Thursday, January 31, 2008

Me and What Army?

So I got a note from N's teacher yesterday afternoon, telling me that she'd like to speak to me during my volunteer time in the classroom this morning, when the kids go up to the computer lab. (That's the time when I usually do the distribution of all the work that was done over the previous week into the "Thursday folders" that go home to parents every...oh, I think you know what day they go home.) She mentioned, in this note, that she'd OK'd this with the principal, who was going to send someone to cover her while she was gone.

Uh...OK. But, really. What the fuck?

So at 9 this morning, after dropping the kids up in the computer lab, she returned to the classroom...with the principal right on her heels. "Oh, I just wanted Mrs. W to be here to make sure that everything I say is appropriate," she said overly casually.

Again, I say: Uh....OK. But really. What the FUCK?

And that's when it got really weird. Because what she had to say to me? Wasn't much of anything. She prefaced it by saying that when she'd come to the IEP meeting, she hadn't seen N in over a month (she had had surgery at the beginning of winter break, and didn't return to the classroom until last week, so she came to the IEP during her medical leave), and that now that she was back in the classroom, she felt like she wanted to revisit some things with me.

Which is fine. Except the only thing she seemed to want to revisit was the fact that his IEP has no academic goals, and thus (as she wrote on the official "progress report" that comes home mid-trimester to parents whose kids might not get wonderful grades on their report card), "Notwithstanding that all accommodations will be met as stated by the IEP, at this time N will be graded against the regular 1st grade standards in all subjects."

So she called a meeting, with the principal, to tell me...that she's not going to fake N's grades because she feels bad for him? (You wanna say it with me this time? What the...)

And through this all, the principal is nodding sagely, and watching me closely. And all I can think is, "Did you guys really think I would object to this? Did you think I was going to fight you on this? For THIS, you needed BACKUP? What. The. Fuck?"

There was a truly gratifying moment in all this confusion, though: I had a copy of the science test in my bag (I was NOT KIDDING about taking it with me everywhere!) and thought it would be good for the principal to see what I was talking about as well. I'd already talked to his science teacher the day before, and she had found it very enlightening. But this was even better. If you could have SEEN their faces; it was wonderful. ("Wow," the principal kept saying. "Wow. You have to show this to the speech therapist. This is really interesting.") The classroom teacher immediately got up and took out some of the tests he'd taken lately in social studies and reading, and--if it's at all possible--there were even BETTER examples of the problem in there. (On two facing pages of his social studies test, there was a set of four fill-in-the-blank questions out of which he got three wrong directly across from a set of four direct-question questions that even required him to write out the correct answer, which is something he struggles with at times, of which he got four out of four CORRECT. Case closed.)

So, in the end, it turned out to be a productive meeting. I heard a little more about where N is in class, and it's not nearly as bad as I thought it was. There are continuing issues, and some new ones as well--apparently Little Mr. "My Accomodations Say I Can Stand At My Desk If It Helps Me Concentrate" has been using his extra height to, um, scan the papers around him when he doesn't know an answer. But there's nothing horrendous, and I did get to hear a great story about how the District's Superintendent of Instruction toured their classroom with the principal the other day and befriended/was befriended by N, who apparently charmed the pants off of her. As the principal confided to me, "It was adorable. You can't even imagine how cute it was."

Oh, I can imagine. It's what I live with, that unbearable cuteness of being. It's what stops me from killing him on a nearly daily basis. I can totally imagine. And it makes me smile. A lot.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Gratified By His Failure

N came home with a science test today; out of 17 possible right answers, he got 7. In other words, he failed. Big.

But that's OK. Really, it's more than OK. Frankly, I'm thinking I might laminate and/or frame this test, because I'm going to be showing it off a LOT in the near future.

Why? Because it is a pitch-perfect representation of two of the deficits I tried--not entirely successfully--to get the school district to recognize during his IEP.

One of the deficits is his acknowledged-though-somewhat-grudingly speech disorder. I have been saying over and over (and over and over) again that N's problem is in forming coherent, logical sentences. If I'm right, something like that would show itself in, say, an inability to handle fill-in-the-word questions. Because, if he can't really figure out how to make sentences "work," it would be difficult for him to fill in a missing word in a sentence. How could he figure out which word makes sense, if he has no idea what the sentence is missing, or where the sense of it is going?

