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

Fifteen Minutes of Fighting

Y’all know I have limited my Facebook access to 15 minutes a day. I started this back in January. It was very helpful then, and has been VERY helpful now. The only problem is that when I decided to do this I made Jerimiah password protect my access so once my 15 minutes are up, I am kicked off Facebook. UNLESS… I beg and plead with him to give me more time (I don’t really have to beg, he gives in easily). WHICH IS THE PROBLEM! Today I got sucked into FB for three hours because I made a post that ruffled some feathers with my “Truth bombs” as my husband likes to call them, and then I had to spend the next two hours explaining to people, in the nicest way possible, how wrong they were. I even had a family member chime in and say that she was “tired” of my posts and thought we needed to talk about the real truth, which is that the “Chinese have been trying to get us for a long time now and this is all their fault.”

Le sigh.

I’m tired of “fighting” on Facebook, y’all. I’m tired of having to correct people (some of them are really intelligent) yet still, I have to give them facts that they could easily find on their own but are too mad or too scared to search for. One could say I am not the “truth police” and you would be right. I don’t NEED to put these people in their place, but if I don’t then who will? Who will stop them from saying shit like, “This is the fault of Chinese people!” Who else will say, “Umm, I think you are reading from Breitbart again. Remember that Breitbart is not considered a ‘factual news source’.” Does it come off as jerky? Yes! Does it come off as uppity? For sure. But I’m not trying to be, I’m trying to make them understand that if they get all their new from InfoWars, they are sorely misguided.

I guess I just need people to remind me that it does no good. I always think, this will be the person. This will be the time they “get it.” The time the see that our president holding up checks to sign his name on them is not a good thing, rather a very bad, very horrible, very “I’m gonna buy your vote, remember I’m the one who saved you, Trump2020” thing. I look over at my exasperated husband and ask the question on all our minds, “What the hell would they have done if Obama would have insisted on signing his name to those stimulus checks?” Dear Lord. We know the answer. And we know he would have never even considered doing it.

All this snowballs, and there I am three hours in and mentally and emotionally drained. How many times can I yell, “OMIGOD what is he trying to say?!” at my dogs, or discuss with my husband whether that mutual friend of ours is trying to be an asshole, or they are just completely dumb to the real world? It’s exhausting.

Today I had people jump all over me because I said I got a stimulus check and was donating to the Biden Campaign. First of all, it was a joke. Ta-da! I already donated all I will (monetarily) to a presidential campaign this year. And it was $50 and it was to Bernie. But I don’t need to explain that to anyone. Look dumb if you want to, which is how that same family member looked when she outright asked on my FB page how much I sent Biden, and if I had the money “diverted” to him? Is that even a thing? How? What? I don’t know you guys, but I’m only giving man hours now, not money, through the Postcard to Voters campaign (shoutout to my friend Jenn for telling me about this). I wish I were making this up cause it would make my family seem less crazy. But you know me and the truth… We didn’t donate to Biden, but we did actually donate money (and you can too) to Hope Atlanta and to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, which is helping feed kids in our school district who need fed. But is that anyone’s business? Nah, dawg. Nah. Then I kindly explained to my family member that, “Asking people what they do with their money is rude.” Then other people got mad at me for doing that. “Cause you know Missy, she’s just uppity”. Throws hands up in the air.

To make matters worse, my nerves are shot, I’m not sleeping, and every time someone says something to me I’m taking it personally. Like I assume that they are trying to start a fight with me, even when they maybe aren’t? I just assume that. And if I’m doing that then I know other people must be doing that. Are we doing that, y’all? Are you doing that? I haven’t changed a thing about how I run my life (other than not leaving my house) or how or what I write about in the last month (other than writing about Covid-19 more), but people are coming out of the woodwork to tell me how horrible of a person I am for saying what I say and writing what I write. And all I can think is that they don’t agree with me about my opinions, and because they are also not sleeping, and scared, and angry, they have decided to take it out on me because I routinely put it all out there for everyone to consider.

I bet some of you are feeling like the friend/family scapegoat these days too, and if you are, man, I’m sorry. This will all pass, I promise. And maybe you will have less “friends” on social media when it does, but at least you will know who truly supports you and who doesn’t, right? Silver lining? Something to look forward to. I can’t tell you how many times my husband has been like, “That’s it, I’m deleting my FB account!” But then I have to remind him that if we do a joint account people will think I cheated on him. So he keeps it. But like, should we though?

