Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bitten (rather painfully) by the travel bug

Published in The Fauquier Times-Democrat, Weekend Edition on Friday, 7/20/2012

Surely you’ve heard the saying, “Be careful what you wish for, because it might come true.” Sometimes we get what we want, but not exactly in the way we had envisioned.

Immediately, the “The Monkey’s Paw,” a 1902 short story by English writer W.W. Jacobs comes to mind. In this tale, an elderly couple is left with the titular talisman (from India, of course) that can grant three wishes to its owner. These folks are simple and humble people, so all they wish for is enough to pay off the last mortgage payments on their house. (I know. Nowadays, that could be a LOT of money.) While their wish is granted, it is done in a horrific and chilling manner.

I thought I had learned to stop wishing for things. I once had wondered why my life wasn’t exciting. Then, my husband had a massive heart attack. That generated plenty of “excitement” and anxiety and general upheaval. I thank God he is better. And thank you, again, for praying with me then.

Nowadays, if I want excitement, I go to the grocery store and try to use a coupon. If I want a lot of excitement, I try to use one that has expired. (Those are usually the only ones I can find, anyway.)

Here’s another exciting thing I do. Sometimes, I drive to the post office to try to mail off a massive package at 4:55 pm. To enhance the excitement level, I make sure the package is going abroad (namely, India) so that it also requires a customs declaration form. I could tweak my timing and get there at 4:59, because Sharon, who works the window, hasn’t attempted to close that corrugated metal window on my hands. Yet.

So, I thought I had learned my lesson, but I guess some of us would rather be teachers than students. It’s more fun doling out lessons than having to learn them. (Incidentally, I won’t be writing this column weekly beginning next month so I can focus on teaching math at Warrenton Middle School. Thank you, Katrina of my local library, for asking and for telling me that you’ll miss reading me every week.) Apparently, I needed a refresher on the lesson on wanting things.

Did I wish to travel this summer? Did I yearn for the excitement that comes with venturing to new places? Did I wish this aloud, and did someone hear me? Perhaps. My family and I will have spent four of the five Sundays this July driving down to Lynchburg and back. Before this month, I had never gone to Lynchburg. When this month ends, I may never want to go back.

My eldest son is attending the Governor’s School for Math, Science, and Technology that is held for four weeks in July on the campus of Lynchburg College. Courtesy of the storms that struck the Mid-Atlantic a couple of weeks ago, he is getting the truncated version: three weeks instead of four. The problem is, that wasn’t quite clear to us on the morning of July 1st, when the program was to have begun.

I should say thank you to Fauquier County Public Schools and the Commonwealth of Virginia and those who make it possible for rising juniors and seniors who are gifted in a particular field to be able to attend this free of charge. That’s right – all four weeks of room, board, and classes cost the parents and students nada. As in nada-thing. As you might expect, it’s competitive, and students may only attend once. College campuses throughout Virginia host these summer residential governor’s schools for languages, performing and visual arts, and various disciplines. My elder two daughters also attended: one at Virginia Commonwealth University and the other at Virginia Tech. To learn more, email Raye Rector, Supervisor of Advanced Programs and Fine Arts at the FCPS office.

You may recall that the first round of storms that lashed our region left many of us powerless, as well as without electricity. Ours was out from Friday night until Saturday evening. The first and second order of business that Saturday were to get ice from Walmart, followed by having the dog boarded so we could get our eldest son delivered and moved into his dorm room at lovely little Lynchburg College the next day.

Incidentally, if you need an in-home pet-sitter, call Karyn Brown of KB’s Pet-Sitting at 540-272-3287. She is a great gal who just started her licensed and insured business, and she has twenty years of experience. Karyn has a gentle and loving spirit that is perfect for working with animals and children. If you have either of these in your home, you will know that the lines between the two meld: Your children can often behave like animals, and your pets become like children, except with less attitude and fewer fashion corrections.

This is the one glorious weekend in July that we are not going to Lynchburg. We’ll be in Baltimore, instead, moving my eldest daughter out of her apartment. Anyone else have the urge to travel?

Monday, July 16, 2012

The long goodbyes

Published in The Fauquier Times-Democrat, Weekend Edition on July 13, 2012

The other day, my friend Rose was frantically waving to me from a car I didn’t recognize. (Hi, Rose!) I don’t associate her with that new car, so I wasn’t really looking for her. I don’t know why it’s so exciting to see your friend in a car on the road, but it is. You might just have wished each other goodbye from where you last were, but as you ride off in our little traveling capsules, you’ll feel compelled to wave vigorously to each other. And you will be genuinely happy about it.

