The Vortex

10 08 2009

I’m sitting here with butterflies in my stomach. You’d think I was the one starting middle school this year. I wonder how Juniper is doing. Is she walking tall? Is she smiling? Is she happy? Did she remember to hang that magnetic mirror I bought for her locker?

The woman speaking at the orientation didn’t do much to assuage, though I’m sure that was her intention. She said several times, “We will take care of your sixth-grade babies.” Babies. That’s right, though something in me didn’t completely believe her.  She went on to recount how terrified she was when she had to drop her child off at middle school for the first time. And then she said–get this–that after that day, a series of changes took place until her kid emerged from middle school, by then a totally different person.

She told us that at times we wouldn’t recognize our kids anymore, and that they wouldn’t want us around, and that they’ll think we’re the dumbest people on earth. Was this her idea of a pep talk? Did she run this by anyone before she decided to go with this?

The truth is, these are the things most frightening about Juniper going to middle school, because I know I complain about how she is joined at my hip and never stops talking or asking or hanging around. But the truth is, I enjoy her being here. I love her curiosity, I love making her laugh, I love that she enjoys my company, because I know it won’t last.

Good luck, Junes. Have a great year. Oh and Roofie, if you just get through the year without driving your teacher mad, I’ll be so proud.


Class Clown or a Big, Fat Bore?

28 05 2009


Today was the last day of school, which meant teachers sent home the last report cards. I love the “teacher’s comments” section. Very telling.

Juniper’s said things like, “a joy to teach!” and “delightful!” 

Roofie’s teacher made no secret of his behavior issues. In the second-to-last term summary, she wrote, “Really work on thinking before you act- self control!”

She offered a more charitable review this time, but it left me feeling uncomfortable anyway. It said, “I’m glad you were in my class this year. You always kept things interesting!” 

Kept things interesting. That was very…diplomatic.

Look, I am sure that if I took him to his pediatrician about possible ADHD, we’d walk out with a prescription. He has organization issues, he doesn’t finish his work on time, he disrupts class…

But if he were medicated, would he be as fun and as charming as he is now? I mean, his classmates all wrote letters to one another for an end-of-the-year gift, saying nice things about each other. All the letters were bound with a twist tie, the cover laminated yellow and green. His letters all say the same thing. Here’s a little sample:

-You are very funny because you make funny noises and funny faces. You play funny game with me.

-You are very smart. You are a very good friend. You are the funniest person in the class!

-You are a nice friendly dude and you are hallareous.

-You are so funny. The minute I saw you I knew you were going to be funny. I like you as a friend a lot.

More than one letter from a classmate has characterized him as “off the wall.”I suppose that’s better than being “off the hook” or worse, “off the CHAIN, yo!”  

Would a medicated Roofie be that much fun to be around? He might grow to become a model student, but would he be a bore? I don’t know what’s worse.

Seeing Stars

20 05 2009

My son fainted at school today. “For like, maybe, 13 seconds or something,” he told me after school. It happened during lunch. And the really disturbing part? He brought it on himself. Apparently he and his friend had a contest to see which boy can hold his breath the longest.

Roofie won.

“I started feeling dizzy, and then I started to fall back, and so I tried to hold onto the table,” he said.

“And then?” I asked.

“And then I hit the back of my head on the seat behind me, and the next thing I know, I’m on the floor on my back. I didn’t know what happened to me,” he said.

By this point, I was fully freaked out, but I managed to say calmly, “And then what?”

“It was like I went to sleep. Then, like, a few seconds later, I opened my eyes. I asked everyone what happened, and they told me I fainted.”

What bothered me most was that the way he told it, it was the most amazing experience life had to offer thus far, the sort of out-of-body trip one would expect at a Phish concert. I was afraid that in his little 7-year-old mind, it would become a sort of game, a thrill somewhere on that continuum with the choking game and Sharpie huffing.

“Did your teacher notice?” I asked him.

“No,” he said. “I woke up before we were going to line up.”

Oh thank God, I thought. I could just see the note I would’ve received following that incident. No need to fatten up his file this late in the school year.

I told him what he did was extremely dangerous, and made him promise me he’d never do it again. He looked at me solemnly. “I won’t,” he said. “Promise.” This is one promise I hope he keeps. If not, I’d like to at least do the honor of choking him myself.