I dunno you guys. I guess I’m here today to ask for all of us to exercise a bit more grace? I know I need to, and I assume you could manage it too? I think we all could right now. I keep reading Mama Brene’s inspiring words every day thinking, “Jesus, how many iterations did she have to go through to get to that?” Because even Mama Brene isn’t that nice right now. She can’t be. Because being nice takes a lot of work, especially at a time like this, and if we aren’t mindful of it, if we don’t recognize that we aren’t being nice, then we are already two steps behind. I think. Again, I feel like I need to apologize for MY OWN DAMN OPINIONS on MY OWN DAMN WEBSITE. What has this world done to me?!

Let’s make a pact: I will try to ignore haters, and spread some goodness today. You will try to take a deep breathe today when you are feeling reactionary. I will do the same. You will not respond immediately to a source on the internet, until you have fully given it thought and research. I will not pass off indifference for kindness. You will not get too down on yourself. I will look at pictures of llamas. You will look at puppies. We will text each other and say hi. You will send a hug emoji to a friend. I will send flowers to a family member. WE will lift up others and try to show some grace, otherwise, shit is going to go downhill fast.

Remember what Michelle Obama (OUR BELOVED QUEEN) says, “When they go low, we go high!” Let’s go high today, y’all! (Or get weed-high, whatever helps.)

Stay safe and sane.

M.

For you… You can click on picture to take you to website to purchase!

It’s Atlanta, After All

It’s been one of those days. It’s raining. I’m late for everything, people have been rude. I’ve soaked in all the abuse I can take, and I’m behind in getting Jackson from school. I’m coasting through yellow lights, and taking questionable routes to make up time. I get over to the right lane too soon and bam, I’m stuck behind a bus. Now I’m still. Completely still, and surrounded by busy people trying to get where they’re going. I’m looking in front and behind for a way out, while the MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) slowly releases its brake pressure from the underside holding tank. My toes move up and down quickly in my shoes, my fingers start to tap the steering wheel, I check the clock. I’m three minutes give or take, from Jackson’s school. The bell has just rung. The traffic is building up behind me, and to the left of me. Contorted faces in the rearview mirror. Hand gestures. Exasperation. Yet the bus just continues to sit. From my vantage point I can see its door open, but no one is getting on or off. I inch up. Wonder what the hell is happening. Then I see her.

She’s probably eighty years old. She’s at least eighty years old. She’s in a long rain coat, one that’s seen better days. She’s wrestling an umbrella too big for her, and one of those wheeled carts, the kind that fold up, store neatly in a closet, or a pantry, or slide under a bed. It’s packed full of groceries in transparent plastic bags. I notice we were just at the same grocery store, but I didn’t see her. I eye the bags as she shuffles past my car. Coffee, milk, peanut butter, is that a cake mix? She’s shuffling, as fast as she can toward the bus stop. The bus driver has spotted her. I watch black shoes hop down to the curb, blue cargo pants.

The woman holds her hands out, as if to say stop, stop look at me, I’m coming as fast as I can. The driver touches her hands, puts them down in a comforting way, says something to her. I can’t hear what he says, because my windows are rolled up. In the warm, calm of my car I relax into my heated, leather seats. Subconsciously I lay a hand on my cage-free, brown eggs on the passenger seat. The driver puts one hand on her cart, the other he uses to steady her at her small, fragile elbow. My wipers swipe.

The cars behind me start to honk. Because it’s Atlanta, after all. I throw my hands up, to tell them they are out of line, but I don’t curse them. Because it’s Atlanta. The driver and the woman slowly make their way to the bus. I watch as her small blue shoes make their way up the steps. Then I see a space, watch the black shoes lean in, he’s putting her cart inside the bus. Then I see the black shoes step up the two steps. The door closes.

The bus inhales. Lifts a couple inches off the ground, and crawls forward a bit. I’ve already missed the light. We all have.

M.

Do You Smell Toast?

Yesterday I was walking around trying to figure out why I smelled burning plastic, thinking that I was probably having a stroke, when I happened by the dishwasher and realized that no, it was actually burning plastic that I was smelling because someone loaded a plastic container at the bottom of the dishwasher and it was burning. So no stroke, that’s the point here, no stroke. Then I was telling my husband and he was all, “It’s toast. They say you smell burnt toast when you’re having a stroke.” And I was all, “Bitch, you don’t know everything!” Then I huffed upstairs and Googled, “What do people smell when they are having a stroke?” and the answer is a resounding, “Toast.” But it doesn’t matter for two reasons. One, the toast thing is a myth and two, none of this has anything to do with this post.

