Outwitted again

So Noodle got a little coloring board for her birthday party, which uses a pen filled with water as ink. Sure enough, we opened the box, let her draw with it, and then Peeta wanted to try it. The next morning, she wants to draw. No pen to be found. Peeta took it somewhere and left it and he can’t remember where.

We (read: I) looked for the frigging pen for two days, until I finally found it stuck in a corner of the counter of the kitchen. I brought it in to show Peeta. I found the pen!

Yeah, he said. I told you it was there.

You told me it was where?

Where you found it.

Where did I find it?

Mama, you tell me where you found it. You’re the one who found it.

Oy. I think he might have a bright future in law. Or just dodging blame.


Another gem from the movies

As we walk into the theater, Peeta starts asking me what movie we’re going to see.

Madagascar 3, I tell him. He nods, unsure.

He has no idea what movie that is, until we walk up the stairs and he sees the giant billboard for it.

Mama! I know that movie! he yells. There’s an ad for that movie in the magazine I read when I’m pooping!*

That’s right; we’re classy.



*National Geographic Kids, of course. What else would you read while you poop?

Be prepared

Let’s say Peeta has a half day and it’s raining and I decide to be super nice and take them to the movies because I simply cannot face the destruction that is my house. I don’t know why I haven’t learned that I should never take a toddler to the movies, because the same thing happens every time. I should be better prepared for this kind of behavior.

Here is what apparently ran through Noodle’s head during the movie:

1. Sit nicely through the previews while stuffing your face with Junior Mints.

2. Become bored of Junior Mints and start to demand your brother’s popcorn, yelling, POPCORN!

3. Alternate chocolate and popcorn by demanding CHOCLIT! POPCORN!

4. Scream MONKEYS! when monkeys come on screen.

5. Finish the popcorn and candy, but refuse to admit it until you have vigorously shaken the containers to make sure no more flies out.

6. Get bored and run up and down the aisle, stopping at the first aisle with people sitting in it.

7. Laugh wickedly at the people and then run back up the aisle.

8. Keel over halfway up the aisle.

9. Repeat.

10. Decide to walk up and down the rows behind your mother, putting your water bottle in every cup holder.

11. Grab your baby doll and run away, screaming, MY MARTA!

12. Poop.

13. Yell POOP! STINKY BUM! CHANGE PANTS!!!! repeatedly.

14. Try to strip off all your clothes in the middle of the aisle, while grabbing your ass and yelling, STINKY!

15. Make a strange animal noise as your mother grabs you and tries to make you sit on her lap.

16. Become very angry that there are no monkeys on screen and repeatedly demand that they return, yelling MONKEYS! MONKEYS! MONKEYS!

17. Writhe away from your mother and run toward the door, yelling, GO HOME NOW!

18. Roll on the ground of the theater as she tries to wrestle you back to your seat.

19. Sit on her lap, but chew on the seat in front of you in protest.

20. Humor your mother as she talks you through the rest of the movie, saying insipid things like, See the penguins? You like penguins! until you see dogs, at which point you scream, WOOF WOOOOOOOOOF!

21. Act like you have Tourette’s syndrome for the rest of the movie, and scream out random phrases until the lights come back on. MONKEYS! WOOF WOOF! POOP! GO HOME NOW! STINKY BUM! CHANGE MY PANTS! WHERE ARE MONKEYS? ALL DONE MOVIE!

22. Flee the movie theater as soon as the credits roll, so as not to be stoned by the other viewers.

Who’s the adult here?

So Peeta just came home with a note from some of those ass-kissing, overachieving parental types, who are making a memory book for the teachers. He is supposed to complete the sentence “I like Mrs. E because…” and draw a picture.

I tried to get him to do it. He couldn’t think of a single thing he likes about her. I was practically begging him to come up with anything  (the assistant teacher’s sentence was I like Mrs W because she lets me get drinks a lot). He just looked at me blankly. Eventually, I said, Is she at least good at reading? Yeah, she’s good at reading. So he likes Mrs E because she’s a good reader. I did consider adding “don’t” to the sentence and making a good long list, and drawing a picture of a rigid middle finger, but I restrained myself.

