Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Idiot Brother

My Idiot Brother annoys me.

There's more to the story, but essentially, we are back on speaking terms. No, he hasn't apologized for calling a f*&^ing thief, and no, I'm not thrilled that we are speaking again. It's just that he has my phone number, and I care about my nephew too much to spit in his father's eye when there's still a chance that I can be of some benefit to my nephew.

Today he called me after fighting with his son; he wanted to go through the whole fight all over again and explain to me how very wronged he was. Oh goody. He never listens to me, but I told him that he needs to stop fighting with his son. Stop getting angry. Stop trying to convince the kid of anything. Just lay down some rules of the house on paper, some rewards and repercussions, and STOP TALKING.

"Oh, you're so right. You're so right," he gurgles all over me.

Yeah, yeah. Whatever. You never listen, but sure, I'm right. I'm right.

Best line from MIB (My Idiot Brother): "It's just so HARD raising children!"

Are you freaking kidding me? ME? You're saying this to ME? If you hadn't been a deadbeat dad for the last five years and an oblivious jerk for twelve years before that, you might be having a *slightly* easier time of it now, you know.

Author, know your audience.

Monday, March 29, 2010

And then the crazy hits

This seems to be happening to me with greater frequency this month.

I'll be talking to someone, or following an argument online or on TV, nodding my head, agreeing with the premise, happy and content, and the the crazy hits. About five steps in, the person I thought was so perspicacious drops a crazy bomb right in the middle of an example.

Whoa. Wait a minute. I was with you right up until .... What? You really believe THAT?

Well then, I don't think I can go with what you were saying three minutes ago. Except for the fact that I was fine with where you were going right up until the moment you pulled that LAST over-the-top example out of your butt.

Assuming that we bring up the point we think is the strongest early on when trying to convince someone, can I suppose that this last bit isn't as important to you as the ones I agreed with? I'd like to go with what you said right up until you lost me.

But on the other hand, if you believe ANY PART of that last bit, I have to question whether you are a rational human being I should be taking advice from whatsoever. Because that one was on the nutty side of loony.

Maybe in your quest for intellectual stardom you reached too far? Benefit of the doubt? Want to reel that one back in?

But then when it's in print, there's no way to question the author, is there? And then I'm left with this niggling feeling that this thing I'm reading is annoying the crap out of me not because I'm deeply in denial of finding the pathway to sanity, self-respect, honesty, and a better marriage with a cherry on top, but because the author may very well be a quack dressed up in a business suit and I'm just too smart for all this self-help mumbo-jumbo heaped up on a pile of crazy.

Or I'm sabotaging myself looking for flaws in arguments.

My therapist is going to want to discuss this, and I don't want to find out that my therapist thinks this author is "all that". Because I do not like arguing with my therapist, but I cannot DEAL with any theory based on the application of applied kinesiology as proof. Weaker arm in the presence of negative thoughts my ass.

Crap. Stuck in the crazy.

I need to go find some more escapist fiction, thank you very much.

Best email salutation ever.

"Dear Knitting Mentor Guru Fabulous Suisan Person,"

Now tell me, who wouldn't get a pick-me-up from that? Made my day, it did.


In other news, I should not go shopping with my youngest daughter ever again. She is not me and I don't get her.

I never got the whole "window shopping", "retail therapy", "Let's try on tons of clothes just for fun" thing that girls do to bond with each other. Shopping frustrates me as it forces me to look in the mirror and examine things that don't quite work. It's all a compromise in the end, and I just want to find an outfit that works with as little fuss as possible.

Basically I want Garanimals for adults. If the top is red plaid with a little bit of black, then it goes with black pants or a white skirt. Hoorah and woopdidoo. Can I go home now? I'm totally an East Coast L.L. Bean, Talbot's, Woolrich, Orvis sort of chick. Straight, boxy stuff in simple colors. Toss in the occasional yellow wool blazer for a touch of pizazz when I'm feeling exotic. But everything else should just *be*.

I'm not feeling the kid's clothes these days. It's ruffles at weird places and strange necklines and I seriously cannot figure out whether some of these things are super short skirts or skinny tunics. And the fabrics are, um, yuck.

But hey, I don't have money for L.L. Bean clothes for my youngest kids who grow through them too fast as it is. So here we are at Walmart and Target looking over summer clothes with my youngest daughter. Oy yoi yoi. Bad mommy, me.

We ended up with a good selection of shorts and t-shirts. Along the way there were way too many snide comments ("You know I don't like THAT color green, Mom.") and an almost complete meltdown over socks ("The ankle socks slip under my heel! But I'm not wearing CREW socks with shorts! That's stupid. And stop pressuring me, Mom. There are too many CHOICES!" Really? Short or tall -- pick one.), but eventually we got through it all. I just may never speak to her again.

I can't wait for the teenaged years with this one.

Monday, March 22, 2010

But what if my morals are horrible?

Recently I was considering a job offer for a position I'd really like to have. Lots of organizing of paperwork (which I'm quite good at if it's other people's paperwork, not my own), answering phones, and dealing with the public. But after fiddling with the application over a few days, I realized that there's no way I can make this thing work.

Maybe I can apply in the fall, but this summer my son's summer program operates only from 8am to 12pm, Monday through Friday. So I could work from 8:30 to 11:30 -- this place is open to the public from 11-5 Tuesday through Saturday. Uh, yeah. Not going to work.

