Christmas 1980-something

Evidently I was a spoiled kid. As spoiled as the youngest child of four can get. As spoiled as a child of a single mom who worked cleaning hotel rooms can be. I was that sort of spoiled. Spoiled in the sense that while my Christmas list was usually very specific and exhaustive, every year I got at least one item on it because my mother made sure I had something to look forward to, something to believe in when sometimes our life wasn’t a life that offered hope or belief in things getting better. I remember many of those one-off gifts. Those miraculous ones that showed up, I thought, from Santa in the true spirit of the holiday. One year I got a Popples, which were all the rage in the 1980s. One year a Strawberry Shortcake doll. One year a Barbie (a real Barbie not one of the knock-off dolls) so cool, so rad, that she had her own leg warmers and boom box.

In the second grade I wanted only one thing: A Baby Shivers Doll. Do you remember those bad-bitches? They were dolls that actually, for real, shivered as if they were cold. It was the same year that the Baby Alive Dolls first came out and I had a ton of friends asking for them, but I didn’t want to press my luck, so instead I asked for the older doll that only shivered. Besides, I wasn’t so sure about a doll that wet herself. I mean, was I ready for some real shit like that? I figured I’d let my best friend Rachel get that for Christmas and I’d play with it when I wanted, but didn’t have to take the responsibility for changing the diapers and what not. This is some real shit, it’s not made up, check it out:

Listen to me when I say this, these were some badass babes, though to be fair it set me up for failure when I had an actual baby and asked too many times what to do if he started to shiver. Turns out babies shivering aren’t like a real big problem. Who knew?!

Anyway, I remember writing Santa to ask for a Baby Shivers of my own. I may have even named dropped Rachel or her grandma, who was bound to buy her any type of doll she wanted. And on Christmas morning when I woke up and ran into the living room I was 100% expecting a Baby Shivers from Santa and for the first time ever I was disappointed. There was no Baby Shivers under the tree. Just some other random toys I don’t remember and some fruit and candy. I was upset, but tried not to let my disappointment show. That is certainly not something you did in my house. You sucked it up. Plus, I figured Santa had a legit reason not to bring me that hypothermic baby. Maybe all the electronics in her back forced her to short circuit and catch little girls’ hair on fire? I could only hope that was the reason because I was Peppermint Petty even at a young age.

So there I was playing with my toys I didn’t much care for after the wrapping paper tornado when my mom said, “Ope Missy, I found one more gift.” Yeah, she pulled the old “A Christmas Story” deal on me and handed me a wrapped box. I could tell right away she had wrapped it because she is not a good wrapper. The edges were a little frayed and the tape didn’t hit all the spots right, and there was a different type of wrapping on the edges. “Who’s it from,” I asked, hoping beyond hope it was from Santa.

“It’s from me,” my mom said. I smiled, but knew I was screwed. I slowly started to unwrap the paper, then my fingers went quicker and quicker until finally I had paper all over myself and was looking at the Baby Shivers box. I was stunned into inaction. My mom was beaming and I could not find words so I just ran over and hugged her. I couldn’t believe my luck and my mom’s obvious good fortune.

I still don’t know how my mom go the doll, or why she chose that year to get the credit for that toy, but it didn’t much matter. I just figured her and Santa hashed it all out and came to this conclusion and in the years to come I was always able to suspend my disbelief like that, around Christmas, but also at other times of the year too. Let’s call it self-preservation. Poor kids know what I mean.

Over the next year I walked around coddling my Baby Shivers, who I probably named but couldn’t tell you at all what it was. She was probably a girl and she probably had “eyes like her Mommy.” Rachel did get a Baby Alive that year and as I suspected that doll was a headache. You had to feed her to get her to poop and she ate this gross pasty stuff and you always had to buy more things for her to keep her in tiptop shape and I’m pretty sure it was short-lived. So was Baby Shivers, but for a little while I had the doll I had waited my whole life for and my mom had her shining moment.

I hope you all have a shining moment this holiday, and get something you’ve been asking for too.

M.

Walking in a Wicker Wonderland

We picked my mom up from Kansas last week to spend Christmas with us. Long story that I will delve into at a later date, but part of the pick-up involved a chair trade. More specifically a rocking chair trade. My mom has this vintage 1940s (??) wicker rocking chair that needs some love. It is small and uncomfortable for her, but it is a piece I remember from my childhood. Meanwhile I have this large, upholstered, swivel rocker/recliner that she loves to sit on when she comes to visit so we traded. We took her the big, plush chair and I took the little rocker so I could refinish it. It needs some love.

