A Poetry Interlude, Illustrated

Quinn doesn’t like to speak in front of people, especially in class at school. So when I found out that every other month he would have to memorize and perform a poem in front of his reading class, I had one of those die-a-little-inside moments.

I knew that Quinn often freezes then meltdowns if asked to do so much as read in front of the class, so I knew the fastest way to send him into a panic was to make him perform—with props and emotion—something he’d memorized.

I contacted his teacher, asking for an accommodation. I suggested that he be able to do it just for her and not in front of the class. She came back with a suggestion that he do it at home and I videotape it.

Boom. That is how you teach kids who learn differently.

I was thrilled. Quinn was relieved, but still worried. He didn’t think he could memorize a whole poem. We worked on two lines a night and by the end of the month, he (and the rest of the family) had his whole poem memorized. We taped it and he got the highest score possible. He was so damn proud.

That was October. This month he had to do another one. All of the poems to choose from were either longer or more complicated than the one he’d picked for October. I was worried. Quinn ended up picking “The Lion” by Roald Dahl.

I felt good about his choice because it’s a funny little poem that I thought would make Quinn laugh. Unfortunately I didn’t think about the fact that there is basically a complicated list within the poem that made it tough for him to keep things in the right order.

To help him, I suggested that he draw some pictures of the subject of that list so he could keep the order straight while he was trying to memorize. Then he could use the pictures as props when performing the poem for the camera.

Quinn doesn’t want me to post the video on the internet, but he told me I could post his pictures. So. Without further ado, I present to you “The Lion” by Roald Dahl as illustrated by Quinn.

Screen capture of Quinn in his YouTube video holding up a picture he drew of "roasted lamb."

This screen capture is the closest I can ethically come to posting Quinn’s video. Isn’t he cute?

The lion just adores to eat
A lot of red and tender meat
And if you ask the lion what
Is much the tenderest of the lot,
He will not say a roast of lamb

A pencil drawing of a lamb face inside a flame.

See how the lamb is on fire? He’s roasting. (Oh yeah. It’s about to get intense up in here.)

Or curried beef

Pencil drawing of a cow with the words "curried beef" above it.

I didn’t really know how to advise Quinn to draw curried beef so he just drew a really cute cow.

or devilled ham

Pencil drawing of a pig head with devil horns.

Don’t mess with Devil Pig.

Or crispy pork

Pencil drawing of a pig head with an exclamation point over his head. He is also inside a flame.

I think—THINK—that the pig is alarmed to be on fire.

or corned beef hash

Drawing of a cow with a corn cob body. Quinn has labeled the body with "corn" just in case there is any doubt.

This is another one of those hard-to-draw ones. I think Quinn came up with an excellent idea of how to illustrate it.

Or sausages

Drawing of a conveyor belt with a machine in the middle. Visible in front of the machine is half a pig. Sausages are coming out the back.

And that’s how sausages are made out of pigs.

or mutton mash.

Drawing of a lamb being crushed (or mashed if you prefer) by a mallet from the ceiling.

This one took me a minute to get, but I think it’s one of my favorites. (See that lamb getting mashed?)

Then could it be a big plump hen?

Drawing of a hen.

I don’t think I need to explain this one.

He answers no. What is it, then?
Oh, lion dear, could I not make
You happy with a lovely steak?

Drawing of a steak with the words "lovely steak" written above it. There is a heart floating above the steak.

I like the simplicity of this one.

Could I entice you from your lair
With rabbit pie or roasted hare?

Both rabbit pie and roasted hare are on this one. The roasted hare is on fire on a spit. For the pie, well, there is a rabbit sticking out of a pie.

I think Quinn got tired of drawing here at the end. I even had to remind him to put long ears on his bunnies.

The lion smiled and shook his head.
He came up very close and said,
‘The meat I am about to chew
Is neither steak nor chops. IT’S YOU.’

I feel as if Mr. Dahl would be proud. I hope his teacher likes it as much as I do.

