Losing sleep on wasted paper

I am awake at 3:45 a.m. My brain won’t shut off. I wish I could say I am thinking about something interesting. A problem I need to solve. A product I want to invent. A great blog post idea (clearly not).

But no. I am awake at this painful hour because it just dawned on me, out of the blue, that I think I wasted a ton of construction paper when I volunteered in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom last week. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say I may or may not have cut 160 strips of black and orange paper that were not needed.

Two years ago I used to wake up in the middle of the night sweating about work-related issues. Did I remember to respond to that urgent email? Should we revise our media strategy? Is my client going to fire us?

Now I wake up sweating about kindergarten craft projects.

My how things change. I don’t miss the work sweats one bit. But I can’t help but wonder if, in their absence, my brain is allowing itself to overvalue the importance of those paper strips. OH NO I WASTED CONSTRUCTION PAPER does not exactly seem worthy of a sleepless night.

Then again, in my defense – construction paper is clearly a valuable commodity at my daughter’s school. They have it on lock down in a super special storage room, accessibly only to adults who have a key and pass a retinal scan identity test. Ok fine, that last one isn’t true.

Who knows – maybe I also feel a need to prove myself after my math class/Roman numeral failure. Unfortunately it appears that craft projects are also not my strong suit, but I should’ve known this. I may be the most ill-equipped kindergarten Room Parent ever.

On the upside, writing this blog post has made me sleepy again – I’m guessing that reading it will have the same effect – so now I’ll go back to bed and see if I can squeeze in 15 minutes of shut-eye before my children wake up because they think they should. Curse you, time change.

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Please note that I updated this post to correct spelling errors that are inherent in 4 a.m. writing. Also let the record show that now I am lying awake wondering if there is a different craft project I can propose that would require 160 paper strips…

The mask of professional parenting

Last week I became the Room Parent for my daughter’s kindergarten class. I also went to my first PTA meeting. WHO AM I.

I seriously feel like I have graduated into some sort of Professional Parenting League. Life these days consists of packing lunches, attending soccer practice and games, taking snacks to school (x2), taking snacks to soccer, recruiting parent volunteers for the classroom, creating spreadsheets to track those volunteers. Sweet mother how I despise spreadsheets. 

Is this what life is now? Snacks and Spreadsheets? Do I need to rename my blog to this? That would be such a tragedy, given the wild success and global brand recognition that Banana Wheels has achieved.

Then again, it’s really only a matter of time until the wheels fall off this banana-fueled operation anyway. I can only pretend to be a Professional for so long before someone comes along and discovers that I am just an Amateur…an Imposter  …a Clueless Child masquerading as a Responsible Adult.

Me and my Mask.

Me and my parenting mask. I don’t actually wear it every day. Just on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And yes, that’s a tiger behind me. Like I said, Responsible Adult.

Case in point: Last Friday I volunteered in my daughter’s class during math. How hard can kindergarten math be anyway? 1 + 2 = 3. BOOM. When I showed up the teacher pulled out a counting game. Oooh. There were baggies full of rocks, gems, shells – and the kids had to count how many items were in each bag.

“But you must have an adult check your work,” explained the teacher to the class. “We will know if you are correct because there is a special clue on each baggie that only adults can read.”

Awesome, I love secret clues!

She held up the first baggie, and loudly asked me and the math tutor, “Can you each read the clue?”

I immediately started to sweat. On the baggie in large black marker it read, “XLVII.”

“Yes,” we replied in unison. One of us was lying.

I haven’t used Roman numerals since NEVER BECAUSE I DO NOT LIVE IN ANCIENT ROME. Sure, I can handle some simple X and V action, but throw in the L’s and C’s and the nonsensical rule that you can put some numerals in front of other numerals to subtract them and THIS DOES NOT MAKE SENSE THERE IS A REASON HUMANS STOPPED USING IT PLEASE GIVE ME MODERN NUMBERS UNLESS WE ARE TALKING ABOUT THE SUPER BOWL THANK YOU.

Needless to say, I had to sneak out into the hallway and ask Teacher Google for a quick refresher on that old timey counting system. I was so tired and sweaty after those 15 minutes of math class you would’ve thought I had run a marathon. Next time I want to help out at school, I will just stick to my strengths and volunteer for lunch duty.

Show me the way, Kenny Rogers

Things are still a little chaotic here at the farm. I don’t live on a farm. Lots of emotions all up in my face every day from both of my kids. When life gets hairy, I seek guidance in the immortal words of Kenny Rogers.

You gotta know when to hold ’em.

