Making Quinn Miserable

First thing this morning, Quinn told me he didn’t feel well and that he didn’t think he should go to school. I didn’t think he was really all that sick. I didn’t think he was sick at all. This led me to assess my options:

(1) Keep Quinn home.
(2) Send Quinn to school only to hear from the nurse 45 minutes later that he wasn’t feeling well and wanted to come home. At this point, I would again assess my options:
     (a) Go get Quinn and bring him home.
     (b) Ask the nurse to send him back to his classroom, only to get another
     call a half hour later when Quinn did one of two things:
          (i) Was disruptive and complainy enough to be sent back to the nurse’s
          office.
          (ii) Wanted to come home so desperately that he convinced his brain
          he needed to throw up, which would lead to his throwing up on a desk
          in the classroom and being sent home.

This wasn’t my first rodeo. No matter what, Quinn was hanging out with me at home today. I decided to just start with him there.

I’m not stupid though. I knew what he wanted. He wanted a fun day, full of cats and cuddling and board games and maybe once I got tired of actively making his day the best it could be, I would send him off to play video games with a smile on my face.

Nice try, little man. Quinn expressed his belief that “taking care of him” was the same thing as “entertaining him.” Thus began my campaign to make Quinn’s day as boring and miserable as humanly possible.

I started by making him nap. Unfortunately, as he was not actually sick and it was 8:45 in the morning, he was unable to fall asleep. Happily, he had a cat to amuse him.

Quinn lying on the couch with a small black cat.

I spend most of my life trying to get the cats to sit with me and they steadfastly refuse, but Quinn stays home once and they decide that the couch is the most comfortable place in the world to sit.

Unfortunately, cats aren’t very good at holding conversations, so I was the recipient of Quinn’s non-stop chatter until I forced him to read. Funnily enough, this didn’t stop his chatter, but just focused it to the topic of cats, which was the subject of each of the three library books he had checked out last week.

Quinn would intermittently say things like, “I’m going to play video games at one! I have a quest to complete!” and “Can I play video games now?” I alternated answering every one of his questions with either “no” or “Do you want me to drive you to school?”

During hour two, I realized that we were out of milk and bacon, so we went to the grocery store. This provided many opportunities to make Quinn miserable by doing things as simple as pushing the cart slowly past the bakery department without stopping.

Quinn sitting in a cart, pointing.

In this photo, Quinn is pointing at cookies. Shortly thereafter, he started heaving his body back and forth, trying to move the cart from within. He failed.

I’m not made of stone though. Per his request, I bought him chocolate chip toaster waffles, causing Quinn to smile slyly and say, “Your no-spoiling plan has backfired.”

After the grocery store, we spent the rest of the day at home, reading, eating waffles, and bickering like an old married couple.

Sample conversation:

Me: “You are an obstinate little man, Quinn.”
Quinn: “What does ‘obstinate’ mean?”
Me: “It means stubborn.”
Quinn: “I think it means epic.”

The low point of the afternoon was our ten-minute fight over what to do with the little bits of soap stuck to the bottom of the bathtub, which were evidently interfering with Quinn’s ability to take an afternoon soak. I was of the opinion that it was soap and the problem would resolve itself as soon as there was water in the tub. Quinn, on the other hand, believed that I should scrub the tub immediately and, upon his arrival home, Jack—who left the soap bits in the tub yesterday—should be promptly and severely punished.

I’m happy to say that I prevailed—in both the bathtub fight and the longer term struggle to keep Quinn mostly happy, slightly bored, and away from any and all screens for the whole day.

He may not know it yet, but Quinn will be headed back to school tomorrow. Fortunately, I think he’s ready.

And if he’s not? Well, today’s chocolate chip waffle mistake won’t happen again.

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.

IMG_0107

By Sam. So pretty.

IMG_0113

By Jack. This one feels…derivative.

IMG_0119

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

IMG_0141

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.

And in Quinn News…

* After school, Quinn told me that he’d taken a roll of toilet paper to school with him today because the school’s supply was “like sandpaper.” Evidently I have to pay more attention to what that boy is doing in the morning.

* In related news, Quinn won the “Funny Bone Award” in his classroom for “for making everyone smile.”

