Tuesday, February 15, 2011

random us

A certain daughter of mine has a tendency to be a bit right-brained. As in 99.8%. I'm not completely sure, but I'm thinking she got a leeeetle bit of that from me. Anyway, this translates into a few challenges at school. For instance, remembering to follow through on assignments (or even remembering that an assignment was made) is sometimes difficult.

"What report??"

Another thing that gets lost in translation are notes. In fact, just a few weeks ago Emmy came home from kindergarten and announced that the afore-mentioned sister had gone on a field trip that day. Hmmmmm. . . Really? I had no idea what she was talking about, which worried me. I hadn't sent a lunch, and had never signed a note. There was nothing to do but wait and see how it had all played out.

Turns out, it never played out at all. As in said daughter had to sit in an empty classroom (except for a teacher and a few other boys) doing homework while her class went on a little outing. No note= no field trip. When asked about her day, she admitted that she had first felt kind of bad, but then got over it after everyone said it was "so boring" anyway.

I felt like mother of the year.

Later, I spoke with the teacher who told me that she could have called me, but felt like it would be a good lesson. I agree, except I'm never sure if it will be a lesson learned. Lessons happen often, learning is another story! We'll see. The funny thing about this whole episode is that the girls have a job chart which lists their tasks to be done each night.  To be perfectly honest, we usually only get around to using the list about twice a week (if we're lucky).  However, this particular week I had tried to bribe the girls by telling them that I would take them swimming on Saturday if they could get everything on their lists done, every day.  Well.  It was working like a charm, or so I thought.  One of their tasks is to give Mom or Dad all the papers/notes from their backpacks.  Interestingly enough, when I checked the job chart, this little deed had been "done" every night!  That's why I found the stack of twenty + notes! (no, I'm not kidding!) in her backpack a little alarming.  Turns out, we'd missed more than a field trip.  Little sisters backpack looked suspiciously similar- little stinkers.  (Needless to say, we didn't go swimming.)

Anyway, all that evening daughter relayed to me snippets of the many conversations she had while supposedly "working on her homework" in her little detention setting. When she is in the right mood, this gal is a waking stream of consciousness, and I could tell what had happened that day. I'm pretty sure everyone was treated to her running commentary on life (which can actually be quite charming, if I must say so myself). She went on and on.  Then, in the midst of her conversation,she told me how at some point one of the boys had looked at her and said, "You are kind of random".

Of course, she then immediately asked me, "Mom, am I random?"

I smiled as I told her something like this, "I think you are fun and creative in a random, unique way that makes people like you."

She laughed a little bit as she retorted, "Ummmm. . .Yeah.  I don't know if he meant it in a good sort of way."

I've thought about that conversation so many times in the past week. If she is random, I like random a lot.

I received an email from the same teacher today, stating that daughter is missing lots of math assignments and she'd be sending it home with her today. (This teacher is awesome at helping me stay in the loop). When I saw the list of about ten assignments, I put her to work.  You can bet that's what daughter has been doing all. night. long.

However, right now I'm choosing to look at the bright side. Last year, it was twenty assignments.  Last year, there were tears. This year, she knew what she needed to do, and she's been hard at work (as hard as a 99.8% right brained person can be with a stack of math assignments) most of the night without hardly a complaint.

Things are looking up.

And the brightest part of all? When I checked her list to see what she'd gotten done, I saw some words written at the bottom of the page that made me laugh. I know her well enough to know that it was written in a moment of distraction after she had focused for as long as she could possibly muster.  (As a side note, this girl is a master at the art of doodling.)  This is what she had written:

Teacher: "What's the definition of infinity?"

Johnny: "Tonight's homework assignment."

I love this girl.  While extremely dramatic in some situations, she has a charming (if sometimes a little frustrating) knack at refusing to take some parts of life seriously.  That is really good for a mom who sometimes takes everything too seriously. 

I often come face to face with my shortcomings as a mother and household manager. I have never, ever, ever mastered the skill of a carefully crafted after-school routine. I have tried, oh!  I have tried!  It is just so hard for me to stick with a routine anyway, and then extra, super-duper hard when I see the kids come home tired and ready to be kids.  I guess I'm an old fashioned believer in the "kids should be kids" philosophy.  Alas, we are not 100% homeworkers. We read everyday for enjoyment, but rarely record it in our "reading folders". And at piano?  We show the poorest practice record every week.  Every week!

But. I think my kids will rise above me. I'm confident that they will succeed in life despite my negligence with their reading folder. I'm banking on them being kind, thoughtful, and honest. Fulbright scholars and concert pianists? Well, I hate to be a dream killer, but. . .

On paper, our bunch is perfectly capable at being exceptionally mediocre.

A few weeks ago, I told Courtney (perhaps in a fit of exasperation) that I felt like I was supposed to be raising robots. Wake up everyday, on time! Clean rooms, teeth brushed, healthy breakfast delivered into their eager little tummies. Homework done, notes signed, folders checked, instruments perfected. They should excel in athletics, joyfully finish their homework (without being asked!). . .the list goes on and on.  Once they enter kindergarten, any good, self-respecting mother feels as though she should have her kids proficient at checking off lists, lists, lists. 

I've never been good at being a robot. (It's that darn right-brainedness, I suppose).

So. Life will go on and so will we. Undoubtedly, there will be more notes I will not see. Homework that will never be finished. Piano practicing that will never see the light of day. Untidy rooms, somewhat unhealthy after school meals, and a generally messy home.

Maybe it's an excuse (I've always been good at those), but it's a mode of survival.  In order to maintain my sanity, I've had to give up caring so much. I've lowered the bar.

I don't worry so much about the one hundred percents. I just want my girls to laugh everyday. To do something creative. Say a kind word, and notice someone who needs a bit of cheering up.  Listen to the song of a bird and feel the sunshine on their faces.  I want them to learn for the fun of learning, and read for the sheer joy of a good book. 

Am I selling us all short if I admit that I'm not terribly worried about my children being super accomplished and highly efficient?  After all, there is only so much time in a day, and I'm afraid efficiency isn't really our cup of tea.

I guess we're all working too hard at being random.

1 comment:

Darcie said...

kelly, this is probably my favorite post of yours ever. so good. i especially like the part about not worrying too much about being super efficient or accomplished... i'm pretty sure efficiency isn't my cup of tea either.

(and I really laughed hard about Ryenne not feeling too bad about missing the field trip because it was so boring anyway. oh, and now i'm laughing again...)