Friday, January 23, 2015

Facing demons

Today I attended a funeral. This was the second Friday afternoon I had spent at the Jewish funeral parlor. Last week, it was a great-uncle, aged 91, who had a long and healthy life. He will be mourned and missed, but it was very expected.

This week it was my second-grade teacher whose daughter was in my class.

Without going into excessive detail--although I'm sure it has been mentioned before--elementary school was a traumatic experience for me. I was bullied and rejected by students and teachers alike for being too much this and not enough that. Who even knows or cares anymore? All that matters is, my children will never attend that school.

My second grade year was my first year attending the school where I would go through the end of sixth grade, and it was the only year in my recollection where I did NOT want to throw myself out the window of that school. Which had two stories and a basement, so what would be the point?

Anyhow, my mom was very impressed with my second grade teacher. Everything was done in such a way as to make me feel as though she knew me and cared about me. I still remember my very first spelling pretest. I correctly spelled all the regular words, all the bonus words, and the elephant word, "constitution." And I felt really special.

I knew it would be hard to go to this funeral. I have been dealing with the reality of having more and more of my peers lose their parents. This teacher was four years younger than my mom. She was the same age as my mother-in-law, who died after a lengthy illness.

I'm not sure which is worse.

The other difficulty in attending this funeral was seeing people who reminded me of my miserable school experience from whence this teacher came even though her class was a decent place. It reminded me that the things that stick with us from our childhood are likely forgotten by those adults who were there. Not that I don't remember anything that happened during interactions with my students or my own children, but I would imagine that I've glossed over my fair share. And if I hurt any feelings of students, or my own little ones, by not validating their experiences, I am sorry.

We talked this evening about some of these eventualities. It's not pleasant, but it is a part of being a grownup.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Years 2015

It's 2015. Where's my hoverboard?

This has been a year full of ups and downs. So should most be, because that's what keeps life interesting.

Positives for this past year included a fantastic trip to France, a new career direction for me, continued advancement for Musical Daddy in his new career path, excellent barbershopping experiences for him and me, new musical opportunities for the two older children, recreational baseball, and the cultivation and enrichment of several amazing friendships and working relationships.

Negatives for this year included a hospitalization for Musical Daddy, more money spent on car repairs than we would have preferred which resulted in us purchasing a new kidmobile (ultimately exciting but not financially ideal at all), broken leg for The Baby (who is 3.5 now...), and a third visit to the ER for chin stitches for Little Bear.

I'm certain that if I were to sit down and categorize everything, I'd be WAY ahead in the positives column. Overall I feel pretty darned good about this year, as evidenced by my very few but very powerful (commence horn-tooting...) posts. Powerful to me, anyway.

Last night we had a party at our house for New Years Eve. We had a few families come by, one of which stayed until midnight, and my parents and another friend also stayed until midnight. Good times. Great kids, all of them. And it's a game-changer when all children who stay up until midnight are toilet-trained and are independent enough to either play together or contribute meaningfully to games with adults. The two hits of the evening were Phase 10 and Spot It!  as well as some Wii Sports. The TV was playing some quality movies.

One of my resolutions that I made with The Boy, my oldest and most challenging child, was that we were going to treat each other better. I started this by honoring his unusual request to have a backwards meal day. So it was sandwiches for breakfast, leftover hors d'oeuvres for lunch, and french toast and eggs for dinner. And ice cream cones for dessert. 

The Boy is strong-willed and obsessive. Persistent and a lover of scripts, he often enjoys following the rules but will frequently eschew his responsibilities around the house in favor of electronic games, unless he is sufficiently motivated. We clash because he will make up a rule or a script to something faster than I can anticipate where it comes from, and he sometimes just wants to be contrary because that's how he rolls. I need to pay better attention to his currency and his desired modes of communication, because he ultimately doesn't want to hurt me any more than I'd ever want to hurt him. 

The other aspect of my relationship with The Boy is that I'm clearly his third favorite adult, if I'm lucky. Fortunately, his number one and number two grownups (Daddy and Grandma, respectively), are not so in need of the ego stroking that they would ever fan the flames of favoritism. They cherish their relationships with The Boy and also nurture mine. 

As such, I really want to improve my connection with The Boy. There may still be remnants of the hard times from five years ago, where I was only the bad guy in charge of medicine and shots. 

Despite a mostly awesome day, the kids have been a bit twitchy and antsy. Bath time.