Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Chassis, Firearms and Wolverines

Lillian's First Day of SchoolWe're three weeks into the school year and we're back on schedules, well-ordered and in a good groove that I hope lasts until December. Life is good.

Lillian had her first day of kindergarten. How did it go? Well as we drove up to the school she informed (not asked, informed) me that I need not accompany her into the school. "I can go by myself Mom," she said.

When I explained that at least for the first day the teachers wanted parents to go with their children into the school she sighed and said, "Okay but can you wait at the end of the hall?"

No, I had to go all the way with her into the classroom so she shrugged and allowed me to be present. I asked her that afternoon if she'd made any friends and she said that she "had indeed made some friends" (that's her new word: indeed--she sounds like she's a BBC announcer) but couldn't come up with any names to prove it.

I later saw the class list and it's no wonder, there aren't more than two or three traditional names in the group, most are multisyllabic with apostrophes and Ys thrown in haphazardly like orthographic shrapnel. Granted, some are lovely-sounding ethnic names, but then there are a lot of odd ones. "Gage" and "Cross"??? I can just see it now, "I'd like you to meet my lovely children: Gage, Torque and Chassis."

But speaking of friends, now that school is going again friends are suddenly a hot issue. All summer the kids have played together, played with neighborhood kids and generally been above all the pettiness that elementary-level social life has to offer. Three weeks into school and we're now officially embroiled in soap operas.

Let's start with Spencer, some of his friends have air soft guns which are the modern equivalent of BB guns. They shoot little plastic pellets that sting like crazy (this I’m told, I had better never find out for myself) but can’t break the skin or cause much destruction though I'm sure in the hands of a pre-pubescent male there are plenty of things it could damage, say an eye?

Spencer’s been hot to have one of these guns but I hadn't given it much thought because I assumed there was little chance of him affording one. Last Saturday he asked Andrew if they could go to Sportsman’s Warehouse to “Look at air soft guns.” I took it at face value until they came home WITH an air soft gun, evidently the mowing business has been good to my boy and he's got more cash than I gave him credit for.

I did a "What what????" When I saw it and thanked my husband heartily for jumping in there and letting our son to purchase a firearm. I mean who wants to be bogged down in pesky decisions like “Should I allow my son to shoot at the neighbor kid for recreation?” I thought there was a Brady Bill or something that prevented against this kind of thing. WHERE’S THAT DARN WAITING PERIOD WHEN YOU REALLY NEED IT????

But the deed was done and then I was stuck with looking like a woman trying to sissify her boy if she were to be so left-wing as to demand that he return the gun—and yes, it’s a gun, I don't care that it's also a toy. I gave up but took my revenge by telling Andrew that it was now entirely HIS responsibility to teach the boy gun safety, make sure he had the appropriate safety gear, set all those minute bylaws for how the gun was to be operated and then handle the lawsuits that would most certainly come when the neighborhood dogs started losing body parts.

Well THEN the kicker in the Saga de Air Soft came yesterday. One of Spencer’s little friends informed him that his new gun was a piece of junk because it cost “under $20.” Because $19.99 to a 10 year-old boy is so cheap apparently. Spencer was in tears and informed us he was taking his gun back so he could get a “good” gun. Never mind that Spencer had worked all summer mowing lawns to earn the money for that gun while this other kid probably hadn't done anything to earn his. Just try explaining to a crushed child that it doesn't matter what the other kids say, they know that it does matter a great deal--at least to them.

When reason failed Andrew finally apprised him of the situation, namely, “You can’t take back something that’s already been opened and used just because your punky friend tries to tear you down and make you feel bad because now he's not the only one with a cool toy.” This only produced more tears but most people have known for some time that we have hearts of stone that aren’t moved by things like 10 year-olds and their desires for “way cool" richy air guns.

The situation has taken a while to cool down but we’ve officially moved past DEFCON 4-crisis mode. The prognosis is good and the lesson has been learned which is (basically) don’t unwrap anything until it gets the “cool” seal of approval from your 5th grade friends. Sigh.