So, the science test: The first five questions? Fill in the blank. Four out of five wrong--and it looks like he almost got all of them wrong, but erased his initial answer on the fifth one at the last minute. (A sample: The ______ can be clear or full of clouds. The right answer: sky. His answer: temperature.)

Now, the following six questions? Same exact material, but instead of fill in the blank they were pick-the-right-answer-to-the-following-complete-sentence questions. He got only two wrong here...and one of them I can totally see why; it's a pretty fine distinction for a first grader. (What warms the Earth? Choices: light from the sun; energy from the sun. N chose light from the sun.)

If that doesn't make my point about his major difficulty being in the form of the testing rather than in his understanding of the concepts he's been taught, I don't know what would.

The other thing this test does really nicely is to shoot down the contention made by several of the people who evaluated him that he's a visual learner, when that is just not how I see him at all. (My friend Ambre, who pooh-poohed the visual-learner label the second she heard it, will be especially gratified to see how this worked out.) How was that shown? The remaining six questions on the test were picture questions, of the "circle the tool you would use to measure the weather shown in the picture" type. N got four out of six of those wrong. Clearly, seeing a picture does NOT provide a thousand words for him...or if it does, a good 666 of those words are incorrect.

OK, so I may have been kidding about the lamination and framing, but I am totally not kidding about dragging this test with me all over the freaking place. In fact, in the hour since N brought it home to show me, I've already emailed his science teacher (yes, they have a different teacher for science in FIRST frigging GRADE...because there's not enough for these kids to deal with, so why not throw in adapting to two different teaching styles right off the block?) to ask for a few minutes of her time so I can talk to her about his IEP and accommodations, and emailed his speech therapist to ask for some time so I can show her in gorgeous black-and-white just what I think needs working on.

I'd be a lot more worried by his failing this test, in other words, if I weren't so thrilled by it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Warning, Mom: I'm about to be wildly inappropriate

One of the really sad things about trying to be semi-pseudonymous and protect your kids' privacy is that you can't post that great photo of your daughter and her father from Friday night, as they were getting ready to leave for the Daddy-Daughter (aka 'bring your favorite guy') Dance at our elementary school. Which is a pity, because my girl looked AWESOME. Too mature, and too gorgeous, but awesome nonetheless. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Em had an absolute blast at the dance, and even Baroy came home grinning. But the most fun, for me, came before the watching Baroy struggle with the whole concept of dating his 10-year-old daughter.

It started when I tried to convince him that he should get Em a wrist corsage for the evening, and he made very possible excuse short of "I'm just afraid I'd stick her with the pin and then she'd get flesh-eating bacteria and die and it'd be all my fault."

"What is your PROBlem?" I finally asked, exasperated.

"It just seems...icky," he admitted. "I can't explain. But it just seems wrong to give your daughter a corsage the way you gave your prom date a corsage...especially knowing what I expected from my prom date."

I would say that I rolled my eyes so violently they may just stay stuck that way, but the truth is, I was soon presented with a MUCH BETTER reason to roll my eyes...and to actually start seeing it Baroy's way, courtesy of the "How to make the Daddy-Daughter Dance even more special" notice that came home the night before the event.

I can't find the actual sheet--and more's the pity for that, because I've forgotten most of it--but I do know that one of the tips will be forever emblazoned in that "ewwwww, icky!" part of my brain. That would be the tip that suggested that, just before re-entering your home that night, the Dad should tell the daughter what a good time he'd had, and what a special night it was.

Maybe it's the way it was worded, which I can't recall precisely. Or maybe it's just that I'm sick. I know that most people would probably just see that as sweet, but my mind went directly to The Bad Place.

"And after that?" I said, my mouth gaping in astonishment. "Does it say whether or not you should use tongue when you kiss her goodnight? Because that's totally where it seems like they're going."

It's moments like this, I believe, that convince Baroy that he made a good choice in marrying me. Because I understand. And am willing to go there--no matter how awful there is--for the sake of a good, lasting belly laugh. Which, of course, I got.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Em and N are wrestling on the futon couch in our family room. Em gets N in a compromising position, and is lording it over him. When N finally wriggles out, he raises a finger in the air and declares, "You're gonna get paid for that!"


