5 Elementary School Lessons in 13 years

Not writing this blog for 5 years has left me with sooo much free time that I spent it writing the emails for our elementary school’s PTA. You know, the emails that get blasted out to everyone reminding you that it is crazy sock day or that the fund raiser money is due last week, or that your district is considering chopping the foreign language program in the middle school so fortheloveofpete DO SOMETHING!!? Yep. That was me. For 3 years.

My goal was that our elementary school be very well informed making the community even more amazing than it already is, if that is even possible. I wrote Star Wars themed emails, Harry Potter themed emails, and Haiku. This year I am tired and Sweet Pea is graduating high school (I know. Don’t even get me started!) so I had to concentrate on things like prom flowers and marching band senior day and graduation puns. My email themes definitely suffered.

What I see all week.

Luckily I have someone awesome to catch the baton and the elementary school that has been a part of our family’s every day life for 13 years is in good hands.

Today I wrote my last email for them and realized that it wasn’t an email, it was a Cloud 8 post so I found my password, blew the dust off WordPress and got to work.

I may have already mentioned (a hundred times) that this is my 13th and final year at our local elementary school and while I am ready to join my youngest in moving on to what’s next, Our School has been our safe, happy place for a long time. I know it is time to go, but I am aware of all that I will be leaving behind and I will need my waterproof mascara as I wave goodbye.

I have learned a few things on my (admittedly unusually long) journey and I have been the “Old Mom” for at least the past 6 years at Our School which means that I know stuff and I simply must tell you before I forget it all.

Here are 5 things I learned from 13 years in elementary school:

1. Pace Yourself. Of course acknowledge and celebrate achievements, but if you mark the passage from preschool to kindergarten with a bronze statue, it will be tough to top that when your child graduates from college with honors. Pictures and hugs are lovely ways to mark milestones. Dinner (or dessert) out with family is a great outing to celebrate achievements. Do what feels right for your family, but be aware there is a tendency to celebrate bigger as the achievements get bigger and how much room do you have in your yard for statuary?

2. Don’t Be A Nudge. Fund raise as sparingly as possible. I know there are things that we want to buy as a school, but the cookie dough sale followed by spirit wear followed by car washes followed by 7 restaurant nights followed by 2 book fairs and pizza-kits-to-fund-a-moon-launch gets to be a bit much. If you have kids in more than one school, then double or triple that and it feels like being pecked to death by chickens. I propose cool heads and quality over quantity (see #1). Also, if you are personally overwhelmed by any particular fundraiser, then skip it. #noguilt

3. Talk To The Teacher. I tried to add up how many teachers my boys had at ARK and I couldn’t even do it. Maybe it was all of them. The best thing I ever did was to open and maintain a line of communication with them. Phone, email, Remind, text, interpretive dance, you do you but keep it going. It is way easier to manage the “Your kid seems to be setting fires” email (not made up) when I have had face-to-face meetings with the teacher already twice in the year. Want the teacher to give you and your monkey the benefit of the doubt when he doesn’t wear a coat in the winter? Or pants? Have conversations with them about your kid (he runs warm and prefers shorts) and what is happening in the classroom from day 1. Ask questions! Tell the teacher about your kid and (a little) about your family! (Obvs don’t overwhelm them or drown them in emails, they have 24 other darlings in their class.) If something your kid is telling you doesn’t add up, talk to the teacher. Sooner rather than later. They really want to know.

4. Give of Yourself. I know many parents (myself included) work during the week and that can make it tough to volunteer for library duty every Day 5 and 3. There are SO MANY ways to share your talents with the school. Check in with someone in the PTA, they always need a warm body to bake, make tape loops to hang art, or decorate something. Talk to the Librarian (you can shelve books on a pretty flexible schedule) or to your knightlet’s teacher, maybe he needs PV pipe spraypainted for a skeleton project or his class library organized. Maybe the PTA needs a math whiz to work on some tricky budget issue. There is something for everyone to do to help out.

