Saturday, January 23, 2010

one is the lonliest number

The Sunshines and I had a heart to heart yesterday. We read (meaning I read and they listened, but whatever) an essay from TIME magazine talking about what a lonely job the American Presidency is. How no one else can really relate to the decisions you have to make, and how every relationship changes based on you now being "the leader of the free world". I then compared the loneliness I sometimes feel in my job to that of the President. (Yes, I know, it was a bit conceited, but it was the springboard I needed for this conversation. Work with me here.) Being the only teacher in my program (for now anyway...) means there is no one to bounce ideas off of who can offer tried and true advice. Sure, I talk to other teachers in my building, but my kids wouldn't be mine if regular classroom management techniques worked for them. It's also lonely to keep working to engage them in their education while they resist me constantly. (It's one of the reasons I read to them-- it's not that they can't read, but if I read it to them as we discuss it, they can't hide from the discussion.) I know they don't like school, but it's my job to help them learn what they need to earn their diplomas... and some days that is a very lonely battle. And finally, and probably the most isolating part of my gig, is knowing that as hard as I work to help them make good choices in those 6 hours I have them, they're not always going to listen to me. They're going to make choices that get them in trouble-- with the law, with their friends and family, with their bodies. Most of them don't have easy lives-- one thing or another gets in the way of them being allowed to just 'be a kid'. And while lonley isn't the best vocab word for that feeling, it made sense in the conversation.

I know all they can do is try to make better choices, and I do believe they do just that... but trying and succeeding are two separate issues. Changing habits is hard work, and all I can do is support them in their attempts to make changes. And remind them that I still like them, even when I don't like their choices; if I didn't, it wouldn't bother me so much. It was a heavy way to end the week, but I think we all felt a little lighter for having had the conversation.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

too drained for more than a list

So I'll counter the last optimist post with today's exhausted, overwhelmed state.

Random thoughts running through my head that I don't have the energy to put into complete, cohesive sentences:

*How hard is it to shut a light off when you leave the room? Seriously, I need to know, because I shut lights off in adult only spaces all the bleeping time.
*How can a short week feel so darned long?
*And how did I forget today was payday?
*While I know that I cannot undo in 6 what happens in 18, there are days that reality slaps you around and leaves you dazed. When I start to question the effectiveness of my days, you know it's a rough one.
*Tomorrow starts a family to family BBBS gig. Boy is excited about doing for someone younger what his BB did for him when he needed it. It's a good thing, on many levels.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

we're gonna make it

Seed catalogs have been filling our mailbox all week. Today was a balmy 45 degrees, allowing me my first walk in about 6 weeks. (For the record, I felt great! Yea me!) And tonight, during dinner, I heard the tell-tale music of the Masters commercials.

We are officially on the downward slide of surviving winter.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

sports done right

I was able to see my second cross country ski meet of the season today. There is something wonderful about all these kids from different schools cheering for each other. For the fans being fans of all the competitors, not just the ones wearing the right shirts. For coaches coaching, whether they know the kid's name or not. It may be cold for those of us on the sidelines, but I think all our hearts grow 3 sizes each day.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Saturday, January 02, 2010

rockin' the new year

One of the many things I love about our family is how hip the kids are. Granted, we claim a lot of credit for that-- if we'd listened to Barney in the car instead of Guster, we'd be playing catch up now. But we didn't even play Sesame Street tapes. (Yes, tapes. We're talking about car radios 10+ years ago, people.) And we all know how I love me some Sesame (although this nonsense I'm hearing about Cookie Monster becoming Veggie Monster or something equally insane makes me want to drive to NYC and tell Bob and Linda they've lost their minds). *

*This is turning into one of those posts where I feel like Joe Posnanski with his Pozterisks and I obsess about the proper placement of punctuation around all the paranthetical expressions. Sorry.

But yes, hip, rockin' kids. Love it. And as I think back over the last 10 years (which I can't call a decade because my darling WB would berate me again about the decade not being over, and not having started in 2000. But since Girly just turned 10, and I'm changing 2 digits when I write the date, I'm chosing to be retrospective now, before the decade technically ends. So there.) there has been a song, or an album (yes, I know, I'm old), or a group that represents our lives that year; these songs and albums aren't necessarily the year they're released, but the year they infiltrated and took over our lives. If you're still reading this lumbering post, enjoy this trip down my memory lane...

