Friday, October 31, 2008

That odd clunking sound in the dark part of the house

This morning I got to sleep in.

For those of you unfamiliar with our household, "sleep in" is a euphemism for "lie in bed and grind my teeth in irritation while everyone else makes too much noise for me to rest."

The worst culprit in the noise department is Rocky. We have taken to calling his shoes "tennis shoes," as there is no way that he would wear anything which could be classified as "sneakers." He can walk down the hall in sock feet and create enough noise to wake the dog; part of that may or may not be that Rocky also pinballs off walls, steps on whatever is in his way, and can trip over the design in the vinyl flooring. If that boy were in a coma, he could make enough noise, just by lying still and breathing, to rouse the others in the intensive care unit.

Perhaps I should hire him out.

Anyway, I am convinced Rocky's brain and his body have some form of disconnect which may or may not have something to do with puberty. He can go into his room to get his coat, a simple procedure for many of us. However, he will careen off his desk, knock books out of his bookcase, bash into the dresser, step into his wastebasket and hop around the room to remove it by shaking his leg, and walk heavily enough so the rest of us think he has the entire lineup for the Cleveland Browns in there wrestling wild boars. Twenty or thirty wild boars. With bad attitudes. Probably because we have watched too many horror movies, all of us are loathe to investigate these thuds and scuffles. So, after thirty seconds or so of these odd clunking noises, accompanied by falling items and repeated exclamations of pain, one of us will say, rather shrilly, "What are you DOING in there?"

To which he will reply, "Looking for my coat" in perfectly reasonable tones, as if everyone puts on outerwear with this much brouhaha.

After another minute or so, one of us will then shriek, "Can you do it QUIETLY?" The noise subsides somewhat, sounding like the boars might be winning enough to start enthusiastically rooting through his dirty clothes and debris under the bed. Eventually Rocky will reappear, coat on, looking remarkably unscathed after experiencing all that chaos and dumfounded at our aggravation.

You'd think we'd be immune by now, but somehow we repeatedly get sucked into this same discussion, playing the scenario over and over and over. It makes me think of those people in horror movies--you would think that, after years of watching poor unsuspecting boneheads go into the basement to investigate that scary noise, only to suffer an untimely demise, that people in horror movies would LEARN. I mean, my children have evolved to the point where they are afraid of the basement on general principles. However, history will repeat itself yet again in both the movies and in our lives.

What concerns me is that we are just now at the entry point of puberty. If this keeps up, we may all need protective gear or a group mental health plan by the time he gets into eighth grade.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Next exit, reality

On Friday or Saturday night, I will sometimes enjoy a glass of wine as I prepare and eat dinner.

Today, for a variety of reasons (work, conference call, errands, attempt to lose weight), I ate only 1/2 sandwich for lunch. That was at one o'clock. At seven, after putting supper in the oven, I realized that I had too much wine on an empty stomach, and I needed to eat. So now, I am sitting here in the kitchen, eating my supper before EG finishes work, hoping to head off inebriation before I veer off the road to reality.

Let me point out here that, when it comes to the road to reality, I am most of the time driving in the breakdown lane. Just today, these words came out of my mouth.

"Who's been playing with the Carpet Fresh?"

Of course, everyone replies, "Not me." I swear, if I have another child, I will name him Not Me so I have someone to blame things on.

But I digress from the Carpet Fresh episode.

I added, "Well, one of you has been in the Carpet Fresh. I can prove it because it got all over the toilet seat, and now I have Carpet Fresh IN A RING ALL OVER MY BOTTOM!"

Now, there's a non sequitur if I ever saw one. What me having Carpet Fresh in orbit around my rear end proves about my children being naughty is completely beyond me. However, my statement worked, as Nita said, "I might have ACCIDENTALLY spilled it." Unfortunately for her, the Carpet Fresh was in the bathroom cabinet, in an area which has no carpet within fifty feet. Accident my foot.

Which proves that my children are truly along for the ride as I tool off the road yet again. Not one of them was willing to contradict me for fear I would call them to investigate the situation, I guess.

Then again, maybe they're in the driver's seat.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I don't want to, but I will...

After putting it off for a long time, I have decided to go back and actually finish my Ph.D.

And I have enrolled, have started the financial aid process, and have committed to starting after the first of the year.

"Committed" being the operative word here.

With three kids, a full-time job, committee work, volunteering, and a house, I should feel overwhelmed. However, I do better when I am intellectually stimulated. Having said that, let me add that my house has been really clean only on several occasions: first, when Kiki was a newborn, and I took six months off work; second, when I have been on breaks from work; and third, when I have been taking classes on top of everything else.

When I am more relaxed, it seems that I have a "manana" attitude about things. I think, "Yeah, yeah, the floor should be mopped, I will do the laundry later, and I'll figure out what to do with those things some other time. " When I am busy, I think, "Better mop that floor now, since I'm here I'll throw in another load of laundry, and this junk is out of here--we won't need it." Plus, I double recipes just in case, and I multi-task when I am swamped.

The strange thing is that I appear to be wired this way--I feel energized and hopeful if my intellect is engaged.

Not that I am a type A personality, though. I do not like competing with others, and I don't get short-tempered. I just zoom through life. A friend once said that, at my funeral, the funeral home directors will be telling me, "Get in here and lie down--we have to put the lid on your coffin now."

So for the next two years, I will be happy. However, will my family be able to stand it?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The children's school practices "positive discipline." That means that the children who misbehave are given a reflection to write about their poor choices. The form will come home with a statement of behavior at the top, something like, "Took another child's food, chewed it, and put it back on the other child's tray." The reflection which the child must fill out consists of questions, something like, "What happened, who was involved, what did you do, what will you do differently?"

Rocky, who is not a yakker, has filling these forms down to an art form. Part of it is because he has had a tremendous amount of practice, I'm sure. If I don't interfere, the form will go back with these answers, "Ate Nick's food. Nick and me. Ate his food. Don't do it again."

There are two problems with this system. First, the faculty or staff person is supposed to discuss the issue and answers with the child. Notice the "supposed to"--that is because the form somehow vanishes between our kitchen and the school. This may be for the best, as discussing the issue with Rocky can be frustrating--as I can attest. Kind of like pounding myself between the eyes with a tack hammer--the only good that comes of it is that it feels better when I finally stop.

Take the example of Nick and his food. When I asked Rocky the particulars of this situation, he said, "Nick said I could." Then we have the old, old discussion of "If Nick said you could jump off the roof, would you do it?"

Rocky always looks amazed at what is the apparent lack of sense in this question. He replies, "No, because that would be stupid."

Okay...but are you supposed to eat another child's food? No. And what is with the putting the food back on his tray. "Well, those were the beans I didn't chew. I didn't like them."

Apparently, Nick didn't either.

The second issue we have with this type of situation specific discipline is that Rocky doesn't generalize the situation. To him, "Not do it again" means to not eat Nick's food again. This leaves us with plenty of wiggle room, as no mention is made of Dakota's chips or Israel's applesauce or Emma's crackers, or any edibles held by any of the 180 or so upper elementary kids in that lunchroom. Nor is there mention of doing other activities with people's food, such as using Jell-o blocks to construct cities with corn decorations or squeezing juice boxes to shoot fruit punch toward the girls' table. I have to make Rocky add caveats such as "I will not touch anyone else's food." Of course, Rocky will then come home with another reflection and tell me, "Nick's apple rolled away from him today, and I had to sit at the girls' table because I wouldn't pick it up for him, but you said to not touch anyone else's food. Ever."

Pass the tack hammer, please.