Sunday, September 25, 2016

Praying I'll Get This Right

There's a new documentary on Netflix called "Audrie and Daisy".  I love a good documentary, so I was delighted to be able to watch it tonight while I did the ironing (got some housework done this weekend!).  The internet even cooperated, which was a rare treat.

The story is about young girls who have been sexually assaulted by young men, mostly after becoming highly intoxicated.  One victim actually committed suicide.  Simply horrific and as a mom, impossible to imagine.

It's a tough world we live in now, run by the internet and social media.  It even rules our presidential elections.  It's a world we middle-aged parents can't possibly understand completely, and therefore it can be highly challenging to navigate with our kids.  I for one am terrified.  I'm raising two men.  Right now they are 13 and 14, one in his last year of middle school and one in his first year of high school.  The girls in this documentary were their ages.  13.  14.  My God.

When I was in 8th grade I had very few friends.  The way I communicated with them in school was to pass creatively folded notes that we had written on with an actual pen.  A colorful, glittery pen, maybe, but that was the most advanced technology we had.  One time a kid asked me if I wanted a joint on my way into school.  I ran away in tears.  I knew NOBODY who drank or did drugs.  A few smoked cigarettes, but I thought they were sort of scary and besides, they seemed to just do it to scare people like me.  I had a couple friends who had kissed, but it was closed mouth usually, and if there was tongue it was a big darn deal.  My biggest worries were wondering if I would ever grow boobs and wishing I had a boy to hold hands with in the hall.  With interlocking fingers.  You know, the cool way.  I'm sure some darker stuff was going on somewhere, but I promise you, it was not all that common.  Parties were still where you go to a friend's house, sleepover, eat popcorn and watch R rated horror movies and then have trouble sleeping because you're afraid someone will put your hand in warm water so you'll pee after you fall asleep.

Worrying that boys might draw obscene things on my genitals with sharpies after they sexually assault me while I'm passed out drunk was not something I could have even imagined.

But alas, here we are.  This is happening.  And I think it happens more often than we want to know.  Every single thing about it terrifies me.  The raping of these young girls is horrific.  And so is the drinking, drugging, and the posting all the evidence on social media.  The ghoulish bullying.  I can't even comprehend it, much less know how to avoid it.

So both the boys wandered in and out of the living room tonight while I was watching.  I paused the show and talked to them both individually about it.  The highschooler actually watched quite a bit of it with me first.  I told them that I certainly hope they would never consider asking a girl to text them a naked photo of herself.  They don't even have smartphones (yet) so it's not that big of a worry, but the highschooler is getting one for his birthday next month so this is sort of timely.  Now my boys have never had a girlfriend.  I know they have buddies who sort of have, but really, it's been very short and very innocent.  For now, they both seem mystified and a bit frightened of the fairer sex.  Which is fine by me.  But we talked about how these girls had their lives ruined after one night of some bad decision making, and how devastating the whole thing is.  How important it is to respect young women, have boundaries and self control, and not do anything that you know in your gut is the wrong thing.  And if they ever see anything inappropriate to stop it and to report it, to never be passive about it, since that is as bad as participating.

I know they're good boys.  But I bet the moms of these boys on this show thought they had good boys.  This is tricky.  I want my boys to be fine men.  To love women the right way.  To protect them and shield them and make them laugh.  To kiss them when the young lady waits for them to.  I think they will be that kind of men.  I pray they will.  And I guess that's all I can do--Pray, pray, pray, and talk to them about it pretty much all the time.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Shaking the Dust Off.

WOW it has been over two years since I posted.

I think I had given it up.  My life has been bonkers for two years.  It's still bonkers, but I think I'm pretty used to the bonkers now.

For anyone out there who is either new to this little blog or who has simply forgotten who I am due to time or the fact that nothing I was writing about was earth-shattering anyway, a brief recap:  I was a stay-at-home mom to two darling boys, happily married to my man.  I call the kiddos A (the firstborn-now 14) and J (the baby-now 13) for really dumb reasons considering pretty much everyone who reads this knows me or will probably never meet me, and the hubby is called just hubby.  I started writing this blog as a form of therapy.  I had been doing my thing for several years, and I think I needed an outlet, a way to express myself and hopefully find some like-minded folk out there who would help me convince myself that I wasn't completely nuts.  That was the beginning.  And then I just started writing a LOT when my dad was really sick, and it grew from there.

