Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My Little Angel

We were playing on the playground after school. Lila was making brave attempts to swing from the rings while Violet and I dug in the dirt and watched her. It was a nice afternoon. Not too cool, warm sun, just lovely. Then I heard this little girl yell "Hey! That's her! Right there digging! That's the girl that threw a chair at me!" The Playground Moms shot their heads up, ripped from their conversation about chardonney and workout schedules to see who was the offender. Or better yet, who was her mom. Shit, I'm thinking, now we've got to change schools.

About a month ago my niece had a birthday party. She was turning six and her mom had invited something like twenty five people to the party (yeah, crazy bitch, I know). It was a fun day. The kids played in the kiddie pools and ran around wild. A few of the quieter kids went upstairs and played in the birthday girl's room. That worked out well - for awhile.

We were a couple of hours into the party and I was helping pass out the gifts. I'm standing there with a Barbie shaped box in one hand, the piece of paper I was writing down all the gifts on in the other hand, and had one foot holding the little nose miners away from the loot when we heard this collective scream. Suddenly, a group of six year old girls came running down the stairs and out on to the front porch. One of the little darlings was yelling that there was a little girl, a toddler, upstairs that was being mean . "She threw a chair at me!" She said with quite the dramatic flair. "Honey," said her mom "Are you sure it was a toddler that did that?" She was holding her daughter and stroking her hair. "Yes! She's right there!" She pointed her finger towards the house and up the stairs.

My two year old daughter was standing at the top of the stairs looking down at everyone.

In her defense, they were mean first. From what I could gather the girls had decided that they didn't want to play with a baby and had tried to kick Violet out of the room. Violet, the meek little sweetie, didn't care for this turn of events. When she tried to push her way back in, they pushed her out. So she did the only thing she could think of, which was pick up a wooden chair and fling it at them. It was just a small chair, you know, kid size. But it certainly got her point across which I think was "Don't push me bitch or I'll fuck you up!"

Now, I don't condone violence and I certainly don't want Violet to be a bully, but I will admit that I take a small amount of pride in the fact that my twenty five pound two year old can hold her own against a group of six year old girls. It makes me envision a time when the girls are older and someone is being mean to Lila. I can see scrappy little Violet pushing up her sleeves and daring someone to tease her sister one more time.

All three of my girls are cut from a different cloth. Jasmine was always the social butterfly. She was, and is, friends with everyone. A chatterbox that liked being in the middle of it all. Lila is more reserved. She's the quiet one who prefers a few close friends than running in the middle of a big group. She's sensitive. And then there's Violet. She was climbing up the couch at five months. She pulled hair with such force that I was certain Lila would be bald before she entered Kingergarten. Violet knew no limits as a baby. She climbed on to the counters, up the stairs, over anything in her way. She grasped her language skills pretty early on and is now a prime teaser. It's not unusual to hear her march through the house singing "Jeza Christ I dry momma nuts!". She is also very loving. We have to stop at every baby we see so she can coo about how cute they are. I love her passion, but not everyone will. We need to walk that fine line between fiesty and down right obnoxious.

The little girl ran over to where we were sitting in the dirt. "Do you remember at Wendy's birthday party when she threw a chair at me!" She was standing with her little hands on her hips and her brow furrowed. Violet looked up at her, but went back to scrapping a wide gouge through the sand with a stick. I stood up and brushed myself off. "Yes, Isabella, I remember that day quite well." I told her and put my arm around her shoulder "That wasn't very nice of Violet to do that and I'm sorry. Next time, try playing with her. She can be quite fun." Isabella looked down at Violet, who was lining acorns along the edges of the hole she had made, then ran off. The Playground Moms looked at me for a minute, but soon huddled back up. Something tells me this escapade won't help me break into their click anytime soon.

When we got home, the girls starting fighting over a toy. Violet ripped her shoe off her foot and threw it at Lila. It hit her square in the head. "Did you see that, Momma?" Lila asked me increduously. "I did." I told her. "I'll make her apologize. That wasn't very nice."

But it was a damn good shot.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I can't fight that feeling....

Home from the dance, Jasmine shares some precious Middle School insights with us.

Jasmine: "Samantha told me some personal stuff tonite. It was pretty gross."

Me: "Really? Like what?"

Jasmine: "Well, she wears a thong. And she puts it on backwards so she can get 'That Special Feeling'."

Me: "What?!"

Jasmine: "Yeah. She got In-School Suspension for showing someone the thong. Her mom wears one too, and they both have their own massagers."

Me: "Massagers. Do you mean vibrators?"

Jasmine: "Yeah, that. Kayla slept over there and saw her mother using the vibrator. She went to the bathroom in the night and the mother's bedroom door was open."

Me: "How, exactly, do you know what a vibrator is?"

Jasmine: "It was in a movie I saw. The girl turned it on and put it under the blanket so I pretty much figured it out."

Me: "Ok..."

Jasmine: "Samantha also says she's bi-sexual because she made out with a girl once. "

Me: "Did her mom buy her the vibrator or did she.."

Jasmine: "She probably bought it for her because they both like 'That Special Feeling'. Her mom has a ton of condoms in her room. Kayla saw them when she slept over."

Me: "Is Samantha still taking her meds?"

Jasmine: "Oh yeah."

Me: "Good."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

No one said I had to make any sense.

I am no fan of bugs. Anyone who knows me, knows that I hate them all. And spiders? Oh my god, let's not talk about spiders.

