school

Storms of All Kinds

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Things are strange here. Maybe it’s just us. Like during this Hurricane Florence, for instance. In my four decades of living in New York City and its suburbs, I remember exactly two hurricanes. One happened when I was in high school or at least on my way to it. Everybody got to school in the morning as usual but there were gates up when we arrived and administrators telling us to go back home. Then, about sixteen, seventeen years ago, I was walking home from my job at the limousine company in Long Island City and, while waiting for a light to change at a very busy intersection, I blew into the middle of Queens Boulevard. (Luckily I was able to fight my way back to the sidewalk and grab onto a telephone pole until the light changed.)

We had only been in North Carolina a couple of months when there was a tornado warning. I nonchalantly stopped in to a supermarket to pick up a few things.

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As I stood in the express check-out line, I took a gander at the shopping carts around me: Bottles and bottles. In fact, cases and cases of water. Piles of batteries of all shapes and sizes. I looked at my hand basket: Raisins and yogurt. My husband, Lloyd called my cell phone while I was standing there. He had desperation in his voice.

“Did you check out yet?!”

“No. I’m waiting to.”

“Thank Gd! We need salad dressing.”

“Oh yeah.” I said. “We’re prepared.”

While the North Carolinians went home, put their supplies away in case of emergency and went on with their lives, we arranged our babies on a blanket and all huddled together on the bathroom floor like we were waiting for an enemy attack in a scene from M.A.S.H. Lloyd and I looked at each other, faces against the tile and said simultaneously:

“It was your idea to move here. Look what you got me into.”

Another thing we haven’t quite gotten used to in the decade plus since we moved here: How, what and when places decide to close as a storm approaches. While schools, stores and medical facilities may have a more wait-and-see approach to impending weather, churches are always the first to bail. The hurricane could be two states away and there comes the announcement scrolling at the bottom of the screen on the six o’clock news: “All services canceled.” You always have to wonder: “Is all of that ‘faith’ talk of theirs bullshit or do they know something we don’t?”

And the schools don’t have districts like we were used to. So if you live in a huge county here and the roads are fine where you live, your kids may still be home from school for weeks because the county’s schools are all closed at the same time even if the road problem is an hour away from you.

Our kids go to a year-round school which everyone but us loves. That means they go to school for nine weeks and have three to five weeks off all year long. When the schools are closed because of weather, instead of lopping off one of their weeks off and using them as make-up days, they have them go to school on Saturdays. If the county goes through with their proposed plan, this Saturday would be the first time that my kids would be subjected to this weirdness. And they’re not taking it well.

“Saturday? Well at least you’re not going to make us go. Right? Right? We don’t have to go. Right? Right?”

But my husband and I couldn’t hear their pleas over our own gleeful thoughts:

“The kids will be at school all day on a Saturday?” Cue the organ at the hockey game: “Date! Date! Date! Date! Date! Date! Date! Date! Ta dum da dum… Charge!!”

Images wafted through our minds. The first was of us being cooped up the past five days and who knows how much longer with these people. (How have families ever spent years together in one room hiding from Nazis, guerrillas, drug cartels…? After five days in our five bedroom house, I’m about to run outside and offer myself to Florence as her love slave) The next images were more pleasant: Lloyd and me- fourteen years younger. He and I were at that innocent, carefree, age: forty. Okay, so it wasn’t our ages that made us as youthful as much as our children’s ages: “Not yet born.” I’ve mentioned often how Lloyd and I had met and married “later in life”. (I hate that expression. It sounds like we were introduced at a card table in the nursing home.) So we kind of hurried it up to get married and trying to start a family. In fact, we got engaged seven months after we first met and married three months later. We are pretty lovey-dovey in general (much to my kids’ dismay), but I can’t help thinking that we long for dates in part because we’ve never given up on trying to have those dates we never had when we were dating. So in answer to my kids’ question an hour ago: “Damn right you have to go to school on Saturday. Those are make-up days! For us anyway. You’ll probably just be sitting there doing nothing for seven hours but oh well… And take the bus home, will ya? And remember to bring your key. Just in case…”

Thanks a lot for stopping by for my buffoonery! Please consider signing up for my newsletter at the bottom of the home page and perusing one of my books under well, "books". They are designed to de-stress during some of life's most anxiety-producing moments. Please always remember: Laughing IS Conceivable... And Humor Heals.  