Grace is enjoying eighth grade. At least she’s enjoying it more since having learned her arch-nemesis Jenna is moving out of the country. Yes, Jenna is responsible for quite a few gray hairs on my head and I can’t say that I’m sorry she’s leaving. I think in the future that high schools and colleges ought to consider Jenna for their mascot because I’ve learned that there are few things on the planet as ferocious and intimidating as a 13 year-old alpha-female. Wolverines? No, they eventually get tired of their victims and will leave the carcass alone. Fighting Sioux? No, they’re satisfied with just your scalp. No there’s nothing fiercer, more tenacious and more vicious than a 7th or 8th grade girl.

Though I remember going through junior high myself it's still hard for me to comprehend why girls like Jenna enjoy picking on other girls like Grace. She'll demand her seat at the lunch table, call her names, tell her she's stupid or dresses like a 3rd-grader and try to get others to do the same. My only satisfaction is that someday, somewhere little Jenna will grow up and have a family of her own, hopefully with three or four teenage girls of her own that will make her life as fun and traumatic as she’s managed to make ours.

Grace was unclear as to where exactly Jenna was moving. Evidently it was a “secret” that every other girl at the table was worthy of hearing except Grace so we’re still in the dark as to which of our dear allies will be blessed with her presence. I wonder if Iraq is a possibility? I bet she could clear out those insurgents pretty quick. A bit of biting sarcasm, some public humiliation, a sprinkling of widely broadcast put-downs and she’ll have Osama crying for his Momma within the month.

But even with traumas like these don't get me wrong, it's great to be back in the academic saddle again. Fall is my favorite time of year and it's going to be a good year--I can feel it.

***

Congratulations to Dawn of So A Blonde Walks into a Blog for winning last week's Saturday Giveaway. She walked away with the Watermelon Stripe handbag from XS Baggage.

Technorati tags:

36 comments:

Corrie said...

One of our minute bylaws:

NO shooting at anyone who isn't wearing protective eyewear.

My girls love to go out after a neighborhood shootout and pick up all the little pellets. I can't believe how many colors they come in - even 'glow in the dark'

Robin said...

Lillian sounds like Itai - he'll tolerate me walking him in if he must, but only as long as it takes to put down his back and then he's racing outside to play until the bell rings. He shoots out of the classroom so fast I barely have time to wave, and of course a public kiss at this age would be grounds for running away from home!

I'm delighted for you and Grace that her nemesis is leaving. My own Jenna from junior high was a truly horrid human being, but I was able to gloat later when she didn't get a date until she was 17! (And even then I'm not sure she didn't pay him LOL.)

soccer mom in denial said...

I'm the mom of three kids that when their names are said together sound like a law firm.

When we visit folks in the South their names fit in fit. Up here in New England, not so much.

My favorite kid name story was hearing a dad yell "Austin. Savanah. Come here!" I wanted to ask if Jacksonville was coming too.

Mary Alice said...

"I’ve learned that there are few things on the planet as ferocious and intimidating as a 13 year-old alpha-female."

Truer words have never been written. Middle School can be a living h- e-double-hockey-stick.

All you mothers of little girls take heed. Model loving and empathetic behavior towards other females so as not to raise those horrid creatures that bully and reduce others to tears. What is it about the female species that creates in us such competitiveness? Let's all be good to one another.

Sandy said...

(sigh!) Sorry. It is tough being a kid sometimes, isn't it?

Reading about your daughter and Jenna brought back many memories of teaching. I will always insist that nothing, nothing, nothing, is worse than girls fighting. They're brutal, and unlike boys, they hold grudges FOREVER.

Oh, and your son's friend? He's just jealous that your son took his thunder away.

SusieJ said...

I have to get my boys a cap gun -- I loved to shoot them when I was a kid.

Gloria said...

"...and the lesson has been learned which is (basically) don’t unwrap anything until it gets the “cool” seal of approval from your 5th grade friends."

That sounds just about right! :D

Though I really admire your young son working for his money early in life.

Funny about the Jenna part. I hope she IS really giving Osama a hard time.

