Learning to Appreciate the Crappier Things in Life
We all get these chain letters by the dozen that tell us to be thankful for the little things – you know, the sun, the moon, your friends, your family, all the good stuff. But I have never seen a letter that would teach me how to take advantage of something that, on the surface, sounds like a real bummer. Let me give you a few examples.
I’ll start with the obvious. Summer’s over, and crappy weather is just around the corner. What if it rains all through the weekend? I found out that it is actually a good thing. I can surf the web and read your guys’ blogs all weekend long without feeling that I should really be outside with my family.
And speaking of my family, suddenly the kids are too cool to go anywhere with their old, boring Mom and Dad. Well guess what? This means that finally, after all these years, Mom and Dad can do whatever they darn please on their free time, without feeling like they’re taking away from The Quality Time with their kids. Because the kids have grown up and their idea of Quality Time is now either hanging out at their friend’s house, or AIM-ing back and forth with the said friend all day. But, most importantly, the very presence of parents in the vicinity automatically takes the Quality out of Quality Time. So you don’t want to go to the park with me, kids? Good for you. I’m off to the mall to get me some shoes! C-ya!
Or, in my case, there’s on-call support. I used to hate the weekends when I was on call, because, on these weekends, I couldn’t go anywhere. And then all of a sudden, I realized that I don’t want to go anywhere. Well, not all the time, but it’s nice to take a weekend off even the most exciting social life. I’ve done so much cleaning and cooking and read so many books during my on-call weekends, I am actually starting to enjoy them. (Just don’t tell my management, or else they’ll put me down for more).
So, as you can see, I already know how to make some of the crappy things work for me. I’d say, things of Low to Medium Crappiness.
I’m still working on the Really Crappy Things, though. Can’t figure out what to do with those.
Have you ever had a really screwed-up dream about your coworker and then you wouldn’t be able to see the person next morning without cracking up, when you’re really supposed to act all serious and professional towards them? I had this dream last night and a guy from my department was in it. He called me from somewhere to tell me that he had accidentally chopped his privates off, and could I please go into the room next door and pick them up from the floor and put them in the freezer, so he could have them reattached? So I went into the room, and there it was, a nice and long shlong, lying on the floor, so I picked it up and put it on a desk and went off in search of a refrigerator. Except while I was looking, somebody else came in, and you know how in every office, there are people that prefer sitting down on top of your desk instead of in a chair? So this person accidentally sat down on top of the d*ck and squashed it. So now I was all worried about whether it would still be possible to reattach the valuable, although damaged, body part. With that, I woke up and went to work.
It’s lunchtime here, and I’m still avoiding the guy. I’m just not sure whether I will be able to keep a straight face when I see him.
K9 is having girl trouble. He’s had a crush on a girl for a while, and yesterday he found out that his best friend also likes the same girl, and she likes him back. Believe it or not, he tried to break up with his best friend. Mr. Goldie read him a lecture about how real men never fight over women, because male friendship is a lot more important. Now K9 never wants to talk to us about his problems again. I don’t get it, because, I think Mr. Goldie is right! Chicks come and go, but male friendship is forever! Why, even Mr. Goldie himself had a lot of friends that used to like me, but they valued their friendship with Mr. Goldie more than their fleeting attraction to me, so they stopped pursuing me and remained his friends. And now, twenty years later, they still… oh, nevermind. Wrong example.
This just in - Tony Attwood will be conducting a series of conferences here in the US in the fall. He will be in my area on October 13, I have already booked a seat and will tell you all about it. (I hope my youngest son won't kill me for going to a conference on his tenth birthday!!! Yikes!)
(On Mr. Goldie's 35th birthday, I went out to dinner after work with a guy friend, who was from out of town and couldn't make it on any other date. There is definitely a pattern here.)
Dr. Attwood will also visit Seattle and Spokane, WA. (*and* our village in the middle of nowhere! Are we lucky or are we lucky??)
Stuart had trouble learning to generalize when to use certain greetings. Thus, he had been instructed to say "Thank you", "Excuse me", or "I'm sorry". At first, he only said these with cueing. Later, he learned to use these expressions spontaneously but it was not always appropriate when he said them. Once he even apologized to the door after banging into it!
"Different Minds", p. 192
Why did I have my son tested?
They say feedback is a gift. I've been getting gifts ever since my 12yo was born. Here are some of the things I've been hearing:
"Oh, don't you worry, he's doing fine. He doesn't cry, he doesn't fuss, he's just lying quietly in his crib" - one week old, heard from a nurse at the hospital (my son spent the first two weeks of his life alone in the same hospital where he was born).
"Why doesn't he play with other kids, has he been sick lately?" - one year old, a helpful Mom in a swimming class.
"He is like an independent planet. He just goes about his own business like he doesn't even notice the other kids" - 18 months old, another Mom at a home Bible study were we had a lot of toddlers and preschool-age kids.
"He ran away twice this afternoon. I took the class out for a walk and he just walked off our class's area. When are they going to transfer him out of my class?" - 3.5 years old, preschool teacher.
"I've never seen anything like this before. He sits there, drawing in different colors. Then, right before class is over, he covers his whole drawing in black paint" - 3.5 years old, art class teacher.
"A very quiet child. No complaints on my end." - four years old, preschool.
Basically, I12 was a very quiet kid who liked to explore, liked to keep to himself, and didn't like playing with other kids. As a baby, he wasn't too fond of physical contact, either. It was my first child and I'd had very limited exposure to kids previously, so I had no way of telling whether all this was normal.
