Back to school with a vengeance

By Mir
November 28, 2007

Oh, the joy of a long weekend! The sleeping in! The holiday food! The family togetherness!

The quiet implosion when you attempt to return to your previous schedule!

[And hey, speaking of schedules, I realized yesterday that it had been over a week since my MRI adventure and I hadn’t heard a thing, so I called my doctor to inquire. They informed me that they haven’t received the report, yet, but will call when they do. Fine. I was almost content to assume “no news is good news” from that, buuuuuut then in the mail I got an official-looking letter letting me know that my mammogram yielded abnormal results and would require further investigation and please call right away. Not the MRI, mind you. But the mammogram. You know, the mammogram I had TWO MONTHS AGO? I told Otto to put this on my tombstone: “We just got a letter back about her MRI.”]

Anyway, it’s back to the daily grind around here. Once I had children I understood why they call it a GRIND.

Chickadee is doing a biography project for school on Laura Ingalls Wilder. Of course. Given the chance to do anything vaguely historical and biographical, she always chooses Laura Ingalls Wilder. (Except when half the girls in her class have chosen Wilder, in which case she decides she’s a dead ringer for Rosa Parks.)

This project was assigned before the break, and of course she did no work on it over the long weekend. Oh, I reminded her of it a couple of times. I may have gently suggested she get to work. Each time she demurred, pointing out that she DIDN’T HAVE ANY POSTERBOARD. As if I should understand that without posterboard, learning and productivity was simply impossible.

Otto picked up the damn posterboard for her on Monday. And then we sat down to go over what she needed to do, and she actually has a pretty good outline and plan, but given all of the requirements of the project, she of course latched on to the ONE thing that would simultaneously take the most time and be the least important: She spent the better part of the evening drawing a picture of Ms. Wilder.

Now, FINE, I can see the value in this as part of the project, sure. Perhaps a representation of the clothing worn back in her time period? The difference in hair style, even? But no. My daughter spent an hour sketching an enormous face with two braids dangling down behind it.

“Did you want to, uh, draw ALL of her?” I asked. “You know, to show the clothing?”

“No,” she replied, “then the kids in the back won’t be able to see it very well.” She continued to bend over the floating head. She sat up and scrutinized it. “The eyes are too high,” she declared, and bent to erasing them.

And then I became speechless with frustration and subsequently died. I’d say it’s too bad I won’t be around to help her finish the project, but with or without my help I suspect it’s gonna be a large hunk of posterboard sporting a disembodied head that could be just about anyone whose eyes have been VERY CAREFULLY placed.

She got a bit more done yesterday, and this morning at breakfast I informed her that we are FINISHING HER PROJECT tonight because it’s due Friday and Thursday is our busy afternoon. She agreed with great enthusiasm… enthusiasm which I predict will last until two minutes after she walks in the door this afternoon and discovers that I expect her to actually, you know, WORK ON IT.

As for Monkey, we’ve reached a critical juncture in the hair-growing-out process. Up until the kids went back to school, his shaggy mop was still short(ish) enough that I was essentially cutting bangs for him. As his insistence on growing it LONG continues, I have stopped trimming, because the only thing that’s going to look dorkier than a scrawny little boy with long hair is a scrawny little boy with long hair and bangs like a girl. We (and by “we” I mean “I”) decided that if he truly wanted to keep growing it, we’d grow out the bangs as well.

In theory, someday it’ll all be long enough for a ponytail, which I will then force him to wear to school, because GOOD LORD BOY, STOP SHAKING ALL OF YOUR HAIR INTO YOUR EYES.

If he was a girl, this is the point where we’d use barrettes every day to keep the hair in front out of his eyes. I obviously cannot do that with him (or, I guess I COULD, if I always wanted to tape a BEAT ME UP, I’M A PANSY sign on his back), so we’re working on finding ways to keep his line of sight clear during this follicularly challenging time.

This morning, I slicked the hair above his forehead back with a touch of hair gel. JUST A TOUCH. I didn’t want to send him to school all crunchy. But I also hear tell that his teacher has threatened to cut his hair, and desperate times call for desperate measures.

This past weekend Otto and I were digging through some photos from the past year, getting ready to put together our annual Here You Go Grandparents, It’s A Calendar Featuring Goofy Pictures Of Your Grandchildren gift, and I was struck by how YOUNG Monkey looks in those photos from less than a year ago, when his hair was still short. Now he looks older. Now he looks like a hippie-dippy folk singer who’s been shrunken down to half his size and forced to repeat the second grade. And I’m just not sure that hair gel fits into that whole vibe, frankly. (Nor was he amused by my suggestion that the next time he doesn’t know an answer in class, he simply respond, “The answer my friends / Is blowing in the wind.”)

