Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Safe Spot

I approach the elementary school property with dread and repeat over and over, "Find your safe spot, find your safe spot." Then I see both of my friends, Maple and Cinnamon. As long as I locate them, I am "safe." These two women have their heads on straight and I know that all is well as long as I can get to them before a mom of "previous importance in the workplace" approaches me or stops me. I must carefully navigate my way around the conversation time-bombs going off to ensure my safe arrival to my girlfriends.

Watch out to the left! There is the (ever present) political debate going on- Zoiks! I want to avoid that! On the right, I hear a couple of women deep in a conversation about 9/11. I just passed two women having a serious discussion about the PTA. Be careful- a volunteer request may be passed my way (not that this is a bad thing, it just that it's another thing).

Why do women (in particular) have these heavy discussions on the school grounds before after-school pick up? I mean, really. Maybe these stay-at-home moms/part-time workers have this need, this desire, to prove to others that they were once full-time "important" people (please note that not all moms are this way). Maybe these moms are insecure about staying home and try to reduce the feeling by having "big" conversations with other moms who are "in the know." Maybe these women spend so much time with children that these are the only opportunities to have the deep conversations. I don't know, but often I wait in my car until the very last minute so that I don't have to be involved in the heavy discussions. Does this make me a wuss? I don't think so. I like to think that I am conserving energy by avoiding these conversations because, face it, by 3:00 p.m., I am really tired and often I haven't eaten. That is no way to enter into a debate about the price of gas. Maybe I am thinking about this too much.

All I know is that I am truly grateful for Maple, who is a kind, soothing mom who has the ability to put me at ease with her grace and charm. Then there is Cinnamon, who is spicy and spunky, a girlfriend who can see a bright spot on a cloudy day and always finds a way to make me smile. Everyone needs a little Maple and Cinnamon in their day.

Do you have anyone like this in your life?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Survival Of The Fittest

It's Friday afternoon and I'm so relieved. My son and I survived the first three weeks of first grade. You see, it's not just about dropping the kids off and picking them up... nonono ... there is so much more to it than that.

First let's start with making lunch, but not just any old lunch. This is Lightning's lunch and there are certain guidelines to be met. I must have the RIGHT kind of ham that's not too sweet or spicy, the bread MUST be white, and there can be NO edges. Pickles are good in a lunch, but olives are better. There can be NO Cheetos, Cheese Puffs, or any other kind of orange chips because my son has deemed them 'bad for his stomach'. Desserts should NOT be chocolate because, of course, he doesn't really like chocolate, and finally, there should be fruit in his lunch (as he has pointed out) because it's healthy for him, but he has also told me that he will not eat fruit... because, you know, it's so 'healthy and all that.' I will say, though, that even though he is picky, he does eat his lunch (even with the healthy items), which is very important and makes me happy.

Secondly let's talk about clothing. No, my son is not a fashion hound, although he has been bothered when other kids have his same shirt or shorts. I did point out to him that it may have something to do with the fact that Target is Heroin for adults and, through no fault of our own, we find ourselves buying things we might not necessarily need (such as 'awesome' shirt with cars on it). And, of course, about 1 in 2 adults is addicted to this "heroin". To offset this drug addiction and to search for the never-before-seen clothing, we have hit a few consignment stores where he has picked out one-of-a-kind shirts, pants, and shorts. This has suited him very well (and saved me a lot of money).

Beyond the home fashion there are the school's requests: Wednesday is P.E. and he has to wear running shoes in order to participate; the first Friday of each month is "spirit day" and (fortunately) I had the (unknown) foresight to purchase a school t-shirt. One day a month it is "Earth Day" when we appreciate our planet and all of the kids wear green. I have no idea when this occurs, but it sounds like a good idea. When it is raining I have to remember the umbrella. Crocs are frowned upon at school due to their poor behavior on a playground filled with wood chips, but sometimes he wears them anyway because his classrooms are not air-conditioned. In about two weeks the room temperature will not be a problem and Crocs will no longer be necessary.

Then there is the paperwork (AKA- homework-for-parents-to-make-sure-they-are-on-top-of-their-children). Look, I know this is part of the school process, I'm just pointing out that there is more to the first couple of weeks of school than shuttling kids back and forth to the property. Back to filling out "forms": join the PTA; volunteer for school committees; purchase school paraphernalia (spirit wear); buy a directory (well worth the $4); fill out emergency contact information; sell, sell, sell wrapping paper and chocolates for the fundraiser; purchase books through the Scholastic Book Club; sign the kids up for Marathon Kids (definitely a good thing), join the Cub Scouts, join the Spanish Club. Everything has a deadline as well, and trust me, for your kids sake DON'T FORGET THE DEADLINES.

Now we move on to homework- understand that my first child has entered the first grade, so the increased amount of homework is new to us. The first two weeks were a little overwhelming, but we are now in a good groove. So each day there is handwriting, spelling words, reading (sometimes a couple of books each day), and math homework. There is number memorization and a list of sight words. Spelling tests are weekly and started on the second week.

On top of the school, Lightning is taking swimming and playing soccer this fall. My daughter is taking a dance class. I am so busy and I only have TWO children.

Once I pick up my son from school, we come home, go through the backpack and have a snack. Then Lightning works on homework, while I prep food for dinner (or read a magazine). Once homework is complete, he gets to play (at least that's what it is some of the time) with his sister while I make dinner. Once dinner is finished, the kids eat dessert, take baths, and go to bed.

So, in summary, school is going well for both my son and I. Every test he does well on, offers better sleep for me at night. My daughter just started Pre-K last week, but I don't think we have steady homework until she enters Kindergarten -whew!

famous quote of the week by Lightning: 'Mom, there is a new teacher in my class. She is old like you, but she is pretty.' Well, at least I know where I stand in his eyes - hehehe.