for body fluids only, and only while ensconced in the toilet area.

I found the bag later, FYI. It was in the garbage. The whole thing.

I hollared up the stairs. “HEY! WHY IS THE TOILET PAPER IN THE GARBAGE? SERIOUSLY. GEEZ.”

And Greg hollared back. “Found it in the bathroom. Someone peed in it. The whole bag.” I could hear the eye-rolling in his voice. “I threw it away. Got TP on the shopping list.”

Sweet Jesus on a cracker. Who pees in a WHOLE BAG of toilet paper?? Rhetorical question. Obviously, a Woolsey child does. A Woolsey child looks at the toilet and looks at the full bag of toilet paper. A Woolsey child thinks to himself toilet paper is for body fluids, and a Woolsey child deposits his body fluids there. It’s not even technically against the rules. This is the problem with the Letter of the Law.

Lord love a duck.

So, quick question over to you: Who is to blame — the children who, though adorable, are apparently feral, or me for failing to write the legislation appropriately?

I fear I know the answer.

More soon.

With love,

 

 

 

P.S. We do not know who the culprit is. And, although I suspect it’s one of the children with a built-in hose, we didn’t conduct an investigation. Not a formal one. Not an informal one. Nope; we didn’t even ask. Greg found a urine-soaked bag of TP in the bathroom, threw it away, we’ve been wiping ourselves with socks, and our spray-happy child only had to tolerate his mother walking through the house yelling, “SERIOUSLY? SERIOUSLY?? YOU TOOK OUT A WHOLE BAG OF TOILET PAPER WITH PEE? That is DISGUSTING. This is NOT a game of Halo where your penises are your guns and your pee your ammunition. The toilet paper is NOT your enemy. KNOCK. THAT. SHIT. OFF. Never again. DO YOU ALL HEAR ME? NOT AGAIN.” There was giggling from several corners of the house, and we did nothing. Zero. Zilch. That is how apathetic we are these days. We’re winning at parenting, I tell you. Winning.

Happy Independence… From the Christians

Jul 4 2017

I feel like it’s safe to say there are two kinds of people in this world: those who would never, ever, EVER laugh at people who experience developmental delay — you know, the conscientious, compassionate, kind type of person — and Terrible People like me.

It’s just that my two kiddos with disability have been entrenched in an argument that’s lasted days. They’ve yelled at each other. They’ve called each other names in ragey voices. They’ve rolled their eyes. They’ve tried to bait the rest of us into taking sides. And still it’s not settled why we’re celebrating Independence Day on July 4th.

Aden insists we’re celebrating independence from the Christians. Ian says we’re celebrating independence from the Nazis.

For a while, they were blaming the Jews, but they believed me when I said that wasn’t it. Whew! On the other hand, my contention that we’re celebrating independence from the British was met with unified derision. It was ridiculous when I suggested we’d need to be independent from the Land of Crumpets and Tea. I mean, what could we possibly be fighting against the British for? Their use of “chips” instead of “fries?” Their corner on the digestives market? No. Mom clearly doesn’t know what she’s talking about. At least they agree on something.

Ian: It is the Nazis, Aden.

Aden: IT’S THE CHRISTIANS.

Ian: Nazis.

Aden: CHRISTIANS.

Ian: Evwebody knows Nazis are bad guys, Aden. Evwebody.

Aden: It’s the CHRISTIANS. … Wait. Mom, are we the Christians?

Me: I am, Aden. You get to pick.

Aden: Oh. KILL THE NAZIS then. KILL THEM DEAD. KILL, KILL, KILL.

Ian: Ha! I told you! It’s NAZIS. HAhahahaha! I am wight and you wong! Ha, Aden. HA!

Aden: Wait. No. KILL THE CHRISTIANS. Except Mom. KILL ALL THE CHRISTIANS EXCEPT MOM. Unless I’m a Christian. Then we KILL ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE.

In conclusion, even though I keep laughing at them, I feel like my kids have a general bloodthirsty grasp on this whole Independence Day thing and also theological schisms in general… Christians who flee religious persecution from Other Christians and arrive in a new land to persecute and massacre others.

I feel like we’re really slow learners, guys.

Also, I made blueberry cake to celebrate. And I’m going to go have a beer.

Wishing you a Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans!

With love,

 

The Definitive Answer to the Public, Private or Home School Question

May 22 2017

WE HAVE FINALLY FIGURED IT OUT. The answer regarding which is BEST — public school, private school or homeschool. After having our children in a cumulative 54 YEARS of school (five kids is a lot of kids, guys), we know the definitive answer, which is YES.