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First Day of School Blues in the Fifth Week of School

First day of school: It's so hard for any kid. Monday morning was a very hard morning for all of us... The only thing I don't get-- Yes, it was the first day of school, but not for my kids. Their school started a month ago.

So why then, this Monday morning of all mornings, did one child sit on the steps for a half hour crying and making that repetitive droning sound like he's doing an impression of my vacuum cleaner (and a very good impression, I might add) because he didn't know what to wear, while another refused to brush her hair saying she had no idea where her brush was? Of course, the third child was well-behaved. There always has to be a well-behaved child if only to show-up the others. It's never the same child by-the-way. Just like a pitcher can't pitch two days in a row. Each child needs a day or two off to rest from being well-behaved. It's a rotation. They take turns being "Kiss-ass for a day".

On this particular Monday, however, I did have a third misbehaved child played beautifully by my husband who chased the brushless girl around the living room with scissors threatening to give her a haircut should her brush not magically appear in the next thirty seconds. And I sensed by the venom in his eyes that he wasn't planning to deep-condition or blow dry like the salon does... or even let her sit in a chair. Even Great Clips lets you sit in a chair. No, he clearly was fantasizing about hoisting this eleven year old off the floor by her raggedy locks and dangling her over the couch so she and her new bob would have a soft place to land.

I still can't figure out why my kids were so miserable on other kids' first day of school. Wait. I got it. You know how guys sometimes have sympathy pains when their spouse is pregnant? They start craving things and get heart burn? Maybe it's like that. Maybe my kids (and husband) are so compassionate and sensitive towards others... okay, forget it. I can't even type the whole thing in good conscience.

In fact, come to think of it, everyone didn't turn back into their normal jovial selves until we'd arrived at the bus stop and my husband proposed a new game:

"Of all the kids you know who are starting middle school today, who do you think will get their ass kicked first?

"Sammy The-Know-It-All" got voted number one unanimously. What this kid lacks in intelligence he makes up for in obnoxiousness.

Teacher: "Who can name all 7 continents?"

Sammy: "Asia, North America, Europe... oh and Fun Fact!: Mrs. Stern, I bet you didn't know that Antarctica was originally...."

Let's face it: Any 11 year old who readily blurts out: "Fun Fact!" is a prime candidate for an ass-whoopin'. And you can almost guarantee that when they have Meet-the-Teachers, Sammy's parent will be the first to correct the teacher, typically on something that couldn't possibly matter less.

Teacher: "And when the kids finish lunch at 1:25..."

Parent: "Don't they have lunch only until 1:23? I believe they're already lined up by 1:25."

In my experience: The apple usually doesn't fall far from the know-it-all tree.

 

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Laughing IS Conceivable: From End of School to Back-to-School. (I love my kids. I love my kids. I LOVE MY KIDS!")

 

 

School Bus-ted Yet Again... (Part 2)

If you read part 1, you know that school started for my kids three weeks ago and that thus far their "regular"school bus driver was present and accounted for precisely five of those fifteen school days, having taken a smattering of days off, culminating in a full blown week-long scheduled vacation. This leaves me wondering whether announcing that she was our "regular" school bus driver wasn't referring to her bowel habits and not her work habits.

So today she was back from her vacation. Well, maybe she was. She didn't come back to work though. Is she coming back or isn't she? Did she flee to destinations unknown? I have no idea if school bus drivers have many advancement opportunities but I didn't think they had any embezzlement opportunities.

Meanwhile in her absence, my kids' bus route has had various revolving school bus drivers.

Since I stand like a tree stump blocking the roadway while my children cross over to the door side, I can't really describe the different school bus drivers, but I know they're different. It's not that I can see their faces or anything. I'm both quite short and quite near-sighted. But I know that there have been at least four different drivers. Call it my intense Murder She Wrote  and Columbo training, but I've become quite adept at discerning which left arm I see dangling out of that little school bus driver's window. In those scant three weeks, I have already assessed skin tone, tautness... These are my findings:

All of the arms are female. Two are in their mid-thirties. One is in its late forties. Three appear to be Caucasian limbs. One seems to be African American. One has a tattoo of a rose. One does bicep curls. The others do not. And if any of these women injects Heroin, it's not into her left arm.