Then, right after I12 started second grade, he told us one day, in a very casual tone of voice, that he and his friend had decided to kill themselves "because life was boring". Of course, the first thing I did was call the friend's Mom, who got mad at me. I didn't know what else I could do, so I asked his teacher for advice. The school put I12 on the record. Slowly, things started changing. Now, each time I12 did something bad or just plain odd, the school was looking for sinister motives. They started calling me at work on a regular basis.
"He has some really gross habits like chewing on his pen or picking his socks with scissors, the other students are complaining" - 4th and 5th grade, pretty much all teachers.
"There is something wrong with your son, just look at the way he walks – always with his head down. And he never smiles!" - 4th grade, guidance counselor.
"He is depressed."
"What is he being exposed to at home?"
"His special interests are computers, violence, and everything dealing with war and blood" - homeroom teacher, 4th grade.
And, of course, my personal favorite: "We are afraid that, when he grows up, he's going to kill someone, or himself" - 4th grade, the school principal.
I12 changed schools, because it was time for him to go to the middle school. His badass friend moved out of the area. I sent him to a computer camp, and he got interested in programming. He was participating in the school's gifted program, and was getting good grades. For a while, it looked like things were getting better.
And then, adolescence hit I12 like a ton of bricks. He started growing at a crazy rate. His voice changed. And God only knows what was now going on inside his head. All we saw was that, he lost all his friends, and his grades dropped.
He said he didn't need to have friends, or go outdoors, or play sports, or get good grades, because this was all pointless. But he still wrote computer programs. Some of them worked. One won a prize. He never talked about his programming hobby to anyone in school.
Because he looked like a teenager now, I12 was now suspected of being disrespectful and rebellious. Because he does indeed have a high IQ and is on the district's gifted lists, he was suspected of feeling superior to other students and teachers.
And then an even worse thing happened. I started getting calls from the elementary school about I12's younger brother. It was almost like the school eventually expected K9 to either turn into a second I12, or to be hurt and abused by his big bad brother. There were entirely too many labels floating around. If a label had to be put on my son, at least it needed to be an accurate label.
I12 started posting on Internet forums. He joined a programming forum, where most of the members were in high school, took honor classes, earned straight A's, had part-time jobs and girlfriends. Then came my son with his totally inappropriate posts.
I almost died of embarrassment when I saw what he had posted on the September 11th anniversary thread. He said that, every day, 150,000 people die on our planet, and no one cares. So why all the fuss about three thousand people that died? Or something like that. People thought he had written it for shock value. I thought it was just another one of his brain farts. He'd had those before.
Picture this - in 2000, after a surgery and a week in the hospital, my husband was released, sent home, and was assigned at-home care. So, when the nurse came to our apartment, the seven-year-old I12 stopped in the doorway, looked inside the room, and said, to no one in particular, "Is this brown lady a nurse?" Mr. Goldie and I were gasping for breath, grasping our chests, and apologizing all at the same time. Deep inside, I guess, both of us really wanted to drop dead.
Thank God the nurse had a sense of humor.
But, back to the 150,000 people, it took me a year to realize that he really believes in this stuff. You know, 150,000 people die every day, like it or not, so why bother about every individual one? Why not just accept the whole thing as a law of nature? I hope for his own good that he doesn't get to speak at my funeral, he will surely freak everybody out!
By the way, I emailed the mod on the programmers forum with an apology. It went along these lines: "I am his mother; he's only in 6th grade; and he's a really odd kid". The mod forgave us.
By the time I12 started school, I had finally realized that something wasn't right. I tried to blame it on my poor parenting skills. But my other son, while not without his own faults, was a completely different person. It's not that he was better or worse, he operated differently. Then I tried to blame it on lack of attachment when I12 was a baby - that I had not co-slept enough, hadn't held him enough (even though he really disliked being held), hadn't nursed him enough (even though he quit when he was five months old and no amount of coaxing could make him go back).
Then I thought about I12's brother - all the times he spent in the hospital; the three surgeries that he had; the time we almost lost him to pneumonia and dehydration; all the times I couldn't give him enough attention because I was busy with I12; the time when we had to put him into full-time daycare when he was eighteen months old. And it was in America, so the poor K9 couldn't understand a word his teachers were saying. He was miserable there, crying all day long for three months straight. So it wasn't as if my second son had it easy. But he turned out different. Why? By the time I12 was in sixth grade, I came to the conclusion that it wasn't just poor parenting. Something wasn't right on a much deeper level. What was it?
One day I was reading a book "Protecting the Gift", by Gavin De Becker. One of the last chapters was on children with autism and autism spectrum disorders. What I read was the most accurate description of my son that I had seen to date. Could it be? No, impossible. Besides, I12 was finally doing well in school, so I decided to let sleeping dogs lie and not to investigate any further.
But just about at the same time, I12 stopped doing well in school. By the time I got a call and a request to come over and meet with the teachers, I had my mind made up. Something was wrong with my son, and this time I was determined to finally find out what it was.
Next time, I'll tell you how I got around to having I12 tested (it wasn't easy).
To everybody coming over from Blogging Baby - hi, great to see you here! (Thank you Jen for the link!!) I'm almost done with my second installment of Aspie Digest, and will put it up sometime soon. This time, there will be stories, too!
I have to run now, but I will be back soon. Please make yourself at home!
