Tuesday, August 15, 2017

First day of kindergarten

Ah, the moment every parent dreams of! My first child's first day of school. It was a short one - just a big meeting for the parents in which every child was called up to meet their teacher and go visit their classroom for a few minutes. They filled us in on the emphasis on having an "emotionally responsive classroom" and teaching unity and empathy.  The BF went with me and we both kept side-eyeing each other whispering, "this is so not what school was like when I was a kid," as in, people actually give a shit about kids these days. At my most optimistic I can't help but believe all this emphasis on empathy and children's emotional health has got to mean good things for the future. Right??

I did not tear up until I remembered a story about the Ukrainian tradition of the oldest child walking the youngest child into school. I saw this in a documentary and it slayed me, it was just so charming. 

Today was just an introduction, however. Tomorrow is the real deal - needing to be there on time at 8:00 AM, lunch and snack at the ready, and in school until 2:30. I feel like we're on the precipice of a whole new life. Probably because we are. 



After school I dutifully made this lemon meringue pie as promised. Theo was not a fan but Bobby dug it. 



And now...back to work!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Last hurrah

Today we had our last hurrah before school officially starts in LAUSD tomorrow. With summer camp over and no child care available, I opted some time ago to just take us all to the beach for the day. So to the beach we went. We are now all sunburnt, sandy, and tired, but happy. Big improvement on my last post, indeed. Fortunately for me those dark nights of the soul don't last long.





Sunday I dutifully went to Target and bought my child a light up Star Wars back pack with a matching lunch bag (box?) and a huge IKEA bag full of school supplies as requested by his new teacher via letter. His new teacher, Ms. S, sent us a letter last week welcoming Bobby to her class and telling us all about herself. Pretty cool, huh?

As with everything in young Bobby's life, I so hope that he has a better time of it than I did. When I was five, my newly divorced mother, older sister and I had moved to the small community outside of Boston called Squantum, and I remember walking the couple of blocks to their elementary school for kindergarten. My teacher was a paunchy middle aged lady named Mrs. P with a wicked Southie accent who once put bruises on my arm grabbing me away from something and told my mother I was "sneaky". Ah, the seventies. She did not care for me and the feeling was mutual. Something tells me Ms. S is going to be a vast improvement.

I went to a kindergarten mixer at a local park on Sunday which was a bit of a disappointment. We were so late due to driving around for twenty minutes looking for parking that by the time we finally dragged our asses a mile from our remote parking spot all the introductions had been made and everyone was standing around talking in small groups with zero interest in meeting or talking to anyone else. I walked up to a woman I recognized from a Facebook moms group and introduced myself but she very rudely blew me off. So I just sat alone and watched the kids play. Eventually a lady came to talk to me who insisted on pronouncing France "Frahnce" but she was pleasant enough so I was willing to overlook that. She said she and her husband are actors. Ah, LA.

Anyway, tomorrow is just two hours at the school with me there the whole time so it hardly counts as a first day - Wednesday is the real deal, with an early start time (8AM), lunch and snack needed, and a full day. 

I promised to make the kids a lemon meringue pie after school. Hopefully it's the beginning of many after school treats in their future. 

So long, summer!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The only way out is through

Today I sat on the floor and sobbed with my three-year-old.

If this was a movie, it would start with an unsettling scene of a haggard middle aged woman sobbing on the kitchen floor while her small child sits across from her, also sobbing. Then the scene would suddenly start rewinding to how it all started and why they ended up this way. And hopefully by the end the viewer will say, "oh yeah, I can see that now."

It's never one thing, it's always a series. Mainly, I'm stressed out. I desperately want my event to just fucking be over already so I can stop this 24/7 work cycle. But it's like labor - wishing it away won't make it so. The only way out is through. So I have to suffer about three more weeks before I get any relief. The very thought of that alone makes me want to choke on self-pitying sobs. The very weight of this event - the high expectations, the masses of people, the millions of details I have to get just right, the having to be gracious and thankful and feign excitement for weeks - it's all utterly exhausting.

Some guy filed a fraud claim with PayPal when I refused to give him a refund - the way PayPal is set up, since I'm not sending a physical item out that can be tracked through a mail carrier, when someone says they "didn't receive the item" I have no choice but to just give them their money back. So basically he asked for a refund on his purchase of a weekend pass because he won't be able to attend, I told him the refund period was over but he could keep it for next year or transfer it to someone else, he wrote back whining that he didn't want to come next year and didn't know anyone who wanted it and couldn't I just make an exception for him. He emailed yesterday; this morning I find he's filed a fraud claim stating that my refund cut off date is 9/1. It is 7/31. I had no choice but to give him his money back, but sent him a strongly worded email that I didn't appreciate him lying to PayPal about my refund policy and filing a fraud claim when I already told him no, and to please never attend in the future. He then wrote back that he thought that what he had bought was a contest fee (which can be refunded any time), which is total bullshit since why wouldn't he have brought that to my attention first? "Wait, I paid for a contest, it says I can get that refunded any time!" Everything is so clearly worded that he fucking knew he bought a weekend pass - it is called a weekend pass - he was just trying to pull a fast one. I am so sick of these gas lighting, entitled mother fuckers. Between him and the guy I banned calling me playing all dumb like he's never had anyone complain about him when meanwhile he's been banned from practically every event in LA. Do they all think I'm stupid??? Apparently! So that was how my day started.