Diane said...

Jenna. Oh, I remember lots of those! The freaky thing is, I ran into one of my "Jenna's" several years after high school graduation. She actually looked excited to see me and waved frantically! Like I was a long-lost buddy. I swear she had no remembrance of how things really were. The kicker? I ignored her, thinking she was waving at someone else. I didn't recognize her at first with the added 40 pounds...

Kat said...

My oldest is 5. I don't look forward to all the drama that is apparently in my future...

(That was a really funny post, btw...)

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

I bought my son a BB gun for his 9th birthday. Living in West Virginia, isn't it the right thing to do?
I bet Andrew was getting back at you for dragging him to the opera. Here's a picture
http://timappleton.blogspot.com/2007/07/my-boy.html"

Melissa Garrett said...

Oh. My.

I happen to be reading a book about bullies called, "No More Jellyfish, Chickens, or Wimps." One of my biggest fears is that one of my kids will be bullied in school, especially Jacob for being a bit "different." And schools are natoriously BAD about protecting children from being bullied. Oy! Here's hoping to things get better.

Heffalump said...

Our boys like to collect the air soft pellets from around the neighborhood also.
Teenage girls is one of the reasons I answer "No!" when people ask me if I want a little girl. If we decide to have any more and we get a girl, I won't hate her or anything, but I have been in bliss that we have all boys because I worry about all those emotional times in the life of a little girl (I have four sisters, so I know how it can be).

Lisa said...

Kids can be so mean! All kids. What a relief the girl is moving!! Last winter a girl Amanda's age moved into our neighborhood. We were delighted! Then slowly we started hearing that she didn't like Amanda and the girl was always inviting Amanda's best friend over, leaving Amanda out. All kinds of things surfaced over the summer and I was trying to figure out the best way to deal with it. Then she returned from an extended vacation at grandma's and announced she was moving-and she did 2 weeks later. Hooray!

Deb - Mom of 3 Girls said...

Oh my, all the drama! I'm so not looking forward to my girls' teen years. I just hope we can avoid the 'Jennas', but am not holding out much hope.

We have a 'Gage' at daycare. :)

laughing mommy said...

I know what you mean about names! Tessa started kindergarten this year and the girls in her class are named Felicity, Cordelia, Neveah, Carina, Sadie and Brenda.

(No Emily, no Hannah, No Emma, No Olivia, No Mackenzie.... all the names I thought I'd find this year in kindergarten.)

Oh, your poor son! Kids are so cruel. Even though guns aren't my thing I can appreciate that he worked and saved for something... to have another kid ruin it for him is terrible!

elena jane said...

omg @ the soft gun, you poor mom you! i allowed a slingshot with glowinthedark pellets. but with SO many rules my 14 yo doesn't even hold it near me he's afraid i will run it over with the car (best way to destroy things imo).
we've had a few arch-nemesis's here....that word just makes me laugh tho...it brings to mind marvel comics. and that stuff certainly is NOT comical at all....
we're just entering week two...i have hope ;-)

Trenting said...

I think I've finally got the hang of it this year, One is 14 and one is 6, about time huh? I'm in the groove of it all, it amazes me every morning that I did a really good job the day before.. Woohoo.. Mommy milestone :O)

Nap Warden said...

I am now officially scared of the school years. I remember our jr. high bully was Niki...evil! How do you avoid those kids?

Megan said...

Loved this post! I love how you occasionally break out of the routine and give us some great mom humor. Proving you can "dooce" it with the best of them, without all the, ahem, I don't even know what to call it...

By the way, I cried at my first ultrasound when I found out we were having a girl. I was like, "No! Its so HARD to be a girl. Boys have it so much easier in H.S.!" My husband was deeply disturbed and had no idea what I was talking about. Because he is a B.O.Y.

dcrmom said...

Good NIGHT! That's quite a post, Michelle! LOL. I don't know where to begin. Let's just say, I'm not looking forward to the future ten years of my life. Can't they just stay young forever, when the worst problem I have is how long to let my daughter throw a temper tantrum in the preschool parking lot (the 2-y/o, not the 7-y/o, by the way) and how to get a baby to sleep thru the night? Those are issues I can handle.

