Monday, September 19, 2011

Freak School

I am officially NOT homeschooling as of two full weeks ago.   So you can order me a cocktail now.  And draw me a bath.

Blue's enjoying her special school a little too much.  We are all relieved to see she has a posse of friends already, which has never happened for her before.  These kids are no-mold weirdos who instantly get each other and most have had no prior friend experience due to being so different in normal schools.  So that's exciting.  And she's had two hours of homework per night.  And only one total melt down, which we are getting used to.  We just kind of make sure she doesn't break things or people.  She gets that from me... and my extensive extended family.  This seems to be the one identifying trait that comes through time after time. Much more dominant than brown hair, obviously.

So I get a call this morning, "Uh, mom, can you bring lemonade?  I was supposed to bring lemonade today."  This doesn't happen with homeschooling.  I bring it, I'm heading in to town anyway.  And I get chatting with her teacher. 
"Blah blah blah... you know, I don't know what you're doing, but this is the smoothest we've ever done homework.  She only had one melt down last week.  This is one of the reasons we homeschooled: the sheets and sheets of repetitive garbage that I was just sending back to the teacher with a big "NO" written across the top.  'Don't bring that hell in to our house please!' Blah blah blah, stick-foot-further-in-to-mouth, blah blah. But she's really in to the homework you've assigned!  And she's actually doing it!  All two hours a night!"
"Oh dear!" Ms. M-M says.
Oh Dear?  What's 'Oh Dear!' about this?
"Two Hours?!"
"Well, she's related to me so a good hour of that is staring in to space."  Also a trait more dominant that brown hair.  What's one got to do to get a brunette kid around here? I'd trade tantrums and spacing for brown hair in one of my kids.
"But I haven't assigned homework yet.  That's just the stuff she hadn't done in class because she was talking to her friends. And it should have taken 15 minutes, max. Oh no... I don't know how she'll respond when I actually do assign homework this week.  And I do assign worksheets too." 
"Oh. My."
"Call me if you have any problems this week."

Coyote also seems to have friends at school this year.  They are boys, though, so "friends" is just shorthand for someone you exchange punches with who won't go tell the recess teacher... and will tell her you're just playing Starwars if she asks. 

He started second grade with a project called "A Little Book About Me," which lets the teacher know many things: drawing skills, internal sanity level as revealed by subject matter, writing level, and just how messed up home life is.  Did the child draw the table empty of food?  Is a War scene in the kitchen?  How many different fathers are pictured?  Coyote came home and said, "Where I was supposed to draw us as a family was too small, so I just left papa out." What the hell do the Mormon kids do?  "He's been working so much lately that he's not really part of our family.  He's just kind of on the side."  RIP A MOTHER'S HEART OUT!  Holy shit. 

True, Huck's been working a lot.  Project work is hard to control.  Sometimes you have no projects.  Sometimes you have multiple deadlines.  Since July was empty, we really needed this work to refill the coffers.  So he HAS been working long hours and many of them are out of town too.  But Huck is amazing at being present when he's home.  When he's here, he's all the way here.  He's not playing video games, watching tv, drinking, or whatever.  He's playing with the kids, wrestling, helping with dinner and homework, etc.  It's an amazing talent that I lack.  Even when I was working only part time, I'd come home from a grueling four hour day and crash for three hours, then shuffle to the kitchen when Huck called me for dinner.  Not so for Huck.  He might go for a jog or do a little yoga, but that all brings him more in to the present.  So I felt the sentiment was a little unfair of Coyote.  But who am I to judge? This is how he feels, and I just wanted to listen to that. 

So then he brings home the book.  And reads it to me.  Yes, there's our house, our cows, your toys.  And here is the family.  I braced myself.  Three people.  ALL of them BLOND!  "Who are these people?"  I ask, a double entendre.
"That's Blue.  That's me.  And that's dad." 
"Where am I?" 
"I didn't have room for you."
"It IS a pretty small space."  That little crapper!  I just spent ALL of his waking hours with him for three months straight!  I make three meals and two snacks for him every damn day.  I do ALL of his stinky, grody, skid-mark laundry.  I read with him every day.  I play games with him: Risk, Chess, Sorry, Uno, even the crazy no-rules games he makes up.  I help him with projects. I gave him tools to disassemble his old bike. I even teach him how to clean and do chores, which I know he thinks sucks, but will actually be good for him.  AND on top of it all, I let him have screen time!  AND NOW HE LEAVES ME OFF THE FAMILY PORTRAIT!!

(Writing that reminded me that Huck and I are still marveling over this new-to-us division of labor.  When I was working the chores were 50/50, childcare was 60/40 and cooking was 40/60.  It was very even and without any score keeping.  This is still so awkward for us.  What do I owe "us" the Palmer family, of my time?  Especially now that I have it.  What percentage of my time goes for my own personal and career development and what percentage do I owe to the keeping of our house and life in order?  When do I have to put my own projects down?  What projects are MINE and what are OURS?  Is staining the front porch US or ME?  Is working on potential money makers US or ME?)

So, anyway, it turns out, I'd rather have Huck left off than me.

The kids were talking about the lunches I pack them.  And the fact that we have no TV or game consuls/consoles/consuelos??? (hey, we have DVD's!)  The health food.  The non-commercial clothing (no cartoons or brand advertisements and no flashing shoes with toxic batteries in the soles).  They talked about what kids say when they take out their sandwiches: "What is that?  Did your mom pour molasses all over your bread?  Why is your bread brown?  Why do you have seeds on your crust?" 
"What?  Kids really say that?"
"Yeah, mom!  Most of them have only ever seen white bread!"
"Mom!"  Coyote yells, "You think you're raising kids, but what you're really raising are FREAKS!"
Yeah.  That's right.  FREAKS that leave their mothers off their family portrait!


  1. As a child of the woods, (who grew up taking cheese and sprouts sandwiches to school in a paper bag with an apple), who's hippy parents thought dolls shouldn't have faces so that we could imagine them better, and who bathed in the slightly filtered rain water from the roof....
    I am forever grateful. I now know not to waste water, (and forever appreciate hot, clean showers!), how to eat well (no diabetes, thanks) and best of all I know how it feels to be a little different (which means I learned compassion). They may never thank you later, but that's okay.

  2. Thank you for the laughs...the same amount of laughs, probably more than a Seinfeld episode... probably because it is close to our family, which is why I could also be crying in between laughs!!! I am thankful to God for humor and for tears. and for you. thanks Sara joy!
    xo Ronna

  3. Dear My-Two-Readers, Thanks for the great feedback and encouragement!



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