* Quinn has been complaining lately that his dreams are just “random” and don’t have a story.

* I spent the entire day in Quinn’s class on Tuesday as six different second grade classrooms rotated through different stations, one of which I headed up as the “mad scientist” in charge of leading the kiddos through the creation of dinosaur toothpaste.

I had been worried that I wouldn’t be able to pull off the “mad” part of “mad scientist,” so I decided to dazzle the kids with scientific illustrations that I produced.

See? Scientific.

See? Scientific.

If the science in that illustration confuses you, perhaps the Facebook status I posted Monday night will help explain things:

"I get to play mad scientist for the second graders at Quinn's school tomorrow. We're making dino toothpaste. Tyrone the T-Rex's strong, brushed teeth aren't going to bode well for Melvin the Micropachycephalosaurus. I wonder if this will be better or worse than the time I introduced the concept of prisoners of war and the firebombing of Dresden to these same second graders. There is a reason I am not a teacher.

Are we clear now?

Basically I just yelled things really loud.

SCIENCE!!!!!!!

SCIENCE!!!!!!!

It was a lot of fun. Also, I went to bed last night at 9 pm because I was so exhausted. Teachers, you have my respect.

* Quinn ate part of a peanut butter and jam sandwich on Tuesday. This is more groundbreaking than it sounds.

* I’ve taken to looking at Quinn and saying, “You know what I love? Your face.” He tends to blink his eyes rapidly in response and then say, “Hi.”

* I think Quinn is pretty cool.

Three Weeks to Go

Is the end of the school year killing anyone else? I feel like I have two or three events to fit in every single day for the last three weeks of school. With three kids in three schools, that means that I don’t even get to kill three birds with one stone. I have three spring concerts. Three end of the year parties. Sixty-five field trips.

Seriously. These kids go on a LOT of field trips.

That doesn’t even include Geo Bowls, regular volunteer gigs, and 504 meetings.

This week alone, there was that great concert at Jack’s school, a field trip for Jack and a field trip for Quinn, and a performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest by Sam’s fifth grade class.

I have to tell you, I think the play wins for best event of the week. It was phenomenal. Sam’s teacher created this fantastic 40-minute adaptation of The Tempest that the entire class took part in. It was absolutely amazing.

I took both Jack and Quinn out of school so they could go with me to watch, partly because I wouldn’t have gotten home in time to pick them up from school after the play and partly because they really wanted to go.

I wasn’t sure about their attention span and how well they would follow, you know, Shakespeare, but they both sat quietly on the floor and watched, rapt. Watching them in the audience was nearly as good for me as watching Sam in the play.

I don't have great photos of Sam in the play, but trust me, he was a star.

I don’t have great photos of Sam in the play, but trust me, he was a star.

I was beyond impressed by this fifth grade class. Every one of them did so well. Afterward, I could barely restrain Jack until the audience (made up of the other classes in Sam’s school) left because he was all, “I want to go hug Sam!”

(I did too.)

Methinks Jack was a little starstruck.

Methinks Jack was a little starstruck.

It was all very cool. Also, I feel I should let you know that I didn’t even read Shakespeare until I was in 9th grade. Kids these days.

After yesterday’s theater experience, today I chaperoned the second grade field trip to the Natural History Museum. Parts of it were a lot of fun. Quinn made it about 3/4 of the way through before he melted down.

I think I took this photo on the cusp between "Field trips are fun! I am having a great time!" and "I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW."

I think I took this photo on the cusp between “Field trips are fun! I am having a great time!” and “I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW.”

Quinn pretty seriously lost his shit right in the middle of the dinosaur exhibit. Poor guy.

Before we embark on next week’s many elementary school adventures, we’re talking a little Memorial Day weekend vacation to Hershey Park. This will be my kids’ first time at an amusement park. I imagine that is will go spectacularly.

Spectacularly good or spectacularly bad, that remains to be seen.

Honestly, considering my family, we’ll probably have a little bit of both. And that’s perfectly all right by me.