People have been so kind who have read my posts, and have helped me through some tough situations.  It really did help me while I was writing to have that outlet, I felt like I had a little community, like not only was I not alone in my head, but almost everyone I know has very similar struggles.  So it grew, and I kept writing.  I'd have times when I wrote less and times when I wrote more.

But then I stopped.

I think I stopped for several reasons.  Time crunched as my kids were growing older and getting involved in more activities.  I thought I didn't have anything else important left to say.  I was annoying myself.  And there was a funny feeling when I'd talk to people who I knew were reading my posts that they knew so much more about me than I knew about them.  And it sort of freaked me out.

So here I am.  I have decided it's ok if you know me better than I know you, although I'd LOVE to get to know you better.  Back at my (new) computer with a glass of wine, typing again.  I don't have time to do this.  I am AT THIS SECOND feeling guilty that the kitchen is a mess, the laundry isn't caught up, there is dog hair EVERYWHERE and A is eating a tortilla and cheese roll up (that he made) up in his room for dinner as he watches probably episode 14,594 of The Office.  I'm splurging because I have a couple free hours where the hubby has taken J to football practice and I am--gasp--staying home.  Here's the thing:  I have missed this.  I think I have needed this.  SO much has happened since we were last together, dear readers, that I'm going to have to put it out there in chunks, or I fear I will lose you.  You are my community, we are each other's therapists.  So baby steps it shall be.

Let me just say that much has changed.  A is now a freshman in high school.  Gulp.  J is in his last year of middle school.  Parenting kids this age is a WHOLE NEW BALLGAME and there are barely any mommy blogs out there about it.  So sorry, folks, but if you're looking for one, you're stuck with me and very few others.  I'll do my best.  Hubby is still an air traffic controller, but will hopefully be retiring very soon.  We seriously don't have time for him to have a job right now.  Did I just say that? Oh and I HAVE A JOB!  I'm actually getting paid to do a job.  Not much, mind you, not nearly enough for what I do, but holy crap I cannot tell you how much it means to me.

I am a "Special Education Paraprofessional" in our school district.  Like lots of moms my age.  That's a fancy name for teacher's aide.  In many ways, it's a cake job that I'm unbelievably lucky to have landed.  School hours, off during the summers (unless you choose to work summer school which I have), off whenever school is off.  Seriously could not be better.  That's how they justify the horrible hourly wage, I'm sure.

But my position is especially special, in my humble opinion.  I was very honored to be selected to work in the elementary DCDS room in our district.  I work full time with kiddos who have severe developmental or cognitive delays.  Which means none of the students in my room are verbal and I deal with lots of wheelchairs and adaptive equipment along with their angel faces all day.  And people, WHO KNEW???  This is totally my calling.  I wish I could go back in time and tell a younger me that this is what I needed to do, because I should have started this years ago!  I am currently in my second full-time year after doing a full year of subbing for the room.  I'll go on and on about this gig, carefully, so I need you all to know this is what I'm referring to when I talk about my job.

Other than the new job, things are just busy and silly here at the Suburban Farmhouse.  A and J are still playing baseball in the summer, hubby is still coaching.  J is still playing football, and hubby is coaching that as well.  A is now on the high school Trapshooting team, which is super cool, and hubby is (phew!) not coaching that.  Happy the Dog is still happy, lazy, chasing the ever-evasive squirrels, and getting chubby.  I'm working, momming, wifing, laundrying (yikes spellcheck does not like my words), mowing, loving my dog, TRYING to get together occasionally with friends, and trying to figure out how to schedule a damn mammogram.  That's the Christmas Card summary.  I'll dive into WAY deeper stuff in coming posts.  My darlings, I have so much to share with you.  This first post back has been a boring one at best, but bear with me.  I'm rusty, but I am happy to be here, and I hope you're all happy to see me.  Please do stay tuned.  XOXO

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Glamour Don't

We're funny about our hair, aren't we?  I mean, I get it.  It's a big part of our appearance, and it can be a big part of our personality.  Unless you are a young boy, and then you probably don't care about it.  At all.