My husband has always attributed this clinginess of mine to some genetic deficiency on my side of the family, because we can’t just say goodbye once. It’s what he calls “separation anxiety.” It’s similar to the trauma that two-year-olds experience (and inflict) when leaving their parents, only now in my mid-forties, it’s just a little more sophisticated. When I’m leaving my parents, I no longer cling to their thighs and shriek. I’m taller now, so I cling to their necks.

The farewell scene in my home takes about half the time of the visit itself. We have stages of goodbyes. Just like at the airport, there are different stages of departure; you can’t just hop on the plane and go.

“All right, then – thanks for coming over.” These are the kitchen goodbyes. The kitchen is the center of the home, so naturally, we have been buzzing around there.

Out in the foyer, there will be another round of hugs, because they’re about to leave your house, for crying out loud. And speaking of crying out loud, please don’t – at this age, some sniffling and a little eye-welling are sufficient. Besides, mascara streaks are unbecoming. Mascara? Oh, wait – we didn’t take a picture!

We have to have the picture, because what if we don’t see each other again for a really, really long time. What if, and there is always that underlying fear as your parents age – what if, this is the last time? No, no. Don’t think like that, because then you will be sobbing before you know it. You will think of the times you were a teen and downright evil to your parents. You will think of all the sacrifices they have made for you. Don’t let your mind wander.

Run and get the camera. Shoot the Look of Death at anyone who dares to roll his or her eyes about taking pictures – spouse, children, or the dog. Only your parents are insulated from this look, because they, like you, love taking pictures - lots of them. A genetic trait, perhaps?

Line everyone up in that one spot the realtor had billed as “the dramatic entryway.” Jackie, you have no idea the drama that goes on in this entryway every time people leave.

Pose in different permutations and combinations. All the kids with the grandparents. Just the kids. Now just me with my mom and dad. Now add back the kids. Hey, we forgot the dog! Do a remote visual check on husband’s patience and blood pressure. Okay, it looks safe to get that one last shot, but no more. Exasperated children and an annoyed photographer do not make for good pictures.

Then, in traditional fashion, my dad pulls out one of those bank envelopes. He always gives the children money. In my parents’ eyes, my husband and I are children too. Out comes a $20 for each of us. We protest feebly, but it’s no use. It’s never any use. They always give everyone money, even if they know they will see you next weekend. Everybody gets the same bills – sometimes tens or fives, but mostly twenties, and that makes me feel guilty. It’s expensive to leave this house.

Then commences another round of hugs and goodbyes. Oh, wait! Where is that little bag of the leftover goodies we were sending with them? (It is only about a fifth of the goodies that my mom still makes to bring over.) More hugs and then we all wander out because we can’t just ship them out of the house like strangers, can we? They’re family, and we have to see them to the car. Hugs before getting in the car, of course.

And then, they get themselves settled in, and the windows come down so we can say goodbye again. Quick, reach your head in for another hug around the neck and run around to the other side of the car. Your dad gets out of the car to hug you, and you know your mom would have done the same, except for her knee problem and that cane.

Even as they drive off, we are waving frantically. So, here it is, I start my goodbye to you. But don’t worry, it’s just the kitchen goodbye for now. If you’re lucky, I won’t have forgotten something and have to come back to start the process anew.

The editor has graciously asked me to write once a month when the school year begins. I’ll see if I can’t keep up with a column every other week once August and the school year kick in. For now, know that the first round of hugs has been initiated.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

We interrupt this column...and your electricity

Published in The Fauquier Times-Democrat, Weekend Edition on July 6, 2012
 We interrupt the previously planned column, just like the way our lives were interrupted, by the powerful, history-making storm that recently swept the Mid-Atlantic. I’ve been getting so many calls from the National Weather Service lately that we’re on a first-name basis.

I realize that I complain about many things; in fact, having a column can be the equivalent of being a professional complainer, although I don’t actually derive a living doing this. (That’s what husbands are for, after all. That, and for fixing up every mysteriously dented towel rod in our house.)

I’m not going to complain about being left without power two weekends ago, because when I wrote this, there were still thousands without electricity in the midst of a sweltering week. There are two-dozen people who lost their lives to this storm; some lost their homes or their cars. All we lost was some time and a bag of shrimp.

There is nothing like losing something to make you appreciate it. Electricity is just one of those things we take for granted in our lives, like clean, running water, the Internet, and good health. It’s like the statement: “You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Toilet paper’s a good example.” Unfortunately, I don’t know who gets the credit for this profound quote.

