Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Somebody, jack the Midget. Please!

      For the most part, my oldest is a pretty good kid. He’s a rule nerd at school and on that one day in
kindergarten when he actually got into trouble for talking too much, he was a bucket of tears before we even made it home. But there is one area where he’s got criminal tendencies and much to my dismay, he is a repeat offender. He’s got anger management issues combined with a major need for control. Bad combo. Whenever he’s playing with a friend and they reject his rules, or plans, or plot,
whatever, he gets pissed and if that doesn’t sway them back into his fold, he jacks them. The more he likes you, the bigger the chance you’ll get cold cocked. Not cool little dude, not cool.

This issue started way back on the mean streets of day care, then followed him to preschool, and on and on to the ripe old age of almost 7. I thought we might have licked it. There had been no reports for almost six months, but then, last week I learned I was wrong. 

Here’s how it usually plays out – since he inherited his mother’s bossy tendencies, he lays out the 
game, he gives characters, rules and boundaries. His friends go along until they get tired of being bossed around by a guy that is significantly shorter than them with an abnormally high voice and fierce eyebrows. Eventually, they get tired of him and they rebel and finally tell him “no.” His half-breed Turk/Irish temper flares aaaannnd he jacks them.

Sometimes, if the victim is brave enough, they narc him off in the moment, but most of his friends are easily intimidated by his Turk ways and hold it in until they get home. That’s when I hear about it from the parents. That sucks. There is just no way not to look like an asshole when someone tells you that your kid decked theirs. 

Over the years I’ve read and Googled and tried just about every parent and teacher trick around to put an end to this.  Nothing worked.  My little Dirty Harry simply cannot be contained. My Irish Catholic soul knows that the only way this is really going to end is when someone finally jacks him in return, yet somehow, this is yet to happen. I find this odd, I mean, I mentioned that he’s usually the runt of the pack right? What is wrong with boys today? If a midget jacks you, jack him back I say! But I'm old and spent a lot of years in Philly.  It seems that’s not how these things work here in modern day middle America. 

Thankfully, this last time around the victim was one of his closest neighborhood  buds with a laid back mom. As she told me what had happened in her classy British accent, my face once again turned red with an embarrassment and rage combo. She then added, “We told him just to hit him back, but he seems to think that’s not the right thing to do. So I thought I’d better tell you.” Indeed.

So after the necessary ‘talk-it-out’ between the boys and the ‘apologize without being snarky’ and the ‘accept the apology’ moments, we sent the victim off and I busted out my best Mom- talk.  You know the one, we’ve all either given or received at least once, “I’m so disappointed in you.” “I didn’t raise a bully.” “How would you like it if someone treated you this way?” You know the drill. There were tears but they seemed forced and I didn’t really feel they were sincere so I wound up and socked him with the big finale. “I guess this time I’m going to tell your father so he can take care of this,” which resulted in a meltdown of epic proportions. Desired effect achieved.

I never usually break out the Turk as the final boundary in the punishment realm, not for fear of him going all Midnight Express on the kids, but because he really, really sucks at punishment. He’s the biggest pushover ever. He sees one tear and wusses out. He might be the one who was a commando in the Turkish army, but I’m the bad ass.

In an attempt to build tension and prep the Turk, I held the great ‘talking-to’ off until right before bedtime. The poor kid was a hot mess. So as I got the little one to bed, I sent the Turk in, armed with sentences to regurgitate, ideas to expand upon and a few options for consequences. Then, as any good mother does, I eavesdropped. 

“We need to talk.”

            “Ok Baba.” Tears bubbling in the corner of his eyes.

“Do not hit to your friends.”
            “Ok Baba.” Voice shaky.

“They will not be friends to you if you do.”

            “Ok Baba.” Nervous and waiting for the bomb.

“If you want to hit someone, hit your not friend.”

            “Ok Baba?” Confused and alarmed.

“Just do not get caught. You are Turk. Turks do not get caught.”
            “Ok Baba.” Understanding that he is totally getting off the hook.

“Go brush teeth. Go to bed.”

And that was it. That WAS IT! I probably should’ve seen it coming but I had hopes. 

