Tag Archives: Homework

Sometimes…


Sometimes I don’t want to wear the big boy pants. Especially when I’m not feeling so adult, or even competent.
I need to listen more, and to learn not to spread myself so thin. I get caught up in things, enthusiastic, and sometimes will go off without completely understanding what I’m trying to accomplish, or why.

There are times when I miss key details. Because I want to badly to DO GOOD. To be PART OF THINGS.
“Yeah,” you say, “don’t we all?”

Well, yeah. But I’ve been a certified “weird person” all of my life. Couldn’t help it. I’m still a misfit most places. Hell, everywhere. Continue reading

where it’s at


Oops. Well, I forget to post here for a bit. There was way too much life happening. Some of it had to do with the increasingly wayward child, some of it had to do with deadlines (most of them self-imposed), some of it had to do with other folks. During the last month or so, we’ve had to relocate for two days so that the complex could spray for bugs (seems to have worked), I’ve finalized the cover and contents of my book. somehow finagled renewing most of my web properties despite not having enough  money to do so (I spent the money on eating out during the two days we were in the hotel), and cooked a semi-gourmet meal damn near every night.

Did see the new pulmonologist. He spewed some hope, saying that there had to be some reason why the scarring in my lungs isn’t healing, and they’re not returning to full capacity. The last guy said that to, and tried to put me on the Atkins diet to fix it.

Wrong answer. I distrust fad diets, and, though I’m sure he had his reasons for recommending that (mostly having to do with my weight), I have my own reasons not to do it. We’ll talk about willful disobedience later. though, and in another context.

Continue reading

Speak To Me (Breathe)


An old Pink Floyd title sums it up best.

Lately we’ve had a rash of not-really-well-thought-out remarks, on all sides. It makes things rancorous and the drama expands exponentially. Each tiny verbal molehill carries the potential to evoke a spate of vitriolic invective.

It could be a coincidence that two out of the three of us are sick with a cold or flu. Just maybe.

But my wife feels that I’ve been guilty of it, too, especially regarding the child. She wants me to lighten up some, to not have such an impossible standard.

She may be right. I honestly don’t know. But I’m willing to try things her way.

Couldn’t hurt.

This flu, on the other hand, is a bastard. I’ve been sick since Thursday, and sick SICK like lying down most of the time since Friday. The kid got just a brush of it, or so it seems, but the wife is down for the count-has been sleeping for the last four hours.

It’s one of those that comes complete with fever and chills and is mostly body ache and congestion. Really debilitating sort of symptoms. Just nasty, no fun. I’m hoping to see the end of it soon–I’ve been moving around a little, and my doctor is coming for her monthly visit this afternoon, so I’ll have some professional opinion to bring to bear.

It’d be nice to get shed of it.

Anyway, while I’m able to move around, I’ve been piddling with the book and with the new tracks, just polishing and brainstorming really. Just to keep my hand in, keep my brain going.

Though it would surprise some people, I am taciturn by nature. I don’t require much communication, and my wife and I both have that type of personality whose happiness is expressed as quiet satisfaction.

The rabbits would seem to concur, and the cats also. We are all quiet beings, going through our days with a minimum of noise or movement. Just as much activity as necessary, conserving energy for when it’s needed.

The birds, not so much. They twitter back at the tv when it’s on, making fun of newscasters and other talking heads, and rooting for the teams that wear green or blue uniforms. They get loud sometimes, but I don’t think it would be as prominent in a larger space. Our apartment is tiny.

I’m really hoping I get well soon so that I can transfer my computer and these boxes and my guitars into the master bedroom, even if I have to stack everything like cordwood. This so we can get the child, now variously named Brook, Nicky, and Pita, into her own space, where she can babble happily to the bunnies and her zillions of stuffed animals.

My stars, does that kid blabber. She does it all the time, as soon as she gets happy. She starts just talking, about anything and everything, and singing tunelessly or humming loudly. She calls all the animals “baby” and wants to fee them every ten minutes.

Don’t dare get up! For you will have a tail anxiously inquiring about a s-n-a-c-k or can-we-go-to-the-pool? This last hasn’t been done for a week as it is the prime penalty of disobedience or misbehavior, and I’ve been sick to boot.