I knew that because Jasmine was entering the 7th grade this year that she would have a Bug Collection science project due. That's why I had her and my niece collect them over the summer. My niece is not afraid to pick up anything, especially the wimpy New England bugs. She lives in the south where there are camel back crickets and tarantulas in her yard. Yes, TARANTULAS in her YARD! The two of them made a good pair, trampsing through tall grass with empty margerine tubs and cream cheese containers. They got some good stuff. They even caught a couple of butterflies without a net.

That's where this whole mess starts. See, we haven't seen any Monarch caterpillars and butterflies in our town in years. Like 10 years. I'm not sure why that is, but every year there would be a plea from the elementary school teachers for some one to bring a caterpillar in to school. We'd search all over town, but never had any luck. Then we went to my sister in law's house a town over and the girls got their butterflies. At first, we were a little disgusted. "How could you! We haven't seen one of those in years!" we proclamed. That's when my sister in law said "Oh relax, there's hundreds of them out there." Turns out, she wasn't that far from the truth.

Next to her house is a field of milkweed and when my husband went searching through it, he came back with handfuls of monarch caterpillars. Well, we took a bunch home and he eventually built a hutch for them so we could watch them transform.
It's been a cool summer project seeing the little caterpillars grow, build a chrysalis and then setting the butterfly free. Violet loves to check the "kisslis" every morning to see if there are any new butterflies. Lila was the kindergarten teacher's joy when she brought a bunch of caterpillars to school.

Which brings us back to our current problem. Remember those butterflies Jasmine and my niece caught? They went moldy. Jazz has tried to catch another one, but no luck. We even went back to the milkweed field but there were none to be had. There was, however, a chrysalis that was ready to hatch on the side of the house. "Do you want to take this one home? It should be out by tomorrow." My sister in law suggested. She got a piece of dental floss and tied it around the silk patch and we took it home. It came out this morning and looks great. No deformities and it's nice and strong.

And there's no way we can freakin' kill it.

We just can't.

We have 10 that will be ready to come out tomorrow and we won't be able to grab one of those, put it in a plastic tub and put that in the freezer either.

I feel a little ridiculous. It's a bug, after all, and I'm supposed to hate those. For some reason it doesn't seem as bad to us to catch one that's flying around and freeze it versus watch one hatch, get strong, and then thrown in the cold to it's death next to our chicken nuggets and porkchops.

So I emailed her science teacher to ask how many points she's going to lose by not having the butterfly. I explained about our summer science project and how we don't have the heart to do it. Yes, I realize what an idiot I am. The teachers probably sit around their breakroom and have group readings of my silly, idealistic emails and laugh.

I'm cool with that.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Victory will be had

This is an email I just sent to the principal of my daughter's middle school. Jasmine called me this morning to tell me that she did not make the field hockey team. She was disapointed, and so was I. The school sports are so competitive. They only want kids who have been playing the sports since toddler-hood. It's frustrating. Anyway, this one is much nicer than the original letter which simply stated -"Yo bitch! Stop dissin' my kid or I'll get my deuce-deuce and pop a cap in yo ass!"

Dear Principal,

I’m writing to you to discuss the team sport situation. My daughter, Jasmine is in 7th grade at your school. Just this week she tried out for girls Field Hockey. Much to her disappointment, and ours, she did not make the team. I understand that many kids try out for team sports at your school and not everyone can make the teams. My question is – Why not? It seems that the selection of athletes made for these sports are just that, competitive athletes. The teams are comprised of kids who have been playing organized sports for most of their childhood and are geared the best for winning. Where does that leave all the other students who’s skill levels are lower, but whose drive to be involved is just as great?

Jasmine informed me that any girl on the team in 6th grade automatically became a member of the team this year. While this seems like a great way to insure a winning team, it also just completely obliterated the other girls’ hopes of playing field hockey in the future. What chance does an 8th grade girl stand when trying out, knowing that the last two years worth of players are guaranteed a place on the team? The only thing this kind of approach guarantees for my daughter is that she won’t be playing field hockey at all in high school.

We all know that winning is the major focus of any sport. This edict is contradictory to the attitudes we try to foster in our kids. We tell our kids to get involved. We tell our kids to get off the couch and get moving. We tell them to have passion about things beyond themselves. And yet when they really try, they’re met with rejection because they have not been rehearsing these roles since pre-school. Field Hockey is not the only club that my daughter has tried out for. Basketball, Drama, and Show Choir also held similar fates for her. Faced with the challenge of trying out with kids who have been dribbling, singing, and acting since childhood, she didn’t stand much of a chance.

There were a few bright spots. Basketball had a “B” team of sorts. A team for kids who weren’t good enough to represent their school, but still wanted to play. The kids played in school clothes and street shoes and had fun. She also made a similar team for track. She was allowed to compete only at home meets, and in a category where the coach didn’t have a top notch player. She was not the fastest runner there. In one instance, she was even the slowest. But you what? That’s ok. She tried so hard. She made an effort, got involved and did her best. I can still picture the look on her face when she was finishing a grueling lap that she knew she had not won. She was utterly defeated. Then she heard our voices. Me, screaming like a maniac, telling her she could do it. Her friends cheering her name and clapping. Jasmine’s whole demeanor changed in that moment. She got that extra boost of pep and crossed the finish line. She’d lost the race, but won so much more.

The small chances that Jasmine has had to participate have really taught her a lot about herself. They have shown her the strength she has inside and what she can really accomplish when she tries. Those lessons are far more valuable than a winning pennant to hang in the gym. Please consider giving a chance to the motivated kids who want to be involved. You may not win any trophies, but victory will be had.