Someone recently told me that I'm not writing enough about my kids anymore. Yeah, so, about that ... two words: Middle School, and one more: Dash.
When I think back to 6th grade, it was the last grade of elementary school where I lived, not the first year of junior high (which, where I live now, is called middle school). So it wasn't a big deal, except for me, because my parents sent me to a Catholic school across the river that year. It's not that I'd been rotten or anything; my siblings were in school there, and it was an opportunity to be in a different social situation. It was also an opportunity to eat the world's best grilled cheese and tomato soup on Fridays as well as an opportunity to realize how very un-holy nuns can be. (I know, God strike me down for saying that, but, really, they actually did rap knuckles, including mine, once, for taking out my retainer without permission.)
So, anyway, besides my being in a different school whose motto was "grilled cheese with a side of corporal punishment and Eric spitting out the sacrament and learning what a visit from the holy spirit really meant" ... 6th grade wasn't such a big deal.
But now, Petunia has started middle school, at a new school -- at a new all-girls, seriously academic school -- and whooo-eee, do I miss Sister Mary Beatyoulikeadrum, 'cause that was easier to deal with than this homework. And sports schedule. And "Mom can I study in the library 'cause I want to be gone from 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. everyday" schedule.
Petunia is happier than she's ever been in her life. She's working harder, and I actually heard her say the words, "I don't know why, but I'm actually excited to do my homework tonight!" last Thursday. There must be something in the water at that magical school, or maybe that's the place on which Hogwarts is based. Anyhoo, she's happy, she's working hard, and she's gone. G-o-n-e. When she is home, she's working, and if we squeeze in an hour of family time each day during the week, we're lucky. It is what it is. She's growing up, quite well, and she even has a weekly grilled cheese and tomato soup lunch without the side of yardstick across her knuckles. Girl doesn't even know how lucky she is.
As for that other kid, the dementor Dash, there is First Grade. He has the teacher he hoped for, declaring her "the nicest." But he pretty much hates it. He's reading Harry Potter at home; he has no patience for Chrysanthemum. He does not feel he needs to write, or write neatly, because, as Petunia has shown, in 6th grade, he'll have a laptop. So who cares about his stupid penmanship? He's going to be an archaeologist someday and needs to know hieroglyphics. What is the point of first grade, anyway? He's not thrilled to be there, and he's also not eating his lunch, again. Since the school day is longer than it was in kindergarten, when he could eat a Luna bar and be content, this is a big deal. It is an even bigger deal because some little asshole girl told him that Luna bars are made from luna moths, so he's been eating bugs for a year. Since he can't take almond butter with honey -- total peanut and tree nut ban in effect -- he's been experimenting with starvation. One day, he'll eat a cheese roll; the next day, he'll declare the same thing inedible. Then he'll eat plain ravioli; the next day, nothing. It's a stop-and-start experiment that is failing. On the "nothing" days, he comes home angry. As I sit him atop the kitchen counter, forcing him to remain there until he's eaten a healthy mini-meal, he screams things at me like, "Mom, you're ruining my happy life," or worse, "I won't starve to death, and I'll prove it." (Oh, but he will. He is the kid who would rather starve than eat, and we're sooooo not going there.) After he finally does give in to ingesting a modicum of food, twenty minutes later, he finds me (usually curled up in a ball in my closet hiding from his fury) and apologizes. "Must've been hungry," he says, as he hugs me. "Love you mom."
So, the thing about parenthood, is that it's hard. In times like these, it's hard to write about. To my friends who have not yet entered preadolescence, to my friends who don't have a child with an eating disorder (which is what it is), they don't get it. I get useless advice like "just make him eat." Or "have you tried...?" which sometimes leads to a great suggestion but, usually, is just someone trying to prove me wrong -- that, actually, my child does eat enough to live, even if it's only a few things, not understanding that he won't even eat those few things consistently so, therefore, it actually is a crisis. Every other day. And that's hard.
Parents of newborns? You have it easy. Your colic, witching hour, sleepless nights ... that's the easy stuff. Just wait until they grow up and you have bigger problems.
See why I haven't been blogging? It's not nice for me to say that. And frankly, it's not nice to my kids, who are both, in the end, doing wonderfully. Petunia is happy, and Dash thinks he's going to Hogwarts in sixth grade. I'm just very, very tired and in need of a week in Hawaii with no one demanding anything of me except the pool boy, wondering if I'll have a pina colada, a lava flow, or a strawberry daiquiri. Decisions, decisions...
So that's my parenthood update for this week. Another one is coming soon, because oohhhhh boy, Petunia is turning 11. I can't handle the truth.
Where's that daiquiri?