Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanks have been given. And now the following Public Service Announcements for All Things Retail Related

"Thank You..." words I very often use in my professional environment and shamefully, so often forget to use in my personal life. Here are some of the "Thank Yous" that don't get said often enough:

Thank you, mom and dad for saying, "Sure. Whatever you need..." so very long ago when we asked you for some space. I never dreamed we'd still be living  here, and I'm sure you didn't either. Thanks for never reminding us about the words we make ourselves eat every year that goes by: "just until we get on our feet."
Thanks for your presence in the boys' lives and the every day gift of having Nana and Grampa right up stairs.
It's not perfect, but our family is unique and has given two little boys twice the love and attention that others get since the day they drew breath. In our society, so full of single parents who struggle to give enough, that's one growing pain my kids will never ache from... and I am forever grateful.

It's hard to say that stuff. It's hard to live in your mom's basement with your family at the age of 34... (feel free to gasp. I just did upon reading that in print.) It's hard to feel like a grown up when you are an adult living with your parents. It's hard to know who you can tell that stuff to... hard to swallow your feelings of inadequacy and failure when people you haven't seen since High School note your address (which is still the same) and ask when your parents' passed away. It's hard, at the age of 34 to have to choke down the same meatloaf that made you gag when you were 7.

But it's harder to be worried all the time because there's not enough money. It's harder to be constantly unavailable to your kids because you can't think about anything but the bills you can't pay. The gift of being able to give to my kids all those worry-free moments in my day is invaluable. I should say my "Thank yous" more often.

Other "Thank Yous" that bear a note here are to the people who caught me when I got the wind knocked out of me a few years ago. The ones who shored me up when all I knew about my life was washed out from under me by a 22 year old tsunami who wanted another notch in her belt. Thank you to all the same people who trust my choices and understand that only The Dad and I know what could be rebuilt and how firm the foundation is. I am grateful for this and all the experiences that illuminated what I was too scared to explore of my own free will - I can take a hit and still be who I want to be. No matter what other people's choices set into motion, I can choose my actions, my words, my dignity. I write my history the way I want to look back at it. I can be vulnerable and pathetic sometimes and know with certainty that those times are not the ones that define me. I can manage the mess that I make of my life and help my kids to come through it too. My life as a teenager and as a younger woman used to be comprised of "I can't," or "I could never," and now I know I can... whenever I'm ready. There is deep gratitude in my heart for all that the last ten years has brought me.

With all of that said, I now I have to turn my attention to the retail world, because I DID venture out on Black Friday and was saved from incarceration ONLY because I was wearing my flops and my feet weren't hot. Hot feet make me cranky. Everything else in the universe was aligned in such a way as to prevent an enjoyable retail experience. I started my period, so consequently woke up feeling like manslaughter could possibly be part of the day's agenda. If I was to measure the day by the first words I spoke, it would've been clear after roaring "Get OFF me!" at the children at 7 a.m. that the day was going to suck donkey balls. Look out Wal-Mart... The Sassmaster cometh. At 11:02 a.m. I had a Nintendo DS Lite in hand and I should have gone back home. I'll leave you with the following as we hurl ourselves into the Vortex of Excess and all the caloric and financial debauchery associated with the Holiday Season...

Please take note of the following PSA's for the Holiday Season 2010

  • Target stores, please devise a system for tagging and identifying the employees who "Don't Usually Work in This Department." If their only job is to stand around in a Santa hat and ooze out of their signature red "Target" shirt while re-folding sweaters, let us know... It will save us the aggravation of the post-question blank stare and could save the life of the ass hat you bumped out of the stock room who doesn't know what "sherpa-lined" means.
  • Don't try to do any amount of Christmas shopping with the children around... hiding presents from their view looks an awful lot like shoplifting. Side bar - have you noticed how many Mall Security folks are short and surly???
  • Piling that shit on your credit card and paying 18 - 28 % interest for however long it takes you to pay it off cancels out whatever money you saved on it. Think about that next year before you peel yourself out of bed at 4 in the morning to freeze your ass off waiting in line at Toys-R-Us.
  • Gifting any of the following items to my children will mean a swift and painful ass-kicking: Candy Land, umbrellas, Moon Sand, and anything that eats or shits.
  • Teacher gifts... please listen carefully. Your child's teacher does not need or want pot pouri, bath products, lotion, or candles. Chocolate, margarita mix, or a handful Vicodin in a decorative tin are all acceptable if you insist on spending your money. But seriously? Don't spend your money. Grab a pen and a folded piece of paper - remember those?? Write a note that thanks him/her for giving his/her time and energy to your child. Say thank you for something that you know has had an impact on your child. And end it with your sincere wishes that the holiday break is well enjoyed, and let 'em know that you know it's well-deserved.
Merry Humbug, poppets...