Hopefully it will never come to that, but I feel I'd be a competent witness in a police line-up: "Could you have #3 roll up her sleeve please? The other one."

All of the school bus drivers do hand signals to my kids designed to tell them when it's safe to cross. I can do the alphabet in American Sign Language. I know all of the official baseball signs; I know all of the official football signs; and I had a bad case of road rage in NYC that lasted thirty years. But I have no idea what the hell these bus shadow puppet signs are supposed to mean. And more important... neither do my kids.

My kids have been instructed that despite the flashing red lights, the flung out stop sign and their mother barricading the roadway with her body, they are to look up to the school bus driver, awaiting her signs that it is safe to cross. So every day, they step off the bus and look up. Okay, she gave the "stop" sign. Okay, that one's clear. Now it gets sketchy. "Thumbs up". Okay, they're good to go. They start to move forward. Wait. No. The stop sign hand goes up again. (Is this woman even directing them or is she just singing along to a Supremes song on the radio?)

"Thumbs up" apparently wasn't the "Okay to move" sign after all. So my kids rock back into their original positions. This is lovely. Traffic is backed-up three blocks deep. I'm standing in the middle of the street facing oncoming traffic- my headlights playing chicken with their headlights- and there are my kids stutter-stepping and rocking back and forth. One looks like he's doing the cha-cha, one looks like a hobby horse, and the other ran up the back of both of them like it's a Three Stooges routine.

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Join me next week for more on the Bus STOP! saga. If you've enjoyed this post, I know you'll really like my latest little eBook: Laughing IS Conceivable: From End  of School to Back-to-School (I love my kids. I love my kids. I LOVE MY KIDS!). Available on all Amazons & Free at the Kindle Library.

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Middle School Prep- Triplets Style

My triplets already started middle school this week. I know every parent would be tempted to follow that statement with: "My babies are getting so big!" Or... "Where does the time go?" but I'm not surprised that my kids just turned eleven or already graduated from elementary school. This middle school thing is just another blur to me which is a small part of a much bigger blur that began somewhere around 2005 when I first got pregnant. The night before school started-- middle school eve, erev middle school-- each of my kids prepped for the big first day in his or her own inimitable style:

Carly called all her friends whom she knew were going to be attending that school to find out what they would be wearing and to compare schedules. A half hour-long conversation with each ensued as follows: "Who do you have for home room? 1st period? 2nd period? 3rd period? 4th period? 5th period? 6th period? Are you taking the bus home? What bus are you on? Which stop?"

Jacob called his friend Michael. I walked into the room about a minute after he'd asked permission to call him. As he put the phone down, I inquired:

"He wasn't home?"

"He was home. We're done."

"Is he in any of your classes?"

"I don't know. I forgot to ask."

Hayley's middle school eve prep consisted of studying human behavior in the technology age, aka watching a Catfish marathon on MTV.

They each then packed their backpack. The teachers were very good about providing us with a list of supplies to be brought in the first day. Nobody offered any suggestions however on how a sixty pound child was going to hoist a seventy pound backpack up on their shoulders and schlep it around all day. Apparently every year when sixth graders are faced with the challenge of mastering a combination lock, they collectively go catatonic and stroke out in the first week of school. So this year, the school decided to avoid the overwhelm of the locker trauma the first week and save the whole debacle for a future week. So in the meantime, I have my three Quasimodos stalking the hallways looking like they've been sentenced to a week of hard labor.

All of my kids were very concerned about getting lost in this new, cavernous school. The school provided a map of the floor plan. Jacob's excellent with maps so he happily grabbed one and followed it meticulously on the first day like he was on a treasure hunt.