Now, I don’t want to complain or anything, I wanted this rocking chair, but as soon as I saw it I thought oh no, this is out of my wheelhouse. Particularly because I have never refurbished a chair at all, let alone a rocking chair made out of material I know very little about, and in need of new springs. The seat on this beast is old-timey and springy and there are three sections that have to be upholstered. It’s not a simple, spray paint it all type deal.

Meanwhile last night when I could not fall asleep I was trying to find this particular rocking chair on the internets and had no luck. Had some close calls, but no dice. But I did learn way more about wicker furniture than I ever wanted to know and for that I am ungrateful.

Hmpf. This rocking chair might just be scrapped for wood. Because wicker is made of wood. I think. Because it is really just the way the material is connected that makes it wicker. Or maybe it’s rattan not wood. Maybe it’s an outdoor piece someone made an indoor piece. Maybe it’s a pain in my ass already.

I’ll let you know how it goes. If it goes.

M.

Long Days, Quick Years

Sometimes when I’m in the bathroom taking a shower, or peeing, or crying while I eat chocolate and slide down the wall dramatically, I think I hear Jackson on the other side of the door. I think I hear his little preschool voice, the one I miss oh so very much, saying, “Mommy? Mommy?” Now way back when the soft “Mommy” would be followed by an adorable, “Are you in thwere, Mommy? Are you pwooping, Mommy?” Because sometimes I would pretend to poop to get some alone time.

Anywho, lately that has been happening to me. I think I am hearing Jackson on the other side of the bathroom door asking for me when I am in the shower and I turn the water off and say, “What’s up, baby?” And no one is there. No one is ever there. And I am feeling sad about that. I think I am spiraling. I think I am wishing my little boy was running to find me when he realizes he hasn’t seen me in a few minutes and wants to make sure I am okay, or just needs to tell me that he made a new Lego house. I miss those days, even though I thought I would never get through them.

Is that what happens as your kid grows up? Am I just experiencing the age-old “I miss when they were little”? Is this when I start telling people to enjoy those little moments because the world moves so fast and the kids grow so fast and if you close your eyes, or even wish for a second for it to be over, when you open your eyes again it will be and then what? Then what?

Listen, I love the life we have now. A kid who can make his own lunch. Who can do the dishes and bring me a glass of wine when I am in the hot tub soaking my problems away. But somedays I desperately, desperately miss my little guy running to find me, a diaper sagging to his knees, or a trail of some sticky candy behind him, or a car in his hand asking me if I am ready to play. It’s all so much.

The days are long, but the years are fast. Really, really fast.

Take care. Be safe. Enjoy the little moments.

M.

Quiet Time

I woke up yesterday from immense pain that my doctors have not been able to control just yet, but they are working on it. Anyway, when I wake up in that sort of pain I have to get out of bed and sort of start my day. It’s kind of like how when I was younger and my mom would go out in the mornings to warm up her old 1972 Dodge Cornett. We didn’t have a garage and this was back when it still snowed regularly in Kansas, and the car would have to run for a bit, get all of its bits and parts warmed, or we wouldn’t have heat, might not even make it to school and her to work without a jump start. My body is kind of like the old Dodge now and it isn’t terrible, but it also isn’t great.

So when I got up yesterday morning, it was so early the family was still asleep and I made coffee and took my morning ibuprofen, with food of course, then I sat down in the silence and started working on the family Christmas puzzle. We do a puzzle every Christmas season as a family. It sits on the kitchen island and whenever someone has some time they sit and work on it. This year it’s a Charlie Brown Christmas puzzle and the edges are almost done thanks to Jackson and me. Anyway, I got bored with that after the pain finally went away and so I sat to talk with Jerimiah who in the time it took me to get Snoopy’s feet together, had woke up, worked out, and taken a shower. He was sitting down at his desk when I meandered over to the dining room table to chat.

His office is right off the dining room so we usually sit, him at his desk, me at the dining room table with the laptop and get caught up on the morning news for a bit. Yesterday morning however I skipped the news for a coloring book that was on the table from the night before and I picked up the colored pencils and went to work on a geometrically-correct llama. Then suddenly I was transported back to fifth grade.

