Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Jiminy Jones Gets a Haircut

Yes, it's been an incredibly long time since I last posted. Almost a month. I don't think I've ever gone so long without blogging. It's just that I don't blog at work and I'm so exhausted after we put the kids to bed, I don't typically get back on the computer. Excuses, excuses. But here I am. And I'll be updating with more regularity in the near future. So on to the story of Jiminy Jones.

A couple weeks ago I was working and Jason was home with the kids. Late on Saturday night, when plopped myself down in the chair next to Jason, he began to recount his day with the kids. He told me how Casey really wanted this book he'd read in school called Jiminy Jones Gets a Haircut. Jason told me that he'd taken Casey to the book store, and he'd searched for the book. The closest he could come up with, though, was Jimmy Brown Cuts His Hair. It was published some time during or before the 1950s (I don't remember the actual date anymore). Jason didn't buy it, opting instead to wait until Monday when he could ask Casey's teachers for the correct book title.

Proud of my son's love of books, the wheels in my head began to churn a bit. Before I left for work Sunday morning, I asked Casey about the book:

Was it Jimmy Jones, Casey?
Was it Jeremy Jones, Casey?
Is Jiminy a boy or a girl, Casey?
A girl, Mommy! You're silly!

Jiminy Jones - - - hmm. What name could that be? Have you figured it out yet? Well, the title of the book Casey wanted was Junie B. Jones is a Beauty Parlor Guy. It is, in fact, a book about a little girl named Junie B. Jones who gives herself a bad haircut and has to have it repaired at a beauty parlor. So even if he got the title completely wrong, there's no doubt he knew exactly what he was talking about!

He's been sleeping with the book ever since. I'm not exaggerating. He wrote his name on it. Three times. In permanent marker. I've had to tape the cover back on the paperback. And tape together the first 5 pages because they pulled from the binding. It has to be the most well-worn book I have ever seen. And I've seen a lot of well-worn books.

Well, Casey was sent home from school today with a fever. So I picked up the Junie B. Jones Second Box Set Ever! (books 5 through 8). He loves it. He's been practicing taking the books out of the box and putting them away. He's written his name on the cover of each one. He's even made up titles for each book based on the cover art. Really, what' s not to love? The protagonist of the book is a kindergartner named Junie B., and the voice is the voice of your typical five or six-year-old. Poor grammar and all. (As a side note, Casey is already looking forward to starting Keekergarten next year -- I love listening to him say it!)

He's asleep now. But I imagine those books will be getting a lot of love tomorrow when he's home from school again . . .

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Near Death Experiences in Suburbia

Poor Jason. This weekend I had to go into work. This left Jason alone with the kids for a pool party Sunday. I thought this meant parents in the pool with the kids. Nope. But I'll get to that.

Jason took the kids to Walmart to pick out a present for the birthday boy. Marcie was sitting in the seat portion of the cart, but she was turned sideways in it. Casey decided to climb up the side Marcie's back was to. This is not an uncommon thing for him to do-- we let him do it while we're pushing the cart in the grocery store all the time. But apparently Walmart carts are much more flimsy because Casey was able to yank on the cart as he climbed up it and pull the cart over on its side. With Marcie in it. Casey managed to get out of the way. But not Marcie.

She landed on her back with the cart on top of her. And when it happened, the clerk screamed just before the cart rolled. Jason reached out to try and stop it, but in super slow motion, his hand just barely missed the edge of the shopping cart as it tipped. And then there was silence. Deafening, ear-splitting silence. And a single thought ran through Jason's mind: "OHMYGOD. Casey may have just killed his sister."

And then out of the deafening silence came the most beautiful and awful sound. Marcie began to scream. And in a flash, the world began moving in fast forward, with three Walmart employees on top of Jason at once, and Jason trying to calm Marcie down. Of course, I wasn't there for any of this-- this has just been relayed to me.

There's quite a knot on her head, but Marcie is fine. No dilated pupils. No sleepiness. No vomiting. And the girl is coherent and chatty as ever.

So off to the birthday party, now late, they went. By the time they arrived, swimming had ended. This didn't stop Casey from dipping his feet in the pool with enough insistence that the birthday boy's mother finally told Casey he could go in. And all the kids in their swimsuits jumped in, too. The pool was set up with sort of a shelf as a shallow section, and then a dramatic and sudden drop-off to the deep end.

