Friday, January 28, 2011

Our New Project: Preadolescence

When my boogies was a baby, a six week old baby, I remember her sleeping in her bassinet while Paul Bunyan and I watched a movie. And then I remember looking over at the bassinet and seeing a fountain of puke, at least two feet high, fly straight up to the ceiling. Luckily, for Claire, it didn't land on her face. And luckily for me, Paul was there to calm me down. I thought, for sure, she was dying. She only did it that once. Thank the good lord I don't believe in.

Don't worry, this post isn't about projectile vomit.

When by boogies was a baby, a six week old baby, she got a severe case of baby acne all over her face. Here's a not-so-great picture of her with her acne:

I would go up to my friends, who hadn't seen her yet and say, "So, here (throwing the baby in their face), meet my beautiful baby girl." And then I would slap my leg and laugh myself silly so as not to make them feel uncomfortable at how un-beautiful my baby looked. There is nothing beautiful about acne. Not when you're six weeks old, not when you're sixteen years old, not when your 36 years old.

But don't worry, this isn't a post about acne. It's a post about hormones. Yay! Here is what I'm thinking. My mother passed down the hormonal thing to me, via the genes. Mmmhmm. She got her period early and subsequently I got my period early. 10 years old. Ten. X.

I remember what bathroom I was in. Right outside the art room. I was all alone. First one of my friends. My mother cried when I came home from school. She pulled the big green box from Kotex off the top shelf in my closet. Showed me how to put the mattress pad in my underwear. And how to wash the blood off my sheets in the mornings with Ammonia. I bled like a butchered pig.

Don't worry, this isn't a post about periods. Remember it's a post about hormones. Because I'm trying to figure out how and when they infiltrated my daughter's body. And then I remembered that I probably fucking gave them to her. Like my mother gave them to me. It's a wicked wicked present, especially when they're wily and clever and move in prematurely. My boogies turns 9 next month.

Now she's flying into fits and slamming doors and stomping feet and being the beast that those wily buggers make you be. I have to place blame on the hormones. I have to because I don't want to think we've gone wrong.

So, we've resorted to making lists. On a particularly bad day here are 15 things about my 'stuped' life.

And being the caring Mom that I am, I want to fix it all. MOSTLY the part about her feeling stupid. Because that could just wreck her...forever. So, I've been going over all the possibilities here. Homeschooling being one of the options. I know Mom, it would be crazy. But here's how I'm breaking it down in my head. I can either tell Claire to suck it up and deal with it, which is a great lesson (especially if she has the skills to deal with it) or I can show her that when things aren't going so well, we have the power to change it.

So, of course, I made a Pro/Con list. Told ya' I still do it.

I tried to make the homeschooling look really awful, but in actuality I've spent many an hour of sleepless nights going over all the fun things we could learn, like really learn. All the projects, all the places, all the investigating, all the ways to look more closely at the things that she is just skimming over in school. Could I actually make my daughter love to learn? Could I actually make her inspired to do something instead of just for a grade? Could I actually make her believe that she IS smart? I believe so.

So we've compromised. Because I stay on the trail. I do the normal thing. I follow the leader. I never rock the boat. Here's our action plan. I help Claire see the positives in her day.

Project #1:
Set the alarm clock to go off 10 minutes before she needs to get up. Set it to go off to her favorite radio station. Hope for this song because we like the message.

Project #2:
She takes a photo at the top of every hour. Here's what she took on the first day:

7 a.m. Life in a bowl.

8 a.m. Helping Sue in the main office.

9 a.m. Reading!

10 a.m. paper mache turtle in art.

11 a.m. Math

12 p.m. lunch

1 p.m. science

2 p.m. clean-up.

3 p.m. Off the bus.

Claire was so excited about this. It made her look at her day from behind a different lens. She told me later that night that she realized that she needed to change her attitude. Oh, what a camera can do!!

Project #3
The Power of Positive Thinking Project

Every night Claire writes down on a Post-It Note one positive thing that happened to her that day. It doesn't have to be about school, just something that happened that was positive. So far we have: ate the best apple I've ever eaten, made my own lunch, was given a dictionary. Soon, we'll see how our positive thoughts can fill up a room, can fill up a day, a month, a year, a lifetime. This is a lesson I need to learn too. We're learning from each other.

Project #4
The Davis Studio

Go back to what you enjoy. This is one thing that Claire isn't doing enough of. She used to love this at Bellwether. We all have to go back to what used to make us happy. For me it's potato chips.

My Boogies needs to feel special, different, unique, seen and heard. This could be a product of being trailed by twins, who have always stolen the limelight. However, I think we all need to feel special, different, unique, seen and heard. I know what she's feeling is natural and normal. And I know it may be about her body changing right now, and about school not being the greatest place for her to learn, and about us making errors in parenting. And believe you me, I know a lot of it is her trying to maneuver through the maze of mean girls. And we're going to try to do our best to help. But really. Really. I wish she could just lay back and projectile vomit all this out. Just purge all those evil hormones. A fountain of insecurity and sadness and feelings of being stupid and alone- all those chunks just flying up into the air and landing on the tile floor next to her with a slap. And Paul Bunyan and I just looking on from the couch at the sloppy mess, waiting for the dog to lap it up.

Oh, wait, this post wasn't going to be about vomit.

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