September

Gosh, look how time flies. You look up and all of a sudden three weeks have passed, summer has turned to fall, it’s October, and all your great intentions to write stuff last month have fallen to dust. Let’s catch up, shall we?

I spent most of last month withdrawing from drugs. I had an antidepressant medication change, which has led (happily!) to the removal of Lexapro from my daily regimen. Have any of you done that? Well, I can tell you that it is un-fucking-pleasant. Lots of lightheadedness, irritability, and—my favorite—face tingling. Urgh. I’m in the lucky segment whose symptoms have lasted for multiple weeks. It’s super great.

Now that you know that I’ve been off balance for the past month-plus, it seems like a good time to tell you that I bought a bike. You probably don’t need to feel stable for that, right?

I decided that it was time for me to add some sort of cross training to my workout schedule, partly because my physical therapist told me it would be good for me and partly because I saw the words “cross training” on my marathon training calendar and I was all, “Huh, maybe I should find a way to actually do this.” Also, I was worried about my hip injury and thinking that I should come up with another way to exercise if I could never run again.

Unfortunately, I had no idea how to buy a bike. I had vivid images of me entering a bike shop, walking in confused circles for a few minutes, bursting into tears, and leaving—maybe after having fallen in an unbalanced heap onto the floor. Fortunately, my friend Sherry was passing through town and she had a few hours to spend with me. Seeing as how she is the person in the world who knows more about cycling than anyone I know (and probably anyone you know), I made her take me to a bike shop to help pick out a bike. For most people that might have been the most obnoxious thing to do to an out-of-town guest, but Sherry said that it seemed like the most fun thing to do and as it behooved me, I chose to believe her.

We spent a solid two hours at my local bike shop where I learned about everything from making sure your bike helmet has a hole for your ponytail to the difference in width of pelvic bones in men and women and how that relates to bike seats. Then we test rode a bunch of expensive bikes around the parking lot of a homeless shelter, which felt a little troubling, but that was the parking lot at hand.

They didn’t have the bike in stock that I ended up deciding on, so I left clutching a business card on which Sherry had written the specifications of the bike I wanted. I ordered it a couple of weeks later and kind of wish I still had Sherry with me because the questions the clerk heaved at me were hard: Do you want red or black? What kind of lock do you want? You should probably buy all these accessories; which accessories do you want? This little bell is really loud, but this one is shaped like a coffee cup; which do you choose?

(Red. The one the guy recommended. Just a water bottle cage. I don’t drink coffee, so the loud one.)

I was concerned when the guy asked me if I wanted matte red or black because I thought a red bike would be like a rolling invitation to steal. In fact, Sherry had schooled me on how to make a new, expensive bike look old and crappy so no one would take it. But red seemed sooooo much more fun than black. So I chose the red.

OMG YOU GUYS IT IS THE FLASHIEST, MOST FLAMBOYANT BIKE I COULD EVER HAVE CHOSEN. I can never lock this thing up out of my sight because it shines like the sun. I’ve been watching bike racks and there are NO bikes the color of mine locked up on them. Probably because they’ve already been jacked.

Me from the side riding a RED! bike.

It doesn’t look quite so shocking from this far away, but trust me, it is BRIGHT.

Although I am now a certified bike owner, I should admit that I am terrified of riding bikes. I haven’t regularly ridden a bike since I was a teenager—and even then I didn’t ride them all that much. Fortunately, there is someone in my family who is similarly nervous and new at cycling, so Quinn and I headed out to a parking lot near our house last weekend and rode in circles.

I didn’t fall once! Neither did Quinn!

Tomorrow (on my marathon training cross training day) I plan to do a two-mile loop that passes the market where I can buy a soft serve ice cream cone. (A suitable reward for taking my life into my hands, I’d say.) I’m going to have to go down a hill—with speedbumps. *nervous face* Then I’m going to have to push the bike back up the hill. *out-of-shape face*

Photo of me riding close to the camera.

Also, bike helmets are the WORST, but I like my brain, so I’ll wear one. Sherry always looks super cute in hers. I don’t know why I look like a blue ladybug.

Another thing that has happened in September is that school started. Sam is in high school now and seems to be doing all right. He’s doing stuff like learning to speak Chinese and doing math that is far beyond my abilities. Jack and Quinn are also doing math that is far beyond my abilities. (I’m not very good at math. My skills lie elsewhere.)

