Chrysalis

Sometimes I’m so overwhelmed at my day job I can’t get anything else done in my brain. I work, come home, and if I have the kid, do the best I can with him and then flop in my easy chair as soon as he’s out. We are in the downturn of what will soon be a holiday crush of work, and good thing, too, since the personal life stuff is heating up.

Yes, I got roped into organizing and working the dinners again that are the nights of parent-teacher conferences. Honestly, at last year’s year-end PTA banquet, I was bowled over at all the praise and thanks I got, not just from the PTA chairs and the Principal, but through several heartfelt thank-you notes and even a couple of gift cards thanking me for what I’d done. I swore I wouldn’t do it again but I did have an assistant this time to help with some of the pre-planning legwork, and we got it done. There was enough to eat for everyone and I didn’t go over budget, so mission accomplished.

My plantar fasciitis is really singing these days, so I broke personal protocol and actually wore my Crocs the whole evening (I usually only wear them at home to cook in – Mario is right, there’s little better for the hours on your feet cooking requires). Nobody cared what I was wearing, and the teachers were very gracious. I made plans with one of them to go to happy hour soon, and talked with another about all the times we had been at the local pool together this past summer; an office lady who takes her grandkids, and she said she would make sure to look for me next summer and maybe we could sit together. The PTA ladies were all very helpful and several stayed until the last dog was hung with me to get everything cleaned up and put away.

But man, I feel physically broken. I don’t know that I could work in a restaurant now, even if I lost my job and was desperate. The last time I lost my job, I got laid off, and couldn’t find any other work for a long time. I went back to waiting tables for $2.13 an hour and it was miserable in every way; I was old and couldn’t move as fast as the younger people. My brain couldn’t do the math as quickly. I didn’t have the bounce to work a double and then come in and open the next day without feeling extremely exhausted. Without the crocs tonight, I would be in way worse shape now. And I curried a lot of positive feelings, I hope, with the teachers and staff at school. Which, right or wrong, is the whole reason I do this.

Tonight’s conference helped me to see a little bit of why I think even the tiny things like this might help my kid. We had his parent-teacher conference tonight, me and his Dad. The teacher does a “student-led” conference, where the child practices presentation skills. He “introduced” himself to me and his Dad by shaking our hands (with the wrong hand, LOL) and saying his name, and then she prompted him to go through his sheet about his strengths and then his goals. We questioned him a little then about each, and I offered suggestions as to things that could help with his goals and he agreed. The teacher asked if there was a way she could help with his goals, which I thought was cool, and he sat and thought a long, long time before he suggested that maybe she could help him more with his subtraction, and she wrote that down. Pretty neat. His Dad tried to probe the teacher as to whether the poor behavior at the recent field trip was aberrant or SOP, and was surprised to hear from her (in a gentle way) that really, he does pretty well academically but has challenges behaviorally in school as well – he’s always trying to make people laugh or lingering too long in the hallways or playing in the bathroom or whatever, but it’s a work in progress and blah blah positive nice things that teachers say. He didn’t have anything to say to that and neither did I because THIS IS SO MY KID.

I thought about it after the conference and realized this is probably the way most of his conferences are going to sound in school, and while I can and will work to improve on them somewhat, the kid is probably going to end up like me – pretty good student – not great (but could be, if only he would spend as much time applying himself as he does trying to make people laugh or on causing trouble), but behaviorally, could use some work. Has the ability to behave when it interests him, but when it doesn’t, cannot be contained. What I eventually learned was that if you are a good enough student, if you apply just a LITTLE bit more of that and can get into the good classes and special groups and great test-score people with the good teachers, you can get even more slack than if you skip school all the time and get Fs. I am certain I wouldn’t have gotten away with half the stuff I got away with if I had done really poorly in school. Of course, I will work to improve his behaviors. Maybe if someone had started working with me when my kindergarten report card came home and said, “She is a thundercloud. When she doesn’t get her own way, she pouts or hits the other children,” I wouldn’t have ended up a juvenile delinquent. But there may just be nothing that can be done about it but to deal with it until he grows up and matures. He is a good kid with a good heart and earnestly tries to be a very good student academically, but he just isn’t the type to sit and behave all day, and may never be. And so I will try to give him the tools to deal with that, as best I can. This is what I learned from the conference.

Tomorrow there are a thousand things, plus work. Physical therapy, going to pay for the Wednesday night dinner, going to tip for tonight’s dinner as I had no cash to tip them with, voting of course, putting my reimbursement check from tonight’s dinner in the bank, and a call with a friend that is long overdue but much needed on both sides of the phone.

Everyone is so nice at these things and yet so many times I feel different. One of the ladies learns I am divorced when she says something like, “Why don’t you make your husband do that?” about a particular thing that needs done. Another asks if I’m having any more kids and gasps when I say no and tell her how old I am (which was flattering, but also made me feel really, really old). And the woman I was working with tonight was so soft spoken, and me with diminished hearing, I spent a lot of the evening asking her to repeat herself. So yeah, I felt old. And they all went home to a family, and I took my leftover vegan squash ginger carrot soup and came home alone.

But the patio door is open again. And it was 73 when I drove to school today, WTAF, November, and is supposed to be lovely tomorrow. Much to do this week.

I feel I am in people’s thoughts. I don’t know why I feel that. It is interesting and makes me want to write more, act more, move more. My son is important, but I must not lose sight of myself. I, too, remain important. And must continue to grow and change if I am to help my son do the same.

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