Friday, April 20, 2012

Rebel Without a Valid Excuse

Tonight is Littlests' Prom Night. We began preparing well ahead of time. Dress, shoes, accessories. We had an in depth conversation about whether a strapless bra was necessary for her dress. We determined that it had good structure and it really wouldn't be needed. So....last night about 9 PM she says, I think I should get a strapless bra. What? We decided it doesn't need it. Well, she says, I think I would rather have one. Just to play it safe.  Can I get out of school early to get it?

Just the other day at dinner, The SeaMonkey mentioned that the school year is almost over and next year was Littlests' last year. For 20 years our lives have been dictated by school. Everything has to work around school schedules." Finally, he exclaimed, we will be free of the public school system!" "Yay, No More School",  I added,  and then we simultaneously burst into "School's Out Forever", ala' Alice Cooper, while Littlest looked on with a 'yes and I'll be free of you people' look on her face.

 Once the kids were out of preschool we lost flexibility. The SeaMonkey would suggest we take a little time away and I would veto it. We can't do that. The girls have school. They'll get behind on their work. They might miss a test. They can't have an unexcused absence! Why? he would ask. Because they can't! I would answer.  I just knew the entire school staff would stare when I walked by, whispering behind my back, Yes, that's her.  They took their kids out of school to Go On A Trip! No one died or anything. It Was Just For Fun."No wonder her kid was seen wandering around with Steinbeck when she had been assigned great literature, like My Sisters Keeper. And there's a rumor that last one graduated by bribing her teachers with paintings of Tarpon.
 We can't do that, I would explain. We can't break the rules. It's a bad example for the kids. As a result the girls rarely had an unexcused absence. Though I admit last December, when my schedule was nuts and Littlest just had to get some shoes and it was the last day before break, I decided to break my rule and get her out an hour early to buy shoes. I skimmed the check out list at the front office for the 'reasons for leaving'. In a row, doctors appointments and sickness, over and over. I hesitated for a moment and reached for the pen. I wrote: Doctor Appointment. Guilt flooded over me as we walked to the car. I fibbed to the school.  What if they noticed Littlests new shoes and KNEW. They would know I took my child out of school for a frivolous reason and LIED about it. I was a terrible mother.

So  Littlest asked if I could get her out of school early today. She explained that most people didn't even bother to show up and the only reason she had to go was that she had an important test in English, and she didn't slog her way through A Farewell to Arms to fail. But after that there was no reason to be there, and everyone who was would also be leaving early to get ready for prom. I knew this was true. All around town girls would be skipping their final classes and heading out to hair and nail appointments. Nothing would get in the way of the hours of preparation to turn these young ladies into glamour queens. The school, of course, knows this too. They would never condone it. Wink. Wink. Everyone just pretends they didn't know what was going on. After all, it's prom night, at 40 bucks a pop. Wink. Wink. So I said, ok.

I walk casually into the front office behind the two other moms currently checking out their daughters. With only the slightest quaver in my voice I tell the receptionist that I have to check out my child and give her the name. I feel squirmy inside. Am I flushed? Do I seem nervous? Is she going to buy it? If she asks the reason, I'll stutter. I know I'll stutter. She doesn't ask, just points to the check out form. Name. Date. Time. SIGNATURE. Signature. Like an affidavit or something. Is this illegal? How much time can I do for this? But I reach for the pen. I look at the very long list. In the "reason" column is a repeating pattern. Name after name followed by Doc. Appt. Doc. Appt. Doc. Appt. At least 30 names already just on that page. Wow. There must be a plague. I bat excuses back and forth in my head, Doct. Appt? Sickness? Personal Reasons? What should I write? What do I do?  A father comes in behind me. "I'm here to pick up my daughter," he says. And then I made a decision. Yes. I was taking my child out of school for an illegitimate reason. But that's where I drew the line.

I grabbed the pen firmly and signed my name. In bold and plain print I wrote in the last column under Reason For Leaving:

Last Minute Strapless Bra Shopping.

I held my head high, grabbed Littlest, and headed out the door.

I'll be hiding from the truant officers under my bed if anyone needs me.

© 2012 All Rights Reserved by MOTPG

Monday, April 16, 2012

Keep The Sand Out Of Your Eyes

This is something I haven't addressed in quite a long time on this blog. If you have been around here a fairly long time you know that my oldest daughter began abusing alcohol and drugs when she was fourteen years old. No one was more surprised than us. We thought we had it covered. We learned there is no such thing. When it happened we had to accept that things were going wrong. We were up front and honest about it. People didn't know what to think. They preferred to avoid us. Avoid the situation. Avoid the truth. That's what this is about.

Earlier in the year I seemed to be assaulted by this topic in the media but I set it aside for awhile so I wouldn't be BWA (Blogging While Angry). We know how that goes ; ). The sequence of events led me to outraged outbursts at the newspaper and tv. They can't hear me. I'm going to measure this out as it came to me.