Windows to Their Brains

This week for White Knuckle Parenting, I wrote about how much I love going through my kids’ backpacks at the end of the year and seeing all the work they’ve done at school. It really is one of my very favorite things. Reading through my kids’ work leaves me honestly kind of breathless and amazed at what is going on in their brains.

Those papers are like a little window into what they do all day when they’re at school and I am so grateful to be able to peek through that window. If you are so inclined, I’d love for you to peek through that window as well.

(You knew that was coming, right?)

Sadly, the window to Sam’s brain is a little smaller than Jack and Quinn’s because his work is more, “Wow, my kid wrote a really amazing essay on Shakespeare,” rather than, “Let me take a photo of this adorable essay Jack wrote about winter where the letters are having a snowball fight.”

"My favorite time of year is winter because epic snowball fights...You can go sledding...Go build a snow fort!...Make a snow catapult! That is why I like winter."

“My favorite time of year is winter because epic snowball fights…You can go sledding…Go build a snow fort!…Make a snow catapult! That is why I like winter.” Mental note: Beware Jack in the winter.

Sam did, however, have a few nice visual pieces of work for me to show you, including his most excellent historical children’s book that he wrote about a pioneer family moving west.

IMG_0006His book was fantastic. It was full of facts and drama and humor (his gold-prospecting main character: “I wasted a week looking in small holes in the ground. Unless the price of dirt had risen, I had nothing of value.”). It also featured most excellent drawings of adorable animals.

I really like the wolf, but the pig peeking out of his pen makes me so happy I could sing. I don't know why.

I really like the wolf, but the pig peeking out of his pen makes me so happy I could sing. I don’t know why.

Almost better than the book itself though, was the “about the author” blurb Sam wrote about himself: “Samuel lives in Maryland and enjoys Shakespeare, cats, science fiction, and good memories. Traveling West is his first book.”

In comparison, Quinn’s (adorably misspelled) “about the author” blurb from his pamphlet about pteranadons is less…informational: “I like pteranodons and I have no explimation about why I’m writing about them anyway.”

He created a super awesome labeled illustration though:

Quinn's drawing of a pteranodon with the head, wings, and feet labeled.

Just in case you couldn’t figure out what was the head and what was a foot.

Jack didn’t write any author blurbs, but he did helpfully provide a list of things he is an expert at. (One of his accommodations is that he can have a scribe if he asks for one, which is why the handwriting in this photo is legible—not to say that his snowman letters were hard to read, but…)

Things I am an expert at:  1. eating  2. sleeping *3. video gaming *4. playing ro-blox  5. cuddling with mom *6. drawing *7. being lazy  8. getting sick

Things I am an expert at:
1. eating
2. sleeping
3. video gaming
4. playing ro-blox
5. cuddling with mom
6. drawing
7. being lazy
8. getting sick

I’m not entirely sure why there are stars next to numbers 3, 4, 6 and 7. I didn’t find any essays on “How to Be Lazy.” I looked. Also, you should know that Jack is an expert about a lot of things that aren’t on this list. He is really good at cuddling with me though.

As long as we’re learning about my kids, let’s go ahead and check out Quinn’s list of likes and dislikes:

"likes: cats, minecraft, hills, trampolines, gerballs, lettice, reeses cups, ice cream; hates: spiders, too cold/hot tepatuars, soda, cinamon peperments, normal toast, mosquitous, termites"

likes: cats, minecraft, hills, trampolines, gerballs, lettice, reeses cups, ice cream; hates: spiders, too cold/hot tepatuars, soda, cinamon peperments, normal toast, mosquitous, termites”

The great thing about Quinn is that, with a couple of exceptions, I could have written this list for him. I was a little confused by a couple of things on the likes list (case in point: he hates lettuce). For example, I have no idea why Quinn likes hills. I kept trying to think of another word instead of “hills” that word could be, but “mills” made even less sense, so I guess Quinn likes hills. Okay.

The hates list though? With the exception of termites, I can give you a story behind every single thing:

Spiders and mosquitoes: Everyone hates spiders and mosquitoes. C’mon.