I have curly hair.  It was blonde when I was a kid, darker blonde as a young adult, and then I had kids.  And either pregnancy or motherhood turned my hair into this very unfortunate ashy brown non-color.  So I fake it.  I get my hair colored, and have been coloring it for almost two decades, off and on.  I'm also starting to sprout some gray ones, so the coloring has become even more important.  I have it done at a salon rather than doing it myself from a box.  Not because I have any problem with coloring your own hair, I'm just really bad at it.  I choose the wrong color, and I for some reason have an awful time getting all my hair covered with the goo--it ends up a horrible mess.  So I leave it to the professionals.

Since a trip to the salon is ridiculously expensive, I always put it off until desperation sets in, which sometimes results in some strange decision-making on my part.

Like yesterday.

My poor, frizzy, overgrown, odd-colored hair had been in a ponytail for months.  I was sick of it, and so I started scouring the internet for hairstyle ideas.  Ready for a change.  I googled medium length curly hair styles, and found hundreds of lovely images of women with beautiful hair.  I was being realistic, I thought, choosing styles I thought looked low-maintenance and age appropriate, and colors that I liked.  I put a few on Facebook to get some input on which one I should pick.

I went into the salon yesterday, armed with my photos and ready.  I do not have a regular stylist, folks.  I went to one girl for several years about 10 years ago, but then she moved away.  Other than her, I don't think I've ever been to the same person twice.  I'm always looking for a more reasonable price, and I've not had an amazing enough experience yet to feel like I've found my person.  Or maybe I actually don't care that much.  

So in I went, same place I went to last time, but different girl.  This one was young.  That can be a positive or a negative.  She was happy I brought in a picture.  I took out my ponytail holder and she started cutting away.  

The pile on the floor was a little unnerving.  

I have short hair now.  Short.  There is no place on my head where the hair is long enough to be pulled into a ponytail holder.  It is so short that it curled up way more than normal, and turned into a ball.  A round, bumpy ball.

She nailed the color though.  I'm happy with that.

You know what's weird?  The whole experience of being at a salon.  I hate it, personally.  I'm a pretty social person, but I feel SO awkward at the salon.  Having your hair brushed, cut, washed, dried, colored and styled is a very intimate thing, and you're having it done by a stranger.  Some lady you've never met before is running their hand through your hair, washing it, leaning in really close to you, and practically dragging their boobs in your face while they wash your hair.  If you think about it, it's really weird.  And the whole time they're making small talk with you.  I always feel so gross.  The ladies are always more done up than me, usually very pretty, and I have come in feeling like my hair is disgusting (which is why I made the appointment in the first place).  They proceed to drape a tent around me, fluff out my overgrown, colorless hair, stand behind me in the mirror and look at me through my reflection to talk about the plan.  I look like a tipi with a head, under too much lighting and no make up.  Then I have to sit there for a VERY long time in front of a ginormous mirror.  And don't get me started on how I look with the crazy foils all in there, when I'm sitting for half hour trying not to look at myself in the mirror...  It's godawful, really.  When they're done, I usually look at least better than I did when I came in, so I pay, get a little gut rot at how much it cost, thank them, gush about the great job they did, and hurry to my car to check it out in the privacy of my rear-view mirror.  Then I rush home to try to "fix" it the way I want it.  It's no wonder I go so infrequently.

Anyway, yesterday she did do a nice job.  She got the color just right, and she cut it pretty much like the picture I brought in.  It just ended up a couple inches shorter.  And my hair does curl up, so it ends up even shorter when it dries.  Thus, the bumpy round ball.

I got home and ran to the bathroom before anyone could see me.  But I couldn't do much with it, so after fiddling with it, I just went out to face the men in my house.  My sweet J gave me a hug and said it looks really pretty.  I think he was just concerned because I looked like I was going to cry.  When A saw me his eyes got as big as golf balls, and he just said, "you look really different!  I don't even recognize you...."  And the hubby said "wow."  I couldn't tell what it meant, but he said he really liked the color.  

It's so stupid, really.  In two weeks it will have grown out a little bit, the shock factor will be gone, and I'll have figured out something to do with it.  It will be a non-issue.  But for now, it's sort of terrifying.