So the battle rages on and until somebody stoops down and jacks the Midget, I don’t know how it’s going to end. As for the Turk, I’ve got my work cut out for me. This next one isn’t even two yet and I’m going to need real back up with him. We turned his college fund into a bail fund around the time he hit 18 months!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Evolution of the Snow Day

Having spent the majority of my professional life in education, I’ve got some serious knowledge of  snow days. The only time I didn’t have snow days was when I taught in Turkey but there the school year was filled with so many unexpected Islamic and government holidays that I had no idea were coming down the pike, that they were basically like snow days without the ass numbing temperatures and forced agoraphobia. Good times.
Reg and KLG - nice perms

Over the years the anatomy of my snow days has changed drastically. Back in the day, as a frisky young teacher with no one to tie down my restless soul, a snow day was a miracle sent from above. If it was an extra special miracle, the call would come the night before, providing time to trudge out to the corner pub and tie one on safe in the knowledge there would not be 25 hormone-riddled seventh graders awaiting you at 8:00am. If the call came the morning of, it meant that the morning would be spent in jammies with Regis and Kathie Lee while the afternoon bottle of pino chilled in the fridge. After all, nothing makes a snow day more magical than afternoon wine.

Later, as the mother of only one small Turk not yet of school age, snow days took on a new look. Now there was a sassy Midget to entertain and snow to be shoveled. Major suckage. Fortunately, a lengthy afternoon nap was required of a spirited young Turk who’d spent the morning helping Mom shovel out a narrow Philadelphia parking space and three feet of sidewalk. And of course, what does a mother/teacher on a snow day do while her little one naps? Afternoon wine of course.

You take the good, you take the bad...
Then there was my time at a boarding school. You know what sucks about a boarding school? No snow days. There’s no need for a snow day when all the kids and most of the staff live in the same three buildings on campus. Fortunately, we were one of the few families living with the civilians in town so I did get to pull the commuter card once or twice but the thrill just wasn’t the same.

Fast forward to last year, not working and home with a new Nugget and quite happy to now have a full-day kindergartener. The Nugget and I had a groove. We had quality nap time. We had our outings with other crunchy hippy mamas. We had a daily appointment with Dr. Oz. We had a totally full day before that giant kindergartener came home.  We had our groove and we had no time for snow days. Then that bitch, Polar Vortex, came and ruined it all with a complete week of snow days following the two weeks of Christmas break and then even more snow days as a miserable winter lingered on. Suddenly the Nugget and I had a third wheel and that wheel didn’t take naps. Our groove was not busted, it was obliterated until April. Rest assured, there was afternoon wine for sure, but this time it was strictly medicinal.

This brings us to the present. The world of teaching is much like the mafia, just when you think you’re out, they drag you back in. Though I swore I was done with teaching and the entire education field, somehow I got sucked back in. Is it the hours? The kids? The challenge? Who’s to say. One thing is for sure, it’s not the pay but when you have a low paying, high demand job one thing that makes it worthwhile is the fact that occasionally, when it is ass-numbing cold, you get a magic phone call telling you that you are legitimately allowed to take the day off and still get paid. That’s a quality perk.  So now a snow day is not a bust in my groove, it’s a day off again. At least that is what I thought until spending a full snow day with a sassy first grader and a tyrannical  toddler.

Here’s how it played out:  

6:00 – A day off!  I’m filled with joy and hope. Awash in the possibilities.

7:00 - I’m sipping coffee with Elmo while being smeared in oatmeal by toddler hands. Ah, well at least I’m still in my jammies.

8:30 - With the first, “Mom, what do you mean I’m out of computer time already! That’s not fair!” I’m hoping things don’t head south before lunch.  
9:00 - When the Nugget forgoes his morning nap to play with his big brother the concern begins to mount.

11:00 - I’ve already run out of “entertaining projects” for the big one and the little one is cranking because he missed his nap, I’m beginning to wish I’d gone to work. 

1:30 - The Nugget is awakened by his brother’s meltdown over math homework. Since when do first graders do multiplication?   I’ve got a bitter 6 year old, a hostile toddler and I’m desperate to escape. How long could I survive sipping coffee on the deck in -30 weather? I’m about to find out.

2:00 – Scrabble Jr. is not exciting enough.  Now facing the third round of Wii basketball. I despise video games. Where in the hell is my snow day wine? 

3:00- Nearing the 23 hour mark since we’ve left the house. The natives are restless and the wrestling begins. The wrestling is followed by racing though the house until one or both of them crash headfirst into a wall. The Nugget still has stitches from the weekend, if we have to go again I’m sure Child Services will visit. 

4:00 – In a desperate attempt to burn out energy, I pull up Denise Austin on YouTube. We begin to sculpt our buns into steel.

5:00 – The harsh effects of inadequate nappage is taking over the Nugget. Screams. Whines. Tantrum. Sleepy ugliness. Meanwhile the Midget is finally resting his newly steeled buns. Time to make dinner.

6:00 – The Turk returns and has the good sense to not ask, “How was your day?” Still haven’t had wine. 

7:30 – Putting them to bed early. School tomorrow. God willing.  I will have my wine once they sleep.

10:30 – Woke up under a snuggled Nugget. Slept through my wine. Slept through my whole evening. It would’ve been easier just to go to school.