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Now He Is Seven

I'm not really sure why I'm feeling so quiet on this, the occasion of my son's seventh birthday. We had a perfectly wonderful day--the Southern California rains stopped just long enough for us to have his golf-themed party outside (a true miracle, since it rained up until this morning and then started again within half an hour after the last guest left), everyone who was invited to the party (no, nobody from his class at school) showed up and seemed to have fun, and N was just...perfectly wonderful and perfectly normal. WeeyumWise's mom--who's been at every one of N's birthday parties, except, perhaps, for the first one (though maybe that one too; my memory is Not Good)--said it was the happiest she's ever seen him at a party, and the most comfortable.

And maybe that's why I'm so quiet. It's not that I'm at a loss for words regarding my favorite boy in the world, but that I talk so much about him so often, and today was just happy and comfortable and normal--the kind of day that doesn't really require talking and analyzing and obsessing.

My baby turned 7 today, and he had a party, and there were friends and games and presents and laughter and cake. It was perfectly wonderful.

[I made the cake and the cupcakes, and everything on them is edible. What you can't see is that the pretzel-and-fruit-rollup flags each have the number 7 written on them in frosting. It was no treasure-chest cake--nothing will ever beat that one--but it turned out really nicely, I thought.]

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I Must Be Doing Something Right

Today is my birthday, number 44. (Does it make me seem charmingly neurotic or just flat-out insane when I say that having a numerical palindrome for an age makes me very, very happy?) Since N's birth two days after my 37th birthday, these days have become quiet ones, as we gear up for celebrating a little boy who begins looking forward to his special day on January 27th each year. This is fine by me.

And so, today, I've cleared the decks of heavy-lifting work (lots of routine tasks to catch up with, but no research and no writing of complete sentences for a potentially critical audience), and we'll bring dinner in. That's all I need.

Well, that and some presents. Or, rather, the cards that came with the presents.

Baroy's card to me was too cute--a copy of the Time magazine cover (even *I* can't bear to link to it yet again; the tooting of my own horn these days is almost deafening) with "I know I would be sick without you!" on the inside. Hysterical, and very sweet.

But the kids outdid themselves. Em (who recently learned how to use Powerpoint at school), put together a Powerpoint presentation for me, and then printed it out. Here are some excerpts:
What her son thinks about her
  • "She's perfect"
  • "She's great at everything"
  • "She's wonderful when she puts me to bed"
  • "She's good at work"
  • "She's sweet"
  • "She's good at taking Snug for walks"
What her daughter thinks of her
  • "She's a great friend"
  • "She's great to talk to"
  • "She is great to go to when I'm feeling blue"
  • "She's great to go to for advice"
  • "She knows me and all my problems"
OK, so that second one makes it seem like poor Em is constantly on the edge of a nervous breakdown, but still...If that isn't the official Cutest Thing Ever, I don't know what is.

Oh, and to top it all off, one of my nephews called me this afternoon to wish me a happy birthday...and we talked! For a long time! This is an 11-year-old boy for whom chatting on the phone has always seemed like some sort of evil torture...and yet, today, he used complete sentences! Sometimes two in a row! It was truly awesome. Seriously. I love that kid to death, and to get a chance to chat with him after not having seen him for a good six months is a huge gift.

So, yeah. 44. A palindrome year filled with notes and conversations and kids I adore. I could do much worse.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On Thin Ice

We spent the weekend up in Big Bear, as we’ve done more or less for the last five years, with our gang. Eight adults, nine children aged 10 and under. You do the noise/chaos/Southern-California-kids-getting-their-once-yearly-dose-of-snow/adults-pounding-back-alcohol math.

On Saturday, Baroy and D—one of the other dads—took some large proportion of the kids down to Big Bear Lake to check out the scenery and the snow and the ice. D found some cool ice shards that had broken free of the main ice on the lake; the kids thought that was awesome, and decided to find some cool shards of their own, venturing out further and further onto the ice to do so, in full sight of two adult men who supposedly (and that is indeed the key word) have full use of their mental faculties. Need I go any further? Need I do anything but identify WHICH of the kids fell through the ice and into the lake while said adult men with supposedly full use of their mental faculties watched?

That would be Em.

At the time, we moms were out foraging for food at Vons. (Hey, it's the wilderness, you know!) When we returned, it was to a house of only slightly chastened children, two men who were studiously avoiding our gazes, and two others who barely let Em say, “I fell in the lake,” with a big grin on her face before piping up with “We weren’t even there! We had nothing to do with it!”

I wanted to beat them all, but had to console myself with shooting death rays at my husband.

