Thursday, August 30, 2012

One week down

So, School started.

There's the awesomeness: middle school is like a whole different game, not only in terms of the obvious, classes and lockers etc. (they get to read Call of the Wild! and also other things), but also in terms of expectations for parents. It's sort of assumed that we have lives outside our parenting responsibilities, for example. There's an activity bus. If Si stays late to talk to a teacher (they have after school hours, which are called, disappointingly, intramurals) (his favorite part of elementary school was the optional gym class they got before school one a week, also called intramurals), or to run track (ha) or any other scheduled activity, he can just hop on the activity bus. It drops him off a million miles from our house, according to him, but still: hot dog. Even Events are this way. Si is joining the Math League: I got a little tense, reading over the schedule of meets, until I noticed the fine print: they take the bus. And the bus brings them back to the school at 5:30, 5:45. At that point we do need to pick them up, but 5:30 is a time even my we-want-your-shining-faces-in-your-desks-for-8.5-hours-a-day workplace can accommodate.

It's like the independence I've been pushing for since 2005 is finally here.

I guess I'm supposed to feel sad, and I do (always), but not for that.

Are we in the wilderness? The high plains of Colorado? The African Savannah?
Another awesome thing is that M. and I sat down as a team and decided which days I was going to go in to work late so that I could walk Helen to the bus stop, and which days he was going to do this and I would leave early and get back in time to be here for the kids when they get home. We've needed to do this for two years, so it's nice to have it done. No complaining, no scrambling: we just do what needs to be done.

Then there's the not-awesomeness. Si's new independence is accompanied by actions favored by evolution to hasten the separation between parents and children. He argues everything, particularly if it comes out of M's mouth. He bewails things a lot. Yesterday I got a tearstained call at work (I kind of dread getting calls from home): "Dad is abusing his power as Dad." Oh, dear - what's going on? "He says we need to clean off the table AND outside. Because they're a mess. He says he can't sit down. You need to come home right away."

"That actually sounds pretty reasonable, kiddo." More tears.

Sigh. And the homework has had moments of intensity, already, and it's only the second week of school. And my other child: she goes to school. Sometimes I hear about it. I haven't seen or heard a single thing from her teachers, however: not a flier, not a note, nothing. When I ask her what her favorite part of the day is, she says, Art class. A girl after my own heart.

("You get to start intramurals this year, Helen!" Si told her joyfully. When she gave kind of a roll-the-eyes response, he said, "But you've GOT to do intramurals. It's like gym class! Before school! You get to play games!" Still nothing. I finally had to chime in, "When I was in school, I didn't like gym either. In fact, it was my LEAST FAVORITE class." And Si looked at both of us in total bafflement.)

Nope. Botanic Gardens. I suppose one tipoff might be that there is a trace of green in this grass.
Awesome and not awesome: more or less like regular life. I do feel like we've clawed our way to the second level of parenting, though. For better or worse. 

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