Then he had to draw the picture. He looked at me and said, I’m going to make her super old. So he started drawing a face with weird squiggles on it. These are wrinkles! he cried. Then he drew some buck teeth, some glasses and some grey hair (which came out black because he was using a black pen).

I couldn’t help myself. I laughed and laughed. She probably won’t get that he drew a picture of a wizened old hag and will just think he has an artistic glitch, but I thought it was genius. And, in case you were wondering, I am not contributing to the class collection to buy her flowers to celebrate her retirement, nor am I buying her an end-of-year gift, though I have considered packing up a bunch of Noodle’s poopy diapers in a box with a big red bow. In fact, I think I’ll go do that now.

The long-awaited finale to the saga of Peeta and Mrs E, part II

Before I speak to the principal, I decide to talk to Peeta. In kindergarten, all he could talk about was how much he loves school and his teacher. I love my teacher, I want her to come to my house! Can I go to her house? I love school, Mama! every day. This year, it’s I hate school, Mama. I don’t want to go to school. And he never, ever mentions Mrs E unless it’s to tell us how she was mad at someone.

So I ask him. What do you think of Mrs E? He’s sitting in the back of the car, and he suddenly looks very nervous. Are you going to tell her? No, I am not going to tell her. So then he tells me. She’s angry every day, Mama. And when she’s angry, she makes this face (imagine a huge underbite, with a furious face). And sometimes, when I’m doing really great work reading, she makes that face and tells me I have to hurry up or I have to finish it now.

And it happens. I add Mrs E to my list of people to kill. The thought of him, doing really great work reading with her standing over him, yelling at him, is almost more than I can bear. How can it possibly be conducive to anyone’s learning to have a teacher standing over him like that, especially when it’s a child who’s suffered unknowable trauma? And how can the teacher justify doing it, knowing the child’s background?

And once he tells me that, the floodgates open. Almost every day, he comes home, telling me more mean things she does. One day, he gets off the bus in tears because she yelled at him for raising his hand to ask a question.

We start counting down the days left of school. When he gets to 15, I tell him. He looks at me and says, Mama, I can’t wait for summer. Because when it’s summer, I’ll never have to see Mrs E again, because I really hate her.

People. This child has lived with me for three and a half years. I have never, in all that time, heard him say he hates another human being. Except maybe Voldemort and Bellatrix Lastrange. And they don’t exist, and I’m not even sure he hates them; he just thinks they’re evil. Mrs E is worse than Voldemort.

Peeta is pretty much antithetical to me in personality. He’s all sunshine, sweetness and love. I’m all bitterness, sarcasm and hate. So to hear this child say he hates this woman because she has been torturing him all year was heartbreaking, even to my cold, dead heart.

A week or so later, I get an email from the principal, on which she has CC:d Mrs E, Patty and Lucy, the math teacher. She wants to meet with all of us to discuss Peeta’s progress. I email her back and say that we feel it would be most beneficial to just meet with Patty and Lucy, because they have worked with him individually. She writes back and says that she doesn’t know how she would explain to Mrs E that she wasn’t invited. I write back and say that Mrs E has been terrorizing our child all year and we’re still very angry about her response to the situation, and that if she comes, we won’t. She emails back and says Mrs E will not be there.

We are waiting outside the principal’s office when Mrs E comes sauntering in to school. I am 100% sure she timed it so she would see us, because she usually gets to school earlier than 10 minutes beforehand. She walks up to me and Bucket and says, I’m sure Lucy and Patty will share my concerns. I wish you the best. I stare at her, biting my tongue to keep from saying, I wish you would be torn to shreds by a rabid hungry lion and die a slow, painful death involving lots of bugs and vultures.

We talk to the principal and the teachers, who agree that it is possible Peeta has a delay. We decide to get him neuropsych tested. I tell them all about how Mrs E has treated Peeta all year, and almost cry while doing it. Lucy can’t look at me and is blinking back tears herself, but the principal rallies behind Mrs E.

