Thursday, September 13, 2012

An Emotional Evening in Stimeyland

Tonight was back-to-school night at Jack's school. This is the third back-to-school night I've been to in a week. It has been a little hectic. Also, at back-to-school night for 5th graders in the highly gifted program (Sam, yesterday), the evident goal is to make all the parents FREAK THE FUCK OUT over applying to highly gifted middle schools.

Mission accomplished.

But this isn't that post. This is about Jack's back-to-school night, which was cool. Half of his class showed up, so there were three of us in the room. I also got to see the lava lamp by the teacher's desk that Jack is obsessed with.

But this isn't that post either. This is about the instrumental music meeting that took place before the class meeting. Kids have the option of playing an instrument in 4th grade. I was kind of dreading Jack wanting to play an instrument because I was imagining epic battles during practice time.

I asked him though if he wanted to play an instrument though, because he gets to choose if he wants to play an instrument. He said he didn't want to. But then he came home a few days later with a sheet on which was written and circled, "DRUMS."

Because of course.

I spent a little while mourning my quiet house and then I started to get excited. And Jack was excited. And I was excited that Jack was excited. And I figured that this is something he might actually like to practice. Because that kid LOVES drums. I have a photo of him with every single street performer drumming on buckets that we have ever passed.

Boston, 2011

I showed up for the instrumental music meeting tonight all excited to learn what kind of drum we had to procure for practice. What I learned instead was the philosophy behind not offering drums as an instrumental music option in elementary school, which is weird, because it was an adult who wrote "DRUMS" on his page and circled it.

I went to the hallway and texted Alex to tell him that Jack couldn't take drums and then I stared at my phone a little more, trying to pretend that I wasn't broken up.

Because Jack was excited about something that would take extra work and he still wanted to do it. I don't give a shit if elementary schools don't want to offer drums. But don't write down "DRUMS" and then tell the autistic kid he can't play them. I was already dreading the conversation with him. I imagined it was going to involve across the board disappointment.

Then a nice lady who turned out to be the art teacher saw me looking sad and said, "Are you okay?"


Do my tears surprise ANYONE?

Then she took me to see the (non-instrumental) music teacher who gave me a tissue and I cried even harder, because they were SO nice to me. And they both listened to me and told me they'd met Jack and the music teacher told me how Jack had played the African drums in music and was totally into them and how she could totally see that music is important to him and this all made me cry even more and then she told me about the percussion class they hold once a week before school starting in October.

How great is that? That might be even better than instrumental music drumming. They're going to have a DRUM CIRCLE.

I managed to pull myself together in time for the full-fourth grade presentation at which they showed a slide that said, "Homework, participation, effort, and work study skills are not factored into grades," followed by a list of tests and "informal observations" that ARE factored into grades.

I was more than pleased to see that homework thing, but the rest of that sentence was baffling to me. I guess you can't have percussion class AND A's (or B+'s) for effort all in one school.

Now, lest you think I hogged all of the emotional drama of the evening, you should know that a squirrel drowned in our swimming pool. Alex texted me a photo of the funeral.

They were sad.

Alex also texted me a photo of the squorpse, but I won't subject you to that.*

This was all taking place at the same time as back-to-school night. See, we're draining our pool right now and there's only a few inches of water in it now, so there isn't a cover on it. I've seen squirrels balancing on the edge of it, but I assumed that because squirrels can jump from one tiny branch to another tiny branch in a different tree that they wouldn't fall into the swimming pool.

I was wrong.

The children fished the squirrel out with our pool net.

Related: We might need a new pool net.

Alex dug a grave, Quinn and Sam gathered flowers, and Alex presided over the funeral at which all four mourners said some words for the squirrel. (Jack: "Poor guy." Quinn: "He was a good squirrel.")

Rest in peace, wild squorpse.**

Welcome to Stimeyland, the home of many, many, MANY buried, deceased rodents, as well as a good number of tears. If we ever sell our house, we're going to have to disclose that our yard is full of tiny, buried rodent skeletons.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better for everyone. Especially the squirrels.

* Squorpse: This term was originally coined by KC. I will probably never give her credit for it again. Tell everyone you know that I made it up.

** I totally invented the term "squorpse."


  1. So, I have 2 fourth graders who want to take instrumental music but luckily a sheet came home with a short list of instruments they can play. All, of course, are ear piercing. I wish my school had a drum circle.

    And think of it this way. If you hadn't cried, they wouldn't have offered you a tissue and you would never have known about the drum circle! So, sometimes we really do need to lose it, to get something better.

  2. This is totally nonsensical and unrelated but I was really missing Boston today then I saw the picture of that street performer (cause I always look at pictures before I read posts- i'm like that) and I totally burst into tears. I watched him at least 3 times a week- that exact guy- right there by the waterfront. Then the dead squirrel and not being able to play drums and this whole post was a real emotional roller coaster. All I can say is thank goodness for the drumming circle. Also you can take the tact my parents did- right when I would need to be applying for gifted middle schools they moved to a small town with only one middle school. It worked out ok for me and small town america has its perks. And yes- now in my mid 20's I still remember the stress of what gifted middle school I was going to get into.

