Thursday, May 29, 2014

School’s Out for Summer

Well, almost.

We are all groaning our ways through the last days of school. I have two children, and they are at the same school, so my end-of-year should be pretty standard. You’d think. You know, the usual end-of-year parties and “what to get the teacher” dilemma, combined with “what are we going to do with the kids all summer, OMG why is everything so expensive” (sob sob, rend clothing, shake fist at sky).

Oh, but no.

My fifth grader is graduating from elementary school. So there are extras, like a yearbook, and graduation picture, and Class of 2014 T-shirt, and end-of-year field trip day to some seventh circle of hell where they pour skittles into the kids’ mouths and give them IV’s full of cotton candy and let them drive go-karts, play mini golf and dominate on arcade games, following which they release them staggering into the daylight laden down with tiny plastic trinkets and huge twisty drink cups with the straws attached and a mountain of other plastic crap which they do not need but insist they do because they won it playing games, don’t you see, it’s not fair. Also, my kindergartener is sort of-kind-of culminating. It’s not a graduation, per se, but they’re also having a party. On a different day than fifth grade graduation.

Also: my kids seem suddenly to be performing arts gurus, because they have both been asked to perform this week – one, dancing at a Motown revue event last night, and the other, playing drums in her rock band this afternoon in front of the whole school.

Added to that, my children are changing school districts next year, a delicate procedure during which you must keep your shit together all whilst feeling the top of your head might pop off at any second. There are sooooo many forms. And soooo many documents you must collect from hither and yon – birth certificates, utility bills, report cards, copies of standardized tests, immunization records, etc. There’s the ridiculous health card you must fill out with the child’s medical history asking you, among other things, at what age your child first sat up? First crawled? First walked? Are they for real with this? I barely remember what I did last weekend.

And enrolling the kids is a multi-part process. Ceeya must visit the new school next month for an official literacy assessment, and in California they are doing this graduated shifting of the eligibility date for kindergarten which apparently also extends to first grade, which I don’t understand. Ceeya was three weeks too young for kindergarten this past year, but they accepted her provisionally and now she has blown all the assessments in her current school out of the water. (Seriously, the “good” proficiency score in phonics was 28, and she scored 112. She may have broken their test.) Now I have to go through the same thing with the new school so she doesn’t have to repeat kinder because she won’t be six years old by Sept. 1st.

It is like having another job. I am exhausted. No Pinterest-worthy teacher crafts over here, man. I am out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Just Not Feeling It

FYI - this pic has nothing to do with the content of this post, but honestly. If you are going to go to the trouble of having a sign made, maybe proofread before you sign off on it?

The scene:  It is 7:55 AM. I have just emerged from my car and I am walking across the parking lot to the entrance of my job. One of our clients, a man with a mild intellectual disability, has just gotten off the bus and is walking up toward me.

Me:        Good morning, Rob [not his real name]! How you doin?
Rob:       Good morning, I don’t want to be here today.
Me:        I know how you feel, some days are like that.
Rob:       I partied too much last night.
Me:        Whuh?
Rob:       It was my birthday yesterday—
Me:        Oh! Happy Birthday!
Rob:        –yeah, so I drank a lot last night and then I passed out.
Me:        Oh. …So… you probably don’t feel so well.
Rob:       Yeah, we had some people over at the house and we was drinkin.
Me:        Do you think you’re hung-over?
Rob:       NO, NO – I just don’t want to BE here.

Well, that makes two of us. Hang in there, Rob.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Lure of the New

I just learned that one of my co-workers is in the process of moving, and I had a twinge of jealousy. Am I crazy?

If you know anything about me, you know that I have moved an awful lot. Ceeya is only five years old and she has already lived in four different homes -- we moved from one to another only days after bringing her home from the hospital

But:  following up on my previous post, I actually took the StrengthsFinder assessment and one of the things it told me was that I constantly need new challenges, so I should look for work which is really varied. This explains my craving to move, I think. I guess I just want something fun to do, and I love looking at new places and imagining the Blah Blah family in them. I love finding just the right space for us, finding the new restaurants and shops and parks in our neighborhood, and meeting new people. I love finding the perfect chair to go in the corner, or new artwork to hang in the kitchen. Every home is different. To me, moving is a pain in the ass, and exciting and fun, all at once. 

One of the things I love about moving is that it forces us to get rid of things because we can't justify moving them. I lurrrrve decluttering. And our apartment right now is feeling ridiculously cluttered and it hurts my brain. Not to mention we are getting close to the end of the school year (lots of extra papers coming home) and the beginning of a new school year looms, with both kids going to different schools next year--Viva graduating from elementary school and moving on to middle, and Ceeya moving to our neighborhood school (more on this in a later post)--with lots of extra paperwork for that as well. And Mother's Day artwork. Also Ceeya has become a bit of a multimedia artist, and she makes these large pieces which are inevitably spread out to dry all over the dining room table, along with all the materials which have gone into making them, and this is the first thing I see when I walk into the apartment after work, and it makes me a little cuckoo. 

The idea of a clean slate is certainly a nice fantasy. But we are creative types, so I must learn to live with some mess. But it's still nice to fantasize about moving into a bigger place, where all the other members of my family would miraculously become neat freaks and the sink wouldn't be full of dishes, or the hampers overflowing with laundry. And somehow I would corral all of our hair products and hair baubles and hair thingies and HAIR so they wouldn't randomly appear all over the house. (Three out of four of us have masses of curly hair which refuse to be tamed. The other one just shaves all of his off. I'll leave you to guess who that is.)

For the moment, I'm just going to have to suck it up. We are not moving any time soon. There are other changes happening in our lives that may not seem to be major, but who knows what tomorrow will bring? Be here now, and all that. 

Monday, May 05, 2014

Synchronicity! (And also, “AHA!”)

Do you ever have one of those moments where you run across something that just hits you as SO right that you want to slap your own self?

Today, I was reading Mighty Girl in one of my free moments. I do not read Mighty Girl all the time. I kind of save it up and when I have a free “catch up on blogs” moment, I can then spoil myself by reading several posts at once. Am I the only one who does this?

So: at any rate, this is not today’s post on Mighty Girl because I was getting caught up on my reading. It is a post from April 10 of this year. And in it Maggie discusses this book, StrengthsFinder 2.0, and she provides this quote:

“…people have several times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies.”

And for criminy’s sake, it just walloped me up the side of my head. Because in my everyday life, in my full-time job, I can’t tell you how many times I have written this about the clients that my agency serves. We talk about a strengths-based approach, about finding what our clients are good at and then building on their strengths to help overcome their weaknesses (not exactly in those words, but you get the gist).

But in my own life, I focus on my own limitations all the time. I doubt myself, I second-guess myself, I wish I had said this better, or responded like that. Wow. Why?

Closing out the post, Maggie writes:

…I have a lot of internal voices saying, “Overcome your weaknesses! Be a better you!” And so forth. The truth is, the you you’ve got is just fine. Work with those raw materials instead of fighting your nature, and you make more progress.

I’m restraining myself from slapping myself again. But seriously? This is just what I needed to read today. Interested to read the book – and to hear if you have read it/heard about it.

April was a rough month. This idea of focusing on my strengths – and helping my family to find theirs – dovetails with several ideas floating around in my brain to get our family back on track. I am cautiously optimistic for what May will bring. Hoping for less hospital time, fewer doctor’s offices and more appreciating the moments and the beauty of each day. Stay tuned.