Temperatures: Quinn is really sensitive to temperature. The quickest way to send him into a meltdown is to force him outside on a hot day. Also, flash back to every photo I’ve ever posted here that features Quinn wearing my coat. There are a lot of them. I give the little man a point for self-awareness.

Soda: This one time at a birthday party, there was Sprite in pitchers on the table and my kids thought it was water and they drank it and started screaming about the “sour water.” I felt extremely virtuous for having non soda-drinking kids. As far as my kids are concerned, bubbles are something you blow out of a wand, not something you drink.

Cinnamon peppermints: Quinn really likes peppermints and is always extremely grabby when they come with the check at a restaurant. Sadly, cinnamon peppermints look almost exactly like regular peppermints—even as little chewed up bits get spit out all over a table in disgust.

Normal toast: Quinn likes toast with cinnamon sugar on it. (I know. Considering the item just above it on the list, this is highly ironic.)

Let’s let Quinn and his weird little self rest for a while and head back over to Jackland and the drawings he had to create for vocabulary words. One of my favorites is the drawing he created for the word “empathy.”

"I know you are angry." I wonder what his first clue was.

“I know you are angry.” I wonder what his first clue was.

I also like Jack’s answer to what he wants to be when he grows up: “When I grow up, I am going to be an inventor, because robots/lasers are cool. A second reason is you get to build cool stuff. The last reason is your robot could do your homework/chores for you.”

Here’s something—what if he invented an inventing robot and that robot did all of his inventing for him?

Or he could just have his assistant do all the work.

Or he could just have his assistant do all the work.

And as long as we’re on the topic of science, let’s see how Quinn illustrated the “science” tab of his data notebook:

it's raining cats

If only he could have gotten Jack to draw little angry faces on the cats.

If you’re like me, you always wonder what exactly your kids are telling their teachers about you. I have to say, through Quinn’s eyes, I come off pretty well.

Happy Home: M is for magical mother O is for outstanding overlord T is talking terrific mom H is for happy [private last name that certainly doesn't start with an "H"] E is for exilent writer R is for fast runner

Happy Home:
M is for magical mother
O is for outstanding overlord
T is talking terrific mom
H is for happy [private last name that certainly doesn’t start with an “H”]
E is for exilent writer
R is for fast runner

Damn, I love that kid.

He loves me too, which I know because when he was asked to fill in an answer to the question “My favorite guest speaker was,” he wrote “my mom.”

My favorite thing in the world though is that under "my mom," Quinn had to erase where he had started to write, "I do not know what a guest speaker is."

He did have to erase where he had started to write “I do not know what a guest speaker is” first.

I have more. Oh, lord, I have more, but I’ll spare you. Sort of. I’m still going to post photos of some of the artwork they came home with. This way I will feel less bad about putting all of it in a plastic bin and not looking at it again for 30 years instead of framing it and putting it on a wall.

IMG_0108 11.44.47 PM

By Jack. I think it’s probably Minecraft related.

IMG_0114 11.51.41 PM

Also by Jack. I like this one a lot.


By Sam. So pretty.


By Jack. This one feels…derivative.


By Quinn. He wrote about this, “I made it look gloomy and evil.” In case you’re wondering.


By Jack. Those are some scary ass birds and some tall ass plants.

The end. I’ll meet you back here at the end of the next school year for the exact same post.

It Turns Out the Geo Bowl Was Good Inclusion All Along

Today was the day. Today was Geo Bowl day. I crossed my fingers and sent Jack to school with assurances that I was proud of him for working so hard to prepare for his competition and the results of the contest didn’t matter at all.

Jack had studied really hard for the Geo Bowl. I’d emailed the other team parents. I’d made sure Jack’s teacher and para had support plans in place. I’d panicked to all of you ad nauseum. We were as ready as we were gonna be.

I needn’t have worried.

My friend—whose daughter is in Jack’s autism class—and I sat in the front row at the Geo Bowl together today and watched our kids rock the free world.

