Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Because It Is FIVE Whole Days

No parents are allowed on Jake's trip to DC tomorrow. Do you think he'd really recognize us?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ask A Few Of My Former Bosses Where She Could Have Gotten THAT From

Olivia started gymnastics today. She is in the Kitten Division at the Cat Gym in Boca, and we have been talking about today's excitement for a week. "Are you ready for Kitten Gym, Olivia?" "Yes," she will answer, or "Meoww." My preparation for today's big step was remembering Jake at that age, and the excited way with which he ran from me toward the instructor, any instructor, to get the maximum amount of fun from the forty-five minutes. Jake would try anything and everything, while I looked with great envy at the mothers who were having to peel their children off their legs.

Olivia has thus far been all you could hope if you were looking for a petite, sweet girl. She says the word "tutu" out of the blue, meaning she wants to wear it around the house, or during lunch, and I am only too happy to oblige. She is verbal, and loves to pose for photographs, and relishes a new pair of shoes.

And today, my little daughter was a clingy. She hung on to my knees while the other babies learned to somersault down padded ramps. While the toddlers around her clamored for one more ride on the swing, or another attempt at the rings by which they swung like monkeys, Olivia grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the door, the car, and freedom.

"Bye-bye." She said to the instructor, fifteen minutes in to our session. When the instructor would insist she try something (I was all for it), Olivia would look into my face and cry at me and I knew the pain that all my friends had felt as they left their sobbing offspring--against every procreative fiber in their being--and sat in their car, miserable.

The instructor solaced my child with plenty of attention, and enticed her to finally enjoy a couple of minutes of jumping on the trampoline. After that, Olivia went to whatever station the children were not at, and played in her own fashion.

The instructor consoled me that she would be fine by the time she had a couple of sessions under her belt, and pointed out her opinion of Olivia's temperament. "It seems that if you tell her what to do and when to do it, it takes all the pleasure away from her. She seems to have a little distaste for authority."

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Do You Just WANT Them To Beat Up Your Kid?

I have been extremely focused on a suitcase. No, not this one, my smart-alec friends. A really important one, the one that my son will be toting with him as he rides the rails off to Washington DC for five days. It must solidly contain his life, in an organized and easy-to-maintain fashion, and I won't be there to calmly handle the little messes.

Funny how our survival packages for the trip are so extremely different. His is a large red pullman and mine is so significantly smaller: a three-inch tall cylinder marked Valium. And so to focus on something, anything, other than the horrible imagined dangers that I can so freely conjure up, I have chosen to worry, effusively, about the contents of his suitcase. One such worry was where to pack his winter coat: too bulky for his backpack, not accessible enough in the suitcase, and sure-to-be-lost simply carried by hand.

As I was lying in bed, it came to me. I had already planned to ziploc bag every day's outfit--appropriately marked--so why not go one step further? I would buy a vacuum compressed bag, stuff a coat, gloves, and hat inside, vacuum out the air and he would have a neat little package for his backpack. Upon arrival in DC, he would merely need to pull out the ziploc bag, decompress it with a big whoosh, and voila! Cold weather gear at hand. I detailed to Eric my plan.

He looked me in the eye and said, "It surprises me greatly that Jake has not already been required to defend himself, you being his mom all these years."

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Chorus Christmas Show

I know I'm supposed to call it the Holiday Show, but I'm too ornery. The school chorus I started had its Christmas Show, and I am happy to say all went well, mostly.

I'll give the good news first.

Our performance had 139 third, fourth, and fifth grade singers crammed onto the risers, and my chorus is the largest public school chorus in the United States.

We had almost 700 people in attendance, making it the largest audience we have ever had.

The chorus and the soloists performed admirably. The hightlight of the show for everyone was a fifth grade soloist, Derrick, who is phenomenal. The audience went crazy over him. First, he loves performing. Second, he has a lot of experience. I have taught him for two previous years, and this show was his fifth working with me as a soloist. Third, he has so much talent. He has the looks, the sound, the charisma, and the naturalness. Performing is easy for Derrick. Last, he has worked with professionals locally in other venues and shows, both as an actor and a singer.

The Director, Lauren, did a commendable job considering this is her first effort at directing without my guidance, and most importantly, directing with an audience. Teachers call that affective assessment, the toughest and most stressful type of test of all.

Now for the bad news.

