I know that someday you'll find better things.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What happened to you?

"When did you get so weird? How did I raise such a weird person? You weren't always this... weird," she says. And to some degree, my mother is right.

Oh, let's not point the when-finger and count the many, many fingers of how.

Not now.

This weekend, I'm going to fix it all. Time to look to look weird straight in its weird eye and take weird down. 

I'm heading to Austin, capital of both Texas and Weird. My goal is to come back a little more normal.

Well, we looked into weird lodging, and that was a bust for several reasons. But I am confident that I can tackle weird from a suite at the Hampton Inn as easily as I could from an Airstream in someone's backyard or a camper-top of a stranger’s pickup truck. (See www.airbnb.com if you’re intrigued by these and other weird options.)

Side by side, these Hampton Inn post-it notes look suspiciously pre-printed, don't you think? No matter. My portable blacklight will determine the veracity of their mass-produced statement, and if there's even a slight question about the level of cleanliness, I'll wait for them to rewash. Heck, I'll do it myself. 

I'm going to eat weird things. I've even been practicing. I had four chicken wings on Tuesday, so I'm ready. I might have a rib. Or salmon. Or--[gulp]--something prepared by the vendor of a food cart.

For at least ten years, I rode ferris wheels and those giant swings, blue-faced and white-knuckled, calculating my escape strategy for when the ride inevitably broke free. 

At some point, I realized there was a name for the condition AND a cure.
Fear of heights.
Stay off of them.

Apparently, this kind of caution has made me weird.

So, this weekend, I will be skydiving. Later, you'll find me zip-lining over canyons and lakes.

"What?!" Russ exclaimed. "Those are the two things you fear most!" (Besides germs, Muppets, kidnapping, drowning, and fires, he graciously did not add.)

But I explained--calmly, rationally-- that this was the New Me.

Either I will live to tell about it, or I will die. 
And if I die, at least I'll die knowing I was right about the life-threatening dangers of these pursuits.

Also, I plan to be dangerously close as ten gazillion winged rats explode out from under a bridge at sunset. I bet they'll poop all over me. I might not even bring an umbrella. Because, you know, that would be weird.

We shall see.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Lesson in Sacrifice?

I keep thinking about the vast number of illegal immigrants who are willing to risk everything-- even sacrifice their lives-- to get their children the better education that they believe our country can provide. I, too, am so very deeply unsatisfied with my kids' school experience. What am I willing to sacrifice? Where do I turn?

Years ago, we made the necessary changes to move to this neighborhood specifically for this school--this exemplary-rated, blue-ribbon, excellent school in the very district where we taught. 

We've now had experience with all five grades, and the outcome has been less than impressive. Less than disheartening, if such an emotion exists.

I have five years worth of stories of unprofessionalism that would make your soul cringe. For five years, we attributed it to flukes, duds, and exceptions. 

It's time to say enough.

This past year was particularly taxing on my conscience, which was likely due to quitting wine. My spirit ached with guilt to see my once-passionate, insatiably curious learner come home day after day, unengaged and uninspired. By the end of the year, her desire was practically dormant. 

Dormant, I hope, and not extinguished.

I can't stand by and watch my seven-year-old's love of learning be sacrificed any longer.

Every day--then and now--I find myself considering options and trying to determine just how much I'd be willing to sacrifice for the guarantee of an improved situation.

Transfer list in the district? No availability, no guarantee that we won't get a dud.

Private school? Cost, transportation, and we could still get a dud.

Getting a job at a private school and doing anything--anything--in exchange for free or reduced tuition? Daily fluorescent-induced migraines, and we could still get a dud.

Driving daily to her dad's neighborhood, 35 miles each way, to enroll her in his neighborhood school? Cost, transportation, and we could still get a dud.

Selling the house and moving to a different town and district? Still no guarantees.

Another option exists, but I've been reluctant to consider it.
I'm not afraid of the curriculum needs or supporting her academically.
I'm not unwilling to reallocate the tasks of my daytime hours-- it has always and only been about serving my family, anyway.

It's meeting her social needs that terrifies me most.

I'm an introvert raising an extrovert. We could not be more distant on the social spectrum, and the responsibility of embedding her into a social community makes me ill.

If she had her druthers, she'd join every club, compete in every science fair, and participate in every talent show. Heck, she's asked annually since age three to audition for America's Got Talent. The only setback is that we haven't discovered a talent, yet somehow this does not deter her desire. (Perhaps you remember the "playing the drinks" incident or the more recent tennis debacle.)

Here it is, late July, and I am still agonizing.
What am I willing to sacrifice?
Where will I turn?