Yesterday, I sent Mrs E the forms she needs to fill out for the neuropsychologist. She sends me the following email:

I have been wanting to ask you how sure you are of Peeta’s birth date. I am curious because, as you are aware, I see him as being ‘young’ for his age and cohort. I hope you don’t mind my asking.

Because you know, she just can’t let a sleeping dog lie. She has to keep forcing the issue. She’s already told us she thinks he’s young and slow and has a glitch, but she just has to hammer it home, instead of shutting the fuck up and filling out the forms.

Lest you think I am overreacting or being oversensitive, let me also tell you that numerous other moms in Peeta’s class have complained about her, and the other first grade teacher PULLED HER SON FROM THE SCHOOL after he had Mrs E, and she still doesn’t think he’s recovered. I could go on, but this post is already in two parts and you will never shut me up on this issue.

And here’s the kicker, people. She’s retiring. She’s retiring this summer. We could have avoided this whole disaster if he had just been one year younger. Instead, she’s jumped to #1 on my list. And trust me, that is a long and accomplished list.

Guess who’s at the top of my list?

The long-awaited finale to the saga of Peeta and Mrs E, part I

So at the end of March, we get an email from Mrs. E saying that she’d like to meet with us to discuss our “lovely, lovely child.” It’s right about conference time, so I’m not suspicious. Until the day before the conference when Peeta tells us that he did math with Lucy today. Who’s Lucy? I ask, praying that it’s a new kid in his class. But no, she’s his friend. She’s a teacher. Suddenly, I get a sinking feeling.

Then we get home and there is an email from Mrs E telling us to bring in the application forms for the summer school a local college hosts for public school kids in our city. A summer school that lasts for eight weeks, six hours a day. The sinking feeling worsens.

We go to the meeting, and despite the fact that I say There Is No Way In Hell we are sending Peeta to summer school, Bucket insists on bringing the forms. We walk into the class, and Mrs E is there with the reading tutor Peeta has been seeing since the fall, Patty, whom we love. Bucket puts the forms on the table, and Mrs E says, Oh good. You brought the forms. Are you going to send him? No, I say, glaring at her. Why not? Are you going away? Yes, I say, but also, I don’t want to send him away for eight weeks of the summer. He has serious separation anxiety issues as a result of BEING DUMPED IN AN ORPHANAGE, so it would be enormously traumatic for him to be sent away to a place where he knows no one. It’s not sending him away, she says. It’s a day school.

Sweet Jesus. How is this woman an elementary school teacher with so little understanding of children?

And we go on from there. She looks at us and says, Peeta has made amazing progress this year. He’s right where he should be. If you aren’t going to send him to the summer school, you should get him tested for special ed or have him repeat the year.

Bucket and I blink at her. What?

Yes, he’s done very well and he’s right at grade level, but he’s been working so hard that I feel he should be farther along than he is. He should have had a reading explosion by now, and it hasn’t happened. Also, he’s not doing very well in math. He’s having a hard time with word problems.

The following thoughts go through my mind:

1. I am going to kill this woman with my bare hands, right here in the classroom. I will not go to jail, because I will be doing humanity a great service.

2. What the fuck is she talking about? Why would you have a child repeat the year if he’s not failing?


Then she looks at me and says, You look so upset! as if she has just told me that Peeta is a Mensa candidate and I’m not reacting appropriately.

So I say, I’m a little frustrated here. All year long, we’ve been asking how he’s doing. All year long, you’ve been telling us he’s doing fine. All year long, we’ve been asking if there’s anything more we can do. All year long, you’ve been saying no. And now it’s APRIL and you’re telling us he needs to repeat the year?

And, I shit you not, she looks at the reading tutor and says, Patty, you want to take this one?

I’m not sure if I have ever been so close to homicide in my entire life.

Patty explains that it’s more of a wondering for her. Peeta has been working hard, but she would also have hoped he would be further along. She’s not sure if it’s because he has a cognitive delay, or if it’s just going to take him longer.

Mrs E jumps back in. He should repeat the year. He has a “glitch”. She repeats the word glitch so many times, I start to wonder if she has Tourette’s or something. Also, he’s young for his age. Not chronologically young, but socially young. Repeating the year is the best idea.