And, no, I don’t care if it was only into six inches of water that she fell. It was ice cold, and she wound up in it up to her belly because she lost her footing when she fell.

She also has a cut on her forehead from some ice that was in a snowball during a snowball fight, a bruise on her left hip from sledding into a tree on Sunday afternoon, and an only slightly smaller bruise on her right hip from sledding into a metal light pole on Monday morning. Do we know how to keep our kids safe, or what?

Truth be told, Em had the best time of her life this weekend.

Each year, D has told the kids a “scary story” during our Big Bear trip. As the older kids have gotten, well, older, he’s made it scarier, and started including others in the game, such as having one of the husbands throw snowballs up at the windows of the room they’re in while he’s describing how Brian—the anti-hero of these scary stories—might just be stalking around outside, waiting to get them. There is always much screaming on Scary Story Night. I am the only one who hates it, because I hate being scared so much that watching other people be scared bothers me. The kids? ADORE it.

This time, the scary story had been promised for Sunday night, our last night there. On Sunday afternoon, after the older kids got back from their once-yearly ski lessons (it may take ‘em a while to get proficient, methinks), the phone rang. D, who picked up, asked the kids to turn down the TV so he could hear Officer Rawlins. Everyone was staring at him as he talked with the officer, and assured him we would indeed make sure we were locked up tight that night.

I am not kidding when I say that it was the kids who figured out sooner than I did that this was part of the story. My heart was literally in my throat...until I caught the you-really-aren’t-THAT-stupid-are-you gazes of my friends. (The answer: YES. And, duh.)

And thus began the hours-long “who made that phone call?” “where are the parents and where is each of their cell phones?” “this isn’t real, is it?” hysteria throughout the household. The easily freaked-out younger siblings were spirited away to another room for a while so that the olders could be systematically freaked out some more. Several more phone calls followed, each to ‘reassure’ us that, while Brian was somewhere right around the lake (the house we rented being just above the lake), they were sure they would catch him in time. But, just in case, we should lock the doors and windows.

In between reassuring one another that “this is just a IS just a joke, right?” the kids were manning the windows and peeking out the doors and watching us adults VERY carefully. (We had, apparently, enlisted outside help for this year’s Scary Story, and thus were able to sit looking innocent while these yes-really-from-outside-the-house calls came in one after the other.)

Finally, when speculation had reached a fever pitch, another call came in. This time, Officer Rawlings asked for J, the only boy among the 10-year-olds. J listened carefully to what the officer had to say, thanked him for his time (he really IS the most polite 10-year-old ever, not to mention having a sense of respect for authority that is so deeply ingrained he wouldn’t even CONSIDER not treating this person on the phone like he was indeed a police detective), and then turned to the now-clustered-around-him kids with a huge grin on his face.

“Now we have them!” he crowed. “Now we have proof that it’s just a joke!”

“How?” one of the other kids asked.

J started to giggle as he spoke, “Because he said that we didn’t have to worry about Brian coming after us anymore because he...” more giggling now “he...he went too far out onto the ice and fell into Big Bear Lake!”

It is a true testament to my daughter’s ability to take one for the team that she laughed hardest of us all. And that, my friends, is quite a feat, because I don’t think there was a person in that room who didn’t laugh hard enough to have to wipe tears from their eyes.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Link

It's up, it's up! No, not the stock market (badumbum). My article for Time!

Not that you shouldn't go to the supermarket and buy a copy of your very own. Because not only does the print version have my article, but it also has a version of the publisher's letter that includes an only-slightly-better-than-the-one-I-posted-yesterday photo of me. The one online, sadly, is photo-less.

Still, did you see that byline? And that mention of me in the pub letter as an 'author'? Yeah, I could definitely be in a worse mood.

(I'm sure I'll be returning to angst and depression--and acting like I really care about keeping this blog pseudonymous--soon, soon, soon. It's just that after what may have been my Worst December Ever, I'm really enjoying January. I figure I earned it.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The photo editor from Time (which, um, oops, doesn't come out until this Friday, so I bragged too soon) called today, looking for a headshot of me for the "publisher's letter" in the issue. (My article--which is titled "Marry Me"--is part of a special section in that issue; the publisher's letter will be focusing on the various articles in that section.) I sent them a couple of cute shots I have of me--one with Snug, one with me all windblown at Legoland a year and a bit back--but they told me they needed something that at least resembles a professional headshot, since that's what the other 'featured writers' have. Well, shit. I don't have a headshot. Who keeps a headshot around of themselves? (OK, other than my husband and all of my brothers-in-law, because they have all written books and/or are actors. And, OK, other than 83 percent of the rest of the population of Los Angeles. Oh, never mind.)