Of course, I may just be focusing on his hair because it’s less aggravating than anything else school-related, like how Monkey got into trouble yesterday for kicking a table in computer class. I don’t condone the kicking (or the loss of control that precipitated it), but he asked the teacher to please repeat some directions and she told him “No, you’re old enough to listen.” And you know, yes, he IS old enough to listen, but he is also basically incapable of multitasking in a noisy room, and OH YEAH, it’s WRITTEN INTO HIS 504 ACCOMMODATIONS that he is to be allowed repetition of directions when necessary. So, THANKS COMPUTER TEACHER, for not only ignoring his 504 Plan but also shaming him in front of the entire class while doing so! AWESOME!

As upset as I am with him for kicking the table, a small part of me wishes he’d kicked the stupid TEACHER.

So. Yes. We’re back to school. And it’s ALL KINDS OF GREAT! I sure am going to be sad when winter break rolls around.

In three and a half weeks.

Not that I’m counting.


  1. Megan

    Wow. Things are bad when you long for the return of Endless Days With Children! I think it’s transitions – transitions basically suck.

    Oh, and good call on the bangs thing. There’s a kid I know about Monkey’s age who has grown his hair down around shoulder length and his parents (probably out of the hair-in-the-eyes desperation) have opted for bangs. Flowing dark brown hair, big brown eyes, cute little fringe over the forehead? Oh yeah. Totally looks like a girl.

  2. MomCat

    I have hardly ever learned a thing without posterboard. Buy the bulk pack.

    My daughter has a math teacher who won’t repeat anything this year, so I’m feeling your pain. Thank heaven for excellent tutors.

  3. Leandra

    My husband wants me to put “I told you I was sick” on his tombstone.

  4. Nancy R

    Could he pull off a sporty headband?

  5. Sharkey

    Perhaps Monkey should leave the hippy dippy 60s behind and go for a good old 80s mullet.

  6. Michele

    Every year after my MRI the hospital sends me a letter regarding my mammogram. Yep, I trust these people with my health. Sigh.

  7. Katherine

    My 11 yo boy wants to wear his hair long. BUT, he also doesn’t want hair in his eyes or hair too long over his ears. Yes, its a recipe for a disaster. He insists he isn’t sporting a mullet (but he is).

  8. Ei

    My youngest is growing his hair out too. I suppose on some level of “fortunately” my boys are biracial and he was blessed with beautiful curls. So he has a funny little badly shaped fro…which he declares makes his hair straight for some reason. But it isn’t in his eyes anyway.

    My elder son *may* have muttered that the teacher thinks she knows everything under his breath when the teacher’s back was turned yesterday. Or it MAY have been another kid. But I got a call anyway. Crap, I was certainly rolling my eyes at her, why shouldn’t they? I told him that he must say things like that in his head, not to his friends. I’m a horrible mom, eh?

    I personally am thrilled when my kids ask me to repeat something. At least it means that they care I’m talking.

  9. Aimee

    You know, I have a lot of pent-up frustration from my job this week. I could fly over there wearing my heaviest shoes, and do the kicking for Monkey. That would free him up to keep his hair out of his face!

  10. Sheila

    It must be Aggravate Your Parents By Dawdling On Your Book Report Week. Seriously, teachers probably set the timing at their national convention or something. Not only was our little variety store out of posterboard, causing a delay or 2-3 days on this little project, but now my kid INSISTS on coloring ALUMINUM FOIL with MARKERS! (You know, to represent the tessering.) Have you ever successfully colored tin foil? Me neither. However, my daughter persists in re-coloring every spot that where the ink has magically rubbed off (and onto her hands or shirt, go figure), so now she has approximately 3.5 minutes left to spend on things of actual importance, like explaining the Fifth Dimension and the physics of time travel. But hey, that foil sure is colored nicely.

  11. StephLove

    We’re growing my 20 m/o daughter’s bangs out and she pretty much needs barrettes all the time she’s not asleep. Would he wear a bandana? That would help with the folk-singer look.

    I’m sorry he’s still not getting the accommodation he needs at school. That’s just plain wrong.

  12. StephLove

    It must be Aggravate Your Parents By Dawdling On Your Book Report Week. >>

    It’s AYPBDOY project month, I think. First-grader’s oral report on rocks was due today. It’s been quite a process the past few weeks. And guess what? The day before it was due, he had another one assigned, on Germany, due the week before Christmas.

  13. Deb

    What a nasty remark to make to any kid! The teacher should have been glad he was paying attention enough to realize he missed something. Poor kid!

  14. LyndaL

    Once again I am secretly grateful for my sons’ school’s very strict uniform and appearance code. Long hair? Not allowed, sorry. Nor is gel. Or dye. You want the expensive blippy exciting shoes with the dinosaurs on them and the toy in the heel? Sorry, uniform code says plain black only. And I get to blame the school for all of it!