The weekend before last, I had to go without electricity to our home for less than 24 hours. Here’s what I learned about myself. I am a big baby. I am spoiled. Once in awhile, I should realize how so many other people in the world have to live.

That Friday night, my daughter had called from her apartment in Charlottesville.  She had lost power and said that from her fifth floor apartment, she could hear the wind howling. The garbage dumpster below was shaking. When I looked up the weather online for her, I saw that we were all in the path of this severe thunderstorm. Shortly after it reached us, it would be paying a visit to Baltimore where my eldest daughter was.

I’m not proficient with managing a conference call, but I do know how to use the home phone and the cell phone simultaneously. So it happened that both my elder daughters and I were discussing the weather in this swath of nearly two hundred miles. So at least we had a warning, but not everyone was or is so fortunate.

My husband had the power pack charging, the lanterns out, and our flashlights handy. I am so glad this man is around. About that time, our dog started shuddering violently. She is terrified of thunder.

Shortly after our conversation ended, the power failed. We all fell asleep with the power out and the backdoor open. (It’s okay; you’d have to be Spiderman to get in through our backdoor until we have a deck or stairs or some other form of access installed.) The next morning, our first trip was to the local Walmart to get bags of ice. We had a vehicle to drive. It was tanked up. There were reasons to be thankful. Neither Spiderman nor any others had paid us a visit during the night. Our dog, for once, had not peed on the carpet. Yes, we had many reasons to be thankful.

We got to the store that was surprisingly busy. I was relieved to see that they had power and people already working there that morning. What if we were to awaken to a disaster and there were no essential services? No stores open? No place with electricity or air conditioning or ice and water to sell?

Many other people had had the same idea to come and buy ice. There was a lady who already had a fully stocked cart with all manner of things at about 7:15 am. I was impressed at her shopping finesse. How had she hit so many different corners of the vast store? She told us that she had been there the night before when the power went out. She had had to abandon the cart because she was unable to make her purchases then.

The elderly gentleman with the captain’s hat ahead of us laughed heartily when I responded to the cashier’s “How are you?” with a “Fine…Well, no actually, we are powerless.” He must have been too, because his cart consisted of water, ice, and batteries.

I think these storms help us to realize that, despite all our technological advances as a society, we are utterly dependent. And despite our numerous appliances and batteries, we remain pretty powerless.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Of Billionaires and Banquets

Published in The Fauquier Times-Democrat on June 29, 2012

When was the last time I got to shake hands with a billionaire? Yes, that’s billion with a B. A big B. It was the same night that I had dinner with the former daily columnist of The Washington Post.

No, really. And here’s the more incredible thing; it had nothing to do with my merits (or demerits) as a writer. I know. You’re probably as shocked as I am. So while I would like to give you the impression that I was having dinner, tête-à-tête, with columnist Bob Levey, the two of us hobnobbing about the trials and travails of putting together 700 or 850 words to form some cohesive, yet entertaining or informational or opinion-laden piece, that would not be accurate. Heck, it wouldn’t even be true.  Read about Bob Levey.

I just happened to be there, a genetic bystander, while my eldest son (who is my third child) received an award from Junior Achievement of Greater Washington in their 2011 Junior Achievement Essay Competition, sponsored by billionaire philanthropist David M. Rubenstein. Visit Junior Achievement of Greater Washington's Essay Winners' page.

My son’s award, first place in Virginia, came along with a $10,000 college scholarship. In fact, eight other students had each also received a $10,000 scholarship. That’s first, second, and third place in each of the three regions: Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. One student, the grand prizewinner, received a hefty $ 20,000 scholarship. Not only that, but to encourage participation, three schools (one in each region) with the highest number of entrants received a cash award of $6,000 each. That’s $128,000 in cash prizes. I haven’t even considered the cost of the dinner for members of the organization, the judges, plus up to fifty people associated with the students (their parents, school principals, and district superintendents).

While Dr. Lewis and Mr. Sites were unable to attend due to other official obligations, the head of the English department at Fauquier High School, Mrs. Carolyn Parks and her husband Mr. Larry Parks, attended. Mrs. Parks had sponsored my son Sergio in the Rotary Club of Warrenton’s speech contest in January of this year, where he won first place and went on to two additional rounds in the region and district, winning first and third place in those respective competitions.

