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mellow yellow
Jan 31st, 2011 by wrekehavoc

sometimes, we all need to be mellow (and respect the stuff that’s yellow.)

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the story goes that here, in the people’s republic of arlington, one of the full-day public elementary preschool programs has booted a three year old girl for having more than eight accidents in a month. i am actually quite familiar with this sort of situation; jools was three when he started at claremont’s sister school’s montessori program. and while he was potty trained by that point, something about the program discombobulated him. they didn’t nap. they were very structured. and, in short, he had accidents.  the teacher and the teacher’s aide were not happy about the situation, and neither were we. ultimately, we pulled him out of that program into a more day care-like situation, where he proceeded to have many dry days and never looked back.

while i feel badly for the little girl and her mom, i think a lot of their anger is rather misplaced.  here in arlington, elementary school-sponsored preschool is not universal. you get in via lottery (or sometimes via an older sibling preference) unless you are entering one of the income-based programs.  these programs are not daycare programs — these are classroom-based programs where the children essentially have a similar experience to their older compatriots. this is far more structured than what you might get at some fluffy preschool program. it’s a bargain, financially- speaking, if you can get in. and for some kids, it’s a great fit. they are both intellectually and physically ready for the experience.

for other kids, it’s a nightmare. their little bodies aren’t ready for the full-time pressure of monitoring when they have to go. sometimes, they get so engaged in an activity that it’s too late before they realize they needed a pit stop. there’s nothing wrong with that, of course — it’s developmentally quite appropriate for a lot of kids.

but one thing i have learned in my short but eventful career as a parent — sometimes, a class or a program may be fabulous, but it’s not a fabulous fit for MY child. for whatever reason, there have been situations which just didn’t work out for my kids. so BS and i dropped back, figured out plan B (or sometimes C), and punted. it wasn’t easy — sometimes, it caused challenges that upset our daily lives at work and at home. but we did what we had to do and we moved on.

arlington county public schools is pretty specific and up front about what they expect of children in the program: children must be potty trained. this is not daycare, people. this is a public school.  they tell you up front that they won’t be changing nappies, and they mean it. and while even older children occasionally have an oops! moment, these occurrences are not and should not be something that disrupts class with frequency or else it isn’t fair to the other kids who are completely ready for the experience.  no child should be shamed about his ability to control his body. but no child should be forced into a position where she’s facing embarrassment on a daily basis. if this sort of thing happens frequently, as a parent i would recognize that something is not right for my kid. and, recognizing that the school is not going to bend a whole lot on this matter, i would have moved my kid. period.

but blaming the school is not fair. i think in our society, we always look to point the finger at anyone but ourselves.  i would think it would be more useful to instead focus energies on finding a place that works best for the child and which welcomes her — all of her.

guilty pleasure monday: happy hour (the housemartins)
Jan 31st, 2011 by wrekehavoc

vive le guilty pleasure monday!

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for a long while, i tried to make mondays a little more bearable (or awful, depending on your perspective) by sharing one of the songs i adore, a song which could result in ridicule from some of my cooler friends. i wrote about quite a few. and then, i hit a mental snag. did anyone enjoy these things? was i getting bored writing them? am i all out of songs to crow about?

but now, i’m back, and what a good place to be, starting back up again with the housemartins’ most well-known song (well, at least in the US, anyway), happy hour. i have to give paul heaton props; it isn’t every day you end up with a band which sports songs mixing christianity with marxism. but he managed to pull it off for a few years in the 1980s until the band disbanded (and heaton became part of the beautiful south.) another famous alum of the band, norman cook, became more famous later on as fatboy slim.

for reasons i’ll never remember, i always think of an old officemate when i hear happy hour. i don’t think i ever shared an office with anyone so happily before or since. our office had once been a high-level company person’s secure area, complete with some sort of security system at the door (which had been dismantled by the time we rolled in.) i believe my officemate put a defunct nation’s flag over his desk — or was it on the floor as a rug? i don’t remember. but we have always shared the same love of 80’s music as well as all things relatively quirky. i remember when i discovered some 80’s alternative music channel and used to play it all the time, ad infinitem. every time i started it up, it played the same bunch of songs, over and over. but i was so desperate to hear stuff that i played it constantly. and he didn’t mind. (or at least, he never said.)  (this was the mid-90s, you must know, so this was a big deal to find this mini internet pirate radio.) in fact, he was the most tolerant colleague ever. he didn’t care when i went on a jag playing kyle’s mom’s a bitch (NSFW, even though it was SFW in my old office environs. it was a different world back then, kids.) and best of all, when i had hideous morning sickness while (secretly at the time) pregnant with BC, he never said boo when i ended up under my desk, laying on the floor, praying for death.  as a single guy at the time, he probably had no idea what the hell was wrong with me; but in true male fashion, he just let me be until i came up for air.

