Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday Six-Pack

It's 9 a.m., the birds are chirping, the coffee's brewing, and my kid is singing karaoke at the top of his lungs.  It's never too early for a six-pack, and especially when it's the cap to a much better week here, watching the grass grow.  After the drama of last week, this one was cake, and at the risk of speaking too soon and ruining the rest of the day, it was also a pretty good one. 

One:  The kid was still grounded from his escapades last week, but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  He survived seven whole days with no television or electronics, with the exception of twenty minutes doing IXL, a math practice website assigned for homework one night.  And while I'm still a big fan of television and I'm not getting radical by cutting the cords or scaling back the cable (perish the thought), it helped all of us realize exactly how much we rely on the damned thing--sometimes not even for entertainment, but just for noise.  Andrew rediscovered some toys he hadn't played with in eons, and the creative side of him was able to run rampant as he looked for things to do.  The box from my new vaccuum cleaner was a fort, a Star Wars planet, a kitty amusement park, and at one point, a television that Andrew climbed inside and presented a newscast from, from a script taped to the inside.  That's priceless, and I'm thankful that he was a total ass at school last week so I was able to get the reminder of just how creative and imaginative he is.

He's in there by choice.  This is not child abuse.
Two:  He didn't escape his punishment without some ramifications, though.  Behavior Experiment 7.5 has now begun, complete with a daily checklist of things that he is supposed to do, as well as things that he can choose to do in order to earn "points."  At the end of the day, those points turn into coupons, which he can either spend in small increments, or save for bigger rewards.  I'm pretty proud of myself with this one, because not only is it putting the choice for his behavior in his hands (I haven't raised my voice once this week), he also has to do some math to keep track of his points and decide how many he still needs to complete his day successfully, AND he has to wrap his brain around some economical concepts as he decides to spend or save.  (Patting myself on the back is difficult to do while typing.)  We'll see how it we all know, I'm great at starting things, but not so hot at finishing them, and continuity is going to be necessary here. 
The Checklist
Andrew helping with dinner, by choice.
Three:  We let Andrew out of his prison on Sunday, long enough to go with us to the high school musical production of Little Shop of Horrors.  I had been stuck in the house the whole weekend ending my week of funk, and I had been asked to attend by several former students who were in the production.  Going to extracurricular things in the community is sometimes really hard for me, for a lot of reasons, most of which just revolve around the fact that I hate dislike  have trouble relating to most people.  But we went, and the kids did a fantastic job.  As I watched, I realized that I had either taught or directed (in our middle school production) just about every single kid on the stage.  That realization helped me put one of my  current professional challenges into perspective (see Number 4).  It was also nice to see, once again, that the often goofy, awkward, struggling-to-find-a-place seventh grader turn into a self-assured, talented, and good kid.  The very shy "emo" girl who, in 7th grade, gave me a CD of her mind-numbing, ear-splitting song called "Drowning," had a solo and  rocked it.  The scrawny little kid with glasses and a hilarious sense of humor had a starring role, his first time on stage.  Others impressed me with their musical talent, their acting ability, and their professionalism.  Andrew enjoyed himself, which wasn't my goal, but I also like for him to see KIDS doing things like this and hope that one day he finds the courage to be involved, because I can tell he thinks about it.

Four: Our school drama production kicked off this week as well, a fact that I had been bemoaning for a while as I took care of choosing a play, ordering scripts, and getting all of my dramatic ducks in a row.  It's weird to me that I'm the drama sponsor and director of these plays, because the last place I'd be caught dead is on a stage, although there have been a few exceptions.  It's not in my nature to draw attention to myself, and that's all the kids involved WANT to do.  It's foreign to me.  But back when I started doing this, ten or so years ago, I had help from other teachers who were also friends of mine, so it was FUN.  For one reason or another, they've all moved on, and I'm still there doing it.  It's a headache, it's a hassle, it's a hell of a lot of time devoted, for which I'm not compensated, I might add.  It's also stress, because when I do something, I want to do it PERFECTLY, not for the audience's sake, but for me, my own worst critic.  So, I had actually entertained the thought of not doing it, of letting the tradition die, during this year of transition when so many other school traditions have gone by the wayside.  But I couldn't do it, because I know how these kids love it, and how many of them thrive and go from being kids who won't raise their hands in class to kids who are fearless onstage.  Seeing the musical confirmed that for me, and gave me some much-needed inspiration and motivation to put my all into it, because most of the kids will.  And I'm enjoying it so far--the first two rehearsals have been fun, and good, and once I get past the challenges of some kids who obviously struggle with reading and who whisper when they say their lines, it will all fall into place.  I've charged my 8th graders with being "team captains" who mentor the younger kids, and the ones who are scared to be on stage.  I'm hoping that the natural leadership of some of these older kids will lessen my burden a bit, but also give them more ownership, which is natural for kids in their third year of participating.  Will I still get tired and frustrated?  Will I still lose sleep in the weeks before the performances?  Absolutely.  But in the back of my head will be the fact that these kids NEED this, and that will make it all worthwhile.  (Note to self:  Come back and read this in three weeks when you're pulling your hair out because no one knows their lines.)

Five:  My dad's health continues to improve, and things are largely back to normal.  Had it not been, I likely would have HAD to remove myself from the play.  He still has some struggles with his eye, and he's doing his physical therapy a couple of times a week.  We're back to seeing him once or twice a week, for social reasons, not because we have to be there to take care of him.  He's resumed driving (which I'm not sure was cleared by the doctor, but oh well) and is taking care of his own responsbilities.  It's a relief, especially after the big scare that we had during his illness, and I know Andrew is buoyed each time he sees his grandpop make improvement and start acting more like himself.  As winter drifts away and spring approaches, I can tell that the thought of lake season returning is on Dad's mind, like when he texted me one night and said, "It's 6:00 and still light out!"  I know he wondered if he'd ever make it back to the lake, or to driving the boat or patrolling with the Coast Guard, and while he still has some ways to go before that happens, he's on his way.

Six:  We're ending the week with quite a bit of activity. School was cancelled yesterday because of icy roads, so we're already in bonus time.  Last night, we went to the high school basketball regional finals between my alma mater/THE high school and "our" rivals.  It was a good game, even though we lost, and the team still gets to move on to the first round of state competition.  This afternoon, we'll be going to the final JMU home game (insert sobbing here), which my dad and his girlfriend will attend with us.  I'm glad they're going with us, but I have tunnel vision at these games.  I don't want to talk to anyone, I don't want people sitting beside me...I just want to WATCH the game.  I'm already nervous about it messing with my game day mojo, and of having to take focus away from the senior night ceremony (insert more sobbing here), but on a plus side, my dad has a handicapped tag, which means we can park right outside the entrance.  Probably sounds like it's not a big deal, but it IS!  Anything that saves me from a long walk in the cold that makes my lungs hurt and from the steep flight of concrete stairs to the parking lot is a GIFT. 

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