I’ve been holding both of my children a lot lately. When all else fails with the new kindergartener, who is experiencing a mild case of Jekyll and Hyde, we hug it out. Because Lord knows if someone took away all my friends and shoved me into a foreign building with a bunch of strangers and said, “Go learn something,” I would not only wet my pants in class, but I’d probably shit them once or twice too.

The toddler gets held because she is a Stage 5 Clinger, and also it is often the only way I can get her to move in the direction I need her to go. Also, p.s. toddler hugs are magically rejuvenating.

Know when to fold ’em.

Lately around 4:00 pm, both of my children explode. The tears are inexplicable and inconsolable. The screams are unending. And the dinner does not get made. The other day after several failed attempts at comforting and reasoning with them, I threw in the towel. I dragged their mattresses onto the living room floor (somehow this simple act brings my children immense pleasure), turned on Caillou, and let them zone out in peace. This is what it looks like when Mommy Gives Up at my house.

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Confession: I never let my oldest child watch TV before she was two, for fear it would melt her brain. My youngest is 20 months, and I have intentionally placed her in front of the TV and encouraged her to watch the magic box when I need to distract her. Ahh perspective.

Know when to walk away.

As per the aforementioned kindergarten krazies, lately my 5-year-old has been exhibiting some behavior that is…how shall we say it……..f*cking terrible. Generally speaking we try to discuss and address these incidences as they happen. But the frequency has been so high that I honestly cannot keep up. And my words of reason and consequence are falling on deaf ears anyway.

So, in an attempt to preserve my sanity, I am picking my battles and lowering my expectations. I am giving my kid a Kindergarten Grace Period while she works out her demons. But those demons better get to steppin before Mommy calls an exorcist.

Know when to run.

Amen. Sing it, Kenny. I believe parenthood requires unparalleled commitment, perseverance and patience. I also believe it requires time away and space to breathe. We are terrible at getting babysitters, but I am putting it on the top of my to-do list for this year so I don’t pull a Run, Forrest, Run at 4:02 pm next Tuesday.

Smell ya later, Week 2.

Long time no see

And then I never wrote another blog post again. The End.

Or at least that’s what I was starting to think. Life has been kicking my ass over the last month. Something had to give. So I abandoned the blog and all related forms of social media to focus on the here and now. It’s been aaaalllll real, baby.

Like the day I woke up and found ants in my marshmallow bag. That’s not a euphemism. My favorite ants mounted a retaliation attack, and this time they invaded my kitchen cupboards. I hate those little bastards so much. On the upside, it forced us to finally buy some extra shelves from IKEA to serve as a pantry. I don’t want to exaggerate, but these shelves are the single greatest invention of all time. I had no idea how much better life could be with adequate kitchen cabinet space. WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE TELL ME THIS. Amazing.

We also had fruit flies, which led to me getting my head stuck in fly paper, which led to dead flies and glue stuck in my hair for a week. So that was neat. And there are enormous spiders in our house. So I pretty much hate nature right now.

Blah blah but the main thing that has left me reeling is that my daughter started kindergarten on Monday. This? This just may be my demise. I can’t tell who is more exhausted – me or her.

There are a few areas of parenthood that come naturally to me. Like loving them. But there are a few areas of parenthood that are so challenging for me. Like feeding them. I have to dig deep – I mean reeaaallly deep – to plan and prepare meals. Packing a healthy lunch for her every day requires serious thought on my end. Not to mention the need to feed her a good breakfast AND dinner. And the wild card that I had totally forgotten about – AFTER SCHOOL SNACKS. She is starving every day when she gets home, probably because she eats lunch at 10:55. I was woefully underprepared for this (due in part to the fact that we threw out 95% of our food with the antpocalypse).

So this week has felt like all I have done is plan or prepare a meal. Why is that? It’s not like I wasn’t feeding my children before this. Or was I? I don’t know. I just hope this part gets easier.

I’m also really enjoying the boatloads of paperwork that the school sends home. I have  paperwork aversion issues. Somehow signing a simple form is really taxing for me. “Oh NO – do I need to write my phone number AND look up my insurance number? Me so tired. I’ll just set it aside and do it never later never.” I’ve already lost four forms I was supposed to return.

But the real humdinger came Wednesday – Day 3 – when my daughter peed her pants in the middle of class. She was holding it in, which is sort of her thing – wait until it’s an all out 911 emergency – and the dam broke in the middle of story time and she peed all over herself and the carpet. Of course I hadn’t sent any extra clothes, so she had to borrow clothes from the nurse. It was 90 degrees out, and they put her in a pair of thick boys’ sweatpants that were 3 sizes too big, and big black boy tennis shoes.

