Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fifth Grade...Month One

Here is the letter I sent to Ryan's therapist this afternoon....15 days into 5th grade (actually it was 13 days because he was home sick for two!)  I know this is a, hopefully, keeping it all written down will remind me of all that I've accomplished by the end of the year!

Well see.....

Mr. Rick,

I just got off of the phone with the special ed teacher & principal at Ryan’s school (2 WEEKS IN, that’s a little discouraging :(!)…anyhoo… Ms. A (the special ed instructor) says that she is seeing a lot of positive changes. He’s no longer shy, or withdrawn…he’s not having meltdowns, or crying fits & appears to be expressing himself well (not always “appropriately” but he’s communicating, so that’s good). Lately (aka since day numero uno) he’s had a few kids he’s been clashing with apparently. I went to the “meet the teacher” event last week and saw one of his classmates. He didn’t appear to have downs syndrome, but he exhibited a lot of similar characteristics…he was a BIG boy, very loud, friendly, “touchy” (I realize how stuffy and uppity that sentence makes me appear L)…and I was instantly nervous. The teacher referred to the kids as “high maintenance with BIG personalities…” Sticking a kid with social inhibitions and a need for strict rule adherence into a class with kids who are loud and unpredictable? Maybe not a good choice… Apparently I’m prophetic…. The phone call was to tell me that Ryan (along with 3 other boys) would be moving to the OTHER set of 5th grade teachers on Monday. Ms. A said that Ryan had taken her aside and finally, in a matter-of-fact declaration announced….”I just hate them Mrs. A.” Once again, while not entirely appropriate, a clear step in the right direction….right? (hehe). Apparently he’s been aggressively campaigning against those kids with “evil eyes” and snarls, and snarky comments. In an effort to resolve the conflict and give everyone the best chance at a successful school year- they’re gonna move some folks around and look for a better match…

She also said that, unlike LAST year, Ryan has been much more open to receiving and asking for help. He isn’t happy about having to work on “phonics” work…he says it’s beneath him, for kindergarteners, and babies. Unfortunately, his special reading class forces him to miss Science for the first 9 weeks of school, and Social Studies for the 2nd 9 weeks. That’s especially frustrating for him, because Science is his FAVORITE thing in school, and one of his best subjects, so it continues to be a compromise that he objects to…often. SO yeah…..that’s where we are.

He seems to be doing better…communicating his issues, controlling his temper, objecting often…but not “obsessing” over things. They are making some changes in hopes of resolving his personality clashes. Hopefully heading in the right direction…



Friday, April 20, 2012

How to Make a Rock (Otherwise known as "How to Illustrate the Idiom 'between a rock and an hard place' for your 10 yr old son's ridiculous English project'")

First of all, you absolutely positively should NOT wait until the day before to try and figure out what your plan is, because it's more than likely gonna involve paint...and that will need 24 hours to completely dry (that's a voice of experience talkin')!  Secondly, go to every garden store in the state to see if they sell fake rocks...seriously....there isn't a better way to invest your time.  Finally, if you, like me, are stuck between a rock and a hard place (hehe), read this ENTIRE post before you commit to proceeding.  There is no turning back.

You will need to change into some disposable clothes.  Take off your glasses if you can (because it will be difficult to get the paint off of them if you don't).  Get a card table and a tablecloth and move your project to a garage or backyard...because you're about to get messy my friend.

Because my mom is such a hoarder, we had two materials: florist foam, AND styrofoam, so my tutorial is going to cover those two mediums.  If you haven't procrastinated to the very last minute....go with florist foam.  STYROFOAM is the tool of the devil.  As soon as you cut into it (You'll need a corragated knife, it's incredibly hard, despite it's airy weight), small spores of styrofoam burst through the air like the bird flu virus.  Unfortunately, that is shortlived.  Give it 3 minutes and the static electricity your body radiates will have attracted every single spore back to your body...your hands, your hair, your family pet.  It's EVERYWHERE!  If you are working with styrofoam, my first piece of advice, dispose of it immediately and go to the Dollar Tree to pick up florist foam.  There just isn't any advantages.  If styrofoam worked really well with might have won me over....but the truth of the matter is:  Adhesive of any kind (tape, glue, spray adhesive, super glue, hot glue), they are all the archnemisis of any kind of foam.  (That's not important right now, but keep it in mind for the "putting your rock together" portion of my tutorial!)  And, take a second to use your foresight.  Where are you going to be drying this puppy?  Take the time to get that area set up now.

