Sunday, November 23, 2014

Third grade project work

We've had a fourth kid all weekend (luckily I think she's fantastic). She should have just moved in. She was here almost all day yesterday and we're rounding 8pm and she's still here today. The giggles, they have been a rolling sound machine. The project has covered the whole dining room table and spread to the floor and there are toothpicks and tissue paper everywhere.

I have seen this project in the school halls for four years now, and never knew just what was involved:

-the whole cardboard collection from the recycling bin
-a million hours
-a zillion laugh breaths
-all the toothpicks
-all the glue
-all the brown paint
-all the two different rolls of duct tape
-the demise of one pair of scissors

I should be grateful it didn't lend itself to glitter.

The thing is due December 2nd but there's extra credit to be had for bringing it in early. It was fun to see E work with one of her peers, but based on the state of the dining room, I'll be glad for this project to leave the house tomorrow.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Preschool Thanksgiving lunch

For today's lunchtime adventure I went downstairs to eat with G and his class. The school brought in a whole catered meal but G wouldn't try any of it, not even the corn, because it was off the cob and he let us all know emphatically that he does not like his corn in pieces. It's all supposed to be on one holding piece for biting. That's not good corn. That's yucky broken corn.

So he ate his regular chicken nuggets and no corn and was plenty thankful. The class said a benediction over the food together:

We love bread.
We love butter.
But most of all...
We love each other!

So I was thankful for their secular adorableness as much as for spending lunch with my boy and for my double serving of yucky broken corn.

And then he declared real Thanksgiving over, now that we'd eaten together, and next week doesn't have to happen. So happy Thanksgiving, and if you have any trepidation about next week's festivities, I have in proclaimed that you do not have to partake.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Parent-teacher conferences

My lunch break today was a walk downstairs and outside and in the other door to meet G's lead teacher for our conference. I love these meeting because I think of my kid in a certain kind of way: is he going to throw up again, is he outgrowing those shoes and where is his left mitten, how is he feeling about kindergarten next year and does he really understand what it means to go to school in a different place?

His teachers think of him as: can he count to 17 and then pick out 17 individual objects to correspond to the identified number, his handwriting would probably improve on a faster curve if he would settle which hand it is he writes with, he's a nurturer to the other children in the class. "He's a lover, not a fighter," his teacher said to me today, summing up how he'll show affection through spontaneous hugs or hand-holding while the boy closest to him in age and de facto counterpart will show affection through instigating some tussling. The curriculum provides guideposts to development and we can talk about his progress not in the intuitive shapeless way I love him but analytically. It's not how I naturally view much of anything so I love when it's all laid out so cleanly for me to ponder with wonder.

I love the view of this kid through another person's eyes, through another measuring schema. It catches flecks of who he is that I don't pick up on my own and suddenly he's more realized, and even more interesting than how I thought of him before.

The teacher, whom I've known since she was fresh out of high school and helping in the infant room, filled me in on all the other details, too - how she's close to finishing her degree and what she wants to do next, how the boyfriend of forever is talking marriage. She's watched me, since the day in May 2006 when I walked away from a three-month-old E, figure out motherhood. I've watched her meet the challenge of adulthood.

She smiled and said it can't end here, and if she takes the boyfriend seriously one day and agrees to marry him, maybe she'll call the girls up to be bridesmaids. I told her she best not whisper that idea until it's a sure one, or my girls would be clamoring to go dress shopping tomorrow. No matter what, I said, the noteverstills will be there to celebrate.

The strength of this daycare facility is in how fiercely it loves my kids but not in its successful adherence to paperwork rituals, and so I can't really predict that I'll have another parent-teacher conference in the spring or summer before G leaves forever (and so do I). Or it'll be a pro forma thing as we discuss graduation plans and sign exit paperwork. And maybe she'll wear an engagement ring by then and maybe I'll come to terms by then that work has been such a cozy place for me for so long because it's an extension of home, with my literal family members and surrogate family members cocooning what's most important to me under the same roof where I type and talk all day. And come next August, it becomes just a workplace, losing through no fault of its own that which makes it most special to me, and I have to close old chapters and figure out the outline for new ones, and do so without my network of teachers downstairs setting out the guideposts.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fears forgotten

I gave a presentation at work today to a couple hundred people through the strange experience of live webcasting. There were maybe 80 people watching from the same room as me and everyone else was at one of our field locations, watching via video and sending in comments and questions through internet chat and telephone.

When I was selling myself toward this job before it quite properly existed about a year ago at this time, I remember surprising myself by volunteering that I don't mind public speaking, and then surprising myself again by realizing in my head that I wasn't embellishing. I really don't mind public speaking, and when did that happen?

(In my office we speak about Myers-Briggs personality type a lot, and I find the stuff fascinating. I'm an INFP. You?)

So I gave this presentation today. It was about 25 minutes and to our agency's managers and supervisors, all of whom surely have been members of that cohort longer than I. It went well and it was well received and I finished tired in the way I always feel after engaging with lots of people, but not depleted in the way I used to feel when such an action would have terrified me.

And this is so interesting to me, because I was the shyest kid you ever did meet and growing into adulthood I went to great lengths to avoid public moments. And then somewhere in the time of the past decade where I had a quiet job that demanded very little visible attention, the thing that most terrified me ceased to terrify me when I wasn't paying it any mind.

I had to catalog other major changes, things I would have described as foundational to my personality, and I can only come up with two: I no longer completely loathe tomato sauce (although I'd still choose anything with a cream sauce or butter sauce or pesto or no sauce over something tomato-based). And I'm not as bothered by the color yellow as I used to be.

I still can't bite into a water chestnut, for what that's worth, and I'm trying to think of another thing that terrified me but nothing ever scared me as much as the spotlight. And I wonder if maybe for this disappearance of fear I have you to thank, letting me write to you here steadily for seven years, facelessly, just characters to a screen and that you find my words after the fact is confidence-boosting without confrontation or real-time assessment. You're a very reassuring group, you know. I never found any blog trolls, just love and support.

So I ask with a smile, what else can you fix for me?

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Despondent aggressive

(vs., you know, passive aggressive.) That was the weather today. The emboldened storm that covered so much of the country in snow just mauled us with rain, but it was a mean rain, relentless, hostile. It wasn't sit-on-the-porch-and-smell-the-pretty rain. It was I-need-a-person-sized-ziploc-bag-with-an-airhole rain. And we were in it all morning. The boy was sick today, not sick-sick, but emphatically not-going-to-school sick, so we went to the pediatrician who couldn't see us until 10:30 so we dropped off the girls and got gas and went to Trader Joe's and Target and the butcher and the pediatrician because what else does one do between dropping off the girls and 10:30?

Now we have a prescription and the temperature has dropped twenty degrees but the rain has stopped. I'm not much for dreading Mondays, but in the Monday dreaders camp I feel an affinity tonight. This was a Monday but we got through it.

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