Now back to that sumptuous dinner we were treated to at the Capital Hilton. My husband had taken the day off. Clothes were collected from the dry cleaners. Cameras were loaded with batteries and tested to make sure the charging on the batteries “took.” Yes, indeed, we parents were a little excited.

For my son, the day dawned with two comprehensive AP tests to be taken. (Advanced Placement classes are the ones taken in high school that have a specific exam attached at the end of the course.) Depending on the score, with 5 being the highest, a student’s chosen institute of higher education may give them college credit for those courses, so it is definitely in the student’s interest to do as well as possible.

The food was delectable, with the little pats of butter each shaped like the Capitol building. They served slabs of cheesecake the size of a Nerf football. You’re right; it doesn’t take a whole lot to impress me. After all, I’m still delighted that all of my children are, and continue to be, potty trained. The youngest child is seven, so this “achievement” was some time ago. But still.

When I shook hands that night with Mr. Rubenstein, I had only a vague idea then of who he is. It was later, when I read through David Montgomery’s piece in the May 14th Lifestyle section of the Washington Post that I realized the level his of giving.  Read the Washington Post article on David M. Rubenstein.

I don’t know about you, but it seems that lots of people have opinions on how others should spend their money, and the farther away that money is from their own wallets, the stronger that opinion gets.

It makes me think of Elinor Sauerwein, a frugal woman who never bought anything she felt she didn’t absolutely need. She had lived through the Great Depression. (The original one.) She lived in Modesto, California, in a small home, and never owned a dishwasher or a clothes dryer. She mowed her own lawn until the age of 92. She only allowed herself one vacation and “indulged” in the extravagance of cable television in the final year of her life of 96 years. Reportedly, she was thrilled with being able to watch the History Channel. After her death in October of 2010, when her accounts were settled and cleared, her financial advisor prepared a cashier’s check in excess of $ 1.7 million, all of which was given to the local Modesto chapter of the Salvation Army.  Read Jeff Jardine's column in the Modesto Bee.

As you might expect, I’ll have to finish this thought next week.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Great Expectations: Good Things Come to those who Wait

Published in The Fauquier Times-Democrat on June 22, 2012

No wonder I feel inefficient. It’s taken a fortnight to tell you I was late for my middle son’s 8th grade awards ceremony. I tried to sneak in subtly, like a baby elephant being smuggled into a preschool classroom. For well over an hour, students were called and recognized. Some went up so many times they rivaled college students at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

What about my boy? No one had called his name. I recalled the letter I had received from the school. Unlike bulk-mail gimmicks that tease you with big-ticket prizes but only deliver a 50-cent discount on a 32-oz soda, this letter had given assurances. Hadn’t it? It’s not that I was jealous of the other students and their accolades. But who goes to a ceremony only to watch other people’s children? Teacher after teacher announced their best, or most improved, or most enthusiastic, students. Some presented a single award for the highest GPA or chose one boy and one girl. Still, my son sat namelessly in the minor sea of students. Perhaps I had had a false impression of how well he was doing.

When the all-A’s students for all three years were called, it was late in the ceremony. By the time they got to the A’s and B’s, these students were simply asked to stand as their names were called. They would get their certificates later. I got a fuzzy shot of the back of my son’s head. At least I know now to turn off the flash to avoid getting a brilliant shot of the back of a parent’s head, while my child appears dimly on a darkened background like some astronomical anomaly. No worries. I could stage the photo at home later.

The Battle of the Books sponsors (thank you for all you have done, Mrs. Howard and Mrs. Pappas!) gave awards for those who had participated all three years. So finally, my son, along with a couple of other students, was called up. As far as I could see, the teachers were finished giving their awards and the office had given out citizenship awards.
 That was it, then? For this, I had run around like a maniac all morning, buying and chopping fruit for three fruit salads I was to have delivered to church twenty minutes ago? Hopefully, the fruit salad wasn’t stewing (was I?) in the back of my car. My annoyance crowded out any gratitude. I should be thankful to have even one child, much less six, all of whom are healthy and, so far, decent people, especially when closely supervised. Furthermore, they have inherited my husband’s sharp intellect.

But the mind is full of avarice and wont to take things for granted. It looks around to see what else there is. Like the child boosted upon the shoulders, it does not realize its smallness, but rather focuses on what more there is to want.

I checked my watch: 80 minutes. Gone. The ceremony would be ending in ten minutes, I assumed, since the students were scheduled to depart for a picnic and hike. I was supposed to have dropped off the fruit salads at 9:00, and it was now 9:20. If I waited until the end, the place would be overrun by exiting parents. Besides, the fruit salad couldn’t wait forever. Neither, apparently, could I.

