A fellow mom and I were discussing homework and the drama we faced to get it done. I don’t know about her, but every time I start a homework session with my boys, in the back of my mind I hear the tingling tremolo notes of Mission Impossible. The fuse is lit when I review the homework assignment. Then I hope I self-destruct in ten seconds.
It’s not so much the drama – because that’s always of epic proportions that even Spielberg could only dream of. What really gets me is…the lack of common sense.
There I said it. No, wait I’ve yet to say it – girls are smarter. No wonder they kept us out of school for so long, they knew we’d outsmart boys and openly RULE THE WORLD! Bwaha ha ha ha ha HAAAaaaaaah.
But we shed tears and need sanitary napkins, so…
Until then, I get to read my friends Facebook posts about their daughters winning blue ribbons in foreign languages and singing the National Anthem over the school’s loudspeaker while I deal with Zuki’s Social Studies test review: the answers he got wrong.
“What was Italy’s former currency?” Zuki’s answer: no
“What is Italy’s main religion?” Zuki’s answer: Italian
But in Zuki’s defense, Italian could be a religion depending on what kind of Italian you marry. For instance, my husband goes absolutely ape-shit if you proportionately slice a loaf of Italian bread. In his Italianism, you break it off. Never mind the fact that Zuki digs a hole through the middle, leaving a hollow crust – you get what you get and you curse the mother f*cker who hollowed out the bread!
As for Samu – apparently, when the mix of Asian reason is heavier with Italian mentality, you get a scribe:
The last two sentences are: “Look what you’ve done!” and “I’ve heard enough!”
Some people are planners, others are spontaneous. I’m born Year of the Fire Horse, so that means I sporadically do things that should be planned and plan things that should be played by ear. Make sense? Well, neither does my existence…according to my mother.
But some things do work out, no matter how poorly the plan is. For instance, my husband and I decided to have a baby because…we needed a drummer. We had the second little guy because we needed a singer. Lo and behold, Zuki likes to drum and Samu is a non-stop human jukebox. Too bad we can’t be in the same band together because I ain’t gonna be seen playing with a baby Joey Ramone.
I don’t know what’s going on this month but it seems like everybody’s in a funk. Either they’re sick with some virus that makes me stare at them in horror while gasping, “get the hell away from me you contagious freak!” or they’re so dissatisfied with their situation that I’m compelled to hide all the razor blades when they’re around.
Even my friend, who’s integrity and fight for justice rivals Roosevelt and La Guardia combined – is ready to call it quits. She’s ready to enroll her kid into Catholic school because she’s fed up with “the system.” She’s the only one who has the guts to make changes at our school and she’s thinking of throwing in the towel?
I had no choice but to give her the guilt trip. “You will never be free, as long as your brothers and sisters are enslaved,” I told her.
She looked at me as if I had a black hairy mole growing on my right cheek.
Perhaps that was a little overkill. So I tried, “Well, no one said it was going to be easy.” For that, she shrugged her shoulders and nodded her head. I get the feeling I convinced her as much as I convinced Samu with that same line when he complained that he hated school because it was “too hard.”
It’s not hard actually, it’s just a LOT of work. But these days, people want instant results without too much effort. I get it – in fact I’ve made dinner with that concept. It was disastrous. I tried to slap something together by salvaging rock hard lasagne and reheating it in marinara sauce with mushrooms.
“Oh yeah, that was terrible,” Samu recalled.
“So you see, doing things the hard way, staying for the long haul and overcoming a challenge makes your achievement authentic. If you take the easy way – it’s lasagne stew.”
I don’t know if he got it, but he ran off to join his classmates with a smile on his face. He was giddy with the prospect that there’d be fresh snow in the schoolyard when school was out and he tucked away his snow gloves. Unfortunately – it’s raining now – so that ain’t happening. Poor guy. It’s always going to be an uphill battle for him, I think.
That’s fine. You can’t sing the blues unless you’ve lived them and considering the “artists” we have these days, music could stand a little angst.