Jason watched Casey as he played on the shallow shelf part of the pool. And Casey played contentedly. Until he floated toward the drop-off and, well, dropped off. Initially he began doggy-paddling and flailing. Let's call it a panic, because that's what it was. Jason watched as Casey attempted to get to safety. But went the wrong way. Soon, Casey was in the middle of the deep end, and the birthday boy's dad and Jason were just about to leap in, when in a moment's time, Casey stopped flailing, put his head under the water, and swam. To the shallow end. By himself. Safe.

It was pretty frightening, but I guess those swim lessons sort of paid off. Later, I told Casey how proud of him I was. And I asked him how he felt. "Well," he said thoughtfully, "I was scared, Mommy," he explained. Then he held out his hand and pinched his pointer finger together with his thumb. "Just a little bit scared, I think," he repeated. "Yup, just a little bit."

Whew! What a day. I think Jason deserves a medal just for surviving it.


Last week we endured a Wiggles concert. Actually, it wasn't that bad. Casey and Marcie said they had a good time. And Casey has been watching the Wiggles with a new sense of interest ever since. They played all our favorites. We had amazing seats thanks to our friend Keely who sat on the computer clicking the buttons until she got the ones we wanted.

Here are a couple snap shots:

Casey shouting "WAKE UP, JEFF!" Jeff woke up. Casey was pleased.

This was Marcie's expression during a lot of the show-- you couldn't tell if she was scared out of her mind or just surprised. I'm not sure she knew. As a side note, the school sent her home in underwear that day, and we didn't realize it until we were in our seats. She did a fantastic job staying dry, even though it meant me trekking her up the steep, steep stairs twice to go to the bathroom. I had to carry her part of the way, and boy did I get a work out.

There were these two young women at the concert, on the floor, who caught our attention. They appeared to be at the concert without children. Let me repeat that. Without children. None of their own. No younger siblings. No one they were babysitting. They were actual Wiggles groupies. And the weirder thing? They didn't stick around after the concert to try and hook up with any of the Wiggles. Jason walked near them back to the car, and overheard their conversation about the newest Wiggle, Sam (who replaced Greg at the concert). Weird.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Hanging On and Letting Go

I'm a little bit of a pack rat. I like to hold on to things that have sentimental value. Or that I may want or need some day. Even when I can't, for the life of me, think of how I will need that item.

And I don't really like change. I suppose I'm a bit of toddler in that way. I like it when the expectations are clear. When I know what's going to happen next. I don't like taking risks. Or even contemplating changing my life, really. Even though I'm a worst-case-scenario planner. Which is borne of hatred for, or more accurately my fear of, change.

So going to law school wasn't that bad. But becoming a lawyer. Well that's a pretty big change. I was still reeling from my decision to take a "teacher on special assignment" position to work in teacher training at the County Office of Education for a while. Leave education entirely? Never. I don't think I ever really thought it would happen.

But today it did. Because today I had to submit my official resignation as a classroom teacher to my school district. I know, I know-- some of you didn't even know I was a teacher. Or tenured. But I was. And there was this great sense of peace in knowing that I could always just go back to the classroom. Which I absolutely loved. It beat me up. Teaching. I'm not very good at saying no, and I always ended up on a million committees. And every minute I gave to the school and the district and my students was a minute I wasn't giving to my family. And I wasn't really being compensated for it in the traditional sense of compensation.

I know that leaving teaching is right for my family. Right for the bigger picture. My kids will be better off because it means, eventually, that they will have a full-time, at-home parent. And I know they'll benefit from that.

But letting go of the title. And more importantly of the security. Well, it's been hard. And I've waited until the very last day to do it, knowing I would but not feeling ready to let go yet. But as a tenured teacher on a leave of absence this year, I was holding a spot that could be given to another teacher -- a teacher who might otherwise lose their job in this giant pink-slipping mess that the California budget has thrown our public schools into. And so I know it's only fair to resign. To let someone who plans to teacher in the right here and the right now have the job position. But knowing that intellectually and feeling okay with letting go-- well, they just aren't the same thing.

So today I feel a little sad. I know resigning is the right thing to do. If anything, it will push me to be a better attorney-- I can't take the attitude that if things don't work out, I have something else. Because this is it.

And I wonder-- if I have this much trouble letting go of a job, how on earth will I ever let go of my kids? In the best sense of the phrase I mean-- in the sense of letting them be their own people; in the sense of supporting them as they take risks in their own lives. If only I could just freeze this moment in time-- and yet, I know that each passing day, I love them more. I learn from them. And I want for them to be independent, self-sufficient, self-assured people. So let go I must. Little by little. Gradually. I'll never be good at this letting go thing. But in my heart and in my mind I know that one of my most important jobs as a mother is to do just that.