Here's the pictures I brought in: 

The color I wanted.
The style I was hoping for.

It doesn't look like either one.  I'll show you all a picture tomorrow, after I've washed it and done it myself.  I'd show one right now, but I can't bear to take a picture of it.  Short hair bed head is not nice.

Have a good hair day, everyone!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dad's Day and Other Stuff

Happy Dad's day, y'all!

On a side note, I just had to step away to get a rag to wipe up the sticky, mysterious crud off my desk in front of my keyboard so I could continue to type.  Dang kid gets in here and plays Minecraft and makes a mess.  At what age to children stop leaving a residue?  Ick.

Back to Father's Day.  I wrote a post a couple years ago that still says how I feel about today.  You can find it here, you should go read it.  I don't know if I can write it any better today.

The weather today kind of sucks.  We got a ton of rain last night, and the it's still hanging on this morning.  And my hubby has to work tonight.  All the men in the house are still sleeping right now, and I'm still in my jammies, so I'm not sure what we're going to do.  We might try to go out to breakfast, but that's about all we'll have time for.  The kids and I got him a couple gifts and cards, and I'm feeling lucky that he's not the kind of guy who likes a big event where he's the star.  If it were up to him, he'd get a nice sunny day off, where he could enjoy the yard for a while, take me out on a motorcycle ride, get a burger and beer, and end the day watching our DVR shows while eating some ice cream.  He's a really low maintenance guy.  Yet another reason he's perfect for me!  So I'm just going to see what he wants to do when he wakes up.

So we're going to keep our fingers crossed for good weather on Friday.  We're having some people over for a barbecue, and it would suck if we get rained out.  It's also the day we're welcoming some guests!

My chihuahua friend and her family are moving out here for 10 days!  Wheeeeee!  I'm so excited.  They are moving but have a 10 day gap between closings so they're camping out (literally) here.  They have this camper that's nicer than my house parked outside to use, and I'm seriously thinking of telling them they can have the house, and we'll take the camper...  but that would be silly, right?  It's seriously going to be a very long slumber party.  She's got two boys close to my kids' ages, and they get along awesome.  We're a pretty similar family, really.  They've even got a dog to play with Happy while they're here.

So I have a job to do.  I've got to get my house cleaned, and cleaned well enough so that it's easy to maintain for a while.  I know she's reading this, and I know she's going to comment about how silly I am and how I don't have to clean and blah blah blah, but seriously.  I'm cleaning.  And I know every person reading this right now (including her) would clean too.  Because we all clean before people are going to show up, even if it's a panicked run-through-the-house-for-15-minutes-shoving-things-into-closets kind of clean.  We clean so that people come in and think our house always looks like that.  Ha!  In my real, not expecting visitors life, my house actually looks clean about once every couple weeks, if we're lucky.  Life gets in the way, people.

I like to clean (so don't worry your cute little head about it, Miss Chihuahua).  And having company always gives me a reason to get it done.  So I really don't mind.  And if I'm going to allow myself the luxury of chatting with her as much as I hope to, I need to have the house picked up or I won't be able to relax.

I have noticed that I put a great deal of trust in the messiness of young boys.  Because when I'm having kids over, always for a sleepover because it's easier that way, I don't clean much.  I've even recently been told by a little sweetie that my house was sort of messy.  Yep, kid, that must mean I really like you.  I trust that they're not running home to their moms telling them how horrifying my house actually is, how I wear jammies and fold laundry and watch Netflix all the time, and how I let them eat Drumsticks ice cream treats for breakfast.  That got past me, by the way.  I didn't know they were doing that until it was too late, I swear.

The reason I trust this is that when my kids are lucky enough to get invited to a friend's house, I never hear about dishes in the sink or dust bunnies in the corner, or laundry piled so high on the dining room table that they had to find another place to eat.  I'm assuming these things might happen, and that they don't care.

I'm hoping that's what it means.

Because if I'm wrong, then it means that every house they go in is super clean, and I'm wrong, and my fear is true that all of you have perfectly clean houses all the time and make amazing meals three times a day and set the table and gather for every meal and have perfect beds made up for your young overnight guests and I'm just a lazy, cluttery, television addicted mother who should care more.

