Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another failed mommy badge

The Hubby left this morning for a month-long sail, after being away the week before. He felt rotten about missing Hallowe'en, but he was comforted by the fact that he managed to make it to Big I.'s father-child pumpkin-carving party last night.

Big I. has an absolutely wonderful kindergarten teacher. This same teacher taught A. two years ago, and she is a gem. Hallowe'en is a big time in her class; besides the pumpkin-carving party, she hosts a "Halowe'en Howl" for parents to attend, and then a class party.

The Howl was today, and it is a chance for the children to perfom some Hallowe'en songs for their mommies, daddies and the occasional grandparent. I. was very excited about it, and came home earlier this week clutching a handmade invitation for me. I looked into his sweet little face and had to say, "I'm so sorry, honey, but I can't go."

Work has been insane. Completely, utterly and absolutely insane. We seem to be inundated right now, and everyone is working flat out. Plus, several of my coworkers have been sick, and several more had bought tickets to the U2 concert in Vancouver. The office was half empty today, so the rest of us were running around, madly trying to do the work of two people at once. The whole week has been like this, so I knew there was no way I could miss most of a morning at work.

I work downtown, but our PMQ is about a 30-minute drive west of the city's core -- more like an hour at rush hour. To get to his Howl, I would have had to leave work at 10 a.m. to make it to the school, sit through the 30-minute party, then head immediately back to work, arriving back around noon (and that's with the van, not by bus.) Two hours to make a half hour party. I knew it just wasn't possible.

He was disappointed, but seemed to perk up when I suggested he invite V., the nanny, and his sister N. V., my saving grace in my working-parent hell, took meticulous video of the entire thing, which I sat down and watched in full just now. By the end, I was sobbing.

Big I., my boisterous, funny and fun-loving guy, just stands there during all the songs. No singing, no actions, no jumping and clapping. He actually turns his back on the teacher for several minutes and just stands there  with his head hanging down and his lip out. He missed me so much he didn't even want to participate.

When I got home, he told me he has enjoyed the Howl, but he also pointed out, "C.'s mommy was there. Her mommy made it to the Howl." C.'s mom is an at-home mother, you see.

My friend Karan invented the Failed Mommies Club awhile ago, for those mothers who just don't make the mommy grade nowadays (and so said mommies can get together now and then and drink wine.) I think I earned another Failed Mommy badge today for:
  1. missing my son's Hallowe'en school event;
  2. sending the nanny with a videocamera instead (and even having a nanny in the first place -- tut, tut!);
  3. doing it on the day his father sailed for a month;
  4. working a demanding career downtown instead of a mom job or (as the much smarter mommies do) keeping the demanding career but working from home; and
  5. working so far from home that these sorts of events are sometimes impossible.
Never mind the homework I do with A. every night, or the fact that tonight I cooked a healthy meal, cleaned up, baked cookies with the kids for the actual Hallowe'en party tomorrow, made A. get a shower, made lunches and put all three kids to bed alone. No matter how super a mother you are, you are always a failure when you break your child's heart.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A letter to the person who writes the school newsletter

Dear Educator Administrator Education Professional Teacher, Principal or Vice-Principal who writes the school newsletter:

You recently sent a school newsletter home in my son's backpack, a week after the date printed on the top. The events section listed two events at the school earlier this week, one of which I completely missed. For the other one, I had to call half the mommies in the class until one of them knew the time we were supposed to show up. The newsletter asked parents to call and volunteer for the events. I would have raised my hand, but I had no idea you needed help, since the newsletter was a week late.

Most of the parents at our school are pretty smart, with lots of common sense, but few of us have PhDs in educational theory and jargon. I have an honours degree, and I still scratch my head over the newsletter when it is filled with phrases such as "there are many initiatives/programs that the school has implemented in supporting students." What are you really trying to say? First off, you are misusing the word "initiative;" it does not mean a program. It means personal drive or ambition. And what do you really mean when you say you have implemented programs that support students? Are you talking about school counsellors? Anti-bullying programs? Hall monitors? By saying "supportive programs", you don't have to get specific, which means you are communicating essentially nothing to the parent. And what do you mean by implemented? Did you put up a "bullies suck" poster and walk away? What has the school achieved in its program? Have incidents of bullying gone down? Give me details.

When you use big, fancy and vague words, you are not communicating with parents. You are stressing us out as we try to decipher what the bafflegab really means as we read the newsletter while cheering a soccer team or cooking dinner.

Even worse is the lack of correct grammar and punctuation (and sometimes spelling!) in these newsletters. Quotation marks are not used for emphasis. Use bold. Or italics. Anything other than "SCARE QUOTES WITH CAPS."

You don't need to capitalize every third word. In School Suspension may look impressive to you, but it's poor grammar. You're giving me a face tic. Stop it.

Finally, please stop calling yourselves administrators and educators. I don't care about your job classification. I care about what you actually do in my child's school. Are you in charge? Then you're the principal or vice-principal. Do you teach? Then you're a teacher. Stop confusing us with pompous titles.

I know your hearts are in the right place. I know this is a terrific school, and my kids love attending it. I know you have great teachers; both of my boys have dream teachers.

Please don't make me pull out my old grease pen and send back the newsletter after I vet it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Toddler N. gives a vocabulary lesson

Hubby: I wish we had some wieners to put in these beans.

Big. I.: What's a wiener?

Super A.: It's a hot dog.

Toddler N.: No, a wiener isn't a hot dog. A wiener is a penis!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Anyone want a faulty gall bladder?

If you do, you're more than free to help yourself to mine.

I had what was probably a gall stones attack two nights ago. Except for labour and miscarriage, it was the most painful experience of my life.

So now I am on an extreme low-fat diet. Nothing can enter my mouth with more than three grams of fat. Do you know how little fat that is? Two slices of bread have about a gram to two grams of fat. Half a chicken breast has about two grams. Bananas have about 4 grams.

I am seriously ticked off.

Bright side: this should help me lose weight