Suspended

Yesterday, around 10:30am, I got the call: my son had bit yet another classmate–the third biting incident this week–and was being suspended for two full days. 

My husband picked him up yesterday morning. He can’t go back until Wednesday. 

At the meeting with the director we will discuss how to proceed. Part of that discussion will focus on when they have sufficient grounds to kick our son out.

I really don’t know what to do. He knows he shouldn’t bite. He can recite the text from “Teeth are Not for Biting” verbatim. He is constantly telling us that teeth are for eating, not friends. He KNOWS all of this, but when his friend won’t hand over the ball he’s asked for on the playground, my son bites.

The last time we had a problem with biting at school (when he was suspended for one day), he was also biting at home. We could watch when it was happening, intervene and help him through his big feelings. Now we don’t see any biting at home, even though he gets frustrated plenty. I have no idea why all of the sudden he’s biting every day at school.

This was already such a hard week at work, to be worried about getting a call to pick up my kid because he bit someone compounded my stress exponentially. Now I need to take a day off next week to stay home with my son.

I really don’t know what to do. I don’t agree with the preschool’s policy on biting, and I recognize that we should seriously consider finding another care provider (or that we may have to if we get kicked out), but there are so few quality daycares in the city, I doubt we could find a spot for him on such short notice. 

I’ve read enough to know that the next step is assigning our son a “shadow teacher” to watch him closely and interven when he bares his teeth. I don’t know if the school has the personnel for that kind of one-on-one attention, or if they will allow us to pay someone to do it. I want to believe they will be willing to support us, but I’ve seen them come to logger jams with the families of other boys who are having “issues.”

I hate feeling powerless and helpless, and potentially totally fucked. Sometimes being a working parent is so incredibly complicated. Between the guilt I feel for having to put him in care because I work, and how thoroughly we depend on our daycare to provide that service, I don’t know how to think about this rationally. The whole situation is crazy making, especially when I have no idea how or when it might be resolved. 

Mom Jeans

Well, it’s started. One of the harder years of my teaching career is under way.

I have 250 students this year. 251 actually. How can that be? Because I see the 192 6th graders on an A/B schedule, which means I only see 96 of them on any given day. I see my 69 7th and 8th graders every day though. Blerg.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do and what I actually do. I have a vague sense that this isn’t what I want to be doing, but I also have NO IDEA what I might actually want to do. This is not just about my job, but extends to all areas of my life. I’m not sure I live where I want to live, or have the social connections I want to have, and yet I can’t really envision some other, idealized life for myself.

I marvel at the people who know what they want. Who just knew right off the bat, or eventually stumble across it, or worked tireless to uncover it. I feel like I’d do just about anything to know what I really want, even if that job or place or life were impossible to attain. Not knowing is excruciating to me. It makes me crazy.

And the silly thing is, it shouldn’t, because I don’t think I landed too far off the mark. While what I do for a living is arduous and undervalued work, it challenges me in ways most other things wouldn’t. For all my griping and complaining, it keeps me interested. And I think I’m pretty decent at it. (I can’t imagine not being good at what I do, that would be horrible.)

I’ve written this post a million times before, and I suppose it makes sense that I’m writing it now. I guess I just feel like, if I had some kind of true north inside me, a direction that felt good and true, all my uncertainty would fall away, and I would know what to do. Without it, I feel directionless. Paddling in this particular boat because I don’t realize there are other boats out there, trained in this particular direction because it’s as good as any other when all you can see is the horizon.

That is the problem, isn’t it? For so long, any journey is trained on some unseen point on the horizon. It’s not until you’ve covered an entire lifetime of miles that you get even a glimpse of where you’re going.

What if some day, I see my destination hovering on the horizon and I recognize that it’s not at all where I want to end up?

I guess there are worse things. And life is supposed to be all about the journey. We’re not supposed to be thinking about the destination, it’s how we get there that counts. That’s what all the inspiration quotes superimposed over soft-edged shots of waterfalls and then shared on FB say, anyway.

