Saturday, September 10, 2016

Academicus Meritus Exceptus

So, week 3 of school is down! The kids are settling in- the emotional joys of schooling are no longer bottoming out into emotional pits of overwhelmed despair in the evenings when we say terrible things like "please put your shoes away" or "it's time for dinner."

Anniversary flowers! Hand-delivered by James and the kids

So that's good.

On the less good side, this week was maybe not our best showing academically. It started on Thursday morning when Claire presented us with her spelling test from the week before - a test with a 40 emblazoned at the top with a lie of a smiley face sticker right next to her grade. Claire, having no idea this number was not the goal, was confused when James turned to me and said, "wait, is this out of a hundred?!". I quickly realized this was really our bad. We never even looked at Claire's spelling list. As parents of a third grader, you'd think we knew what we were doing when it comes to elementary school homework and quizzes, but Landon is something of a unique case and so we're actually coming from behind here and our cheerful, school-loving, optimistically overconfident Clairebear who totally thought she nailed that spelling test, paid the price.

Back when Landon was in first grade we learned it was an exercise in futility and frustration for all of us to go over his spelling list. He claimed he already knew the words, we found that was pretty true, and then we were both annoyed when we felt obligated to quiz him anyway. So we made a deal - as long as you get a 100 on your tests we'll never talk about spelling. And so for the last two years, that's held true. He's always gotten 100's and we've always ignored the existence of spelling lists. And so that has led to Claire bringing home a 40 and James saying absurd things in our kitchen like, "Wait, what's a spelling list?!" and "What, they have one EVERY WEEK?!!"

So. We're going to do better. Also we noticed her words for the current week had been downgraded from "worked," "liked," and "planted" to the more remedial "dad," "rat," and "bat." Oops.

Then! After being told on Wednesday night to put his homework folder in his backpack and then many times Thursday morning to put your homework folder in your backpack, Landon skipped out the door for school on Thursday, leaving his homework folder sitting sad and alone on my beautiful kitchen counters. I had already left for work, so I learned this when James called about 8:10 complaining that "now I'm headed back to school with Landon's homework folder because he forgot it."


No. "No you are not!" I exclaimed. Then, softening my tone as my shock wore off, I said, "we reminded him several times, this is not our failure to fix." James, I think still reeling from our actual spelling failures, noted, "but he'll get a violation!" Yeah, that sounds like a Landon problem, I explained. Claire and her spelling words that she knew she could read but didn't understand she couldn't spell - that's mostly on us. Landon's million-times-reminded homework folder? That's on him.

And so Landon brought home his first ever conduct violations - and it was actually two of them, since he left behind (completed!) homework for two separate classes. What was interesting to me, besides the fact that James had actually planned to bring his folder up to school (this was quite shocking to me; James is generally even more into child independence and setting/demanding high expectations than even I am), was that it clearly never even occurred to Landon we'd bring him his homework. He showed us his violations, explained what they were and why we had to sign, and then noted pretty matter of factly that it wouldn't have happened if he'd put his homework in his backpack the night before like I suggested. Woot! At 9 years old, I still get to be right sometimes. The windows for these opportunities are narrowing. He also remembered that I suggested he pick a free homework pass when he won the good behavior drawing last week, but he picked a bouncy ball instead. I have wisdom!

Also on Thursday night, when I walked in the door from work, Claire ran up and exclaimed, "MOM! We practiced my spelling words TWENTY TIMES!!" Literally nothing could be better than more parent-involved school work after school for Claire, so lucky her, she's going to get all she needs from now on.

In the meantime, Cora continues to rock her puzzle station at school and is thrilled her parents fell for the emotionally manipulative sales tactics of the Stretch N Grow ballet class. All is well in her world, particularly since we're still giving her m&m's every time she uses the potty, something we're going to have to cut off soon because she hasn't had an accident in 8 days and I swear she's started to parcel out tiny bits of pee just to rack up more m&m's. I would in no way put that past her.

delighted at how well the old 12-24 month unicorn costume completed the outfit

I continue to get my flesh eaten by daily chemotherapy cream. I had to go shopping last weekend for more high-necked tops. This was Monday's ensemble. You can't even tell I might have a highly contagious skin disease.

And it's spreading. Apparently the cream spreads out to attack other previously invisible cancerous and precancerous cells. So far it's spread to about 10x the size of the original, visible basal cell. The doctor assured me it wouldn't affect "good" skin, but since every surface it touches turns bright red and bumpy, I'm wondering if (1) I don't actually have any "good" skin left; and/or (2) I should just rub it all over my body so it can light up like a giant cancer map. Except I don't have enough ice packs for that- I held one against my skin of fire last night while eating pad Thai with the other and wishing I had a third to hold my wine.

wear sunscreen

Also last night, before I found myself on the couch with my ice pack v. Thai food v. wine dilemma, we had our school picnic! So fun. James played 4-square for 2.5 hours. Even 4-square obsessed Landon had to tap out for a bit and go bounce in a bounce house just to mix things up. But James played, and played hard, the whole time we were there. He showed off all his 1980's schoolyard tricks, his UT swim team 6-square moves, and stood in line with a bunch of 4-foot tall elementary school kids waiting his turn to play again after he got out. It was adorable.

Adorable and very serious.

School Picnic 4-Square from Lag Liv on Vimeo.

The girls toured the bounce houses and then did a lot of dancing. Cora observed for a while and then jumped in, bopping around with the rest of them.

I stood under the spirit sales tent, smiling at people and keeping the other PTA ladies company while they did all the actual work.

I love our school.

And now I'm off to teach barre. You wouldn't find it off-putting if your instructor covered all of her exposed skin in band-aids right? They're going to go so beautifully with my rainbow pants.


  1. Holy crap. A violation? In the 3rd grade? Sounds like he's in reform school or something.

    I was a very conscientious kid but still made an occasional mistake. That violation paperwork would've modified me.

    So sorry you're going thru the skin cancer thing. It looks painful. Do they check it at some point to make sure it's not infected? Or give any instructions about what types of symptoms they'd want you to come in for a check?

    1. Meant to say mortified me not modified

    2. A violation is what you get for violating any classroom rule and turning in daily homework is a classroom rule. As they explained at Meet the Teacher night, they use a warning system for all other rules - talking when the teacher is talking, following directions, etc, before you get a violation, but they consider all students (and parents) duly "warned" about daily homework so it goes straight to the violation. I agree with this completely- I was also a conscientious kid, but if I chose not to put a folder in my backpack after being asked at least 6x by my parents I would have earned it. Plus, you can get up to 5 while still keeping your "E" (excellent/highest) conduct grade, so there's room for error, and I very much like the forward-looking "what will I do to avoid this in the future" line and the fact the kids have to sit down and think and write it out by themselves. Landon took it all with grace - he cares, but he's not upset about it. My impression from the other parents when we were all joking about it at the picnic last night is their kids have been the same.

      And yeah, the skin cancer thing is super painful. I've had it checked and have another in 3 weeks. Sadly, this is exactly how it's supposed to look if you have a bunch more cancerous cells like apparently I do.

  2. We were just chatting with friends who potty-trained their almost-two-year-old this summer, and they said she totally parceled out her pee to get more M&Ms.

  3. Oof. That looks painful. I'm sorry.