mercredi, novembre 09, 2011

A post I hoped I'd never have to write

More than ten years of parent-teacher conferences.

Application after application for special services.

School after school...pursued with the evanescent hope that somewhere, somehow, she would learn to care about scholarly achievement.

Yesterday something in me died. I had reached the end of what I can accomplish, at least for the present.

Tuesday was the day that I gave up hope of making a constructive contribution to my daughter's education.

My ex and I went to a meeting yesterday with her IEP team. With her ADD diagnosis, such meetings happen often. This one was to plan goals for the next year.

Our daughter straight up refused to attend the meeting. She seems to look at most of the counselors and learning support team as adversaries.

In recent years, that has come to include me.

The women gathered at the table, with one exception, recommended that given our daughter's resentment, we back off.

Because she's so bright, she does well on tests. But she has an awful record of handing in homework. So the school will be satisfied with "C" grades.

I don't fault the counselors. The school has done all they can.

It's a stunning indictment, instead, of us as parents.

We could never agree on boundaries, or standards, or discipline.

I was always pushing for order, for consistency, for consequences.

Again and again, I found myself pitted against both my daughter and her dad -- I became the enemy. I had so little space to be a mother.

Yesterday I surrendered.

No more monitoring. No more calls to teachers. No more taking the lead. No more trying to keep it all together as it fell apart again and again.

She and her dad are in charge.

I have done nothing to help my daughter become a productive citizen. And I failed at the one of the most basic tasks of parenting - helping to raise a disciplined and hopeful child.

Yesterday was a grim one, indeed. And the reverberations have only just begun.

mardi, novembre 08, 2011

I'm not the woman you dream about

I'm not that woman.

I'm not the one who has made her life's work loving you, who would wrap you in the silken cocoon of a life with you as a center, and everything else as accessories.

You see me in the parking lot having a heated, quiet debate with my daughter, followed by a reluctant grin.

Or walking through the countryside with my son, pondering the grimy world of politics or the battles of the Civil War.

You and I pass each other on the running trail, sweaty and flushed, wrapped in our own mysteries.

I respect mysteries.

Distance is sometimes a friend.

With the man of my dreams, I could bring home experiences and conversations, like tapestries to be unraveled and viewed at our leisure.

The woman who visits your dreams wraps you in her fierce embrace. Every day she would remind you in ways overt and half-heard of how much you mean to her, and how devastated she would be were you to ever leave.

There you could never question. In her arms you could brook no doubt.

It is where you want to be, dreaming -- most of the time.

In my face you would see friendly skepticism pass like clouds over the green earth, even as I signal affection that sometimes does not dare to speak its name.

I am a fan of questions.

You long for certainty -- and you wonder, with the taste of poppy in your mouth, if you will find it with the woman who haunts your dreams.

I prefer to be awake, as fully as possible -- and to catch the eye of one who looks back at me, surprised, and pleased.

If we both trip on the sidewalk, it will be because we have truly seen one another -- and want to keep on seeing.

You pass me on the trail, feet thudding against the gravel --and, for a moment, you open your eyes.

lundi, novembre 07, 2011

Strike up the band!

Friday night, when y'all were out on hot dates or snuggling with your honey (or that's my fantasy), I was driving the kids to evening activities.

Remember Friday? It was a cool evening, with the moon rising in a clear November sky.

The DQ was part of the stage management team for a Stage West production. Mr. C and his pals in the band were going to hang with the big boys and girls on the field at the West football team.

No surprise that I was going to the play.

Football is Greek to me ( except when the Giants are playing and reprise the winter of '08). And as the sun went down it was getting cold, shadows lengthening against the back of the middle school.

Dinner? Not enough time.

The book that has to be read by Wednesday? Why are there deadlines?

Instead I walked over the fields to the track that the middle school and high school teams share. Except for a woman bundled up against the cold, and a hardy middle-aged guy running in shorts, it was empty.

As I walked over, I began to hear the sound of instruments near the high school.

The wind section, chasing a harmony in the twilight. The drums, beginning a persistent growling thump.

The music of the night.

White pants and blue jackets with crossed stripes. Cockaded hats whose feathers moved in the breeze. Cheerleaders already waving their flags and throwing their batons on the field as the stands began to fill.

Remove the mid-Soviet era style buildings and this could have been anytown, anywhere in America, seventy-five years ago.

What can I say? It was a lovely moment of uninvited nostalgia and patriotism -- the best kind.

After pacing the track for a while, lost in thought, I saw the band on the move. Hoping to catch a glimpse of my eighth-grade lad, I chased them down the road that leads to the rear of the stadium, where they were to play.

Using my cellphone, I snapped a few photos for posterity -- and came up with this blurred muddle.

Of course it was impossible to capture the mood, the music, the moment.

I shouldn't have tried -- the fact that it happened at all was a minor miracle, one I'll treasure for a long time.