I know I’m only 36 but I’ve been feeling old lately. I went shopping for jeans and realized all the places I usually frequent only had four options: skinny, super skinny, jeggins and ripped the fuck up. I just wanted some normal, straight legged jeans, but evidently you can’t get those in the places I used to shop. The places that I guess cater to young, fashion-forward women. I guess what I was looking for was “mom jeans,” which I had heard spoken of but couldn’t previously describe. Now I’m sure they are straight-leg (or maybe boot cut) jeans in stretch denim, with some nice tummy control thrown in for good measure. Those, I realized, were exactly what I was looking for, and those, are most certainly “mom jeans.” (I’ve been told I should check Macy’s, which totally proves my point.)

{The same thing happened to me earlier this summer when I wanted capris and realized no one was selling them this year (it’s all cropped-leg now evidently). I ended up finding a pair I really like at Cost.co. Yep, you read that right, I found my dream capris at a wholesale retailer.}

It’s funny that this bothers me so much because I’ve never been one who cared much about fashion. In high school I bought my jeans at Abercrombie, in the boys section, because knowing I liked my baggy jeans in a 30×34 seemed so much more straightforward than trying to make sense of the arbitrary numbers they assigned to women’s sizes. Also, I was all stomach and no hips, so women’s pants never fit me very well (this is still a problem today).

The point being, I wore baggy pants and oversized t-shirts in high school, and my fashion sense was a shambles in college. I’ve never fancied myself a good dresser, always opting for comfort over anything else. There have been times when I’ve taken great comfort in getting older and knowing that I don’t have to worry so much about what I wear. And yet realizing that, as far as clothing is concerned, I am basically irrelevant, was kind of a demoralizing dose of reality. If I am not longer a part of the coveted 18-34 demographic, then what am I?

This isn’t make much sense, is it? Especially coming from someone who is trying to embrace minimalism and free herself from the shackles of consumerism. I should be elated that no one is trying to market to me or my (severely lacking) sense of style. Now I can finally be free!

Except I don’t feel free, I feel irrelevant. I guess I just need a complete change in mindset. I’m sure it’s just around the corner. And maybe when I embrace it, and learn to celebrate my place in aging America, I’ll figure out what I want to do with my life too.

{Why is this so hard for me to do?! Everyone else seems to have their epiphany, their revelatory a-ha moment and never look back, while I make wide circles around some poorly defined center, only making the most marginal of progress which each gaping sweep around the spiral.}

The truth is I’m probably obsessing about straight-leg jeans (or this season’s lack thereof) because all the other stuff in my life is too hard and complicated. Like the many overwhelming aspects of my job, or that my marriage is hitting a (totally understandable) rough spot, or that my son is biting at school again and is about to be suspended and then kicked out, or that my daughter is getting 20+ pages of homework a week in first grade, and I can’t decide if that is a hill I want to die on (I struggle constantly with being a parent to my own children as students, when my identity as a teacher is so much older and better defined–I worry I don’t, or won’t, advocate for them enough). All of that shit is all sorts of swirling shades of gray and should be receiving my full attention, but I don’t want to think about any of it, so instead I wonder why I don’t know what to do with my life, and lament the fact what I really want is to wear mom jeans.

I knew writing here was going to be an exercise in futility, but I was also in the troublesome headspace where I couldn’t even enjoy mindless TV until I got all this bullshit out of me. And now it is out of me, more or less, so hopefully tomorrow night I can enjoy some random comedy we’re currently watching, and look forward to Monday, when my recently ordered mom jeans are supposed to arrive.

What kind of jeans do you wear? Do you ever feel irrelevant?

In defense of two or more (A post about things, not kids)

Minimalism teaches that one of something is generally enough. One of the first steps in getting rid of stuff is to free yourself of any duplicates you may have lying around.

Of course, minimalism can mean whatever you want it to mean, be whatever you want it to be. I am trying to embrace minimalism, but I have come to accept that in some cases, FOR ME, one just isn’t enough. Here are just a few things I not only appreciate having more than one of, but think of more than one as a necessity.

My daughter’s lunch box. We use the BentGo kids lunch box with my daughter. I like that is a self contained way to give her a few different things to eat every day. It means fewer reusable containers going to school (and probably getting lost) and fewer things to clean. It also helps me keep portions reasonable–I would probably pack too much if had more space (she almost never eats all I pack as it is).