Now, before you get into this mess past your elbows, you need to get your ducks in a row (see all of those idioms I've used....thus deeming this entire project unnecessary!  anyhoo).  You will need:  FLORIST FOAM, spray adhesive (it doesn't work, but I have to believe it's worth trying), toothpicks, heavy string or twine, and that really fancy expensive spray paint that looks like "faux rock" or granite, and, lastly, a metal coathanger.

Layer up the florist foam however you want.  Stick some toothpicks on the bottom layer.  Go ahead, patronize the laws of nature and spray a little adhesive on top (remember, well ventilated area people....garage, backporch- or not, perhaps a little "high" would make this time wasted more enjoyable, your call).  Then push the next layer of florist foam on top of the last.  You want pieces of different shapes and sizes, but don't get carried away, because remember, that adhesive is NOT going to work, and you don't want it to fall apart.  Next, what I SHOULD have done, is to sand the edges of the florist foam so it didn't look so rigid. 

Now just spray the hell out of that big hunk of foam until it looks like a big stupid freakin' rock.

For MY son's project we had to do between a rock AND a hard place.  So we also made a styrofoam brick.  That was easy craft paint on a rectangle of foam.  Go ahead, let your kid paint it.  It is their project after all!  BUT it was the BETWEEN that kicked us in the ass.

We were going to have to TIE them together in some magical way that left him in the middle.  So, the next morning, I learned (and I am sharing this lesson with you) that you can NOT successfully push a wire coat hanger through eight inches of floral foam.  *remember, I told you earlier, that shit is CRAZY dense*  So I had to carefully take it apart (which wasn't incredibly difficult, because, as I said, the spray adhesive is really just for peace of mind, it serves no real purpose), thread a string through each layer, tie all of the layers together, re-position them and start the "re-pinning with toothpicks" dance all over again.  Then, the easier part, we tied the other end of the string to the faux brick, and threw the entire completed (albiet still "moist" idiom) project over his shoulders.

If it still exists tonight when I get home I'll attach a picture.

The only satisfying part of the project is that Ryan loved it.  He said that praying mantis' were the smartest of all of the insects, and they wouldn't even be able to tell that the fake brick I made wasn't the real thing.  That really made me happy.  Kids fantasize ideas of what their projects should look like without any thought as to the materials, or time, or knowledge in, to be able to come up with something that, in the end, was close to what he imagined....and not embarrassing (especially with absolutely no planning), was a huge success.

My husband, Erik, who was at Poker Night while this was all going on...his comment...."Just one brick.  I thought you were gonna make a brick wall....."


Thursday, September 8, 2011

E-mail from Ryan's Teacher

I am posting e-mail back and forth because I am hoping, in 15 years, when Ryan is working on his THESIS in grad school this will be a funny memory..... *fingers crossed*

Good Morning,

Sorry I didn’t get back to you yesterday. I have been fighting a upper respiratory infection, and yesterday, unfortunately….it was winning. Honestly….I don’t know what to do. Yesterday we worked on reading. I had him read the story again, out loud, to me. I found places online about the story & made him do 3 tests about the horned toad and Reba Jo. He did well, but, that being said…I would not be at all surprised to hear he failed it. We worked on spelling words. We did the practice test twice. I printed out 4 activities off of He did all of them, in addition to your assignments. I doubt he’ll get even half of them right.

Even after spending over 3 sometimes agonizing hours of complete one on one time with him, with absolutely no distractions, I woke him up this morning and found next to him on the floor an uncompleted worksheet about simple and compound sentences. One that I am sure was supposed to be due today, but….with getting everyone dressed & hair combed, getting my own sick self ready, and packing lunches, and snacks before I went off to work a full day—I didn’t have any more time/energy to devote to it. He also did a math worksheet. Erik asked him what a “mean” was 2 minutes after he did it….he had no idea. So, clearly THAT lesson wasn’t sinking in. We are pretty confident he just got all of the answers off of the answer key-but I was knee deep in “a deal is a deal” Reba Jo crap and wasn’t in the position to completely switch gears and devote another hour to math. I don’t know what to do. I know he’s not stupid…but any attempts at “teaching” him are in jest. I am also afraid, through HIS behavior, that he’s creating a classroom environment where he’s being labeled (probably fairly) as a jerk. And it’s not because he’s a mean kid. It’s ironically just the opposite. He’s incredibly sensitive. He just doesn’t know how to express himself, at all, and comes across as being rude and argumentative.