This post is about how stressed-the-fuck-out I am, and how I have no real reason to be. So maybe there is a connection because stress causes heart problems and if I’m going out, listen, I’m probably going out that way. Just based off the amount of stored fat around my heart, and an extensive family history of heart disease. Still, what is up with all this stress? Things are actually going okay. Wasn’t it just three weeks ago where I was all, “How lucky am I to have this life?!” And now I’m all, “What the hell is wrong with my life?!”

I’ve narrowed it down to three things:

  1. The world is a dumpster fire, upside-down, pile of steaming dog shit right now. If you ask me, it has been since 2016.
  2. People are rude as shit to each other.
  3. I’ve cut back on my carb intake.

That’s it. That’s all I can come up with. The problem is the first two things I can’t control, and if you’re like Patsy, my awesome therapist, then right now you’re saying to yourself, “Missy, you can’t change people.” And you’re right, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to, or desperately wanting to. I’ve read “Adult Children of Alcoholics” I know my strengths are my weaknesses. Shit, Patsy.

And honestly that’s really what I want. I want people to be nicer to people. Kids to be nicer to kids. I want all kids to be as nice as my kid, is that too much to ask?! I suppose so, my kid’s pretty fucking nice. I want all people to look at strangers and think, “Hmm, how can I connect with this person on a spiritual or human level?” Not, “I bet he’s a Republican.” Or, “I bet he doesn’t have a job.” But it seems that most people, MOST people not ALL people, are incapable of that nowadays. We’ve taken up our side of the fence post and we are not budging. But that’s not the part I’m struggling with. I’m good with my side. I know my side is the “right side of history” side and I know that I am squarely in the “Humane Middle” part.

What I’m so fucking tired of is walking this tightrope of trying to figure out which side of the fence someone else is on. Like will this person like me if I say I don’t go to church and I’m married to an Atheist? Or will this person think I’m a loser if I say, “I’m voting for anyone who isn’t Trump in 2020.” Will this person invite me to coffee if I say that I don’t work, because my husband makes enough money for me to stay at home and work on my writing? Will that person not want my kid to play with theirs if I tell them that we live far away from our families, and it’s on purpose? What if I tell people I am just meeting that I think every child should have an opportunity to experience preschool for free? Or if I leave a room when someone brings up abortion because I just so tired of having that discussion with people? I literally just want to say read my story about abortion, and shut the hell up. I’m out of steam, y’all.

So now what?

Yes, you’re right, I can control number three. So I’m going to go to Sam’s Club today, order an entire sheet cake that says, “People Mostly Suck” and I’m going to eat it alone in my car in the parking lot of Planet Fitness. Good plan.

I’m just complaining. I’ll feel better soon. Probably.

Be nice to people today, just for me.

M.

Showmars

One day a few months ago I was out and about, having a hectic day. My lunch date had cancelled, my doctor visit had not gone as planned, my husband was having a bad day at work, I was confused about some choices I had, and I had spent about two hours in Jackson’s classroom, reading and working math problems with a couple of kids who needed the extra help. It was a chaotic morning and by the time I realized I hadn’t eaten all morning, I was already hangry. I was on my way home to see what Sir Duke had destroyed in my absence, when I decided I would stop by the nearest restaurant and have lunch. It seemed like what I needed to do at that moment, so I quickly pulled into the nearest lunch spot which happened to be a Showmars in Midtown, right near the hospital.

I like Showmars. It is fast and clean, the staff is friendly and efficient, and they have a variety of choices. In fact, Jerimiah and I will often meet there for our “weekly lunch dates” when we just don’t know what the hell we want. This day I was feeling out of sorts, so I knew exactly what I wanted, comfort food, which for me means fried food. I walked up to the counter and ordered the chicken fingers. I paid, got my number and drink, and walked to a booth by the windows. It was a nice day, mid October I believe, and there were people sitting inside and outside. I sat my items down on the table, making eye contact with the woman behind me who was alone, though there were two plates on the table. I smiled at her and she reciprocated, though she looked preoccupied.