Then a litany of other frustrations/stressers/fears too numerous to go into. Then I'm finally at the Y trying to squeeze in a desperately needed workout that I'd been looking forward to all week, and ten minutes into it Theo shits his pants in the childcare room, despite the fact that we had just been on the toilet ten minutes before. Have I mentioned that both kids have been continually shitting their pants for weeks? I mentioned that, right?

Well, I just snapped. I grabbed him out of there, cleaned him up for the millionth time, threw us on the car, marched him upstairs, and then took two stars off of his potty chart while he watched helplessly and sobbed. At that point I just lost it and collapsed and sobbed, too.

I want all of it to stop. The shitty, entitled customers, the endless hypervigilance and drudgery of work preparing for this thing while simultaneously dropping every ball and forgetting important details, the kids who don't listen and won't eat anything and crap their pants and whine and complain. I want everything to just fuck right off. 

After the jarring opening to this movie, we see the haggard middle aged mother take her sobbing child onto her lap, tell him she loves him and she's sorry she scared him, and that everything is going to be ok. Then they read books together for a while until the kid is happy and bouncing around like nothing happened. 

I hope he never remembers this horrible day. Unfortunately I don't think I'll be able to forget it anytime soon.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Last week of summer schedule

It's our final week of summer camp. Bobby starts kindergarten next Tuesday. By "starts" I mean goes there for two hours with me present, then the real schedule starts on Wednesday. I also found out that camp ends for Theo but then his morning preschool (that he's not even signed up for yet) doesn't start until the following week. So it's going to be a tricky week all around. No care for anyone next Monday so I am going to take us to the beach as a celebratory "last hurrah", and then just two hours Tuesday with me there, too, so basically with the weekend I have four days of full child care in a row, right when I need to be working the most. Ugh.

I so wish I could expend more mental energy on this huge, emotional transition to kindergarten. I don't feel like I'm giving this moment the weight it deserves. But I'm doing the best I can. I'll be there for him, I promised I'd whip up a lemon meringue pie for him that day, and buy him a new backpack. This is where I suddenly become a working mother. I just can't get a good balance right now. Work has to take precedence. It just does - if we want to keep this roof over our heads. 

A woman in my neighborhood moms Facebook group posted last week that she had toured our summer camp and was horrified by what she saw and "so sad for the kids there" (which included my two kids). Several of us, alarmed, asked for details, which she gave, and which made me go "meh". Let's put it this way - there are two kinds of mothers. There are the protective mothers who think hands-off mothers are horrible, neglectful abusers; then there's hands-off mothers who think the protective mothers are hovering, smothering enablers. I fall mostly into the hands-off category (surprise, surprise); if my kids aren't being actively engaged and included in things, hugged and kissed by minimum wage earning caretakers who have other shit to do, and occasionally barked at for not listening...ummm...I'm kind of ok with that. If my kids were sad or not wanting to go there, I would absolutely listen to them and remove them. But they both say they like it, are sad it's ending, and want to go back next summer. So I really think it's ok. It's not for every style of parent, and that's ok, too. But boy did everyone get all up and defensive in that thread! Hoo boy! I declined to comment. Opinions are very polarized about this place - I can only go with how my kids are doing there. And they are happy. So I'm happy.

Yesterday we had a family beach trip to Malibu. Mostly it was a giant pain in the ass. However, like most pain in the ass outings with small children, everyone had a good time overall and came home exhausted and happy. In a rare moment when the Pacific wasn't freezing cold, I had a lovely swim, thanks to having another adult there to watch the kids. That one swim was enough to make me feel like no matter how stressful this summer has been and will continue to be, it at least has had its moments. 



Sunday, July 30, 2017

When it rains...

Man oh man, what a kerfuffle. So many fucked up things happened this weekend I don't even know where to begin. Here's a list.

One of the guys I kicked out of my Hall of Fame trash talked my event on FB. Not the end of the world, but annoying.

Another huge scandal in our dance world involving an east coast ballroom. It affects me because I know and care about the people involved, and the person being accused of really horrendous stuff is going to be an instructor at my event this year AND inducted into my Hall of Fame, which I had just announced a few days ago. This scandal is all anyone can talk about. I had no idea if I should fire her or not...until thankfully she emailed me this morning asking to not attend. I will lose money on her flight but that's ok. I'm in the process of removing her from all my web materials and replacing her classes. I'm sure some people will judge me for taking her out of the Hall of Fame inductees list, but the rule is I don't award people unless they're present. Still, my event was mentioned a few times in all this mess. Let's just say massive damage control required on my part over things that have nothing to do with me. Awesome.

Then one of the guys I banned calls me on the phone to "tell me his side of the story" of sexual assault allegations so I'll reconsider and let him back into the event. I pretty much yelled at him for twenty minutes that he's been a fucking menace for twenty years and everyone knows it. He tried to pull all sorts of manipulative bullshit with me like "I thought you were a fair person" and "I should be able to face my accusers". No, not when many people have accused you over the years, sorry. I guess all these women lied about Bill Cosby because they're all crazy too, huh? Sure.