So, yeah. That’s where I am. I was going through his grades last night on Infinite Campus…of course that wasn’t inspiring. The only classes he’s passing he has C’s in…and honestly I think that is only because you are being generous and there were a lot of simple assignments to earn points done in class.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t mean to sound like a horrible parent by saying this, and maybe, with four kids and a husband that struggles, due to pain, to get out of bed in the morning I may very well be in WAYYYYYY over my head (that of course was being sarcasm….there is no DOUBT that I’m in way over my head)…but I am at a complete loss. I cannot devote/waste 3 hours every night to studying with Ryan. (I say waste because I question it’s effectiveness). It’s just not possible. Physically or Emotionally. And, that being said, I don’t think it should be required. I feel like somewhere, underneath all of the hypochondria, outbursts, and apathy, there is a smart little boy that is completely capable of learning everything you’re putting in front of him…I just don’t know how to reach him.

If you have any ideas/suggestions I am completely open to them.

Please let me know,


Cindy K.

p.s. If I said something offensive towards you I apologize (I don’t think I did….). I am not mad or frustrated at you. I think you are a great teacher, and you are doing a great job. This frustration is not at all a result of anything you are saying or doing- it’s simply the result of years and years of me thrusting my head into a brick wall with no positive outcomes (and being sick). Sorry :(

Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 11:51 AM
To: Kilmark, Cindy K

Subject: Hi

Hey! Boy we have had a rough morning! Ryan has been very argumentative with not only me, but others in the class. I finally gave him the choice to do what he needs to do or write the school code. I came back to check on him and he was still arguing with the group he was supposed to be working with, so now he has the school code to write. He is supposed to have you sign it tonight, so please be on the lookout for that.

We found his behavior report today, it went home with his neighbor, so he will have that tonight as well.

I wanted to check with you to see if he gave you all the fluency packet I sent home with him yesterday. His DIBELS score was 73, and our beginning of the year benchmark in 4th grade is 93. I noticed that he took a big drop from his end of the year score from last year, so we are going to work hard to get it back up there. He needs to be at 118 by the end of the year and I think he will be able to do it. This packet will come home each week to help him practice at home. It really helped out the kids last year, and it also will help him with comprehension.

Finally, Ryan has been eating cookies and drinking a kool-aid drink int the morning the past couple of days. I asked him if it was from his lunch and he said it was his breakfast. I don't have a problem with him having his breakfast in the class, but I wasn't sure if he was supposed to be eating that, so I wanted to check with you. Just let me know. Thanks!!

Mrs. Fourth Grade Teacher

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Letter to Chelsea…my biggest girl!

Other Kids

I know that some parents smoke pot with their kids and allow them to drink at home. Believe it or not, that’s not a “new method” of parenting. It was around when I was 16, and I imagine it was also there when your nana and papa were your age. Those parents try to justify it by saying they are teaching their kids to be responsible drinkers, or that the kids are going to “do it anyway” so why not create a safe environment for them to experiment in? I personally believe that they aren’t doing their kids any favors with that approach…as a matter of fact, they are neglecting their responsibilities. I’m also not going to teach you how to hate groups of people who are different from you, shoplift, or take advantage of people (like some other parents do either) because that’s not the parent I am…and that’s not the kind of adult I’d like you to be. You may not see my point now, and who knows, we may never agree on this issue. But as your mother my job is to give you the tools to make you a responsible adult…not introduce you to all the obstacles that could make that mission difficult, if not impossible.

Entitlement & Empathy

Whether you know it or not, trust me when I say that there is a kid in your school right now, maybe even in your class, that is hungry….and didn’t eat dinner last night. There is another who went to bed at a hotel, or at a friend’s house…and isn’t 100% sure where they will be sleeping tonight. Probably more than one of your peers has the electricity or water at their house shut off in the last month. Making you the envy of your Algebra II class for being the first student through the door with an Iphone 4 isn’t anywhere on my list of priorities…ensuring that you aren’t one of the aforementioned kids…that’s MY job. I’ve provided you with your own room, a cell phone, an iPod touch, a flat screen tv, a dvd player, a class ring, driver’s ed classes….not because I HAVE to (it’s not an entitlement), but because I can. It’s not your right to have these things. There may be a day when you wake up and all of those things are gone, or more likely, there WILL come a day when one of the requests you put forward are denied and it’s not because I don’t love you that day. It’s because I can’t provide those things, I don’t think you’re responsible enough for those things, or I don’t think they are necessary. I refuse to go into debt to maintain an extravagant standard of living for those under my care. Refuse. A parent who chooses to buy their child a pair of UGGS instead of paying their property taxes that month isn’t being a good parent, they are being irresponsible. In a few years you are going to be living in a world that won’t be revolving around your wants and needs. You can’t just get rewarded for being a “good” kid. It’s important that you understand what that means. If you want/need something it’s going to require more than just saying it out loud and clicking your heels together. You’re gonna have to work for it….save….sacrifice….prioritize. They are not the most fun lessons I have to teach you, but they are by far some of the most important.

