Monday, June 3, 2013

"Don't stop, tick-tock, sun blows up today..."

Today is officially the start of my kids' summer vacation, since school let out Friday, and... apparently weekends don't count.  At least that's what I've been told.  Repeatedly.
Of course, they're still passed out, and I'm up, because I'm still in "gotta get up and make the lunches and take the kids to school," mode.  And because I know this is the only quiet time I will get today.  Now, a responsible mom would have rousted the younguns out of bed by now and had a variety of projects for them to do, but we already know that's not me, right?
Besides, after the tough year they've both had, they deserve it.  At least for today.
When they were younger, I used to look at summer break with a mix of "Yay vacation!" and "Nooooo... I'll be home alone with them... all day long!!!"  Which I know is probably not an attitude I'm officially supposed to take.  Officially, as a stay-at-home mom, I'm supposed to be all, "Oh, I'm so glad to have them home with me where I can nurture their little hearts and minds and be a mom!!"
Yeah... not so much.  Because you have to understand, I'm essentially raising Calvin and Hobbes.  And those roles are interchangeable, too.  Or you could say I'm raising John Sheppard and Rodney McKay.  Kirk and Spock.  Basically, think of any extremely bright, prone to getting into either excessive trouble or excessive mischief duo you can think of... and that's my kids.  My kids are extremely intelligent, very inventive, and attract trouble like a magnet.  I am barely one step ahead of them, and that margin gets smaller and smaller every day.  Thinking of things to keep the Dynamic Duo occupied, engaged, and happy is a bigger and bigger challenge every single year.  It's crazy.  And I have alternately loved and dreaded it for years.
However, in the last two years, I have met the advent of summer break with a huge sense of relief, especially on the Impossible Son's behalf.  We live in a small town, with a small school district, and good teachers are far and few between.  Inspiring teachers are even rarer.  And while the district has a strict policy about bullying... it isn't consistently enforced, if it is enforced at all.  Only when it's something drastic, or so big that it can't be hidden easily.  Like last year, with the kid who physically attacked my son.  Had he only shoved the Impossible Son, or called him names, the administration of the elementary school he went to last year would have made conciliatory noises at me and promised to "deal" with the boy, talk to him, etc, etc.  But because it was a big issue, where the police had to be called, and because the Husbandly One and I threatened legal action, especially when it was shown that the principal dropped the ball when it came to informing us, AND because there was a threat to younger, smaller children, the bully was isolated from the rest of the school population for about three months and counseled within an inch of his life.  Plus, the principal "retired" shortly after that.
His first year of junior high was a mixed bag.  Great, because he was in band and discovered a whole new group of friends and hey, new school!  And sucky because there's only one junior high in town, and five elementary schools' worth of kids are going there, so... not only are there new friends, but... the old bullies are there, too.  And they didn't wait too long to start in.
Not only that, but he had a teacher bullying him, too.  And when I switched him out of  that class, he waited until the last three weeks of school to tell me that his bullies were in the new class.  So they were in his first, second, and fourth period classes.  Fourth period was gym.
And... the Impossible Son also learned the social implications of hanging out with the Wrong People.   Hanging out with the kids who always got in trouble, who back-talked the teachers, who harassed other kids, meant that when he was being harassed and he appealed for help from the teachers, they weren't as willing to listen to him.  And tended to look the other way.  It also meant that when he found kids whom he shared interests with, kids who liked the same books he did, or read manga, too, they weren't as willing to talk to him because... he hung out with the kids who harassed them for reading or being smart.  And they were afraid of being played.
He also found out what happens when he hangs out with a kid who rubs Mom the wrong way.
Yeesh, that was a tough one!  I don't often go off on a kid, but every once in a great while, one of my kids' friends will send out vibes that grate on my nerves like coarse sand on sunburned skin, and I'll balk at letting them hang out.  And I'm always vindicated later on.  And no, I don't say, "Told you so!" or "I was right!"  I usually hug them and say, "I'm sorry."
Then there's the math issue.  Dear gods, if there is ONE thing about this district that makes me absolutely furious, it is the absolutely SUCK-TASTIC quality of the math education here.  Seriously.  They have absolutely no clue how to teach math here.    Can anyone explain to me how it is possible for my daughter to make 98's, 97's, and 95's in Pre-AP Physics... and 50's, 60's, and 70's in AP Pre-Calculus??  They're using the same math!!!  That's why they're taking them together!!
By the way, the reason she didn't fail completely (she passed with a 78) was because of the math she learned in Physics class.  I kept trying to the Impertinent One into asking Uber-Awesome Physics teacher for help, but she didn't want to overburden him.  Because she wasn't the only one.
And then there was my son, who had an actually semi-competent teacher this year, and when I could convince him to go to tutoring, he raised his grade from 56 to an 88.  Then... he stopped going to tutoring.  And when I got him back, his grade went up, but not as dramatically, and when I asked his teacher about it, she looked at me helplessly and said, "Mrs. J.  there's just so much I can teach him... and so much he doesn't know because... he never learned it."
He never learned it.  Because they didn't teach it to him in elementary school.
And you know, my son isn't alone.  
So, yes, I am relieved that school is over for three months, and I can spend this time again trying to get my son back up to speed.  And trying to make up for the lacks in what passes for an educational system in Texas.  
Ibuprofen, anyone?

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