5. Be Informed. This might be the most important. Know what is going on in your child’s class, school, in the middle schools and in the high schools, AND in the school district overall. (BTW, you can subscribe to emails from all of these places, follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!) You may not be there yet, but the decisions they are making at the middle and high school levels right now will affect your babies when they get there in a couple of years. It is hard to think so far ahead but you won’t be sorry you did.

[exits soapbox]
[smashes soapbox]

Posted in Elementary School, Funny Parenting Blog, Old Moms, Parenting Boys, Pumpkin Pie | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why They Don’t Call them Fun-cussions

You may remember my rant diatribe thoughts on the trip middle school kids take in Our Town to a place so cleverly named Mt. Misery (I know, just accept it).  You can read about that here, here, and here.  Sweet Pea went 2 years ago and because he is our oldest and I wasn’t working much and I hadn’t yet discovered Pinterest, I had time to fret about such things.  Fast forward two years and the hype is upon us again because it is time for Pickles to go to the land of deer ticks Mt. Misery.

We sent him on his merry way Tuesday morning with the same sleeping bag, the same duffel bag and possibly even the same socks that Sweet Pea used.  I expected to hear nothing and show up at pick up on Friday to find a tired, slightly cranky version of Pickles in need of detox from Kool-aid, white pasta and Apple Jacks.  Sadly, that is not how it went down.

Thursday in the middle of the day the “nurse” (and I use the term loosely) from Mt. Misery called me.

“Nurse”:  Hi, Mrs. Mulder, this is the nurse from Mt. Misery Pickles is fine.

Me:  Okaaaay. (thinking, ‘then why are you calling me?’)

“Nurse”:  He had an incident and has something that could remind you of a cut on his eyebrow.

Me:  Does it remind you of a cut or is it a cut?

“Nurse”:  It is sort of a cross between a cut and a scrape.

Me:  How did it happen?

“Nurse”:  They were playing a game and there was something about a tree branch.

Me:  Oh.  He walked into a branch?  Is it bleeding?

“Nurse”:  Not really.  It isn’t a deep cut.

Me:  Was it bleeding?

“Nurse”:  It was, but not much.

Me:  Does it need a stitch?

“Nurse”:  I don’t think so, it is a small cut and it isn’t bleeding.

Me:  Okay.  I am not worried about a small cut on his eyebrow, he already has a scar there.  Tell him I said that chicks dig scars.

“Nurse”:  Huh?

Me:  Never mind.

“Nurse”:  I gave him some ice.  Everything is fine, I just wanted to let you know.

Me:  Okay.  

I went the next day to pick up Pickles and when I saw him I could tell he looked weird.  This is not unusual, all the kids look a little weird because they have just been on a camping trip for 3 days away from home and drank nothing but Kool-aid and ate nothing but Apple Jacks.  I went to get his allergy medicine from the School Nurse (Not to be confused with the Mt. Misery “Nurse”) and ran into Pickles’ teacher who filled me in on what she knew.  After talking to Pickles and 3 other teachers, I was able to put together what happened and it was this:

Pickles was participating in a Food Web lesson where they run through the woods ala squirrels and foxes chasing each other in a Predator vs Prey game.  While running downhill, the kid in front of Pickles fell down and Pickles tripped over him and took a header into a tree.  He did not lose consciousness, but he has no memory of events right before or after the injury.  He only knows what he was told.  Pickles went to the “nurse” where his cut was tended to.  He was sent back to the “nurse” two separate times by two separate teachers who thought he was acting weird.  He was given ice.  One of the teachers went to talk to the “nurse” about how she thought he *off* and that she knows him pretty well and he isn’t usually like this.  The teacher was assured that Pickles was fine and was sent away.  Possibly also with ice.  (And you thought I didn’t like the “nurse” just because she didn’t laugh at my scar joke.)