IT’S NOT FAIR! WHY?!?!?!?!

We are not enemies. I don’t spend every minute of every day looking for new ways to torture you. I enjoy harmony in my house. I like to see you happy. And, although I have on occasion, given in to something out of sheer exhaustion….for the most part, if we are butting heads it because I sincerely believe that I am doing what is in your best interest, not because I want you to suffer. Sometimes I don’t bring you and your friends to the movies because I want you to realize that I am a person, in addition to being your mother, and I am not at your beck and call. I want you to empathize, and understand, that while you were making plans for your Friday night, I was at work, struggling, pulling my hair out, putting out fires, to fund your night out on the town. I might want to go out myself to put the week behind me, or put on my jammies and pass out. I might want to watch something on tv to escape. Or maybe I have a bill to pay and extra money is tight. Or perhaps, just maybe, after working all day I don’t want to drive all over Franklin Township in the dark looking for a house that your new best friend lives in, at a neighborhood that I should be familiar with. And I don’t want to give you $40 to spend on crap when I can’t see the floor of your room and you haven’t done anything to earn it. And I don’t want to get comfortable and relaxed, finally, under my blanket in my nice warm bed only to be awoken by a ringtone alerting me that alas, my alone time is over, you need me to jump again. Please don’t roll your eyes and sigh in exasperation. Understand that there is a reason for my decisions. And, even if you might not understand or relate to those reasons….please respect them. AND, you might find, I’m more likely to bring you and your friends to Walmart the next day…


Now….onto why your sisters and brother are treated differently. Ryan is 9. Olivia and Rebekah are 7. When you were 9 and 7, VERY little was asked of you. Now you are 15. Soon you will be out of the house. Those are two VERY important sentences. At fifteen your life is far from free….movies, hair dye, wireless internet, taco bell for you and your friends, clothes, cell phone plans, gasoline, ball games, class rings, driver’s ed, soon to be car insurance, extracurricular fees. All of those things add up to A LOT of cash. I understand that it was my choice to have kids (of course I understand because you remind me daily!), BUT, having a kid does not require all of the above. Actually, it requires NONE of the above. That’s right. Nothing I just mentioned is required of me. Check the law books…..I’ll wait. As a matter of fact…..I’m not even required to give you your own room, but I wanted you to have a sense of privacy right now. Now, as you become older, and you prepare to be on your own, the very first hard lesson you’ll have to face is NOTHING IN LIFE IS FREE. Now don’t get me wrong, as long as it isn’t ruining us financially I have no problem trying to maintain your lifestyle….but, it will not be free. Period. You will occasionally have to babysit your siblings. Clean the living room. Pick up the kitchen. Load the dishwasher. Clean your bathroom. Even, God help us, disinfect your room. Do your laundry. Now, when those occasions present themselves (and it isn’t usually daily) I don’t want you to ignore me, or explain to me how unfair it is. It’s not unfair. You get a lot…for a little. Your brother can live all week on a box of Goldfish crackers and cable. Your sisters would be thrilled with a $1 pack of gum every other day. They don’t ask for much, so their responsibilities are less. I am teaching them to pick up after themselves, and it’s a slow process (way too slow for everyone I agree!), but if you made a list of what everyone in our house got for their buck….you would be WAY in the lead, no contest. And I’m not complaining. Your 15, that’s the way it is. And Ryan, and Bekah, AND Livy will all be 15 someday as well. And perhaps I will save this letter and print it out again….

You don’t know how lucky you are MOM!

I am well aware of all of the bad kids at your school and in your classes. And trust me, I am AMAZINGLY thankful that you aren’t one of them and continue to make me proud with your great decisions and hard work ethic. But, your being a good kid (although makes me very very proud) doesn’t earn you any extra perks. When you get your first job….you won’t get a raise because you aren’t the WORST employee. They’ll look at if you have a good work ethic, get to work on time, try hard, help others, do your best. Everyone is expected to meet those goals. You aren’t blessing us with the miracle of being a great kid; you are doing what’s expected. Let me give you an example. I come home from work every day. I pay our utilities. I purchase food. Am I the most amazing mom ever? No. It’s my job. Do I get trips to the spa because I don’t use our rent money to buy crack? Nope. Do I sleep well at night because I know I’m doing the best I can? Yep. See how that works. You expect me to do my best, and I do…..just as I expect you to do your best…not as a favor, or a reward to me, but because it’s what you should do. It’s in the best interest of everyone, including yourself, to do your best.