Question: Which is best — public, private or homeschool?
Answer: Yes. All of the above. Depending on the child, the year, the circumstances, the environments, the family, and the outside challenges, yes; each of them is the VERY BEST option.

Please understand; no one is more disappointed by this answer than I am. I was raised, after all, to believe in SYSTEMS. There are Good Systems and Bad Systems. My main job was to revere and adhere to the good ones like Evangelical Christianity, Public School, Republicanism, and Making My Bed Every Day.

Clearly, I failed.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Now, we’ve had our kids mostly in Public School over the years. We’re big fans of public schools. We’ve always voted for school bond measures and support tax increases that benefit public schools, even during the years we had kids in private school, because school bonds and paying for public education benefit all of us. In fact, we’re dismayed by reports this week that the federal government plans to gut public school funding and are wholeheartedly against Betsy DeVos’ plan which will undermine them horribly. Because blech.

So we’ve mostly had kids in Public School… and one kid in Private. But at least I didn’t do anything TOO radical like homeschool, you know? I had boundaries. LIMITS.

I mean, I wasn’t opposed to homeschooling in principle. I understand people can homeschool effectively. Especially if those people have things like a background in education and, well, patience.

I, on the other hand, LOVE sending my kids to school-school where school = Anywhere But My House.

I am the parent who NEVER CRIED on the first days of preschool.

I am the parent who ONLY LAMENTED PRESCHOOL DAYS WEREN’T LONGER.

I especially love school-school for the teachers. The TEACHERS, friends — real, not make-believe, who dedicate their WHOLE LIVES to educating our kids, preparing them for a future the teachers often don’t get to see. Yes; teachers are real but also MAGICAL. Teacher-fairies, if you will. And teacher-fairies put up with a LOT. Ever-changing rules, administrations, and markers for student success. They put up with PARENTS. They work weeknights and weekends and spend money from their own pockets to subsidize what kids don’t receive from the school budget. They receive lower rates of pay than jobs that require the same amount of education. And most of them are GOOD AT IT. Like, really great. Showing up day after day as a holy calling.

I, on the other hand, am not a teacher. Not by education. Not by calling. Not by talent. There are no teacher-fairies in this house. Which is why I decided to never, ever, EVER pull my kids from school-school and homeschool them.

^^^That’s what I said for YEARS.^^^

And I was RIGHT.

Except I just pulled my kid from school and I’m homeschooling him.

In retrospect, I’ve identified how this happened and will disclose it so you can avoid the same mistake: When our kids started school 100,000 years ago, we made a commitment to evaluate on an ongoing basis what each child needs from her or his education. <– That’s our problem, right there. Treating kids like individuals who may have different needs at different times.

And this kid? He needs to be home for a while.

We tried to get around it. We tried to delay and avoid going to HOMESCHOOL EXTREMES. But he asked on repeat that we reconsider. He wants freedom to fly through a higher math curriculum. He wants a break from the anxiety of attempting scholastic perfection. He wants to conduct computer and science experiments and to build a fort in the backyard. He wants more time to read for pleasure. It became more and more challenging to look this kid in the eye — this kid who adores learning, and is motivated, and already performs in the 99th percentile in his grade in every subject — and give him a reasonable answer as to why he couldn’t try. HE WORE US DOWN is what I’m saying.

So even though he had a teacher-fairy who was working her fairy magic…

And even though his twin brother is still going to the school-school…

And even though the school year is almost over…

And even though he has a mother who is not a teacher-fairy AT ALL…

Here we go. Homeschool is upon us.

It’s been just over a week now.

On morning one, I woke up with tiny thoughts of dread, like “WHAT HAVE I DONE?” And, “I CANNOT DO THIS.” And, “THERE IS A REASON TEACHERS ARE TEACHERS. It’s because they have an AFFINITY FOR TEACHING, and TALENT, and EDUCATION TO BACK THOSE UP. On the other hand, Beth, YOU ARE A FOOL AND A PRETENDER and YOU ARE GOING TO RUIN YOUR CHILD.”

And then Cai, the 4th grader, walked into my room and said, “OK, Mom, I have the schedule all figured out. I’ll be reading a time travel series for Free Reading time, and working on dividing fractions as a refresher for math in preparation for the more extensive curriculum you’ve ordered, but then I need you to take me to the library so I can study 19th Century French Architecture. Unless we already have a curriculum on 19th Century French Architecture somewhere around the house? No? Then definitely the library, Mom.”

