Fall woods

Fall woods

Thursday, October 20, 2016

All Choked Up

Today, I got the email below from Thing Two's case manager, who is the school social worker.

I just wanted to let you know J and I met with the 5th grade boys today to do a bullying/cyberbullying presentation. [Thing Two] got a bit choked up over one of the videos we showed and discussed.  We were able to get him right back on track by talking about how it all ended well and why.  He participated from beginning to end and had great things to add throughout our class period together.

As the boys were leaving I pulled him aside to make sure he was ok and he said he was fine. I just wanted you to be aware. He’s such a sweet and caring child!

Love that kid.  There is a whole lot of bullheaded stubborn in him but zero meanness and he just will not tolerate weaker kids being picked on.  Good thing he's on the big side, since he's got a protective streak a mile wide.  

On a related note, my best girlfriend's fifth grade daughter has been having some trouble in school this week.  Leaving out the details to protect the guilty, there was (by all accounts, in consensus) an altercation in which the other girl hit first and my friend's daughter hit second.  Both were disciplined appropriately by the school.  As part of that process, my friend was offered the opportunity to have her daughter switched from one fifth grade student group to another so that this other girl would no longer be in her classes.  My friend's daughter refused to switch, because (as she told her mother) if she changed groups then she wouldn't be with Thing Two anymore to make sure nobody picks on him.  Apparently he doesn't always get things the first time they are said and she worries about him. Those two have been in school together since they were four and she watches over him like a hawk.  

Of course, I told my friend to do what is best for her daughter and not to worry about Thing Two, but I am touched to the core that this little girl would deliberately choose to remain in classes with a kid who has bullied her off and on for years rather than abandon (as she perceives it) my son.  

Clearly Thing Two isn't the only sweet kid in this fifth grade class.  And he's got himself one fierce guardian angel who isn't afraid to throw a punch!


Wednesday, October 19, 2016


I am a master of multitasking and efficiency but this week has me beat.  Last weekend's soccer games (two of which were way, WAY away games) banged up the schedule big-time and we are still recovering.  Everything will get done, but at a cost.  Isn't that always the way?  Opportunity costs for doing or not doing the activities, both; finding the balance is the eternal struggle.

Hiding in the home office right now since I can't face the presidential debate.  Thing One is watching it as a school assignment and I would rather jam bamboo stakes under every fingernail than go near that TV.  Seriously contemplating drinking the last hard cider, putting on my PJs and going to bed!  It's been a long day and enough already.

Is it too much to hope that His Orangeness says something of such all-encompassing Trumpness tonight that the delusional will finally have their eyes opened about him??

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sick To My Stomach

Yes, Donald Trump is an utterly vile, pathetically insecure, totally contemptible excuse for a human being.  He's the living embodiment of the racist, misogynistic, xenophobic underbelly of our country and apparently a bad businessman to boot.  I totally understand why every newspaper in the country is currently denouncing his candidacy and endorsing his opponent.

But guess what?  All you newspapers?  And TV stations?  And online news outlets??  You had your chance to take this stand way back when.  Way back when there were actually legitimate, non-batshit-crazy, in-bed-with-Putin, women-hating candidates for the GOP nomination in the running.  And did you do it then?  Oh no.  The circus he created was WAY too good for your ratings to chance upsetting that applecart.  Now it's too late to do the right thing.  And furthermore, I'd argue that your doing the right thing too late is actually *counterproductive*, because all the nutjobs who are actually enthusiastic about his candidacy are now seeing this last minute frantic media disavowal as evidence of a left wing media conspiracy and it is actually increasing his fan base as a counterreaction, if my Facebook feed is anything to go by.  (I've never been so tempted to unfriend people I used to like as I am now, by the way.)

Way to go, guys.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

It's The Little Things

It being a holiday weekend, there will be soccer tournaments.  I believe it is a law of nature up there with gravitation and classical mechanics.  The boys are playing in tournaments in two different states (the girl is blessedly off this weekend) so it is going to be a 'divide and conquer' couple of days for Himself and me.  We had a rough idea of how we were going to handle the logistics until all the emails from Thing Two's team manager started coming in yesterday afternoon.

Seems that the fields where his tourney is being played have limited parking and each team has been issued only six parking passes for 12-14 players plus a coach.  (Since I was in the car with Petunia helping her with her homework during Thing Two's practice on Wednesday, I missed this.)  There is a park and ride shuttle to the fields from a central collecting area, but with an unknown schedule for that and a very set schedule for soccer games, that's a big wild card.  By far and away the wisest thing to do is to tag up with somebody who got one of the parking passes, but I have to admit that my first thought about that was something along the lines of "Aw, crap."

I've mentioned before that all three of my kids are new to their teams this year.  That left us with something on the order of 45 new kids to identify plus all their families to keep straight between the three teams, kind of a tall order especially at the beginning of the season.  I figured everyone who was lucky enough to get a parking pass would have already filled their car with people they've known for years, leaving me and Thing Two to figure out the shuttle schedule.  Since we live a good half an hour from the town this new club is based in, when we decided to switch the kids over we did it knowing that we'd likely be the odd ones out socially just for geographic reasons.  

