Friday, December 31, 2010

a rough time, a crappy vacation

Iris uber Alles and I are both under the weather. She's definitely much healthier than me, having had a big headstart on this ailment (we can trace its vector all too well: classmate of Iris goes to school despite being incredibly sick, sneezes and coughs all over Iris, Iris comes home spreading germs to her all-too-doting mother). So then the beautiful expanse of time spent off school is reduced to sitting around the house, fetching kleenex and cold drinks and painkillers for an ailing mother. I offered to drive them to the House of Air, so they could bounce their brains out for an hour while I sat on a couch with my box of kleenex, but Iris didn't feel up to it.

Their father took a little break from work to take them bowling, but he forgot to find out ahead of time whether the alley was open or not, so that outing involved driving across town, staring forlornly at the forbidden bowling alley, and then returning home. I was so glad I hadn't dragged along with them. The next day the Sober Husband took Iris to the Disney Family Museum, having gotten some passes as a present, while Lola and I stayed home. I napped on the couch -- at night, my coughing prevents me from getting any quality sleep, so I am prone to falling asleep during the day. I didn't even realize that Iris and the Sober Husband had been out until after they were back. "I had my Rat yell swear words at you, and you didn't even wake up!" said Lola gleefully (one of her best Christmas presents was a stuffed version of Rat from "Pearls Before Swine").

I've apologized repeatedly to the children for giving them a crappy holiday, but I know that doesn't prevent them from scrawling hate-filled screeds against me in the many diaries strewn about the house. Meanwhile I am having a hard time keeping my own spirits level. Did you know the last babysitter I tried to hire charged $20 an hour and flaked twice on interviews? I'm supposed to pay $20 an hour to some loser who can't even call until two hours after she was supposed to be at my house to meet me? The next-to-the-last babysitter I tried to hire didn't respond to my carefully-crafted introductory email, mentioning our mutual acquaintance, until over a month later, sending a weird, ditzy response asking, "Did I answer this or not? I thought I did, but now I think I didn't."

I'd like to think there is a deeper meaning to this, like that by becoming so invested in my children that I allowed my own life to wither away, that my children will appreciate this and will go on to have fabulous lives themselves, but that is wishful thinking. They are both prone to holding lengthy grudges (Lola still brings up The Pinata Incident from her third birthday party) and they both will probably remember this particular Christmas vacation forever. "Remember that Christmas Momdude was whiny and sick and we were always bringing her kleenex, and we had that foster cat that was hiding under the bed all the time? God, that sucked. We sat around the house all vacation. At least we got a Kinect that year."


Phoenix said...

may i ask what your hobby was? so curious now!

NonymousGoatsePants said...

Really! What is the-hobby-that-cannot-be-named?

Is it... Carnivorism?

Carroll said...

That bit about the babysitters? Crazy! Hard to believe that I am of an age where I can recall having been thrilled to receive .30/hour to babysit a neighbor's kid. Not showing up for the interview or responding to e-mail in a timely manner = not serious contenders for the job. Fie on them!

virago said...

I'm with Carroll on this one. Babysitters get $20 an hour now?
Babysitters get $20 an hour now?
Back in the day (many, many days ago), my motto as a child carer was "Will work for food." Sleeping kids + bowl of chocolate chip mint ice cream + Stephen King novel = HEAVEN.
$20 an hour. Oy.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Dear Anonymous, of course that isn't rude in the least. I know some wonderful families from preschool who went to Miraloma... for Lola's year, I know Miraloma had a big waitpool. The 3d grade does sound lovely there, but Lola's in the 2nd grade now, looking for 3d grade for next yr. I'm averse to skipping a year for her because although she's academically extremely advanced, she's a bit young socially speaking.

I do appreciate the tip, though. I hadn't thought of Miraloma for Lola, even though we know great people there, in part because a boy we knew Iris's age had a rough time there (but his little sisters are sooo happy there). His parents moved him to private school but kept the little girls at Miraloma, and now everyone's happy. Part of his issues were being very advanced and having a strong personality, which I think in general made me think Lola wouldn't do so well there, but that was probably just his particular year. Each year is different.

Dear Carroll and Virago: $20 is on the high end here. I think $15 is normal. We paid our teenaged babysitters $10 an hour because their father insisted we cut back from the $15/hr we were used to paying. Then they went away to college. Sometimes I think I shd take up babysitting, honestly.

Phoenix and Goat, I cut that part out because I realized later I was risking hurting some feelings, so I don't want to get into it for that reason.

NonymousGoatsePants said...

'nuff said. I'm just going to assume it's carnivorims, then.

After reading your question to Anon about schools, I have a question for you. We're considering enrolling our weasel in a private school here. We're in the process of having him tested, but he's not challenged well in class, except for reading.

He finishes his homework for the week in 20 minutes on Monday, and does what he wants on the following days. My wife and I work pretty extensively with him outside of class (my wife more than me, truly), but I worry that he's lacking.

I worry, though, about private school. Socially, he's extremely outgoing. Much the opposite of Dad, and the discussions that we've had about a new school interest him, but he's worried about losing his old friends.

I never thought I would even think about private school. I always thought my wife and I could pick up the slack, but now I'm not too sure. I question myself. At the same time, I don't want to expose him to the competitive pricks that seem to be drawn to many private schools.

One school we're looking at really looks pretty good. But it's a K-9 program. They say that their students complete their HS graduation requirements by the end of 9th grade. Then they can attend public HS taking AP classes. This seems odd to me. How do schools for advanced kids usually work. While I assume they could finish HS early, what's the point if they're really socially unready for college. I recall a kid when I was in college who was around 15. He was academically gifted, but pretty socially isolated due to his age and social ability. In retrospect, it must have been torture for him.

I should probably drink more and worry less.

BTW, I'm available to tutor Lola on higher forms of swearing in all of its forms: Cursing, Profanity, Blasphemy, Obscenity and Vulgarity to name a few, as well as advanced lessons in each form's proper use along with examples created using real life examples of your daughter's every day life.

Think about it. I'm affordable!

the Drunken Housewife said...

Goats, you should read "Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the GIfted Child" by Alissa Quart. I strongly recommend it.

I agree with you about the starting college early thing -- it's not desirable. Succeeding socially is as or more important than succeeding academically in life.

Private school doesn't necessarily keep your kid challenged, although the one you're looking at sounds academically demanding. It's a struggle every year for us. The Sober H. just sent email to Iris's math teacher yesterday asking her what can be done to make math more challenging for Iris this year.

But in our state, private schools can be more flexible. Two different years we got Iris's curriculum changed mid-year (new books ordered, even) to make her work harder. The former head of lower school told me frankly that we were running up against the limits of what could be done for any particular child, though. Particularly in a private school, where everyone is paying and the parents tend to be more vocal and on top of things, a school cannot put a huge amount of effort into challenging the top students, sigh, as then other students will be seen as not getting those opportunities/special attention (but meanwhile it's not politically problematic to give a lto of special attention & resources to the bottom end of the student population).

I read an article in the Atlantic positing that the US produces mediocre students precisely because the work isn't hard enough in our schools and the most talented students are ignored. This resonated with me no end.

So in the end, I'm pessimistic about whether any school will challenge a bright child enough. I'm trying once again to wedge Iris into the amazingly-over popular school for gifted kids in our area. Even there I have heard of parents who say that this school, which has a firm cut-off of a 140 IQ, isn't challenging enough for the brightest kids.

The SH thinks we should be able to enrich our kids enough, but Iris flat out refused to do extra math stuff with him. "I'm supposed to learn that at school; I don't want to be punished by having to do extra", she says.