I have a question for you, my readers. Suppose you've had a migraine headache for four days straight. You have the pills, but there's a side effect - they make you dizzy and nauseous and you keep throwing up like a sick puppy. Which one would you choose - pills and throwing up, or no pills and headache? I12 says he'd pick the headache. Me, I'm thinking I'll alternate the two until the headache goes away.
Talk about difficult choices.
Oh, and by the way, those pills also make you sleepy, so I slept in. K9 woke me up at ten in the morning by putting Nicky the chinchilla in my bed. I must confess it felt good.
Speaking of Nicky, K9's friends invited him to come over this weekend, but asked him to, and I quote, "bring the fuzzy thing". I said to tell them that, if they want to see the fuzzy thing, they need to come to our house. The fuzzy thing's not going anywhere.
I need to stop before I post something stupid. I'm currently in the Headache phase and this affects my thought processes. I'll go pull some weeds or do some laundry or something.
It seems like my idea got a huge, resounding "aye", so I'm going to start the Digest.
I plan on posting once or twice a week, depending on how much I have to say. A post will probably include a few links, favorite quotes, and/or entertaining/informative (I hope) stories on the subject. I'll see how much I have to share, and how many people will find it beneficial, and then go from there. If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments or via email. If you would like to correct anything I have said, please feel free to do so. Remember, I am but a lowly n00b. If you have a blog with similar content, please let me know so I can link to you. Most importantly, if you have any information that you can share, please feel free to do so.
From what I gather there is a wide spectrum of AS disorders and I will most likely be primarily concentrating on what I can relate to personally. This means, among other things, that I will primarily focus on "gifted" kids (yes, I know how many people hate the term, but for lack of a better one, I will use it). I will also try to learn more about boys, preteen/teenage kids, and introverted kids, because that is what I am dealing with. I will also concentrate more on how to help these kids adapt to a public-school setting, because that is where my son is, and I don't plan on homeschooling anytime soon, for a variety of reasons. So, I am looking for ways to make the public-school situation work for us. All this of course pertains to the information that I will be posting here, and what I will be looking for in literature and on the Internet... in no way does it mean that, if your situation is different, then I am not interested in hearing from you. I am willing to learn and hear from all perspectives!
(Tony Attwood has been recommended to me as "a biggie in this field" and I have been encouraged to read anything by/with this author).
Quote of The Day
"If the quality and quantity of work are inconsistent, the consequences are that the child and teachers often have no idea how capable the child is. The child does not learn study skills, but relies on trying to be a quick study because it does not seem that studying is effective. It becomes more difficult for these children to learn to monitor progress because they have no sense of how they are doing. What seemed like good effort does not necessarily bring a good result. Some students give up trying at all. Variability in work quality has consequences for high school when placement depends on grades and effort. Many schools are reluctant to place gifted students with variable grades in honors classes, yet these students will not do better in average classes. In fact, they may do worse. Thus, if Tom was removed from honors English and placed in the average class, he would not produce higher grades. His grades would likely be the same, and he'd be more bored."
- Deidre Lovecky, "Different Minds", p. 198
What I Want to Learn
(in my boss's voice) At the end of the day, what I'd like to take away from this seminar is... ahem...
Anyway, here are the things I'd like to find out:
1. (short-term) How to help my son succeed in school. 2. (long-term) How to help my son prepare for life away from home, higher education, work etc. 3. (both) How to help my son improve his social skills and how to make him realize that he needs these skills. 4. (just wondering) I have reasons to believe that I probably had some form of AS as a child/teenager. However, I don't believe that I have it now; even if I do, it does not interfere with my life in any way. What happened? Where did it go? Did I just grow out of it? How? Is this in any way applicable to my son, i.e. is he going to grow out of his AS, too?
In my next Digest, I will write about why I decided to have my son tested in the first place.
The late Eighties were a remarkable time in Russia, in a lot of respects. Communism was on its way to becoming a thing of the past. The Berlin wall was about to go down. Censorship was all but abolished, and formerly banned books, movies, authors, and rock bands were coming out to enjoy their instant fame. People were finally allowed to talk to foreigners, even (gasp) from capitalist countries, and no repercussions followed. The foreigners themselves were busily exploring the new market. Mostly, they were missionaries of every existing world religion, complete with booklets printed in very bad Russian on very good paper, and artists of all shapes and sizes. Mr. Goldie and I went to a Scorpions concert. Rumor had it that Billy Joel was in Moscow on a tour. As far as art was considered, all things were possible in Russia in the late Eighties.
It was a great time to be twenty-one, single, and a college student in a major city. I wouldn’t trade this time for any other.
In ’88, I lived on campus with two roommates. We had friends in two or three other rooms, which came up to about ten of us. We celebrated holidays together, went to the movies, and to an occasional concert. One evening, we were sitting in our room watching TV, when a girl from our group came in.
“Hey guys, guess what! We’re all going to a Paul McCartney concert. I went Downtown today, and somebody was selling the tickets, so I got tickets for all ten of us.”
Now don’t get me wrong. Today, I wouldn’t go to a Paul McCartney concert if you paid me. (Although, that depends on how much you’re offering – I have two kids to put through college!) But back in ’88, we all loved him dearly. Besides, I was an old Beatles fan. I don’t know about over here, but back in my home town, the murder of John Lennon set off a Beatles craze that lasted a few years. You couldn’t walk into a dance club (or whatever their equivalent was in those days) without hearing a Beatles song. Sure, John was my favorite Beatle, but, what with him being dead and all, I could happily settle for Paul. Long story short, we were excited as heck. All ten of us. The tickets were for sometime mid-June.
