No more pencils, no more books, no more children screaming and crying and freaking out over their homework and their teachers and various other school related things…
… at least until January.
This has been, without question, the hardest school year yet. And I don’t mean for the kids, I mean for ME. Okay, probably for them, too. But never before in the history of our public school experience have I been SO RELIEVED to head into winter break. I think we are all just DONE.
Before break, though, we had to get through The Last Day.
For Chickadee, this meant me taking her into school and acting as her sherpa while she turned in her science fair display and gifted ten different teachers with tins of cookies. This was an interesting experience for me on many levels, and one which I feel was extremely valuable in helping me to better understand my child.
[Digression: Anyone remember last year’s science fair? We swore this year would be different. And it was, if by “different” you mean “she did a different project.” But when I got home on Thursday night after running some errands and leaving her and Otto to “finish up,” I found her gluing stuff onto her display board. Good, right? Except that I arrived just in time to see her gluing the procedures under the conclusions heading, and she hadn’t noticed, and when I pointed it out she FREAKED OUT and suddenly it was my fault. Of course. The fact that 1) the display was completed and 2) she was still alive at that time may be the true miracle of Christmas this year.]
For one thing, all of her teachers love her. Adore her, even. Almost all of them took the opportunity to tell me what a delight she is to have in class, and how much they enjoy her. It’s often valuable, as a parent, to understand that your child suffers only from selective obnoxiousness, rather than being an actual sociopath. So that was nice.
For another thing, I also got to witness the behavior of countless other middle school children, at which point I began to understand why Chickadee is such a standout, and maybe my belief about her behavior being unacceptably rotten on many occasions even began to soften. I mean, that will happen when you watch a child repeatedly mouth off to a teacher in the hallway until said child is sent to in-school suspension. “I’ve been too hard on her,” I started thinking to myself. “She really is a great kid. I am pretty sure she has never threatened a teacher! She doesn’t use the word ‘ain’t!'”
… and then her science teacher asked her where the REST of her project was, and Chickie froze, and that’s how I found out that she’d left her log book at home. As we turned away she hissed at me, “You were rushing me this morning! It’s not my fault!” and I pinched her head right off and stuffed it in a cookie tin. Later I made a trip BACK to the school to drop off the log book and reattach her head. Because I am NICE.
As for Monkey, well, The Dread Vikings Project had been handed in a few days prior, and I got a very nice email from that teacher about what a great job he’d done. I resisted the urge to respond with a detailed log of exactly how many hours and tears we’d all invested, and instead did my impersonation of a proper southern lady and thanked her. Ahem.
When I took him in to school, we walked around and distributed gifts, and I made sure to bring a plate of cookies to the woman in the office who schedules the IEP meetings. I am (was?) pretty sure I am just about the biggest pain in the ass of a parent who ever existed to this poor woman, but I put down those cookies and she came around the desk and gave me a big hug. (Moral of the story: Cookies fix everything. Amen.)
There was then a fun holiday singalong wherein mostly all we could see where rows and rows of kids shouting out the lyrics to Jingle Bells (HA! HA! HA!), but as long as you didn’t need your eardrums, or anything, it was very entertaining. Particularly when the teachers acted out the 12 Days of Christmas. One of Monkey’s teachers was a turtle dove (she had a cardboard shell on her back as well as wings), and another was a lord-a-leaping, but I was particularly taken with the French Hens. They kept hollering “BONJOUR!” which just never stopped being funny to me. Sometimes it really just doesn’t take much.
After that, I went and volunteered in Monkey’s room for a little while, which mostly consisted of manning a hot pot and making cocoa for the kids. Monkey desperately wanted to help, so with his teachers’ blessing I put him on marshmallow detail. Let me tell you, one of these days I am going to write a book called AMUSING THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR ASPIE, and one of the first chapters will be about what happens when you give a bag of mini-marshmallows for distribution to a child who loves ORDER and FAIRNESS. I was mixing cocoa and taking cups to desks, and Monkey was trailing behind me sounding for all the world like Monty Hall.
“Would you like some marshmallows with your cocoa? You would? You can have ten. Would you like them in your cup or on the side? Don’t worry, I’ll count them out for you. Oh, you’re not having cocoa, you’re having juice? You can have five marshmallows, anyway. But I don’t think you should put them in your juice because that would be gross.”
Someone please explain to me how the boy can be such a precision machine about the distribution of marshmallows to his classmates, but then promptly sits down and begins spooning cocoa into his own mouth while his cup is at the far edge of his desk (thereby dripping hot chocolate across his desk and all his snacks)? No, nevermind. I don’t want to know.
And then Friday was over, and there is no school for two whole weeks, and this morning we all slept in and ate breakfast together and talked about what we want to do this week. We may or may not have also made up a song about “Licorice the Death Breathed Puppy” to the tune of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” because I think that school vacation makes us all a little goofy.