My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Coughran, would read to us every day after lunch. I think she called it “Quiet time.” She knew we needed a bit of a break, so we would filter into the classroom, she would saunter over and turn the lights off, and we would get coloring pages. She had a ton of them and she would let us choose whatever we wanted and we would take our crayons, or colored pencils, or markers and set to work on our pages, while the sun streamed into the windows, and she sat atop the old heater and read from whatever book we happened to be reading at that time. The Call of the Wild or Where the Sidewalk Ends, the books were as varied and interesting as her coloring pages.

I remember it plain as day now, because it was the first time I realized how relaxing it could be to just color. To sit in relative silence, only her quiet voice reading to us, and just focus on one thing, staying inside the lines. I didn’t have a quiet house. It wasn’t loud, it being just my mom and me (most of the time) but my mom always did have the television on and she was usually talking on the phone too. Sometimes I’d slip into my room, grab a coloring book, and color in silence when I needed a break. It didn’t occur to me until yesterday what a service Mrs. Coughran must have done for some of us, me sure, but even more so for the kids in my class that never got privacy or silence.

There were a lot of different kids in that classroom. A hodgepodge of Army kids and kids with dads in prison. Really smart kids, really funny kids. Kids who got to school way past our math class, kids who were dropped off to wait in the snow for 30 minutes, until the cafeteria opened up and they could grab their free breakfast. There were probably 25 of us in Mrs. Coughran’s class, and I don’t really remember anyone struggling, or not getting along, or being mean to each other, generally speaking.

As it sits today, there are two less of us in this world from Mrs. Coughran’s Fifth grade Class at Anthony Elementary School. One we lost to gunfire and one to a heart condition undetected by her doctors. They were both my friends. One was funny and silly, one smart and stoic. We all sat together in those quiet moments, as students, as kids, for that full year and we colored together in the quiet calm of Mrs. Coughran’s classroom, and while I wish we were a whole unit, and I sometimes wish for days that were as simple as those were, I am forever grateful for the time we had.

Hope you can find some calm in the storm today.

M.

Rest in Power

I was excitedly texting a friend Friday night about the new season of “Pen15” when she wrote, “Fuuuuck.” I Haha-ed it and she said, “No. RBG.” “What?!” I texted frantically. “Yeah,” she wrote back. “CNN just reported.” And then the curtain sorta fell. Only it didn’t, because Jerimiah and Jackson had downloaded the new Tony Hawk and were pumped to play it with me. So we played Tony Hawk, while my phone lit up. Text after text. “Can you believe it?!” And “Now what do we do?” I turned my ringer off and tried to master a Kickflip.

I haven’t had the bandwidth to process this and I’m not sure when I will. But it will come. Until then, we answered Jackson’s questions the best we could today. We talked about standing on the steps of the Supreme Court a couple of years ago. Jackson remembered the “big, bronze door” and how we waved to the building, hoping RBG was looking down at us. We watched the RBG documentary on Hulu as a family tonight, then we watched “Twins” with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, because sometimes you have to laugh when you want to cry.

Jerimiah reminded me not to say Rest In Peace to RBG, after all she’s Jewish, wouldn’t care much for it anyway. I told him I’ll say rest in power then. But the important thing is just that she rests. She did her job, one hellava one at that. And we are so appreciative.

Rest in power, Notorious RBG. We’ll be down here picking up where you left off, and waving like crazy. I hope you can see us.

M.

Friend Funk

Jackson and I have been in a friend funk lately. We’ve been missing our friends, I mean. While we’ve made new ones from going to the pool this summer, the only outing we feel safe doing with other people, we’ve been missing our friends who aren’t near us. Last week Jackson reconnected with a friend from Charlotte, a little girl he went to third and fourth grade with. He was happy and excited, then a little mopey. I asked what was up and he said he misses his Charlotte friends. I agreed and we mourned our losses for a bit and moved on. Well, he did.

I, of course, can’t let it go. I miss my best friend, whom I haven’t lived in the same town with since we were on college. I miss my friends on Lake Norman, I miss my Ozark friends, and I miss my Charlotte friends. I miss my friends I’ve met that have moved far away, living in Rhode Island, in Arizona, in California. This isn’t new, this missing, for me anyway, but it seems exasperated when times are a bit more trying. And I think that’s happening for Jackson now too.