  3. I hear ya, mah sistah. I had a similar experience at back to school night over instrumental music or rather, their (lack of) support for their own instrumental music program. Why is school so hard now?

    That being said, if drumming in school doesn't work out for you, I know a music therapist who also teaches percussion lessons who would be a perfect teacher for Jack if you're ever looking for private lessons.

  4. I don't understand why your school doesn't offer percussion. Ace took instrumental music in 4th grade at a county elementary school and he did percussion. You have to do it in elementary school if you want to be in Band in middle school. This might not be your goal for Jack (Band), but I would love to hear the justification for not offering percussion in his school. That is not a county wide thing.

  5. Also, I have drum kit in my basement now. Ace plays it almost daily. Stunningly, you actually get used to the noise level. (Not like it was quiet in here anyway.)

  6. Don't think of it as a squirrel drowning accident. Maybe that squirrel knew, KNEW of your deep connection with rodents, and decided on your yard as his final resting place. Word was out that you'd do right by his little squorpse, and give him a proper burial and all. Instead of, you know, tossing him in the trash, or the *ahem*, burn pile...

  7. I absolutely love the drum circle. And I'm glad you cried because it led to a better option for Jack.

    I have no comment for the squorpse.

  8. I love that you found out about the drum circle. Sounds perfect! I would second music therapy for Jack if that is something he is into. I'm looking into it for my son right now.
    And the squorpse. That just makes me laugh...the term, not the actual squorpse. That would not have gone well if I had found it. .

  9. I'm laughing so hard at the things you and Alex text about that I am literally crying.

  10. Ear piercing, yes. Although it gets better. Sam's flute last year started that way, but it is starting to get more pleasant every day.

  11. I'm sorry I made you cry, but I'm glad I could give you some Boston when you needed it.

    And I am not kidding when I say that I actually thought about that small town/one middle school option when I was sitting in that classroom. I seriously started to wonder how bad Tinyville, North Dakota could really be.

  12. This is something I will definitely keep in mind. Although I used to be a person who swore that she would never have drums in her house.

    Sidenote: Our neighbors are going to love us.

  13. Yeah. It seems suspicious. At Sam's school, there are some totally bad ass girls who do the percussion. The guy had a two-pronged explanation. (1) Too many kids want to do drumming, so they don't publicize that they offer it, but this year only two kids said they wanted to do it, so they don't have enough interested kids to justify a class. BECAUSE THAT MAKES SENSE. Hello, Catch-22. (2) Kids who take drums don't learn to read the whole music scale, so when they get to middle school and have to learn the whole music scale, it is much harder for them. Fortunately, now Jack won't be able to read ANY of the music scale because there is not a different option that he is interested in. BECAUSE THAT MAKES SENSE.

  14. I subsequently texted Alex, "Welcome to me crying my way into opportunities." It is a well-honed skill. :)

  15. Let me know how music therapy goes. I'm totally interested!

    And, yeah, I'm REALLY glad that I missed the whole squirrel fishing/funeral episode.

  16. What? You don't text photos of dead animals to your husband?

  17. Now I have visions of your three boys doing a drum circle like Dances With Wolves. I can't get that vision out of my mind.....your welcome.

  18. Oh, that funeral picture! I'm crying too. Only my tears may not be from sadness...

  19. I totally went to hippy-tastic drum circles when I was pregnant, because I am a giant hippy. I love that they have a drum circle!

    But telling him he can pick drums and then turning around and saying just kidding, is totally not cool. Especially for an autistic kid!

    RIP squirrel friend.

  20. I'm so sorry Squorpse but your funeral made me laugh. I'm a heartless person. My excuse is I've just got back from working with some totally fantastic but very challenging Autistic youngsters and was feeling a bit emotionally rung out and in need of a laugh. Sorry about that.
    I hope Jack gets to do his drumming. Our youngest did it at school and loved it.
    And I too have done a fair bit of crying in front of school staff in my time. Suppose it comes with the territory doesn't it?

  21. Ok, you know this, but that is lame. If you really want it for Jack, I would push for it. That sounds like an instrumental music teacher who doesn't want to be bothered and that's not acceptable. You also might want to ask him where the middle school percussionists come from if they don't learn to play in elementary school. At Ace's middle school, you had to take instrumental music in elementary school to get into the middle school Band.

  22. Dude. You are right. You are. Shoot.

  23. That's pretty awesome, actually. :)

  24. Kelley @ magnetoboldtooSeptember 16, 2012 at 6:08 AM

    You never fail to make me laugh my friend.

    And Boo plays drums, cause drums are AWESOME. I will kick the person that promised drums and caused your angst in the nuts.


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