Friday, March 23, 2012

Did she *really* just say that?

Discussing "Bread and Jam for Frances". 

Me: "What is your favorite food that you would like to eat all the time?"

Claire: "Ice cream!"

Aeron: "Broccoli! And, cherries!"

Thursday, March 22, 2012

1st grade in the 21st Century

I know I'm probably whining a bit much on this topic. But I just cannot get over how different 1st grade is these days. Definitely not your Mama's 1st grade! 

For example, this week, the girls are starting a unit on geometry (plane and solid shapes) and fractions. Fractions. In 1st grade.

They've been doing public speaking for a while. This week, Claire will deliver a 3 minute speech she wrote on her favorite kind of weather. Aeron already gave her speech this month. Hers was on the different series of quarters issued by the US Mint since 1999. Complete with examples glued to a foam board.

It's not that I don't think they can handle the ideas. Clearly, a 6 year-old can grasp the concepts. But what they can't do is apply themselves to their homework without a parent standing over them. Here's how a typical school afternoon goes in my house.

2:45pm - pick girls up from school, after yelling for them to get off the play structure and git in the damn car.

3pm -  discuss the whys and wherefores of what's on the snack menu. Produce the agreed upon snack. Snack is consumed.

3:15pm - Begin the homework struggle. The twins must be separated. Preferably on different floors of the house. Reading is first. Generally, they bring home a short book from school. On day when this systems breaks down, they choose one from their collection. They must read it 3 times. For some reason, reading works better at full volume.

3:55-ish - Reading is over and homework folders are produced. The girls have the month's assignments and they choose with one they want to do each day. Examples: "Go stargazing with an adult in your family. Take turns thinking of words that describe stars." or "Draw a picture of your favorite breakfast foods." or "Count the windows, doorknobs and rooms in your home. Display your results in a chart."

While I salute the wide varieties of ways the school is attempting to get the kids to examine and interact with their environment, I just come back to... how in the hell do they expect me to get two 6-year-old girls to count f**king doorknobs w/o losing my shit?!?! Seriously. Try it. It ain't pretty.

Around about 5pm, things are either very bad or over. If I've been particularly persuasive, the girls are done and outside playing. If Mama hasn't performed her parental judo very well, there's a great deal of whining and complaining. Sometimes tears and stomping. But hey! It's 5pm, so I can always pour a glass of wine and surrender to the forces of chaos.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Did she *really* just say that?

A sheriff's deputy cruised by in his black-and-white on our way home from school.

Claire yells out, "I wish I was a police dog!"

Friday, March 9, 2012

In the middle of the night; Episodes 15, 16 & 17

Recently, Miles attended a conference, and thus was out of town for several days. This doesn't happen much, so it was an, um, interesting experience.

The first night he was gone, kid-wrangling was much more difficult; Miles & I usually tag-team 'em to get the girls through dinner and the bedtime routine. So not only was there just one parent to manage two squirrelly girls, the squirrelly girls made a fuss about missing Daddy. There were tears and a decided lack of cooperation with the solo, frazzled parent. Also, I was a bit nervous. The house seemed too big, noises were more startling, the dark was somehow darker. I didn't leave every light in the house on, just a whole lot more than usual. I checked the locks on all the doors and windows at least three times. It took me quite a while to get to sleep that night.

At 3am, Aeron came diving into the bed, gasping that "someone had touched her right here!" and gesturing at her chest. I cuddled the child, thinking, she's imagining things in her anxiety, 'cause Daddy's gone. Then my anxiety got the better of me, and I told her I was gonna go check on Claire.

I peeped out the door of my room. Nothin'. No movement. No sounds.  Scruffy had been sleeping in my desk chair at bedtime, but he was gone.

I scurried to the girls' room. Claire was out cold, limbs akimbo, covers on the floor and Scruffy curled up on her pillow, resting his chin on her forehead.

Ah. OK.  It was the cat.

I pulled Scruff off Claire's pillow, and put him on Aeron's bed. Then I went back to my room, where a little girl was hiding under the covers with her bear over her head.

"It was Scruffy, Boo" I told her as I got back in bed. "You wanna go back to bed?"

Frantic head shaking was the answer. I heaved a sigh and snuggled her close. Such is the power of a mama-snuggle, she was soon relaxed and breathing deeply. When I took her back to her room, Scruffy was waiting for her, sitting on the foot of her bed. I tucked Aeron in, the cat settled down and I left. Only to be unable to go back to sleep for hours.


The next night, things went better. My confidence in my ability to hold down the fort was restored, the girls were a bit more cooperative. We'd had dinner at the church, and I got them in a warm bath and fresh jammies and read a story in record time. Lights out, and they went promptly to sleep. I only checked all the doors and windows a couple of times and I even managed to get both cats in the house for the night.

I have no idea what time it was when Aeron came lunging into the bed. 

"I had a nightmare! A bad one!" I tucked the freaked-out child into my arms and covered her up. "There was a mean alligator! An evil alligator! In our house!"

"Really?" I murmured. "Was it a purple alligator or a green alligator?"

"Green! With purple spots." 

After a few moments I asked "did he come in the front door or back door?"

"Front door." she told me. "And Daddy got a shovel and broke his teeth!"


By day three, we had gotten into a routine. The only wrinkle was Aeron's inability to focus on the speech about quarters she needed to deliver then next day. I was trying to help her, but gave it up when I saw I was wasting my breath. Dinner was smooth, the bedtime ritual went like clock work. I was in bed with a mug of warm milk by 8:15pm. Lights were out at 9pm.

Sometime in the wee hours, Aeron flung herself into the bed, sobbing, incoherent. Nestling her close, I stroked her hair and sssh'd her.

"Take a deep breath, Boo," I whispered. "Ok. Now tell me what's wrong."

"My coin report is ruined!"