The school board met this week. Decided to keep going virtually for the time being. We are still in “red” as it were. So we wait longer to see people, to make new friends, to reunite with old ones. And we keep missing.

M.

Never Forget

I’ve been unofficially off of Facebook for a week now. I didn’t do anything drastic or dramatic like suspend my account, or deactivate or anything like that. I just stopped logging in and the world didn’t blow up. Of course, this has been a long time coming. Y’all remember back in January when I started limiting myself to fifteen minutes a day? That’s paid off. Really set me up for success for this part. But I did log in yesterday. It was my birthday and I knew my page would be flooded with well wishes, so I logged in last night to comment and thank everyone, and that was about the time the Chiefs’ game started. About the time the “Never Forget” people came out in full force. Then I remembered why I hadn’t logged in for a week. Then I wrote a status and went to bed, sorta full up on birthday wishes, sorta let down by humans again. Life’s a crapshoot these days. Anyway, I’ll share below what I signed off with, but if you do one thing today, please make it be checking your voter registration status. Do it for me. Won’t you?

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

My FB status for 9/11:

I’m heading to bed tonight already being asked to remember that horrific day 19 years ago when thousands of Americans lost their lives on 9/11. Begging me to never forget.

I’m seeing this in between white people complaining that the NFL supports “racial equality” and they “just can’t” support the NFL. I’m seeing true colors shine tonight, and those colors aren’t pretty.

I’m seeing that while I read nearly 200,000 Americans have lost their lives on American soil to COVID-19 in six months.

I’m seeing that the week Homeland Security named white, American, right-wing men the number one terrorist threat to our country.

I’m seeing that as I read 1,100 Black men are murdered by the police in our country every year.

That American police murder 3 people a day, on average.

That thousands of soldiers have lost their lives in the last 19 years. That many thousands more will become wounded and develop such horrific PTSD that they will end their own lives, or the lives of those they love.

I’m seeing all that. Are you?

You’re asking me to never forget. I’m asking you, as I head to bed tonight, to remember too. Every day. Always. All of this. I’m asking you to be a better citizen, a better American, a better human being.

I’m Vintage Now

I had a random memory today of rocking in a rocking chair of my very own when I was little. I’m not sure how old I was, maybe four, and I had on a blue sailor dress and it was my birthday. I’d just plopped down in the rocking chair made for someone like me (a kid) and I rocked and reached television. I’m not sure where the rocking chair came from, but I faintly remember what it looked like so I welcomed the internet in to help search. And I found the one closest to the rocking chair in my memory.

My rocking chair looked like this one. I think it might have been from The Cass Toy Company, at least that’s what internet sleuths before me have said. The company burned down before I was born, but it’s possible, and likely, this was a hand-me-down, or a garage sell find.

Anyway, I’m wishing I had that little chair now. Some of that four-year-olds energy, and just a smidge of that “vintage” charm around here.

By the way, I had to Google “vintage” in order to find this rocking chair from my childhood. What the hell?!

Maybe, probably we are all vintage by this point.

M.

Reset

Geez, sorry you guys. I’ve been a sad sack lately. I think this is just some of that ebb and flow we always talk about with emotions and the world sits with us. I’ve been particularly stressed lately because of starting school, and Jackson starting school, and a few other things I’m not quite ready to talk about on here, but when I am you know I will talk y’all like crazy about them.

Really what I am wishing for right about now is a reset button. Ever wish for one of those? Like when I was a kid and I would realize I was not going to make it back to the top of the Q-bert stack so I’d just reach over and hit restart on the Nintendo. Ahh, that was a good feeling. A do-over. A mulligan. That’s what I need for this week. Maybe this month. Certainly this year.

Let’s all look for that reset button today, okay? Maybe it’s nature? Maybe it’s a walk by yourself listening to your favorite podcast. Maybe it’s a call to your best friend. Whatever it is, find your reset button and hit it for me. Maybe it will reset us all.

Here’s to wishing.

Take care of yourself, and each other.

M.

Storms

It’s another 4:00 am post. I’ve been waking up each night at 3:00 am, and tossing and turning, waiting patiently to fall back to sleep. Last night I read, tonight I’ll write. Maybe tomorrow I’ll just stare blankly at the cracks of light in the curtains until my eye lids get heavy and my breathing slows.