I first bought a second lunch box just to have in case the first one went missing. My daughter goes to an after school program off site every day and a lot of things get left at school that we can’t go back and look for when I pick her up. For my daughter routine is key, and I wanted to have an extra lunch box in case one went missing, even though I knew we could brown bag it for a few days if that were the case.

Half way through the year I realized I could pack two lunches on the same day and that was a total game changer. Last year having a second lunch box meant less lunch prep for me every week. I appreciated only having to think about making lunch three times a week so much that this year I got a third lunch box so now I only have to make lunches twice a week. I know this might seem like a silly way to spend money, and I’m sure minimalists and frugalists would cringe, but it saves me time and gives me peace of mind, and isn’t that whole point?

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She gets the same lunch every day: pancakes, pretzels, cookies and apple slices (which I add that morning).

Bedding. For everyone. When I first read the “get rid of any extras” advice, my mind immediately went to bedding. Surely they don’t mean sheet sets and mattress protectors, right?! You always have to have extra sheets!

Extra bedding absolutely feels necessary to me. Kids do gross stuff in their beds. Sometimes they throw up. Sometimes their diapers leak. Sometimes they sneeze and spray snot everywhere. Sometimes they spill their before-bed water (even though it’s in a no-spill cup! How?!) There are myriad ways kids can require a complete change of bedding, all the way down to the mattress pad, probably at two in the morning. I have three sets of sheets and two mattress protectors for each of my kids’ twin beds and my own queen (though I generally only use two sets of sheets, the third is for emergencies). If that seems excessive, your house has surely never been hit with a bad stomach bug. Or you haven’t had lice, which requires daily bed changes for up to two weeks.

Work out clothes. I have enough workout bras to last me six workouts. I have enough running outfits for four runs. (At home I usually workout in a bra and a pair of my husband’s boxers so I don’t need any actual clothes.) I only have three sweatbands but I can hand wash those in the sink and they dry in less than 12 hours. I generally keep my older pair of running shoes and use them on the elliptical so I can keep a complete set of running clothes in the car in case the opportunity to run presents itself. I only wash the “permanent press” clothes once every 1.5 weeks (because that is how long it takes to have a full load), and I could never reuse workout clothes between washings (they smell so bad!) I definitely need a good amount of running and workout clothes.

“Lounge wear” (including sweatshirts). I need to have enough loungewear to get me through one to one and half weeks while respecting my excessively inflexible need desire to wear clothing that match my body’s cleanliness (see last week’s post). This also applies to sweatshirts, though I’m able to wear them without adhering to the cleanliness rules, probably because they go over another shirt. I tried to par down my sweatshirts, but I still have four of them. The thing is, I wear a sweatshirt most nights, all year round (Yay for frigid San Francisco summers?) so four hoodies doesn’t seem that extreme to me. I also wear them out a lot. I have one from my: alma matar, current school, daughter’s school, and husband’s organization (that one is actually his, but I kind of stole it from him because it’s extra big and incredibly soft). Sweatshirts were specifically mentioned in more than one “get rid of extra” articles I’ve read, but I just can’t par my collection down any further. I love me a good, comfy hoody and I wear them all the time.

Backpacks. I didn’t think I’d need two backpacks when my daughter started Kindergarten, but then we ended up getting a second one (thanks in-laws!) and I was really thankful to have it on those mornings when my daughter’s water bottle randomly decided to leak all over the place before we even got out the door. Now we always keep two backpacks and while we mostly use one of them, the other is needed on occasion.

Nap Mats. My husband takes our son to preschool on the bus. It’s hard enough to manage a 2.5-year-old in his nice suit without a lot of other stuff, so Monday mornings with the nap mat were really challenging. I got a second nap mat so I could leave it on Friday afternoons when I picked up the dirty one, allowing my husband an easier trip on Monday mornings. I’m sure we’ll be even more appreciative of the extra nap map now that our son isn’t wearing diapers. I also always appreciate when I have a little leeway when it comes to getting things laundered.

