Tag Archives: high school

The Gift of the Magi(c) Pants

9 Dec

blog image barefoot snow

The Boy and I had just finished a rousing match of badminton (versus the colloquial version which is more a non-fingered hand-covering and not so much a sport) and after, I suggested that we go to the high school band concert to hear some tunes and visit the Friends of Music bake sale (it’s for a good cause.  Really.  I eat brownies for the children.)  He had no homework and television programming was dominated by football or some other non-badminton type sport.

Now I know that getting The Boy to return to school once his day is done is difficult.  He has spent entire weekends, in February, without a coat because he left it in his locker and refused to go back and get it.  He once came home from school without shoes.  Shoes.  How does a person (other than the folks at Surfrider Foundation.org) get through their day without shodding?  The world is a dirty, broken glass-infested place just waiting to cut someone.  Basically the world is like east L.A. without Los Lobos.

“When you’re done with work, you don’t go back to the office to hang out,” he says.  “Your time there is over.  You know, like if you had an office.  Or a job,” he continued.  “Why don’t you have a job?”

I stopped his blathering and made him empty the car from my warehouse shopping trip where, armed with a list and coupons, I was able to keep costs down by staying focused.  (Although I couldn’t pass up the acai berry concentrate- it heals everything and was on sale.  I have needed it forever yet never knew it existed.)

Likewise the sweatpants.  A total impulse, but necessary, purchase as the moment I saw them I was reminded that The Boy has yet to bring his gym clothes home since, oh, the first day of school.  (I should have bought the bulk Lysol that was also on sale.  The Boy is a dirty, germ-infested being just waiting to cough on someone.)

The Boy has never owned a pair of sweats.  Maybe because “sweat” is something he avoids (along with chores, socializing and any physical contact with his mother- a hug would kill him- but I digress).

Soft and shapeless, the pants transfixed The Boy from the moment he brought them inside.  “Mother,” he asked, “how was I not previously aware of the splendor and the glory of après-school pants?”  (He has never avoided hyperbole, however.)

Now, as nights reach their absolute longest and badminton games occur in short, but fierce, bursts (no net, no rules, no daylight, stop crying), sweat pants are what The Boy wears after school and for entire weekends at a time, all the time.  He rarely argues and even occasionally inquires about my life (which also has no net).  He sends off lovely emails to his teachers, plays his music at a reasonable volume and sometimes flosses.  It’s as if aliens, nice and polite aliens, take over while he nestles deep within the sweatpants.

Oh, he still litters his room with discarded Kind bar wrappers (which I also should have bought in bulk) and has yet to swap out his gym clothes, but for $13.99 I have a teen who is gentle and sweet (and so not mine).

Until the pants give out.

Perhaps the best preventative action is to not launder the pants too often.

And so we learn from the children.

Report Card Day

24 Oct

blog image glengarry

If you can find any reason, at all, to celebrate Report Card Day, do it.

A “good sense of humor” comment from the Algebra teacher = happy dance around the kitchen.  (Never mind that statistics is, by far, the wittiest of all maths and that, in most instances, two trains leaving from the North and South will, at best, avoid collision or, at worst, successfully deliver all passengers to their Italian cruise ship.)

So you take that FM radio station GPA (89.2 on your dial) and parade through the house.  Because putting on socks and shoes and parading outside the house is for 90 and above GPAs.

“Coffee is for closers.” ~ from Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet.

Also I refuse to acknowledge that sock weather is here- my last pedicure still looks fabulous.

The Boy is, right now, at the peak of report card pride.  Call the grandparents, friends, aunts and uncles and wait for those $5 and $10 congratulatory cards to roll in because the next few report cards will be a series of rolling hills and valleys followed by the February slump topped off with an end-of-year gain due to improved weather and several teachers on the cusp of retirement.

Besides, a stellar report card is one of the few ways that a fifteen-year-old can make money without having to be driven (by me) somewhere.

But what is Report Card Day really?

When your spouse travels for work, (he says “too much,” I say “you think so?”) the report card is certainly a means for Spouse to track The Boy’s academic progress, and, sadly, a way for him to note some of the smaller elements that make up an education.  Things like attitude and citizenship and…tardiness.

Now, as a mother, I, along with scores of pediatricians, doctors, nutritionists, mental health practitioners and Oprah, have always maintained that sleep is essential for growth.  Sleep is where problem-solving and dreams occur.  It’s where the body can heal and mend and grow.

So Spouse, knowing that, I think that you and I can agree that while The Boy is doing great academically, where he really stands out, where his hard work and dedication shines is in the crazy amount of GROWTH (and healing and mending) he has demonstrated in just one marking period.

PS: we have an appointment with the attendance office on Monday.  Please be on time.

Back to School

12 Sep

back to school

Here’s why I hate the first day of school:

First: I am not known for being quick.  To move.  To judge, well, who’s to say?  (Actually, I am.)

I revel in all things slow (side note: future NPR show- “All Things Slow”?)  Friends have been known to doze as I search for the exact word whilst in conversation (for example, “whilst”) while others have consumed an entire meal before I have properly plated my green beans opposite my cranberry sauce (Spouse, Thanksgiving 2008).

It takes about a week once school ends for me to fully develop my summertime groove- from switching bed linen to a higher, more luxurious  thread count, to picking berries to add to my morning beet smoothie (side note: future morning music show about ska-influenced music titled “Beat Smoothie”?) and then imagine, if you can, how disruptive deconstructing that groove can be.  You see now how the first day of school is overwhelming, at best, and, at worst, a total Weepfest (September, 2011).

