Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lucky day

Yesterday I had a lucky day. It was one of those days when plenty of things went wrong but then magically corrected themselves.

First I left for work in the morning and stopped at the drug store to pick up some OTC stuff for my relentless cold and my daughter's rumbly cough. I go to grab my wallet from my purse as I'm leaving my car and I see that my wallet is MIA. Crap. I'm already late for work and I don't want to go home and cause a commotion (after a smooth parting). Then, what luck! I see a lone credit card with the activation sticker still on it. A card I never use that I threw into my bag last week when it came in the mail. Rejoice! I call the activation number as I'm deciding between Triaminic and Mucinex and leave the store $40 poorer.

On my way to work I begin to rummage through my purse to look for my phone and I feel the pair of clip-on earrings that I have recently purchased for my son's jewelry box. The kid likes bling. Who am I to quash his pursuits. So I bought him a pair of $5 earrings at Sears - big, red shiny circles which happened to go so well with my outfit. I put them on.

At around 2:00 my cold is in overdrive and now I'm starting to feel a dull pain in my ears. I've had this cold for two weeks now so I call my doctor to see if there are any openings. Providence! There's an appointment at 3:15. It's only after I hang up the phone that I realize the dull pain in my ears is from those clip-on earrings. When I take them off I feel a rush of relief. But since I already have the appointment I go anyway. Turns out I have a sinus infection and need antibiotics! Had I not put on those earrings, I would have never bothered with the doctor's appointment. What luck!

I leave the doctor at 4:00 and stop at home before I go to get the kids from school. I realize I don't have my house key. I left it with the babysitter last night and she made off with it. Oops. So I go around back and let myself into the back room which leads me to our garage/workshop and then the kitchen. We usually lock the kitchen/workshop door. It was open! A Tuesday miracle!

So all in all it was a great day. I left my wallet at home, I gave myself an earache and I lost my keys. But I found some perspective.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

PreK update

A quick update: my son is doing much better and so is his mommy. Let's just say he probably gets high proclivity for emotional outbursts from yours truly. I still feel pretty strongly that three and four-year-olds shouldn't be doing worksheets and cutting practice but moving him to a new school altogether would probably send him into a tailspin. And anyway these teachers actually do seem to care about our kids quite a bit. I had a pretty good conference with his teachers and the director and we came up with some separation strategies that appear to be working. Mornings have been uneventful for an entire week. So I'm grateful. My kid is amazing, what can I say.

The last week I've been trying to get him to tell me more about some of the kids he's getting to know in his class hoping that he's slowly reaching out. I also have an ulterior motive to figure out which two or three friends from his class I should invite to his birthday party in two weeks. I'm starting to understand the power of the playdate. For whatever reason seeing your schoolmates outside of school can really solidify the relationship. A few days ago he mentioned playing with a girl called McKenna so everyday I ask about McKenna. Yesterday I asked if he played with McKenna outside and he said no.

Him: I just talked to her
Me: What did you talk about?
Him: I didn't talk. Only she talked.
Me: What did she talk about?
Him: I don't know. I didn't listen to her.

He went from having no friends to being married to McKenna in one week. That's my boy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Repeat after me

So what all went down. It started when I took my kids to school that morning. My son has to be there at 8:30 sharp for his "cutting exercise". They sit at table for 15 minutes and cut up paper. We arrived at 8:32 and my son started clutching my legs and sobbing that he wanted to go home. He's been doing the leg clutch thing for the last few months in fact, since they moved him to the older class. He has an October birthday so until now he's been the oldest in his class. Now he's the youngest. One girl is 14 months older. Don't even get me started on crazy parents holding their summer birthday kids back. It started with just the leg clutching and the rough drop-offs but since preK started a week ago, it's gone from bad to worse. He's started asking if there's school every morning and panicking all weekend that there will be school again. Then he started saying that he didn't want to go to school and on an on. He doesn't like nap time. Gabriel called him a monster. Henry was being loud. Etc.

So I tell him he just has to go and give his teacher a big hug and get settled but of course he's late and so he's not allowed to participate in cutting. He has to sit on the carpet and wait until circle time. Meanwhile no one has said a boo to him - no greeting, no hug, nothing. So I hug him and say goodbye and he's standing there lost and crying out not to leave him.

I drop off my daughter in the other room and she's also crying but she's new here and I know she'll stop ten seconds after I leave. I come back to the preK room and he's still standing there. No one has invited him to sit down or asked him what's wrong. He's just sobbing and the teacher is giving her cutting commands and it occurs to me that this place is all wrong. I mean, WHAT THE FUCK PEOPLE. Somebody engage my kid! Take two seconds out of cutting and figure a way to get my son involved and calm. But my hanging around is not helping so I leave and meet my friend in the parking lot and I sob to her about how suddenly my son is in military preK. Our play-based school is now all about worksheets and tasks and standing in line and repeat after me and circle the ladder and when you're done put your hand above your head! It's more than I can handle on my birthday. I suddenly and tragically realize I don't want this for my kid. And for the last three months I've been kidding myself that he'll be fine. He'll adjust. But he's not adjusting. He's regressing.

