My kids are all in school. The only noise I can hear right now is the ticking of my wall clock and the ocean-esque waves of traffic outside my open window. *sigh*
I don't know WHY (I guess because they do the numbers and for the kids to have a certain number of days in school) they started school on Thursday, but they did. Ryan was READY, rearing to go. Sam took Lolo to the daycare (henceforth to be known as la creche, the French word for it because even when I'm speaking English, I refer to it as the creche) early so that he could be back in time to go with me to take Ryan to school. And though Lily wasn't starting until the afternoon, she went with us.
About half way there, we ran into the neighbors. They all had grim faces. I couldn't tell if it was because they were nervous about Antonia's first day at REAL school (Ryan and A's new grade is called CP and it's the first time that they are SERIOUSLY expected to hold still, be quiet, do work and even HOMEWORK) OR if they were MAD at us for not having waited for them because they had mentioned us going together. Since no solid plans had been laid out, I went for option number one.
Let me just say that while I appreciate their presence sometimes, I did not on Thursday. For one, the first thing that P said to me after Bonjour was, "Hey Lily, why aren't you walking? (she was in the stroller) Don't you know that you have to WALK to school?"
I looked up at him and through a gritted-teeth smile said, "She doesn't start until this afternoon."
From that point on, the conversation was choppy and annoying and stressful. I'm just now realizing that when I get stressed out around them, it's only about 20% me. The rest is their lapdog way of being jumpy and paranoid about EVERYTHING. In MY opinion, our kids are going to be JUST FINE because they're used to going to school. Sure, they're going to have a more structure day and a little more strict instruction, but DUDE, it's not high school, yo. I'm telling you right now, I'm not putting ANY pressure on Ryan to be anything but behaved. I'm not going to pressure him into being a model student or a genius or anything. Sure, I expect him to listen, sit in his seat and raise his hand to talk and whatnot, but I'm not going to be punishing him at home for whatever he does at school (short of hitting other kids). If we were in the States, Ryan would be starting KINDERGARTEN. What he's starting here is the equivalent of 1st grade. I'm not going to pressure him to be anything that he isn't. And if his main reason for going to school is to hang out with his buddies, I'm SO okay with that.
Even as we walk up to the school, I hear all these little voices saying, "Hey Mom! There's RYAN! HEY RYAN!!! RYAN???? HEY!!!!" My heart swelled to the size of an 18-wheeler. Ryan was SO happy to see his friends!
While we're standing there, Patrice says, "You know, Lily's not going to be able to take her lovey to school with her."
I'm wondering if I can rewind and hold Lily's ears while he says that, but instead, I just say, "Yes she can. I saw kids do it last year."
He shakes his head, "No..." and at this point I speed up so he's not talking right NEXT to Lily and so she won't hear what he's saying, "...I heard on the radio that they're not allowed to bring them this year because of the flu."
"Well, then, Lily will just stay at home with me this year," I say. Which is just as ridiculous as him saying that shit right in front of my 3 year old on her first day of fucking school. And to her credit, Natalie hears what's going on and mumbles to him, "Don't say that to them right now."
Anyhoo, so I'm standing there, next to Lily in her stroller and Sam/neighbros have gone inside the school (strollers really aren't allowed in there--there aren't any ramps anyway, so *shrug*). He's been telling me all summer that it's going to be a dropoff situation. That parents will no longer be expected or even able to loiter with their kids. They go there, they drop their kids off at the steps and then at the end of the day, they wait at the steps for their kids to come out. No going to the classroom, no long discussions with the teachers about how the day went, etc. So, I'm standing outside wondering what the hell is going on because this "dropoff situation" is taking like over fifteen minutes now. While I'm waiting, I hear an alarm buzz.
Must be the school bell.
Well, I wasn't the only one who heard it because just like a cowboy had called "Yippee kai ai aye!" parents from all over began to stampede toward the steps. One mother, wearing a thin tank top with spaghetti straps ran SO hard that one strap fell off. Then it slid down her arm. And then, before my eyes was a naked, bouncing, untanned breast. Nipple and all. At first, I didn't think anything of it. But, it must have been my recent trip to the States that has affected me in some of the strangest, most subliminal, most subconscious ways, that made my eyes bulge and my mouth drop open. I actually said out loud, "Did I just see nipple?" By then, the mother, in one sweep of her hand, had her strap back up and was corralling into the school doorway, not in the least bothered by her sideshow potential. Like she was saying, "Look, boobs fall out all the time, the world's an imperfect place." I, on the other hand, wrote it down in my handy dandy notebook so I could tell all YOU about it later.