And I thought, like I often do with parenting, “Hm. OK, then. Maybe I won’t screw this up quite so bad if I just get out of his way.”

So that’s the new plan. We’re homeschooling — the Thing I Said I’d Never Do. And maybe I can get far enough out of my kid’s way so he can fly.

So far, he’s studying exponents, chemistry via bread baking, touch typing, magnets, hard drives, and, of course, 19th Century French Architecture.

He’s happier than I’ve seen him for months. More confident. More engaged. More interested in learning.

And that — definitively — is the RIGHT school choice. At least for that kid. For now.

With love, friends,

I’ve Decided to Collect College Kids. Also, We Should Probably Pray for Greg.

Apr 30 2017

We’ve mostly been with Abby since arriving in Hawaii. Not a ton of time on our own. We’re helping her hunt for next year’s apartment. Doing the grocery shopping. Gasping over the cost of bread one minute (FIVE DOLLARS, you guys, and that’s for a cheap loaf) and piling All the College Kids in our car to force feed them pancakes at IHOP the next. It’s like feeding puppies, y’all; they’re just so wiggly and enthusiastic and grateful, and they look at you with those eyes, like, “You fed me, and now I’m yours forever,” and suddenly you’re all, “MORE PANCAKES FOR EVERYONE. EVERY KIND OF PANCAKE. ANOTHER ROUND ON ME,” and, “Can I KEEP them, Greg? Pleeeeease? I will do ALL the work. You won’t have to do ANYTHING. I will walk them EVERY DAY, and I will feed them and water them, and I will never ask you for anything ever again in my whole life if you just give me All the College Kids.”

I have searched, lo these many years, and I have finally found my calling; feeding college students. I was born for this. This is my sacred duty. This is my calling from the Lord. This is how I shall fulfill my destiny.

Greg says I can’t keep them, though. He says they don’t belong to me. He says we already have five kids and that five kids is enough kids.

I’m not sure about his logic. I think there’s a flaw in there. I’m pretty sure collecting College Kids isn’t the same as collecting Kid Kids since College Kids are technically grown-ups. Also, they’re way cheaper than Kid Kids because College Kids only cost you pancakes. Greg says they don’t only cost pancakes; he says they also cost tuition and fees and apartments in Hawaii. I say that’s practically the same as just pancakes; we can call it pancakes and sundries, and we’ll be fine. Surely, we can fit pancakes and sundries into our budget. How hard can it be?

Greg says I’m the one with flawed logic and that I need to work on my budgeting skills. Since I recognize an expensive loaf of bread when I see one, though, I’m not sure what he’s talking about.

Then he called me a cow, which was mean and temporarily put my Collect All the College Kids plans on hold.

Greg feels like it’s important at this point to note for the record that he did not call me a cow, but I was there so I would know.

See, we took one night to ourselves while we’re here. One night while Abby was studying with the rest of my Future Children to walk the beach in Waikiki. We found a little patio restaurant at sunset looking at Diamond Head. We took this picture and posted it on Facebook.

He ordered the pulled pork sandwich. I ordered the fish tacos. We eavesdropped on our neighbors’ conversations while I had a pretty drink, the color of the purple clouds in the azure sky.

Greg leaned over and took my hand. He looked into my eyes and said, “I really like that trough they served your tacos in.”

That trough, he said.

That… trough.

 

“Greg, did you just say I’m eating out of a trough?”

Greg looked afraid.

“NO,” he said. “I definitely did not say that.”

“Did you, Gregory, or did you not just say that this is my taco trough?”

“I DIDN’T,” he said. “I SWEAR.”

“DID you,” I asked, head tilted curiously to the side, eyes turning as black and alien as the approaching night sky, eager to swallow the human before me, “therefore liken me to a trough-like creature? Say, a horse? Or a cow?”

“NO!” he said.

And now, days later, he continues to deny it.

Whenever I want to mess with him, I just whisper, “trough.” He winces, and I giggle. I haven’t told him yet how many College Kids he has to let me keep for me to let the Trough Comment go; I’m holding that part in reserve for negotiations to be held at a later date.

In conclusion, let’s pray for Greg, friends. Although he must have committed some sort of heinous crime in a previous life to have to go through this one with me, he really is a dear and doesn’t quite deserve the eye tick I’m giving him.

Dear Jesus,
Please help Greg survive his trip to Hawaii.
And also his life with Beth. 

In your precious name,
Amen

 

 

 

P.S. Greg loves travelling with me. My family calls him Poor Greg. I don’t know why. He’s the luckiest.