So I threw on some makeup (and my mother and sister know that I mean that more-or-less literally) and asked Baroy to take a few headshots of me against a 'plain' backdrop. After looking at what he'd gotten, Baroy whooped with laughter at their hideousness and kindly had me move to our living room, where he shot a few more of me leaning against our book case. We did eventually get one that the photo editor said she can use, and I went on with my life.

Baroy, however, did not. The Baroy's-Last-Name Boys, as they are generally known, all have a wicked sense of humor, all have exceptional Photoshop skills, and all have waaaaaaaay too much time on their hands. Baroy is no exception. And so, while I was sending the 'good' photo off to Time, he was sending the following to his brothers and others. He's lucky I have a sense of humor.

[An aside: I'm still unsure how, when I said to the hair stylist, " I want my hair shorter, like to the bottom of my neck," she translated that into "I want my hair to barely reach the bottoms of my ears...and, oh, can you give me some dewlaps while you're at it?" I hate this haircut. I truly despise it.]

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Best Of...N's IEP

First, some quick housekeeping: I have yet to see my article in Time, since I cannot find a copy of it. It is supposedly in the issue that came out yesterday, which--for reasons I will never understand--has a January 28th cover date. It's NOT the issue with the voting-booth curtain on it, but I can't tell you what cover it IS, because, you know, see above. And the website still has the voting-booth cover. So, I don't know. It's the Ghost Issue of Time!

And now, on to the IEP.

So, it went well overall. I will be obsessing over some of the test results for a while, but until I've processed that part a little more, I'll save you from my thought processes. The overall results, however, are exactly what I started this process asking for: He's been 'accepted' into special ed on the basis of a speech and language delay in the area of pragmatics. He'll get twice-weekly speech therapy at school: one half-hour of group therapy, one half-hour of individual. And because he qualified under speech, that enabled OT to kick in some services too, though fairly minor. He'll get twice-MONTHLY occupational therapy sessions, a half an hour each.

When you get services in an IEP, they write up very specific goals. He has three goals for speech, all of which are pretty straightforward: incorporating appropriate plurals and tense forms into his speech; being able to retell an age-appropriate story in the correct order and being able to provide the salient details when asked; being able to 'fill in the blank' on a sentence (which is something he has a real problem doing, hence his continuing to do quite poorly on reading tests and other language-based tests).

In OT, he has only one goals, but it's such a broad, if-we-can-solve-this-we'll-have-totally-fixed-this-kid goal that it makes me laugh: "N will be able to participate in all tasks within his school day without getting upset, crying, or saying 'I don't want to do it,' in 4 of 5 school days, using sensory strategies as needed." I also love the '4 of 5 days' thing--as if that allows him to pick one day a week to just go to pieces.

There is also a nice long list of in-class accommodations that should help him in the interim; basically, they allow for him to come up with ways to deal with the anxiety that school produces (things like being allowed to stand up to do his work, taking away the time-pressure of tests whenever possible, giving him classroom tasks to do that involve being able to get out of his seat and do something physical) or to try to address some of his issues (finding him a peer buddy, giving him pencil grips and something called a chair band that he can hook his feet into).

So, it was generally all good.

If you're still with me, here are a few samples of what these various professions saw and heard in dealing with N:

From the School Psychologist's observations: "When another child approached the examiner, N stated, 'You guys, she's not here to talk to you guys. She's here to talk to me!'"

And again: "During an observation at recess, N remained at the table for 10 minutes eating his snack, lying down on the benches, sitting up, and lying down again. He did not interact with any of the other children at the table during the time now did he appear interested in watching the playground activity...He did not approach other children."

And again: "When tasks appeared more difficult, he would give up easily, demonstrate a short attention span, wander away from the desk, or state 'I'm too tired' or 'I don't like this book.' He required frequent breaks to maintain his attention, and incentives such as stickers also helped."

The one that really made me want to cry: "On one item, he completed 'It makes me not play with anybody.' When queried further about when and where he feels this way, N was nonresponsive."