So we waited. And waited. And waited. And, when we were about to give up, June finally came. With it, came the exams. Again, I don’t know how it’s done here, but in Russian institutions of higher learning, exams are oral. And they are extremely tough. And, if you do well on them, you get a grant. Except in Russia in my day, college education was free, so getting a grant meant you got paid.
Need I tell you that we crammed night and day and studied like there was no tomorrow, because, hey, we wanted that money. We needed that money. Our parents were getting a bit tired of supporting us, this being our fourth year in college (out of five).
The night after a particularly difficult exam, was the night of our Paul McCartney concert.
We hadn’t slept all night, but who cares about this stuff when you are twenty-one. All ten of us got dressed for the concert, and got on the train that would take us there.
While on the train, our Ticket Provider girl suddenly started to experience major doubts.
“Hey guys? I’m not sure if it’s Paul McCartney. I think it said something else on the sign when I bought those tickets. Or not. I don’t remember. It was a while ago, you know.”
We arrived at a medium-sized concert hall and took our seats. The audience was only one-third full. Pretty weird for a Paul McCartney concert. The majority of the audience were young guys from the various military schools in our city.
Minutes later, the announcer came on stage, and introduced to us the Pat Metheny Group, one of the world’s leading jazz bands.
We were pretty cool about it. Pat Metheny, Paul McCartney, what’s the difference. It’s still American music, right? And it wasn’t as if we had heard a whole lot of that in our lives previously. So, we kept a (collective) open mind as Pat Metheny and his group strolled onto the stage.
They started playing. Man, what sophisticated music that was! There is no way I can describe the stuff, except quote from their site:
“Founded by Metheny in 1977, the PMG has relentlessly traveled the world, playing and selling out concerts, festivals and clubs in more than 40 countries, becoming one of the most active and popular touring acts of any kind anywhere. Each new record and tour are awaited with eager anticipation and speculation; this is a band with an imagination and no-holds-barred creativity that has constantly surprised and delighted fans with the unexpected, yet always delivers on an endless promise of imagination and pure melody that was invoked from the first notes of their first record.”
Or, to summarize briefly, “if you expect something like Kenny G or some such, you may be surprised with the unexpected.”
For a while, we struggled to understand what we were hearing. Then, to listen - screw the understanding. Then, to sit straight with our eyes open and pretend to be listening. Then, finally, Pat Metheny won, and all ten of us dozed off, not unlike the Biblical ten virgins (which, incidentally, almost all of us were, much to our shame and embarrassment).
Sometime mid-concert, a few of us woke up, and decided it was time to make like a tree and sneak out of the concert hall. (If you think that’s a lame metaphor, tell me if you have ever seen a tree in a concert hall. See? They all snuck out!)
But, as it turned out, we could not, in fact, leave. Our row was blocked on both sides with sleeping military-school dudes.
Apparently, very few people in the audience were, in fact, awake at that point.
We gently nudged the military dude on our left, trying to wake him up. No results. We nudged him a little less gently – he was still sleeping like a baby. We kicked him and prodded him, all the while trying not to disturb the performance – no go. Luckily, the row behind us was empty. Very quietly and discreetly, all ten of us climbed over the backs of our seats into the next row, and walked out.
And this, my friends, is a great, real-life illustration of the fact that…
As the saying goes, you cannot take a girl out of the country, but you cannot take the country out of the girl. No matter how long we lived in the big city, deep inside, we still remained unrefined, small-town girls that were physiologically unable to understand real music.
(How do you transmit sarcasm over the Internet? Aw, never mind).
But the story doesn’t end here.
A few weeks later, as I was getting off a subway train, I noticed a guy, about 25 years old, following me. Being single and actively looking and all that, I slowed down and let the guy catch up.
“Excuse me,” inquired the guy, “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but have you, by any chance, been to the Pat Metheny concert a few weeks ago?”
“Yes,” I confessed. “Why?”
“I was there too. I’m a big fan. What do you think? Weren’t they awesome?”
I took a sideways glance at the guy – he wasn’t bad looking. Aw, why the heck not, it’s worth a try.
“Yeah,” I gushed, “incredible! Especially in the second act!”
“I thought you’d like them,” remarked the guy. “I was watching you at the concert. You were clearly admiring their work.”
“Absolutely! What you just said. Admiring, totally admiring. They’re worth it, aren’t they?”
I spent that day in the company of the guy. It was fun.
And this, my friends, is a great, real-life illustration of the fact that…
Guys, no matter how smart they may be, are at the same time extremely gullible when it comes to women, and have a tendency to think with the wrong head. Sorry, guys, but it’s true.
And so my story ends.
No actual members of the Pat Metheny group were harmed in the making of this post.
I have a new idea for this blog, but I am not sure if it is a good one, so I’d like some feedback.
As some of you know, a few weeks ago my 12yo was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. Actually, after discussing it with some of my professional psychologist friends, I’ve concluded that he probably has a full-blown Aspergers, and the doc just missed a symptom.
I was not surprised. In fact, for the last year or so, I had seen it coming. It took me eleven years to figure out what’s wrong with my kid, and another year to get him tested. If anything, I felt a relief as a lot of missing pieces fell into place.