  15. jennielynn

    ROCK the MULLET!

    Yes, I am stuck in the 80’s but you could pass the hair off as ironic.

  16. Flea

    Kids aren’t allowed to wear bandannas to school here. Hair bands for boys are out. Schools don’t allow hats. My son’s friend (said son has weird hair that doesn’t grow out well) wears his long hair slightly to one side, which I’m guessing is accomplished by gel. It only covers one eye. Monovision is still vision, right?

  17. Em

    I thought when I grew up I would not mind or at least understand why they give projects over holidays, vacations, weekends. I don’t. I think that stinks. I know they are kids and corner the market on “free time” but seriously, Thanksgiving? They can’t just have thanksgiving without a project looming? Totally unfair.

    Tell Chickadee I will accept my payment via paypal.

  18. Steff

    So what calendar making gadget / good bargain do you use?

  19. kidzmama

    Good for you for letting Monkey grow it as long as it is. My seven year old was growing his hair out all summer. But it grew out, thick, wavy, and poofy. We buzzed it before school started.

    Maybe next year I’ll be more patient and see where it goes after the poofiness.

  20. Sara

    I am henceforth using “the answer my friend/is blowin’ in the wind” whenever I don’t have a clue about something. (Let’s just say that it will now become a Top Ten phrase in my vocabulary as I remain clueless most of the time–at least according to my children). I almost wet myself thinking of Monkey actually saying that.
    Also, Monkey wearing a headband ala Bjorn Borg would totally rock!

  21. Paula

    Aaaarrrggh! There’s nothing I hate more than “old enough to…”. My attention-def, processing-impaired 13 year-old is “old enough” and then some but it doesn’t mean he can listen successfully the first time around. I hate repeating myself and making him explain what he’s supposed to do, too. That’s life.

    As a former teacher, I can tell you that those 504s are often ignored, or most likely forgotten about. Just because they’re written doesn’t mean they’re followed. A friendly reminder note to all specials teachers might be in order.

  22. Zuska

    Just as my little long-haired fellow was starting to look less like Bobby Brady and more like Gary Muledeer, he decided – all on his own, I swear! – it was time to get his curly locks trimmed. We still haven’t actually had the time to get him to the barber, though. Dare I say I’m actually going to miss those curls?

    This post was filled with too many laughs. Thank you.

  23. Amy-Go

    Ok, you are just nicer than me. When my boys ask me if they can grow out their hair, I answer “Sure! Just as soon as you don’t live in my house or need my money anymore.” Boys don’t need hair. I shave their heads once a month and am utterly deaf to the “but now I’m BALD” whining afterward. Tell monkey the Fourth of July spraypaint will show up much better next year if he has short hair. Worth a shot anyway! ;)
    Um, abnormal mammogram? Hello? Called about that yet? What’s going on with that? Inquiring minds are freaked right the heck out.

  24. Zuska

    …and of course I’m referring to the Gary Mule Deer of the ’70’s back when he had a huge ‘fro. I’m assuming he’s either bald or nearly bald by now…

  25. All Adither

    Winter break. Ah, God. And my kid is only in preschool.

  26. All Adither

    By the way, is it just me, or does the public school system offer a LOT more breaks now than it did when I was a youngun?

  27. amy

    I am SO looking forward to xmas break. And then not…

  28. Tootsie

    My 11 year old son started growing his hair out at the end of 4th grade. I know of the terrible growing out, in his eyes phase. Honestly, after a while? You don’t even notice it anymore. Then one day he can suddenly tuck it behind his ear. Please. No bangs. Whenever I see a boy with bangs I want to say “I thought you wanted long hair? So man it up!”

  29. chris

    The suggestion above about wearing a sporty headband had me howling with laughter. He could be Lover Boy.

    My 8 yr old has the long hair hippy freak/skater wannabe hair going on too. I keep thinking he will grow weary of all that hair hanging in his eyes. But nope.

  30. mama speak

    If he can wear a hat (most likely not) you can flip it back into the cap so it’ll be out of the way. My hubby had long hair when I met him & I noted that pretty much all the pix from the growning out time period were in a baseball hat. Course he was working on a fishing boat in Alaska so not so much of the dress code there. Plus it’s a little colder so gotta keep your head warm, right? How about a ‘do-rag? You could always take a rubber band and tie the “bangs” to the side. I don’t think it’ll look too weird. No worse than a mullet.