I walked into the bathroom. There were only two stalls and one was occupied at the time, so I went into the empty one. While I was in the bathroom stall, the occupied door opened and the woman went to the sink to wash her hands. I was in such a weird head space, that I didn’t pay much attention to the noises. I assume she unlocked the door, I assume her heels clicked toward the sink. I assume she pushed the soap dispenser and the water shot on. I didn’t really hear any of that though. I was so frustrated at myself for saying the wrong thing to the doctor, for sending an email out of frustration, and for not giving the kids my undivided attention, that I was berating myself as I finished up. In fact, it wasn’t until I flushed that I stopped and actually listened to what was happening.

The woman who had come out of the occupied stall was crying. At first I wasn’t sure what I had heard. I waited for the toilet to finish up its water cycle, then I tried not to move, tried not to breathe, and I put my ear to the crack at the door. That is when I heard the unmistakable sound.

If you have ever cried in public before, you know the sound. Your body, full of fear or grief or anger, is forcing this reaction on to you and you are not ready for it. Or more likely the people you are around are not ready for it, and you know this. So you try to make yourself stop. You try to look up and bat your eyelashes, you sniff hard, trying to stop your nose from giving you away. You dab paper towels at your eyes so you don’t smear your makeup. You wave your hands in front of your eyes. You close them, praying to whomever, whatever, to be rescued from these emotions. From this moment or this memory.

She was doing all of those things, I assume. I was still nervously hiding in the bathroom stall, wondering what to do. My first instinct was to open the door and take the woman into my arms. Just stand there and let her cry. But, I had recently been trying to stifle these emotional reactions with people, particularly strangers, because I don’t want people to be put off by me, and I am afraid I have put people off. So instead I stood silently, and listened. I listened as she pulled more paper from the machine, as she blew her nose, as she splashed water on her face. With each moment I grew more and more upset with myself, until I couldn’t take it anymore and I opened the door.

There, standing next to the trash can, her hands steadying her small frame on the sink, was a woman in a neat pantsuit, hair pinned back, make-up running down her face. When we made eye contact she immediately apologized. I took a couple of steps toward the sink and she stepped back to let me get closer. She grabbed more paper towels, and dabbed her eyes. I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything. I just washed my hands and kept my face down. Then as I reached for the paper towels the words just sort of came out of my mouth.

“Are you okay?” I asked her, meeting her eyes.

“No,” she said. In that moment I didn’t want to push, so I didn’t. I dried my hands. I should have made a step toward the door, but I didn’t. Instead I put my hand on top of hers.

Her name was Mary. Her husband of 42 years had just, that morning, passed away in the hospital a couple of blocks away. Heart attack. There was nothing they could do. Her daughter was waiting for her in the restaurant. I didn’t know what to say. She didn’t look at me to say anything. In that moment, I just had to listen.

They’d met in high school.

They had three kids and a lot of grandkids.

She doesn’t know who she will talk to when she has a bad day. She doesn’t know who will tell her it will all be okay. They had plans and he didn’t uphold his end of the bargain. Her daughter is busy. Her son is gone. So many years, so many miles, so many separations.

I just nodded and gripped her hands tighter.

I told her that I didn’t understand her grief.

She told me that was good, and that she hoped I never did.

She said she had to go. She said her daughter would be worried.

I watched as she wiped her face one last time. Then she grabbed my hands, tried to smile, and she walked out the door.

I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how long I had been in there, but I stood there for a bit longer. I didn’t want to go out into the restaurant. I didn’t want to see her daughter again. I didn’t want to see her. I was sad. I was sad for her and I was suddenly sad for all the people in the world like her. I was afraid. I never want to be in her shoes, but it is an inevitability. Inevitably, we all lose someone.

Eventually I made my way back to my table. My chicken fingers were there, but Mary and her daughter were gone. I sat down at the table and called my husband. He answered. I wanted to burst into tears, but instead I just told him that I loved him. That his day was bound to get better and that this low spot we were in, these changes we find ourselves fighting, they would all work out. I told him it would all be okay.

Then over the next hour I sat quietly, watching people walk in and out of the restaurant. I overheard conversations about hurricanes and hydrangeas. I watched an old man flirt with a young server. I smiled as a mother struggled with a child on her hip and a newborn in a stroller. I thought about this life, and how we live it. I thought about death, and how it scares us. I wished good thoughts for Mary. I realized, maybe for the first time, that we aren’t just here for one reason, with one talent or one gift, but that we are all here for a lot of reasons, buttloads of them in fact, but rescuing each other might be the most important.

As always, be kind.

M.