Now I had to bring the news to I12’s school, and have them make accommodations according to the new diagnosis. He is a very bright kid (or so I’m told), but he’s been struggling at school lately.
The first part of my assignment went well. I brought the report to school, and had a meeting with the teachers. However, I am still unclear on the accommodations part, and am still in the process of doing research on this. I am trying to be very careful, and to make sure that the new arrangements will allow I12 to utilize his potential to the full, not just make his grades go up. (Although I wouldn’t mind for the grades to go up, I do not see it as the ultimate goal of all this).
Yes I12 is a very odd and difficult kid. He is also a very smart and talented kid. He realizes this, and wants to achieve a lot on his life. I want the same thing for him, not because I want to be able to brag to my neighbors and relatives, but because I want him to have a happy and fulfilled life.
Getting him into therapy that is appropriate for him is another challenge. It’s one thing going to just any psych that would agree to take us even if my husband never shows up, and only go through the motions because the school has told us to. It is completely another to find a person that specializes in this particular disorder; has good reviews; is available; and will take my insurance. Once I find such a person, there's the job of doing my part at home to make the therapy work.
During the last year, I’ve done a lot of reading and arguing and documenting and going to war for my kid. I am quite frankly amazed at how hard even the most simple things have proved to be, such as, getting I12 tested. That was a battle in itself.
I have accumulated a lot of experience, links, and references that I will be more than happy to share. I’m pretty positive that there are many parents of Aspies out there, trying to reinvent the wheel, like myself. I’d be glad to share with them what I have found. On the other hand, I am also positive that a lot of parents out there have been dealing with this issue for many years, and know a lot more than I do. I would be extremely grateful if I could learn from them. Maybe we could form a blogring or something (although there probably already is one).
My question to my audience is, do you think that's a good idea? If I share my findings here, will they be of help to anyone, or will I share all that personal information for nothing? Will my information be of any value to anyone, or does everyone else already know all this stuff? Please feel free to comment and share your opinion.
Hi, everybody, and a Happy Monday to you! How was your weekend? Mine was just great! Mr. Goldie and I went to a bowling tournament along with a bunch of friends from this group. They do it every year, but it’s only the second time that Mr. Goldie and I have been able to go… it’s a large group of people and space is limited! My heartfelt gratitude goes out to Mr. Crush and another guy that I do not know, who both decided to bow out at the last minute, thus making it possible to Mr. Goldie and myself to attend. It was nice to reconnect with the group and have fun. This time, a couple of the guys brought their laptops along, as the hotel had free Internet. Here’s what one of our friends has shared with the group. If you liked the Quiznos commercials… you’re gonna love this. We stayed up till four in the morning, the guys drank beer till they ran out, and a lot of fun was had by all. Oh, and I think we went bowling at some point, if my memory serves me right.
It was a road trip, Mr. Goldie, like the fine gentleman he is, did all the driving, while I was catching up on my much-needed sleep.
Hard to remember what happened before the trip, but I think I was at a couple of parent orientation meetings. At K9’s, the teacher made a video about her class and showed it to the parents. All kids got lines, and were supposed to say them into the camera. The movie was supposed to be filmed on Monday. So, on Wednesday night, we’re all sitting there, watching the video, when it shows one of the kids for the second time, saying still more lines. Only, the first time around, the kid was wearing a nice shirt, whereas this time, he’s proudly sporting a Family Guy T-shirt, with a picture of Brian saying, “STOP LOOKING AT MY TAIL”.
Slowly, one by one, all thirty parents start cracking up… except for me. I was just sitting there, wishing I could slip though the cracks in the floor and disappear. Yes, you guessed it, that was my kid, and I bought the T-shirt for him myself! As it turned out, K9 had done so well on his original part, that the teacher decided to give him more lines and shoot some additional footage… two days later. What can I say? Way to start my relationship with the new teacher. I apologized, of course. About a million times, as far as I can recall.
Mr. Goldie got me a digital camera on eBay, so be prepared to see some pictures soon… I just need to learn to use it first.
I'm signing off now, because I'm tired and hungover. I'll be back after my normal functions are all restored.
K9 just brought the envelope home, with the forms and the booklet. It went straight into the garbage. K9 did not object, for the first time in four years.
See, when he first brought home that thing four years ago, I said no. He was five at the time, and a simple “no, because I said so” worked just fine. Especially after I added, “in our family, we don’t rip people off”.
But then he turned six, and seven, and just saying no wasn’t working anymore. So, I tried to reason with him.
“K9, get over here. Sit down. See, this is the catalog that you gave me. Open it to page 20. See, here’s a candle set. Do you need this candle set? Would you buy it? If you had to buy it, how much would you pay for it? What? A dollar-fifty? Why, here it says $12.99. Would you pay $12.99 for this? And, last but not least, who would buy it from you if every single family in the neighborhood has two or three copies of the exact same catalog on their hands and is desperately trying to sell this same candle set as we speak? Do you have any questions? I thought so. Now do me a favor, throw this in the garbage, and then you can go outside and play.”
Worked with a seven-year-old.
Fast forward to third grade. Now, K9 gets around. He knows everyone in school, and wants to be a top seller just like all the cool kids in class. So, I played along. I bought six items. I even brought the darn thing to work. Two women from work had pity on me and ordered two items each. Ten items! K9 was so happy. He was positive he’d be a top seller and get a limo ride.
Monday morning, he came to school and found out that a girl in his class had already sold fifty items and was planning on selling more. She has a large extended family in the area. K9 didn’t stand a chance.