Then she looks at me again and says, You still look so upset!

I start to wonder if I would get a medal for killing her, instead of just getting an innocent verdict.

Bucket and I leave. I am so angry when we get in the car that he asks me if he needs to drive, because he is afraid I am going to drive into something. I say no, unless she walks into the street, and then all bets are off.

That afternoon, I call the kids’ Aunt Julie, reading specialist and All-Around Awesome Teacher. Julie is also enraged. She tells me that she was just reading with him in Ethiopia, and he was fine. She tells me he is not young for his age, he is just sensitive. She tells me not to let him repeat the year, because it would be hugely detrimental to his self-esteem, having worked so hard all year. I am glad I called Julie.

Bucket and I go to meet with the principal. I tell her I am pissed off that this has happened. She tells me that she is sorry, and after she heard about our meeting with Mrs E, she called a staff meeting wherein she informed all the teachers that they are not to recommend retention without speaking to her first. Small consolation. I ask her if she thinks Peeta needs to stay back. She says no. She tells me her kids had Mrs E when they went to the school. I ask her how that went. She wasn’t like this then, she tells me. I don’t know if it’s burnout or what, but she was different.

Well, that’s fucking great. The principal of the school agrees that this bitch is burnt out. Or evil. And yet, here she is, teaching my son.

Open door, dirty carpet

We have one of those glass panel storm doors on the front of our house. Usually, I lock it when I come home, so I can open the front door and get some light in the living room. I lock it because twice I have been home and creepy dudes tried to walk right into my house. After that, I decided we needed a door that locked.

So Noodle and I came home from the gym and I locked the storm door. When it was time for Peeta to come home on the bus, we tried to get out. It was stuck. So we walked around the house and waited in the front for him.

Right now there’s big construction going on at our neighbors’ house. They have diggers and dump trucks and all kinds of stuff working on the sewage pipes going to their house. Some local law mandates that you have to have a police presence if there’s any kind of construction near a road, so there’s a cop outside, mostly talking on the phone and leaning on our car.

When the kids and I came back inside, Peeta and I were struggling with the door. I was pulling, he was twisting the knob. The cop saw us from outside and said he would come in and help us. Thank you, helpful policeman!

As he was walking through the back yard, I realized there’s a lot of dog poop out there that we haven’t picked up because it’s been raining for 40 days and 40 nights and who needs to pick up wet poop when no one’s playing outside?

He came inside, couldn’t get the door. He took our keys and went back outside to the front. Somehow, he managed to rip the door open from the front.

Hooray! Now he has earned the hundreds of dollars he made while standing around outside, watching the construction.

And then I turned around. The helpful policeman has tracked dog shit all across the house.

Now I get to scrub, vacuum and steam clean. I’m not sure if we’re better off or worse.


Bucket looked at the suspicious sink and thinks the weird hole is a very strangely placed runoff drain. I can’t see where it leads, but he’s an engineer so I’ll take his word for it. At least we don’t have to send back a 40-pound sink.

In other news, the doctor’s appointment for which I had to fight tooth and nail for Noodle, has come to naught. She’s been sick for three weeks, seen the incompetent nurse in the office twice, and just gotten worse. I had to basically demand an appointment with our pediatrician (who is a rock star, and for whom I would walk through fire), and the bitchy receptionist (who is not only bitchy but also totally incompetent at weighing and measuring babies) gave me a 5:45 appointment.

After waiting for an hour, we finally left. She was still in with another family, there was no reception staff to talk to us, and the kids were getting hungry and cranky.

Now, I have to hope she reschedules us, because just now, after a day of minimal coughing, Noodle just started barking like a seal. Awesome.

Did I mention this has been going on for three weeks? At least there was no copay tonight, so we’re only out $40 for the first two appointments.

Not again

Look out. Mama’s going to have to yell at some more people.

We just got our new sink, courtesy of efaucets.com. We ordered it a month ago, it was supposed to ship that day, but it just arrived. They told me it would take a while, but since it’s a weird size and I was exhausted by my Blowe’s debacle, I let it go.