Jack and Quinn are in the same schools they were in last year, so there has been no major upheaval for either of them, which is great, because next year both of them will be upheaved and in two entirely new schools, both to them and to me.

Speaking of which, I swear to God, being a parent and having to learn a new school is awful. Really, really awful. I kind of took the last couple of years off from being super involved in my kids’ schools, but I decided that high school is the time to get back into it. One music boosters meeting at Sam’s school and I remember why I’m not really a “joiner.”

I’m sticking it out though. I am going to Be Involved if it kills me. (It might.)

I also have a new Homework Check-in System™ for my kids. It’s an upgrade from me asking them when they get home if they have homework and them lying to my face and saying no only to freak out at bedtime or the next morning before school when they remember that they lied to me and they have to do ALL THEIR HOMEWORK RIGHT NOW OMIGOD!

This being the beginning of the school year, I am all motivated and determined that this? This is the year we’re going to do it right! Seriously though, we’re maybe five weeks into the school year and Homework Check-in is officially the worst.

I’m chugging away at it though. Every stupid night I sit at the table and make my kids bring me their binders and we check their grades and email and Google Classroom and I help them study and I sit there while they do their homework and my hope is that eventually this will become habit and what they are used to doing all the time and thus Homework Check-in will have taught them to be effective and productive students.

I had a similar program I instituted at the end of last year that I called Executive Function Friday (also ™) that I started after hearing a story on NPR about executive function coaches who helped students organize and prioritize their homework and after having an immediate reaction of I SHOULD SPEND THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS ON A COACH FOR MY KIDS, I realized that this is something I could do sorta easily myself and for free.

I know you all are like, “Oh, you are now reminding your kids to do their homework and making sure they do it and you somehow think this is revolutionary?”

Yes. Yes, I do.

Quinn and Jack at a kitchen table. They are both looking at computers.

Two of my subjects diligently trying to convince me their homework is complete. They are lying.

I can’t even tell you the executive functioning skills required for this. My kids have 27 classes amongst them. Twenty-seven.* It is awful. I have been coloring to keep myself busy without doing something that takes too much of my attention like reading or crushing candy while they work. I mean, that candy isn’t going to crush itself, but that’s what I do instead of blogging now, so it will still get done. Promise.

I think we’re largely caught up on September now. Oh, except for now that I have a high schooler, I have to go to things like the teen drinking town hall I attended last night. It was terrifying. I walked out of there having learned three things: (1) It is a miracle I survived college mostly unscathed what with my unhealthy drinking habits, (2) All the teenagers are in extremely imminent danger, and (3) I have to buy locks for all my liquor storage areas immediately! Like yesterday.

I was in a golden period of parenting for a while where all my kids were old enough to dress themselves and buckle their own seatbelts, but they were still under my control and/or supervision at all times. That’s starting to change what with Sam off riding the public transportation system with his friends and going to movies with them and going places where I am not. And—if the professionals from this town hall meeting are to be believed—evidently buying and using cocaine and Red Bull. It’s scary. There is a lot to shepherd kids through during their teenage years. There is so much they have to deal with. And it’s a lot of hard work. I mean, it’s worth it and all because my kids are the best and all, but geez.

So that’s it. I am off to crush some candy now while I let the computer and television parent my children. That isn’t counterintuitive to everything I’ve just said at all, is it? I have some posts percolating in my head, so hopefully it won’t be another month before I show up again. ‘Til then, Happy October!

 

* I was proofreading this post and I had to get out a piece of paper and scribble some figures on it and count on my fingers and then pull out a calculator, but I discovered that three kids times seven classes each equals twenty-one. So my problems are nowhere near as bad as I thought they were. Except I turn out to be perilously unqualified to perform even the most basic of calculations.

20 thoughts on “September

  1. “Except I turn out to be perilously unqualified to perform even the most basic of calculations.” OOOO! Dyscalculia for the WIN! Me, too, sister! Me, too!

  2. I’m pretty sure that 3×7=27 is new math and part of Comm Core Math curriculum, but you then have to explain how you the answer and you can’t use the lattice method either.

  3. Cycling appeals to me too. Like you, I haven’t ridden a bike for at least 23 years — that was on our honeymoon. Or maybe it was a trip in 1990. Regardless, it has been awhile.