That said, I do the magazine drive for I12’s school every year. I like the school, I want to help out, and I would’ve subscribed to the magazines anyway.
The only other time when I caved in was for a candy sale last winter. K9 whined and badgered me until I gave in and bought a box. Every week, the school would send these little letters home with him, that never failed to make him hyper and get him to beg me to buy the candy. I think I have already posted one, but it is worth repeating:
SALES HELP WANTED
As of today, 11/29/04, we still have 254 boxes of World's Finest Candy to sell by 12/17/04, in order to make our playground a reality. As it stands right now, we will not have the funds to build the playground this year; however, if we sell the remaining 254 boxes of candy, we will have the funds to build the playground this year!
We are asking every child to sell at least 1 box of candy. Please remember, this fundraiser takes the place of the spring fundraiser. We are attempting to bring in the funds sooner so we can have the playground this spring. We need to be successful with this and the (school name) Night Out fundraiser, or the playground will not be built this year.
As we all know, the holiday season can be very busy, but let's take the time to help build a new playground your children will enjoy year round.
Following are some ideas to help sell your candy:
- ask a local business to buy the candy outright, make a check out to (school name) PTG for $60, they can sell the candy and keep the money. - Ask a local business if you can sit outside their establishment and sell your candy. (Target, Toys R Us, etc.) - Have other family members take them to work.
If a local business helps you in selling your candy, please let the Playground Committee know so they can add them to your thank you list.
if you would like to pick a box of candy, please contact (list of names) or contact the school office.
If you would like to make a donation in lieu of selling a box of candy, below is a tear slip. Please make the check out to (School name) PTG. Any amount will be greatly appreciated! (yes, I tried to give K9 a check for $20, and, no, he didn’t take it… cuz he wanted to sell five boxes and get a limo ride, the little dreamer!!!)
I bought the darn box. There were thirty candy bars for $2 each. I brought it to work, dying of shame and embarrassment.
My coworkers, bless their hearts, bought 19 bars.
I bought one for myself, one for Mr. Goldie, and two for my parents.
K9 bought all the rest with his pocket money. Normally, we try to limit his intake of sweets, but this was for A Cause, so there was very little we could do.
To this day, I have no idea what was so bad about the old playground. The new one doesn’t look any different to me.
Of Smart Men, Movies, Parenting, Chinchillas, and Peter Griffin
Happy Monday, guys and gals!
Sorry I haven’t been around for a while. Things have been very hectic, and will probably remain so for a while. (Hint: school started) I did write a short story, but it’s in Russian. For those of you who can read Russian, it is here.
Saturday night, we went to a local Mensa event and it was so much fun! We played board games. “Apples to Apples” rocks, you should try it! I invited I12’s classmate and his Mom to come along, and they had a great time. That’s probably what I should do – bring more people in. We’ll make this group a fun place yet, hehe. By the way, I found out how, after my last dinner with the group, myself, Business Woman, and Well-Organized Woman all ended up on the cover of the bulletin. Turns out, they’re consistently posting the pictures of (and I quote) “hot chicks” on the front cover, in order to lure men into coming to the events.
Ironically, it’s not working.
Being called a hot chick by a straight woman sure felt good. Talk about a self-esteem boost!
Sunday morning, I enrolled my poor kiddos in Sunday school. I12 wants to quit, but is not allowed until he has turned fourteen and read the six books that I’m going to give him. The deep thought behind this plan is that, while doing his required reading, I12 may experience a change of heart, and decide to stay in church. Worst case scenario, he will at least have built some knowledge base and have some basic idea what our faith is all about. Do you think it will work? Please feel free to share your opinions.
I also want to enroll K9 in altar boys this year. The enrollment is sometime in October. K9 and I already have a deal. It will cost me $10 for each Sunday he’s in the altar, and $17 for every holiday service that isn’t on a Sunday morning. I know, a lot of you may object, but the way I see it, it’s hard work and it should be rewarded. K9 shows an interest in all things spiritual, so I figure it will be good for him.
Sunday afternoon, I watched “Dead Poets Society” on DVD. It nearly broke my heart. The first time I watched DPR was fifteen years ago, and back then, I concentrated mostly on Robin Williams’ manner of teaching poetry. Interesting how your perception changes when you are fifteen years older and have kids. Also, this time, I saw the movie right after reading this and this (CollegeConfidential.com – confessions of Asian high-school kids with pushy parents – interesting, although depressing, read). It turned out to be a very thought-provoking combination. I am definitely in favor of letting my children decide for themselves who they want to be and what their priorities should be. Granted, I’m still providing guidance, but that’s because K9 is too young, and I12, in my opinion, needs to be a bit more in touch with reality before I let him make his own decisions. But ultimately, I want them to think for themselves. Heck, I’ve spent all these years training them to be independent thinkers, I’m not about to stop now.
Evening brought a much-needed dose of Lighten Up in form of a new Family Guy episode. K9 and I howled with laughter through the entire ep. It’s really good. I hope you have either seen it or recorded it!
