I'm so glad it's the weekend.
I hate waking up in the mornings, and it's been clear for the last couple of years that there is no (weekday) end in sight for as long as I have kids in the house. I am consciously setting up my future so that I can stay up at late as I want and totally avoid mornings, and that is not a joke. My ideal would be to see people for counseling/do a late shift in a mental health facility/teach classes, in the afternoons and evenings, and write at night. I have a personal life goal of not seeing 7 am for an entire decade.
For the last couple of weeks (summer schedule has been constantly in flux), my morning routine has been this nonsense involving waking Aaron up at 7:30, waking Isaac, Jake and Elise up at 8, getting Aaron to a carpooling point in town for his ride by 8:30, and having the little kids to music camp by 9. Somewhere in there I cook and serve some kind of breakfast and pack 4 lunches, and try to give out a lot of hugs and make sure nobody is forgetting anything. Then I come home and wake up Annie, have breakfast with her, and we talk about things she's supposed to get done that day. M, W and F I'm here with her. Tuesday and Thursday I go to college all day, and Grant is here working from home. College feels like a lot at the moment, because I had multiple papers due this week, am participating in a couple of research studies for extra credit, and next week is finals.
I'm also sick with something minor that involves a cough, which has made my coffee reliance reach new heights. The other day Grant laughed when he saw my huge mug and asked if I'm drinking from punch bowls, now.
The revamp of Annie's privileges and guidelines and all, that I mentioned a couple of entries back, is going pretty well. She's burning through a lot more math and science than usual, anyway. Monday when she was done with chores and regular assignments, we watched Slumdog Millionaire together, pausing periodically to convert rupees to dollars on my phone or explain some concept like what the Taj Mahal is. She loved it. It's the sort of thing I can only do when Aaron's out of the house because I am not ready to field the months of woe and sleeplessness when he finds out there are little kids living in trash piles and being purposely disfigured so that they can get more change from tourists :/ We also listened to and read this story on NPR about people in slums using Google Maps
to make others aware of the realities of slums, and sometimes advocate for change.
I get really frustrated with how quick Annie is to just do nothing, if people are not on her to do shit, and also how quick she is to do things she is not supposed to, if for one damn minute we are not leaping to capital-C Consequences. She's already got that adolescent dichotomy down pat, where kids are uber helpful and proactive and resourceful OUT of the house but act like butt nuggets for their parents. At Girl Scout camp, she was stacking chairs and sweeping floors and helping little kids with crafts and singalongs all day every day. At derby she does anything Chuck and Vee (coaches) tell her to, for hours of sweaty, bruising relentlessness. This is the case with PATH enrichment classes and cello rehearsals - she is interested in all kinds of volunteer jobs, too. At home, she wants to do nothing.
This is actually one of my biggest areas of skepticism surrounding homeschool; the teenage battle between the adult self (that tends to come out in the world) and the baby self (that tends to dominate at home) really makes me want to drop her off with some other adults she'll be more eager to impress, more often. I hate hawk-watching and I hate nagging, a lot, as a parent. I mean all the kids to some degree try to get away with stuff that is not really ok if they can, but I think it seems more irritating with Ananda because she is so intelligent and well spoken that it seems avoidable (and intentional), in her case. It's also amped up significantly in the last 6 months, like ANYTHING she can manage to do - watching the next episode of a show she's into without asking or me seeming to notice, for instance, leads within one week to me realizing she's streaming whole seasons all day every day, and then trying to play dumb like, "What? You said this show is ok for me to watch" when I question it.
It can be (to me) surprisingly hard to really draw a line in the sand. She is such a whole and complex person, standing there my same height, and we'll have been getting along great and she's so obviously distressed and distant and resentful when I force issues ("you have to ask to watch a show or movie so that I know you have all your chores and schoolwork done first and aren't turning into a mold-covered sloth, this is your warning that the next time it happens without asking your laptop is going in my closet for a week, blah blah blah"). I do it anyway, obviously, it can just blow as much for me as it does for her. Wednesday we had already taken so many things away to get her schoolwork back where it belongs, and her screen time under control, and then I was at this loss when it was DAY TWO of her "putting away the laundry", and hours in, after 3 warnings she was still just sitting out there trying to watch her brothers play or talk to Elise or look at a book or anything but actually sort the piles of clothes she was surrounded by. I had to have her put her phone in my bedroom for the next 24 hours AND threaten that she was not going to be going to meet her friends for lunch like she'd planned, if it wasn't done before a set timer went off, before she would even sigh and get on with it.