    All that we have to worry about with kids these days is downright terrifying. We have a social media presentation planned at our school in a few weeks and I’ve never heard of half the things in the description of the event. It’s a whole different world. Crazy.

    • It’s funny, because I think EVERYONE rode a bike on their honeymoon and not again since. Me too! Someone should do a study.

  4. Bikes are nice. I seem to have the opposite problem with joining. I’ve been overly-involved at an embarassing level since Kindy and now that he’s in 10th grade it’s no better, really. People are always, “Saw your name on that flyer they sent out in the email blast, you’re STILL DOING THIS?” Yes. Yes, I am. And my social skills are no better, so don’t talk to me, I prefer making multimedia presentations and flyers and sign-up geniuses to talking to actual people, thankyouverymuch.

  5. I just had to comment. We have 3 girls at 3 different schools –elementary, middle and high school–and I feel like it is killing me. Like I can’t get a grip–ever. Like there is no catching up, no feeling peaceful or restful or done. Open Houses, conferences, volleyball games and Saturday tournaments, cross country meets, reading for 20 minutes a night, helping with homework—it’s going to be the death of me. One of the daughter’s has a learning disability and tonight after helping her with her weekend homework I told my partner that the thought of helping her through the next 7 years of school completely overwhelms me.
    I am pretty sure when she walks across the stage to get her diploma they are going to have to let me walk with her so I can share in the congratulations and relief!!

    • I totally get it. My three kids are all at different schools as well. I had one year where all three of them were in the same school. There will be one year in the future when two of them share a school. It is exhausting. I know how hard it is. You’ll make it. We’ll all make it.

  6. You know what is worse than homework? A 3 1/2 yo that INSISTS she has homework and melts down into a little pile of preschooler mush if i don’t make up something for her to do alongside her sister who, actually, isn’t doing homework b/c her 2nd grade teacher is awesome and had decided that homework is bogus and just gives 15 minutes of reading time.
    And I’m right there with you on being behind in blogging…I never even got out the obligatory “back to school” post…
    *sigh*

  7. Any chance I can get a copy of your Executive Function Friday program? I’d love to know in more detail what and how you do what you are doing.

    As to homework, GAH! I am so tired of the homework assignments being a fucking scavenger hunt. I have decided that I will check the teacher web page 2x per week and go through all of the tabs at those times. The students also use a daily planner that, at least for my kid, doesn’t really get used. The usage of the daily planner is in her 504 so we need to have yet another chat about that. So I check the planner daily and then the website 2x per week. If I miss anything and my kid tells me she doesn’t have anything else, I am letting the chips fall.

    3 kids in 3 schools. Whew. I’ve always been quite impressed by that. I had 2 in 2 schools and the juggling could get difficult. I don’t think I could have added a third. You rock!

    • Unfortunately, my Executive Function Friday program is pretty onerous. We check Edline (which is my district’s website where they grades, missing assignments, and upcoming assignments; I don’t know if it is used in other places). Since some teachers use Google Classroom now, we check that too. We also look at their school email. Then we look through their binders. I can usually catch when they have homework. If I am able to find out when projects are due or when there are tests, we put it on a calendar we have right there, so we can study for the tests or get the project done in steps. Mostly, I’m trying to get them in the habit of checking all the things they need to check as well as getting them used to looking ahead for tests. We sort of triage what needs to be done now versus what can wait. If they get overwhelmed because it looks like a lot, I can make a task list for them, which seems to help.

  8. “Any chance I can get a copy of your Executive Function Friday program? I’d love to know in more detail what and how you do what you are doing.” Seconded, friend.

    • From my comment to Kelly below:
      Unfortunately, my Executive Function Friday program is pretty onerous. We check Edline (which is my district’s website where they grades, missing assignments, and upcoming assignments; I don’t know if it is used in other places). Since some teachers use Google Classroom now, we check that too. We also look at their school email. Then we look through their binders. I can usually catch when they have homework. If I am able to find out when projects are due or when there are tests, we put it on a calendar we have right there, so we can study for the tests or get the project done in steps. Mostly, I’m trying to get them in the habit of checking all the things they need to check as well as getting them used to looking ahead for tests. We sort of triage what needs to be done now versus what can wait. If they get overwhelmed because it looks like a lot, I can make a task list for them, which seems to help.

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