Nicky the chinchilla is still alive, despite all K9’s attempts to smother him. The little guy is so smart. We’ve taken him out to play a few more times, but he never attempted his last week’s stunt anymore! He will climb on my shoulder and sit there, staring at the sink, but he won’t jump. So, I guess he’s not a true guy, seeing as he can learn from his bad experiences! He can also tell me from K9. When I come to his cage, he sits around, his front paws folded in front of him and his head tilted to one side, waiting to be scratched… because I am a really good chinchilla scratcher! Whereas if K9 comes to the cage, Nicky will run and hide… because K9 tends to hold him and carry him around the house for hours. Needless to say, K9 is bumming out over this, thinking that Nicky loves me more. I tell him, “That’s easy – Nicky is exactly like your brother used to be when he was little. He likes to run and explore, and doesn’t like it when people bother him. Just think of Nicky as a small, furry I12”. Will this help? Let’s wait and see!
And now it’s Monday and I’m back in the office. Awww how I love my job. If I could just take all my coworkers, buy a farm somewhere… you know what I mean? Go see yesterday’s Family Guy if you don’t!
Kim has an in-depth analysis of boys, compared to girls. The conclusion seems to be that boys tend to display the same asinine behavior that we normally see in grown-up guys.
I will go a bit farther and prove to you that the same happens in the animal kingdom.
As I have already mentioned, we have a chinchilla. Correction – a guy chinchilla. Our new pet Nicky is a cute, soft, furry creature and you would never expect him to act like a guy. And yet, in some ways, he does. Granted, he cannot drink beer or do armpit farts, but check this out.
About once a day, time permitting, Nicky has his play time. According to every chinchilla-care website I’ve seen, play time is when you take your pet to a chinchilla-proof room and let him run around for some time under your supervision. In our house, the only room that is truly chinchilla-proof is the downstairs bathroom. We close the toilet and the sink, spread a rug on the floor, and sit there for about thirty minutes while Nicky bounces off the walls. He is a natural climber and jumper, and enjoys it greatly.
Two days ago, I was sitting on my rug, some distance away from the sink, talking to K9. Out of nowhere, Nicky climbed on my shoulder, and took a jump in the general direction of the sink. The poor guy miscalculated. He hit the bathroom sink at full speed, face first.
Now that we’ve made sure that he is well and not hurt, I truly wish I had brought a camera.
Think about it, though. Why did Nicky take that jump when he wasn’t sure whether he could make it?
Because he thought that it just might work, and wouldn’t it be fun if it did?
Did he stop for a moment and think about what would happen if it didn’t work?
Because he’s a guy, that’s why.
That’s when we knew that Nicky is a true member of our family.
Here are some very touching pictures of K9 giving Nicky a treat.
“Here, Nicky, have a carrot”.
“Aaaawwww, how cute!”
“Who’s my wittle chinchilla-willa? You are!”
“Aw, look at you Nicky, you’re all done! Mom! Can I give him another?”
I’ve done something really embarrassing this morning.
I told a guy and his son to “get a room”.
Okay, I didn’t say that to their face. I was in the privacy of my car.
There were dozens of us, trying to drop our kids off at the elementary school. And some of us (like myself… wink wink) had more kids in the car with them, and more schools to go to. The drop-off lane was backed up to next century, and everybody was in sort of a hurry.
I pulled into the school’s lot calm and contented, because we were still on schedule. There was still enough time to drop K9 off, get to middle school, drop I12 off, and he’d still have a few minutes before the classes started.
There was only one car ahead of us, a Ford SUV. K9 was all ready to go, as soon as the SUV left and we pulled into its spot.
Meantime, the SUV is just sitting there. A few minutes go by and nothing happens.
Finally, the driver’s door slowly opens, a guy steps out of the car, and starts walking around it.
I stare in disbelief. You’ve got to be kidding me.
Okay, maybe the guy has a disabled kid that needs to be helped out of the car. Or a very young kid that also cannot get out by himself. I take a deep breath and wait.
Slowly, the guy opens the back door. There is a motion inside. After a while, a perfectly healthy boy gets out and he’s about K9’s age.
Maybe the kid got lost inside the SUV and couldn’t find his way out. Who knows. Those things are huge. You need a map to find your way around some of them.
So, the time goes by, the lane continues to back up, and the guy is standing on the sidewalk with his kid having a nice chat. Finally, the kid turns to leave. But no. He forgot something. Dad asks him to come back.
And gives him a hug and a kiss.
That’s when I said the infamous words.
I think the guy may have heard something. He kind of looked at me. So, either he heard me, or else he suddenly realized that there were other cars behind him.
Either way, I’ll give him credit - he was really cool about it. In slow motion, he walked back to his car, got in, and drove away. No rush.
I quickly pulled up to the sidewalk, K9 popped out of the car like a lightning, and I drove to the middle school like a banshee. We arrived just as the bell went off. Oh well. I12 didn’t seem to mind.
I don’t really think it was the guy’s fault. We should have left earlier anyway, to account for the traffic and stuff. The slow guy falling into the “stuff” category.
I just can’t help wondering. What’s up with everybody taking their sweet time at drop-off? I see it all the time. The hugging and kissing is what gets me the most. A kid would get out of the car and start walking away, and the parents would tell him to come back and give them that hug and kiss, dangit! Never mind the three dozen cars behind them.
Is it just me or is it inconsiderate as heck?
There’s a parking lot right next to the school. You can park, and then walk your kids to school, and while you’re walking, you can hug and kiss them to your heart’s content. But, if you have decided to drop them off, then do it quickly.
My kids jump out of the car like it’s on fire. That’s what I taught them to do. I tell them to gather their things and get ready to go as soon as I turn into the parking lot. We catch up on our hugs and kisses in the evening.
