Sunday, February 07, 2010

February at the Way Out Inn

Nothing has changed much in the land of the way out inn for the past couple months. Well, a few things... so that garners an update.

When last we spoke, dear readers, Keri went to Russia for a visit with Anya. The visit went well, there is so much love and stress and hope and fear there, but no resolution to what to do with Anya and how to get her here to the USA. Please continue to keep Keri in your prayers, and especially keep Anya in your prayers because she needs power bigger than government on her side. That's all I can really say on the topic because I'm frustrated and infuriated at how things are going for them, and I do not want to say anything that could potentially upset the metaphorical, proverbial apple cart with my righteous anger.

This past Saturday I went to the eye doctor. I hadn't been for a number of years, since I had my last spate of Migraines and thought I had a brain tumor. Once I turned 43 my vision just totally failed. I can't see to read (which sucks because I love to read). I had to ask a stranger to read something for me, I needed the toll free number off of the back of one of my credit cards and it was too small for me to read, so he read it to me while I dialed. I have spreadsheets at work that I can't read on the printouts -- I have to put them on screen and enlarge them to 150%. Rather than continue to struggle with this, I made the appointment. Turns out, I'm fine, I just need reading glasses at +1.75 and the eye doctor said to just buy them at CVS off the rack. Kind of funny, she could have sold me a pair of $300 glasses that I don't have vision insurance for to cover... but she didn't. So I thought that was classy. My distance vision is still impeccable, but the whole Blindy McBlind Blind Shabadoo situation has been corrected with a pair of $10 stupid looking CVS glasses. Now I just have to remember to bring them places with me, like church. Doug said he's gonna get me one of those chains that old ladies keep their glasses on, with baubles and kitty clips and whatnot. I think he's having fun at my expense.

Gonzo has continued to show some sort of severe lameness in his back leg and then stopped using his front leg on the same side. Two hundred dollars later at the vet and we still don't know what the cause is. He's on pain killers that I give him only when he can't walk at all, which perk him right up. And a little buffered aspirin the rest of the time, which I give reluctantly because blood thinning agents scare me. What if he cuts his paw open on some ice in the yard and bleeds to death? Don't like the idea.

A couple of weeks ago, Jess competed in the local ESU Branch competition for high school Shakespeare. A sonnet and a monologue, 30 students from around Eastern MA, and all told a wonderful afternoon of watching Shakespeare. Keri came to watch as not just Jess but Madeline (another Rebel from Marblehead) had made it to this competition. She brought Zoe, and another set of parents of a younger boy came too, so we had a whole Rebel Corner in the auditorium. Geoff and Doug came, and I was impressed at Geoff's staying power. He really enjoyed it and told me he wants to start practicing for when he's in 9th grade. It made me smile. He loved the kid who did "Bottom's Dream" from midsummer (he got advanced to the next round) and a few others. So it gave this old mom's heart some joy.

Jess and Madeline were eliminated (of the 30 competitors, 10 go on to the regionals of New England) which horribly disappointed me. I thought at least one of them would make it to the next level. Ah well.

But it was fun, and personally I had a blast coordinating the competition for the high school this year and working with two of the English teachers to get it done. Next year I already have a couple kids lined up who want to do it. I'm thinking of approaching the school to start a Shakespeare discussion group/club/something that meets after school so we can get the kids thinking of monologues, watch movies, read scenes, think about characters and motivation. Make it start with the 8th graders so they can come up into the high school ready for this.

There is one kid in tenth grade who is like my new best friend. He emailed me the other day and said "I am dying to see some Shakespeare but my parents aren't interested. Where can we catch some?" So we're going to go see Othello when it starts in Boston in a few weeks. I'm hoping to groom him as a minion. Mwah ha ha ha ha ...

After the competition, Jess was pissed and didn't want to go out to dinner or anything. We came straight home (picked up a pizza on the way) and her mood changed immediately upon getting the mail.

She got accepted to Pitt, her first choice. Now we have to mail them back her acceptance of their acceptance with $300 bucks or something. I want her to wait until she hears from the other schools, but she's already decided that Pitt is It.

Her "meh" attitude towards college from two months ago when we toured schools seems to have abated. She's gung ho about Pitt and ready to go. Which makes the "meh" attitude transfer slightly over towards her school work. In her mind, she knows what she wants to do and being at Pitt instead of being here is top of the list. She completely bombed a midterm, due to miscommunication with her teacher because she just didn't give a rat's ass about it. I told her if I'm paying 30,000 dollars for her to go to school her communications skills and effort are going to have to substantially rise to match the dollar amount. Holy crap.

I'm dreading her leaving though. Already.