It turns out that the way it was set up, no one student was put on the spot at any point. The teams didn’t have to compete against each other to answer questions first. The kids didn’t have to sit quietly in a chair behind a table. Honestly, I wouldn’t have had any suggestions about how to better set it up if I’d been asked. It was great.

I considered going into detail about how it was set up, but I don’t think you really care. What you care about is that Jack’s team smiled with him, included him, and made him part of the high-fives that went around when they answered questions right. (His friend’s team did the same with her.)

Every kid in that room was awesome. They all knew so much about geography and had obviously worked really hard.The organizers, who as far as I could tell were all parents, were fantastic and had done an amazing job putting the Geo Bowl together. The whole thing gave me warm fuzzies.

It also helped that the teams had come up with some excellent team names: Purple Eagles, Red Revolution, Yellow Rice Krispies, Blue Sumo Wrestlers (Jack’s team), and the Flying Monkeys—who were green.

The end result was really close. None of the teams missed many questions. But Jack’s team came out on top—by one point.

After the Sumo Wrestlers were announced as the winner, kids in the audience gave Jack spontaneous high fives. I know, right? I know.

After the Sumo Wrestlers were announced as the winner, kids in the audience gave Jack spontaneous high fives. I know, right? I know.

So Jack’s team won, but how did he do?

He did great.

He took a break at one point, leaving the auditorium with his fantastic paraeducator. I was actually really happy to see that, because I had told Jack that if he needed a break, he could take one. I love watching him advocate for himself.

His team wasn’t asked any questions about the U.S. Territories (Jack’s specialty), but there was one question that no one on the team knew the answer to—except for Jack. He gave them the answer and earned them the point.

Again, I know.

(Delaware. The answer was Delaware. I can’t remember the question.)

One of the parents who had been on the stage with the kids made a point to tell me right after the Geo Bowl that Jack had done that. Another parent emailed me later that afternoon to tell me the same thing.


I am beaming just remembering.

I could not possibly be prouder of Jack. (He’s proud of himself too.) I could not be more in love with his teammates. My friend and I giddily walked out of the school after the Geo Bowl, talking about how amazing it was to watch our kids brainstorm and celebrate with their teammates. Our kids are phenomenally awesome, we decided.

He refused to smile for me. I didn't care.

He refused to smile for me. I didn’t care.

Once again, Jack has shown me just how much he is capable of. It should come as no surprise to any of us that he is capable of a lot.

The Inclusion Problem

I believe in inclusion. I think that when it is done right, putting kids with special needs in general education classrooms is so good for everyone. Obviously, full inclusion didn’t work for Jack. That doesn’t mean that inclusion can’t work for Jack. It just means that inclusion done right is really difficult and if it’s not done right, it really isn’t right.

Jack is in a specialized program for kids with a certain kind of autism, but he spends a big chunk of his day with typical kids in general education classrooms. He always has support and he’s been doing pretty well. For the most part, we are really happy that he is where he is and with the people he is with. It’s not a perfect situation, but what is?

Jack had a chorus concert at his school today. He had a tough time at his afternoon concert, but an even harder time at the evening concert, which he wanted to participate in, but couldn’t handle without poking at and bothering the other kids. We ended up leaving after one song. It wasn’t great.

The truth of the whole thing is that this evening, Jack, an autistic child, was put in a stressful, stimulating, pressure-filled situation without supports. I am partly to blame for that. The school carries some blame too. The truth is that I failed to make sure he was taken care of well enough.

I learned a lesson tonight though. I learned that even though the school carries the responsibility to make sure that Jack is supported at school events, I can’t count on that and I have to be the one to make sure he is okay. This is a lesson that I have learned many times.

It’s too late to help Jack with chorus this year; there are no more concerts. That one is on me. That said, Jack is going to be in a similar situation soon. He is participating in his school’s Geo Bowl, which is a geography quiz show-style competition. He is the only autistic kid on his team (as far as I know; I don’t actually have neuropsych reports on the other kids).

