Today is picture day at school. I have never been one to make the kid dress up for picture day, I figure if he wants to, great, if not, that’s OK, I’m gonna love him whether he’s in a suit or t-shirt, right? We’ve never really talked about it, I just ask him if there’s something special he wants to wear for picture day, he says no, and we get on with life. This is year six of picture day being a total non-issue at my house.
On the way to school, we pick up our carpool buddy, who looks *adorable* for picture day in her maxi skirt and pigtails. She looks at him, in his tie-dye t-shirt and shorts and here’s what follows:
Her: It’s PICTURE DAY! You FORGOT!
Him: No I didn’t.
Her: Then why are you wearing THAT? You’re supposed to dress up for picture day! It’s really important!
Him: I like it. And it’s not important, it’s just clothes.
Her: But this is the picture that will be in the yearbook! Everyone will remember you like this!
Him: Right… because this is how I always look. Why do I want people to remember me how I never looked?
Her: (sigh) You’re crazy.
Him: Yeah. I’m also comfortable. And I like what I’m wearing. You?
Her: My legs itch and my mom made me wear this. Plus my hair hurts.
Her: Me too.
The kid tells me you’re the guy to talk to about wishes. I don’t know a lot about Christmas because this is my first one. I don’t really get it – I’m not sure why they won’t let me eat those GIANT socks that are hanging up (LOOK at it – big and fuzzy and tasty!), or how a tree grew inside the living room (and what are those shiny things all over it, anyway?), but the kid says you can wish for things at Christmas, so here I am.
First of all, I hear there’s some kind of naughty/nice list. And I don’t know if you have one for dogs, but if you do, I *might* be on the naughty list… but I promise I can explain. See, even though I’m big, I’m really still just a puppy, which means there is so much stuff to learn. And a whole lotta “don’ts”.
“Don’t eat the socks, Steve.”
“Drop the Lego piece, Steve.”
“Your leash is not a chew toy, Steve.”
“Don’t take the cucumbers off the table, Steve.”
“Don’t jump up on people, even when you’re just crazy-happy to see them, Steve.”
See what I mean? How am I supposed to know these things? And they’re hard to remember. I mean, I know I’m not supposed to eat socks, or food off the table, but sometimes, my sniffer gets the better of me. So I’m thinking I should get a pass this year and still get a chance for a wish.
That’s where you come in, Santa. I would like to wish for someone of my own. I’m really not picky. Just someone who will give me food and water, let me live in their house, love me and play with me. Someone who will teach me how to follow all the rules, and use treats to do it. And maybe someone who wouldn’t mind so much if I sat on the couch.
I like having other dogs and/or a big kid to play with, but it’s not required. I really like walks when I remember that’s what the leash is for and not tug-of-war. I might even like to run or hike with someone if they can teach me how. I’m working really hard on this game the kid calls “fetch”, but sometimes it’s just so hard to give the ball back to the person, you know? I worry they won’t throw it again, and then I’ll be without the ball!
I know that lots of people wish for dogs, too, which is why I’m thinking you can help me out. But not everyone is the right person for me. For example,
“Dear Santa, please bring me a small, fluffy dog, that I can put in my purse and carry around.”
“Dear Santa, I would like a calm, laid back dog to be in his crate all day when I’m at work and then sit on the couch with me and watch TV when I come home.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOOOOOOVE couch-sitting and TV-watching. But I also need to run around and play. And although I *could* sit in my crate all day, it would make me very unhappy because I would miss my people so much. The purse thing is an absolute no-go, though, unless someone wants to tote 55 lbs or so around.
Here’s what someone wishing for me might write:
“Dear Santa, I wish for a dog. One with a big heart. He should be a decent size, and love to run and play outside. He doesn’t have to be perfectly behaved yet, as long as he tries hard, I will work with him patiently to help him get there. I would like him to be young, but not a tiny puppy – 9 months to a year is perfect. I want a happy dog, one who greets me enthusiastically every time I come home, whether it’s been 4 hours or 5 minutes. My perfect dog will snuggle with me after we play, want to ride in the car with me, make me laugh, and never get tired of being with me.”
Here’s the other thing. If I get my own people for Christmas, the kid and his mom can help another dog get their wish of a foster family. A dog who might be all alone and cold on the street, or one who is scared in the shelter. It’s a good gig here – warm bed, good food, lots of play-time, and I love the kid and his mom, but I think I’m ready to help some other people now. I know there are lots of people who need to be loved, and snuggled, and walked and played with for the next 10-15 years – surely at least one of them has wished for a dog like me. Won’t you please help me find them?
Yesterday was a snow day. The kid hopped out of bed at 7 am and spent most of the day doing this:
He had a friend over, they played outside, we had hot chocolate, a fire in the fireplace, you know, all the “snow day” things.
