At Your Service

Dear Children,

I love you. I made you. I am devoted to you.

And yet.

This is not the White House. While your respective jobs of being awesome 12 and 7-year-old humans and students are super important, you are not running the free world. And you don't have "staff." You have parents.

And today, just one day in the life of this family, one parent or the other (not a staff member)...

...drove carpool, made both your lunches, washed the dance clothes, volunteered at library, came home to find dance clothes still wet, put dance clothes in the laundromat near the office, drove you to get your head re-checked for lice, raced back to the office to deliver the dance shoes mistakenly taken in the car, spared you the horror of gymnastics by letting you hang out at the office, took you to get more dance shoes, drove you to dance class, bought you dinner, stopped at the grocery store to buy your lunch items. Oh, and then did homework and bedtime.

We do a lot for you two. Cut us a little slack.


The Management

It's Lunch, Okay

Lu got her "expander" yesterday, which is part II of the semi-medieval thing we call braces. As a result, she was suddenly tender-mouthed and rejecting many normal foods. So, at her request, I sent her to school with a can of soup. Not homemade, not even organic. Just sodium-laden, old-fashioned Campbell's.

Only it was the condensed kind. And she was faced with having to try to add water from the water fountain or something humiliating. And then she was rescued by Frank, whose classroom at Kealing is basically a dorm room, complete with microwave, fridge, coffeemaker and more. The price of his saving lunch? Judgment:


Evening habit forming?

Oh, here I am again, back after one week. Bet you never thought you'd see me again for another year. Mmm hmm. Back, baby.

I'm back to report that we lived. The week-long record-scratch, summer hangover recovery, fall time-zone adjustment that was this done. And I didn't kill anyone (but Sunday was rough).

And this evening was actually...good. Jason made hamburgers. Milo did piano practice and didn't want to stop. Lu did homework, then interrupted herself to work out the chords to the Beatles' "I Will" — inspired by her generously singing Milo's bedtime music (with ukelele). The night's not done, but some evening harmony and peace was welcome after a hard re-entry. Here's hoping it continues.

Club Kids

Lu is in the thick of pre-pubescent social sorting, and, bless her, she is finding (or feeling) herself on the outside. There are the Coder Girls, anointed by the technology teacher, against what rubric and serving what mission, I have no idea. I only know her sadness about seeing herself on the outside. Most recently there's the Ladybug Club, which Lu was either tacitly or explicitly excluded from...because she may or may not have accidentally killed original ladybug "Fat Genius." Not since Biggie's death has there been such a scandal. 

Part of me wants to say, "Kid, these are the character years. This suffering and humiliation makes you who you are! Jane Austen was NEVER cool. And you know Judd Apatow wasn't. David Foster Wallace is dead. Shrek?! This outsider narrative is going to serve you well."

Then this other super-healthy tack: "Oh, babe, I had it way worse. I ate lunch in the restroom for the better part of sixth grade. You're doing great."

But what does a non-striving, non-projecting, well-adjusted parent (ahem, me?) say to her extroverted, confident, well-adjusted, isolated, questioning child? I have no idea. Well, I have an idea, when it's an academic exercise, but when it's heartfelt pillow talk...what I REALLY REALLY wanted to say was a bunch of shitty, insulting, protective/defensive things, but I didn't. Somehow.

Tonight, I went with:

I love you. You are an amazing human being.

I've been there. Feeling like you're on the outside is a very powerful and sad emotion, and I know it well. I survived, and you will, too.

I will snap the heads off your enemies. Name them. Their academic and career prospects will be limited with their heads so far from their bodies. (This is our running joke, but I. will. do. it.)

We have been having versions of this same conversation for days. And we will have it so many more (I hope). I love that she wants to have it.





When I was preparing for middle school, the big questions in my mind were:

  • "The girls from the other elementaries seem so old and big, and a few of them look like they have boobs. Will I have boobs? Do I right now? Can you see these?"
  • "Does this mean no more Barbies?"
  • "Do I have to shave my legs?"
  • "I heard they have a salad bar and a hamburger bar and then a regular lunch line. How does it work? How will I choose?"

As Lu is preparing for middle school, she is sorting through her own form of the above, but also having to make choices about where she will go. With questions like the ones I had about college:

  • Should I go someplace artsy and interesting (and expensive)?
  • Should I go to the big public school where all my friends are going and will be easy and cheap and good enough?
  • Should I aim for the hard nerdy school where I see my tribe, but also see challenges (and have the toughest chance of getting in)?

She has now done more to get into middle school than I did to get into the University of Texas. Granted, the UT bar was low at the time, but this is a hell of a lot of work and consideration for middle school.