Performance Anxiety

The other day, Scout told steakums that she couldn’t go to her new school because they will want her to spell “spider” and she can’t spell “spider”, so she will get in trouble and she doesn’t want to get in trouble, and also they won’t let her wear pajamas.

Stacey explained that she won’t have to know how to spell “spider” but Scout just takes this as proof that we don’t know anything about how the real world works. We are naive if we don’t think she’s going to have to know how to spell “spider”. Seriously.

The Week That Was

Grading on the curve, it’s been a pretty good week so far.

I was in Juarez from Monday – Wednesday with nothing much to do, which means my area of responsibility in the product was working just fine. So, they let me come back early.

I signed up for an 8:45 flight out of El Paso on Wednesday morning, but got bumped. Which turned out to be okay, on account of a $400 travel voucher and First Class seat on the 1:00pm flight. I had my laptop, internet access, some books, a DVD player and the first season of My Name Is Earl, all of which served to pass a comfortable few hours in the airport.

I got home at bedtime, so I read RocketBoy some Learn-To-Read Magic Schoolbus books he got from the Scholastic book club at school, which he’s very excited about.

RocketBoy is not interested in being taught to read; He just wants to pick it up on his own. When we’re reading a book, he’ll suddenly become interested in a certain word on the page and want to know what it says. But if you try and teach him a random word you think he might like to know, he’ll get frustrated and say “Just READ it.”

One thing he thinks is high-larious is the word “Good”. He knows if he covers up the “d”, he gets “Goo”. And if he covers up the second “o”, he gets “Go.” That’s funny to him for some reason, and occasionally he tries it with other words with less-hilarious results.

Speaking of books (as I’m wont to do), I’ve gotten in several this week that I’m looking forward to reading. Two from PaperBackSwap, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why and The Code Book: The Evolution of Secrecy from Mary, Queen of Scots to Quantum Cryptography, and one pre-ordered from Amazon: Neal Stephenson’s Anathem.

Oddly enough, the description of Anathem doesn’t pique my interest, but it’s Stephenson, and it’s gotten good reviews, so I’m putting my faith in the man.

Last night, we went to Oak Grove Elementary Family Night at Chik-fil-a, which was nothing short of a madhouse. I’m not a big fan of their food, but they have good milkshakes. We also got to meet the mother of RocketBoy’s favored Kindergarten friend, R__.

The play area was too crazy for us to let Scout venture into, so she was frustrated at being held back. One kid came out of the mess with a bloody nose, so I don’t feel too overprotective here1.

Some parent-y stuff

This and That

I’ve signed up to take Spanish class here every Friday at 4pm.

I hated Spanish in high school. Not because of the language itself, but because my teacher was a very unpleasant woman in every sense of the word except hygiene. As far as I can remember, she did not smell bad.

But, I took it for four years, because some guidance counselor whose name I can not remember said I needed to, for some qualification of something or other… I wasn’t clear exactly what, but I had the impression I wasn’t going to get into college if I didn’t. In hindsight, I’m thinking it was to make the school itself look good. If that’s the case, I would like to remember that guidance counselor’s name, so I can sign her up for some SPAM.

At any rate, it was a miserable class that I dreaded every day. The end result was anguish and only a rudimentary understanding of the language. Now I find that I could really use more than a rudimentary understanding of the language, since I’m spending five or six weeks out of every year in Mexico. Some tenses other than present would be a good start.

Hopefully this class will be better.

RocketBoy started Kindergarten this week. He seems to be sliding right into the swing of things, and reports that his day was “awesome” and “perfect” when he gets home. But before bedtime, he complains that it’s no fun and there isn’t any playtime, which I find hard to believe given all the games, toys and play stations set up around the room.

You could tell the kids who had gone to Pre-K from the ones going to school from the first time. There was a little boy near RocketBoy who sat almost perfectly still with wide-eyed fear, his hands barely moving on the play-doh the teacher had provided them all while they waited for class to start. I encouraged RocketBoy to introduce himself, but the boy’s eyes just got wider when RocketBoy talked to him, and he didn’t respond. I went over and told him that Kindergarten was going to be fun, and he smiled a little bit, but not much. Pretty soon, I noticed that he was being joined at his table by several other petrified kids, and I figured they’d all break the ice sooner or later.

