Dad got home late last night. Walking into the kitchen I noticed his suitcase by the door, meaning he must have come in after I’d gone to bed. My blah mood instantly evaporates knowing he’s back. The apartment already feels more sparkly with his return. I probably won’t see him until dinner, if then, since he and mom don’t surface for awhile if they’ve been apart for a few days. I guess I should be glad my parents have a good relationship, although today I wish I had a best friend’s house I could hang out at. I feel like I am intruding on their space. Thinking about finding an excuse not to go home right away after school I remember I have snails to look forward to.
Today is “A” day. I like them better than “B” days. Our school is on the block system which means my eight classes are split between two days. One set of four is on one day and the other set on the other day. My middle school worked on the traditional system with the same classes everyday. Classes there lasted about an hour. Sometimes I got tired of seeing the same faces everyday. I have to admit everyday classes made it easier to be organized though. I knew with certainty I had math second period every day. I did not put off homework knowing the due date loomed the very next day.
Block schedule confused me horribly at first. I have two classes then lunch on “A” days and then two afternoon classes. On “B” days I have three classes then lunch and one more class afterwards. My stomach doesn’t understand the different schedules and my whole body felt drained after the first week of school, like I was in training or something.
Figuring out homework wasn’t easy either. At my other school the teacher would assign homework and we would do it that night and turn it in the next day. With block, you are given homework on Monday, but won’t t be turning it in until Wednesday, so it is easy to think you don’t have to do it right away. The problem is that the next day is a whole new set of classes with more homework demands and demands can be ignored because it’s easy to say “Hey, this isn’t due until Thursday,” then you will remember Monday’s homework needs to be done.
It’s like that Greek story where the guy is always rolling the stone up the hill only to reach the top and have it roll down and he has to roll it back up again. It’s really a mess when there is no school for a couple of days. Like this week. There will be no school on Thursday and Friday because it’s parent teacher conferences and they give teachers the day off on Friday. The calendar claims Friday is a professional work day. I don’t see any teacher cars in the parking lot on Friday. So, are all the teachers at home tele-commuting on that day?
My parents attend parent teacher conferences only rarely. Around fourth grade they stopped going to them. It’s not because they are disinterested in what’s going on at school. I think some of it has to do with them not always being together at the same time and Mom doesn’t like to go if Dad isn’t there because she doesn’t want to have to relay the information to him thinking she might get it wrong and create a situation that could of have been avoided if he only rearranged his schedule to be part of his daughter’s life. This is a fair paraphrase of a conversation I once overheard between them. Dad doesn’t go because he asked me once, “Do I need to go?“ And I answered, “I don’t see the point of them.“ That was good enough for him. So, they stopped going.
Part of me was relieved when they stopped attending PTCs, partially because when I was younger I would have to go with them since they didn’t ever hire babysitters. I will momentarily digress about babysitters, or the lack of ever really having had one. One reason I never had babysitters is because Mom doesn’t usually have a large network of nearby friends to ask of favors. Her friends tend to be the “there not here” kind. She has what I call her address book friends, meaning they are scattered all over the place. From the little I know of babysitters I don’t think I missed much. This year my parents broke their precedence and decided to attend my PTC. They wanted me along to show them my school and for some reason thought I HAD to be there. Who invented parent teacher conferences, anyway? The decision-making process certainly didn’t involve the child.
I loathe PTCs. It’s awful to have three adults talk as if I am not there. I sit in plain view, right at the table, listening to statements from the teacher like: “She’s one of my quiet ones. I wish she would participate more.” Or then there is: “She turns most of her assignments in on time, but she doesn‘t say much in class.” Hello, I’m right here. Talk to me. Maybe I don’t want to participate. Maybe I don’t want to get into the verbal show off show downs. These consist of the predictable five kids who ALWAYS have something to say. That doesn’t mean what they say is worthwhile. I don’t feel like being lumped into that group of word-wasters. Why not a nod in my favor if I don’t create problems in class or that I do turn in my work on time? Why the stress on not being an active participant?
After hearing how I don’t talk or participate much my parents feel obligated to respond. My mom will usually say with a tsk and a shake of her head: “She’s always kept to herself.” Dad adds in something ridiculously cheesy like: “We check in on her now and then to make sure she hasn’t run away and joined the circus.” My dad will laugh at his joke. He might rate a polite chuckle from the teacher. No one notices my eye roll or inward yelp of embarrassment. Mom will finish the PTC with: “We think she could do more too. We think she is a very bright little girl.” That was the last PTC–somewhere around third grade.
This was before I was found hugging the side of the school building trying to disappear at recess so I wouldn’t be teased by those Cro-Magnon boys and Scarecrow girls. “Wormie, Wormie. Crawl out of any good books lately?” they would tease. I read to escape the fact I didn’t make friends easily. Also, I simply liked to read. That seemed to offend most of my classmates. I wasn’t good at sports. I will not retell my horrible experiences of PE sessions of kickball or Red Rover.
Why tease someone about reading? Why not be admired for liking books? I guess when the Olympics gives out a gold medal for books read or when people revere authors like they do actors or athletes there will be a change in society attitude. For the year I was at that elementary school I was “Wormie.” I still like to read, despite the recess posse who tried to ruin my life, I didn’t develop an aversion to books. I did become more quiet though. I think “retreated into the security of her own domain” would be how psychobabblists might phrase that phase.