The one that really made me laugh (and say 'Oy'): "When asked what he would do if given three wishes, he stated he wanted a gun, a bazooka, and a shotgun; when asked what he would do with the guns, he stated that he would shoot some bad guys." (She told me that she actually wondered at first if she should worry about this, but that he made it quite clear that he knew it was just pretend/playing.)

From the OT's in-class observations: "He was observed to transition back to his seat appropriately. N stood at his desk and twirled his hair with his pencil. Mrs. N was pointing out a student's good behavior and N said, 'What about me?'"

From the Speech Therapist's notes about testing: "I feel it important to note that my testing with N was done over three 20 min sessions. After 20 minutes, he would simply lose interest, and no amount of coaxing or bribery could get him back on task..." (That's my boy.)

From the Special Ed Teacher's notes about some of the individual tests he took: "Story Recall measures a student's ability to listen to a story and retell it back to the evaluator...It requires N to recall increasingly complex stories that are presented. He did not score since he said he didn't remember any of the stories presented to him." (This is not a typo; it's not that he didn't score well, but that he DID NOT SCORE AT ALL. He got a 0 on this part. Talk about 'showing the problem.')

From the Special Ed Teacher's classroom observation: "N was observed in the general education classroom in science. though he was attentive to the teacher, he was unable to fill in a science sheet. He became frustrated and started crying and pulling at his hair."

So, we'll see. I took the reports home to look them over before signing the IEP, but I'll be returning that in the next couple of days, since they can't initiate therapies before we agree to them on paper.

I'm hopeful that he's now going to be getting at least some of the help he needs. There are academic issues that aren't being addressed here, but that's stuff I can help with, and stuff that the general ed teacher is supposed to help with, so I'm OK with that for now. I'm OK with it all--even all the fighting it took to get here. I'm just sad that it was required in the first place. And I wonder what happens to the kids whose parents can't--or don't know to--fight this hard and this long.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Not Nearly As Selfish As I'd Hoped To Be

I'm not ignoring you on purpose, I promise. It's just that, somewhere between "I resolve to be more effectively selfish" and, well, today, I picked up about 73 million little freelance jobbers, and they're all due on Monday. Which makes finding time to blog--or, frankly, to breathe deeply--ever so challenging. But it will make it easier to breathe when I consider how exactly to pay next month's bills. So it sort of balances out in the end.

Meanwhile, here it is...the semi-big reveal about that article I kept jabbering on about last week. If nothing disastrous happens in the next couple of hours, it will be appearing in this Monday's issue of Time. Or should I say, TIME! (Because exclamation points are there for a reason, after all.) And while it features neither my lovely Ambre nor my lovely Paula (or, rather, I should say it NO LONGER features either of them after the edits), it does feature a (dramatically cut down version of my interview with) my lovely Mir. Who isn't really mine, of course, since she has about 40 bajillion readers, all of whom love her as I do. But I'm claiming her for now, even if she does file for a restraining order.

I will be posting a link as soon as there is one to post. Trust me; this is not the last you'll hear.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It's hard not to assume it's done out of spite and meanness

[Before I go any further: I can't say I got an A or anything, but the initial word from my editor on the article was positive, so I didn't fail. Yay me! More when the piece is out and ready for general consumption...hopefully within the next week or so.]

At the end of last week, we got official word on N's IEP meeting. They scheduled it for next Monday, January 14. At 7:45 am.

Here's what you need to know to understand why that made me want to spit fire. The school's playground opens not a moment before 8 am. It's their school, and their 'no exceptions' rule; clearly, they know this. And so WHY EXACTLY would they schedule a meeting that both parents should clearly want to attend for FIFTEEN MINUTES BEFORE those parents are allowed to drop their kids at school?

It was an easy fix: I called the school, told them we couldn't be there until 8 and that we would not agree to having the meeting start without us, and they said, "Oh, sure! No problem! We'll make that change for you!"

But you know (and by you, I mean anyone who has dealt with a school district in this manner) that this was, at best, a passive-aggressive screw you to us as parents. I'd like to assume that she just wasn't thinking...this SPECIAL ED SPECIALIST who is in charge of our IEP. You know, because she's probably not had to do this much before in her 20-PLUS YEARS OF WORKING FOR THE DISTRICT IN THIS CAPACITY. Because it's probably unusual that the parents involved in the IEP have KIDS TO SCHEDULE AROUND. Maybe it's just that I'm being overprotective, not wanting my not-yet-7-year-old to drive himself to school in the morning. That must be it. I'm sure it's my own fault.

