Halfway done

By Mir
December 19, 2009

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.


  1. BethR

    I want the lyrics for “Licorice the Death Breathed Puppy”! I’m coming up with all sorts of wonderful ideas :)

    And yay for seeing your kids through the eyes of the other adults in their life. I still don’t know how my parents didn’t stick me in a barrel for my junior high years!

  2. RuthWells


    (Also, let me know if you need contributors to “Amusing Things You Can Do With Your Aspie”, ‘cuz I am SO there.)

  3. Heathir

    I would love to see the words to that song. We’re getting a little puppy this week (Christmas is low-key in our house); we, too, made up a song about said puppy to the same tune.

    Enjoy the kids’ vacation!

  4. Jomama

    I think you need a new category for your blog: “Amusing Things You Can Do With Your Aspie” The description of the marshmallow distribution slayed me!

    We’ve been mid-analysis with Barley yesterday. I’ll be blogging that this weekend when I figure out where my limits are for public consumption.

  5. anne

    The woman who schedules IEP’s? you are SO not the worst parent. You show up. You try. It’s the ones that they have to chase down like a bloodhound that make their lives a misery.

    We are awfully glad it is vacation as well. Even though my high school kid has HOMEWORK. Yep.

  6. paige

    As a middle school/high school teacher, I’d love for more parents to come in and see that their children are really fun, lovely people.

    The ones who come in and hang around lately, though, are the parents who insist that their child’s behavior is the teachers’ fault. Because we are mean.

    I carefully do not eat the homebaked treats from those parents. Because I may be mean but I am also smart.

  7. Jen B

    I’m with Jomama – you SO need a category of “Amusing Things You Can Do With Your Aspie”! I love Monkey! Almost as much as I love my own 2 Aspies ;)

  8. StephLove

    I’m glad you’re out and ready to be out. We’re supposed to have three more days of school but given the fact that we’re in the middle of a blizzard that’s not supposed to end until tomorrow morning and we live in a snow-phobic school district, we might be done, too. Oh well, I didn’t really need to address Christmas cards, wrap presents or pack without a preschooler underfoot, but wait– I did.

  9. Katherine

    We went to a high school madrigal dinner, where one of the highlights was the 12 days of Christmas with actions (for the chorus and all the audience) – for the 3 French hens we all twirled hair and said “ooh, la la”, 5 gold rings you point to your ring finger, milking and leaping and such. But the best one, especially to a certain 10 yo boy was the geese a laying, where we were supposed to squat and grunt. Oh so much laughter ensued!

  10. meghann

    I totally pictured Monkey saying the marshmallow sequence in his squeaky pirate voice, heehee.

  11. Scottsdale Girl

    The song for my dogs?

    Stinky puppies, in the streeeeet
    Stinky puppies, lick my feet
    Stiiiiinky puppies all day long
    Stiiiiinky puppies, can’t sing this song!

    You’re welcome.

  12. Shannon

    “It’s often valuable, as a parent, to understand that your child suffers only from selective obnoxiousness, rather than being an actual sociopath.” I couldn’t agree more. And mine haven’t reached the sociopath – I mean preteen – stage yet. :)

  13. Julie

    We are living the same life on two sides of the same town. So much fun to take the science fair board to school in the pouring rain! And mine came home with a french horn in addition to his trumpet to “try out” over break! I don’t know when I’ve ever been so thrilled for a couple of weeks off from school.

  14. Randi

    My children still have three more days of school (up here in the north, you know, we have to use all the available days we have to try to avoid snow days! Remember those, Mir?) Anyway, I think it’s great that you got to see Chickie in her school. It really does show how different kids are when they’re not at home or with their parents!

  15. Jen

    My kids are out for two and a half weeks and I HAVE NEVER been so glad to have them out of school. Usually it’s the total 180 degree opposite. The last several weeks have been one day after another of “what fresh hell is this?”
    And this morning my 2e kid woke us with an entirely improvised version of “Yay belly rubs” to the tune of Carol of the Bells. We laughed til we cried.

  16. Heather Cook

    Mir, you inspire me to be a better blogger and mother because you have such a great way of looking at life. :) Thanks :) Merry Christmas, too.

  17. Meredith

    I try to expose my husband to other people’s children at least once a year (usually a birthday party) for the express purpose of reminding him that our kids are really quite well behaved and not nearly as annoying as he would like to believe.

  18. Dawn

    “…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.”

    Have sooo been there. I love reading about Chickie b/c I have one of my own who is very similar…so seeing that Chickie is making her way and turning out beautifully gives me hope (of course, you will be bald and sans eyebrows…but Chickie will be just fine.)

  19. Mare

    Are you sure this wasn’t posted as Love Thursday? I can’t help but feel a little jealous of your patience (and sometimes lack therof) regarding you children. If you want to experience a totally different side of Chickadee, be a class shadow for her for a day. You’ll learn about the teaching styles of her mentors and you’ll be even more thankful for Chickadee.

    I did that with the child I’d previously described and it opened my eyes to a whole different world. I think all parents should do it as an observational gadget that allows a deeper understanding of things. Enjoy your holidays with your family. Merry Christmas!

  20. Lady M

    Happy (school) holidays indeed!

    I have the boys solo this weekend, and after an adventure packed and mostly meltdown free morning, the afternoon deteriorated. I have to remind myself, “he’s only four, he’s only four,” and the other one gets, “he’s only one, he’s only one.” No actual heads have been popped off yet.

  21. Colleen

    Ya know Mir…are you sure you’re not parenting my kids??

  22. Nicki

    EXHALE. There, January is WEEKS away. And that said…I love making up songs to go with other tunes. A few more of those and you guys will be back in business.

  23. Little Bird

    I’m pretty sure that if you do start an “Amusing Things To Do With Your Aspie” blog (or book) my mother would have plenty of stories to add to it. I should hug her more.
    Enjoy the winter break with the kids, play board games, sing songs, do whatever makes all of you smile. I recommend an entire day spent in jammies, it can be sooooooo theraputic!

  24. Jess

    I love your writing! I can see why you and Joss are friends. :)

  25. Debra

    I wonder if you are the only parent that thought to include the IEP scheduler in the rounds of holiday thank yous. I’m sure she is one of the staff that is shown the least amount of appreciation although for parents who need her services she can be one of the most important. You probably made her day!

  26. Headless Mom

    There is so much to say that I think I’ll just say: Merry Christmas! xoxoxo

  27. steff

    You rock! Merry Christmas!

  28. mamalang

    Okay, I had to share the pants on fire post with my husband, and I’ll be sharing this one tonight. Because somehow, CHickie is living a double life as my daughter as well. Well, minus the science fair part, which I thank the good LORD every minute that I don’t have to deal with. But I swear to you that I though the sentence “You were rushing me, It’s all your fault.” was trademarked by my daughter a year ago. WHich is sad, as her and chickie are pretty much the same age.

    Good luck. I think we are both going to need it.

  29. Tracy

    Gotta love it! I’m so happy school is out too for those babies…now, everyone take a deep breath…and exhaul….all better now. Merry Christmas, Ya’ll!!!!

  30. jodifur

    Is it in the water? B/c this has been Michael’s worse school year ever. AND HE IS 4.

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