Geoff is doing well with things. Middle school seems to be a good place for him. So far, so good. I don't want to jinx him but suffice to say the more time he spends away from his Elementary School the more convinced I am that the past 6 years of his life the problems weren't HIM but THEM. I say this to people at the middle school and they kind of sigh and say "yeah. We get that a lot." How many of you, family and friends, have followed me through the last six years of our lives and know the sheer hell we went through with Geoff. Yeah, some of it was him, and a lot of it I never put down here because I thought that poorly of my child and the things he was doing. Is it just that they know how to diffuse situations easier at the middle school level? Are the rules just different enough that he never breaks them because the elementary school rules were so messed up and wrong that he couldn't HELP but break them?

Or do they just not tell me when he's bad. Which makes me paranoid that they're hiding things from me and thinking they can just handle it internally. Which then makes me worry, and makes me question him and them, and it turns into a big paranoid cycle for me. I constantly check in with his teachers and ask "how is his behavior? What is he doing in class? How does he treat you and others?"

Without fail I'm hearing back that he is respectful, quiet, "intensely serious," (!!!!!) very intent on telling others to sit down and focus, and doing it without being an ass or rude, just saying "we need to get through this work so we can move on." And the kids he's with listen.

And on the flip side, he has learned when to make jokes at appropriate times instead of jumping up in the middle of class or yelling out in the cafeteria. He seems to have figured out a balance of getting work done and keeping people entertained and laughing. So much so that I don't try and shush him or reel him in anymore when I'm with him in a group (he's funny because he steals from Bart Simpson and accuses me of "Momming all over" things when I do that). I let him go and 9 times out of 10 what comes out of his mouth is semi-insightful and really amusing. The other one percent I have to talk to him about, but it is different than a few years ago when that balance was opposite.

We did a food drive this past weekend for our Boy Scout Troop and Geoff was sorting cans with a friend. He tried a joke out on me at home which wasn't bad, and I gave him a recommendation on a change of word or two, and later I heard him do it with the guys.

"I wonder if the hungry residents of the area have email. If they do... we can send them.... (holds it up) SPAM!" Which made his friends fall on the floor laughing. Score!

Later, he was moving a can of baked beans over to the cans of fruit (we sorted everything into sub categories so they could get shelved at the pantry more easily.

His friend Brendan said "Um, Geoff. Beans aren't a fruit."

"Oh no, Brendan. You didn't just say that..." I said, aghast, seeing the grin on Geoff's face... and he launched into "Beans, Beans the magical fruit!" song while Brendan introduced his palm to his forehead.

"I walked right into that one, didn't I?" he said. Everyone was laughing, not just at Geoff's joke but Brendan's reaction. It was fantastic. And Geoff actually knew when to stop singing and keep working. Two years ago I would have had to drag him out of the room and lecture him on shutting up already.

He makes a game out of menial tasks. They had to move all the pasta into large boxes so Geoff started yelling "I'll save you, pasta! Save the pasta! Rescue it!" while picking up boxes and moving them to their new location. All the boys, except for one, were laughing and having a great time. There was one who kept saying "shut up Geoff! Shut UP! I'm trying to COUNT!" so his dad moved him to another spot to work. Geoff wasn't upsetting the program, work was getting done and they were having a blast. So rather than let one kid stifle him and stop the humor, the dad knew to shift his humorless kid to another job. I'm enjoying how he works within the troop and how other kids "get him" there. It's such a relief.

He is working on four big merit badges right now (and has to turn in papers on a fifth). I'm not sure he'll have them all completed by our Court of Honor in two weeks. But he is into it, getting the sheets and picking duties that he can do on his own, asking me to help him with things that he needs help with. He had to talk to a kid from another country and ask what life is like for kids in that country for Citizenship in the World. So I got him connected with a friend of mine from High School who was an exchange student from Denmark and lives there with his family, his oldest son is a few months older than Geoff. He likes to make videos of himself so for Citizenship in the Community he is making a video about our hometown that he is narrating. I'm hoping he has that done by this Saturday so we can show it to his merit badge counselor. It would be nice for him to get five merit badges in one ceremony, but I'll settle for one or two and the rest can come in the late spring.

I got tapped to coordinate Summer Camp registration, and the Bowl-a-Thon in March, and I just did the coordination for Boy Scout Sunday this past weekend, and set up sponsorship of a Blood Drive for late February. I think after summer camp duties I'm done for the year. Whew! Keeps me busy and out of trouble, right?

There isn't really much else to tell. We didn't get any snow from Snowpocalypse 2010. That all stayed south of here and it has been enjoyable watching my friends in Maryland and Virginia on Facebook with their stories unfolding about 36 hours without power and 30 inches of snow and a .50 mile long driveway with too much snow for the snowblower to handle. Kind of nice to sit back with a beer and read that in the evening instead of deal with it myself. I am procrastinating getting ready for work, all for your pleasure and enjoyment. And I hope you did enjoy. More later, I'm sure. How much later? Dunno. but... thanks for reading.