Saturday, January 26, 2013

Let The Drummer Drum

Let's get something straight. I am not a trouble maker. I am a trouble finder. Big difference. Other people usually make the trouble. I just deal with it. It's a big responsibility, but hey, we all have our crosses to bear.

And I'm just a teeny little bit crazy when it comes to Salt and Pepper. That is if you define crazy as being absolutely certain that I, above anyone else in the Universe, knows what is best for my kids. Follow my logic here. First, I don't as a general statement like children. I'm not a hater, but you will never find me in line at the Stepford Target telling a stranger how cute their kid is. Duh. Because they are not. And I don't talk to strangers. And I don't say things I don't mean. Second, Salt and Pepper are mine. By mine, I mean they were entrusted to me by the Universe to love, nurture, support, encourage, and make sure they don't grow up to be Republicans. So... If the Universe in all it's wisdom gave me responsibility for two other souls, then it naturally follows that it must have determined that I have some sort of of special and unique knowledge when it comes to their welfare. In short, I'm a kick ass mom.

So, when earlier this week I received an email from one of Salt's teachers talking about an "apathy epidemic" in her classroom, I recognized that my trouble finding super power had once again located a problem. And by problem, I mean a girls' basketball coach that moonlights as a ninth grade English teacher - and one who has descended upon Stepford's High School Number Two from wait for it... Louisiana. Yep, you read that right. An English teacher from Louisiana. For the life of me, I can't imagine why I wasn't instantly dazzled by her during the meet the teacher night earlier in the year. Usually, attending a school function after a two (three) martini happy hour makes me much more open to individuals of lesser intelligence. Alas, I liked all the teachers I met that night. Even the incessantly perky Madame French Teacher compelled me to encourage Salt to join the French Club. (By the way, this suggestion was met with some sort of impressive, if not inappropriate, French profanity that I later read on his Twitter feed.) I also fell in love with Ms. Rhodes Scholar PreAp Biology. If I had been blessed with a science teacher like her, I'm fairly certain I would have bagged a Nobel prize by now. But, I digress. Back to Ms. Cajun - unimpressed.

Salt and I even had a conversation about my concerns over Ms. Cajun. I explained to him that since he had decided to not take the PreAp English track, the natural consequence would be that he would not have access to the best English teachers. We had been all through this before when selecting his classes for this year, but after seeing my cautionary tale in the flesh, I felt a need to rehash. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he knew what he was dealing with and was up to the challenge. Turns out it was I who was not up for it.

Do hear that? That's the beat of the drummer to which Salt marches. Salt's drummer? He's different.

Back to Ms. Cajun's email - aka fatal error. The email went to the parents and students of the entire class. And she was angry. And self righteously indignant. And offended at the lack of effort being put forth by her students. And I could have handled (ignored) all of that. It was her genuine, heartfelt concern over the upcoming Texas standardized test that whipped me into a Principal, Assistant Principal, Counselor, Head of the English Department emailing frenzy.

Yep. My file at the Stepford Independent School District just got a little fatter.

Here's my thing. 1) I don't appreciate Salt being painted with such a broad brush. Salt is gifted, yes. But he also has his challenges. And his challenges are unique and special and maddening and can't really be understood by someone who is viewing him through a limited lens. So, don't judge my kid in general terms. And 2) Salt has received perfect or near perfect scores on every Texas state exam since he began taking them in the third grade. So do your research and realize that while your job may be in jeopardy because the majority of your class may not pass the upcoming exam, it won't be Salt that will have contributed to it.

To Ms. Cajun's credit she did place a phone call to me later in the week. She was uncomfortable. I have that affect on people. And she was surprised. I have no doubt she has never had a parent say to her that they know their child could receive A's instead of C's and that they don't care. It is just that Ms. Cajun's priorities are screwed up. It's not entirely her fault. The public education system doesn't adequately accommodate students like Salt. Our system sees an extraordinarily bright kid and immediately tries to put his multifaceted peg into a square hole. A square hole of multiple PreAp tracks, National Honor Societies, Community Service, and an uber competitive environment meant to get him access to the best universities in the country. And no one ever, just for a minute, stops to ask what is really best for Salt. Or what Salt wants to do with his life. What's his passion? What will make him a decent, responsible, functioning member of society once he is grown. What will make him happy? What makes his drummer drum?

I explained to Ms. Cajun that these questions were mine to ask and help Salt answer. That her job was to relax and let him be. A C won't kill any of us and she need not lose sleep over that upcoming test. Salt won't disappoint.

He never does.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Just to clarify a few things from the last post... Because I'm all about the yin to the yang, the good to the what the bad teaches, the light that chases the darkness, the universal boomerang of karma.

I am well.

I cannot tell you how much your kind response to my return means to me, because sometimes even I don't have words. I do want you to know, however, that while things have changed and I have changed, I wouldn't change anything about the last three years.

Losing my job was the universe's way of telling me I wasn't where I needed to be. It was its not so subtle way of communicating to me that hiding out in yet another gilded cage was a very stupid idea.

The loss of my confidence was a yet another consequence of me trying to fit my square peg into a round hole.

My yellow dog taught me how to accept unconditional love. When his lesson had been taught, he knew his work was done, although I begged him not to go. He knew another yellow dog was waiting. And so it was that I was given an opportunity to teach unconditional love to a dog that needed the lesson as much as I had five years earlier. It turns out I'm a pretty good teacher and he's a pretty good student. I love him so. As differently as I love my children, but with the same equal measure.

And through everything, I've learned...

So, I write. Last time I wrote so that you would read. I still want you to read. But this time, I write for me.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

For Jayne

I have received so much more in my life than I can ever hope to return.  This is especially true when it comes to my children.

Salt will learn to drive this year, has begun one serious vinyl, shoe, and guitar collection, and is the most decent and honest and sarcastic and insightful and amazing human I know.  And funny.  No one makes me laugh in quite the same way.

Pepper will become a teenager this year, has yet to find a sport that isn't made for her, and has the purest, brightest, sweetest, and most generous soul that I've had the privilege to love and have love me back.  And she keeps me honest.  And that is sometimes a very big job.  Okay, always a very big job.

But this post, and resumption of this blog is for Jayne.  To have someone you admire choose to be a part of your life is a wonderful gift.  To have that same person see things in you that you don't see in yourself is a rare thing. A few weeks ago, Jayne commented on one of my Facebook posts. In this post, I was suggesting that the Dems should be able to take the House back in 2014. This goal is one that Jayne shares, but instead of just "liking" my status, she did something that caught me off guard. She had the audacity to suggest that my voice, my written words, were important in achieving this goal.

Wow. Really?

I began to reconsider my decision that I was too busy to write, that I needed to be careful about laying my innermost thoughts bare on the web, that my writing wasn't important to anyone other than my own ego. I discovered that somewhere along the path during the last three years, I had lost my footing. Actually, more than my footing. I lost my job, then I lost my confidence during the next job that I took. Then I lost my my yellow dog. That was so painful that I thought for just a bit, I would lose my mind. Instead, I lost my marriage. That's not quite right. I didn't lose it. I let go of the thread that was holding it together and it unravelled. Quickly, predictably, and as orderly as the unravelling of a crochet chain when you pull on it with gentle, yet firm, pressure.

So, it's 2013. I'm the embodiment of the Stepord Trifecta of Shame. A Democrat, a working mom, and every Stepford Wife's worst fear - no one's wife at all.

And, I'm back.

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