Flash up to seventh grade. An arranged parent teacher conference. The kind where the teacher calls up the parent and says, “I have some concerns about your student.” This causes undue stress and apprehension for the parent and child alike. This particular meeting involved my test scores, the mandatory state test to see if students are actually learning anything while stuck in classes. My test results indicated I was much smarter than my grades indicated. The teacher thought my parents should know I wasn’t working to my potential. Hmm, like that is a newsflash. My parents relayed that message to me and after one of their closed-door sessions inform me, “We think you would benefit from concentrating on your studies.“ For my eighth grade year I stayed home and became enrolled into one of those internet schools.
Some kids might have hated being home all the time, missing out on lunch, social drama and such. Not me. I really liked homeschooling. I could do math in my pajamas. I could work on history before I worked on English or the other way around. I felt I was in charge for once. No taunting from classmates. No agonizing cafeteria ordeals everyday. No feeling like I was worthless because I couldn’t hit the volleyball straight in PE. I also loved doing my schoolwork in my pajamas and doing my assignments whenever it suited my mood. My educational bubble bliss burst one night. I overheard my parents talking in the living room.
“She never leaves the apartment. She doesn’t know how to socialize at all. Shouldn’t she have friends?”
Shouldn’t she have friends? Probably. Hello, parents. Don’t you want to take a little of your daughter’s anti-socialness on at all? I mean it’s kind of hard to make friends if you think they will be taken away from you.
I remember in second grade, when we actually lived in one place for two years, I made friends with Deborah. I loved to roll out the three syllables of her name. Deb-o-rah. Never Debbie. Not Deb. Always Deborah. Her name was bigger than she was. Deborah. Pretty like a store-bought doll with her big blue eyes, brown hair curly hair with auburn highlights that she kept under control with headbands, and her little kitten teeth smile. She was perfect and she was my friend. We shared secrets at recess. At her house we played with her collection of dolls (she had two very doting grandfathers, who sent her a doll every birthday and Christmas), and we played dress-up, pretending to be women with no worries and lots of servants. We each had about five servants when we played our dress-up games. Sometimes we claimed six servants. We would be best friends for always. That was the plan. Then my parents moved. Mom didn’t like how much it rained and we moved across the state to a drier climate.
I left Deborah behind and decided it hurt so much to love someone like a sister and then not see her ever again I would not become close to anybody anymore. Not ever. Instead of resenting my parents like I could have, I realized my parents would always be there, no matter how often we moved, and when it became more and more difficult to make new friends as I got older, I could count on my parents to fill in the gaps. Mom didn’t do much in the way of dress-up, but she would take a break from her catalog copy work and we would share a book series together. My favorite book share was Anne of Green Gables. We celebrated the end of the series by watching the movies. I guess I liked Mom more then because she seemed to take time to spend time with me during that year of homeschooling. We connected more that year than this year.
Dad did his part with the shop walks we did together. We would have coffeshop dates, he drinking coffee and me hot chocolate. Together we discovered interesting stores to browse through, or find squirrels or pigeons to feed. I don’t think my parents understand how much I miss hanging out with them. I think they think I need to spend more time with people my age. Another one of those conversations I probably shouldn’t have listened to. Hello public school once again. It’s not like a person can instantly make friends at school. At least I don’t.
After moving away from Deborah I learned to stay hidden behind my walls of no friend policy. Now, whenever we move I try to avoid that horrible don’t-know-anybody period by going to the library or used bookstores. Books can be the best friends in the world. I can find them waiting for me on a shelf no matter where we move to. I’m comfortable enough exploring our new surroundings on my own. The excursion walks help bridge those odd readjustment times. When Dad is around he makes a point of exploring with me. He’s good company. Dad is always on the lookout to find that perfect cup of coffee. The coffeeshop also has to serve the perfect cup of cocoa to pass muster. These would be Dad’s words. When I was little I thought he was saying “Pass Mustard.” I thought it odd, since I never saw any mustard or ketchup bottles in the coffeshops we visited.
Okay, word count break. Toolbar. Click word count. “Incredible” is one reaction: today makes over 22,000 words. It’s a little daunting that I’ve gotten almost halfway there. This means it’s scary time. This is about the time I quit. I will start to get close, it’s looking like I could succeed, maybe even accomplish something, and then “That’s it. I’m done” sets in. The trumpet goes in the case. The exercise routine stops. The beading project gets put away. The poetry notebook will languish under my bed. The scarf remains forever trapped in its crochet hooks. If I wanted to really get self-reflective I would say I have a fear of accomplishment. I don’t want to go there. And there is the cold, cold truth I haven’t even begun writing my novel. Words, only words, come tripping and tapping out. It’s like I have a bad care of logorrhea, which is a vocabulary word meaning “excessive talkativeness.“ In other words, someone who has diarrhea of the mouth, except in my case it’s diarrhea of the keyboard. Is writing about my life a novel? Doubtful. Where’s a novel idea when you need one? Hah. I think that was a pretty good pun.
I need some inspiration. Maybe I will Google inspiration and see what I find.
- 3 Most Common Mistakes: Parent-teacher conferences. Babble.com | Babble (babble.com)
- Push Day (cricketmuse.wordpress.com)
- Making the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences (heathergillum.wordpress.com)