Secondly: the paperwork.  Every year it’s the same.  Science lab rules, gym class rules, homeroom rules.  Where are the Stevie Ray Vaughn Rules rules?  Doctor’s information, emergency contact (where you ferret out true friends and then saddle them with caring for your sick child because the school cannot reach you at any of the contact numbers you provided- oops, did I leave off a digit?) plus an improved code of conduct- NEW for 2013-2014!  The “I will not wear sleepwear to school rule!”  (PS: I didn’t even know that wearing pajamas had been an option.  Oh, the Lifetouch pictures we could have had- complete with airbrushed option and crooked hair.)

Third: lunch.  The Boy has watched enough Food Network to now believe that only fresh basil and hand-hewned croutons are acceptable in a salad.  Who hews?  Of course, a PB&J is fine if you’re rushed (hello, it’s me) as long as the bread is stone ground whole wheat, preferably cold-climate grown.

Fourth: the clutter.  The constant jumble of socks and shoes and backpacks and lunchboxes.  And books and binders and paper and such.  All in front of the kitchen door.  You know, the door that we must fly out of right now if we are to make it “on time.”

Finally, about the quest to arrive “on time.”  I put quotation marks around “on time” because while “time” is more of a “concept” to me, previous employers have adopted a more literal definition of “time” and the “wasting” thereof plus the need to “show up on” it.  But, hey, we’re all different and both schools and workplaces benefit when tolerance is practiced.  Besides, who am I to judge?  Oh, right.  I’m the unemployed one.

Let’s not even discuss the switch to Standard Time where, from November to March, I am 59 minutes late for everything.  Oh sure, I eventually make up a few minutes here and there- mostly at doctor’s appointments because physicians have even broader definitions of “time,” “schedule,” and “appointment” than I do, but it’s not the same.

Plus the reason I am at the doctor’s office is due to some nasty germ that The Boy brought home from school anyway.

Then, from my scratchy-sheeted sick-bed, I will begin counting down the days until summer vacation again.

259 from today.

A surefire way to get out of an undesirable conversation (it worked for me)

24 Apr

car window control

Say you find yourself in the school parking lot where you have just complimented a student on his performance in the school musical (“Grease”– sans virginity and pregnancy references (“we go together like censorship and family values”) but anyway…) and that same student comes over to the driver’s side window and begins to tell you how he “didn’t really want to be in the play especially when he saw all those lines in the script, he just thought he would never be able to remember them and the only reason he tried out for the play to begin with was because there was a girl whom he liked who told him that he would be good in this part and…”

and he won’t stop using your oxygen (even though you’re outside) and (oh Christ!) he really looks like he’s settling in now, leaning up against the vehicle, forehead on arm, backpack on the ground and all you really wanted to do was offer a little encouragement…

Should you find yourself in this situation, do what I did: use the electric switch to slowly advance the window up while maintaining eye contact until, suddenly, you notice that the window is closing!  Yell something panicky like “Oh my, the window is going up!  What the?  Why is this happening?”

For added drama- bang on the glass until, finally, acceptance.  Sigh, while using your entire body to indicate that we now live in a world where the occasional electronic malfunction far outweighs manually doing anything, then offer an eye roll that sort of says “can you believe this?”

Shrug goodbye as you drive away- even if your own Boy has not yet gotten in the car; he can fend for himself.

You, however, were facing an ACTOR with loads of time and the desire to discuss his craft.

The end totally justifies the means.  Even if The Boy arrives home dusty, late and hungry.

That he is presently not speaking to you is a bonus.

PS: this method, with slight modifications, also works with invisible ear buds, wristwatches, hearing aids and cell phones (he: “but I didn’t even hear it ring!”  You: “I know, right?”) and doors.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my computer is… and I can’t …what?…but I was just in the middle of… I’ve never seen that screen before…

A High School Tale

5 Sep

It was the night before High School

and all through the house

there were critters in the walls-

way more than one mouse.

The Boy was jumpy with nerves and with worry

yet still, in the walls, the creatures did scurry.

And so the Boy continued to pace

with expressions of doom etched on his face.

What could I tell him to help ease his pain?

That the horrors of High School are all in his brain?

That High School does not resemble real life

anymore than Mayberry or Barney Fife.

That the best you can wish and probably hope for

is that TVLand will never bring back Mr. Roper?

And how can you fret about going to school

when there are mice in the walls which is really uncool?

Your mother works hard

to build a home without mice

and here you are hoping

your homeroom teacher is nice.

How about your poor mother

who wakes up every day

then goes back to bed

once you’re on your way?

Do you think that it’s easy-

living with vermin?

And who decided to name

hermits Herman?

And why are my thoughts

at times such a mess?

But back to the Boy-

I sometimes digress.

In the morning I delivered him

I’m not sure if he slept

and I bet you are thinking

here’s the part where I wept.

No, I did not cry

not a tear did I shed.

I threw open the passenger door,

kissed the top of his head.

And yelled to his peers

as I drove on my way:

“Your first vacation

is Columbus Day!”

And as for the mice

and critters who crawl,

upstairs we have traps

and D-con for you all.

And it’s not that I’m cruel,

and it’s not that I’m lazy

but the mice in the walls

are making me crazy.

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