I am worried about the Geo Bowl. I am worried about the stimulation and the sensory overload and the need to communicate quickly. I celebrate the inclusion that put him on the team, but I worry about how it will be carried out. I don’t know how to help make sure that the Geo Bowl is inclusion done right.

Jack has wonderful support at his school during the day. But I have to make sure that he is supported in the right way. I can’t fail him again. I wrote about the Geo Bowl for White Knuckle Parenting this week. If you have thoughts about anything that might help him, I would love to hear them. Or if you have calming words, I always like those too.

Patol, Bingo & True Love

The fourth grade at Jack’s school had an exhibit today of the projects they’d created for their Native American projects. Jack had very enthusiastically created a replica of a game called patol and I very enthusiastically noticed that patol was far easier to recreate than any number of other projects: dolls, boots, clothes, igloos, dioramas, fancy weaponry…

I know he looks hungover or something, but I swear we let him sleep.

I know he looks hungover or something, but I swear we let him sleep.

In the photo above, you can see the fantastic doll made by R, a girl in Jack’s class that he calls “the most beautiful girl in the world.”

I tell you this for a reason (in addition to telling you so I have an excuse to post that photo). The exhibit took place late in the day, so I just brought Jack home with me afterward, in time to pick Quinn up from the bus stop.

Jack usually comes home later than Quinn, so it is unusual for him to meet Quinn’s bus, on which rides Jack’s very good girl friend, E, with whom Jack used to go to school. Jack and E have long had plans to get married, and Jack was delighted to see her again, as they hadn’t seen each other for a while.

She got off the bus and bum rushed Jack, giving him a huge hug. It was really beautiful to see. They, like, just gazed at each other for a while. I love that girl so much. Also Jack. I also love Jack so much.

They hugged for a while and were very excited to be in each other’s presence, when Jack very seriously turned to E and said, “I am in love with another. Her name is [the most beautiful girl in the world].”

To E’s credit, she handled it pretty well. I wouldn’t count her out just yet.


You might have missed my live tweeting last Friday of Quinn’s bingo night. Never fear. I wrote all about it for White Knuckle Parenting. I even learned a lesson about giving in to chaos.

How to Make a Life Size Two-Dimensional Beaver*

* See also: Keep your perverted comments to yourselves.

Jack’s class is studying the Chesapeake Bay and has been working on a research project about flora and fauna native to the region. Jack was supposed to choose something to study and he came home a few weeks ago demanding to study the mosquito fish.

I have no idea why.

Sadly, the mosquito fish does not seem to live in the Chesapeake, so we perused a Chesapeake Bay website to find a new topic. The fact that the website was arranged in alphabetical order and that Jack chose to research the beaver are surely unrelated.

It turned out to be a good choice, however, because the beaver is a pretty fun animal to find out stuff about. Also, there are many tasteless jokes to make.

Anywho, the final project was to make a life size, two-dimensional representation of the animal. (Me, in my head: “Huh. Would have been a lot easier to make a fish.”)

Jack and I are a little bit mad about the grade he got on some science posters he worked on at school, so we were determined to make the most kick-ass beaver ever. Because we are sharers, I thought we could let you know how to create a kick-ass beaver as well.


How to Make a Kick-Ass, Life Size, Two-Dimensional Beaver!

Step one: Acquire materials. Jack and I both wanted to cut up the beaver fur hat that Alex had bought when we lived in Alaska, but Alex had some sort of weird objection to that. Never mind that I had objections to him buying it in the first place.

This left us to come up with an alternative material. We decided on felt and I told Jack that I would go buy it at the local craft store while he was at school. The local craft store, incidentally, is almost exactly 5 kilometers away from my house. Ask me how I know.

I decided to combine my errand running with my daily run, which was a great idea, but for the fact that once I ran three miles and wandered around the craft store for a while (The cashier: “You look like you’ve been working out.” Me, sweaty, disheveled, and smelly: “Um. Yeah.”), I had to run three miles back home, THIS TIME WEIGHED DOWN WITH TWELVE SHEETS OF FELT—AND GOOGLY EYES. What I do for Jack.

