I have a lot of Arnett in me, but then there is that streak of Haws that feels occasionally compelled to offer the middle finger and of course curse just a ittle bit to keep from being translated. I have never used the F word in my life and I don't plan to. In my mind there is a hierarchy of bad words and I leave the top tier untouched. Not because of any intense moral philosophy, I just want to leave a space so that if the day comes that I am so provoked that I need to go there, I have somewhere to go. I have let my husband know in no uncertain terms that if he ever hears me use the F word, he better hide becasue that wil signify that I am literally madder than I have ever been in my entire physical existance.
The lower tier words happen to be some of my favorites. I have no problem with damn and hell and every now and then I can think of no other way to respond to something than with a simple "bullshit.".
Take tonight for instance. Jack has his best friend staying the night which is a big deal because I never allow sleepovers. They caught me in a moment of weakness (and forgetfulness) and begged to have a sleepover. Why not? tomorrow is Saturday. They havent gotten to hang out much lately. I gave in. So I made both of them solemnly swear on their eight year old lives that they would be in bed by ten and asleep by ten thirty and if they werent asleep they would at least be laying in bed in total silence. I considered putting it in writing but settled for verbal commitments.
Its 11:30 right now and I can still hear them up there screwing around and giggling. They didnt get into the bedroom until 10:30 and even though I made them each repeat their previous promise, its just too tempting for them to talk. So they had been up there laughing and horsing around for five minutes and I hear them come out of the room. In my scariest voice I holler up there " What are you two doing out of bed. I will lock you in seperate rooms if I hear another peep."
And then Isaac says (and he isnt joking, he is actually thinking that this is a believable statement) " I am asleep. I am sleep walking and sleep talking."
This is when I scan my brain for an appropriate response and literally the only thing my entire vocabulary can produce is one word. "BULLSHIT."
Of course this frightened them both severely which was exactly the response I was hoping for and they both knew that screwing with me tonight was not an option. So of course my use of bad language is reinforced and I am all the more likely to cuss the kids out again in the future.
The thing is, I don't know any other moms that ever slip and swear at their kids. I dont know if everyone does it occasionally and I am just not witnessing it or if I am in a separate trashy class of mother that my peers are just not stooping to. I would love to see some actual statistics on the matter except that I don't think people would accurately report.
Jack goes to a Charter school this year called American Leadership Academy. I never thought I'd be the charter school type but they were brand new this year three minutes from our house and I was sucked in by the right wing pro American philosophy and the fact that they wear uniforms and I had fantasies about not having to pick out clothes. I am fully aware that the claims they make about superior curriculums and superior teachers is total well, bullshit (there I go again) but there is definitely something to be said for having your kid in a school where he interacts only with other children who's parents give a crap enough about their education to bother with the charter schools. The Public School is fine except that it tends to be the default for poor families, indifferent parents and kids who do horrible things like say bad words. They run a tight ship at this school. It starts at 8:00 am which absolutely sucks but the disciplined structure they provide is exactly the thing Jack is cut out for. He loves rules. He loves uniforms. He loves to know the boundaries and who is in charge and what the chain of command is. Does this sound like anyone you know? If you have ever met my husband then you know the answer to that question. He is not a cop because of some wild coincidence. he loves rules and uniforms and boundaries and the chain of command. This is why he was in the Army, and this is why he was in the marching band and this is why he was a golden convert to the church and this is why my house is littered with things like helmets and flow charts.
So going from a school that started at glorious 9:30 to a school that starts at grueling 8:00 has been a challenge. Its not so bad now but in the dead of winter we were out the door before the sun was up and it just felt wrong to wake my kid up from a deep sleep and cattle prod him into his uniform every day.
