Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Sailor's Promise

Would you trust this man to keep his word?

In our family, television = love. It's how we communicate and connect and understand the world. Some might think that's sad, but, frankly, I have enough to feel guilty about and this one doesn't really bother me. It works for us and it gives us a lot of cultural capital, which we can share with the world. Sam can ride to Sunday School carpool and reenact the opening skit from Saturday Night Live for all his buddies, and Emma and I can have meaningful discussions about the pitfalls of meeting your future mate on a reality television show; or the reasons that it's not necessarily advisable to put your toddler in a beauty pageant; or the dangers that ensue when you're Tori Spelling and you have a secretly psychotic boyfriend, or your dad is Tony Danza and he secretly has multiple personality disorder. It's all part of the joy and wonder we call "parenting."

So it's no surprise that, like the rest of us, Molly loves her TV. Since our old DVR died, we lost all of our old Teletubbies episodes, which was a little sad, but Sesame Street still comes on every day, and at last count, we had 29 archived episodes taking up TiVO space. Her favorite episode changes weekly. Lately it's been all about the Curly Bear. She has her favorite episodes memorized, word for word, so that she sounds like the annoying guy you know who insists on quoting lines from Caddyshack all day long. Or like my late grandmother who, when for some hard-to-fathom reason we took her to see National Lampoon's Vacation, proceeded to loudly sing along with "La Marseillaise," much to our dismay. But I digress.

Molly has "Curly Bear" memorized, and "Mine-itis," and many other classic episodes. But as I've mentioned here before, she also loves the opening themes for all television shows. When we watch a grown-up show, she wants to see the opening credits again and again: "Again Teeth?" she asks at the beginning of Ugly Betty or "Again Gone?" at the start of Top Chef. It's kind of cute, but then it quickly gets annoying because we want to watch the actual show instead of watching the credits roll again and again and again.

So one night, Emma, being an expert in child psychology and a highly motivated television watcher, came up with a plan. She told Molly that she would make her a "Sailor's Promise" that we could watch the "song" at the beginning of the show we were watching as soon as the show was over. She and Molly shook on it and sealed it with the immortal words, "It's a deal."

I feel a little bad about this. A "Sailor's Promise"????? It's not as if sailors are particularly trustworthy. It seems to me that a "Sailor's Promise" is what Fletcher Christian gave to Captain Bligh, and look how it turned out for him. But now, Molly thinks it's a thing. And so, whenever Molly wants something and we don't want to or can't do it right away, we shake hands and solemnly pledge a "Sailor's Promise." Molly pledges right along with us. I know this will come back to bite us all.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

So Much Drama

Molly has really been an incredibly healthy child, especially considering the amount of time she spends in daycare. So we've had very little cause for complaint, health-wise. In fact, Matt took her to the doc on Monday for her (overdue) well check and I was shocked to learn that my little peanut is in the 70th percentile height and weight. When the flip did that happen? (She's still 15th percentile head size, which also makes no sense because her head doesn't look especially small to me for the rest of her.)

At any rate, wouldn't you know, 2 days after her checkup and Molly woke up and her right eye was a little goopy. We were a bit concerned about burgeoning pink-eye, but, hey, it wasn't really pink eye, and her eye wasn't really pink, so we sent her off to daycare with a warning that her eye was a little goopy. We didn't get a call all day long, so figured we were out of the woods. Then, happily late in the afternoon, my phone rings and sure, enough, Mol woke up from her nap with super-goopy swollen eyes, and a charge to leave immediately.

Today, I got to stay home w/her, which was really fine and kinda nice. Since I started teaching Matt gets most of the kid sick days, because it's a pain to write sub plans and because he has a lot more sick time than I've got. But he was at a meeting yesterday and since he does most of these, it made sense for me to stay home on this one. Molly woke up with her eyes glued shut w/eye goop. Really gross. Although after being initially disturbed that she couldn't open her eyes, Molly decided it was really funny and went around squinting and waving her arms around like she was in a really weird game of Marco Polo. Sorry to say that I don't have a picture of that to post here.