After piecing together what happened and taking a moment to wrap my brain around it, I called our pediatrician and took him in that afternoon where it was determined that he had a concussion.  Coincidentally, our pediatrician is conducting research on concussions.  Awesome.  (editor’s note:  I got a concussion in a car accident last summer which I never wrote about because the whole event has been such a pain in my a$$ that I haven’t even had the damn time.)  We took him home with instructions for “brain rest” which means no screens, no music, no loud noises, no physical activity, no fun, and no thinking of any kind.  (Essentially they wanted him to go lie down in a cool, dark room and then call them in 2 weeks.)  What 12 year-old kid doesn’t want “brain rest”?  Actually Pickles was very cooperative because he felt so bad.  He was dizzy, a little nauseas, tired, and feeling generally weird(er).  Oh, and his memory and balance were absolute crap and he had a wicked headache.

We hung out like this for a week expecting him to wake up one day feeling better so he could go back to school.  Week after week, doctor visit after doctor visit.  Still a headache, still bad balance, still bad memory.  During week two (or was it three?) Pickles let the dog inside, bent down to wipe the dogs feet, and cracked his head on the chair.  In the exact same spot, of course.  Throughout each day he would ask several times when I was going to work, when I would be back, when Sweet Pea was coming home, if he had any appointments, etc.  Despite every doctor assuring me that he would make a full recovery, I started to wonder if he was going to be a simpleton forever.  And he had such promise…

After 3 weeks, he was recommended to start physical therapy for balance and brain stuff.  It takes another week to get that going, of course.  It was during this time that we started to realize that maybe he wasn’t going back to school for a while.  It was weird how hard it was to get used to that idea.  We had to get used to a lot of things like:  He won’t be taking standardized testing (score!), he won’t be in the band concert, he won’t be going on the class field trip, he won’t go on either fun band trip, he may need help to be ready for 7th grade, he won’t be able to play guitar for a while, he won’t be able to play trumpet for even longer, he can’t play soccer for the rest of the season (at least, maybe for a much longer time), he can’t ride his bike any time soon, he likely won’t be swimming this summer, etc.

We felt bad for him, but we also were getting a little punchy.  On the 2 days I don’t go to work, all we do is go to doctor’s appointments.  I didn’t like to run errands during the week because I didn’t want to leave him alone any longer than absolutely necessary.  Being alone too much can start to mess with your head.  Going to too many appointments can mess with my head!  Pickles’ hair is really long right now and it drives Husband crazy.  Husband and I considered telling Pickles that the best thing for a head injury was to cut your hair short to reduce the stress on the brain.  We came really, really close to telling him that.  We didn’t do it, but we thought about it a lot and then we laughed and laughed and laughed.

After 4 weeks he was cleared to start home-bound tutors, which also takes time to get set up.  He also had a screening for vision therapy.  Luckily we don’t have to do that for 6 weeks.  We were all feeling positive about at least being able to do something more than make him rest in a cool, dark, quiet room.  There are kids and a dog in this house, there is no quiet.  I know, I have been looking.

So here we are at the 6 week mark.  Pickles has not been back to school and likely won’t for the rest of the school year.  He missed an entire quarter of 6th grade.  They will average his first 3 quarter grades for his final grades, but it will show as a medical absence or something like that which I couldn’t care less about.  Pickles has PT three times a week as well as a recheck with either the concussion doc or his pediatrician every week.  We have gotten as used to the schedule as we can.  I consolidate my work schedule as much as possible so he isn’t home alone but sheesh! It is a lot.

Fast forward 4 years and I am finally getting around to publishing this post.  Pickles healed up, though it took for-ever. He is relatively normal now at 16 but I reserve my right to alter that opinion if he annoys me.