Step two: Name your beaver. (Jeez. Every time I use that word, it sounds so diiiiirty.) Jack was prepared with a name for the beaver he was about to create: Justin. Justin Beaver. Get it? I don’t know how Jack gets it; we have a strict No Bieber rule in my house, but evidently someone has gotten to him.

Step three: Find a model and create a sketch. Hooray for Google Images. We found a beaver to model Justin Beaver on and Jack set about to drawing.

Draw the beaver

I know the model isn’t too realistic, but it has four legs and a tail, so close enough.

Step four: Try to convince someone else to do the work on every step. Before every single step, Jack would say, “Can you do it? I’m not very good at…drawing/cutting/gluing/hanging out with you while you construct my beaver.”

Nice try, Jack. You can do all of those things.

Step five: Cut out the beaver template.

Cut the beaver

See? See Jack cut.

I’m actually very proud of Jack. There was a lot of fine motor work involved here. I helped him with some of it, but he did a fantastic job and did most of it himself. For a kid who has a hard time getting through ordinary homework on a regular night, doing all this intensive work—and being motivated to do a good job—well, I am just so damn proud of him.

Step six: Be awesome. When you’re Jack, you’re required to take an Awesomeness Break now and again.

Be Awesome!

This step is pretty easy for Jack.

Step seven: Transfer the template shape to the felt, cut it out, and glue it to the template. I took photos of all of this, but then I realized that they were all photos of Jack manipulating brown felt and I thought that each photo was adorable and very different from the next, but then realized that they might all just look the same for you. So Step Seven will be represented by The Cutting of the Felt.

The Cutting of the Felt

The Cutting of the Felt

The beaver by the way? Has a two-sheets-of-felt body.

Step eight: Take a break to figure out how electricity works. Quinn had spent this whole time playing with his jack-o-lantern as if it were his newest teddy bear. That kid is funny. Somehow Jack ended up with one of the little electric candles and spent some time figuring out how it worked.

Figure out electricity

After he started disassembling it, I thought about stopping him, but figured that the shock from such a tiny voltage was unlikely to be fatal, so I let him continue.

Step nine: Choose an eye from the pack of many sized googly eyes. This was more complicated than it might seem at first glance. I had to spend a fair amount of time trying to convince Jack that he had created a side view of a beaver, which only required one eye. Jack spent a fair amount of time trying to convince me that he should put two different sized eyes on the beaver to make him look more like Perry the Platypus.

Step ten: Glue the ear onto the beaver, then, when your mom steps away to find materials for beaver whiskers, have a “glue incident.” I swear to God, that is what he called it.

The Glue Incident

He wasn’t even gluing anything at the time. I have no idea how this happened.

Fortunately, it is easy to clean glue off of a beaver.

Step eleven: Write your name on the back, but not before you add the speech bubble you wanted to glue on the front, but that your mom made you put on the back.

Hi! My name is Justin

That kid is irrepressible.

I admire Jack for his integrity in sticking to his vision.

Step twelve: Pose with  your finished beaver in a totally realistic manner. Turns out that the beaver is kind of a jerk and just wanted to paddle Jack in the face with his tail. Not very nice after Jack created him and all.

The finished beaver

I have to say, I think Justin Beaver turned out nicely.

Step thirteen: Enjoy special after-school video games because you worked so hard on your beaver.

Well deserved.

I know you’re going to ask. It is called Roblox. I have no idea what it is.

Step fourteen (This step is for the mom): Send in the beaver with your kid and hope that you didn’t grossly misinterpret the assignment because, oh, dear God, that boy worked so hard on that beaver that he really deserves a great grade. Cross your fingers for us.

The best beaver

That’s right. I have the best beaver.

That’s what she said. (God, I’m so sorry. I held out until the very last. I am so very sorry.)

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.”