So I'll just keep on volunteering and eventually I'll apply for a job when my kids are older. Bummer, but it's also OK. (putting on my best Rosie the Riveter smile) I'll just be the best gosh-darned volunteer they've ever seen.

Uh, no. I'm a touch too grumpy and cynical for all that open enthusiasm.

The director of this organization is someone I know very much on an acquaintance level -- I really know his employees a whole lot better than I know him. His employees are all grouchy women who make comments under their breath or roll their eyes as they answer the phone in their best "Hello Good MORNING!" voices. I fit right in. (They know their stuff too. It's not all complaining and attitudes, but when it's that sort of a day the office politics don't phase me.)

Some of the employees know about my struggles with Saul, most of them know that he goes to a special program and everyone has seen that I drop everything if he needs me. Not many of them know the details. I've told them enough to let them know that I'm not being a drama queen, but that my family has some serious stuff going on from time to time. Not always -- right now we're in a great run. Saul's on the honor roll and is mainstreaming every day in a 32 student class.

So the other day I went to the director's office to say that although I appreciated the employment application, upon further consideration, I just couldn't commit to sending it in. I told him that I really enjoyed working for his organization and that sometime in the very near future I really would like to apply for a paid position, but for right now I just couldn't swing it. I mentioned that my son's summer program prohibited me from working much of anything this summer, although I'd volunteer here and there when I could. I also said that come the fall, I'd be more available as the school days lengthened.

He asked if there was another summer program, maybe a city-run camp, that my son could attend. I sort of chuckled and said, "We've tried those before. Something of a disaster. He doesn't do well in groups and all the summer programs are large groups of loud or competitive kids. This one in the mornings is run by his school and is part of his therapy. As he gets better and older, I'll have more options open to me."

(There's a big part of me that HATES putting this on Saul's shoulders, but on the other hand, the truth is that I CANNOT do much of anything as long as he needs a trained, responsible adult looking after him. But I feel as if I'm constantly shrugging my shoulders and saying, "You know.... My son.")

The director says to me, "You need to be there for your son. It's OK. Look, if you want, come in at 8:30 or 9. We don't care if you're here when the place is open. Get the messages off the machine, do paperwork. It's all helpful, and if we had one person doing it, it would be consistent. We can get someone else to answer the phones."

Wow. That's cool. He's being really cool about this. The volunteer coordinator made it sound as if I couldn't come early.

Then he continues, "Your kid comes first -- your family. Do what you need to there." I nodded a bit. "After all, this is the only time they've got you. You don't want your kid in some city camp learning things from the city teenagers."

Didn't you just suggest a city camp?

"While he's young, you want him learning your morals from you. You know?"

And at this, I nodded quickly, thanked him again, and fled the office. Completely confused me, that comment about morals. What if I have terrible morals? He's a gay man living in a public monogamous relationship -- what if I'm opposed to such things? He wouldn't necessarily know from our few contacts. What if I'm spreading vile filth while taking care of my somewhat disturbed son? (He doesn't know the nature of Saul's condition either.) Is this all good advice?

I have no idea why that one phrase stuck in my head when the conversation was really about a job application, but it keeps floating back into my brain at odd times. I think my subconscious wants me to come up with some rejoinder rather than just nodding and fleeing. Haven't got it yet.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Head desk

Had lengthy email convo with art department head at Neo's high school re: admission to advanced art class.

He agreed to look over her portfolio and said she's most likely be a good fit for "Art 2" or possibly for AP Studio Art, which is a two-year class.

Being a good mommie, I took her art portfolio to school during her lunch break and sat in the office while she was meeting with art department head.

She returned saying she could get in to AP Studio Art, and that he was a good teacher and gave her good feedback on her work, but oh yeah. "I can't take this art class next year anyway. They took away the second elective period, so it's language or art, but not both."

Holy crap. She's absolutely right.

I've spent hours looking over her schedule and devising schedules for outgoing years. To fulfill UC admittance requirements, she can take either three years of language (recommended by UC) OR three years of art (as designed by the art department), but she can't take both. Oh, and she'll never be able to take AP Bio, taught by her favorite teacher, if she takes the right amount of language. She could take language over the summer at a community college, but then she can't take any art classes over the summer.

I agree with my husband -- what is the point of advocating for these kids when all they end up with is a mediocre education anyway. I wish I could afford private school for them. Blergh.


In other news. I had a great experience with Saul the other day. He's taking part in a large group class at the elementary school his special program is aligned with. In other words, he's mainstreaming one class every day. He loves it.

We went to the bookfair the other day. We haven't been to a school function with him in at least two years, certainly not the bookfair staffed by snoopy fussbudget mommies who made his life miserable at his old school. As we're heading out the door with our purchases, the parent volunteer standing in the doorway, a dad, stops him.

"Hey Saul. How you doing? You like the book fair?"

"Uh HUH! It was great!"

"That's so neat. Hey, are you coming back here next year, or are you off to middle school?"

"I think I'm going to middle school."

"Makes sense; you're too smart for us anyway. We're so proud to have you here." Then, turning to me as Saul skipped out of earshot over the blacktop, "He's a great kid. So SMART. I'm so happy I met him this year." I could only nod because I was very close to crying. It was such a small thing to do, to acknowledge him. And I only noticed it because it just never happened at the old place.