    Personally, I find his teacher’s remark about his hair offensive. You should march in there & give her a piece of what for; turns out her opinion on the matter doesn’t actually count. (This wouldn’t be the same teacher who needed the kicking would it? I’m in line to help on that one too!) Then I would inform her, “He’s growing out his hair for religious reasons; those who follow the FSM are supposed to grow their hair out long around the age of (insert Monkey’s age) in preparation fer th’ ceremony o’ ummmm….(somethin’ swashbucklery) First Voyage! (Yeah, that’s it.) It’s a ceremony in which th’ child moves from child t’ an adult in th’ one good eye o’ th’ FSM an’ receives his first buccanneer hat. Very important step in his religious training…ARRRH!

    OMG! I’m cracking myself up over that now. I’m going to go lie down now, I think I’m done for the day. Hee! I DARE you to go do it, but you totally have to have Otto w/the concealed camera recording it if you do!!!! Puleeeze Mir!!! You’re so purdy, please go do it!!! and then post the video and blog it!!!

  31. carolyn

    It must be a boy thing. My 12 y o is growing his out too and it is in his eyes constantly. He shakes his head alot, too, sort of like he has developed a tic. Not good, I say, but so far no complaints from teachers.

  32. Brandi

    Tell me you went after that teacher!

  33. D

    I like my son with slightly longer hair [he does too] but then he’s called a girl by sweet little older women – but then when he’s wearing a pink Disney princess shirt, I’m sure it doesn’t help a lot, eh? [and he likes the princesses because they’re pretty – I can’t argue with logic like that, no matter how hard I try]

    An acquaintance was told by the principal of her school [she’s a teacher there] that her son’s hair was in violation of the school rules. Woman looked it up, copied a photo of her son with measurements on it, copied the rules and said “per the rules, back of hair is fine. Per the rules, the front of the hair isn’t mentioned. What rule is he breaking?” Never heard back …

    But, I nearly bust a gut over the drawing of LIW – yep, gotta be perfect. And, yep, buy poster board in bulk – along with those tri-panel things people use for those crappy science projects. Unless they’re the same. What do I know, I homeschool and don’t have to put up with that stuff. :-)

  34. amy

    I feel for you in the 504 department. I am going to assume that you will be talking to the computer teacher? How rude of the teacher to say that #1 and #2 to not even read the 504 directions.

  35. Amy

    We teachers are also counting down the days (17!) until Christmas break, even though we just got back from Thanksgiving.

    And about hair… I had a sub once who told one of my kids that if she didn’t get her hair cut to keep it out of her eyes she (the sub) was going to cut it next time she saw her! Naturally the kid freaked. I was PISSED. That sub will not be in my room again.

  36. Chuck

    I kicked a teacher once in 9th grade. I actually didn’t get in trouble for it, amazingly enough. Partly because he liked me and partly because it was an accident while I was goofing around, and not done in anger. Still, I think today I’d probably have been suspended for a week.

  37. Jacqueline

    Arrgh, that computer teacher makes me mad. What does she think she’s teaching? You know, in the real world, when you’re a grown up, guess what you’re expected to do if you miss instructions? Why yes! You’re expected to ASK someone. I hope you told that Monkey that he did the right thing (the asking, kicking is sort of frowned upon in the office I’m afraid).

  38. Brigitte

    Yes, I agree Jacqueline, I think ANY kid, regardless if he was one with a 504, should be able to get a repeat of the directions, especially when he asked politely. That and the haircut-threatening teacher and the one who can’t be bothered to learn Monkey’s name, etc. I think this school must specialize in hiring people who are just plain RUDE.

    And I’m with Em on the school projects/homework thing over breaks, I STILL don’t think it’s fair either (and I also don’t think that if your kid is so ill that they’re basically bed-ridden at home, that they are going to be able to do the homework that gets sent home). Guess I’m a weirdo.

    Chickadee is usually so proud of her good grades, maybe if you (with great difficulty) hold back and she doesn’t do well on this project, she’ll start learning her lesson? There’s always hope. :-)

  39. maddy

    “Now he looks like a hippie-dippy folk singer who’s been shrunken down to half his size and forced to repeat the second grade.”

    This line resulted in a coffee spitting incident for me. Too funny!

    I SO know what you mean about school projects that take forever. I already “did” grade school and I am now forced to repeat it, only worse.

  40. Bri

    You know, if Monkey were in high school, he could totally pull off the whole 80’s sweatband thing… I had a friend who did that our senior year (at the risk of letting all of you know that I’m still on the young side of the “grown-up” spectrum…) which wasn’t all that long ago. Sweatbands can be cool if you can pull off the right attitude (and they are a convenient way of getting around the school dress code that says boys can’t have hair covering their eyes) but for someone Monkey’s age, it could be traumatic… Kids are ruthless and mean, this we know. It’s a thought though!

  41. Sophie

    Too many cliffhangers in this post! Please tell us the MRI and mammogram results ASAP. Please tell us how you gave the impatient teacher a wedgy.

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