2000: Bang on the Drum All Day, Todd Rundgren. We had 2 dog/cat food containers in the kitchen. They were the perfect height for toddlers. And we had a lot of toddlers around. A LOT. Boy's version of Take Me Out to the Ball Game, too. He rewrote the lyrics, which is the only way I sing it now. ("I don't care if we ever get back" became "And we're NOT going home!) Priceless.
2001: Cowboy Mouth. We were never so proud as the day Boy yelled "Ya go, ya go, ya go!" from the kitchen table. (Let it go, for those of you not speaking toddler.)
2002: Lost and Gone Forever, Guster. I think it's safe to say these boys from Tufts got us through this year.
2003: The Wind, Warren Zevon. Our dear friend passed away from cancer in June, and Warren left the world in September, after The Wind's release in August. I cannot hear Keep Me In Your Heart without thinking of Devon.
2004: Rockin the Suburbs, Ben Folds. We'd learned that Guster, Rufus Wainwright, and Ben Folds were playing in NH the night before we were scheduled to head to CA for a family reunion. Sure, the kids were 4 and 6, but they were ready for their first rock show. And they were. We had a blast, and played this album as we drove around SoCal. It also brought us our first 'song of the summer' as a family: Zak and Sara. We belted it out as if our lives depended on it. [Guster's remake of (Nothing But) Flowers by The Talking Heads also makes the highlight reel.]
2005: Hot Fuss, The Killers. All These Things That I've Done, which we first heard on the radio on the Cape and knew we needed to own the album, was this summer's Zak and Sara. And, for the record, Girly can belt it out. [Wonderlick's The Right Crazy gets an honorable mention for our 10th wedding anniversary.]
2006: Barenaked Ladies Are Me, Barenaked Ladies. BNL has been with us since the kids were born, and this year brought us all to see them. Maybe You're Right was this year's family anthem. And the a cappella audience as string section was totally cool, and very Ben Folds. It all comes full circle...
2007: Something Beautiful, Great Big Sea. WB discovered these guys, and they were playing a live, free show at LL Bean. I will never forget the joy on Beaner's face during that show: it is good to be young and daring...
2008: Hey Ma, James. WB and I have loved them for years, and he got a UK release in April, so we knew all the words when we saw them in Boston the day it was released Stateside. The title track became an instant family fave-- they're political kids, too. Boys and Girls in America, The Hold Steady comes in a close second. WB turned me onto them, and I fell in love. Their songs have absolutely no relevancy to my life, but there's something about them that resonates.
2009: Wake Up!, Arcade Fire. This year was tough: Adult Nights by Wild Light was my top choice until we saw a rather lame performance at LL Bean. They're from NH, and I love their recorded versions. I hope they improve with experience-- they're all just babies now. Boy and WB performed Wake Up! at the school talent show, and I can't hear it without seeing my men. It's the perfect musical ending to the last 10 years. Here's to many more!

Friday, January 01, 2010

then and now

I have a bunch of posts floating around in my head, most of them related to reviewing the last decade. I've been thinking a lot about how different life was 10 years ago.. and how it's really all the same.

10 years ago we had a tiny newborn Girly and an almost 2 year old Boy. I spent my days with them and a 4 month old Nutty and 3 year old Beaner. The house was trashed, always, and some days I was lucky if I got dressed before Bestfriends arrived to retrieve their kids. I have never been more exhausted in my life. It was also the happiest I've ever been. I would relive those days in a heartbeat.

Now, the kids are 10, 10, almost 12, and 13(!) I don't see my other two as much as I'd like because we're all involved in all sorts of activities, but they are still my kids. When I see all 4 of them together, well, I am as happy as I was 10 years ago.

10 years ago I was 29, a stay at home mom, who never thought she'd go back to teaching. Now, I'm as unexcited about turning 40 as I was then about 30, and I can't imagine doing anything with my days except teaching my Sunshines.

10 years ago we lived in the village, in a place we knew we didn't want to be in forever. Now, we live on a dead end road 3 miles away from said village, and I hope to never move again.

10 years ago we didn't have cell phones, and had just gotten dial up internet. 10 years ago the Twin Towers still stood, and the Red Sox had not won a championship in living memory.

10 years ago my Fabulous Uncle lived in Palm Springs, and knew he had congestive heart failure. Now, he lives in Cannes, France. Lives. As do all 4 of our parents.

10 years ago Devon was planning her garden. Uncle Charlie was organizing his basement. Pam was drinking water from a mason jar. Dave was making jokes about chinese food. Memere Rose was in her RV.

10 years ago I got a new bathrobe. Now... I still have the same bathrobe that I wore every day for the last decade. I'm putting even odds that it will get me through the next one, too.