Foiled again

So I am in day six of my cleanse. I am hangry from six days of eating nothing but roughage, and the children are being dirty rats. It is -7658 degrees outside and for some reason I can’t explain, I let Noodle buy cupcakes for the kids’ dessert.

I whine to Bucket, knowing he is going to say hell to the no: Yvonne thinks I should get a massage so I can get rid of all the toxins.

(If you know me at all, you know I will use any excuse possible to get a massage. I need a massage to make my gimpy knee feel better! I need a massage because my neck won’t turn all the way to one side! I need a massage because it’s Tuesday! Bucket knows me kind of well, so I thought for sure he wouldn’t go for the toxins theory.)

Bucket: Sure.


And then…

So can I go out with the guys on March 27th?



Getting grateful

So I’ve been feeling pretty sorry for myself lately. Waah waah, things are tough with Peeta’s school. Waah waah, Bucket hasn’t gotten a raise from his stupid company since before the dawn of time. Waah waah, I am having a hard time trying to raise money and children at the same time. Waah waah, no one at work appreciates me. Waah waah, the contractor fixing our basement threw out his back and started work a whole week later. No One’s Life Is As Hard As Mine.

It’s hard trying to teach kids to be grateful when you are being an ungrateful wretch yourself. But nonetheless, I try. And not just those frigging Facebook lists every day in November. At dinner every night, we say something we’re grateful for. It can be anything from having a nice dinner to being glad you didn’t die from Peeta’s toxic farts. You can find gratitude anywhere, and I’m trying to teach the kids that it’s not just about the big things. The problem is, I’ve been having a tough time finding it myself.

The other day in the car, Noodle was listing off all the billion things she wants for Christmas and I was talking to her about being grateful for the important things and not just toys. We started listing things: we have a lot of love, we’re healthy, we’re happy, we have good food, we have good schools, our house is warm.

The next day the furnace died.

So this weekend, our house was frigid. Bucket spent all day yesterday picking apart the furnace and vacuuming it and cleaning it with a toothbrush. And it still had an error light. The plumber came today with all kinds of gadgets and figured out that it was a $65 broken part. He will fix it and hopefully it will stay fixed and we won’t have to spend a zillion dollars on a new one.

My friend Sharon (of the first playdate fame) just posted this on her blog as I was getting dinner ready. It was just what I needed to read to stop feeling so fucking sorry for myself. And I realized that I was sitting in my warm house on a frigid day, thanks to my gainfully employed and clever engineer husband who fixed the heat, cooking my kids a goddamn organic baked rigatoni for dinner and marinating in self-pity. What an asshole.

Even before this happened, I was talking to the kids about which charities we will donate to this year. Each kid gets to pick one, and it’s a tough call because there are so many people in need. And my kids know about need. They have seen kids begging in the streets. They have seen true, awful, heartbreaking poverty. One has lived it. We talk about hardship a lot. It’s going to be difficult to just choose two.

As for me, I am going to start really being grateful for my life and the things I have and even for the shit that accompanies it, because that shit is way better than so many other people’s. I am going to keep talking to my kids about gratitude and try to remember to be grateful myself. And I am going to donate to these guys this week.

Go read Sharon’s post, because she is far more eloquent than I (I know, right? What a surprise!), and she lists some other people who could use donations. And if you can’t donate, being truly grateful is enough. It really is.

There’s a reason I got married

I hate playdates. There. I said it.

I have been with Bucket for 15 years, which means I haven’t dated since I was 21. SWEET ACTION! Imagine how delighted I was when I discovered that I would have to start dating OTHER PARENTS at age 32. I mean, for real. I never considered how children would make friends, and how I would have to accompany them as they made said friends, and I would have to spend hours with strangers and their kids. Why can’t they just ride off into the wilderness on their bikes the way I did when I was a kid in 1400? Stupid modern urban setting.

I remember Peeta’s first playdate. It was with his friend W, and it was at W’s house. W’s mother is my friend Sharon, who scared the hell out of me. She is very beautiful and very well dressed and NEVER came to school looking like she was still wearing her PJs. I remember going to her house thinking, what am I going to say to this woman? What if she’s boring? Am I wearing the right clothes? How long do we stay? How do we get out of there if it’s awful? WHAT IF IT’S A TRAP? How long should Bucket wait for us to come home before he calls the police?

For the record, it was not awful. She did not kill us. And W. is now Peeta’s best friend, and Sharon is one of mine. She even managed to forgive the fact that I dress like an unwashed pubescent boy and my house is a disaster. WE LUCKED OUT.

Fortunately, I figured out the system: find parents you like and then force your kids to play together. This has worked, for the most part. I have a rotation of about five awesome friends and we get together and the kids run amok. Sometimes there is alcohol. My friend Lisa and I even invented a new drink called the Pineapple Playdate. It was a great day.

Sometimes it does not work out. Sometimes I have had to spend awkward hours with people I don’t like so that our kids can play. Even worse, sometimes parents I like make me take care of their kids, whom I do not like. I stopped doing that pretty quickly.