So I'm just going to keep believing I'm in the majority here because that feels better.

Well, hubby's up.  I gotta go find out what he wants to do.  See you later!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Oh, Brothers.

As of yesterday, we are one week into summer break.  One week.  And my boys are already squabbling as if it's late August after a very rainy summer.

It's making me crazy.

When they argue, they go into this high pitch, sing-songy whine that sounds worse than fingernails on a chalkboard.  Or rubbing styrofoam together.  Or whatever particular sound makes you REALLY cringe.  And the things they fight about!  Literally, they are 11 and 12, and still will fight about who gets to push the button on an elevator.  Or who left that empty can on the coffee table.  Or who sits on which side of the back seat.  It's so ridiculous.

They are, for the most part, pretty good brothers.  They do not physically fight (although I did witness J punching A pretty hard a couple weeks ago), and they tend to play together pretty well.  But lately...

Yesterday, for instance.  They have a buddy over for a sleepover.  Not unusual.  In fact, having friends over has become so common that they do not act any different to each other when they have company.  There was a giant argument last night because they were wrestling.  J said to "stop", and A requested that he say "Uncle".  This exchange apparently repeated several times until near hysteria, and there was hurt feelings.  That's when it was relayed to me.

Sometimes I just let them go, if they're not too close to me to drive me nuts.  But I didn't want them to keep going and make their friend feel uncomfortable, so I put a stop to it.  I also have zero tolerance for them getting violent with each other, and this was a little too close for comfort.  I made A apologize after appropriately shaming him (mua ha ha ha).  I then told them my new policy I'm trying out as of today.

Every time I hear them arguing in a ridiculous way, which is pretty much every argument they have, I will make them hug.  That's step one.  Then if it happens again within an hour, I'll make them hug again, but this time they'll have to say, "I'm sorry for fighting.  You're my brother and I love you."

Oooooh, I almost can't wait for the first argument of the day.  When I was a kid this punishment would have been torture for me, so I think this is going to be delicious.  And it's going to be a rainy day so my opportunities should come early and often.

Squabbling is a natural part of siblinghood.  I know this.  I grew up with an older brother and a younger sister, and I remember their fights well.  I rarely fought with them, due to my crippling fear of confrontation, but I remember being very upset by their hollering and chasing each other around.  Hubby has told me about how he and his brother used to fight, and it was much worse than my boys.  And my mom even told me that she and her brother would fight and it wasn't rare for it to come to blows.  Yikes!  If I saw my kids actually physically fighting in anger, it would scare the crap out of me.

But then, just when I think they're never going to be friends, I will witness a moment.

When the kids went to Valleyfair with their friends and A used some of his money to buy a poster for J because it made him think about him.

When I have to comfort J because he's devastated and aching over the struggles his brother is having with school, and feeling guilty that school is not hard for him, and worried that his brother is in pain.

When A tells J not to worry about middle school because he'll be there to answer any questions.

And best of all, when I overhear the giggly conversations they have when they think nobody's listening.

I know how important brothers and sisters are.  Hubby and I are blessed with very close relationships with ours.  I feel blessed every day that we are all so tight.  I know my kids will figure it out.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Old Playroom

Today is Friday the 13th.  And we're being graced with a full moon tonight.  Apparently this is a rare occasion, so it makes me feel a little bit like celebrating, although we don't have any plans, really.  If I was a superstitious person, I might be weirded out by today, but since I'm more superstitious-curious, I'm mostly thinking it's a reason to do something interesting tonight.  But not dance around the fire naked or anything like that.  I am superstitious enough to think that today would not be a good day to go to Valleyfair (the amusement park where we have a summer season pass) because today would surely be the day a ride would malfunction and I would pop out of a ride and plummet to my death...

Anyway.  I'm in the early stages of planning an office remodel.  The condition of my little office is pretty sad, and I use it as a scapegoat for too many things, like not writing, or not keeping the paperwork as organized as usual, or not getting any of my crafting projects done, because I don't enjoy being in here.  My office is actually a bedroom, the only one on our main floor.  But we've never used it as a bedroom, because, well, it's on the main floor.  And there are three bedrooms upstairs.  So when we first moved here, it was an office.  Then when we started reproducing, we carpeted it and made it a cute little playroom.  The "cute" lasted for about six months.  A playroom for two growing boys who are a year apart becomes a breeding ground for all kinds of horrors.