Posted in concussion, Funny Parenting Blog, Middle School, Mt. Misery, Parenting Boys, Pickles | Leave a comment

The Garage: An Actual Conversation

I have a lovely nephew who is a pistol.  He was the sweetest, most adorable baby with a handsome round face, yummy kissable cheeks, giant blue eyes and hair so blonde you could hardly see it.  Now Munchkin is nearly five.  Dear God help his parents.

Munchkin looks nothing like this.

Munchkin looks nothing like this.

My shorties have done their share of being a bad influence on Munchkin, but I think Munchkin has now become the master.  He can now hold his own and has had me laughing my a** off ever since.  Case in point:  Last spring (when he was 3) Aunt Mo (Munchkin’s awesome mother) and Munchkin were entertaining some friends in their back yard.  They were playing and having a fun time outside when Munchkin approached his unsuspecting mother and reported the following:

Munchkin:  Mom, I had to pee and I couldn’t pee outside because I didn’t want them to see my penis.  So I peed in the garage.

Aunt Mo:  (Mouth opening and closing like a fish)  Oh, Ummmmmm…  Oh.

Now that is a considerate host.  Munchkin out.

Posted in Funny Parenting Blog, Parenting Boys | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Why the Bus Stop is Like Vegas: An Actual Conversation

This year 2 of our kids are in Middle School.  Because I am Old.  So every morning Sweet Pea (8th grade now, God help us) and Pickles (6th grade, how is this possible).  Every morning they leave together holding hands and skip off to the bus stop like a modern day  Norman Rockwell painting.  Or something like that.  One morning a week or two into the school year, Pickles was hoisting his backpack onto his back and asked me,

Pickles:  Mom!  Can you pleeeeaaaasssseee ask Sweet Pea not to throw my backpack into a tree at the bus stop?

Sweet Pea: (Ears perking up)  Hhhmmmph?

Me:  I would think that would go without saying.

Pickles:  Evidently not.

Me:  Sweet Pea, backpacks are not for throwing in trees.

Sweet Pea (to Pickles):  What happens at the bus stop stays at the bus stop.

And they were off skipping to the bus hand in hand.  Or something like that.

(Image credit: visitlasvegas.com baby!)

It’s the bus stop, baby!

Posted in Brother Rivalry, Funny Parenting Blog, Parenting Boys, raising middle schoolers, sibling rivalry | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Sink or Swim: Update (Way Overdue)

First of all, close you eyes, take a couple of deeeep cleansing breaths so you can easily  suspend reality and pretend that I posted this about a year ago when I wrote it.  Ready?  Good.  Read on.

I spent some time recently clearing out my brain, ranting about, discussing Sweet Pea’s recent shove out of the boat opportunity to demonstrate his competence at managing his own academic life.  Do you like how positively I spun that?  I know.  Thanks, it took me a while.  The reality is more like Husband and I had had it up to here and something had to change because things were getting real ugly real quick.  You can read about it here.

This is a television. Sweet Pea hasn’t seen one with moving pictures on it in weeks.  The Amish watch more TV than Sweet Pea these days.

Now for the update.  As of three full weeks into the new marking period- three full weeks of no nagging, no checking of any assignment and minimal mentioning of homework at all.  Also three full weeks of no video game or regular tv time.  We did strategically schedule two family movie nights over the weekends, and a trip out to the movies so he didn’t lose all hope.  It is amazing what a motivator a screen is for this kid.  As of three weeks into the grading period, his lowest grade was a C+.  That was from a bombed assignment that was graded at the very beginning of the marking period (everything else in that class has been a B or an A!)  He also had a B+ and the rest are A’s!!  I know, I couldn’t believe it either.  I am not going to declare this a resounding success yet, there is still lots of time for things to go south.

As of the END of the marking period, Sweet Pea had all A’s and B’s.  He actually had all A’s and B’s this entire school year, even before SInk or Swim, but this marking period was certainly the least painful for me.  I won’t speak for him, but I suspect he would say the same.  We have gotten to a new normal where we worry less about his work and he handles more himself.  Does he forget stuff?  Yes.  Does he blow stuff off?  Sure does.  Do Husband and I freak out?  Only on the inside.  That was the overall goal, so…  (whisper) Yay!