So help me, the look on her face when I picked her up was enough to shatter my heart into a million pieces. She walked right into my arms and gave me the saddest hug I’ve ever gotten. It was all I could do not to cry on the spot. Apparently other kids laughed at her when it happened, which is the worst thing to hear when your kid is adjusting to a whole new world. And I felt like a piece of shit mom for not thinking to put a change of clothes in her locker. Girlfriend was so sweaty and miserable in those big ugly boy clothes.

Gah the whole thing still bums me out hard, but fortunately I think she is recovering well. Unfortunately she told me exactly which four girls were being mean and laughing at her, so now they will forever be devil children in my eyes. Just kidding. Mostly.

I am exhausted and hoping next week is a tad easier. I do feel sort of studly now that I have a kid in ‘real’ school. It’s like moving up from the JV team to the Varsity squad (not that I would know). No more gallivanting off on spontaneous family getaways mid-week (not that we ever did this anyway). No more dropping her off or picking her up from preschool whenever I please. Now we have a legit commitment. A schedule to adhere to. Academic shackles that bind us. Lil homey haz to learn, yo!

So I guess what I’m wondering is, do I get some sort of letterman jacket for this accomplishment? A secret password to an exclusive parenting club? At least a participation ribbon??? Because I need something to keep me motivated. I’m not sure I have the chops for the big leagues. And I can only rely on my mom hair to fool people for so long. Peace out, Week 1.

Tick tock goes the alarm clock

Sweet Betty I am struggling to keep up with life as we round the bend toward the end of summer.

Kindergarten hasn’t even begun yet and I am already worn out by it. Seriously what the hell is up with school supplies? How is it possible that my child does NOT need pencils for school, but she DOES need paper plates, plastic baggies (two sizes) and baby wipes. Sounds more like a meth lab than a classroom. I bought the pencils anyway, because even a meth lab needs good writing utensils to track production and purchase orders. That’s how you buy drugs, right? Fill out a purchase order?

We went to a kindergarten kick-off play date the other night and I naively told the PTA president that I might be interested in joining. I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I think it might be my new Mom Hair.

Speaking of which, I gave my family the big middle finger and got another haircut tonight. That’s right, bishes. CUT IT MOAR. This version is actually shorter than the first one. So short, in fact, that my stylist had to shave my neck, which I swore I would never again allow. Bzzzz. My husband and daughter have both already made negative comments about it, so I think I’ll return tomorrow and get the sides shaved. Bzzzz. DO NOT PROVOKE ME.

I am actually looking forward to the structure and routine that kindergarten will bring to our lives. Don’t tell anyone, but for the past year and a half, I have not set my alarm clock. Not once. And it has been the greatest year of my life. Not just because of the alarm clock thing (although c’mon, that’s been rad). It’s been amazing to spend this time with my kids and just live life day by day.

I’ve discovered that I’m pretty good at living in the moment. When I had a crazy job with high demands, I often assumed I was a Type A personality. Because that’s what it takes to live that lifestyle. Go go go!

But as it turns out, I think I am more of a B-/C+ personality. I don’t really mind if I don’t shower. I enjoy wearing the same two outfits all week. No stress! I rarely have a plan for the day when I wake up. Many days I don’t even know what I’m making for dinner until 4:30. As my husband can attest, it shows.

I have been riding the wave and loving it, but I must admit that I’m ready for a bit more discipline in my life again. So I’ve been on an organizational bender, buying new calendars, storage bins, and alas – using my alarm clock again. I’m learning how to pack lunches (how many PB&J’s can a child eat in a week before she OD’s?) and heaven forbid, I even made a casserole earlier this week AND FROZE AN EXTRA ONE FOR LATER. BAM! Suck it, Martha.

I have no doubt that I will crash and burn by the end of Week 1 once school starts. But at least I’m going into with some momentum and a hairstyle that says, “My child is an honor student.” Or maybe, “I have 50 cats under my bed.” Whatever. I need to stop blogging now – only 6 hours until my alarm goes off!

I’ve got the kindergarten krazies

The other night I opened a letter from the school where my daughter will attend kindergarten in the fall. It had information about upcoming orientation meetings, as well as a list of supplies she needs to have for Day 1:

  • Color pencils/markers
  • Plastic pencil box
  • 1 B/W cover Composition Book
  • Box of 12 glue sticks and 4 oz glue bottles

And the list goes on. I felt like I was going to puke. How is it possible that my child is old enough for this? Where did the time go? And why the hell do they need so much glue??

I have so much anxiety about this kindergarten transition. If I’m being honest I think it’s part of the reason I haven’t been able to blog or finish any other task lately (remember when I said I’d write 5 posts in the past week? Such a failure.). I have been in the throes of the school enrollment process for months now, and I’m struggling to find peace with the fact that my daughter will attend a school that was not my first choice. But deep down I think I’m also just struggling to find peace with the fact that she’s going anywhere at all.

