Friday, January 7, 2011

The Power: Believing My Daughter...An "F" Can Actually Disappear

Last year, when I got the dreaded "progress reports" from the high school in the mail, I poured myself a lovely cab and sat down at the kitchen table. Progress reports meant a lot around here. Either I had a house full of dedicated "homework-doers" whose grades would reflect their nightly chants of "it's cool Mom, I did all my homework" or I had a house full of liars.

When they were little, I used to employ my mother's trusty old Dickens-like device to seek out the liars in my family. "Stick your tongue out and let me see if it's black" was a remarkable device and every time they would roll their eyes down to see if their tongue had turned black, I would laugh to myself. This was SO easy!! Too bad it didn't work when I asked my husband if a dress made me look fat or if my drooping jaw line made me look like a marionette. But now that they were older, my teenagers would boldly stick their tongues out just to prove they weren't lying.

So, when I opened up Rainbow Sparkle-Dazzle's second semester senior year progress report, I nearly fell over.
She actually had an F in English!! With three kids with ADHD and my youngest in Special Ed, it seemed miraculous that I had actually never seen an F in all these years so when I called her into the kitchen, I was pretty pissed.

AS much as someone with heavy black Doc Martens could look like they were "strolling"over to the kitchen table, RS-D did just that and casually lowered her pink tipped locks to get a good look at the progress report. When she saw the F she gave a knowing laugh and said that her teacher had told her that the F wasn't really an F and it would disappear the following week.

Nicely done I thought. Calm, cool, confident. REALLY!!!?? She thought I would fall for a disappearing F?

She then sauntered off to the family computer which I valiantly and proudly kept in the kitchen so that I could attempt to monitor all their internet activities like the "Poster Mom" I dreamt I could be. RS-D happily composed an email to her teacher, hit send before I could read it and smiled proudly at me. "Geez Mom, don't be so paranoid. It's all chill."

Chill...?? God, I hate that word, by the way!

Moments later I received an email...

I am reprinting the following email from RS-D's teachers. (I changed all the real names)

Hello Mrs. xxx
I'm just writing to let you know how wonderful RS-D has been in my class.
Please don't worry about her grade at this moment. She just forgot to give her
Hamlet logs before the grading period and that plummeted her grade to an F.
Once she turns them in it will go back up to a B.
RS-D is an fantastic part of class. Smart, respectful and funny. And she has
been very good all year about her grades in English. This is just a momentary
fall that will be restored.
Thank you. And just let me know if I can help with anything.
Sincerely,  English Teacher

I had to laugh. I could tell it really came from the teacher and I was pretty happy to read all the great stuff about her but REALLY??  This might have been the very first nice letter I had ever gotten in my whole life as a mother of three kids so I stopped my self from hiring a skywriter and decided to have some fun with it.

I sent the following email to my daughter and cc'd the english teacher.

"Dear Rainbow Sparkle-Dazzle,
Dad and I can't believe you hijacked Mrs. xxxx's email address and sent us this inconceivable "teacher's pet letter" as a ploy to let you go out this weekend.

RS-D, in all the years that Dad and I have had letters from teachers come to our house, we have never, ever, ever gotten a letter of such high praise about any one of you kids. We have become quite familiar with the "Dear Mrs. xxx, your child (fill in the blank) said (fill in the blank) at nutrition and now will have to do full day Friday."

Dad and I began to feel suspicious with the implausibility of this dubious letter when you included that you are a "fantastic part of class." We really got nervous when you said you have "been very good all year about her grades in English." But, the big "a-ha moment" came when you said you were "smart, respectful and funny"...uh...funny? No one is funny in our family...

You are grounded.

Love MOM"

I wish I could find the actual reply from RS-D's teacher. She defended my daughter and said the first email had actually come from her. RS-D hadn't hijacked anyone's email...she was innocent. When I tried to tell her I was just trying to have some fun with RS-D...she gave a glib reply which basically inferred that poor, quirky, ADHD RS-D had obviously had more significant challenges at home... with her weird parents.

And...the "F" disappeared!

Scepters up!!

Queen Beach

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Power: "The Old Switcharoo"

Spotty and Brownie were two very special mice and have earned a sacred place in our family lore.

When a "quirky" kid has an interest, all of us exhausted parents will go to the ends of the earth to try and accommodate that interest.  Who knows where it will lead, right?

RS-D has always loved animals and as I have previously mentioned, our house has been home to a manegerie of pets.

When RS-D was five, she fell in love with two "adorable" mice that we had walked bye in the pet store as we got a bag of crickets for her frog.  How could I say no when I figured they were going to be fed to a snake anyway.  So, we got her a clear plastic mouse cage complete with the spinning wheel, places to hide, tubes for water and food and lots of wood shavings.  Chez Spotty and Brownie was a mouse paradise!