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Kitchen utensils. My husband is in charge of all things kitchen, and he’s not exactly prompt when it comes to getting the dishes done. Sometimes I just don’t want to wash every single thing I need to make dinner. I like to have extras of most things in the kitchen, with the exception of appliances that require counter space and/or need to be plugged in. So when we got a Vita.mix (thanks mom!) I got rid of the Magic Bullet. But when we got a new rectangular pan for the middle range on our stove, I didn’t get rid of the smaller one that came with the stove itself.

And those are just a few things that I proudly own more than one of. I’m sure I could think of more, but it’s late and this is already a ridiculously long post. So I’ll leave it at that, and invite you to tell me what you have more than one of, or when you think just one is enough.

Better

Thank you to everyone who reached out on my last post. I have been in a rough spot this week, but things are getting better.

Yesterday I spent several hours at the campus of my one shared class. Seeing the rooms we’d be in, making a list of what we physically needed to get started, knowing the exact number of students (36, which is not nearly as bad as the originally quoted 45, and better still than the 40 we were expecting), making lists of specific tasks we will both perform to be ready for the first day of school and Back to School night (which is on our first day of school, I know it’s insane), all of it made me feel a lot better. I’m still surprised by the amount of anxiety I am managing, but now that I’ve laid eyes on some of the concrete details, I do feel better.

I think what is happening is that I hadn’t considered the regular, “beginning of the year” stress and how that would be compounded by the “new shit I’ve never done before stress.” You’d think after 13 years of doing it, going back to school would be  walk in the park, but it turns out it’s more like a climb up a mountain. Sure, I can do it and some parts are even exhilarating and fun, but in the end it’s still climbing up a mountain. When you change the mountain, and add a 40 lb back pack, the difficult level increases substantially. So yeah, this is hard, but that is partly just because starting the year is hard, and if you want to do it well, and right, it will always involve a certain amount of stress.

On Wednesday night, after I wrote yesterday’s post, I gave myself a little talking to. During this heart to heart I reminded myself that I am completely and utterly in charge of what I teach at the 6th grade level. There is literally NOTHING guiding that content. At the 7/8th grade level I have to touch on all the Spanish I grammar topics and a fair number of the vocabulary themes, but in 6th grade I can do whatever I want to.

I used to teach 5th and 6th grade together, and I switched up the curriculum every year so the 6th graders weren’t repeating what they’d done the year before. About 5 years ago they pulled the 5th grade from the Spanish program (which I’m thankful for, I’m less and less enthusiastic about teaching younger grades), and I stopped switching the curriculum. Then I gave the year’s worth of material I wasn’t using to a new teacher at the other middle school and it was lost (or taken) and now I don’t really have a choice about whether or not I teach something else, unless I make it myself.

So I don’t HAVE to teach the same boring stuff to the 6th graders this year, but if I want to teach anything new I have to create it from scratch. The thing is, I had grand plans to create some new chapters/units for the 7/8 grade class, and then put them up on Teachers Pay Teachers (a site where teachers can buy worksheets (in PDF or document form) and other materials from other teachers–it’s very cool) to see if I could earn a little extra money. Making new 6th grade material is less energy intensive (I don’t need as much) and I will use it more this year (I have six periods of 6th grade every two days, as compared to one period of 7/8th grade), but I don’t think it would sell well on Teachers Pay Teachers (lower-grade foreign language classes aren’t common). Of course, my other material might not sell well either, but part of putting it up was to see if selling original curriculum might be a way to bring in some extra money.

All this to say, if I don’t want to spend the time making new content for 6th grade I can always fall back on my old chapters. But if I don’t want to be bored I can always make and teach something new. It’s important to remember that–I have a lot of control in that one (massive) area of my teaching day. And I may just take advantage of that to do something unique, because I know that will help me be happier this year. (And yes, I realize the best answer is probably a combination of new and old, which is what I’m currently planning.)

I think I can honestly say I’m doing better today, with my concrete list of tasks, my mental imagine of where I’m teaching, and my realization that I can change things up if I’m really that bored.

In the end it will all be okay. I’ll make it work. And I can probably manage to do that without driving myself crazy. I’m glad I have three more paid days to get my shit in order. I hope I can bolster my enthusiasm in that time too.