A big part of me is truly excited for my daughter. I know she is ready for something bigger than preschool, and I can imagine she will thrive in a new setting, with more academic challenges, more structure, and diverse social interactions.

But then there’s part of me that is fearing the worst. Will she fit in? Will she make friends? Will she scowl at everyone because she’s in a mood or uncomfortable and be mistaken for a bully? Or will she get bullied? Will she become friends with kids who teach her terrible things that I cannot undo?

Generally I’m a *relatively* laid back parent. I tend to go with my gut and don’t spend a ton of time researching parenting strategies and techniques. Call me old-fashioned (or uninformed and clueless).

But in the past week I’ve purchased four parenting books. FOUR. It’s like I suddenly feel a need to implement new parenting practices, fix all of my daughter’s behavior issues, equip her with the skills to avoid any and all real world dangers, and ensure a seamless transition for all of us.

I’ll also go ahead and solve the hunger crisis while I’m at it.

I know I need to chill the eff out. In part because I don’t want my daughter to sense my nervousness and start to freak out too. I am trying. Really. I have moments of clarity when I am calm, optimistic and ready for this new phase.

But then I drive past the school and start crying like a baby. Or I watch the news and hear another school-related disaster story, and start crying like a baby. Did it always seem so harrowing to send your kid off to school?!

I need to get my head into a place of acceptance and optimism, and stop letting my emotions get the best of me. Note to self: this was probably not the best time to start a new hormone-infused birth control pill. So. Much. Ugly. Crying.

So here’s to moving forward, clearing my head, getting some stuff done, enjoying the summer with my kids, and figuring out a way to freeze time so they will stop growing up and stay like this FOREVERANDEVERANDEVER.

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Ok fine, FINE. I’ll let go of the last one. Sheesh.

 

From one suck to another

Pardon my absence. I have been so busy making doll clothes that I haven’t had time to blog.

Not true. I actually haven’t touched the sewing machine since my last post.

But I have been in a weird funk, feeling kind of depressed, PMS-ish (but not), and unable to concentrate on anything. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t shake it. Then finally I read something on Baby Center yesterday that made me realize DUH – it’s probably because I am weaning my daughter.

Hormones! Yes, those evil devil toxins are once again ravaging my body and mind, leaving me in a foggy stupor. I totally forgot this can happen with weaning. On the upside, the end of breastfeeding means I can drink more coffee. On the downside, it means I have terrible coffee breath. Also saggy, lifeless, microscopic boobs. Seriously how unjust is it that you spend a year of your life feeding another human off your teet, and in return you get a rack that is smaller than the one you had in 8th grade? Pfff.

Anyway, hopefully this little misery spell will end soon enough. At this point I am only breastfeeding once a day at bedtime, and on only one side. Because the only thing better than tiny tits, is lopsided ones.

WHY am I talking about my tatas so much? Good grief. My apologies. Moving on.

The other thing that has been sucking the life out of me lately is kindergarten enrollment for my oldest daughter. Sweet mother why didn’t someone warn me about this?!

I’ve been to six school open houses. I’m pretty sure I OD’d. But I can’t believe all the factors there are to consider when choosing a school! And I’m not even looking at private options.

Do I want to put my kid at the school with an enrichment program? Or the one with a diverse student population? Or the crunchy alternative one with project-based learning? Or the school with a strong focus on art and music? Or the one with a beautiful building and all new computers and materials? Or the school with high test scores? Or the principal I really liked? Or the school where there is high parent involvement and a strong sense of community? Or the school that is K-8, which means my kids would be in the same school for longer? Of course it could also mean that my kindergartener may buy drugs from an 8th grader on the playground…

I could go on, but I won’t put you through that kind of torture.

So the last few weeks have entailed a series of conversations with my husband in which we ask ourselves – what can we supplement at home if she doesn’t get it at school? What are we OK sacrificing? What environment is best suited for our kid? And how the hell am I supposed to know that exactly?

I’m just hoping she gets into the school that focuses on the “whole child” approach to learning. This is an inside joke with myself because they ALL say this.

In the end I’m sure she will be fine no matter the outcome. None of the schools are terrible and we’re lucky to have options. I just wasn’t mentally prepared for how overwhelming the process can be.

But it has been an eye opener as to what lies ahead for us as we enter the world of public education. Homework! School lunches! The PTA! Dun dun DUNNNNN.

I cannot WAIT to audition for the PTA. I’m already working on the talent portion of my act. Thinking maybe a tap dance. Or a lap dance. Heyo! I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about at this point so I’ll just end this before it gets any worse.