We kept the mouse cage up on our counter in the kitchen so that RS-D could care for them and watch them play all day.  She could even carry the cage around to her friend's houses and to school because the cage had a convenient handle on top and it was pretty lightweight.  That is the operative word here...lightweight.

While RS-D was in school one day, I came home to find that our cats, Alvin and Simon, had also enjoyed watching Spotty and Brownie play all day, too.  So much that during all the excitement, they knocked the cage onto the kitchen floor.  I can only imagine the scenario because I found poor Brownie shuttering among the wood shavings.  Spotty's remains were left under the piano.  I was horrified!  What a terrible ending to Spotty's life!

But, I had to do something, and something fast.  RS-D couldn't see the carnage!!  I jumped in my car and drove as fast as I could to the pet store and quickly found a feeder mouse who was white and had spots similar to Spotty.  It didn't occur to me at the time but I am sure the pet store left the feeder mice to themselves and I suspect there must have been a lot of inbreeding.

I plopped the new Spotty back into the cage and RS-D thankfully didn't notice any genetic differences.  Good thing the pet store had a supply of these genetically related mice because my cats did this repeatedly over the span of a couple of months.  In fact, in a sort of Sisyphus-like twist, those poor mice must have really had a junky karma and a crummy destiny.  We got to Brownie #5 and Spotty #3 and she didn't ever notice the difference...until Spotty #4.

One day, RS-D came home from school and remarked that Spotty had part of his ear looked like Brownie #5 had taken a bite right out of his ear.  So, RS-D put Spotty in our "travelling mouse cage" and we headed for the vet with her best friend, Maria. They were both dressed as Belle, RS-D wore gold lame version of the rescued Belle while Maria wore the pink wedding Belle dress.

As the girls took off holding hands looking at all the poor injured animals waiting for the vet's tender care, I told the vet the whole story of Brownie #5 and the now, Spotty #4's ear debacle.

I swear this is a true story.

The vet took Spotty #4 out of the cage and wrapped he/she in a towel with her/his head sticking out and facing me.  I watched Spotty#4's face as the vet took a really long Q-Tip to try and clean out the affected ear.  It was then I remarked at how amazing it was that Spotty wasn't squirming around like he/she always did.  The vet looked at me quizzically.  "Really" she said.

It was then that I gulped and watched the vet lay the towel on the exam table, unfold the ends to reveal Spotty#4's limp body.

I looked over at the girls who were engrossed in the caged animals and didn't notice the drama the vet had just unfolded.

The vet looked at me and then at Spotty's limp body.  She took her two fingers and gently gave Spotty a couple of firm chest compressions and waited.  Nothing.  She tried it again.  Nothing.  And then she took her stethoscope from around her neck, placed the pieces in her ears, held the end to Spotty's chest and listened.

I swear to God...I held my breath willing Spotty to be just unconscience.

The vet slowly shook her head, removed the stethoscope and said "I'm afraid we've lost Spotty."

To this day I don't know if I almost burst into tears or into hysterics!!  It was a line right out of Ben Casey.  I had been holding my breath for what seemed like an eternity that I had trouble catching my breath as I looked over to make sure that RS-D and Maria didn't hear me.

I felt so badly for Spotty especially since he/she was looking right at me...I was the last person in this world that he/she had seen.  Geez....

I glared at the vet as I grabbed the girls.  I told them that Spotty was going to have surgery that evening and that we would be back right after school tomorrow to bring him/her home.

The next day I paid yet another visit to the pet store, picked up Spotty #5, brought him/her to the vet and back into the portable mouse cage. And when RS-D got home from school, we promptly went to the vet to pick up the surgically enhanced Spotty. She was very impressed with the vet's incredible skill..."you could hardly tell Spotty had surgery" she remarked.  I never did pay that vet bill, by the way.

When we got back home, RS-D was so relieved to bring Spotty home and gently place him/her back into Chez Spotty and Brownie.  But as Spotty got used to his/her "new surroundings" RS-D was shocked that Brownie hid behind the spinning wheel.  "It's as if Brownie doesn't recognize Spotty, Mommy."

It was then I realized that the jig was up.  I didn't recognize Spotty or Brownie or myself but I sure did recognized my daughter and her clarity.  I had exhausted myself and compromised the lives of a few poor sweet mice to keep my kid's attention and allow her to nurture her interest.

So, I adjusted my crown, hopped in the car and got Spotty and Brownie a new, sturdy cage where they could live together in peace and harmony (and safety) with all our other animals and still hang out in the kitchen.

Sometimes Supervision is in hindsight but as we know, it's 20/20!

Scepters up!!

Queen Beach