so i’ll revive my old GPM feature with a hat off to one of my favorite ’80s loving pals. hoping every hour is happy hour for him.

electricity
Jan 28th, 2011 by wrekehavoc

oh, electricity. i am your bitch.

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our part of the world is not known for dealing well with any sort of precipitation. people line the supermarkets, clamoring for bread, milk, and toilet paper whenever the weather reports hint of any impending white stuff. couple that with a hard, wet snow, very old trees in serious need of help, inadequate snow plowing on side-streets, and lots of above-ground lines, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

there we were, sitting around, basking in the joy of a potential snow day on wednesday night. the kids had all gotten out of school early due to the impending storm. the boy was extra-happy because he got out of a gymnastics class. the girl was in ecstasy because her religious school was cancelled.  i was thrilled because i had cooked not one, but TWO different dinners, which would allow me to spend less time cooking and more time lazing around or playing. we had just finished a game of monopoly cards (during which i had one two out of three games), when suddenly, the fireworks.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!

we looked out the window to see a transformer blowing up on the main road and spewing all sorts of little fireworks in the sky. then, a minute later, another one blew similarly. then, another.  whoomp, there it went: our power was done for.

fortunately. BS is the sort of guy who likes to be prepared. we had all sorts of flashlights, a crank radio, and a good attitude… for a time, anyway. we brought the kids’ sleeping bags into our room, and we all prepared to camp down together in the chilly evening. unfortunately, the ancient trees on my street were sagging scarily underneath the weight of the snow. huge branches were snapping. the kids were terrified that a tree would fall and take us down with it. the boy calmed down relatively easily, as i started to sing songs in the dark much like the songs i sang to the kids when they were infants.  he fell asleep, his head in my lap. the girl, however, was not as easily swayed; she, like me, was up for a large part of the night.

oh nervous night.

the next day, we hoped for the best. BS put food into iced coolers and dug out the sidewalk.  i dug out the mom-mobile with some help from my neighbor across the street, who simply stopped work on his driveway and just started in. (i am blessed to have some truly wonderful neighbors. i am baking something as a little thank you.) BS dug out the prius. the kids sleighed for a time before my other neighbor found a dangerous spot and stopped all the cul-de-sac kids from sledding. the entire street lost power, and the entire street lost phone service. my cell was dying away, and no recharging in my car was really cutting it for some reason. and dominion power was continually telling us that nearly 200,000 people were without power and that they could not yet give us a time estimate for repair.

and the house got colder and colder.

so BS realized he needed to think about plan B. unfortunately, foraging for potential hotel rooms required his computer. i suggested he hit up our beloved local library branch, where i suspected he could plug in for awhile and use some of their free wifi. so off he went to the library. upon his return, he shared two things: 1) most of the hotels were looking for upwards of $200 for one night, and 2) people around here are seriously obnoxious. apparently, some of our fair residents decided that the library was their home away from home to charge all their items. one enterprising person and her friend/family member brought a surge protector and proceeded to plug everything from phones to ipods into it, while taking over the other plug for one additional item. ultimately, BS found a spot in a hallway to plug in his little pc.

upon his return, the lights went on in the homes behind us. we felt hopeful and decided that we’d go out to dinner and then, upon our return, decide whether to hit up a hotel or stay home.  after a yummy, caloric dinner, we returned home to discover that the power remained out.  BC had been invited to a friend’s for a sleepover, so we brought her there and then the three of us set off to find a hotel. our path was blocked by a police blockade, so we meandered our way over to said hotel. only, too bad for us — no room at the inn. by this time, the boy was falling asleep in the car, so we figured we would hunker down again at home. we put the boy into his sleeping bag, covered him up, and then we, too, tried to fall asleep in a r e a l l y cold house under about a million blankets.