Today, when he got up, he said, “Mom! Look at all the cool icicles outside!” I glanced out the kitchen window, murmured, “Wow, neat” and went back to the business of consuming caffeine. An hour later, I looked out the window again, and thought to myself, “How odd, it’s raining! No, maybe that’s just snow melting and the wind is blowing it. No… wait…”
Not melting snow.
The water spigot attached to the hose. Spraying EVERYWHERE. And those “cool icicles” I completely ignored?
Me: Hey, is there something you want to tell me about the hose outside?
Kid: Um… well… I turned it on yesterday to see if it would clear some snow, but nothing came out so I turned it off.
Me: If nothing came out, how do you know you turned it off?
Kid: I turned it all the way until it stopped.
Me: ON. YOU TURNED IT ALL THE WAY ON. There must have been ice in the hose, the pressure from it being on broke the seal where the hose was attached to the spigot and THE WATER HAS BEEN RUNNING ALL NIGHT LONG.
Kid: Oooooohhhhhh… um… sorry?
So you parents out there, on that list of things you tell your kids NEVER to touch without your permission, you know the one with matches, knives, ovens, guns, poison, medications, etc? Add the garden hose to that list. Seriously, go do it now.
It’s no secret that the kid hates writing. He is more than happy to tell anyone who will listen that the act of putting pen (or pencil) to paper with the goal of producing WORDS is one of his personal levels of hell. OK, he doesn’t actually say that, but if he knew what it meant, believe me, he would.
Well, he’s in 3rd grade now. The big time. Standardized tests, independent reading and… LOTS of writing. (“LOTS of writing”, in his opinion, is anything more than “no writing”.)
He came home the other day muttering. I could pick out the words “stupid”, “mean”, “terrible” and “writing”.
(please pause with me as I heave a big sigh, roll my eyes and put on my “good-mom” face.)
“Heeeyyyyy, Buddy! What’s going on?” was greeted with a whole slew of words, many of them the ones I already mentioned, but boiling down to the fact that he had to write a rough draft for a story.
With my “good-mom” face on, I sat down with him and explained the merits and virtues of rough draft writing. How it helps you plan out your ideas, see if your writing flows well and gives you an idea of how everything fits together. Rough drafts are an important tool for exploring your writing and an avenue to test things that may or may not make it into the final product. They are beneficial and help create a more solid finished story.
He totally didn’t buy it.
Perhaps that’s because behind my “good-mom” face, he caught a glimpse of my “total-hypocrite” face. What I didn’t tell him was this: In college, I failed music history… because I refused to do a rough draft. I turned in my final paper (which, incidentally, got an “A”) but never turned in a rough draft because I didn’t write one. The professor insisted I needed one to complete the assignment, and I argued that if I could turn in an “A” paper without it, I shouldn’t need to go BACK and write one. Obviously, she disagreed, I still refused out of principle, and was rewarded with an “Incomplete”, which later changed to an “F”.
So as he slouched off muttering some more with the addition of, “I don’t know why moms and teachers always have to be on the same side, especially when it’s the WRONG side,” I smiled, briefly considered calling him back to tell my story, then decided to write this blog instead. With no rough draft.
*Disclaimer: this is one of those blog posts that only really terrible mothers write. you know, the posts that their kids would be mortified to discover was out there on the internet. So I’m going to ask you to *not* tattle on me to kid-world. Don’t tell my kid it’s here, and don’t share it with yours. In exchange, I will graciously accept my “Worst Mother of the Year” award and allow you a glimpse into 8-year-old-boy-brain.
Here’s the current household dilemma: The kid has “a crush” (his words, not mine) on a girl. That’s right. My baby likes a girl. 8-years-old. Third grade. Like LIKE-likes a girl. How did this happen?
He is trying to decide whether to tell her, and it is clearly causing great angst. There is waffling, “What if”-ing and general drama. I’m told there was even some getting in trouble for talking, “Because I was trying to talk to other people to get my mind off it.” There is talk of notes delivered by friends, discussion of people who may or may not give good advice (adults, incidentally are squarely in the “Not Helpful” category) and lists of pros and cons. On the way home from school yesterday (because the car is the best place for these kinds of conversations – no eye contact required), we had the following chat…
The kid: One friend said I should just tell her.
Me: That seems like sound advice
The kid: I was thinking I could write her a note on Friday, and another one of my friends says he thinks she might live in his neighborhood, and if she does, he could put it in her mailbox.
Me: That sounds like an awful lot of trouble for everyone involved. And then what if it gets lost? Or goes in the wrong mailbox? Or she knows someone else with your name?
The kid: (SIGH) I knew adults wouldn’t be any help. I asked my guy friends for advice. They didn’t have any. Maybe I’ll ask my cousins.
Me: That actually sounds like a very sensible idea.
The kid: Why?
Me: Because you have a cousin who is a GIRL and who is also 2 years older than you.