When we carpeted it, I chose this shag carpet that I'm assuming I thought would feel soft, cozy, and inviting at the time.  I was so naive.  Shag carpet in any area a child plays in is just a place filled with millions of deep hiding places for crumbs, legos, and God knows what to hide, and it was also designed to NEVER allow a vacuum to "work properly."  I also chose a very strange shade of green, and for the LIFE of me I cannot figure out why--I don't think I have even met the woman I apparently was 12 years ago.  Holy cow, 12 years.  That's how old this carpet is.
Yes, those are Mr. Potato Head glasses.  He wore them often.
Time flies.  When my boys were small, I went through a phase for about, well, three years, where I was just existing.  I was semi-awake during the day, but unfortunately also during the night.  Hubby worked very strange hours, and I was a stay-at-home mom out here in the country with no escape, and really no local friends yet, and I pretty much went quietly insane.  I showered intermittently, very rarely had a clean house, watched entirely too much PBS (we didn't have satellite TV at the time) and children's videos, and wore only pajamas or clothing that very closely resembled pajamas.  It was a lonely, crazy existence.  And sadly, I was unaware of the black hole that I was sinking into.  I was being a mom.

My kids were well cared for, always cleaner and better dressed than me, and happy, fed, and entertained.  So on that front, I was doing all right.  On EVERY OTHER FRONT, I was a total failure.  It was during that time that this poor room decayed at an alarmingly fast rate.

How many sippy cups can you count?
J was mildly addicted to chocolate milk, and he pretty much always had a sippy cup filled with it.  (For any of you out there who are tempted to judge my previous self right now, keep it to yourself.  He still has perfect teeth.)
Unfortunately, I have this weird disorder where when I find a product I like I buy far too many of it, so I had about 437 sippy cups, and no way to inventory them or keep them all accounted for.  So many would be found by following my nose, several days later, to a stray cup under the couch or in a toy box (thank GOD they didn't leak--honestly, they were amazing) where I would find the culprit.  There are not many smells fouler than SOLIDIFIED chocolate milk.  Eventually I just started throwing them away rather than trying to clean them...  But what's really creepy is that I'm sure that there was a substantial amount of leakage, not from the amazing cups of course, but from my darling toddler's drooly mouth, onto the green shag carpet of the playroom.

The Swiss Miss Incident of 2004
There were Spaghettio spills.  Lots of cereal.  Applesauce.  Yogurt.  Probably bananas.  Ice cream.  Peanut butter.  Yes, I let them eat in there.  They even had a little plastic picnic table so they could (horror of horrors) watch TV while they ate.  And there was the day I'll never forget, when I came into the room and they had smuggled a Sam's Club-size canister of Swiss Miss hot chocolate mix in there and were eating it, fist after fist, and apparently spreading it all over the no-longer-green shag carpet and proceeding to roll around in it in ecstasy.  That was a fun day.

So my little carpet shampooer was never a match for the job.  I tried, Lord knows I tried.  But as I sit here writing, I'm looking around at the strange colored carpet that used to be shag, and is now a matted, crusty, musty-smelling horror.  The walls that are sort of peanut-butter colored (again, I can't claim to know the woman I was when I was making decisions 12 years ago) are covered with random kid's art work, signs, chips in the paint, and scribbles.  It is highly over-furnished with random pieces we didn't know what else to do with, and every space is filled with crap.  It's NOT a soothing environment.  Not conducive to wanting to sit in here and write, which is a soothing thing for me.

So this season, I will be starting the process.  Emptying it out, putting in new, smarter carpet, and simplifying.  I will try to stay off Pinterest, because, well, who can live up to that, but I know I will be obsessively on Pinterest, so I don't know why I wrote that.  But maybe it will help me to keep writing, and who knows?  I might find some little treasures in here during the process.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ahhhhh. Finally.

Summer is here.  The calendar may have a misguided notion that summer begins on June 21, but the calendar people are just wrong.  It is here.  Summer begins when there is no more threat of snow, at least for several months.  When all the leaves are finally out and green.  When the sun sets nice and late in the evening.  When I have to mow more than once a week.

