" I feel I am very sane about how crazy I am." -Carrie Fisher
"Own your Crazy." -Kim

Sunday, June 19, 2011

And Then There Was Mary...


This is how my day started not too long ago. My youngest and I were in the car and she said, “I had the weirdest dream last night.” She is 6, the youngest of four sisters, and is known to have a bit of a dark side. So I thought I was prepared when I said, “Oh really? What was it about?” She responded with something like this…and I will not be exaggerating or taking creative license, however you will think that I am, “I was married to Brandon…you remember Brandon my love from kindergarten, but I was cheating on him with Austin. That was fine, but one day I went to dinner with Austin…and here’s where it gets awkward…Brandon my husband was there. When Austin went to the bathroom my husband came over to ask what was going on, and I told him…oh him? He’s my boss.” I will stop the dream retell there, although in all honesty I am nowhere near done and what you just heard was practically verbatim. I am not often speechless, but here it was the one moment in time when I found I had NOTHING to say in response.
A few hours later we were with Naomi (who currently lives with me, but that is a story or stories for another day) and I asked my little darling about the dream. She repeated it again with the same details. To her credit Naomi didn’t bat an eye and told her that it sounded like a very interesting dream, she then turned to me and said, “We need to do something with that one…there is talent there. Do you think she is a clairvoyant?”

This isn’t my first trip to the rodeo with this gal. She has a personality all unto her own, and I worry because she is number four and let’s be honest…how much energy will we have left to raise this one with any kind of high standard? Mary was in first grade this year. She is bright, but I am not going to lie, I didn’t actually know this because, again, she is number four and I let some things slip through the cracks. I have never done homework with her. Naomi did it in Kindergarten and in first grade she went to the after school program where lovely supportive after school teachers helped her. At report card time we always have a 4 in homework (that’s an A if you don’t live in liberal California where we don’t want anyone to KNOW they are failing…how’s that working out for us?). So it was strange, or just Mary’s bad luck, that one day in February out of the blue I said to her, “Mary let me check your homework?” When she handed it to me that Friday morning (homework is due on Friday) I realized that there was a page not finished. I said something to her, and she said, “Oh, I forgot.” I said, “Uh, no…you didn’t forget, it is February and we have been in school 7 months and you know what is expected of you, you didn’t FORGET you chose not to do it.” The end result was that she did it very quickly, turned it in on time and I told her this was NOT to happen again. And with my first three children the lesson would have been learned and this would NOT have happened again. And I thought that was exactly what would happen in this circumstance. Hah!

The next week on Friday morning I said to her again, “Hey Mary let me check your homework?” The reply was, “Oh, that.” It turns out this time NONE of it was done. I asked her what her plan was when she got to class and she said, once again, “Well, I forgot.” And I patiently laid out for her, for the second time, that she did NOT forget. This was February, we had been doing homework for seven months, and every day at after school program they announce “WHO HAS HOMEWORK?” You didn’t forget, you chose not to do it. She just stood there. Finally I said, “Do you want me to write a note?” Relief swept over her body and she said, “Yes, that would be great!”

So I wrote:

Dear Mrs. Weybret,
Mary chose not to do her homework this week. Please make sure she has whatever consequence is needed.
Thank You,
Kim Daniel

Mary read it over my shoulder and then screamed, “WAIT! This is a BAD note.” Certainly THIS was the end of our homework issues.
Because hadn’t I made myself crystal clear?

The next week I am in the cafeteria after school. This is where the after school program children gather. Miss Maria, a lovely woman who has helped all my children with their homework and gets that there is a certain level of capability within them and they are teacher’s kids, approaches me and asks, “Is Mary smart in the first grade at math and things?” I was stumped. Oh Jesus, I don’t actually know Mary’s math capabilities. My mind starts racing…no one has said anything to me. Is she behind? When was the last time I saw her DO her math? She used to write her numbers backwards. Damn it! Why hadn’t I been paying better attention? What I say uncertainly is, “I don’t know, I think she can keep up.” Miss Maria says, “What about the reading? She can’t read?” Wait a second, slow down, we can read…she just read the note with the word consequence in it last week…no she can read. I say, “Why?” Miss Maria says, “Well, today I read all of her homework to her because she said she couldn’t read. Then I went to find her teacher. She was gone, but the other first grade teacher laughed and said…Mary can read just fine.” Hmmm? So it turns out our homework issue is not resolved. Shocking!

At this point Mary enters and I motion her over. When questioned she replies, “I meant I was tired, very tired it is Valentines Day there was a lot going on and I didn’t FEEL like reading all the homework.” A less then pleasant response follows from me, (picture steam coming out of my ears) followed by daily visits to the cafeteria where I stand next to the person who shouts out, “Homework time…Who has homework?” and glare at Mary. She would then grab her homework and stomp over to the homework table, one time muttering, “Really? We have to do this every week? It is so boring.” I am certain this will not be the semi-quiet end to this story.

First grade has ended and summer has begun. Swim team has started. Because I have some experience under my belt, and because people can change…instead of being my typical intense, crazy, psycho bitch, I have heart and say to Mary, who may not be the most skilled swimmer, “Let’s just do the practices. You don’t have to do the meets until you feel more comfortable.” (If you have read my third daughter’s swim story, you know this is huge progress for me in terms of relaxing and going with your child’s strengths) She agrees and on the first day we head to practice. It is unfortunate that sunny California is under a blanket of rain and clouds during our first week of swim team, but I push on (yeah, yeah, so much for my relaxed go with the flow garbage I just fed you). I get her in the pool…she throws her goggles at me and yells, “NO!.” It isn’t like we are alone. The same thing is happening with the kid next to us. Herein lies the difference…the kid next us has a mother who says something like this for the rest of the week, “Come on baby…just one lap and then we will put on your jeans and we can cuddle with the blanket I brought. I will meet you at the end of the pool.” I say, “We are here all summer and you will be in the pool all summer. You can swim or sit there and cry, but I am working out during this time.”

I’m not going to make any judgments or tell you who has the better mothering skills…but guess whose kid is in the pool swimming and guess who still has to cuddle after each lap?