I’d like to have a swim myself. My incision has healed, though the navel still swells with fluid from time to time and will likely need some attention. I’d at least get in the water for a few minutes. I dunno how long I could go without oxygen at present:it’s hard to take a shower without the cannula right now because of the coldfluey thing.

But the kid just can’t curb herself, which goes back to the premise of communication, or the lack of it, my main hobbyhose in life. She has no impulse control whatsoever. Not the slightest shred of self-discipline, at least not for more than a few seconds at a time.

She’s never had any rules to speak of, and it’s damnably hard to get to to stick to any. The consequence of ANYTHING is that she gets attention for a bit.

You understand. There’s literally mustard on this kid. She spilled it on herself. She’s more of a hotdog than notorious bad sport Willie Montanez.

Diva.

Her teacher told her to wait ten seconds before she says anything, in order to get her to consider her words.

She doesn’t. She just stops talking. It looks like she just vegetates, counting to ten, and then turns the spout back on again.

When she’s by herself, the stream is nonverbal. It’s kind of disturbing, like we’re raising a feral child.

It’s really like that.

I’m thinking that sign language is an option.

“Brook” knows the sign for “I love you”, though in her hands it often becomes the Dio devil horns. She flashes it and she says it often, which, as said previously, is the greatest thing ever.

But she broke her new scooter trying to adjust the handlebar so she could do wheelies, which would probably break the cheap aluminum piece of junk anyway. That doesn’t matter to her. She has no concept of the value of anything and as so is completely generous. She had four dollars Friday morning.

She came home broke with a Code Red slurpee and told my wife about her three new friends. It wasn’t hard to put together what happened. It probably went something like this:

Brook opens folder, with envelope containing $4.11. The girl sitting next to her sees it.

“Wow, Brook, what’s that?”

“My money. I’m going to Circle K after school and get a slurpee.”

“Lucky you. I don’t have any money.” Chin hangs down dejected.

Gulli-bull “I’ll get you one.”

I’m sure you can fill in the rest.

It’s amazing that she didn’t try to spend more than she had. Maybe there are some math skills, laying in wait, just waiting for a trigger to evoke them.

I hope so.

I can’t wait to get back to work. Since I don’t have much company, and can’t get out as much as I want because of the oxygen and there being nowhere nearby worth going to, my writing has become the bulk of my conversation.

As much as she loves to to babble, I’m hoping to get Brook to learn and love her words. That would be a fine gift, I think. The Mrs. can give her the numbers.

We started Wind in the Willows recently. Today I hope to alternate a chapter or two, depending on how well my throat holds up.

Metaphysical Wet Willie


Every so often the universe gives you a poke, says “Hi! You’re it!” You’re about to have one of those days.

You know what I’m talking about. You rip your sock while pulling it on, lock yourself out of the house, knock things over for no reason. You’re two days late and four dollars short and the coffee tastes like bleach or blech.

The universe gives you a metaphysical wet willie just to remind you that it’s around.

I had one of those days today.

It started innocently enough. I awoke, saw the girls off to school and work, and sat waiting for the oxygen tank delivery man. The oxygen tank delivery company isn’t very good at communicating when they might arrive. Typically the new tanks come at around 2 pm, on alternate Thursdays, because I only call every two weeks, and they only deliver on Thursday in this zip code.

There was this huge bulge at the top of the birdcage. That meant that I had to get up from my doze and investigate. That can be bad news sometimes, the getting up thing. I have a couple aches and pains, and the meds hadn’t kicked in yet.

I put my glasses on and approached the birdcage, which is about five feet tall and three wide. I gingerly lifted the outer and inner coverings, to reveal a large orange cat sleeping contentedly atop the cage, his weirdly crooked tail draped over the bars.

Hard to believe the birds didn’t cause a ruckus and wake me up. But okay, I knew what the hump was. I let him sleep. He doesn’t really bother the birds. Ladybird wouldn’t allow that.

I went and fixed me a cuppa, and sat back down, leaned back, and grooved to a 70s game show for a bit, the pain meds starting to creep in around the edges. I had a couple of puffs to help that happen.

Started drifting off. My sore-for-no-apparent-reason shoulder stopped hurting. I got floaty.

The phone rang.

I had to get up and get it. I brought it back with me, just in case. I answered it.

“Do your homeowner’s bills got you down?”

I hung up. “We rent,” I muttered to the air.