RocketBoy says he fell asleep in art class the first day. Not surprising since he woke up at 4am that day and couldn’t get back to sleep from the excitement of it all.

Every day, he gets a strip of construction paper sent home in his folder, green, yellow or red depending on his behavior. Collect 8 or 10 green strips, make them into a loop necklace, and he can turn it in for a visit to the Treasure Chest.

I wish I got strips at work.

RocketBoy has started playing chess. There was a booth for a KidChess program after school, and he spent a lot of time talking to the guy. When we got home, I got out a board and showed him how to set it up, and how the pieces moved.

He’s not the kid from Searching for Bobby Fischer, but he took to the game quickly, and beat me pretty handily.

He really wants to lobby the chess people to allow pawns to move diagonally, though.

It’s been an expensive month. What with getting steakums‘ car fixed (twice), getting the dog fixed, and back to school expenses, the credit card was fairly heavily weighed down. As nice as it is to have built up a savings for just these sorts of things, it’s still painful to watch most of it dissipate.1

And then last night the AC died.

But I’m sure those are cheap as can be to repair.

The rope swing is still not put up. I’m beginning to roll my eyes at myself when I announce it will be done soon.

I have successfully hooked steakums on Weeds, Season 1. I have not convinced her of the entertainment value of Twitter yet.

We have gotten a (cable-based) telephone in our house. We felt bad that the telemarketers didn’t have a way to contact us.

On a “well-whaddya-know” note, I recognized a name in the credits from Wall-E, which I didn’t expect. I shared a dorm suite with this guy in college. Turns out I’d failed to notice his name in the credits of all the Pixars since The Incredibles. Chalk another one up in the “famous” people I know list.

1 There’s a lesson there in misperception in that it seems more painful to spend savings than it does to take on debt.

The Wheels on the Bus

I was at work on time. Early, even. This has not happened in some time. Weeks. Not since steakums went back to a sort of “regular” job a couple months ago.

I was at work on time because this morning RocketBoy announced he wanted to take the bus to school. Apparently, he has had a taste of independence and wants more. Now. Tomorrow, I expect he will ask to drive. By late next week, he will have moved into his own apartment.

In other news, Scout slept through the night with minimal stirring.

So, in summary, I got a good night sleep, had a leisurely morning, and am here at my desk, ready to go.

And it is only just now as I type this that I realize I forgot a change of clothes for soccer practice after work. And the soccer equipment.

You can’t have everything.

Apparel Provided by StochasticGirl

It should be mentioned that the topic for this week and next in RocketBoy’s Pre-K is Space.

Every day, RocketBoy comes home with a review of his performance. The teacher circles “Excellent”, “Good” or “Not My Best Day (see note)” on a standard form.

Yesterday, he came home with an extra category written in, “SUPER AWESOME” with three star stickers added. We also got an email from his teacher bragging about how good he was, brimming with confidence.

I guess there’s something to be said for studying what you’re interested in.

Today we sent him off attired in an official Jet Propulsion Lab t-shirt, thoughtfully provided by stochasticgirl.

I look forward to hearing how it all went, appropriately attired.

In Which The Knot Was Tied

We’re back from New Jersey, where I officiated a wedding for the second time. The main difference between the two was that this one has fewer llamas and more Italians, and I’m here to say that the Italians were louder.

We flew up to the Garden State on Thursday morning. At the end of the flight, as we made our way off the plane, RocketBoy walked straight into the cockpit and said, “Hey! What’s going on in here?” Instead of being shot on sight as a terrorist, he got some wings and to sit in the pilots seat with a pilot hat. He was unsuccessful in getting the plane to take off again, though.

The highlight of the weekend, aside from seeing relatives and the wedding itself, was eating at my brother-in-law’s restaurant, Floyd’s Brick Oven Pizza. Mmm… that’s good pizza… authentic, thin crust, brick oven, Italian style pizza. RocketBoy reports the hot dogs were good as well, as he requested them for every meal.