I feel like I need a giant spatula to slip under her and flip her onto her damned feet, sometimes.
She made me laugh so hard, the other afternoon. Aaron thought one of our chickens looked sick or something, and she (the hen) was looking kind of bad, but I thought she might be hot and we misted them all with water. I said, "Maybe she has some problem she was born with that we can't help, Aaron, or maybe she ate some bad bugs or developed an issue or who knows..." and Annie said, "Or maybe she's a chicken, and so she just drops dead randomly." I laughed SO hard. It's horrible, I know, but every chicken owner I know has the same issues (any random stray dog or cat or bird of prey or raccoon or ANYTHING wants to eat them, they are so stupid and try to run away from home often, if you don't dip baby chicks' beaks into any new water dish to show them the water they will just dehydrate, sometimes one suddenly kills another one - it's crazy). Aaron was scandalized, and she was like, "Aaron when we went to the feed store looking at chicks we saw a breed you HAVE to kill before it grows up, because they're bred to get so fat that their legs cannot support their weight by the time they're grown
." Which is true, and also (really) horrible. I don't know, man.
Her lunch out with people was great. She has amazing friends that I really like and feel good about. I was thinking how fortunate she seems to have found such great WAY OLDER kids, since way older tend to be the only ones she relates to and acts comfortable with. This "lunch followed by pet store followed by Izzy's house" afternoon really underscores this - it was Francois and Izzy (siblings, 18 and 15), Joe (18), Mia (18) - and Annie (13. Barely). They are all teenagers we've known for at least a couple of years, and Izzy is the one in the group that Annie is closest with, but. I dunno. The age gap is going to start to close in the coming years because all the oldest TLC kids are going away to college. Her derby team is all 11-16 year olds, and she tends to hang out with a 10 year old at GMYS. *shrug*
I love that those 18 year olds, and the others she knows, have to study and go to class all the time because they're all in dual enrollment. Most of them also either work or volunteer. Because they're cool people she wants to be like, it's great motivating stuff when we talk about how important it is for her to get used to studying, more assignments, etc NOW.
She totally flipped tonight because we were talking about how she's going into the 8th grade this year, meaning she'll be (in her words) IN HIGH SCHOOL NEXT YEAR. She was slightly disturbed, I think :p
I'm super fucking over our van at the moment, since the AC up front is broken - it works in the back, so the kids have AC, so we've never prioritized fixing it like we would if they were suffering. No, it's just us sweltering in the front on our own (and the smaller car has good AC), so we deal since there's always something we'd rather spend that couple hundred bucks on. There have been way too many times I find myself ripping my wind-tangled hair out brushing it or changing gross clothes as soon as I walk in the door, after being on the highway. It keeps being 97 degrees in the afternoons. The worst is when the pressure and humidity hit their peaks just before it rains. UGH. It's like being squeezed through some kind of vice, and then on the other side when it starts to pour we lose about 20 degrees in just a few minutes.
I took Ananda and Aaron to a new antique store that was pretty great, this afternoon. Here's a tumblr picture entry about it
I've been thinking a lot about charity we can get involved with as a family, today. Over the last few months I've heard (directly and indirectly) about childhood hunger in our county several times - basically, lots of kids are ONLY reliably eating free breakfast and lunch, at school, and/or their families struggle big time with bills during summer vacation because they have to buy those additional meals. This is something that I'm trying to address with as much sensitivity as possible, with the little kids, since they are having recurring issues with other kids begging for snacks out of their packed lunches at music camp (which also has a free lunch option for people who qualify, that about half the kids there are using). Isaac and Elise both also felt bad for kids who didn't have snacks for snack time in school, last year, and would sometimes take extra for friends. Obviously I cannot always afford to feed every kid in town, but the newspaper ran something not long ago
with a long list of food distributors and I think I'm going to call around and see what is needed and how I can include the kids in helping to fill some of those gaps. For now I am proud of them for no longer complaining about being sick of clementines and pistachios and granola bars, and probably giving in more than I really should when they ask to take extra for other people.