Sweet Pea rocked his grades like Phelps rocks the pool!

The bottom line is that Sweet Pea has really risen to the occasion and given us a reason to not need quite so much wine at the end of the week.  We have five and a half more years of school (Heaven help us) but the last three (especially) have been a real learning opportunity for the parents of Sweet Pea.  We are lucky to have a supportive teacher at school we keep in touch with and a babysitter who is totally cool with actually watching the kids and not letting them watch tv for the two hours she is here (I know, she’s a keeper!).  But I will say that while this certainly could have gone horribly wrong, I am sooooo glad it didn’t!

So parents of reluctant students, don’t give up!!  If a couple of boobs, exhausted schmos like Husband and me can get a break from the unpleasantness that is Sweet Pea doing a Language Arts project (with tri-fold, matted color pictures and 7 paragraphs of text) so can you.  Dream big, people.

(Image Credits:  TV from bestbuy.com.  Shop for one here.  Michael Phelps from The Huffington Post (AP Photo Paul Sakuma), read the article here.)
Posted in ADHD, homework, Parenting Boys, Sweet Pea | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

I Know, I Left You Hanging

I know, I just sort of vanished.  There were 2 or 3 posts a week and then there were none!  No explanation, no nothin.   What actually happened is I started working.  I know, there are some super-human bloggers out there who are able to work, parent, and blog.  I  just have too much unintentionally falling asleep where ever I happened to be sitting napping to do all of those things.  I also can’t even chew gum and walk at the same time.  I certainly can’t text and walk at the same time.  I would undoubtedly fall into a man hole some Jack-hole left open.

So after starting to sort through drafts of old posts that I never finished/published I  decided that the first order of business was to sort of shake off the dust, blow off the stink and provide a little explanation.  I am sure I will not be as diligent of a chronical-er of ridiculousness, but I will try to hit the high points (and the low points, of course, because they are way funnier.)

Here are some things I will try to get to that have happened since the radio silence:

*Pickles is in Middle School with Sweet Pea.

*Pumpkin Pie is in school all day long in first grade.

*Husband now has a pacemaker (Hottest dude with a pacemaker ever.  If the cardiologist ever does a calendar, Husband would totally be on the cover.)

*I decided to leave my job and opened my own private practice.  Then I got into a car accident that leaves me with a concussion.  Hilarity ensues.

*Lots of things happen at work that I will never ever be able to write about because it would be unethical, tacky.

Now that you know the big stuff, I will get to work on the details.  I will leave you with a little photographic evidence of the wreck that was Cloud 8 this summer:

This is my van after the accident. I think the magnet advertising our pool that was on the back was vaporized.

This is what my van looked like before the accident. I know, it could use a wash.

TTYL!

Posted in Funny Parenting Blog, Going back to work, Parenting Boys | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Treed: An Actual Conversation

Here, Sweet Pea. Now you will have something to eat while you are tied to the tree by the Lilliputians.

It was a lovely late winter day and all three shorties were outside playing.  It was one of those days where we were all so glad that it was nice enough out that we were all so happy that the kids could play outside, we didn’t have a care in the world.  Then Pumpkin burst through the door half hysterical to announce:

Pumpkin Pie:  MomMomMomMomMomMomMom!!!!  MOM!  Tyler and Jane and Caroline are tying Sweet Pea to a tree!

I happen to know that Sweet Pea is 3-6 years older and 30lbs bigger than any of these kids and would love nothing more than a game of Watch Me Break Through the Ropes Tying Me To a Tree.

Me:  Really.  How does Sweet Pea feel about this?

Pumpkin Pie:  It was his idea.

Pumpkin Pie out.

Posted in Funny Parenting Blog | Leave a comment