Yesterday would have been my daughter’s ninth birthday. I’m supposed to have a daughter. Jackson is supposed to have a little sister. She should be nine. Playing Minecraft with her brother, asking for dolls, crazy over the Korean pop bands, or maybe just learning how to braid her own hair. I don’t know. I don’t know what daughters do, or like, or how they live.

Tonight I’m stuck in this same spot. I’ve been here before. I’ll be here again. The weather is changing. There’s are two storms coming up the Gulf. And I just don’t know what daughters do. I’m sure I’ll get more time to think about it. I hope I’ll get more time to think about it. Just not at 4:00 am.

M.

For Posterity

I’m in kindergarten and I’m hunkered behind our living room chair, my back against the wood paneling of our living room, and I have my sister’s portable cassette player. No idea where my sister is. There’s a faint sound of the mower in the background. My mother was probably out mowing the front lawn. I’m eating slices of cheese, the Kraft singles kind, only it’s not really Kraft because we couldn’t afford that kind. It’s an off brand yellow cheese and I’m pulling the piece into smaller pieces and sitting them around a plastic Tupperware plate, while the sound of some newsman blares through the recorded cassette tape I am listening to. The back of the chair has a large piece of wood running along it and I have my feet up against that piece of wood.

So there I am, eating my cheese, my back against wood, my feet on wood, listening to a recording that my mother made five years before. It’s a recording of the news from January 20, 1980. An hour after Reagan is inaugurated. It is a recording of the moment Ayatollah released the 52 American hostages from Iran. I am smitten with this recording and listen to it often.

Today, nearly 35 years after my mom made that recording in her small living room apartment on State Street, I have some questions. How did I get my hands on that tape? Did she want me to hear it? Why was I obsessed with a recording of hostages being released at six years old? Why did my mother feel the need to record that in the first place? She was barely pregnant with me the day the American diplomats were flown to Germany to the welcoming embrace of President Jimmy Carter, who had worked for over a year to free them, but just lost the general election and was robbed of the last heroic act of his presidency. What compelled her? Was it the state of the country at the time? Was everyone gathered around their television screens that afternoon, waiting, anticipating, feeling it was their patriotic duty to listen, to record history unfolding, with their American flag newspapers Scotch-taped into their wooden window frames? I can’t be sure. I just don’t know that country. That world. My mother, at that time.

I do know the feeling though. The feeling that what is happening, right now, in the present moment, feels in some way so important that we have to record it, write it, etch it into our collective memory for future generations to dust off and read, listen to, with their cheesy fingers sliding between pause and play, while the voices of those long gone cry and scream in release.

M.

America, Fuck Yeah!

Today is my favorite holiday. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t give a fuck about our independence, or how wrong (or wronged) our founding fathers were. I don’t give a fuck about our founding fathers. I don’t even like the phrase “Founding Fathers,” it reminds me of that piece of shit “Birth of a Nation” notion and it gives me the heebie-jeebies. Eww. Gross. Stop it.

Today is my favorite holiday cause I like fireworks! Ahhh! They are so pretty. And yeah, maybe they represent the casting off of bombs, and the old ways of war and rebellion, but to me they mean something much more personal. To me they mean summer nights. And summer nights don’t conjure up images of war, or bombs, or even old, white fathers who were super racist and gross. Summer means popsicles, softball, street kickball under the lamppost before my mom whistled for me to come inside. Summer reminds me of cantaloupe and sweaty baseball caps with my hair pulled up tight underneath. It reminds me of backyard camping at a friend’s house, and learning to shoot hoops in the driveway, of catching lightening bugs, and talking on the telephone very late. Summertime reminds me of my childhood, the good parts, the times when I got to feel and act like I kid. The parts where I didn’t worry about things, or people, or how this whole thing would turn out. I just worried if we’d win the game, or I’d get to stay the weekend at Lee Anne’s house, or if someone would take me to a cool fireworks show on the 4th of July. Luckily for me, someone usually did.

So happy 4th of July today, y’all. May this day of freedom and independence conjure up the best of memories for you, and remind you that although this isn’t the way we thought we’d be spending our day today, it could always be worse. At least there’s such a thing as fireworks!

Stay safe and sane out there.

M.