Calling an IEP for 15 minutes before school opens. For crying out loud.

This is going to be fun, don't you think?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Articles and Invitations

Invitations first, because I know Green is waiting with bated breath. (No, that's not a typo; baited breath, though often used, is wrong. Yes, yes I am a word geek. And proud of it.)

All was well in Party Planning Land; I'd decided to take the advice given here and just go with N's flow, and was feeling just fine about it. Until they went back to school on Wednesday. Because Wednesday afternoon, he came home and said, "I want to invite Luke to my party. He's funny."

So now we're in negotiations over who else from his class to invite. Because I'm not going to invite Luke and no other kid from the class--especially because I've never, not once, seen him and Luke even LOOK at each other, much less pal around, and also because if there is nobody else from the class here, who will Luke get to hang with? We'll see where this goes from here.

Funny thing is, as I was saying to Kristen the other day (a conversation during which we came to realize that my parents live near her, and hers live really, really near me--which is irrelevant but oh-so-cool): It hadn't occurred to me that one of the reasons he didn't want to invite the kids from his class might have been the simple fact that he hadn't seen any of them for two weeks when we had the initial invite conversation, and that the whole out-of-sight-out-of-mind thing, plus the feeling-shy-when-you-haven't-seen-someone-in-a-while thing (which he has in spades, being N) might be playing a part. I feel dumb now, actually.

As for the article: No, no word yet. I do appreciate the words of support, though I could tell you all the reasons why just being a good writer sometimes isn't enough. Oh, and to make things a little clearer...If you read my comments, you've probably realized that among the people I talked to for this piece were some of my friends (who are also some of my blog readers, obviously). It's true, and it's fine; they were perfect for it, and fabulously helpful. Not to mention that I got to interview them with a strong drink in my hand...and, OK, several in my belly, along with some truly delicious crab dip...on New Year's Eve. Yep; it's a hard-knock life for me.

[Since you guys asked for a scorecard: Paula and her hubby unfortunately didn't make it out of my first round of cuts; Ambre the Spotlight Hogger and her very interesting comments did, but are on a list of possible cuts that I gave to my editor, since the piece is still a bit long. Time will (hopefully soon) tell.]

Friday, January 4, 2008

High Anxiety

When I was in college, I drove people absolutely batty with my personal insecurities. "I'm going to fail, I'm going to fail," I'd wail incessantly before each and every exam, only to sheepishly return, days later, saying, "OK, I know I got an A, but I really did think I was going to fail."

I've been trying to keep that in mind these past few days as I've worked on a not-so-top-secret article for a Very Impressive Magazine Title under somewhat unusual circumstances. (My editor is someone I know very, very well. Working for him combines not only my usual somewhat-suckup-y and clearly daddy-related/this-woman-needs-therapy-badly need to please my editor, whoever he may be, but my much more specific need-to-please-this-specific-person-because-if-his-opinion-of-my-writing-really-really-really-matters-to-me issues.) I've been failing miserably. This morning (well, late last night) I handed in the piece with much, much trepidation. It just felt like so much less than what I'm capable of; it felt like something I'd overthought and overresearched and had way too little fun with, and I'm certain the writing reflects that. It's been so long since I've done a piece of 'real' science writing for any place even resembling the Very Impressive Magazine Title. I felt rusty and awkward, as if I couldn't trust my instincts.

My editor says he won't be able to read the piece for a few days, and that is only increasing my anxiety. I want him to read it NOW. I can't wait days to hear that it sucks, that I've let him down, that I need to do about seven days' worth of work on it in an hour and a half so that it can be published. I definitely can't wait days to hear that they won't be paying me for it; that they're scrapping it. Nor can anyone around my house wait days for me to just shut the fuck up about my insecurities and move on.

I'm going to fail. I'm definitely going to fail.

[If this sounds at all familiar to you--not just this particular type of angst, but the way in which I presented it--it is. I felt oddly deja-vu-ish while writing it, and so checked to see if I'd written it before. Yup. Everything old is old again. I will, however, point out that while the meeting I talked about for that particular day didn't go as badly as I'd thought, I did get fired from that job--well, laid off--just a couple of months later. I don't always get an A in the end.]