The kid: And?
Me: And… you’re looking for advice on GIRLS. Who better to tell you about GIRLS than a GIRL?
The kid: (clearly, this line of reasoning had not occurred to him) Huh. Yeah. OK…
Me: So, let me ask you a question. What happens next?
The kid: What do you mean?
Me: You know, you tell her you have a crush on her, and say she says she likes you too. What happens then?
The kid: (5 full seconds of silence) I don’t know. I didn’t think that far.
Man, it must be hard to be 8.
How did we get here? It started with this conversation we had on the way home from school.
Kid: My head hurts.
Me: I’m sorry, do you need some medicine?
Kid: No, I think it’s just because I got hit in the head with three balls at recess.
Me: Wait, what?
Kid: Yep. Three times in a row. Hard. It really hurt. And everything went black on the last one, I couldn’t see for, like, 5 seconds.
Me: WHAT?? What did your teachers say?
Kid: Oh, they hugged me, and told the other kids to be more careful. But I didn’t tell them my head hurt, or about not being able to see.
Me: sigh… Just for future reference, losing vision for any amount of time is ABSOLUTELY something you should tell an adult about.
(Just go ahead and insert your own version of the remainder of the conversation which mostly concerned the EXACT definition of “losing vision” mostly centered around the kid asking questions like, “I can’t see when I blink, should I tell an adult then?” and “What about sleeping?”)
We got home and called the pediatrician. They called us back, “Take him to the ER.” Down to the children’s ER we go. 2 triage nurses, 3 room nurses, 2 interns, a child life specialist, a records person, an attending physician, an eye ultrasound, a neurological test and 3 hours later, we are released with the above diagnosis and the promise of an ER bill. Yay.
Oh, and on the way home from the ER?
Kid: Going to the ER is awesome! I didn’t have to clean the basement or do the dishes or have a bath AND I got to eat dinner out! I’m going to thank those kids who hit me in the head tomorrow!
Way to look at the bright side, kid. Glass half full.
Yesterday, the kid started 3rd grade. In a brand new school. He had already met his teachers and seen his classroom, and knew several kids in his class. We love the school, love his teachers, he’s excited to go and has been telling me how he thinks this year is going to be great. The first day was only 2 hours, a “lemonade drop in” with half the class. We got up in the morning with plenty of time to spare, got ready, got out the door, arrived at school (where he declared he did not need me to walk him in) and so I sent him on his way.
Two hours later, I picked him up.
The kid: Worst first day of school. Ever.
Me: (Swallow the panic. This can’t be right. How can things have gone so horribly wrong in 2 hours with only 11 kids?) Why? What happened?
The kid: I had to wait TWO HOURS for car line pick up.
Me: I dropped you off at school two hours and fifteen minutes ago… I’m pretty sure you haven’t been waiting for pick up for two hours.
The kid: (dramatic sigh) You KNOW what I mean. It FELT like 2 hours. It was SO LONG. I was WAITING AND WAITING.
Me: OK, well… how was the rest of your day?
The kid: I had to greet people. It was horrible.
Me: I’m sorry? You had to what?
The kid: GREET PEOPLE. You know, the teacher counts you off, 1, 2, 1, 2… and all the ones go in a circle on the inside and all the twos go in a circle on the outside and the ones go this way and the twos go that way and you have to shake hands with every person and greet them. It was horrible. And we’re going to have to do it every day for a year. (another dramatic sigh)
Me: (trying to sound sympathetic and understanding and absolutely not succeeding) Um… that sounds just terrible. Did ANYTHING good happen today?
The kid: Well… I made a new best friend, she’s the girl who sits next to me.
Me: That’s great! What’s her name?
The kid: I don’t know.
Me: (so obviously that greeting thing is working out…) Anything else?
The kid: My class has a lot of weird kids. But the good kind of weird. Interesting weird.
Me: (Please, please, please tell me you did not call everyone weird…) OK… anything else?
The kid: We painted with lemons, we played a new game outside and we did a scavenger hunt. We also had lemonade and had animal crackers.
Me: Wow, that sounds like a lot! And all those things were awful, too?
The kid: (looking at me like I’m a crazy person) No, those things were awesome. Why would those things be awful?
Me: Um… because you said it was the worst first day of school ever.
The kid: Well, maybe not the worst. Actually, it was pretty good. Except for the waiting forever to be picked up. And the greeting thing. Those were the worst. If it wasn’t for those things, it would be the best first day of school ever. So really, it was the best worst day. Or the worst best day or the… (mumble mumble best/worst/horrible/awesome and various other synonyms and combinations).
Me: Right… so, are you excited about going back tomorrow?
The kid: Yes! Oh, wait… except tomorrow, the whole class will be there, and so there will be twice as many people to greet. (sigh)
Man, 3rd grade is rough.