Summer Lovin’

Had me a blast! Summer lovin’ happened so faaaaast! You know the rest. We’ve been watching movies before bed. Sometimes we just fast asleep to “Fresh Prince” or “Bob’s Burgers,” other nights we’ve been introducing the kids to classics like “Teen Wolf” (“Is this supposed to be a comedy?”) and “Uncle Buck” (“What is wrong with that guy?”) and we’ve been talking and thinking about other movies to watch. Rachel and Madi brought their projector with them, so we are trying to decide what to watch for a fun movie, double feature outside one evening, and there is some disagreement. I say we watch “Twister” or maybe “Dirty Dancing”, while Jackson says we should just watch John Oliver, and Madi is like “What about a scary movie?” Yesterday Jackson suggested “Beetlejuice” as a compromise, hellbent that he’d never seen it before. Face to palm. He’s seen it. We watch it every Halloween along with “Hocus Pocus” and “Casper the Friendly Ghost”. This child of mine…

“Grease” came up in conversation however and everyone sort of nodded their heads up and down. “Oh yeah, ‘Grease’ that’s a good one.” Madi has watched it, but Jackson hasn’t. How have I failed him in this manner? Is it as good as I remember? I haven’t seen it in literal years. A decade or more maybe. And I’m in this weird space where I think he will like the cool cars, but does it hold up like the other movies? I’ve been disappointed recently by some old favorites.

So who knows. I’m throwing in the towel. Or maybe it’s caution to the wind. Or maybe it’s none of those things. I’m on the hunt for the perfect place to stick the projector, the rest will work itself out. Fingers crossed the right movie shows itself, and fingers crossed my kid won’t be afraid, or sad, or snapping his fingers while he greases back his hair and sings, “Summer lovin’ had me a blaaaast…”

M.

First Grade

First grade was a trip for me. Mrs. Heim was my teacher, and by then I had developed into a shy child, who was advanced in reading, and a little behind in math. Go figure. I have always heard first grade is tough. Some kids just don’t “get it” yet. Kindergarten didn’t set them up for success, or they were still too young to dive into the “real” work, and maybe that is the case for some kids, but it wasn’t for Jackson. The only real problem in first grade was that I didn’t like his teacher. It wasn’t for any particular reason. She was never rude to me. She liked Jackson. She had been teaching for years and she was smart, straightforward. She wasn’t a beat around the bush kinda gal, and that can come off as abrasive, especially when his kindergarten teacher was the exact opposite.

But mainly I didn’t like her because one of my friends didn’t like her. My friend had subbed for the first grade classes and heard “things” about Mrs. Mattner. She spent the whole summer scaring me. And I fell for it it hook, line, and sinker. And because of that I never gave her a fair shot. But I also never let Jackson hear any of it, and up until this year, fifth grade, if you were to ask him who his all-time favorite teacher is, he would tell you it was his first grade teacher, Mrs. Mattner! He adored her! He thought she was “hilarious.” That was one of the first things she said about him, matter of fact, that she would make some funny joke that the kids weren’t really supposed to get, and Jackson would crack up. That’s when she knew he was “different.”

Like most teachers, Mrs. Mattner was saddled with a mix of kids. It is different here in Georgia. It seems they put kids who are alike together. But in first grade there is a broad stroke of “smart” and some straggling “behavior” issues and while Mrs. Mattner had been saddled with some really gifted kids whose talents were just starting to emerge, like Jackson, there were some kids who weren’t quite there. I didn’t spend much time in that classroom, because I still didn’t really like her, even mid-year (and I had started grad school, and substitute teaching, and I had a GA-ship) but from the things I heard about the classroom, they struggled a bit to get things rolling, but by the end of the year they were pretty close to a cohesive, fun, again really kind and sweet group of kids.

I went on every field trip with this group, and while I did see some of the “behavior” issues that Mrs. Mattner had to deal with, I mainly saw a group of kids that loved each other, supported each other, and said kind things. This was from the top down, no doubt about it. Turns out we were blessed with another awesome set of teachers in Mrs. Mattner and Mrs. Smith, and by May I had realized my errors, apologized to Mrs. Mattner for not trusting her more, and stopped taking things that friend said so seriously. Ehh, you live, you learn.