Then, as I'm waiting, this statuesque woman comes striding along, looking like a polynesian princess, a delicate black dress hugging her perfect legs, perfect boobs, perfect... WHOA! WAIT! That chick's pregnant!!!! HUMONGOUS belly camoflaged by the black dress until she turns a little to the side to get a better grip on her purse. Instantly I am overcome with jealousy and cattyness. Pregnant women are supposed to look, well, pregnant, godammit! When I'm pregnant, it's not just my belly that gets pregnant. I'm not, like, NORMAL everywhere else, fit or trim even. My freakin' ARMS get pregnant along with me. My butt turns into a huge shelf. My boobs swell from the first month, into the size of ripe cantaloupes. My walk is not effortless and full of grace and sex appeal. I waddle from the beginning of the two lines on the piss stick.
So, I think, "Huh. Must be a French thing." thinking that that's as good an excuse as any. I'm not French and therefore am off the hook. I am American, by gods! But then, just after, I see a chick with a tattered leather jacket, grimy/holey jeans, sagging cowboy boots and... yes... a maternity panel at her lower belly. Well, SHIT the bed Fred. She must not be French either!
Anyway, so I get sick of waiting and I end up taking Lily in there to say goodbye to Ryan--oh yeah, you guessed it right, they STILL hadn't gone into their classrooms and of COURSE Natalie and Patrice were STILL sorta freaking out. So, I said, well, I'm gonna go. Then N says, "Oh, I'll walk with you." Great. So, half of the walk back, I have nothing to say. And apparently, neither does she.
When she says, "I think they're going to be okay." instead of just nodding, I start this bullshit monologue about how immature Ryan is and how I'm a little worried about him. Total bullshit. I'm not worried in the least. And now I'm wondering, as she's agreeing with me, why I do that. WHY do I say shit like that... insult my own kid... just to make other people feel at ease? Why do I put my own kid or self down to make other people feel better about themselves or their own kid? I'm sure it's an attempt to console, but really all it does is make them think I'm weak. Which would be okay if they didn't seem to wanna run with it and use it as an excuse to patronize me or condescend to me thereafter.
On that day in particular, she is working from home (she doesnt' start work until Friday morning) and neither of our kids will stay at the school for lunch (to which I was opposed but got bullied into by Sam). So, she'll pick the kids up and Sam will take them back.
And that's what happens. Ryan comes home for lunch, eats, plays a little, then goes back to school. Lily and I hang out, read some books and play. Then, around 2:10, all dressed up and ready to go, with her little Ni Hao Kai-lan lunchbox which only holds an extra dress, a pair of undies, her raincoat and her lovey, we... walk....to... school... and it was like that..... SNAIL SLOW. I kept thinking, "Screw this... tomorrow I'm taking her to school in the stroller" but I kept hearing Patrice's snide, "you know when you go to school, you HAVE to walk there" bullshit *grumble, grumble* WHATEVER.
We get there, I'm smiling and confident on the outside but secretly holding my breath to see Lily's reaction. I exhale when after being introduced to the teacher, Lily takes off and starts playing with all the GREAT educational toys there are in the classroom. The teacher is smiley and dramatic and dynamic (a diamond in the rough). She notices me speaking English to Lily and asks if I'd mind coming in to help her sing English songs some Thursday afternoon. I, of course, would be delighted and I think Lily would like that, too. I say, "Au revoir, Lily." She runs to me and I'm worried she's going to be upset, but instead, she hugs my leg tightly, says, "Au revoir, Mama." and takes off to play again.
Since she's only going to be there for an hour and a half this first day, I go to a cafe around the corner and drink a noisette and finish my Holly Black book (WRITE MORE BOOKS, PLEASE, MS. BLACK!!!!) and start a new one.
When I get back there to get Lily, she's delighted to see me. "Mama!" she yells running to hug me. The teacher tells me that Lily was impeccable. I am not in the least surprised. Lily just seems like the girl who will adore school.
Just then, a boy turns, notices his mother has arrived and RUNS to her SCREAMING in tears. My heart breaks for them both. Turns out, the mother had dropped the little boy off in the wrong classroom, the teacher of the other class brought the boy to Lily's class and dropped him off. I can only imagined that he was TERRIFIED that his mother wouldn't know where to come get him. Then, the mother explains that the little boy is Japanese, doesn't speak much French and just got back from Japan YESTERDAY. No WONDER he's so upset.
Friday, everything goes even better. Ryan walks to school with Patrice and Antonia (Sam having dropped Ryan off on his way to work). Sam comes home for lunch and takes Lily to school himself. I go to pick up all the kids, Lily, Ryan and Antonia and I bring them back to the house to play.
That night, Emma babysits for us so Sam and I can go to the movies. Why am I using the damn present tense? *eye roll* Sorry... I'm switching to past now.. Slight stylistic tweak.
Okay, so Sam and I went to the movies not really knowing what we were going to see. We walk up, see this one movie is playing and that it has won some awards at Cannes, so it must be good (though probably weird). We sit down and realize, because of all the knives and blood and stuff, that it's gonna be a scary movie. It wasn't really. I mean, it was full of suspense, but it wasn't specifically gorey. It was, however, damn good. It's called Der Knochenmann in German (it's an Austrian movie), or "The Boneman" in English, or "Bienvenue aux Cadavres-les-Bains" in French, just in case you wanted to look for it.