Then I got home and found the message on my phone from another family asking if we wanted to ride with them.  Made me feel really good as the new kid on the block, I won't lie.  Then, we decided to switch and have me drive instead of them because I have a bigger-capacity soccer mom mobile, and I was able to offer another mom and boy a ride too.  Building a community one carpool at a time.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

An Introduction To International Travel

Not for me or Himself: both of us spent a significant chunk of our childhoods living overseas and Himself has managed to accrue more than a million (literally) miles flown on one airline alone since he started working after law school.  The kids, however, had only flown to see grandparents and friends within the continental US until last week.  Thing One the geography buff has been begging us for years to take him somewhere, ANYWHERE, abroad.  This spring, we started planning a trip to London (piggybacking on a business trip for Himself) and arranged to get all three of them passports.

Because the kids had to miss school, we could only manage three full days in London.  Nevertheless, since Himself spends a lot of time there and is very familiar with the city, we made the most of the experience.  We found an apartment near Trafalgar Square on airbnb; much more convenient than a hotel since it had more space plus a tiny kitchenette and even tinier washer/dryer.  In our three days, we saw the Tower of London, St Paul's, the Globe Theater, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the London Eye, a small chunk of the British Museum (you could spend days there, but Thing One had to see the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles...) and walked about 28 miles according to Himself's Garmin watch.  Seriously.  An absolutely fabulous time was had by all and we have now recovered from the jet lag, more or less.  Only took a couple of days.

Now planning the next trip.  Think it will be Munich this time.  Bring on the world.  :)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

All Becomes Clear

So, I understand now how special needs kids fall through the cracks.

When Thing One was in fifth grade, I was only peripherally aware of what he was doing at school.  He kept track of his homework assignments.  He did them and turned them in without prompting.  God knows I never saw the child crack a book, but apparently he knew his stuff because he did (and does) well on tests.

Thing Two, on the other hand, cannot find his (school-related) ass with both hands and a flashlight.  Getting him to understand the assignment and bring home the correct materials is only half the battle; then (depending on the subject and assignment) I either need to guide him as he does it or check his work afterward.  I don't mind, really.  I love the kid and his teachers are really trying hard to get him organized from the school end too.


I am also a highly educated stay-home parent with the time and patience (usually, anyway...) to get the kid through his homework or studying or whatever.  Plus I have the resources at my disposal to hire professionals to help him where he needs help (currently, pragmatic speech and reading comprehension.)  And it's STILL an uphill battle right now.  Kids with working parents or ESL parents etc etc etc...I don't get how all of this happens at their houses.  If it does, my hat is off to them because this shit ain't easy under even good circumstances.

If I back off, at least now, he won't get through.  There is no freaking way.  I'll have to figure out how to taper my involvement over time.  But in the meantime, looks like I'm doing fifth grade again myself.  Complete with relearning how to multiply and divide decimals.  Ugh.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Last Saturday, Thing One was tripped while making a full-speed run at goal during a soccer game.  Both boys went down, Thing One landing heavily on his left wrist.  He nodded when the ref asked if he was ok.  But he wasn't.  I could tell by the way he was holding his arm for the remainder of the game.  Thank all the saints his wrist wasn't broken, most likely just (ha!) sprained.  After a week or so he had most of the full range of motion back in the joint and had stopped wearing his protective wrist brace, although he did say that when he raised his hand in class yesterday the entire class cringed at the bruising that still stretches halfway down to his elbow.

Then, two days ago, he was in another on-field collision.  Legitimate, nothing dirty, just an opposing striker trying to score and Thing One the centerback hell-bent on stopping him.  The other boy got up, but Thing One did not.  He was down on the field, curled on his side.  Since the ref can't stop play for an injury (soccer having a horrible track record of flopping) the boys on his team were screaming at the kid with the ball to kick it out of bounds.  The second it cleared the sideline, the boys were kneeling by Thing One and two of them put their arms around his shoulders and helped him limp off the field while we watched in horror, having no idea what was hurt or how badly but guessing it was his ankle.

For injuries not requiring an ambulance, it's not cricket for parents to approach the bench during a game.  We sent Petunia over to scout out the situation, and he told her that he'd been kicked in the ankle and was doing okay but wouldn't be playing anymore that game.  The best of a bunch of bad alternatives, to be sure, but his ankle was still swollen and black and blue when we got home and got a look at it.

At this level, the kids aren't man-sized, but they are big enough.  Thing One is about 5'8" and 130 pounds and a good number of the kids out there are bigger than he is.  When two of them crash, or when even one of them hits the ground, there's a lot of force involved and somebody is going to get hurt.  Force equals mass times acceleration and all that.  Physics is a bitch.  And I am going to be spending a lot of time over the next few years watching my babies get hurt and hating every goddamned minute of it.