Eleven Things

• So. The Great Quitting of the Soda. I have only had a couple of days when I drank zero soda. BUT! I have not had more than two cans on any day, which I think makes me a normal person in terms of soda drinking. Yay, me! Don’t worry; soon enough there will be far more zero-soda days than two-can days.

• Quinn has started reading chapter books! Of his own free will he has voluntarily read THREE chapter books in two days all on his own after YEARS of only reading them if I begged him. Weird.

• There appears to be some sort of strange sharpened pencil shortage in Quinn’s classroom. I was there today and there was all kinds of creative sharpening happening. I brought all of Quinn’s pencils home to sharpen at my leisure. When he found them after school, he was like a junkie finding a fix.

• I have still not been doing a lot of running. This is mostly because I have stopped wanting to run in the cold weather. I am trying to will warm weather to arrive. Unfortunately, my area is supposed to get five inches of snow tomorrow.

• People here are calling this storm the Snowquester, because no economic crisis is too serious to make a weather-related joke out of.

• Even though I have had two weeks of, shall we say, less than stellar running, I have run more than 100 miles so far this year over the equivalent of more than a 24-hour day.

• Alex is out of town. If the Snowquester knocks my power out, I will die. If the Snowquester knocks my power out while Alex is out of town, I will kill him. I don’t know why. I just will.

• Do you watch The Walking Dead? Did you watch last Sunday’s episode? Because it was so good. Stories like that are why I like zombie fiction. Best. Episode. Ever. Discuss.

• I think that Quinn is starting to get inside my head. Last night I had a dream about a field full of kittens. I wonder if that is what is happening in Quinn’s head all the time. Because it was kind of awesome.

LympheDIVAs created the most amazing lymphedema sleeves in honor of Susan. Read Marty’s post about them here. They are gorgeous. I love them so much. They are just so perfect. See?

hubble collection

• Aaaaaand, last, I managed to write an entire White Knuckle Parenting column based on a half-hour ride on the Metro with my kids. Happily, it was a fun story, not a “Team Stimey being dorks out and about” story.

The Concept of Quinn

Warning: This is definitely a fawning parent post. When in doubt, I go to the school work. My kid is adorable.

Last week, Quinn had an assignment at school to create a concept map about himself. All the kids in his class made a little map thingy about themselves. They also wrote sentences having to do with each of the concepts (not included on the map). Here is Quinn’s:

Quinn's concept map

Don’t worry. I’ll decipher it for you.

Let’s start at the top and move clockwise.

“Quinn likes Dodgeball” Well. Who doesn’t? The real Quinny part of this comes in the sentence that he wrote about it: “I like getting hit in the face.” Well. Who doesn’t? (Answer: EVERYONE.)

“Quinn likes swiming in pools a lot”

“Quinn hang out in places example TV Room with oreos watching TV” He’s so cute. Also, this sounds like something I’d like to do as well. The sentences he wrote for this branch were all things like, “I love TV Room!” and “A great place to hang out watching TV,” one of which is not actually a sentence, but that’s okay.

“Quinn hang out in places example hamock with lemonaid” I die of cuteness. Especially when his sentences clarify that the hammock is a “good sitting place” and lemonade is a “super good drink on hot days.”

“Quinn I hate homework.” This was the only part of the entire concept map that was entirely correctly spelled and punctuated. Oh, also the sentence that went along with it: “Homework sucks!” There is no ambivalence there.

“Quinn used to be a gyminast” Yeah. We all remember how that went. If you don’t remember how that went, it’s okay. It was one of my, let’s say, less proud blogging moments.

“Quinn our pets are 2 cats, 1 dog, 5 mice, 2 gerballs. one cat is Izzy is a Star!!!!!! Cats are the best!!!!!!!!!” I think it is lovely that Quinn included all of our dead pets, including Izzy, who is the most loved of the deceased. But it makes me a little sad too. For his notes about Cats are the best!(!!!!!!!!), he wrote, “Relates to Izzy.” For his notes about Star!!!!!!!, he wrote “Also relates to Izzy.” (He did follow that up with, “Relates to space,” but that seemed to be secondary to him.) I think it is likely that Izzy’s death will be the defining memory of his childhood. This makes me a little sad.

“Quinn likes Dessert” Also, “Dessert rocks just like cats.”