And when school is out.

School was brutal this year.  A's first year of middle school, J's last year at elementary.  Middle school was a very tough transition for the kid.  Not as bad as it could have been, believe me I had months of gut rot going into it, and many of those fears were not realized.  It was a slurry of other stuff.

I went to Junior High.  In the 80's in Cheyenne, Wyoming, I had never heard of "middle school."  I'm still not even sure where the idea came from or when it started.  I went to elementary school from Kindergarten until sixth grade.  Junior High from seventh to ninth, and then off to high school.  Looking back, it doesn't make as much sense.  What are freshmen?  Ninth graders!  But they were high school freshmen!  Shouldn't they go to the high school?  

Well, whatever.  All I know is Junior High was horrific.  I don't think I've ever met anyone of my generation who disagrees.  We were all shoved into some in-betweener school, with no preparation for how different this would be from the soft, Crayola-filled world of elementary school.  Here we had to run from class to class without being late, dodging the kids that would try to trip you, or the couples making out in front of your locker.  I would go to ridiculous extremes to avoid having to use the bathroom because of all the scary girls smoking in the bathroom, and if I HAD to go, I would go in the middle of a class (after suffering the indignity of asking for a pass) and get in and out as fast as possible because of the lingering questionable-smelling cloud in there.

I was not an attractive kid in Junior High.  I have curly hair, which just didn't work well with mid-1980's hair styles.  I was not allowed to wear make up.  I was socially immature, still quietly playing with dolls in my room with the door closed.  I wore the wrong clothes, could not afford the right shoes, and was very shy.  "Stoners" would try to offer me joints out of 35mm film canisters outside the entrance of the school just to laugh when I ran away trying not to cry.  Oh, and the bus ride.  I don't even think I can revisit that.  And I was a kid that LOVED school.  I was a kid that counted down the days of summer, eager for that first day.  Backwards, I know.  So although the general idea of Junior High was a complete nightmare, I still enjoyed the actual classes.  When nobody put gum in my hair or passed notes to me about how they were going to kick my ass after school, that is.

So you can imagine my reluctance to send my own, somewhat quirky, child into that snake den.

But, thank GOD, it's a different world now.  The school is lovely.  The kids were kind and patient, for the most part.  The sixth graders are sort of cocooned, and it's as if all the staff and faculty there went to my Junior High and learned what NOT to do.  

But still.  These teachers get my kid for a maximum of 40 minutes a day.  Along with the four or five other classrooms of 25-plus kids they get each day.  They would not have the time to get to know him, understand how he works, what makes him tick, how to enjoy him rather than be irritated by him.  I knew this meant trouble.  

What it ended up meaning, is I attended sixth grade right along with him.

This is getting long.  I'll try to make this a shorter story.  After a horrible first quarter, we started a new family plan of getting on top of school.  I had to struggle every day trying to figure out the whole digital world, with each teacher using the grading and assignment software differently, and me, NOT a tech wizard, trying to navigate.  Ended up that most nights I would sit with A for SEVERAL HOURS of homework.  Often, honest to God, from the time he got home until the time he went to bed, with a 20-minute break to eat.  It was OUT OF CONTROL.  I have to brag on my kid, because he is a rock star.  Never once complained about going to school.  Struggled through homework with barely any meltdowns.  I'm very proud of his courage and commitment.  

But this was a loooooooooooong year.  

Meanwhile, J was rocking elementary school, loving every minute of it, and sort of dreading the end. Here he would watch what his brother was going through each day, and I'm sure he's terrified of middle school now.  I guess we'll see.  

The last day of school I made a big breakfast.  I posted a picture of it on Facebook, and got comments about my performance as a Mom.  I need to clear this up.  I'm a pretty good mom, but that breakfast may have been more for me than for the kids.  I have NEVER looked forward to summer more than this year.  School is over.  We are not in the middle of remodeling a kitchen (phew!).  It was a LONG, frigid, depressing winter, and we are having amazing weather so far.  I have more time to spend with my amazing friends and family.  What is not to be happy about?  So the "champagne" pancake breakfast was for me, people.  The kids just got to be there.  

Everyone, have a beautiful summer.  And come over for a beer and a hamburger some time.