It just arrived with a hole the size of one of my fingers that looks like it was drilled into the bowl of the sink. Clearly not an intentional hole. Clearly something they should have caught BEFORE THEY SENT IT TO ME. Not a shipping issue, so I couldn’t send it back with the shipping company.

The rage is mounting, people. The rage is mounting.

The sad, but true, tale of Peeta and Mrs. Evil (part I)

So you’ve all been waiting for the ranting. Well, here it is. Hold onto your hats.

First, let me start by saying that I believe teachers are the backbone of society. I’ve taught my kids that you can’t do anything without teachers. You can’t be a pilot, or a doctor, or a dancer without teachers. Peeta knows, and Noodle will too, that teaching is the most important job there is.

That said, if there’s one thing I can’t stand in life, it’s a bad teacher. Now is when I will rant about tenure. As much as I think good teachers should be rewarded, I also feel that bad teachers should not. And oh, but they are, with our present educational tenure situation. Can you think of another profession that allows you to cruise through your career after doing well for the first few years? Don’t get me wrong–most teachers don’t just let it slide after being tenured. But some do. Imagine a brain surgeon in the same situation: Well, Dr. Brain Surgeon, you’ve done really well for five years. Here’s a scalpel–do what you want for the rest of your life! We can’t fire you! Sure, have some tequila before you slice into that skull! You’re tenured!

Okay, I’m done.

So Peeta has this teacher. Let’s call her Mrs. E (let’s say E is for evil). She is about 900 years old and she is not charming. For example, we came to school late on the first day because Peeta usually rides the bus and I wasn’t used to getting him into school. We walk into class 5-10 minutes late and she flies over. “Oh, Peeta! I’m so glad you’re here! Everyone was asking if you weren’t coming!” and so on and so forth. She does not look at me. She does not introduce herself to me. The only thing she says to me is, “You need to fill these out,” while thrusting a bunch of forms in my face. Did I mention it was THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL?

Needless to say, it was not a good start.

Then, on parents’ night, she says multiple offensive things. Like how she doesn’t like to teach first grade reading (um, what the fuck are you doing teaching first grade then?). And how we’re the good parents because we’re the ones who came to parents’ night (because as we all know, parenting is judged strictly by attendance at school functions and not by whether you’re working a 23-hour job to feed your family or if you stay at home to take care of a sick child). And an extended rant about how she hates juice boxes. It is possible that I purchased juice boxes for the rest of the year for Peeta just based on her rant. I admit nothing.

About a month after school starts, we are contacted by a reading specialist. It appears Peeta needs some reading assistance. Not surprising, since he’s only been speaking English for two and a half years, and it’s his third language. Cool, I say. Go nuts! So Peeta starts a reading recovery program with her, wherein he reads with her individually for a half hour a day.

And so we come to the fall parent-teacher conference. Mrs. E likes Peeta. He is a sweet boy. But OH JESUS, IS HE SLOW. HE IS SO SLOW. HE HARDLY GETS ANYTHING DONE BECAUSE HE IS SO FRIGGING SLOW. I ask if he’s slow because he’s jerking around. No, he’s working so hard. He’s just so slow. I wonder: isn’t it a good thing to have an industrious child? I understand that you want him to move faster, but if he’s working hard, shouldn’t you be happy? I ask her if we should be concerned. No, no. He’s fine. HE’S JUST SO SLOW.

We leave a little confused. But he’s making good progress and is almost at benchmark, so we’re happy.

Winter passes. We email the tutor and Mrs. E to let them know that we’re going to Africa. Mrs. E informs us that since we’re pulling Peeta out of school, we have to apply for permission from the school district or they will give up his place, because Lord knows, she would rat us out to the authorities. I wonder: shouldn’t it be a good thing that we’re taking him to his homeland and to Botswana, where he will see more of Africa? Isn’t missing six days of school in first grade worth it for the cultural experience? It’s not like we’re taking him to fucking Disney. But I apply to the principal anyway. She says no problem. You have to miss more than two weeks to lose your place, and have a good time!

And so you see how my hatred of Mrs. E took root. But you ain’t seen nothing yet.

To be continued.