This Week In Gratitude

Only a minute ago she was walking into her first day of first grade, and now this.

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She came home from her last day of school today and I squeeled OOOOH! A SECOND GRADER IN MY HOUSE! and she rolled her eyes at me in that way children do when they are faking annoyance at your utter uncoolness because they can't let you know how much it means to them that you're still so into them that you can't help but squee all over them.

Pro tip: I dont actually think that particular eyeroll ever goes away, so long as you keep unreasonably and insufferably loving the goddamn shit out of them.

Anyway, once she was done NOT SMILING AT YOU MOM and rolling her eyes, she came up to me, climbed in my lap, and once she was all snuggled in tight she asked, "Mom, what did you learn in 2nd grade?"

I thought. I really thought. I can still remember what that room looked like, the way the hazy east coast sunlight shone through the aluminum blinds and on to the wood grain desktops. I can still smell every smell in that room; dust, humidity, sweat, cocoa butter, rubber cement and chalk. I *cannot* remember any one thing that I learned inside of that classroom, however, save one thing: Adults can be very, very cruel to children.

It's weird that it took my grade two teacher to open my eyes to this. I lived with two of the cruelest, most sadistic adult human beings I will ever encounter in my life, but that is what is amazing about children - their infinite ability to love unconditionally and forgive repeatedly, and also to buy into your shit about "religion" and "discipline".

But my grade two teacher was not my mother. She was not anyone's mother, so far as I knew. She was the teacher-stereotype they make movies about, Ms Agatha Trunchbull in the flesh. She was a small woman, and grey all over - from her hair to her heart.

She particularly hated children in my cult sect of Judean-Christianity, as if we had some choice in the matter. I can't remember her name, and I don't remember the sound of her voice, but I remember the way her dingy blouse hung away from her flabby arms as she, every morning, would pull my friend's uncombed, unwashed red air up into tight ponytail with rubbber bands, and the way it hung stained with sweat every afternoon when she would rip those rubber bands out of her hair, not caring how much gorgeous read strands of hair she took with them.

I think that she hated poor people, that she was digusted by dirty children, that she dreamed of teaching at the school down the road from us full of middle-class white children whos parents packed them sack lunches and made sure their hair was combed and clothes were cleaned every day, not just on the first day.

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We were not middle-class white children. We were children that they all wrote off, the ones they tucked away inside a high-security Section 8 neighborhood and left to play in dumpsters or the woods or the basketball court until we all got good and hooked on our parents drugs or vodka or hopelessness and rendered ourselves obsolete.

Almost no one cared about us, but few dared to show it the way my 2nd grade teacher did. She actively despised us, even the few of us that showed the promise of some potential. We were lost children, lost causes, social waste - and she made damn sure we knew it.  

I read somewhere that a child's perception of themselves is defined by the time they reach ages seven or eight. That gives us a very narrow window of time to instill a healthy perception of self. I can't remember if grade two was the year that I learned cursive, or the year I started to multiple large numbers, but I do remember that grade two was the year I realized someone thought I was worthless.

And I'm glad for it. 

I'm glad for it because it reminds me every day to tell *my* second grader how much I value her, respect her, adore her, love her. It reminds me to be kind to every second grader, every third grader, every eighth grader I come in contact with, because maybe they just need one person to counter some really horrible message someone else is trying with all their might to instill in them.

In second grade I learned that adults can be very cruel, and I am grateful for that, and for her, because in so many ways she taught me exactly would grow up not to be. 

This Week in Gratitude

After barely-squeaking through a week of being too sick to do much more than work and sleep - and neither of those things to any real degree of effectiveness - i have never been more grateful than I am right now for Platex Purple Plastic Dish Gloves

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I try to keep the a/c off as much as possible when the kids aren't home, because (like pimpin') a/c ain't easy. When my March electric bill, with no ramp up or warning or anything, leaps straight for the clitoris and exactly doubles itself, I find myself willing to endure a little more in-home sauna experience than usual. Which you'd know is really saying something, if you've ever smelled me in the summer.

Sex Education aside, because you totally forgot about this, didn't you? You're welcome:

My kids have pretty much been left to their own devices this week, because my skin, something inside and under both my right rib cage and right hip bone, and all the glands from my belly button up declared mutiny this week, and so there has been a lot of breakfast-cereal-with-a-side-of-Xbox for dinner which is great in an air-conditioned college dormroom, but isn't so idea inside the tandoor ovens they try to pass off as Real Estate in the Sun Valley. 

Lucky-Charms-milk left out on the counter for just two or three hours in the desert heat turns was the inspriration for The Leprechaun. Fact*. You should probably just take my word for that.

And so now it's Mother's Day, I'm off the Lance Armstrong dose of predanose, and I have a week of dishes to catch up on. Because nothing says Happy Mother's Day like opening up your dishwasher and finding all your good mugs stained damn near black from tea, and probably your mother in law's soul. 

You see, my mother in law, who I've managed to say pretty close to not a single word to since her son and I broke up once and for all, came to spend some quality grandma time with 3of3 while the boys and I hit the road for Mom 2.013. Which was very nice of her. I kind of thought the giant super fancy dishrack on the counter, the purple dish gloves hanging over the faucet, and the utter lack of dishwasher detergent in the cabinet would have been clue enough that we don't really use the dishwasher in this house, and if you leave all of your dishes in there, I'm going to find them a week later having just come off of Autoimmunopocalypse and you are going to cease being my best friend. 

It wasn't.

Maybe I should stop talking to her in smoke signals and hints and grow the fuck up.

Nah.

And so I'll be spending most of Mother's Day wearing a scrunchie and Playtex Plastic Purple Dish Gloves, scorching the last week's yuck off of our dishes, then our floors, then the laundry, and bleaching my ex-mother in law out of my Starbucks Architectural Mug collection while my not-so-little one spend the day with their father going to see Iron Man and swimming and yard-saling and doing whatever it is they do on his days with them that don't have anything to do with me anymore - so that when they get home tonight, we can just be. Together. With no distractions. Because the only Mother's Day present I need or want is to be theirs**. 

*ish.

**That, and I have the a/c set to 76 today. And I have the whole house to myself. #rebel