Struggling

It took until early this week for me to realize that I’m feeling a lot of anxiety right now. It’s a low grade, kind of panicky feeling. I know it’s about my daughter starting a new school year and my own school year starting. I know it’s totally normal. It’s doesn’t make it any less unpleasant.

Going back to work this year has been really, really hard. I’m so stressed out about my new schedule, about teaching this giant class with another teacher, about traveling between campuses, about the construction on our campus and all the challenges it will cause, about probable behavior issues in my classes. When I think about teaching this year all I see looming are anxiety and boredom. I can’t seem to get excited about any of it.

I’m just really struggling, way more than I anticipated. I consider myself a pretty flexible, easy going person, but all this change and uncertainty is bringing me to my knees. I’m not impressed by how I’m handling it all. I’m pretty disappointed, actually.

I’m hoping that once we get started I’ll feel better, that once I see the classrooms at the new campus and can start envisioning teaching there the thought of it won’t send me into such a panic. I’m hoping I can think of something new to do with my 6th graders, so the thought of three periods with them every day doesn’t doesn’t conjure feelings of drudgery and despair.

I can’t remember the last time I felt so down about the start of a new school year. It’s just not who I am, and I’m sad it’s who I’ve become.

I really hope I can turn my attitude around. My students deserve better than this.

 

Things I’m Weird About: Clothing Addition

There is this thing I’m kind of weird about. It has to do with my clothes. The thing is that I can only wear clothes that match my body’s cleanliness. So if I’m just getting out of the shower I have to wear completely clean clothes. Nothing that I put on can have been worn before (with minor exceptions, but we’ll get to them in a second), even if I only wore it around the house.

The other thing is, I only shower 3-4 times a week. Basically I only shower when I’ve worked out. When I was training for the half marathon I ran four times a week and showered accordingly. Most of the time (like now) I only work out three times a week, and I shower accordingly. Sometimes I’ll grab a “sink shower,” and quickly wash anything that might stink with soap, water and a washcloth (I cannot stand my own BO), and on the three-day hair washing stretch I’ll usually wash my body somewhere around day one and a half. Long story short, there are days when I wake up and I have not showered. On those days I am equally as repulsed by the idea of putting clean clothes on my not-so clean body as I am of the inverse.

You might think, surely this doesn’t apply to jeans or bras or things most people wear more than once without washing. I wish I could say that it does, but mostly it doesn’t. I keep mental tabs of how many times I’ve worn something and usually only wear it again when it matches my body in how long it’s been washed. So I can wear my jeans again without washing them, but only if it’s on a day when I wake up and haven’t showered (I rarely workout in the mornings so most of my showers happen in the afternoons or evenings). Bras are the same way. I generally hang a bra that I can wear again on a “dirty” day over my laundry basket and wear it again on a dirty day. If I ever wear something on the dreaded “third day” (if I haven’t taken a quick body shower), that article of clothing absolutely needs to be washed before I can wear it again.*

Maybe this isn’t all that weird a thing to do, but I think it’s a bit eccentric because I am entirely inflexible in following these “rules.” My need to follow them borders on excessive. Even compulsive. There have been times when I’ve really needed to put something clean on when I hadn’t showered (because my clothes were in the washing machine) and I literally couldn’t bring myself to do it. In more than one instance, I’ve worn a random shirt of my husband’s that I found on the floor before putting on my own clean shirt. I literally could not talk myself into putting on something clean, and I didn’t have time to wash my body so I could do it. (Have I mentioned my husband is 6’4″ and wears a men’s L or XL t-shirt? I wear a women’s M) Since then I’ve started leaving one “dirty” shirt out when I do the laundry, lest I get caught without something exceptable to put on.

This summer a couple of my beloved yoga pants–which I wear around the house (and out of the house during the summer)–got pretty substantials holes in the posterior region (and they had worn so thin you could see through the parts that didn’t have holes). I knew I should get rid of them, but I was worried I wouldn’t have enough “around the house” clothes to wear if I threw them out. I kept them for a while, realizing it didn’t matter if I had a hole in the butt of my pants at home, but I became increasingly worried I’d forget and leave the house with my underwear showing. I started browsing the internet for new pairs, but I felt bad buying more when I still had a couple that were in find shape. I knew that if I wasn’t so weird about how I wear clean and “dirty” clothes I wouldn’t need new pairs. Like so many proposed purchases, I was plagued with guilt.