I didn’t have children because I needed friends. Now, don’t get me wrong, hopefully, someday, we can be friends….but right now by only priority is being your mother. When your friends with someone and relate on that level it often times results in losing perspective. If I told you, as a friend, that my biggest fear was that my children would hate me……then ta-da, every time you wanted to go somewhere and I tried to hold on to a firm “NO” I guarantee “I HATE YOU!” would be thrown out. Not intentionally to be mean, just instinctively. It’s an intimate relationship, where you share your fears….likes…..dislikes….hopes…..dreams. Honestly, Chelsea, I don’t think you should know those things about me. It might affect the way you see things, your sense of security, and it might influence who you are/become…and that’s not fair to you. You need to find who you are, without my influence….only my guidance. I think you’re a great friend. And I LIKE your friends. And I hope, someday, that our relationship will grow to a friendship, but right now, while you still need a mother….that is what I will be. I will continue to be patient, and fair, unconditional and loyal. Steady and sincere. Solid. Permanent.

I am sure there will be more letters in the future to address more issues (perhaps you’ll need a binder!) but this is a good start!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fruit cremes

Copy of:

This is an enquiry e-mail via from:
Cindy Kilmark ( -

Dear Elmers chocolates,

I am a hormonal mother of four and I a being completely honest when I say that chocolate, aside from my anxiety medication, is the single most important investment I make in myself each month.  Today, at CVS, when I was looking to purchase chocolate you can imagine, this time of year, how inundated I was with options!  First off, kudos to your marketing team, because had I known that 50% of the six chocolates in the box I purchased were fruit cremes I most definitely would have gone a different direction, YUCK!  And then comes my next dilemma, I planned on spending a large portion of my valentine's day budget on chocolate for my kids, and the thought of countless half eaten fruit cremes hardening under my couch makes me shudder!  Has there been any marketing research?  Does half the population really enjoy fruit cremes?  Are they SUBSTANTIALLY cheaper to make than truffles and other flavors?  Just curious.  So needless to say, although I enjoyed half of your product, I am sorry to say that I probably won't be soliciting your company for the above mentioned reasons this Valentine's day

Friday, September 18, 2009

Another day

I was itching before I even opened my eyes. It was still dark when I used my fingers to measure the old hives and discover the new ones. I hadn’t had this much stress in years. I really expected all of the drama to erupt in acne the size of a stop sign, or maybe release itself in clumps of hair. But hives? What torture! The itching, the distraction. It, along with the stiffness in the curve of my back, was the worst possible joke my body could tell me today. These women were wives and mothers, they would instantly read my guilt and worry, and by four o’clock the meeting wouldn’t even be necessary.

I woke up Erik from another evening of trying to sleep and took a deep breath. “This is it, “ I said, “The day they all find out.” He sighed and used his arms to sit up. I heard him reach for his cigarettes on the dresser and then saw his sleepy face glow in the flame of the lighter. “Are you ok?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I answered honestly. “I just hope they will all be ok,” I wished out loud. “What can I do,” I heard him ask as he exhaled the smoke he had been holding. “Nothing,” I plainly say, “Just sit with me for a minute please.” He finished his cigarette and listened to me go over everyone’s story again, as if there were going to be a new ending. Then I got up and started getting the twin’s clothes together and when I returned his eyes were closed again and his head cradled in our pillow.

I dropped off my drowsy girls at my parent’s house and went ahead and washed the nicotine out of my hair, in hopes of no one noticing that I hadn’t showered. I don’t usually try to be the first one in there, and this day of course I was dreading it, but I felt it was important. I knew they were going to be talking, guessing, and worrying. I also knew there was nothing I could do, but I felt like I should be there….consoling them for a death that they didn’t know had happened yet.

When I got to work I found a safety pin stuck on my purse’s zipper with two little charms. I instantly remembered where they had come from. When my daughter had been hospitalized earlier that summer my Catholic mother-in-law and sister-in-law had brought them to her at the hospital in hopes that their faith would be the magic Livy needed to get better. I think it just wasn’t her time and that her life was probably plotted before she even arrived…..but in light of the day ahead I decided that a little magic might not be a bad thing and I pinned them to my ID badge. “Maybe,” I thought, “along with the two Zyrtec I swallowed down, it might at least calm me enough for the hives to back down!”