Both RocketBoy and Scout had a terrific time; My sister-in-law’s house is always full of kids, with plenty of things to do.

The wedding seemed to go off well; No one complained about my officiating, so we’ll call that a win. The DJ was really, to my mind, the best DJ in the world in his music choice. It went a little to waste, as steakums, the kids and I were the only ones to dance, with a few sporadic exceptions. I was not to be deterred in my enjoyment, since at the last wedding I spent alone in a hotel room sick from food poisoning. This one was much better.

RocketBoy was kind of lethargic through the whole thing from too many days of going to bed late and lazing around the house being constantly fed junk food. He mostly sat at the table doing puzzles in a coloring book, while Scout was non-stop action the whole time, and only got upset when we wouldn’t let her color on the windows.

The plane trip home was looking to be a nightmare, as Scout slept the whole 1.5 hour car ride there, so we didn’t expect her to sleep on the flight which would mean trying to convince her to stay in one spot for 2 hours. During the car ride, RocketBoy had turned his Annoying up to 11. But once we settled at the gate, he threw a switch and went into charming mode again, and Scout fell asleep shortly after takeoff.

I took them out to the park before dinner to burn off any pent up airplane-ride energy, and Scout did her best to shoot some baskets while RocketBoy ran into a friend of his from school and became engrossed in a game of Zathura.

Last night was Art Night/Book Fair at the elementary school, and we went to buy a few Amelia Bedelias and a framed print of one of RocketBoy’s art projects, which is now prominently displayed in our living room. I think it passes for folk art.

DEAR Reader

This morning I was the D.E.A.R.1 reader for RocketBoy’s Pre-K class.

We read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and Earl’s Too Cool for Me. Also, we debuted RocketBoy’s Planet book.

Alexander was adapted to the stage and performed by Synchronicity a while back. Earl was given to steakums long before she had kids, and was featured on an episode of PBS’ Between the Lions.

Since I am RocketBoy’s dad, he got to sit in the Rocking Chair of Honor next to me as I read.

When we read with RocketBoy, it’s a very interactive experience with much discussion of each page and every picture. This class has been taught to be quiet and listen, so it took me a full book (Alexander) to get them in interactive mode, and reading along with the tag line “It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” They were in full respond mode throughout Earl. “What? A bicycle made of hay?? That makes no sense!”

Then we pulled out the Planet Book RocketBoy had made from planet photos printed from the Internets. His teacher had laminated and bound the pages for us (alas, out of order). We went through the pictures and talked about the various planets. The biggest hit was a photo I wasn’t going to put in, an artist’s rendition of the asteroid that hit the earth and killed all the dinosaurs.

RocketBoy jumped out of his chair and went into teacher mode and explained to the class about each planet, and about the asteroid that killed all the dinosaurs, and how you can take three Earths and put them in the red spot on Jupiter. He was about to launch into his rendition of “Interplanet Janet” when I cut him off.

I filled out the class DEAR book log, and headed out as the kids prepared for breakfast.

Delightful. I’ve got my next DEAR session all planned out. I’m going to make a 4 foot high book with a page about each kid and let them be the live illustrations, standing in front of it. steakums says I should check with the teacher first. I say, I’m an elementary school rebel.

1 Drop Everything And Read… everyone reads or is read to for 15 minutes every day, from 8:00am to 8:15am.

The Wait

2:45pm. Right now, a very anxious steakums is waiting at the bus stop near our house for the school bus to arrive and return RocketBoy to his natural environment.

There is no schedule given as to when the bus will arrive, so as the minutes tick by, the voices in steakums‘ head get ever-louder… Where is the bus? WHERE IS THE BUS?

She has balloons.

Did he enjoy his day? Will he want to go back? Did he get on the right bus?

The answers to these questions will greatly effect our quality of life for the months to come.

[ETA] 3:07pm. The squeaky bus is coming around the corner…

[ETA] 3:23pm. …aaaaand RocketBoy was on it. And he seemed to enjoy school. And he’s now eating cookies and milk.

Mission accomplished.