The moment I walked into the Community Center where we performed, I was "under the gun." Criticism roared at me from the six directions (north, south, east, west, up, and down). The fire department is across the street, and some swell parent with a genuine gripe that they didn't have a seat called the the fire department and complained that we were breaking the fire code. The Fire Marshall came for a visit, and sure enough promptly gave the Community Center a citation for breaking the fire code by having too may people crowded into too small a space. It was beyond standing room only; audience members were blocking the exits and standing in the hallways in order to get a good view. People that arrived an hour early were surprised to discover that the best seats available were in the fifth row. We were very fortunate the Fire Marshall didn't shut down our show.

Otherwise, all went well. We did it!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

At Some Point The Secret Comes Out, And Then You Just Have To Sigh And Promise To Do Better

A friend of mine was reviewing Olivia's vocabulary. "What does the tiger say, Olivia?"

"What does the cow say?"

"What does the duck say?"
"Quack, quack."

What does the mouse say?"
"Eeeek, eeeek."

"What does the bear say?"
"Oyee, oyee, oyee."
This one is a mystery to us, as well.

"What does Simon say?"
"Woof, woof."

My friend continued with all sorts of prompts, the cutest one being that Olivia identifies my new computer as "Apple." After she had exhausted all the words she knew Olivia enjoyed saying, she threw out one just for fun, knowing she would not be able to retort. "What does Mommy say, Olivia?"


Sunday, January 07, 2007

School Is Starting Up Again

We were supposed to have two weeks and two days off from school due to Christmas and New Year, but Albuquerque got hit with near record snowfalls. The side streets and school parking lots were too dangerous for school buses, so we were given an extra three days which means we had three (3) whole weeks off!

I bet I irritate some of the kids with my enthusiastic, energetic, excited-to-be-back, cheerleading, rah-rah, sis-boom-bah attitude towards school. I can see some of their sad, tired faces in my mind. Poor babies. They are going to have to deal with a teacher who is happy to be back in the classroom.

For one thing, I'll have two new/old students. When I "looped" with this class, I taught them fourth grade last year and took the same class to fifth grade except for two students who moved. They have both, by chance, moved back to Albuquerque and our neighborhood over the holidays. Just a simple thing like two new students (that everyone already knows) will change the "chemistry" of social interaction in the classroom, hopefully for the better.

I am also excited about and proud of the hours and hours and hours and hours and days and days I spent on my "New & Improved, Standards-Based Lesson Plans!" To think that I did what the bureaucracy wanted and did a bunch of useless, senseless, fallow, unavailing, valueless, inane, good for nothing busy work. It makes me want to hold my head up with great pride; this is an important step for me. I usually whine and complain, upset middle and upper management, and get in trouble for refusing to do dumb tasks that bureaucracies dump on me. I am so proud of myself for going ahead and doing it.

I can look my students right square in the eyes and say, "If some of this work I'm givin' ya seems stupid, well that's just too bad. You're gonna have to tough it up, ride it out, put on a stiff upper lip, get over it, move on, quit whining, take off yer diapers, put on yer big work pants, and it. I KNOW I DID! I was told by the federal government and the state government and the local school district to do a bunch of stupid, worthless, brain deadening work, AND I DID IT!! So just shut up!!" But I digress.

I'm sure most of the kids will be joyous to be back. There will be a few sad sacks, but I'm not one of them. I'll be glad to see the little nippers. And hopefully, I can concentrate on them and processing my craft as a teacher, rather than stupid "No Child Left Behind" stuff.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Outsmarting as an Artform

Okay, I have been in hiding. For a month. And if you've been wondering where I am or why I haven't written, well, heck. I HAVE A TODDLER. That, and, has anyone else been paralyzed with wonder about how Rosie O'Donnel is dealing with the fact that Donald Trump thinks she is fat?

The holidays left me disorganized and befuddled. I cannot tell you where my days go, or what one productive thing I manage...ever. But let me drop Olivia off at your house for half an hour and we'll see what you do with that time.

Eric is really a fine father. He works hard and comes home to cheerfully parent Jake and Olivia and doesn't complain that he never is going to put a golf club back into his hand again. And I allow him his victories and try very hard to not burst his bubbles.

Last week Olivia had decided to play with his work computer. She put her hands on the keys and banged. "No, no," he said firmly. "Not for Olivia." She smiled at him her favorite crinkly nose smile and attempted to type in her resume again. "No, no," he repeated. "NOT for Olivia."

She retracted her hand and looked around on the floor for a certain toy to play with. "See," he noted triumphantly. "She is really great at listening to my no's."

Olivia picked up a ball and threw it past Eric. And as soon as he turned around to retrieve the ball and participate in her little game, she banged the computer as hard as she could.