I used my I-pod to drown out the questions and theories the ladies were tossing around and went straight to work. My hands were fervently playing through the class ring order forms at a speed I was actually surprised with. I had been doing this same exact thing every day for nine years, so being surprised was really….well…..a surprise. My typing speed typically stays within 16,000 to 17,000 keystrokes per hour, but today I was on a roll striking numbers above 20,000. Almost to the apex of my symphony I was pleasantly distracted on the lower corner of my screen by an e-mail alert from an old friend. I asked him on a whim last week what music he was listening to and he had just gotten around to responding. Just around as in, just in time. He mentioned a bunch of bands with strange names that I’d never heard of, but that was exactly the answer I was looking for. I know the songs on the radio, I know the music on TV., I was seeking the kind of music that you only find through word of mouth. After promising I would look them up we continued to chat about nothing back and forth a bit. I filled him in on my dilemma and he instantly offered his support, as always. It’s funny how friends happen that way. You don’t hear from them in years, days, weeks, months and then God throws them in the middle of a never ending day. I took his words and put them in my pocket next to the charms rattling on my badge.

When I took my I-pod off to let my ears breathe I walked right into the middle of the conversation I had been expecting. They had, of course, been speculating all day. “Maybe we are moving to a different building, “one would wonder out loud. “I wonder if it is company wide, or just our department?” another would ask. I couldn’t answer them. I knew the “official” answer but I was told I wasn’t allowed to talk about it. So instead I sat working intently with my headphones blaring, Dave Matthews trying to distract me with his new album, addresses and strange names needing my concentration.

Finally it was four o’clock, everyone was there.

There he stood at the front of the room, nervously wringing the plain piece of paper between his two hands. “Go ahead,” one of the friendly mothers said, “have a seat.” “Nah, that’s ok,” he said, “I sit down all day long.” His explanation seemed false. I wondered quite frankly why he felt he even needed one. The only thing that could have been more awkward then the silence following his response would be the translucent lie that now took its place. He was nervous. I knew why he was standing, close to the door, away from the women. He was chatting and joking with the ladies in the front, pretending that it was just an ordinary day like any other. It wasn’t though. He was about to change lives. After a few minutes of nervous laughter and smiling he awkwardly cleared his throat and the room started to calm down. Clearly he was here for a reason, and everyone from both shifts was here because it was serious.

He was really pale. Almost as pale as his long sleeved white button down shirt. Our job didn’t require dress codes like that so he looked even more uncomfortable surrounded by ladies in shorts and t-shirts….looking up at him with respect and trust. They were completely unaware of the objective of our unusual meeting. I pulled out a piece of scratch paper from my purse feigning the need to take notes. The paper already had details on it, from a phone conversation I had earlier that week with a nurse giving me instructions on Rebekah’s MRI. I grabbed the pink Sharpie out of my purse and began tracing the words I had written in black pen again. No eating after midnight. Be there at 6 am. I looked up and saw him unrolling the script he planned to read. “Don’t do it,” I thought, “Just turn around, no one will ever know what you are supposed to say.” I looked at him attentively but it was clear that my telepathy was failing. He had to, it was his job. I went back to tracing the instructions. I heard some of the same words that he had used two weeks earlier, but it was a much more informal environment then. He sat down with my boss, me, and the other lead operator. There was no script. He just told us what he knew. Today it was almost like he was at a press conference giving a statement. He had a script that sounded like it had to be approved by legal and signed off on by the higher ups. I heard, “due to technology,” and “department will be closed” and the date “11/25.” That perked my interest and I wrote that date down. He hadn’t given us a date before. Then there was nothing. I took a deep breath. It seemed as though it’d been the only breath I had taken that entire day.

When I looked up the woman at the desk next to me was giving me a dirty look. At first I felt as though I deserved her rage because I didn’t tell them everything I had known….consequences be damned. Then her gaze turned into a glare and I almost nervously chuckled. “Does she think I AGREED to this,” I thought, “that I voted to disassemble our careers in some secret meeting? Maybe even suggested it?!?!?!” I thought about challenging her invisible accusation with my own frigid stare, having a “stare off” of sorts to prove that I am not responsible. But the guilt of my secret got the better of me and I just tucked my upper lip under my teeth and looked away. Even though I didn’t cause where we were at, I couldn’t protect anyone from it….and that made me responsible.

“Oh Lord Oh Mighty, Please help us Lord,” broke the silence from the back of the room. I looked back to see one of my fellow employees lifting her sunglasses and dotting her eyes with Kleenex. The other lead operator quickly stood up and went to comfort her, but just as swiftly she stood up and announced, “Gina…..I feel sick. I’m going to have to go home.” Seconds after gaining everyone’s attention and sympathy she sat back down with a few questions. A couple inquiries were made about the employee stock or unemployment, some were retirement or insurance related, but none of them were questions that the poor man in the front of the room could answer. He obviously had done all that he was qualified to do, and, if it would be ok, he would just like to leave before all of their shock and anger found a clear target. So with that he stumbled through an awkward apology and excused himself, leaving both shifts of women….women who had dedicated their lives to his company, alone, together, to sort out their new lives.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

starting kindergarten- part one

Today my youngest daughters, 5 year old twins Olivia and Rebekah started kindergarten. I am sure they will be just fine, but it was stressful nonetheless. I woke up with a nasty headache from grinding my teeth all night. Erik cried. He always cries though….he’s my sweetie  Here is a picture.
Rebekah (of course) is the TINY one (she has a form of dwarfism-spondelyephisyseal dysplasia) and Olivia is the way overly excited ginormous one (there is nothing technically wrong with Olivia, by the way, we just refer to her as “special” hehe). In terms of fear, excitement, nervousness and anticipation….I think that the twins starting school was very comparable to them being born!

