What’s going on this week in The Newlin House?
Well, Jonas has been struggling a little bit with first grade in the behavioral department. You know, because he’s kind of a lunatic. I don’t really think he’s acting radically different from how he did last year in kindergarden, I just think his teacher was too young and new to really pull me aside and say, Listen, he sometimes acts like a sociopath and we need to do something about it. His teacher, this year, however, is more seasoned, so we’ve put in place a system of checks and balances to track, punish and reward his behavior and get him back on track.
As a result, Tuesday evening he had to sit out his skateboarding class as punishment for his behavior that day in class. Instead, while his brother skated, he and I read:
If you don’t know this one, it’s about an owl (Sam) who meets a firefly (Gus) and teaches him how to write words in the air with his firefly light (it was originally published in 1958, before science was really a thing, I think). So then Gus (because Gus is kind of an asshole) uses this skill to trick people. Specifically, the first thing he does is cause a huge traffic accident at an intersection:
Me: So what do you think about what Gus did here?
Jonas (his eyes lighting up with glee after seeing the mayhem Gus caused): I think it’s awesome.
Me: But it’s dangerous! He wrecked all of those cars! Someone could have gotten hurt!
Jonas: Yeah, but it’s a really good trick.
Me (worrying this is what it felt like to be Jesse James’ mom): Jo, I want you to be the kind of person who makes good choices. Who doesn’t want other people to be hurt. I want you to know right from wrong and resist the urge to make trouble just because you can. You don’t want to hurt people or see them get hurt, right?
Jonas: It’s not a real story. It’s pretend.
Me: Right. Ok. Moving on.
He’s had decent days the rest of this week. He’s probably not actually a sociopath. He just has the potential to become one. Don’t worry, I’ll hug it out of him.
Last night we went to Curriculum Night, at the school, or as I like to call it, The Humiliation Party. In not just one of their classrooms, but in both Gray and Jonas’s classes there were ‘All About Me’ posters lining the walls. They had pictures of their families, descriptions of their hobbies and dreams, self-portraits, the whole shebang. There was one for each kid. Pretty much. You know, except for our kids. Neither of them had completed the assignment or mentioned it at home. Jo wasn’t even sure he’d ever received it but was quick to reassure us it was optional (it wasn’t). Gray went silent and still while we interrogated him about why he didn’t have one up, refused to acknowledge the questions and tried to change the subject (he may have a future in politics).
After we saw the classrooms, there was a firework show out on the back lawn to celebrate the school’s status as an A+ school. Jason and I sat at the end of one of the benches while Gray and Jo ran around with their friends.
Me: There are kids who just do their shit like all the time, aren’t there?
Me: Why have we never had one of those kids? I mean, we have THREE. You’d think, just even statistically speaking, we’d have a reasonable chance that one of them would follow fucking directions without us screaming at him, right?
Jason: You’d think.
Me: Every day I spend like 2 hours working on fucking homework with them. I read to them, we talk about math. I poured half a container of salt into a plate and had them draw spelling words with their fingers today! It was a mess! I don’t do this because it’s fun for me! But I did it. And I read the teacher emails and I communicate with Jo’s teacher several times a week to check up on his behavior. But not once did Gray, Jo, or Jo’s teacher say, Hey, there’s this All About Me poster… and now we show up tonight and we’re the assholes whose kids didn’t bother to do the poster. And our abject failure is right there on the wall for everyone to see!! And I didn’t even get to read about what their hopes and dreams are!!! AUGH.
Jason (patting my knee): I know, babe. I know.
Me: Is it our fault?
Jason: Probably genetically speaking it is.
But then, when the fireworks started, Gray came and sat next to me on the bench (even though there really wasn’t enough room for him in that spot) and Jo pushed his way between Jason and me. So we were a family of four (Ben stayed home to work on homework) squeezed into seats for two, which was sort of nice. And I realized if kids who act out occasionally and who don’t always do their homework didn’t exist, all the other ‘perfect’ students couldn’t realize their potential as humans who follow the rules and do what is expected of them. Without my kids, they wouldn’t get their gold starts and accolades. And really, that’s all those things are in elementary school. I don’t want my entire life judged on how I acted between the ages of 5 and 12, either. I mean, I looked like this for godsake:
As we were leaving the fireworks, a cute little girl in front of us turned around, spotted Jo and ran back to him throwing her arms around him and yelling, Hi Jonas! He rolled his eyes and said, Hi, Macy. It made me feel a little better. Not everything is about gold stars.
In other news, I’m performing in a student show at my circus school this weekend. It’s my very first aerial performance and it has the potential to be a total shitshow. I’m doing a duo on the silks with a friend I’ve been taking classes with for the last year. We choreographed it and have been rehearsing for a couple of months. We even ordered costumes online (because if you’re gonna perform in a circus show, you goddamn go all out):
I’m fairly terrified about the entire thing. Not really that it will go horribly wrong. Mostly that it will be mediocre. Which, you know, it probably will be. I’m a 36 year old mother of three pretending I’m in Cirque Du Soleil; mediocre is probably reaching for the stars. But the idea of putting all of this time and energy into a lackluster (at best) display is pretty humiliating and completely demoralizing.
So I’m trying to shake off the feelings of foreboding and live in the moment. The dress rehearsal went really well, which either means it’s all going to be fine, or it was a terrible omen because a bad dress rehearsal means an amazing opening night, so the converse has to be true. One of those.
I’ll post the video next week so you can help me determine which it was.