In the end I got rid of two pairs and bought two more. The pairs I bought are fun and unique, so I don’t have to feel as bad about getting them, and I can maintain my strange habit compulsion of only wearing clothes that perfectly match (in my mind) my body’s cleanliness.

*Work out clothes are exempt from this “rule” because I only wear clean workout clothes, no matter how long it’s been since I’ve showered. I think this is because workout clothes smell and feel gross after one wear (I sweat, a lot) and because they are going to get sweaty within minutes of me putting them on.

What are your clothes wearing rules? What is something you’re kind of weird about?

Back to Work

On Wednesday I officially go back to work.

While I always feel a fair amount of regret that summer is ending, there is a tinge of relief lacing the disappointment. Relief that I’ll be back among the working parents with whom I so strongly identify, relief that I’ll no longer be enjoying something that not everyone has.

It might seem weird, but I feel a fair amount of guilt over my summer break. After all, most professions don’t come with a built-in 8 week break every year (along with others throughout the school year). Obviously summer break is one of the reasons teachers get paid less than most every other profession requiring a similar level of education. I also think it’s one of the reasons teachers aren’t generally regarded with the respect I believe they deserve.

I understand that my summer break is a luxury, but it also feels like a necessity. There is no way I’d still be teaching if I didn’t get that time away from the classroom to decompress and renew my inner resources. Teaching is incredibly intense work, it requires you be “on” for 8 hours a day with very few breaks. (I always laugh when SAHM talk about how they can’t even pee when they want to… I get two opportunities to go all day! And I have to wait in a long line (during a very short minutes break) to do it!) There is no room to feel tired or to be sick. You can’t hide behind your computer and just clock your hours until closing time. Even if you put on a movie, you have to monitor the classroom constantly. We may only work 190 days, but each one of them is utterly exhausting.

And then, if we have kids, we have to go home and parent our own kids after being a surrogate parent to other people’s kids all day. I have found that it’s much harder to be the teacher I want to be now that I have kids waiting for me at home.

{I won’t even go into the part where teachers are asked to do the impossible with meager resources every day. How they are expected to bridge the gaps between low- and upper-income students when it’s been shown time and again that what happens in a classroom can never make up for what doesn’t happen at home. I won’t mention how the federal government requires public education be accessible for all students and then cuts the funding promised to make that possible (but still expects the states to manage it without any money). Or how every 5-10 years they come up with new standards and assessments, changing the game, again and again.}

Teaching is a hard job, and most people don’t even respect the work you do. Most people think that since they went to school once they know as much about what goes on there as teachers do. And there’s always the charming adage: Those who can’t do, teach. God I love that one. Yep, teaching is a hard job with generally low compensation and less respect. Does that mean we deserve a summer break? No. But it’s probably good that we get one, or this country would be even more desperate for good teachers than it already is.

Having this time off, especially when I put my daughter in camp and take my son to daycare, does make me feel guilty, even if I do recognize that I need the break. It also messes with the delicate balance my husband and I maintain during the school year. When I’m working we are on more even ground–we leave each morning knowing we have a similar work day ahead, and come home knowing we spend a similar amount of time away from home and kids. That doesn’t mean we’re able to split all the parenting and household duties evenly–actually, I think time off my job provides creates some of the disparities in how we divvy up parenting responsibilities–but it allows us to feel like we’re coming from the same place.

When I’m on summer break my husband gets moody, even a little resentful. He said this year that I don’t vocalize how grateful I am to have my time off. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say. I am grateful, but how do I adequately express it? I try to accomplish goals that benefit the whole family. I work hard to get rid of things we don’t need, to clean out and organize, to make progress around the house. I doubt if he had the same time he’d accomplish as much. I don’t expect to be thanked, because I know how lucky I am to have the time to do it, but I also don’t think I should have to express adequate gratitude.