Carly wasn't leaving anything to chance. She practiced over and over in our house. "I go out here, then I make a left, then another left, then I cross the hallway..." creating landmarks to remember along the way. (Hopefully the school has a hall closet and a stain on their living room carpet. Otherwise, I fear she's screwed.)  Once she mastered the actual locations of everything necessary on the map, she practiced walking around to get the pace of her gait just right to ensure that her hair would rhythmically move to and fro in the breeze she'd created behind her. I didn't dare mention that it would be harder to get her speedometer up to 12 miles per hour with 200 other kids in the hallway.

The only chance Hayley had of knowing her way around was if the principal was cyber-dating someone on Tinder and MTV had a camera crew inside the school to interview him.

A few weeks ago, before school started, the school had a boot camp to show the kids what to expect and to meet the teachers. Then the week before school started, they had an open house to get them even more acquainted. Then they gave them maps of the floor plan and they'll do a locker clinic. I don't know. When I was in Junior High, there was no prep. The front doors opened the first day and everyone poured through them and tried to get to their classes without getting trampled. I do remember getting some support. I didn't know which way to go to get to my locker. The guy mopping the floor pointed it out.

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Back-to- Year Round What? When? Now?

Back-to-School time always sneaks up on me. If you've read previous posts, you'll know that I'm typically between two weeks and eight years behind on everything. And this "policy" of mine, for lack of a better term, doesn't discriminate: It applies equally to doing the laundry as it does to filling out camp registration forms to putting sunscreen on my children. But this year, turning around and finding that back-to-school time has sneaked up on me and smacked me in the ass isn't really just because of my "policy".  Do they have year-round schools where you live? I've never quite gotten the hang of those. And I'd better get the hang soon... because my kids will be starting one in two weeks.

I've been avoiding this whole year-round school thing like the plague. If you're totally unfamiliar with it, you probably still understand it twice as well as I do. Basically, the kids go to school for about nine weeks, then have three weeks off... all year long. So if you want to go to Maui in the off-season, you're great. If you take an annual trip to your grandmother's in Cleveland in the summer, you're screwed. It took us a good three years to find a summer camp for our kids that would be for all of them, all three of them, all at the same time, for the whole summer... all of it. Now, we're going to have to figure out what to do with them every nine weeks. What can I do with them that doesn't cost a fortune? Let's see. How many card games do I know? Maybe I could learn magic. Naaaa... I don't have to entertain them every minute. That's what the tablets and TV are for.

As if the whole year-round calendar idea wasn't confusing enough, there are four different tracks. So you could have one kid in elementary school who's on track 1 and gets out of school next week and doesn't start again until September. Then you have a kid in middle school on track 3, who goes back tomorrow and one in high school who went back two weeks ago.

I heard on the local news that there are some kids here who graduated last Friday and then started their new school this Monday. I'm not kidding. So you're like an elementary school kid on Friday and a middle schooler on Monday. Hurry up. There's not much time. Better get that puberty thing over-with on the weekend. That and learning to open a combination lock. It's like the school system is run by a soap opera writer. Monday the woman's pregnant; Wednesday she has the baby; Friday it's in third grade.

Back when my kids started elementary school, we switched them to a traditional calendar school because there was no guarantee that even all three kids-- triplets mind you-- all in the same school mind you--all in the same grade (at the moment anyway) mind you-- would be on the same track. I could see me dealing with that.

"Look, Ms. Principal, I know one of my kids is supposed to come back to school today. I just don't remember which one. Here, this one's been the most annoying the past couple of days. Just take her."

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If you'd like more laughs at your children's expense (or at least my children's expense), please sign on to my bimonthly Laughing IS Conceivable newsletter and/or take a look at the new edition of my little, fun summer-reading eBook- For parents right now, in that 4th season of the year...

Laughing IS Conceivable: From End of School to Back-to-School (I love my kids. I love my kids. I LOVE MY KIDS!)

 

It's all about that 4th season of the year that only parents of school-aged children have: When one school year ends and the other is about to begin... Camps vs keeping them busy all summer loooooong with lame local festivals or bowling or pools. And then, before we know it, we're thrown into the whole back-to-school melee of back-to-school lists, supplies, shoe shopping, clothes shopping, doctor appointments, haircuts.... & then carpool vs bus & new teachers with that new teacher smell.

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(available on all Amazons & Nook)