So since it was pink eye and nothing more serious, Molly felt pretty good all day long and we had a fun time. We watched India.Arie sing the ABC song on Sesame Street with Elmo an estimated 58,932 times. Seriously. For a while I thought I would keep replaying it over and over as many times as she asked to see if she would EVER STOP ASKING for it independently. But then I gave up. She won. Plus, by the second series of viewings Molly was incredibly tired but watching the ABC song woke her up and made her wired, so I had to put on something boring just to get her to sleep. (Hint: No one can stay awake for "Guiding Light.") I made Valentines cards for my students, which was good because otherwise I'd be doing that instead of blogging now. And I took care of all those stupid appointment phone calls I never have time to make during the day. Read: My cats will finally go to the vet and Emma and I will finally get our hair cut. Good news all around.

So things were perfectly fine. Early illness averted. The rest of us will probably get pink eye, but not for a few days at least, so all is well. Life is calm and happy. And then Sammy comes home.

Being a 5th grader, Sammy is a safety patroller this year. One of the things that patrols get to do is vie for a trip to Washington D.C. as part of this Patrol Thing. I'm not even sure who's in charge, or how many kids go, or if it's a Wisconsin thing or a Madison district thing or a national thing or what. But Sammy had to give a speech to all his peers and all the 4th and 5th graders voted, and then the teachers voted and they chose a winner. Sam has been talking about this all week. We read his speech over his shoulder, but he wasn't really looking for our input, which was fine, because, well, whatever. I figured that whatever input we gave he would take it, or not, and the odds of him, or any single kid, getting the trip were pretty small. Sammy had some jokes in there about Elmo and telling kids to slow down in the halls, and I figured--hey, whatever happens.

Well, it appears that Sam was a little more invested in it than I thought he was. Which in hindsight I should have known. It's Sam, after all, and the kid is wonderful, but he's also the one who's going to go around in high school with the guitar and the black t-shirt, sighing. Life is always hard. Always. Even when it's not. So today he comes home and announces that another kid got the trip. And I'm trying to tell him that it's ok, that the odds were small, that the teachers had half the votes, etc. I even point out that as he's a kid who mostly just wants to sit on the couch, he may not even WANT to go jaunting off for 5 days to another time zone with a bunch of people he's never met before. And he says no, he really would RATHER go with people he's never met before. And he's crying and inconsolable and telling me how he was dying to go to D.C., it's all he's ever wanted, and he had all his hopes and dreams pinned on this trip. Oh, god. You'd think Obama himself was going to be playing b-ball with him. Then he tells me that the kid who won gave such a good speech that even he, Sam, who is dying to go on this trip, voted for her. Oh, boy. Now, in retrospect, he realizes that he probably should have voted for himself. Why oh why did he vote for her? He doesn't know. Now he's beating himself up about it. Was that the deciding vote. I'm sure it wasn't. Was it a good strategic move? Decidedly not.

So Sam's a mess. And he shouldn't be. Because in the middle of all this angst and misery about this trip, all this good stuff is happening to him. A couple of weeks ago, he spearheaded an effort and organized a bunch of his classmates to make notecards and other stuff to sell at a school event to raise money for Doctors Without Borders. The entire impetus for this came from Sam and he got a whole bunch of kids on board. It was fantastic and they raised more than $100. Which is really super-cool. It was quite inspiring, actually. And he got an invitation to audition for a role in a new play that's coming up, which you'd think would be enough to take the sting out of any trip. But apparently not.

He'd rebounded by the end of the night, but not before he had another mini-meltdown over finishing his (many) Valentines, which he'd only just started tonight, and finishing his homework. And not before Emma had her own meltdown on learning that her school is going to have school on a teacher inservice day to make up for our many many snow days this year. Although Em was consoled when she learned that Sam and I will have school that day, too. It's really all about parity for Emma.

So my little day with Molly got amped up in a hurry. Back to my kinders tomorrow. I don't think I can handle any more days off.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sometimes It's Enough to Make You Wonder About Yourself

As a kindergarten teacher, I spend way too much of my day trying to get young folks to sit still and pay attention. Often, this is a losing battle. Today, one of my students had spent much of the morning avoiding following directions, so he was missing part of his free choice time as a consequence. I'm very mean. So I go to sit down and talk to him about the situation. We talk about the need to listen and follow directions, and mostly this means I say things like "did you make a good choice" and he says "no," and I say "will you make a better choice tomorrow?" and he says "yes." So a lot of "yes" and "no" on my student's part. And this is what transpires:

Me: Do you think that you would get more points from your friends for doing the right thing and listening and following directions?

Student (chastened): No.

Me: No?

Student (looking at me, seriously): I don't understand what you are saying.

At this point, I burst out laughing, lecture over. I didn't really understand what I was saying, either.