I slinked out and hoofed it to the car. I was a little miffed. Ah, well, that’s what happens when you expect things: It is easier to be disappointed. How much better it is to expect nothing and be genuinely thrilled if it turns out otherwise. I reached the car somewhat wilted, and hoped the three bowls of fruit salad had escaped my fate.

For the record, they were in better condition than I was. It was unseasonably cool; I had parked in the shade, and the windows were slightly down. After delivering them, I returned to my list of chores. They seemed as long as the awards list, I thought bitterly.

My son returned from school at 3:00 and suddenly exclaimed that he had left his award plaque on the bus that had been driven to the field trip. (A different bus had taken them back.) “Oh, you mean your certificates?” I said somewhat coldly, remembering the fruit salads that had not had the luxury to be as icy.

He looked at me curiously. “No, the plaque…” his voice trailed off as he grasped the implications. Then, his face dawned with understanding. “Oh, so, you weren’t there?” he asked innocently.

It turns out that he received The Student of the Year award. Naturally, it had been the last one given. Right about then, I had been giving out fruit salads.

For the rest of the evening, as I mentally and verbally beat myself up, his response was a genuine, “That’s okay, Mom.” This child can be maddeningly understanding at times. Transportation Services helped us have the plaque returned safely to school, so he collected it the next day along with a science award. I couldn’t wait through whole ceremony. What was one more day?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

How my life is like a fruit salad

Published in The Fauquier Times-Democrat, Weekend Edition on June 15, 2012

I headed to my middle son’s school with gladness (he was to get an award) and urgency in my heart (I was late). I wound up parking blocks away. Apparently, many other students would be getting awards, and obviously, their parents were more prompt. I had a minor complication in the back of my vehicle. I had three large fruit salads to be delivered at 9:00 am. The awards ceremony began at 8:00 am.

In the old days, parents gave their children names like Patience and Prudence or Felicity and Chastity. You don’t hear those names as much now, but parents still bestow names in recognition of what their children will bring: Joy, Hope, or Faith. We should have named our children Complication or Confusion or Conflict. Or we might have been more practical and less vague: DWT for Dropper of Wet Towels and the like. The problem with naming a child is that you have to do it before you really know the person. You are awed by the miracle of birth and overwhelmed by the profound wonder over the tiny being that is entrusted to your care. You are smitten by the cuteness factor. It’s a classic case of Bait and Switch. You don’t realize there is fine print involved. The cautions and contrary indications are cast in a small size and tossed a couple of years or decades away. Naturally, you’re not going to heed these warnings. Besides, the foreground of your immediate vision is so thoroughly occupied by the darned cuteness of Tiny Being that you will not consider what TB will (or will not) be doing a few years from now, when you have come to your senses and he or she, likely, has not.

So, Complication will always be a part of our lives. So will Confusion and Conflict.

About the fruit salads: When the request for dishes had made its way around the church circuit, I first adopted the Dodge and Duck technique. Surely, I was too busy, right? When the requests came around a second time, I tried the Wait and See method. You never know when other Duty Dodgers might be flushed out of their hiding places. Why risk exposure too soon? Once the need is met, you might realize you were never really required in the first place. Weren’t you supposed to sort out that bag of socks in the garage, anyway? On round three, the guilt is overwhelming. This is how parenting works. First, you try to dodge things. Then, you wait them out. Finally, you get guilted in.

On Round Three of the requests, I allowed Guilt and Compassion a seat next to me. Hadn’t so many people lent me a hand in my weeks of need? I could let Guilt climb aboard, but I wasn’t about it allow it to usurp control from Logic. I chose the easiest thing to make: Fruit salad. Fruit salad is great because nothing has to be cooked. You can simply take out your frustrations while chopping up fruit. You toss it all together, and voila! Fruit salad! If I were organized, I would have made and refrigerated this the night before. Instead, I was parking the car at 5:57 am to buy the fruit on the morning of.

Needless to say, it was a harrowing morning. The middle and high school bus leaves at 6:57 and the elementary bus at 8:03. Fortunately, my eldest son was home that morning to help with getting the youngest two out the door while I frantically peeled and chopped fruit.

By the time I loaded the fruit salads into the back of the car and changed so I would not be an embarrassment to self, to my child, or to civilized society in general, I had two minutes to get to the school. We only live a mile away, but there are limits to travel, even behind the wheel of a gargantuan vehicle. These come in the form of police cars, posted speed limits, and pedestrians in crosswalks.