It was a pretty normal day in a lot of ways, but it started much earlier. Rebekah went to bed very well last night, which is incredibly unusual. Olivia not as easily, but eventually, she settled down and closed her eyes. Not as much bickering between them and their brother.

This morning Olivia must have woken up EARLY. Really early actually, because my alarm went off at 5 am and I heard her moving around before that. She started the morning watching in tv in our bedroom. Eventually though she must have gone to the living room, because I could hear the delay echoing words and bad acting. I was expecting about that time to wake up and coerce Rebekah into consciousness but aha, she came running through my bedroom door with her top on and her pants waving from her hand. It reminded me of a runner crossing the finish line with their chest carrying across the tape, announcing their win.

“Wait,” I said, “I want to get you both in the bathtub first, before you get dressed.” They were excited about that of course. Quickly I washed their hair and scrubbed them up. I dried them off and wrapped Bekah in a towel and flannel blanket on the couch to keep her warm and cozy while I helped Olivia get ready for her big day. She put on her new pink t-shirt with the embroidered hot pink daisies and the plaid green and hot pink skort. I squirted some silicone conditioner the consistancy of olive oil into the palm of my hand, rubbed my palms together, and then started rubbing my shiny hands through her course unruly mullet. After telling her at least 12 times to please go to Chelsea’s room and get me a brush, I was able to get her mane blowed dry and move on to Rebekah. Bekah was much easier of course. She had already redressed so a few minutes with the hair dryer and Viola, her Dorothy Hamel haircut was perfect. They were both smiles and satisfied with the job I had done.

There was a quick trip to Nana and Papa’s house to take medicines and pick up shoes, and the next thing you know, Erik and I were parking behind North Wayne Elementary…dropping them off for their first day.

There was a long wait in the hall of the kindergarten Cul-de-sac. We got there at about 7:45 am, and the last bell rings at 8:00 am, but the kindergarten teachers didn’t even get back to their areas until 8:15 am because they were waiting up front for all the bus riders to unload.

While we were waiting we showed each of the girls their names on the bulletin boards outside of their rooms. Rebekah was a star on her teacher’s board, Olivia was a spider.

That made them both excited. To see their names. To know they were welcome. In the long wait Bekah’s legs began to hurt so she asked me to pick her up. I told her, “None of the other kindergartener’s have parents carrying them….”so she instead asked, “if we could just sit down for a minute.” I sat down Indian style and she perched herself on my right knee, while Olivia clumsily made herself at home on the left one. Within seconds a girl named Aniyah was befriending Olivia of course. I took a picture of her and her mother to “mail to Aniyah’s grandparents” the mother divulged, “they will be so proud.” She too was proud. She just beamed her smile was so wide. The mother looked younger than me at first, but the more we smiled at the girls doing their performance, I started to see the streaks of grey that were hiding beneath her black hair. I didn’t talk to her much beyond that, so I don’t know if Aniyah was her only daughter, the oldest, or the youngest, but that day, that moment, she was most certainly the only. The two best friends quickly became robots (or “robocks” as Aniyah said it), moving their arms mechanically with their elbows bent and talking in monotone voices. Despite their loudness they didn’t draw much attention because of the noise and amount of people in the center circle. I looked around and noticed a few other scared five year olds looking from behind their mothers legs at the two silly girls, smiling. Even oozing with excitement Olivia and her new friend mustered up the best monotone voices they could find and “attacked” first the little girl’s fun mother in the blue scrubs and hair tightly pulled back in a ponytail. She clearly had played this game before, because precisely on cue she backed up against the wall and in a much exaggerated fashion protested and curled into a ball. Then Olivia’s own dad, Erik, became the target. A little more self conscious he smiled and put his hands on his hips as they marched toward him, and offered up a little protest as a token, but didn’t compete well with the more experienced mom. He tried to distract them by asking the little girl her name…..”ROBOCK” She said, never breaking character…“ My Name Is ROBOCK.” Bekah just watched them both. Checking things out. Smiling, but not letting her guard down.