The PTA of my children's high school has been fundraising and spending money and time on a campaign to teach teenagers about the dangers of skin cancer and sun safety. They are building a roof over part of a patio area. A worthy cause. Sure it is. I agree. Nearly everyone in my family has had non melanoma skin cancer, I'm just waiting for mine to show up and,  as a responsible parent, have been loading my kids with sunscreen and teaching them why since they were babies. All the way back in 1987 I knew that kids should use sunscreen.

Here's the problem. The PTA of my children's school has been fundraising and spending money and time on a campaign to teach teenagers about the dangers of skin cancer and...

This is a problem I have with my community in general. Recently in the paper and on the news the following survey information was reported:

In a report that had tons of numbers and breakdowns but this is the main idea.
2010 State youth substance abuse survey for our county.

66.9 % of high school students have used alcohol or any elicit drug.

2012-01-25: Alcohol, tobacco and drug use among middle school students in ( My County) is down across the spectrum, while substance and drug abuse is up for high-schoolers living in the (Specific Area I live) communities, according to the second biennial Youth Risk Behavior Survey released today.

There is only one high school in that area. That would be the one that is lodging a huge campaign about using sunscreen. The one with the bar featured in the yearbook.

Many in my community, including parents,  turn a blind eye to partying. Last year Mids High School yearbook featured a local bar as a landmark. Did no one question this? No. That's the mentality around here.

Earlier this year, our local news reported on the death of a student from a nearby county who was attending college out of state.
He was 21 years old. The official cause of death:

"respiratory depression due to acute alcohol intoxication."

Everyone had nothing but praise for this young man. He was described as, "a role model and a leader."  He was an excellent student. An athlete. From what they had to say about him he had great promise for the future. He was a wonderful young man. I can't even begin to imagine the heartbreak of his parents.

His former high school principal was quoted. He said:

" everyone should focus on the life [he] lived, not how he died."

And that's the problem.

People should absolutely remember the good things about this young man. They should extol the virtues and promise he exhibited.

He should be held up as a role model for what can be accomplished.

But also for what can be lost.

 Many parents seem to think, my child does well in school, is involved in activities, has respectful friends. There is no way they are using drugs or alcohol.

I can almost hear the PTA parent from our high school now.

Where are you going?

Bobs brother is home from college and having a keg party at the pool. Don't worry. He said we can't have any.

Ok honey, have fun. But don't forget your sunscreen!

There is no such thing as over visiting this topic with our kids.

We battled it for 3 years with Biggest. Did what she saw prevent Middlest from bad decisions? No. Which is why during her high school years I caught her drinking once and stoned twice. Was I surprised? Yes. But the keyword here is 'caught' her. And talked. Again. About every horror imaginable from being impaired. That's 3 times compared to 3 years. Now, I trust Littlest implicitly. She cares about her health. She doesn't succumb to peer pressure. She says she doesn't get why people want to be impaired. She can't stand the smell of alcohol and nearly vomits if you merely breathe on her after communion. This Friday is her prom. No matter how tired I am, will I be sitting up waiting till 1 AM to see her in? Yes. I will.

One of the reasons I began this blog was to tell a truth. That even if you are a good parent things can go wrong.  There are wonderful young people who really do stay out of trouble. But even good kids sometimes make stupid decisions.  We can talk. We can teach. We can be role models. If we ignore it or deny it,  we are doing a disservice to our children. The hardest lesson we learned as parents was never to assume anything. Watch. Listen. Talk. Ask questions. Do focus on the irreparable harm that drugs and alcohol can cause. Doing these things WILL NOT give you a 100% Guarantee that nothing bad will happen. But pretending bad things would never happen and doing nothing could possibly guarantee they will.

© 2012 All Rights Reserved by MOTPG

P.S. I thought I would have today to catch up on blog reading, but now have to travel unexpectedly. I will answer comments when I get back and come by to visit asap. I'm very behind on some of your blogs and that drives me nuts!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thursdays Agenda

1. First Quarter Reports. Check. Two weeks late but check.

2. Exploding ovaries. They believe Mid had an ovarian cyst rupture and I am having fun with how many places can they make us run around for different tests. Welcome to my family medical history sweetheart! Ain't genetics a fine thing.

3. Fun with email. The Seamonkey doesn't use a personal email. So if he wants to sign up or make a statement somewhere, he uses what I call my personal public email. So he decided to stir some stuff up with the Surfrider Foundation, about a local issue. He isn't a member. He just thought they might be as worked up about this as he is. And they were. And started a whole campaign. And then he got in an argument with some woman in New Jersey, because you know they need a Surfrider in New Jersey because the waves are so rippin, who chastised him about a Cc to Our city council that included their secret plans, which,  I'm not sure why she was in on anyway because we aren't in New Jersey, but anyway, he told her he didn't participate in 'secret plans' and would do what he wanted to. Now my inbox is being inundated with Surfrider Secret Plans, and ticked off chicks who ride the Jersey Shore.

