This Week In Gratitude

Only a minute ago she was walking into her first day of first grade, and now this.

last day 1st grade.jpg

She came home from her last day of school today and I squeeled OOOOH! A SECOND GRADER IN MY HOUSE! and she rolled her eyes at me in that way children do when they are faking annoyance at your utter uncoolness because they can't let you know how much it means to them that you're still so into them that you can't help but squee all over them.

Pro tip: I dont actually think that particular eyeroll ever goes away, so long as you keep unreasonably and insufferably loving the goddamn shit out of them.

Anyway, once she was done NOT SMILING AT YOU MOM and rolling her eyes, she came up to me, climbed in my lap, and once she was all snuggled in tight she asked, "Mom, what did you learn in 2nd grade?"

I thought. I really thought. I can still remember what that room looked like, the way the hazy east coast sunlight shone through the aluminum blinds and on to the wood grain desktops. I can still smell every smell in that room; dust, humidity, sweat, cocoa butter, rubber cement and chalk. I *cannot* remember any one thing that I learned inside of that classroom, however, save one thing: Adults can be very, very cruel to children.

It's weird that it took my grade two teacher to open my eyes to this. I lived with two of the cruelest, most sadistic adult human beings I will ever encounter in my life, but that is what is amazing about children - their infinite ability to love unconditionally and forgive repeatedly, and also to buy into your shit about "religion" and "discipline".

But my grade two teacher was not my mother. She was not anyone's mother, so far as I knew. She was the teacher-stereotype they make movies about, Ms Agatha Trunchbull in the flesh. She was a small woman, and grey all over - from her hair to her heart.

She particularly hated children in my cult sect of Judean-Christianity, as if we had some choice in the matter. I can't remember her name, and I don't remember the sound of her voice, but I remember the way her dingy blouse hung away from her flabby arms as she, every morning, would pull my friend's uncombed, unwashed red air up into tight ponytail with rubbber bands, and the way it hung stained with sweat every afternoon when she would rip those rubber bands out of her hair, not caring how much gorgeous read strands of hair she took with them.

I think that she hated poor people, that she was digusted by dirty children, that she dreamed of teaching at the school down the road from us full of middle-class white children whos parents packed them sack lunches and made sure their hair was combed and clothes were cleaned every day, not just on the first day.


We were not middle-class white children. We were children that they all wrote off, the ones they tucked away inside a high-security Section 8 neighborhood and left to play in dumpsters or the woods or the basketball court until we all got good and hooked on our parents drugs or vodka or hopelessness and rendered ourselves obsolete.

Almost no one cared about us, but few dared to show it the way my 2nd grade teacher did. She actively despised us, even the few of us that showed the promise of some potential. We were lost children, lost causes, social waste - and she made damn sure we knew it.  

I read somewhere that a child's perception of themselves is defined by the time they reach ages seven or eight. That gives us a very narrow window of time to instill a healthy perception of self. I can't remember if grade two was the year that I learned cursive, or the year I started to multiple large numbers, but I do remember that grade two was the year I realized someone thought I was worthless.

And I'm glad for it. 

I'm glad for it because it reminds me every day to tell *my* second grader how much I value her, respect her, adore her, love her. It reminds me to be kind to every second grader, every third grader, every eighth grader I come in contact with, because maybe they just need one person to counter some really horrible message someone else is trying with all their might to instill in them.

In second grade I learned that adults can be very cruel, and I am grateful for that, and for her, because in so many ways she taught me exactly would grow up not to be. 

Youth - In Like a Lion, Out Like Me at 8:30 On a Weeknight.

It has been three whole days since Star Trek Into Darkness was released in the theaters and I still haven't gone to see it. I don't even know who I am anymore.

I was actually awake at midnight when it premiered, and I kept glancing back and forth from my kids' doors to the clock on the wall, back to the kids' doors, back to the clock, and I eventually just realized that maybe it's time to get a grown-up wall clock. 

I don't even know why the hell I was up that late; I was probably writing another blog post that no one will read because A) no one reads blogs anymore and B) no one realized I didn't quit blogging three years ago when I accidentally killed my feed. Either way, there are a few things in life I simply do not do anymore, and one of them is midnight. Another one, it turns out, is going to midnight movie premieres, even if they are movies that I was named after, raised on, and will not receive anything for inheritance from my father aside from a questionable set of Deep Space Nine decorative plates because of. 

The only thing more questionable than men who collect decorative plates is men who collect decorative Deep Space Nine plates. #fact

It's like this week, someone hit me with the middle-aged stick. It hurt. We were at McFast Not Even Close to Food getting something to "eat" very late the other night after my son's final band concert (don't you judge me, they were all doing it, yes I would jump of the Brooklyn Bridge, shut up) and this table of kids kind of over there, but not too far over there, was all "fuck that motherfucking shit, yo, fuckedy fuck fuck ass-shit fuck." Before they even got to ass-shit, I watched myself stand up, walk away from myself and my family and over to there table, and I heard, but was unable to stop myself, from saying, "I hate myself for asking you this more than you hate me for asking it, I promise, but I have a bunch of little kids over there and there sure is a lot of fucking fuck going on over here. Would you mind finding new words for like 20 minutes?" Then I actually said UGH about myself, and meant it, and they, to their credit, were like, TOTALLY DUDE SORRY and then like three minutes later one of them was all fuck that noi....and they all turned to look at me like I was their MOTHER or something and I just smiled did that weird nostril flare thing I do when i'm in a real tight spot and they didn't drop one more swear word the whole time I was there.