I thought I had separated the wheat from the chaff on the playdate front. I forgot about Noodle, who now wants to make her own friends instead of always playing with Peeta’s. Kids are SO selfish. So now I am dating again. And Noodle is popular, goddamn it, so lots of people are asking to get together. Why coudn’t I have just had a big nerd!?!

It’s 45 degrees today. It’s raining. And we had a playdate scheduled with a kid whose mom has been trying to get together for weeks. I won’t lie: I didn’t want to go. I don’t like making small talk and trying to be witty and well-dressed. I want to be with people who aren’t offended when I swear like a sailor and complain about everything that ever happened in the history of time. I want to be with people who invent new drinks to make playdates fun for the parents. (Note: if you have had repeated playdates with me and my kids in the past five years, you should feel pretty fucking special because it probably means I love you. I would have weeded you out far before now if I didn’t.)

So here I was, dreading this afternoon and trying to think of reasons we could leave early because I AM ALREADY MARRIED AND I DID IT SO I WOULDN’T HAVE TO DATE ANYMORE, and I was sitting down at my computer to bitch about it on Facebook, and the woman cancelled! There is a god!

I’m off the hook for today. Meanwhile, there is a gang of little girls at Noodle’s school and playdates are being requested.

Someone get me a Pineapple Playdate.

Cape Town or bust

I thought I was a genius when I was planning our trip to England and I realized that we could squeeze in a trip to visit our friends in Cape Town for only a few hundred dollars more. A genius, I tell you! Our friends Daisy and Ed had just moved there and would only be there for nine months, so we Had To Go Now. Obviously. Cape Town is only a little further than Ethiopia, and the kids made it to Botswana last year! Let’s do this!

I was a genius until about three days before we were going to leave, when my friend Rob posted something on Facebook about snow on the day we were going to leave. Snow. Lots of snow. FEET OF FRIGGING SNOW. The biggest snowstorm in years! Maybe ever! Snowcalpyse! You get the picture. So, I called Virgin on Thursday, the day before we were going to leave, to find out what I should do. The highly charming Irishman on the other end told me that all their flights were scheduled as normal. Given that he was so charming, I believed him. (I am prone to doing that with Irish people. It’s a problem, trust me.) Two hours later, I got an email saying that my flight was cancelled.

I called Virgin immediately. I spent hours listening to Pachelbel’s Canon, over and over and over again. I finally got someone, who kept putting me on hold and then coming back. She could get us out on Saturday night. Um, no. She could get us on Trans Aero Airlines. What the fuck is Trans Aero Airlines? Hell no! Finally, at 4, after two hours on the phone, she tells me she can get us on the 7:50 flight to London.

Nothing in the house is packed, except Peeta’s bag, which I had casually been throwing clothes into as I waited on hold. I called Bucket, told him to meet us at the airport from work, and I turned into a hurricane of packing fury. Almost everything we owned went into our bags (South Africa in summer and England in winter, people). I am a maniac. I end up with two huge bags, which sickens me (we are generally very minimalist in our packing), but I Just Don’t Care. I have five minutes to take a shower, and I use it.

And then the cab is late. Ten minutes late, which is not ideal when you are trying to haul ass to the airport and you only had 90 minutes to pack for more than two weeks for four people. Guy shows up, and tells us all about the Very Bad Traffic and tells me it will be $50 to the airport. Sure, dude. Just drive. I cling to Noodle in the back seat as we almost get in a crash AT THE END OF OUR STREET. We weave through the back streets of Cambridge, with Noodle yelling, I love this taxi! And Peeta asking, Where are we GOING? We make it to the airport 45 minutes later (usually it takes 15-20), and Bucket greets us. He had arranged for a taxi that takes cards, and surprise! Shady driver does not! He throws $50 at him and we sprint inside.

We make it onto the plane. Four seats in the middle, kids in between. Children sleep. I do not, knowing it is going to be disastrous, but I am still high on adrenaline and they keep serving drinks. And I like drinks. And I like movies. And I like when the children are quiet.

We get to Heathrow, and go to the desk as instructed, to see if we can get a hotel for the night before our flight out on Saturday. Woman behind the desk is a total frigid bitch. I am standing there, exhausted, with two children squirming, and she coldly looks at us and says no. There is no note in our file. I tell her that the people on the phone told us to check if we could get a hotel. She says no. She calls someone on the phone, sighing loudly and talking intentionally so I can hear her, saying, They want a hotel, because they’ve got KIDS. No. She can put us on a flight through Jo’burg tonight that will arrive tomorrow, but we can’t get on the direct flight to Cape Town and if we want to wait for our original flight, we can pay for our own hotel. Out of the kindness of her heart, she will put a hold on our seats while we try to reach Daisy.

I glare at her and tell her we don’t have Daisy’s phone number (this always happens when we travel and I don’t know why we never learn) and we will have to email her. She glares back and tells me there are computers upstairs. We trudge upstairs, and these are the things I say: I Hate This Country! This is why I moved from this godforsaken hellhole! Fucking England! If I had a knife, I would cut a bitch! God forbid anyone in this miserable pocket of the earth tries to be helpful ever! We should have left you to the Nazis! (I didn’t actually say that one, but I wish I had, because English people hate that shit.)