“Quinn Favrite game is Mindcraft” I’m hopeful that one day he learns it is actually called Minecraft. Somehow I’m more bothered by that misspelling than the misspelling of “favorite.”

“Quinn had a cat” Izzy is, like, 30% of Quinn’s concept map. I feel a little sad that the sentence he wrote was actually a question and that question was, “Is Izzy soft anymore?” (Answer: Unlikely.)

Quinn Likes Space (crescent moon, soler eclipse, comet, galaxy) My favrit planet is…Jupiter” Quinn is a HUGE fan of space. I mean, what’s YOUR favorite planet? That’s what I thought. I don’t have one either. Although Saturn is pretty cool. And Earth has been good to me. Regardless, Quinn believes that “Jupiter is the planet king!” He also had some pretty elaborate sentences for his space examples: “I want to learn about solar & lunar eclipses. We’re learning about the moon in class. Superstition says that comets are the harbringers [I'm sorry, I just couldn't correct his all too cute spelling of that word. —ed.] of doom. There are millions & millions of galaxies in the cosmos.

There you have it: Quinn in a concept map. I have to say, it is actually pretty accurate and complete.

St. Sugartine’s Day

Ah, Valentine’s Day. Who doesn’t love Valentine’s Day? (Me.)

Mostly I see Valentine’s Day as an exercise in forcing my kids to write 26 names each on little scraps of cardboard and checking to see how many of Jack’s classmates he actually knows. I imagine that Alex sees Valentine’s Day as an exercise in wishing he’d married someone more romantic.

My kids, on the other hand, see Valentine’s Day as a wonderful chance to ingest as much sugar as is humanly possible.

In case you are wondering, it is possible to ingest a HUGE amount of sugar.

Sam’s day was largely an enigma, what with his being a fifth grader who doesn’t need mom at his Valentine’s Day party as long as she buys him a bag of corn chips for him to take into school ostensibly for the class, but mostly just for him, thank you very much.

Although his afternoon did end with him hiding behind a piano at a party, so I don’t think we should count sugar out for him entirely.

To be fair, a magician told him to do it, so...

To be fair, a grown man calling himself the Great Zucchini told him to do it, so…

Here is the Great Zucchini himself, bringing joy to a room full of special needs kids and their families—and standing RIGHT in front waving his arms around, Jack.

Jack laughed a whole lot today.

Jack flipped his lid laughing at this guy. It was great.

Many thanks to Sir Zucchini for his show and to my friend B for inviting us. Also thank you for living the “your baby is my baby” philosophy today, B.

Jack’s school party isn’t until tomorrow, but he gave Alex and I valentines today on which he’d written poetry. Now, I’m not a big poetry girl, but Jack writes some good verse.

To me:

Violets are blue
Roses are pink
I really like love
and hate really stinks!

To Alex:

Roses r red
Violets r blue
I’m so awesome
and I ♥ u!

See what I mean? That’s good stuff right there.

I’m going to his party tomorrow, so I am sure there will be a Part II to his Valentine’s story, but for now, what I do have are photos of Quinn, who had a sugar-coated day that can pretty much be summarized in the following four photos.

1. Before the Sugar:

IMG_5242

Ice cream at school?! This was Quinn’s favorite day in the history of days!

2. Post Sugar Ingestion:

IMG_5252

This is what a lot of ice cream, a box of chocolates, and a bag of blue Fun Dip will to a person.

3. Ruh-roh! The Sugar Has Kicked In!

IMG_5258

This is what a lot of ice cream, a box of chocolates, and a blue bag of Fun Dip will do to a person when it is followed up by a loud classroom full of singing second graders and combined with sensory processing issues.

4. Can’t Talk. Coming Down.

IMG_5271

In this photo, taken at the after-school party, Quinn refuses to acknowledge that there is a party with a beloved children’s entertainer going on around him.

I hope your day was lovely in its own way and that you didn’t have to hide behind any pianos or in any cubbies to get through it. But if you did, that’s okay too.

*****

This week at White Knuckle Parenting, I wrote about my kids’ life stages through their adulthood. I was a little more detailed about the early ages, because the oldest one is only 11.