As I approached the school, I knew I would need to park at the side of the street. There was no point in even turning in to the school parking lot. That much I have learned over the years. Other things, not so much.

I passed over an excellent parking spot, thinking that surely, there would be one closer. Ah, instant regret. Every slot thereafter was filled. Life is so much like that: There’s no backing up. It’s best to concentrate on what lies ahead, and not be so darned picky next time. I parked blocks away, but in the shade, and left my windows cracked a bit. I didn’t want those fruit salads to turn into stew, after all.

By the time I hustled myself into the auditorium, I felt like an asthmatic bag lady. The eighth graders were filing in, as they were announced. My son, along with the other band members, was on stage playing the processional. The chances I could slip in undetected were slimmer than any of the fruit I had sliced that morning.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Code of Motherhood

Published in The Fauquier Times-Democrat, Weekend Edition, on 6/08/12

The Code of Motherhood, Section 5.42, states that a mother, (a truly good, loving mother, if such a creature exists) will, at all times, (barring death or dismemberment), “be there” for each and every performance of each and every child. I do not speak of the dramatic performances some children employ at home to register dissatisfaction or rage in order to get what they want. (People of an older and less astute generation and those who did not understand child psychology or the proper use of euphemisms, used to refer to these displays of independence and willpower as “throwing a temper tantrum” or “having a fit.”) These are not the performances I refer to. In fact, the Code of Motherhood specifically excuses, and possibly even forbids, you from having to witness such performances.

No, the performance to which I allude is the type in which you typically pay for your child to learn some amazing feat or skill and then pay again to attend a recital in which they perform these amazing feats or skills. By default, the Code requires you to photograph these furiously. If you are really a good mother, you will also buy the DVD or videotaped version of this performance for a mere $ 35. This will be a DVD that will sit on your shelf because you will never have time to dust it, much less to watch it. When you are in a mood or situation in which you are finally able to watch this, typically with a proud grandparent or a curious friend about, you will realize that your memories are warped. The DVD is inexplicably scratched. On replay, some sections are pixelated or slow down or tend to repeat like some sort of an electronic stutter. In other words, the DVD you never had time to dust has beaten you to the task and has bitten the dust.

The third type of performance is free, but don’t let that fool you. It is equally critical that you attend this as well. It is typically held at school or after school. If you are following the Code correctly, each child is supposed to participate in some sport (other than running his or her mouth) and some form of music (other than playing you like a fiddle). Drama, scholastic bowls, chess tournaments, and exploits with robotics may also be involved. According to the Code, so should you.

I have already failed entire sections of the Motherhood Code, but this is not the sort of test on which you can give up. You test daily, and your grade always hangs in the balance. You need to keep trying to pass. Even if you have passed in the past, you can’t get all smug and complacent about it. The standards will now be higher. You will be required to volunteer at these events by baking goods and raising funds and possibly shuttling children about. Don’t think you’re just going to get away with plain old showing up anymore.

Last week, I mentioned that I attended my daughter’s college graduation with no batteries in my camera. Smooth. This week, I pulled one that makes that stunt look like saintly behavior.

According to the Code, I would have to attend this event/function/performance. Also, because I am currently not teaching or commuting, and am always looking for any opportunity to flee from housework, I would gladly attend. By the way, did I tell you that I will be teaching middle school math in the County in the fall? I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be a secret, so I will be vague about what school.

I’m trying to be careful because we have recently seen that while the Principal of a school, via the County, can giveth an offer, the Principal can also taketh away. Even though I’m not coaching any sports this fall, I would like to be careful. And employed.

Next year, the Code may allow me to miss a performance or two. But for now, I have no escape clauses. Besides, what were my alternatives to attending: Studying for another exam, paying bills, de-junking or doing housework? I could wing the awards ceremony, even if it started at 8:00 am, and my younger children’s bus leaves at 8:03 am. Arrangements could and would have to be made. Don’t forget that the Code of Motherhood, Section 7.9 states that you will spend one-third of your time making arrangements (not the floral kind), so you can use the other two-thirds of your time in a neurotically efficient manner. More next week…
I had received a letter in the mail advising me to attend the 8th grade recognition ceremony because my son would be receiving an award. The letter was conspiratorial in nature: The students only knew about the ceremony, but no specifics of what they were to receive. Naturally, I can keep a secret. Just because I share numerous idiotic secrets in a county-wide column, does not mean I can’t keep one or two of them.