I tell them they have to get out fast, because there are people behind us waiting for us to leave. The way I see it, it’s common courtesy.
Even though I promised you guys a funny story, I have to confess that I’ve got nothing. There’s a lot going on in my family right now, but it isn’t funny.
Tomorrow, Mr. Goldie and I are going to a wedding. Two people from this group are getting married. This should be fun!
Saturday, our friends are coming in from out of town. I’m currently trying to clean house and get it ready for their stay, and the house is fighting back. Word of advice, don’t ever let your husband have any room in the house all to himself, he will fill it to the brim with electronics and turn it into a bachelor pad.
(Shhhh… please do not tell Mr. Goldie I said that.)
(I LOVE bachelor pads! Honest!)
So, this has been the update. Back to my regularly scheduled Funny Story.
Six years ago, Mr. Big and I worked together at a small, startup company. I had been there eighteen months, when suddenly I got an uncontrollable urge to leave. This was for a variety of reasons, both personal and work-related.
I was reporting directly to Mr. Crush. I’ve mentioned him in my earlier posts. We did not have a good working relationship, to put it mildly. (That was one of my reasons for leaving.)
Mr. Crush didn’t know that I was looking, but Mr. Big, being my best buddy and all, did. I consulted him on every job ad I got. This was during the IT boom, and things moved fast, so, a mere month after I’d started looking, I got my first job offer. They called me at work to discuss the conditions.
It just so happened that Mr. Crush was out of town that day, on a business trip. He was due back in two days.
I spent all day in heated phone conversations with my prospective employer. They offered too little; I bargained. (Oh the blessed days of IT boom when one could actually do that!) In between the phone calls, I ran over to Mr. Big’s office with the latest updates. Together, we went over what had been said, and laid out the strategy for my next call.
At the end of the day, I managed to squeeze an extra five thousand out of those guys, and finally gave in and told them YES! They promised to mail the written offer to me in a few days. I shared the good news with Mr. Big, and thanked him for his help. Together, we agreed that I wouldn’t give notice until I had the offer in my hands (makes sense, right?)
The next day, I was sitting at my desk, unable to think of anything but my new job. A thought hit me that it would be good to check how many vacation days I had. I went to the HR’s office.
The HR was very helpful. Too helpful, as a matter of fact.
“Right now, you have no vacation days left, because you already took all five. But, if your boss agrees to convert them all into sick days, then you will have five vacation days available, and, should you leave, you will be reimbursed for them. You won’t be reimbursed for sick days, though.”
“Thank you so much, that really helps.” I turned to go.
“Wait.” The HR got up and shut the door.
“I happen to know that you’re leaving, and I would like to wish you good luck in your new job.”
My eyes widened.
“Don’t worry. I have only told one person, and I can trust him with my life.”
OK, I could probably live with that, even though it wasn’t really a part of my original plan. I went back to my desk, stopping by Mr. Big’s office on the way for a brief talk.
“Why’d you tell the HR?”
“I thought it wouldn’t be fair to hide this from her.”
“Okay, okay. Just don’t tell anybody else, will you?”
“You know, I think that now that they know, you should probably file your resignation tomorrow.”
I’m back in my cube.
Fifteen minutes later, a fellow programmer walks in.
“So you’re leaving. Good for you! This place is going down, time to get out of here.”
We chatted for a few minutes. I tried my best to keep a poker face through the whole conversation. As soon as she left my cubicle, I went back to Mr. Big’s office. I am afraid I wasn’t as polite as the last time around.
I walked in, shutting the door behind me.
“WTF?????” I demanded to know.
“Wha? what’d I do?” wondered the innocent Mr. Big.
“Why are people from our department congratulating me on my new job?”
“Which one of them talked to you?”
“Whaddaya mean which one? How many of them know?”
“Uh, all of them. Hey, why are you mad? I thought there’d be no harm done if I told them. They’re gonna find out in a few days anyway! Don’t look at me like that!”
I took a deep breath and sat down.
“So, let me recap,” I said. “Mr. Crush is coming back into the office tomorrow, and the first thing he’s going to find out is that I’m quitting, and he’s the only person in the office who doesn’t know.
And he's my direct boss.
And he cannot stand me to begin with.”
Mr. Big thought about it for a while. Mr. Crush had been his best friend for years.
“I think,” he offered with an infinitely wise look on his face, “that you should file your resignation right now.”
So I did. It's not like I had a choice.
Mr. Crush’s flight arrived that same night. Mr. Big called him at home and told him the news.
What the heck, the word was already out anyway.
Mr. Crush did not talk to me for the entire two weeks until I left. He was positive that I had quit because of him, even though I kept categorically denying it.
The man is incredibly smart.
Next day when I came into the office, it was time for one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. I sat at my desk, and called the HR from my new job.
“Hi Shawn, listen, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I kind of need the written offer right now. See, what happened is, when I accepted your offer, I told my best friend, and he told everybody in the office, so I had to give my notice already. Could you do me this favor, please?”
Bless Shawn’s heart. He could have gone back on our whole bargain at that moment, but he didn’t. Thirty minutes later, I was holding the offer in my hands.
The new job turned out to be just as crappy as the old one, except with no dental insurance and at a worse location. I quit it three months later, and went to work for my current company.
As in all Mr. Big stories, there is a moral. I learned a lot from the man over the years. Here it is.
When you’re interviewing for another job, keep your yap shut. Especially, don’t tell your best friend.