I've been having this wack existential crisis bullshit. I don't know what my deal is, but I lie down in bed at night and just get so crushingly sad and feel so freaked out
, thinking of how each of my kids are mortal and every single person I know is going to die eventually, and...it's terrible. I move away from Grant's body, imagining it rotting one day, as it is really going to
. It's terrible! I can have a great day and still end up reading myself to sleep after I stop crying, just to distract me. On the one hand I think I'm crazy, and on the other hand I think we're all crazy, like - HOW is it that EVERYONE isn't ALWAYS having a crisis about the fact that we're all going to die?! And it can happen anytime?! I understand that it's not productive, but not how we don't do it regardless.
I think the biggest reason I am an Anne Rice fan is that Lestat, one of her most ongoing and recurring characters, had this huge mortality freakout while he was still human that perfectly captured the fears and feelings and melodramatic poetry I already had, then (at 15ish) about time, and death, and impermanence, and...it's like a swelling, desperate longing in the background and a cresting panic in the foreground, all silent in your brain as everything goes on as usual around you, until the sight of a lone tree in a field makes you burst into tears and you don't even know why.
Ananda, for instance, was a baby. A little baby. The other night I laid down with Elise on her bed in their room for awhile, because she wanted me to, and just lying in that very teenage bedroom that Ananda has completely taken dictatorship over - dim with the shifting light of a lava lamp and some emo ass nice music on, with shit all over the walls - took me back to it being ME experiencing everything in the world for the first time, and I see how fast Annie will be through the other side of it, and then my head explodes.
Not helping: Adrian, A&A's good friend from PATH, just fell 20 feet off some cliff and broke both of his lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) - they snapped totally in half, the x-rays are brutal. He spent the afternoon in surgery and now has titanium pins in his leg for the next 6-12 months. Poor Cybele (his mom) was posting the pictures of him lying there on a stretcher, surrounded by paramedics, on facebook, from where she was ACROSS THE COUNTRY (Adrian has been staying at his grandparents' house for a couple of weeks).
AND, a girl from Ananda's roller derby team has been out sick a lot these past months, and is now admitted to Miami Children's Hospital. We don't know what's wrong yet, just that she has had to have fluid drained from her brain and isn't getting out right away :/ Teammates are all meeting up there tomorrow morning, to visit and bring her things...
Those situations were both today, though. My cresting crisis has been all week, and I don't know what's stirring it up.
I'm also trying to have nice, soft feet for the first time in my life. I've typically been barefoot or in flip flops all day erryday, since I was toddlin' along in a diaper, and I usually have really thick callouses that I consider beneficial and a-ok. I can walk around outside and it doesn't hurt, which is cool. Nothing hurts my feet, which almost never seem sweaty or smell bad, since they are encased in their own natural leather, as it were. I have never understood foot fetishes or the idea that your feet, the things you walk on the ground with, are supposed to be pretty. They're feet! Why do you want them all raw and vulnerable? I make fun of Grant for having "tender vittles" (which is actually a kind of cat food). We do too many rocky beaches where the sand is a million degrees!
Anyway. There are two reasons I am conducting this soft experiment now, which thus far involves ped eggs, foot files, heal cream, oil, lotion and (gag) socks.
1.) For the last couple of years, my feet have taken their traditional leathery reptillian qualities to new levels, that are gettin annoying. I get actual deep CRACKS on my heels now, if I don't try not to, which cause irritating problems by catching on the sheets and causing my tights to run, that I am not into. That sharp dinosaur shit is also not nice on the calves of anyone trying to sleep. I don't know why my dumb skin couldn't leave well enough alone.
2.) Ever since I got shin splints in New York, Grant periodically gives me pretty amazing foot rubs that make my eyes roll back in my head. And, I discovered at some point over the last year's worth of mornings, that I wake up with really sensitive and almost erogenous feet. I find myself rubbing the arches, aka the only parts with semi-normal nerve endings, all around the top of the opposite foot and my sheets, thinking, "What the heck is going on here? Why is this so awesome?" I have an online friend who is far more brazenly open than I am about sex on her blog(s), who talked about actually managing to have an orgasm from rubbing the soles of her feet on her bedsheets for a long and patient enough time. I want in on this weird action I didn't know existed. I at least want some full sensation foot rubs.
I made some peach cobbler tonight that I was pretty happy with. We ate it with coconut (So Delicious) vanilla ice cream. Om. Jake actually said to me, "Mom, thank you so much for making this dessert. I really appreciate you cooking this." Elise added, "I've never eaten anything this good in my entire life."