Then my estranged mother emails me (I haven't heard from her in about two years) to once again explain how terrible her childhood was and how my sister and I just don't understand what she went through. I took the opportunity to respond with *some* kindness (I do have empathy for her experiences, I really do) but also recounted for her the things she did in 2006 that started this estrangement and how damaging they were and how I don't trust her and have no interest in contact with her. I've been wanting to say this for eleven years, and it felt good.

The boys have both been really difficult the last few days - I found myself shouting "you need to behave better! You're both driving me nuts!" the other night and throwing them in their room; they both have been shitting their pants all week, and had zero understanding that the reason I wouldn't let them have treats was because they need to not shit their pants (I cleaned four sets of shitty underwear today. FOUR) despite my having explained it 800 times. I find myself having to make them repeat things back to me now, and they NEVER know what I said, ever. They do not listen. Why did the children put beans in their ears when the one thing we told them they must never do is put beans in their ears???

Parenting is sucking right now. Every summer they kind of need to disappear so I can work, and yet they never seem to comply with this. 

Still. As I put them to bed I told them I loved them even if they shit their pants. See? Unconditional love, right there. Something I never knew as a kid. So I guess I'm doing something right.



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

45, 2, and the Kauai Kurse

The good news is, the Kauai Kurse is broken. I had a really lovely trip. Not without some hiccups of course - first day was spent entirely trying to replace the BF's broken iPhone (no Apple or T Mobile stores on the island), and our return flight was repeatedly delayed until we arrived at home twelve hours later than expected. Again, thank god for flexible babysitters!

The BF and I traveled well together, which was a big relief. As much as I was kind of boy friended-out by the end of the trip (really just dying for some alone time which I usually get plenty of), we thankfully had similar travel styles - go with the flow, let's hop some fences and explore, let's push ourselves a little kind of travel. I had to be in charge of planning/booking/arranging everything, but I don't have a problem with that. Hey, that's how you get to do all the shit you want to do, right?





Highlight for both of us was definitely climbing down to Wailua Falls and swimming in it. That was spectacular. On my birthday, Monday, we took an all-day boat tour of the Napali Coast that honestly wasn't all that. Just got banged around on a rough boat ride all day with some sub-par snorkeling. Meh. In retrospect I wish we'd spent the whole day on a beach. But I'm glad I got to do all new things compared to previous trips. 

As mentioned, I turned 45 on Monday.



Since I refuse to share the number 45 with Drumpf, I will be recording my age in months for the next year.

At 45, my mother was marrying for the third time, and had a 25 and 15 year old.

At 45, my grandmother had a 15 and 14 year old, and was divorcing her philandering alcoholic husband.

At 45, I have five and three year olds with an anonymous donor and a live-in boyfriend whom I may never marry. Or might, who knows?

There was some speculation amongst my friends that he may propose to me on this trip - I figured it was pretty unlikely. I'm not really ready for that - I need more time, and he needs to get his shit together a bit more. We may find out we're neither the marrying types, and that's ok. 

We celebrated two years together over a nice dinner, and it was grand.

Right now I've seriously got the blues on return. Hawaii has that effect on people. I had a good sob on the plane coming home when they kept playing sweet Hawaiian music and still feel very emotional. The only positive is since we got so screwed on our return flight, we get two travel credits. Family trip next year!!


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Price increase night

Ah, another price increase night. I've done the first half of the day's paperwork and emails; now I'm just taking a break and watching a documentary about Dr Dre until the next wave comes. As of right now I have over 900 people registered, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago. I've been consistently 200 people ahead this year, as I was last year over the previous year. The bank account is swelling, as is the budget. I can't complain.

After staying up past midnight to adjust the web site to the new prices, I'll try to grab a couple hours' sleep and then the BF and I are going to Kauai. 

Let's recap my previous Hawaii trips, shall we?

2010 - I break up with my briefly held boyfriend who may or may not have been a benign sociopath, and head to Kauai by myself for a long weekend. Unfortunately, my beloved aunt Roberta dies during this trip after a long battle with cancer and I spend much of the trip sobbing on various spectacular beaches. A month later I decide to become an SMC. Seven months later I am pregnant.

2014 - I decide to take my two-year-old and four-month-old to Kauai to meet up with another family with similar-aged kids. They pretty much flake the entire trip and leave me alone and sleep deprived on various spectacular beaches with a baby and a toddler, so I cut the trip short and come home several days early.

2016 - I plan a romantic 1 year anniversary trip with my boyfriend. Unfortunately, we "kind of" break up a month before. Luckily I enlist a friend to take his place, and we have a swell time. So...not exactly as planned, but still a fun and memorable trip.

Let's hope this trip actually goes as planned! I am so convinced something will happen to stop it - a car accident, sick babysitter, sick or injured kids, some problem with the flight, something. But it's just a few hours away and no calamity has hit yet. Other than my period. But I can live with that. 

Here's to things actually working out for once!