There are three kinds of receptionists – the lovable “Everybody’s-my-friend” receptionist, who calls you by your first name and knows your kid’s name with their correlated diseases. Then there’s the gauntlet “Everybody’s-a-zombie-killing-competitor” receptionist, who thinks your comments are accusations with hidden codes that you want to get them fired. Finally, there’s the “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” receptionist, who knows you more than your spouse by simply being the attentive middle man. Middle woman. Middle…whatever.
Regardless of three
your receptionist may be,
that person stands between you
and the person you came to see.
Don’t f*ck with them.
Did I intend to write poetry for this post? No. But I did because I have severe cramps this month and it’s turning me into a WWF wrestler (they speak in rhymes like…cave men). After I dropped Samu off at school, I was so relieved there was nothing else to do but go home and rip out my uterus.
According to my friend, that’s a little too much information – but it’s the truth. The reason I’m so cranky? Yesterday, I assisted a beautiful young lady who taught the kids Bollywood dancing during recess. Zuki’s school was fortunate to secure the Unity Stage’s Arts For Recess. They’re local artists who get the kids involved with singing or dancing during indoor recess.
Anyway, I wound up being the DJ for the dancer cuing the song when it was time. She taught each recess period a one minute routine of easy “Bollywood” type steps the kids could master. The song was Jay Ho, from Slumdog Millionaire. It’s an understatement when I say the kids LOVED it.
Even the Assistant Principal was getting his groove on. As for Zuki, who convinced me to volunteer for this show, decided he’d rather watched the radiant Ms. Alicia from the comfort of my lap. But that’s not the reason I’m so cranky – I’m getting to that, will ya?
By the last recess period, I was enjoying the mad house. Recess was a success! All the kids, especially the boys were dancing, they mobbed the stage, they crowded in the aisle but on every single face, was an expression of bliss. As I keyed the song for the last time on the iPod a girl came running up to me yelling, “Can I ask you a question?! Can I ask you something?! Can I?!”
When I gave her the go-ahead she asked, “Can you play ‘Gangnam Style’?”
The times table – that’s what Zuki is being asked to memorize. He forgets his pencils, notebooks, homework, important notices, lunch – he can’t remember his own birth date if he has to include the year or recall names of people he’s known for YEARS…and now he’s got to memorize the times table?!
Yeah. When Geico makes commercials that have something to do with insurance. I hate that obnoxious pig. But that’s a whole other post.
Zuki’s in the third grade and naturally, the State tests are all anybody’s talking about right now. I refuse to be one of those parents who acts like this test is the SAT. If he passes – great. If he fails, I declined from planning anything for this summer in preparation for mandated Summer school anyway – so be it.
But Zuki had a surprise for me.
He said, “If you keep saying I might go to Summer school then I will go to Summer school! You have to ‘encourage’ me to pass the tests. That’s what Mukram says.”
I looked at him in disbelief. Did he just make a stand for himself?
Apparently, Zuki confided with a classmate, Mukram who told Zuki a story about his older brother for an example. Last year, the older brother wasn’t doing too great and had the same doom filled destiny of failing the State exams in the 3rd grade. But Mukram’s parents encouraged the older brother nonetheless – kept telling the older brother he’d do just fine – and “halleYUyah” (as Zuki says). The older brother passed.
Zuki requested that Daddy and I do the same for him.
“Well, I’ll be damned.” I said.
And here I thought my boy simply could not take anything seriously. Now he’s confiding with friends and taking their advice? That’s a milestone for him. Either that, or he’s had me duped all this time. Leading me to think that he was a clueless buffoon and behind my back, he’s calling me a wretched woman.
Samu calls me that to my face – among other names – like “Piss Lady.”
If Samu’s bluntness is just like Daddy’s then Zuki, the slow boiler, takes after me. The difference is, his boil overs gain him results because NONE of my blow ups ever amounted to anything. Then again, mine usually happened when I was going through PMS – so we all know how logical I must’ve come off.