Damselfly said...

"There are few things on the planet as ferocious and intimidating as a 13 year-old alpha-female." Too true. I hope Grace can learn how to deal with her. It's really tough.

Hope all your kids can enjoy the school year!

RandomGirl said...

I wish that I could say that all of the pettiness stops after college. Unfortunatley since i work at a college, I believe that I will be surrounded by it the rest of my life... yeah!

Kristin said...

We just started "real" school after homeschooling for the last 2.5 years. It's taking some getting used to and I too, am noticing all the odd spellings of classmates' names. We have rare names in our family, but not odd spellings. I can't figure out why people do that? Anybody care to enlighten me?

Daisy said...

Gage, Torque and Chassis? Too funny -- and too true! Today I had to ask three kids how to pronounce their names. That's not counting the kids that have creative spellings of traditionals!

edj said...

Oh yeah. That's all I'm sayin'. To it ALL.

Lisa Milton said...

Great post. I can't wait to hear about 'project jenna' - we'll hear rumors about some secret strategy in the war on terror, but we'll all know what's going down.

{I love 'indeed' too. Better still on the lips of a kindergartener.}

5gr8kdz said...

Can I recommend a book for you and a movie for Grace. The book is "Queen Bees and wannabees" and the movie for Grace is "13 Going On Thirty". Cute movie with a good message on good choices--bad choices. The book was a little scary but it helped identify certain behaviors and ways to encourage you sweet daughter to avoid or deal with them. I think 8th, 9th, and 10th grades are the worst as far as the girl thing goes. Good luck.

SabineM said...

Funny you mention strange names, I had that SAME thought today! I just can't even keep up with them. Never less remember the names! ;-)

Also alot of kids are into those air guns. I find the pellets annoying. I walk in the trails around here and find them everywhere. I keep thinking that the wild animals (no grizzlies here but we have coyotes, deer, mountain lions, rabbits) must eat the pellets. Or maybe they are smarter then that!

-it is hard when kids grow up. I remember when My daughter didn't want me to walk to the classroom*sniff *sniff

kailani said...

Thank goodness my daughter still wants me around at school. I know that will be changing very soon, though!

my4kids said...

My kids still insist on me walking them into their new classes every year including Joshua this year for 5th grade. Funny that Lillian apparently thinks she is to big to have her mamma walk her in.
I know about the whole more expensive toy thing the boys have gotten into that argument with kids even when I know my childs toy was not the cheapy one!

ablondeblogger said...

Thank you for the BEAUTIFUL purse!! I am SO excited that I won this!!!

Babystepper said...

Sympathies on your school-time struggles. My day is coming, I know.

Ahh. Junior High girls. I remember those days so well. I was certainly not one of the alpha females. I was the one who got excited when a "new" girl came because they could be my friend.

allrileyedup said...

Junior high is a cruel, cruel time.

Joyful Days said...

Was Spencer influenced by your Glock adventure??? I'm just wondering... Sorry couldn't resist. :)

Jane said...

Oh, Niki C. was my nemesis. She pointed out that my pants were too short and called me "Floods" whenever she could. Niki must have been advanced because that was 5th grade. Well, flash forward twenty years and I had a group of Niki C's in my fourth grade class. I told them the story in the most dramatic way I could of how Niki tortured me and made me hate school. I told them how sad it made me to look at them and think of her. They were pretty much in tears and wrote me notes about how sorry they were for being mean girls. It was a great moment. Just warn Grace, when someone powerful leaves, several others will try to fill their place. It might be a bit rocky for a bit after she leaves.

so grateful to be Mormon! said...

hi michelle:
i totally enjoyed this post and you made me start giggling when i read the kids' name suggestions. i heard a cool wild one lately, too, that i liked -- cade.

i love it when you write like this, so fun. thanks for the giggles this morning when i partook of your humor.

indeed!

great day to you, kathleen