4. I'm way too busy to be here right now.

5. But this is IMportant! Watch this. If you're like me you will fall all over yourself laughing and then make everyone in the family watch it too. They will think it's funny but not as hysterical as you do, but still.

 I can't possibly be the only one who sees how funny it is. I hope.
If I am, that's ok too. I'm having a great time all by myself.
Just tell me about your day.

P.S. Surfrider does a lot of good work. But what is life if you can't poke a little fun ; )

This post has been edited to reduce meaness. You remember, Hormones. Like a train wreck.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Works For Me

Biggest called.

She said:  Guess what I'm getting? I'm getting a Pig!

I said:  ok.....What Are You Going To Do With A PiG!~Where Are You Going To Put It!

DecentGuys mom just moved to a house on four acres and she said I could have a pig. It will stay there and we can visit it on the weekends.

Like Emmets Pig, I asked ? ( A childhood favorite of all my daughters)

Yes, she giggled, like Emmets Pig.

Are you going to name it King Biggest?

No, I'm going to name it Lulu Bell.

Works for me.

I woke up at five thirty in the morning and as I came down the hall Middlest stumbled out of her room half asleep. Her blanket thrown over her pajamas her hair disheveled. She stopped and and looked at me and then proclaimed, I found proof of the existence of God. To my also half asleep stare she continued, Raccoons. I didn't say anything so she went on. Animals, there eyes glow when head lights hit them at night and you know they're there and won't hit them. There is no reason I've heard of in evolution for them to have developed that. They don't need it nature. There haven't always been headlights. The only reason for that to happen is that something new they would need it.

I said: ok.

Works for me.

I'm on the back porch.

Littlest comes out and begins to juggle oranges while singing show tunes at the top of her voice.

Look, she announced! I just figured out I how to juggle oranges, but I have to be singing Memory from Cats or I can't do it. And I can only do two at a time. She proceeds loudly with oranges occasionally flying out and bouncing on the deck.

Below I hear the sound of scraping. Our new next door neighbors are cleaning up leaves within a close enough distance to enjoy the show.

I guess they had to find out about us sooner or later.

Later the dog brought me the new ball he found.

Worked for him.

As for me, I almost didn't notice because I have been extremely busy at work...and going on rants....and hating on bushes.....

I guess this time around the moon is on me.

Exceptional Moon Music

Oh! And someone found my blog by searching  'Last Brain Cell.'

My life is complete.

© 2012 All Rights Reserved by MOTPG

Monday, April 2, 2012

It Has Arrived

I soon will spend days longing for rain, to take the sting out of the onset of the heat. It will be 90 degrees this second day of April.  Spring,  always heralded by the blooming Ligustrum, the scent reaching into the farthest corners of my brain. Tiny white blossoms blasting their damn poison in to every pore of my body, a plant that drives me to depression.  It only took me to the age of eleven to realize it. Each year as they flanked the front porch of my childhood home and sneakily popped into bloom my head would ache. My limbs feel heavy and encumbered, my thoughts becoming fuzzy and unfocused. Then the sadness loomed, overwhelming and all encompassing.

My mother would ask, "What’s wrong?"

  "I don't feel well". “My head hurts.”  “I'm tired."

"It must be the Ligustrum", she would say.

One day as I sat on the brick steps feeling like I was drowning in the thickness of my own lethargy, the sweet smell enveloping my head, I spied my fathers hedge clippers propped against the iron railings and the solution was as clear and immediate to me as breaking the surface of black water to find pure oxygen waiting.

When she came home, my mother eyed the bruised white carcasses strewn across the walkway and asked sharply,

"What did you do?"

I braced myself. Willing to accept my sentence to uphold my principles I looked her straight in the eye.

   "I killed them."

She stared for a moment at the hacked hedge. Her mouth seemed to twitch ever so slightly and I waited.  I waited for her eyes to narrow in anger.  Waited for her to grit her teeth and begin the tirade. Waited for her voice.  Her  lash of choice.  I stood waiting and then…..

She simply looked back at me for a moment, then turned nodding her head, and without another word walked up the stairs and into the house.

He said: I bought eight of these bushes to plant out front. They get about ten feet high so they will make a great privacy hedge. They grow fast and they are supposed to get little flowers on them in the spring.
When he saw my face he said: They aren't Ligustrum. The tag says something else.

I said: They look like Ligustrum. That's just a general name. There are different varieties.

No, he said, They're not Ligustrum.

Ligustrum (Japanese Privet)

Sometimes I miss the hell out of my mother.

© 2012 All Rights Reserved by MOTPG

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