As for Zuki’s request for me to be more encouraging – it’s going to be tough sell on my part because I can’t help but be cynical, but of course, I’ll do it. Even when I’m checking his homework and for the problem that asked, “Write another word for make,” he answered, “Something else for make…” – I’ll tell him he’s going to do just fine.
We are a sick house – again. This time, Zuki has strep throat and Samu has Fifth disease. I know. That’s what I said. Leave it to Samu to come home with an illness I have to Google. Apparently, it also has to be reported to the Department of Health. So now I have to drag my ass back to the doctor’s office to sign a script that announces to the world that strange kids come home with strange diseases – the weirdo.
If they had something crippling, like the flu or a stomach virus, they’d be in bed. They’d be miserable, yes, but that’s what headphones are for. But my guys are not miserable. They’re fine – energetic – even. Samu has a tendency to get crazy when his health is imbalanced. I should thank my lucky stars that his illness doesn’t require antibiotics or worse: steroids. I’d have to chain him to the radiator for that.
I did get a kick out of the other name the doctor called it: Slap Cheek disease. His cheeks are bright pink and bumpy. His face is a little puffy, too. He looks like a clown, to be honest. An incessantly talking midget of a clown. It makes him the worst home school student.
“Samu, read the directions!” I said, for the seventeenth time.
“I can’t – it’s too funny!”
“JUST READ THEM.”
“Okay! HA, HA, HA. It says, HA, HA, HA, ‘read the para-ha, ha, ha – para-ha, ha, ha- paragraph……….Bwah, HA, HA, HA, haaaaa!”
If he’s an eighth this much a pain in the ass in school, then I feel bad that all I got his teacher for Christmas was a pair of cashmere gloves. She must want to slap me with them.
If stubbornness is genetic, then I’m screwed. Samu has made it apparent to me that the trait must get stronger with each generation. Let’s say our tenacity was like the technology of glue, then my grandparents dealt with Elmer’s. My parents – Krazy Glue…and me? I’m dealing with thermoplastic assault hot glue gun.
This first Saturday morning of 2013, Samu started in on his usual “I don’t want to eat this” for breakfast drama. We argued for forty-minutes as he painfully forked miniscule amounts into his mouth like it was crushed glass. When it came down to the very last bite, he refused to finish it.
It was a Breakfast Stalemate.
I told him, “If you don’t eat that last bite, you will never get candy – ever – again.”
To prove I meant business, I recruited Daddy to agree, “No breakfast? No candy. Not at the movies, not at parties, not even the free lollipops from the Bodega-beer-guy.”
Next, I acted on it by taking all the candy he stashed away for a rainy day and threatened to toss it in the trash can. I thought for sure he would break. I expected him to mournfully eat that last bite of breakfast, gag dramatically, and reach out to save his candy. But he didn’t. Instead, he crossed his arms and gave me a look that was meant to kill me.
“Fine,” he said, “I don’t need candy and I’m not going to eat your food – ever – again!”
Samu is so stubborn, he’ll screw himself to screw you.
I followed him to his room and while he changed his clothes – his eyes burned with unbridled determination. He would not. Back. Down. It was so funny, I took his picture – and it made him madder.
He held his grudge for the most part of the day and I tried my best to look at his dead-serious expression without laughing. I’ve dealt with stubborn people before but Samu is relentless. Even when we were food shopping, I reminded him of his lost privileges and all he did was ask for junk: chocolate pop tarts, salt n’ vinegar chips, Cocoa Puffs.
By the time we got home at 3:30 pm he was so starving, even his boogers dried up. I gave him string cheese. Then another. Next a ham and cheese sandwich. A boiled egg. A cup of yogurt and a glass of milk. He may be stubborn but he’s never going to win a hunger strike, that’s for sure.
With a satisfied belly, his mood improved and he apologized to me for the morning’s breakfast challenge. I accepted. Like the fool that I am. Because after he had me all buttered up with hugs and kisses and “you’re the best mommy in the world,” repeated a million times, he sweetened his voice even more and asked, “Can I have my candy back?”