The next day is somewhat eventful. We skipped going to the market because we still had veggies and eggs and cheese leftover from the week before. So, instead, we quickly ate breakfast and headed out to the supermarket where we went school supply shopping. That was fun! I LOVED getting school supplies for Ryan. And I know Sam would never admit it but I think he liked it, too. He was all excited when we got home and started helping Ryan prepare his back pack! LOL!
After the nap, Patrice called to see if we minded watching Antonia while he and Natalie went out. I never mind watching her. My kids love her and she loves them. The only thing I DON'T LIKE, is if they are going to leave her here so late that it's AFTER my kids' bedtime. Here's why.... She's a baby. There, I said it. She'll be 6 years old tomorrow and she still uses a pacifier. She did great up until the time for the kids to go to bed and then she threw an "I want my parents" fit. What she wants is to be able to stay up with the grown ups, but I'm telling you right now, she is NOT going to sit up while my kids are in bed. For ONE, it makes my kids get up every five freakin' minutes to "go to the bathroom" or "get a drink" (in other words, "see what Antonia is doing" and "why does SHE get to stay up"). So, NO. I warned her that she'd be lying down in the spare bed when our kids went to bed. I told her that she didn't have to sleep if she didn't want to, but that she WOULD have to stay there and she WOULD have to be quiet. I told her, "Anto, my kids see you as their big sister, so I'm counting on you to act like one, okay?" This seemed to please her, so I carried it further. "If you care about them, you'll want them to get the sleep they need. So, please stay here, close your eyes, think about happy things--school, your vacation, all the fun stuff you'll do this year--and if you fall asleep, your papa will wake you up when he comes to get you."
It worked at first. She took a bath with the girls, helped them get ready for bed, brushed her teeth, listened to the story, was quiet during the bedtime song, blah blah blah. But, about fifteen minutes later, my two girls get up and run the length of the apartment. I go in and Anto is sitting up in the bed. And now, so is Ryan. I throw a fit that makes her cry and beg for her parents and her pacifier. I tell her that she needs to stop being a baby. There. I said it. SHE chose not to go with her parents (because she WAS invited) and she ASKED to come stay at our house, KNOWING my bedtime rules. So, SHE has to face the consequences of being treated like any other kid in the house. Do I feel guilty for making her cry? yes. Do I really think I was wrong? No.
So, yesterday was absolutely UNEVENTFUL. We spent the morning wondering what we were going to do. I didn't have any energy to do ANYTHING. All I knew was that I was SICK of children. All children. Make me this. Do that for me. Wipe my butt. I'm hungry. I'm mad. Blah blah blah... I only had ONE shower last week. I did five loads of laundry, cooked every meal except for Friday dinner (pizza night), and did dishes every day. I was sick of taking care of other people and not having a goddamn moment to myself. I can't even go to the bathroom without someone banging on the locked door! So, when Sam suggested we go see his parents, I said, "Sure!!! You guys GOOOOOO!" And he did. *sigh* What did *I* do? Well, I read. I napped. I washed the dishes in peace--no kids screaming and crying around me, fighting and arguing. I made dinner. I took a shower. I read some more. I just EXISTED in peace and quiet and it was absolutely priceless.. And when they got home, I was actually HAPPY to see them!!!
Let's talk about sex, baby. I mean, um.... Let's talk about marriage (cuz what does one have to do with the other, right?) Let's talk about emotional explosions. I had one. Two actually. You know how it is. I'm not going to go into great detail because I'd rather not stir my own drama pot of Divorce Soup, but I had my usual questions about whether or not we really are meant to be together and whatnot. It gor really bad this time. There were a thousand factors involved... Yes, one of them was the whole farm-to-be... but like I said, I'm not going to pick through it. I'm moving on until the next fight (what, in like...say... three weeks or so?).
Suffice it to say that we are on track for the farm. We did the well flow test and had to tweak the well a little, but all looks good on that front. We have all the ducks lined up for closing. And it's looking like we'll go back to Lynchburg in February, whether the property is rented or not, to work on the woods a little. Still trying to work out what we'll do with the kids (leave 'em here? take 'em with?).
Oh, in other news, I heard back from the AMD/JMC. He gave me some specific ways I can improve the book, so come Friday (the first day all the kids will be in school ALL DAY), I'm going to dive right into all that. I'm excited as hell to get started, but I know that if I try to do anything before Friday, I'm going to regret it.
Okay, well, I had better head out of here. I've run out of gas. I think I'm going to start trying to visit you all on both Monday AND Thursday mornings so as to split up all the updating. We'll see how that works out, eh?
Until then, be good kids!