I sat down again, in my plush black leather recliner. I sipped just a little coffee, dropped the tv volume down a notch. The birds were still reasonably quiet. I had a puff or two.

Developed a kink in my neck. That made my left arm hurt, really sharp and somewhere around the rotator cuff. Hurt right down into my fingers. I have a pinched nerve or something. It had been hurting most of the night, most of the last two days, and for a stretch before that. I keep forgetting to call the doc because life gets busy even if you’re sitting quietly by yourself sometimes.

I shrugged and called in the reinforcements. Four ibuprofen and a percocet. Another atavan. I was damn tired and was gonna get a little rest. By now it was almost nine.

“Just another couple of hours,” I begged.

I drifted off presently. I was the last man in the universe, sitting in my chair.

A knock came at the door.

My therapist.

Hooray.

We talked in a directionless sort of fashion for an hour, just having a conversation with no real subject guidance. That was actually okay, but I’d rather have been sleeping.

I sucked down another coffee while this was going on, to keep myself engaged. So, by the time he left, I was wide awake, but still muzzy around the edges.

I decided to get some lunch, maybe an omelet. Rinsed off the dinner dishes, put them in the dishwasher, ran the machine, went back and sat down.

Started editing a recent manuscript, forgot about lunch. Finished about one, when the oxygen man finally called to say he was in the area.

Didn’t save the edit.

While I was moving the fourteen tanks out onto the stoop, the cats turned off the computer.

That was all before the girlchild came home.

Bratty doesn’t begin to describe her bahavior. She was willfully disobedient from the git-go. It took two and a half hours to make five flash cards with the words “Respect“, “Cooperation”, “Effort”, “Responsibility” and “Patience” on them.

Four of the cards had no lines drawn on them. I drew lines so that she could print on them. Unlined cards were just right out.

She “forgot” what the actual assignment was. She drew a box around “Respect” for no reason that she could tell me, putting on the pouty face and fidgeting instead.

When I opened the dishwasher to get a glass, she said “Are those dishes fully clean?” In a sardonic tone, as if she were eating from food-encrusted dishes all of the time.

This led to a discussion of what “respect” meant, in her words, with many attempts to change the subject or play with the cat or do anything other than learn.

Finally done with the first card, she wrote the second. Asked what the definition of “patience” was, she replied that it was “being patient”. This of course led to conversation, with examples, and finally to some sort of understanding on her part. It dragged on so long I started making dinner, Sloppy Joe and hand-cut fries, quick and easy.

After we finished the cards, she took a break, talked to the rabbits for a bit, and then we tried to read.

Utter disaster. She refused to sound out words, instead trying to tell me that she grew jealous when my wife and I would talk to each other while she was watching one of her Disney or Nick shows. That she felt ignored because we weren’t paying attention to her 24/7.

So completely, unfathomably, immature that I put her in the corner, which I hate to do. But it’s the only thing that’s effective. She cried big crocodile tears too.

I released her just before my wife came home, so she wouldn’t be squished in the door.

The food was on the table. We had no food-time war. The child piled sloppy joe on half of a bun, got a tablespoon of vegetables, wolfed it down, put her plate in the sink, and went to wash her hands.

The chip on her shoulder just got bigger as the night went on. More time in the corner, more crocodile tears, more pouty.

Two steps back for every step forward, it seems sometimes.

At the end of the day, I relaxed to some music. Probably up too late, but what are ya gonna do?

Here’s a selection of my things:

moderan

 

Degree of Difficulty


Second day of eight-year-old walking herself home from school. I step out onto the front porch to see her coming, wave, and then duck back in to make sure the cats, who have been bunching up around my ankles, are all still inside.
This leads to trying to silence the dishwasher, which has suddenly begun clanking. I find the lost spoon and place it in a reservoir, thinking “that child oughta be here by now”. Had an oxygen tank from earlier errands, still half-gassed, so I strapped that on and popped out to see if something shiny had happened.

Child was nowhere to be seen.

“Maybe she came in the back way,” I say, and unlock the patio door. I step out through the back and follow the sidewalk to the mailbox nook, where the open back gate is.

No child. I retrace my steps, go back through the place and up the walk toward the main drag.

I find her two doors away, facing a closed door with a blank look on her face.

“I was knocking,” she says, clutching a half-sheet of paper with our address written on it.

I indicate the paper, and then the address on the door she’s facing. “Not sure if those folks are home. Our house is over here.”