It’s complicated. And messy. As human emotions always are. And while I do appreciate the opportunities my summer break provide me, there is always a part of me that is relieved to go back to being the working mom I know myself to be. Is that crazy?

Veep

So there is another thing that I did a few months ago and never wrote about…

Last May I volunteered to be my daughter’s school’s PTA vice-president. I agreed because I was told that one of the co-presidents at the time was going to be president again. I figured if someone who knew what they were doing were running things, I could serve as a helpful support person while learning the ropes. Then I could take over the following year when she termed out.

Well, that person didn’t stay on as president, but I’m still the VP. The two other new officers (the president and treasurer) are also first grade parents, which means they have (also) only been at the school for one year. Luckily the treasurer has a son going into third grade and she’s been working with the PTA in some capacity for a while. Thank god one of us knows what she is doing, otherwise we’d be flying blind.

I’ve mentioned to a few people that I’m the VP at my daughter’s school’s PTA and every time I’ve been met with a resounding, WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING? Sometimes this question is expressed in a transparent facial contortion, but most of the time people just ask me outright. No one can understand why I would do something so…stupid? Unnecessary? Thankless? Labor- and time-intensive?

I guess for a lot of people it is a foolish thing to do. We’re always being told the importance of saying no, of not taking on too much. Interestingly it was while reading a chapter in a book about intentionally creating a meaningful life that I decided I would say yes when they asked me to be on the PTA (I knew it was only a matter of time before it happened). Community is important to me and if I’m part of the PTA I can cultivate community at my daughter’s school.

Yes it will be a lot of work. Yes, sometimes it will be stressful. I acknowledge and accept that. I sent my daughter to a lower-preforming urban school because I want to be a part of the solution, I want to affect real change in a place where my efforts might actually be of consequence. Just sending her to that school is not enough, I need to do more. This is one way in which I can help.

It’s going to be a challenge. This school has a lot dividing it, with a Spanish immersion and GenEd track, with elementary and middle grades, with primarily Hispanic and African American families. Heck, the school is even housed in two buildings that are kitty-corner to each other! But they are working hard through their One School initiative to bring all these converging groups together into a inclusive, cohesive community. I hope to help them do that.

Unfortunately the PTA officials are not the only inexperienced leadership at the school this year. The principal left rather abruptly over the summer and the former VP is stepping into the position moving forward. She has been at the school for three years which is good, but those are her only three years of administration experience, which is less good. I hope can step up to this challenge, because the school definitely needs strong leadership. The new VP comes from across the bay and doesn’t have any administrative experience that I know of (none was mentioned in the letter to parents announcing the change in administration). I’ve met with her once and she seems competent enough. I’m hoping together they have what it takes.

This Saturday is the Back to School BBQ. It’s technically not a PTA event but it’s clear the school is relying on us to make it happen. It requires a lot of planning, coordinating and executing. A lot of meetings. A lot of emails. (Oh my god! So many emails!) It’s going to be our first official event. I’m nervous, and excited. Sometimes I wonder if I made mistake, taking this on, but then I remember that the whole point was to make my daughter’s school a better place, and then I stop wondering.

Here’s to a good 2016-17 school year… at my school and my daughter’s.

A Great Deal

First off, the lice experts declared us clear! We supposed to do one last check in 5-7 days and then we should be good to go. Thank goodness, because today we started potty training! So far two pee-pee’s in the potty and none on the floor! Woot!

I swear I have actual posts waiting to be finished in my draft. Most days I start one and intend to finish it after the kids’ bedtime, but then I either watch something with my husband or go right to bed. I am just not compelled to write most nights, and I can’t compel myself when the urge isn’t there.

But I wanted to let you all know how the lice check went. And to tell you that my favorite parenting book, No-Drama Discipline is $1.99 on Kindle right now. I borrowed my copy from the library but wanted to buy a copy to have at home. A friend told me it was on sale today so I went over and happily grabbed it for less than a gallon of gas! I wanted to let you all know about it too, because it really is a great book. I’ve read more parenting books than most people and I so wish this is the only one I spent any time on. It’s the best parenting book I’ve read, by far.

I hope you’re all having a great day. I’m also hoping I’ll have a finished post to put up tomorrow. We shall see…