Needless to say, We have been tardy on more than one occasion. When he is tardy I have to walk into the office with him and sign him in so he can get a pass. On the sign in sheet is asks for the name, teacher, date, time and reason. Really? They want a reason why we are here at 8:05 instead of 8:00. All of the parent's entries before mine always just write "late" and so I followed suit but it always struch me as odd to answer the question "Why are you late?" with the word "late". So I decided I would start being honest. I wrote "because child's mother is a slacker". A few weeks later he was late again and I wrote "Child has a bad attitude". Sometimes I write one word answers like "sloth" or "underachievers" and some times I expound a little. "Laundry crisis" or "fellow drivers unaware that the gas pedal is on the right". I like to fantasize that the office ladies look forward to my hilarious excuses and therefore look forward to Jacks tardiness, but it has become painfully obvious that they unanimously have taken all of my statements at face value and decided that I am a bit of a loser. The other moms I know who volunteer in the office look forward to my entries as the funnest part of the whole painful volunteering experience but the staff… not so much.
Heres the other issue that I tend to land on the wrong side of in relation to ALA. I have an almost religious conviction that homework is… how should I put this… well, bullshit. Lets be real. It is really more a chore for the parent than it is for the child and in our home it always involves weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. And can I really blame him for not wanting to do the stupid skill drill and kill busy work after an eight hour day of doing skill drill and kill busywork in the classroom? no. My kid is home. Can I please have him now? Can he please be a kid for an hour or two an then can we be a family? Dont get me wrong, If my kid isn't passing the tests given in class or if he is not performing up to grade level in a subject, by all means he need to work on it and get his skills up and in that case, send the rap home and we will work on it until the kid is up to par. But thats not why they give homework. I can see the lesson in having a child do something diligently every single day weather you like it or not because that is what real life demands, but I am so sick of the daily stack of mindless busywork that he has already mastered and proven mastery of in class that becomes my job to crack the whip on.
Occasionally I get emails telling me that Jack has missing homework assignments and therefore his grade is suffering. My response is always the same: "Can he actually perform the skills required in the missing homework assignments? Is he up to grade level when he does the work in class? Is he passing the tests? If homework wasnt factored into the grade what would he get on the report card? Because guess what. I dont give a crap about anything else. I know for a fact that he is one of the smartest kids in the class in literally every single subject and that he has absolutely no problem performing any of the skills that he has been taught. So we will definitely take the homework into consideration and do our best to get it all in, but in case we don't, you can take your Xerox machine and shove it. Of course I don't tell this to Jack, but I know that my absolute disregard for his homework grade has done nothing for my slacker reputation. The thing is, It has nothing to do with laziness. I have researched this and read everything I can find on the subject and I am convinced based on hard facts. Also, Im fairly certain that when Jack is applying to Universities, his second grade homework score will not come up. They love to act like its life or death. Heres a news flash. He doesn't even get what a C means. He is not motivated by the letter A. He has no context for such a system and his report card provides literally NO MOTIVATION WHATSOEVER. AND I AM FINE WITH THAT BECAUSE HE IS SEVEN. Call me when he is accountable for sins. The funny thing is that every single staff member in that school would know what that means because the place is 99% LDS.
Other than the fact that they are a tad retentive, I love the place. Sure they will give a kid detention if he shows up without a belt (yeah, I look forward to the day they attempt that one on my kid. There might be a certain B word that they get to hear from me) But Jack is thriving and he loves school and he has a truly fabulous teacher. Every single teacher raves that he is the best behaved kid in class and he has never broken a rule or stepped out of line in any way. Then I got this email from his Spanish teacher saying that he has a 100.00% score, he has never missed a question or an assignment and he participates and is a joy to teach and he is ranked Number 1 among all the second graders in the school. This was the first time I was even made aware that he takes Spanish. Who knew? Same thing in Music and Art.
In other Jack news, he has his first official crush on a girl. I don't fully understand the dynamics of a seven year old crush, because I am pretty sure that hormones are uninvolved and he has always seemed totally indifferent to girls, but this week he wrote a love note that said " I like you. Will you be my Valentine?" he didn't put his name on it but rather signed it "Secret Kid" but he covered it in meticulously drawn hearts and sealed in in an envelope. The whole thing is pretty obviously consuming a lot of his emotional energy. To understand I turned to the man from whence this strange child came. Of course John's entire childhood is one crush after another and he had a long history of love notes and embarrassing declarations of love. The two of them are once again a perfect match with their hearts on their sleeves and their puppy love. I will say that he chose an adorable girl and I hope his taste stays so impeccable when it comes to girls in the future.