The rest of the birthday went like this. I then drive to a cafe to have special birthday breakfast with my husband but instead I cry for an hour about this terrible school and our tortured son. Although I did have a really good latte with a leaf design in the foam. My husband and I then sit down and on the back on my receipt we write down all of the things that we need to do to change this situation and make life here good for us. One of the items was finding our kids a new daycare. So while I had planned to spend the day painting or seeing a movie, I spent the day calling up preschools none of which have even one space, let alone two spaces. My last call was to a woman who was recommended to us by an Israeli guy we'd met at Starbucks eight months ago whose son went there. Turns out it was his second marriage and his son from his first marriage went to medical school with my brother in law. Small world. Anyway, he raved about this woman and said she had two spots but I never bothered to call because we were content with our situation. And I prefer not to rock the boat since that would require me to examine past choices and then beat myself up for being a bad parent. No thanks.

But I did finally call Sherry's Daycare and I told Sherry the story and we cried on the phone (seriously) and she broke the news that they had no spaces. But invited us to come over and see her place and get to know her in the event that she does have space. So I walked over there (did I mention that it's two blocks from my house) and met Sherry and felt like I had a lemon stuck in my throat. I got teary again. It was a perfect place. The perfect yard - a big mess of stuff to do and places to hide and tomatoes to pick and eat. A wonderful and warm house filled with toys and games and puzzles. Kids' artwork everywhere. But best of all there was Sherry and her husband Bob. Big quiet Bob who schlepped a kid in each arm and read stories while playing his accordion and rallied the kids around to wash down a dirty pretend kitchen set outside. No lining up. No worksheets. And no cutting practice. And yet it was not chaotic. Kids put away their toys and moved from one activity to the next. Sherry and Bob provide meals and snacks. They're open 6am to 6pm. They have a 14 person bus and they take the kids on field trips to museums and parks and libraries. They even pick up the older kids who go to morning preK classes and bring them back to spend the rest of the day at their home. It was daycare heaven. And it was cheaper than what I pay now.

So then I had to contend with the guilt of having not found this place four years ago when my son was born even though it was literally two blocks away. Wondering how different my tortured son would be had he spent his days in this amazing environment.

But in fact I know that he's been well-taken care of all this time and it's only recently that things aren't going as they should. So I made a decision that we need Sherry in our lives even if the transition will be tough and a little late in the game. I realized that I had been settling somewhat in the decisions I'd made about daycare and I wasn't doing that anymore.

There's more to the story but it's getting late. I actually brought the kids over there after school to check it out and they enjoyed themselves. My son found a dead motorola and a pair of sparkly high heels so he was thrilled. But when I asked if he wanted to go to school at Sherry's he said no. He wants to stay home and be with me. I don't blame him. But I'm still banking on Sherry and have been broadcasting to the universe my wish for two spaces at her house. Repeat after me boys and girls: How wonderful that Sherry has two spaces for Susie's son and daughter!

Excellent job! You must have gone to preK.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Second worst

I'd have to say that my worst birthday was when I turned 18. I had been living on a kibbutz in Israel for about three weeks and I was miserably homesick. The program that I had signed up for was postponed so I was completely lost. It was hot as hell. I was young and scared to just up and travel around by myself. I'm not even sure how I ended up in Israel with no friends, no family and my only plans postponed. The kibbutz found me a job in the interim so I worked in the chicken hatchery sorting baby chicks and cleaning incubators. My birthday was also the eve of Rosh Hashanah. So that day I worked from 4am until noon. Then the guys in the hatchery gave me a box of chocolates and sang happy birthday. They were adorable actually and had I been a little older and a little less pitiful I would have probably gotten a kick out of it. They even sang in English. But I was wallowing in a kind of self-pity that even chocolate could not cure.

I had made plans to spend the holidays with the sister of a rabbi that I had known from California. His sister had become religious and moved to Israel with her family and they lived with their three year old and six month old in a town about an hour away. So I had called them a week before and asked to be invited for the holiday. They were certainly happy to have me. So I took a bus and met the husband at the station and he took me home with him where I spent a weekend with a religious couple I didn't know from Adam and their two little kids. And these kids could have been actual Botticelli angels and I wouldn't have given a fart about them because I was a self-absorbed teenager. Anyway, to cut a long story short I spent my birthday depressed with strangers, dragged to synagogue for hours and hours in 105 degree heat. I was never happier to be back in that hatchery. I'm sure my adoptive family thought I was a giant pain in the ass. I can only imagine if some 18 year old showed up at my house for Rosh Hashanah and acted like a pill. Me with my two kids and husband and mortgage and job and you with your teenage angst and not a care in the world. How embarrassing to think back on it now. Anyway, this is not the point. Or is it. Where was I going with this...?

So yesterday's birthday was a close second. But I'll have to finish the tale tomorrow because I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Venti thank yous to the fabulous four

Thank you to Jenni H. who schlepped over with her beautiful three-week-old baby.

Thank you to Rebeca who schlepped her 37-week-big belly.

Thank you to Linda and Jessica who are so dear to indulge a total stranger's birthday wish.

And thank god for the little people in our lives that generate so so much fodder for Sunday morning coffee chatter.

I hope we can do it again.

Back to my regular programming following this message...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Meeting of the minds

In celebration of two major milestones, my 100th blog entry and my 35th birthday (gasp!) I am inviting local readers (all three of you) to join me for birthday coffee on Sunday September 7th at the Starbucks on the corner of El Camino Real and El Monte in Mountain View at 9:00 am. If no one shows up, I will just drink my java and read a magazine and enjoy my hour to myself. BUT I would love to meet those of you who are available. I will not have my kids with me, though you are welcome to bring yours (especially the kind that still sit in their carseats and sleep a lot). This is a major thing for me as I am usually quite shy and misanthropic (just kidding - sort of).

Looking forward to meeting/seeing you (special call out to Jessica, Linda, Jenni H., Rebeca, Veronica, Claire, Clara...)