About this time we see the waist high crowd begin to make its way back to the cul-de-sac. Everyone seeming to stop right in the middle as the teachers tried to sort out who went where. Bekah’s teacher, Mrs. Avance, was wearing a pretty white dress with black embroidery, which I think made both me and Bekah happy. A few weeks earlier she was talking to herself about school and I heard her say, “I don’t know WHAT my teacher will be wearing on her first day.” I quickly interrupted and informed her, “Bekah…it doesn’t matter if she shows up in legwarmers and a swimsuit! You keep your mouth SHUT!” Bekah is my diva, and choosing her clothes each morning is the most important part of her day. I just don’t know how she would have fit with a teacher who didn’t share that passion. I had showed her a picture of Ms. Avance from the night before when her dad and I went to Kindergarten information night, but when I saw her teacher confidently walk down the hall with her herd of kids I made sure to point her out again. “Look, Bekah….doesn’t your teacher have a BEAUTIFUL dress?” This seemed to bring her back for a second. She looked at me and smiled.

“I will stay here with Bekah,” Erik said. He went to Olivia’s class the night before, and I think, quite honestly, he was more worried about Rebekah. I could see him so much in her. So scared, and vulnerable. I think that in a matter of minutes he too was once again that five year old boy who was so excited to be there, but as an adult he knew the next chapter. He knew that in the hours, or days, or months to come it wouldn’t be all fun and smiles. Children would taunt her. Tease her. Break her spirit. Break her heart. Make her feel like she didn’t belong, or fit. He wanted to walk her to her desk and protect her, protect her like he wished someone could have protected him. Unbeknownst to him all of the parents escorting their kid’s that day were all sharing that same fear. About that time Mrs. Avance announced, “Say goodbye to your parents, kids!” I was with Olivia so I missed this part, but Erik said that it was symbolic, yet uneventful. He showed her to her seat, she blew him a kiss, crossed her arms over her chest and threw him a hug, and that was it. He was done. She was ready. He went to the office to deposit money in their lunch accounts, while Olivia and I waited for her day to begin.

While Rebekah was getting comfortable I was still in the center of the circular hallway where all of the classrooms came together, with Olivia. Mrs. Rushmore was handing out namecards with their names printed on them, laminated, and strung end to end with a fuzzy piece of red yarn. As she asked everyone their names, she gave them their tag and told them to get in line. Occasionally she would come across a child she didn’t know, or a language she didn’t recognize and she would pause for a second to finish that task. But then she would always return, asking once again, “Is there anyone in my class without a nametag?” Olivia was a little nervous I think. Excited of course, but nervous too. She, unlike Rebekah, was probably the tallest five year old in the hallway, but she was clueless to any of those differences. “I don’t have a nametag,” Olivia said clearly. “What is your name honey?” the teacher bent down and asked. “Olivia,” Livy stated. “Olivia,” she repeated as she sorted through her handful of laminated cards. The strings were all getting tangled, but she thread her fingers through them and pulled Olivia’s out, handing it to her, as she got in line. This made Olivia happy. Now she instantly had something in common with all of these strangers that surrounded her. They all had different clothes, and shoes, and backpacks, and parents, but in their nametags they were united. We continued to stand in the hallway, in no rush to be in the front of the line, when her teacher, Mrs. Rushmore, gave her first instructions. “Children, say goodbye to your parents and go in the room to look for your seat. There will be a nametag in front of it that matches the one you are wearing. If you aren’t sure, look at the nametag you are wearing please.” She addressed the children of course, but it was pretty clear that this plea was really to the parents. “Let them go” was honestly the only thing I got from those three sentences. The obedient line filed inside the classroom. Mrs. Rushmore knew better than to shut the door immediately of course. I stood out there with three or four other mothers, obviously peering in to make sure our children found their chairs before we felt safe enough to leave. We couldn’t leave yet! Our jobs wouldn’t be done when they got to the doors. Only when they were all sitting, attentive and ready to learn could we release the breath we had been holding since daybreak.

After that we were done. Erik and I walked to the car. Exchanged our thoughts and our first impressions. I lamented on how big they’d become, he shed a couple tears, scared about what was next. It honestly reminded me of the last OB/GYN appointment we’d shared. We were so excited, and nervous, but scared. We both knew that this was a huge moment. A dividing line that separates their lives, and ours. There was no going back. They had started the road that eventually would end without us. We would no longer be their only influence. Neither they nor we would be “perfect.” Consequences could no longer be negotiated. Personalities and meltdowns wouldn’t be accepted and justified. All of those things that we had taught them and shielded them from would be expired. Now they would be subjected to everyone else’s standards, and expectations, and uncaring criticism instead of closely guarded by ours. What a scary day!