Monday, November 15, 2010

At Long Last! An Update... Head Start Stockholm's Syndrome

I am trying to forget that there's a health and safety check happening at school tomorrow and that there are a handful of loose ends in the children's files that I left until the absolute last moment, which could result in major disaster should my files be checked on Friday during the return of the federal reviewers...
I am also trying to forget about the two buckets filled with Halloween candy on the shelf directly behind me.
Do you think it's possible to smell a Butterfinger through the wrapper 5 feet away?

I will now attempt to write to forget,  in order not to eat to forget. I have totally neglected this endeavor for way too long and have even gotten requests for updates - Thank you!! Granted, it was my best friend and a family member but it's nice to know someone wants to hear more of my bullshit. I honestly thought when I started this blog that my preschoolers would be a plethora of blog-fodder but, I'm beginning to think I'll have to comb the cob-webby corners of my memory for tales of preschoolers-past in order to keep you entertained.

Stay tuned for A Preschool Story: The Tales of SassMaster Scrooge! Fortunately The Viking has entered full-fledged toddler-dom and has begun his attempt at world domination via tantruming and pinching. There will also be an installment of Viking Misadventures the very minute I'm done with the college course I picked up this semester. That's another blog post in and of itself that's begging to be written - the course is called Students with Special Needs but I now refer to it as "Teachers With Special Needs." I am still astoinshed each and every Tuesday evening to be sitting in a college classroom with 20+ grown ups (who ALL work in the field already) and hearing "I don't get it" more than three times each class.

Pre-blog, I envisioned the same old, same old -  12 rowdy Snotbots who would find their own unique ways to make me wish a meteor would blaze through the atmosphere and directly through our classroom ceiling each and every day, but... guess what... They're all FABULOUS... Even this year's Queen Bee is redeemed, and succeeds in tickling my funny bone rather than tap dancing on my last nerve for once. Sure, she tries the patented Disney Princess, doe-eyed smile as her first line of defense upon hearing that someone else (me) in the room has an agenda, and sure... she then ignores (albeit unsuccessfully) all requests that technique fails to deflect... But she also has no inhibitions when it comes to making silly faces and weird Tourrette's-like vocalizations as she plays. She will "BEE-DOO, BEE-DOO, BEE-DOO" at the top of her lungs in the echo-y bathroom stall and then walk out casually smiling as she continues past me and my clearly amused face. Often, she can also be heard making a strange, gutteral "GAHK, GAHK, GAHK, GAHK" sound with her mouth wide open and her lips curled over her teeth. So, am I completely annoyed by a child who is willful, who blatantly and silently defies me in front of my face? (Anyone one who has worked with me probably needs a moment to stop laughing at that obviously rhetorical question... Take your time.) Yeah... but because she's a pain in the ass who flies her Freak Flag a little higher than all the rest, I am more amused than annoyed for now. I don't mind letting this one wear the crown - she and I have already established who wears the top hat at this Circus...

The truth is they are all interesting and well-behaved. They clean up their shit when I tell them to, they love to sing and be read to, they walk where they're supposed to, and 5 out of 11 of them remember to turn off the faucet with a fucking paper towel! I bet 5 out of 11 of the people who read this don't do that, for Christ sake. They are a really great group of kids and you wanna know what? I'm completely bored with them. Clearly I have some sort of Head Start Stockholm's Syndrome... Apparently I can't function and feel like I'm earning my crappy pay unless someone's tossing chairs around or falling to the ground like a boneless pile of screaming, writhing flesh every five minutes. I have been waiting for 10 years to have a classroom like this and I'm ready to open a vein. What's wrong with me? them? no... it's definitely me.

Last week two little girls ran up hand and hand, waving a book at me and smiling like something out of a JC Penney commercial,  "I can read this book to her?" the bigger one asked. They had one of my "home books" (this year I don't have to hoard them away on my Teacher Desk because everyone in my room loves and respects books) I said "Sure!" and had to stop mysef from adding, "But wouldn't you rather push her?"
It's only the 8th week of school and half of them are already negociating the solutions to their own problems. They only really need me to accompany them to the bathroom across the hall. Thank goodness a few of them still have laces on their sneakers that need tying now and again, or I might be tempted to just lock the door, leave out some juice and crackers and take a nap under the desk.

There's hope for something lively yet - room for a wild card... One of the kiddos will be leaving this week and as Forrest's mama always says, "Life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get." Who knows what or who is coming down the road, but for now, I'll try to be careful what I wish for and appreciate what I've got. And come Thursday I'm really going to miss Mr. "Please May I Can I Have..." Safe travels, N - May peace and plenty bless your world, with joy that long endures.