All in all, first grade was fun, albeit stressful at times, but again Jackson sailed through it, even on our his last field trip, the famed First Grade Zoo Trip, when it rained, oppressively, ALL DAY LONG, Jackson, along with the rest of Mrs. Mattner’s Class were the only kids out there dancing in it. While she yelled to, “Be careful!” and also, “Nice moves!”

Growing pains sometimes hurt, but they always heal.

Thanks, Mrs. Mattner and Mrs. Smith, and the kiddos of first grade. We will always remember you.

M.

Saying hi to Mrs. Mattner in 2nd grade

Kindergarten

My post yesterday was about fifth grade, and Jackson, so I decided to keep a theme this week, since it is the last week of school here in Georgia and start in kindergarten and work my way up. More for posterity for anything else. More because I have a kid that can’t always remember things like his teacher’s names, or who his friends were, and while the last six years has been a little crazy, and we’ve moved a few times, it is all still fresh in my mind, as it is with most parents. If you want to read about my traumatic and awkward kindergarten experience please read this post. I was not a “normal” kindergartner, but then again, I don’t think I’ve ever been considered “normal.” And lucky, neither has my kid.

Jackson started elementary school in Branson, Missouri. We applied for the preschool program there and he was accepted, though they did tell us that while he could obviously read, knew his colors and numbers, he didn’t know how to “skip” and also, when instructed to build a tower from blocks, he first sorted the blocks by size and color. We weren’t 100% how to take that. They seemed bothered by it, meanwhile we watched the kid next to him licking the table, so… we just took it that our kid was a little advanced and maybe, I dunno, in the wrong place. He was, and he only did half a year of preschool because of it. We noticed he was not really learning, just picking up bad habits from other kids, so we pulled him out. But his teacher was the sweetest, Mrs. Rosebrough, she was just totally overwhelmed by kids licking tables and still pooping their pants, and when we pulled him she was all, “Yeah, Jackson doesn’t really NEED preschool.” Got it. Glad we payed $500 a month until that point. (Let’s talk about how preschool should be free. Another post? Okay.)

In the summer between preschool and kindergarten we sold a vehicle, our boat, and most of the rest of our shit, packed up a U-Haul, and hauled ass to North Carolina in search of better opportunity, which of course we found, and Jackson settled nicely into a school in a suburban part of Charlotte. He was there from kindergarten until halfway through third grade, when we moved into Charlotte and transferred him into a STEM Charter School. But this is about Kindergarten, so Kindergarten we shall discuss.

Look at this:

This kid of mine was made to go to school. Of course he already knew all the basics of kindergarten, how to read, write, and count, but he was such a social kid, who relied on friendships and fun, and Miss Gamble and Mrs. Turner (the BEST of kindergarten) made the classroom just that. Ms. Gamble was a young teacher, just her second year in the classroom, but she was one of those people who was born to do what she does. She recognized Jackson’s abilities quickly and he became a leader in the classroom. Often sitting in the rocking chair behind him reading stories to his class, which they just thought was the coolest. Kindergarten was a rough year for me, and having that classroom and those people around helped tremendously. I often joke that I grew more than Jackson did that year, because it is true.

This is where Jackson met his first little friends, some he still writes letters to or plays Minecraft with! He showed his true self in those years, and set himself on a path different than many of the kids. A top student, a true leader, a kind friend. Loyal, to a fault, and always, always interested in the cute, little blonde girls. (Eye roll)

This is also where his true fashion began to shine. The kids in that class were unbelievably kind (even if some of the parents were a total nightmare) and that kindness, love, and loyalty was fostered by Miss Gamble. The important thing was being nice, everything else would fall into place she said, and it did. When kindergarten was over we were so upset that Jackson and I literally sat in bed and cried all morning on the first day of summer break. We were so thankful to be part of such a wonderful classroom, and we cherish those memories, still today. We would love to reach out and thank every, single one of those parents, teachers, and kids who welcomed us that year, who made us feel special, and who still want to be part of our lives. We hope you always feel as special as we did.

So there you have it. Kindergarten. Not much to report. My kid got a line straight “S” and “P” or whatever letters they used. He maybe was a little advanced, but he learned that kindness was key, how to stick up for his friends, how to accept others, how to adapt, how to make friends, how to keep friends, and how to feel safe somewhere other than home. It set us up for success for the next five years and we could not be happier. Now for the pictures!

Thanks for reading!

M.

Saying hi to Miss Gamble in 2nd grade