Like 10 days ago I was that kid.

Except I was at Paris on the Platte smoking cloves which is way better for you that eating Mc Not Quite Burgers, duh, or at the original St Mark's which isn't even there anymore, on Market Street in LoDo, playing chess and drinking almond steamed milk because coffee wasn't cool yet oh my god I am so motherfucking old. 

I was driving to pick my son up from school the other day and some gigantic assmonkey flew through the red light and in every way smashed into the back of the car right in front of me at the light - and kept right on going. Young me would have torn after him, got his plates and reported his ass. Old as shit me followed the victim of the hit and run to a parking lot, probably scared the shit out of her, called the cops for her, then went to get my kid, then went back to the parking lot and sat with the girl until the cops got there, and tried to explain that her father was probably so pissed on the phone because he was afraid, and also how to file a proper claim with her insurance agency that would minimize her out of pocket debt. And then when the cops came and I filled out my witness report, I actually used the words Young Lady when describing the victim.  

If that wasn't enough, Nicole's baby went and grew up. All of your kids did. I have a kid who owns a high school year book. I have another kid with a girlfriend. And I am really am almost 40. For the first time in my adult life, I actually feel like an *adult* and I just can't deal with all the people waiting to see Star Trek like it's the first 2nd Star Trek movie to hit the theaters or something. I mean, do these kids today even know what a Ceti eel is? Or Fantasy Island? OR ANYTHING? 

Lice Don't Project, They Jump. Right?

When I was a little girl, I had hair past my knees - and I don't mean just hair, I mean HAIR. I mean hair you couldn't wrap a pony tail holder twice around. I mean hair that took all night to dry. I mean hair that kept me out of foster care because it made up 6/10 of my pathetic, starving body weight. I could get out of the shower, comb my hair out, and walk out of the bathroom completely naked, because I was Cousin It with calves. Or Samara, if you're under 25. #stayingrelevantforthedamnkidsonmylawn

And one night I was laying in bed, and found a bug in my hair. A bug. IN MY HAIR. I imagine all kids are senstive about bugs, but when you live in the 'hood, and everyone you know lives with cockroaches and ants and shit, bugs in your hair are not. even. a. little. okay. I ran downstairs crying, and shoved the bug on the tip of my finger between my mother's nose and her Nintendo paddle.  She smacked my hand away from her face and yelled at me OH MY GOD SHANNON IT'S A FUZZY GO BACK TO BED. Because Tetris. 

So I went back to bed. And then more fuzzies I found, the more silently I freaked out, because fuzzies are really disturbing things to find. Eventually I stopped finding them, mostly because I stopped looking. I got off lucky with a hand smack that one time, and I was not about to tempt fate, or my ass.

Years later, someone I knew from church told me her most vivid memory of me was this dream she'd had of me once, in which she was sitting behind me and my hair, my veritable wall of hair, was moving. - because it was full of bugs. I never did tell her it wasn't a dream.

By the time the school realized I had lice, all of the eggs had hatched and my hair was, quite literally, crawling with bugs. I don't even want to think about how many classmates I infected. We had to use a bottle of lice shampoo on all three of my siblings, and then another one on me. A whole bottle. And then the little comb thing, which was laughable but by then my mother was so completely freaked out by the infestation on my head that she sat Tetrisless, night after night, slowly combing dead things out of my hair. It took about a week. 

A few weeks later, once it was done and the house was bleached and my head was empty and I was able to re-enter public society, my mother saw in my hair what she thought was a nit, but was ironically probably just a fuzzy - so we did the whole thing over again. And it kind of burned my scalp, which created flakes, which she mistook for nits, so we did the whole thing again.

That's how cycles are created, which is kind of ironic because the other day after swim class, my daughter was pulling her cover-up over her head and something fell on her chest/jumped on her chest, depending greatly upon whom you ask. MOM THERE IS A BUG IN MY HAIR AND IT JUMPED ON ME!!! No, honey, it's not a bug, it's a fuzzohshit

I still contend that it was a fuzzie. I haven't flat out sat down and dug through her hair yet, because I'm still too traumatized by my last encounter with lice, and a bit too freaked out by the nearly-exact repeat of this little slice of my childhood, but I am going to have to eventually, and I guess I'll just have to pray that you can't give someone lice through flashbacks.

Updated to add: 8oz of prevention is worth a pound of cure. My friend Melanie found a way more elegant lice-prevention method than never-let-my-kid-out-of-the-house-again.