We repair to our rooms. Okay, so she flubbed. No big. Her all red-faced, clasping a giant soda to her skinny little chest. We sit down at the kitchen table-homework comes first.

“I was on “green” all day today,” she announces (she had been in small trouble the previous three days, for talking while the teacher was talking, and refusing to do the classwork).

“Very good,” I say.

She’s pulling her “agenda” notebook out of her backpack. No homework folder. I ask after that item.

“I forgot it,” she says. I’m a little suspicious. I open the agenda notebook, to see what the homework was supposed to be. Word cards, she was supposed to make word cards, like math flash cards. I smell a rat.

The girl does not like reading. She is not very good at it. But she did well yesterday.

“Well,” I say, “we’ll read some. Your assignment says 20 minutes a day. We should be able to finish your book (Good Enough to Eat, by Brock Cole) today. I started yesterday–you start today.”
She begins, haltingly, sounding the words out to herself, sort of. It takes a lot of prompting to get through the first page. Then my turn, and the next. We never finished her next turn.

She had a “make-me” fit. Gave me the face, told me “reading is hard. Things are hard. It’s too hard for me to walk home from school. I was tired before I left.”

She’s rubbing her eyes and staring at something invisible in the near distance, alternately, making the pouty face.

“Soooo, reading is hard. And things are hard. Everything is hard until you do it for a while. Then it gets easier.”

I understand what she’s trying to do. She’s trying to create an excuse, to be let off the hook, like she has some kind of medical condition. She indicates several small scratches, two on her chest and one on her thumb, that she says Buster gave her, unprovoked. “I showed these to my teacher today,” she announces.

“And why did you do that?” I ask.

Stone face. Prompting eventually elicits the “I-dont-know” response. “They hurt,” she says.

“Scratches sometimes do,” I reply, not unkindly. “So why did Buster scratch you?” Maybe I could get at the truth.

“He just did.” Buster isn’t that kind of cat. He doesn’t scratch unless he has a good reason.

“I see. So what do you suggest we do about the walking-home thing? I’m not able to come and get you. Do you want me to meet you at Main st.?” (this isn’t the name of the street, but you get the idea)

“Yes.”

Thursday is when my oxygen tanks are delivered. There isn’t any particular timetable-they’re not that organized. I wait whole days, sometimes. This is why she’s been set to the task of walking herself to and from school in the first place-I can’t leave the apartment.

“I guess I’ll just have to watch for you from the door. I can’t leave because of the tank delivery.” She knows this. “You know that.”

She makes the pouty face.

I make the pouty face back. “Are we gonna have a staredown now?”

She looks away. “Okay. So we’ve established that you don’t want to watch tv or go to the pool today,” I begin. “And we’re starting to work on the special thing (the scooter I’ve ordered for her).

“So tell me, what is it that you want to do? You wanted to learn to tap-dance, right?”

She nods.

“And learn Karate. And Spanish. Are you under the impression that these are all easy things?”

Realization waps her between the eyes.

She looks at me, with a tear beginning to form where she’s been rubbing the eye.

“Yes. To me they’re easy.”

“I see. So you don’t need to learn them then. Fine.” I sit back in my chair.

“And songs,” she continues. “I want to write songs. That’s easy for me.”

I stifle a laugh, mostly.

“Sing your song for me,” I say.

“I wrote half of one,” she says.

“Sing it to me.”

“I don’t remember it.”

“Don’t you think you should learn to read and write so that this doesn’t happen again?” She can print some, but doesn’t have any real facility.

“Yes. But it’s hard. I can play guitar, that’s easy.”

Picture me incredulous. “Cool. I’ll go get my guitar, and you can show me.”

“I can play a couple of notes,” she says.

Reality has intruded yet again.

“I can see that we’re done reading for the day. You have chores.”

She has an erasable whiteboard with two chores on it. Her job is to sweep the bunny area and under the birdcage, and to feed and water the bunnies.

“Sweeping is too hard.”

I can see where this is going. “So what task would you rather perform?”
“Mopping,” I’m told.

“You have to sweep first,” I point out.

Pouty face.

“Get the broom.” I go turn off the tv, for there won’t be any Disney or Nick Jr today. Probably no swimming. I’d opt for go to bed without dinner but that’s not an option these days.

Kids.