i was afraid to fall asleep because i knew that the minute i finally fell asleep, the power would go on, the lights would pop on, and all sorts of things would scare the bejeebers out of me. i fought sleep for awhile, but eventually, i succumbed to a fitful rest (which included a bizarre dream about my marrying owen wilson, who seems like a nice, sensitive guy but who isn’t really my type) until at 5am, the giant light over our bed went on, along with every other electrical thingy in the house. yeah, it scared me. but it also delighted me.

and now today, we take all the items the husband saved out of the cooler. ( he really loves me; he, who loathes coffee,  saved my vanilla creamer along with the milk.) we buy some more stuff. and we start over.

and i start to think about how, in some small way, it was awfully nice to have the family unplugged. if only for 34 hours, anyway.

welcome to the jungle
Jan 6th, 2011 by wrekehavoc

dear playdate/person who’ll be here for the next two hours which will seem like an eternity,

evidentally, you never received my first letter to a playdate.  if you had, you’d know about my expectations and rules for having a safe, fun, and happy time in my home. if you can, review those rules. but if not, i will be glad to share a few quick pointers here.

please put down that giant branch. while i’ve been known to wing it when it comes to attempting minor medical treatments, i’m not really confident about my abilities in the area of emergency DIY eye surgery.

bless you for taking your shoes off before coming in. you didn’t listen to me as i shrieked about not going in our neighbor’s yard; you ran through it, anyway. besides the fact that good neighbors tend to not run through each other’s yards, i should point out that that particular neighbor’s lawn is a veritable minefield, as it appears he permits his dog to poop all over his lawn (as well as other lawns from time to time.) therefore, who knows what dreams may come/what delights may attach themselves to the bottom of your shoes. and i would prefer to not have such substances on my hall floor.

why certainly you can have a snack… oh, you don’t like peanut butter cookies? how about…oh, you don’t like freshly-baked butterscotch oatmeal cookies either? how about cheesey crackers? no? hmmm… no, we’re not having chocolate now… no, i just baked that cake for after dinner. if you would like to join us for dinner, you may have some afterwards… oh, you don’t like what i’m making for dinner? here, take this phone number. call it. see whether mcdonalds delivers to seven year olds.

great — you’ll eat graham crackers. i’m surprised you ate half of the box on your own, but i guess you are one hungry fellow. please don’t play your kill the graham crackers game in my house. you may have nannies who willingly clean up all the crushed crumbs that trail in your wake, but around here, i am the nanny. no one pays me to clean up after you.

is it really necessary to invoke a holy war over whether pokemon or bakugan is superior? both consist of cheap, plastic crap from china and cards, all promoted by half-hour-long commercials posing as cartoon shows. and the whole point of either? machines of some ilk basically fight each other.  if you really want to see some serious fighting, you ought to hit up someone’s house around holiday time. now there’s some really awesome battles. watch two siblings fighting over some long-forgotten feud. take a ringside seat while uncle joe and auntie mo talk about fidelity issues. maybe you could give extra points for people who are artificially medicated or take away points from people with certain baggage.

then again, you don’t get to a lot of these topics until later on in family life education, so just take my word for it — if i see plastic and cards flying around in a tantrum, you will really see some excitement around here.

no, the pinball machine still hasn’t been fixed. yes, i know — it wasn’t fixed when you were here before the holidays, either. no, i don’t know when i am getting it fixed. how are you at fixing pinball machines?

my son is banned from the wii for the next week. since you asked, he was banned because he continued to not listen when he was completely sucked into the game. it won’t be forever. you know, we have all sorts of board games. and he did want to go play outside, which you refused. so sorry if my house is the vortex of boredom.

how nice of you to mention that your neighbor will be home from his vacation on saturday and that you’d rather be playing with him. i know it makes my son sad to hear that; clearly, you haven’t yet developed the empathy gene to make you think how it would feel to be the recipient of such news. but i will be glad to see you happy with your neighbor friend.

for you see, there is another playmate in the wings who follows about 85% of my aforementioned rules.  i’m thinking 85% is a damn good number.

have a nice day,

wreke


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