Most of these things are said quietly, so the children do not hear. Many are not.

We get upstairs, and of course the stone aged computers cost something like two pounds a minute and we have no change. Bucket goes to get change while I contemplate going back down and pulling the woman’s eyeballs out with my bare hands. He gets back, and I get online. By online,  I mean that the computer turned on. I do not mean that the internet worked at any kind of remotely reasonable speed, which cued more comments about British inefficiency (which is one of my favorite topics) and how England is like a third world country, with nasty, evil crones in charge, and why the FUCK does everything cost so much? I may have kicked things.

At this point, the children are withering before my eyes, Bucket is ready to strangle me, and we still haven’t reached the hotel we booked before our travel to see if we can switch our daylet room. We reach them after 47 phone calls (that each costs about a pound each) and yes, they can switch our reservation to today so we can rest before our flight tonight. I love the Holiday Inn. The woman tells me which bus to take, and we go back downstairs to The Bitch.

The Bitch is busy, so we have to deal with another, younger Bitch. Clearly, this one has done very well in her training, because she is as bad as the first, despite being 30 years younger. At one point, Original Bitch leans over to Bitch 2.0 and says loudly (without looking at me), They want a hotel, BUT WE AREN’T GOING TO GIVE THEM ONE. I consider leaping over the desk and kicking them each in the head, but I am too tired from the flight. Bitch 2.0 gives us our tickets and we walk to the bus.

The bus we are told to get is driven by a hideous, greasy man with long hair and the foulest, most disgusting teeth I have ever seen. He looks like the love child of Mr. Burns and a Roald Dahl villain. He immediately gets right in my face when I tell him we are going to the Holiday Inn. Which one? he keeps yelling, and I tell him the Heathrow Holiday Inn (which, by the way, is the official name of the fucking hotel). There are four Heafrow Holiday Inns! he yells back at me. I tell him the woman told me that we needed to get his bus, at which point he starts pointing his filthy, long-nailed finger in my face. At this point, I walk away. I can no longer deal with anyone at Heathrow, which is quite obviously The Worst Airport In the World, even worse than the ones we’ve been to in India and Africa. It is possible I make comments about British dental hygiene and politeness. Bucket takes over, and we get on the bus. Our hotel is the last stop, on the street I told him it would be, and is called (guess what?) THE HEATHROW HOLIDAY INN.

We walk into the hotel, and I immediately ask the beautiful desk clerk if she has our reservation. She does. I almost kiss her. She gets us our room immediately, and then looks at Peeta and asks where he’s from. Ethiopia, I tell her. She is Eritrean. She is happy we have adopted Peeta. She tells us God will bless us. I think that God has already blessed us by getting us out of that hellhole airport and into this wonderful hotel, where kind and lovely Eritreans help us without shaking fingers in our face or exposing us to their horrifying teeth and nails.

The room is clean and has two beds. We sleep from 10 to 2. We get up and watch TV and eat snacks. We reach Daisy, who tells us to come. Life is good again. We get the bus back to Heathrow, and it is driven by a clean, young man who has seen a toothbrush. We check in. We go through security. I am chosen for a random security check. A stranger puts her hands down my pants. I laugh. Heathrow is funny now. We buy the kids chips and candy and get ready for the flight. We are in seats of two, which have more leg room. Despite the leg room, I still take the opportunity to complain about the Fucking Useless Desk Women Can’t Even Put Us Together and How This Used To Be A Good Airline and If I Ever Meet Richard Branson, I Will Slap His Face. And then, we fly.

I don’t remember the flight, which means it must have been okay. Or else I blocked it. What? No! I didn’t drink so much that I blacked out. I wish! (Wait! I remember! I drugged us all! No, I am not joking.) We arrive in Jo’burg and have to go re-check our bags. We wait in an interminable line with a bazillion people until we finally reach the desk. Children are floppy at this point, and suddenly Peeta turns green and starts covering his mouth. Of course. He is going to spew. I pick him up and run through the people to the bathroom, where he pukes. Because hey! Why not? We take him and feed him some leftover candy and Coke and he perks up.

We get on the flight to Cape Town. I share a row with Peeta, Bucket with Noodle. I fall asleep for a while. Saturday at 2pm, 37 hours after we left Boston, we arrive in Cape Town and poor Daisy has been waiting for ages because the braindead whores at Heathrow gave us the wrong arrival time. Despite my guilt at making Daisy wait, I have never been so happy to arrive anywhere. It’s raining in Cape Town for the first time in months, but I don’t care.

We get back to Daisy’s and her kids have put out all kinds of snacks for us. The sun has come out, and Ed makes us tea. We sit and talk for ages while the kids run around, and then they take us to the cafe down the road for dinner. I eat a salad with green things in it and we sit outside and life is glorious.

I love South Africa already.

For every no, there’s a yes

So this weekend, Bucket and I had our romantic weekend at XV Beacon Hotel in Boston, where we slept for something like 20 hours. Seriously. I do not joke about sleep. Anyway, we went out for dinner on Saturday, and we were happily walking down Boylston St. when a homeless dude walked up to us, clad in a long jacket, smoking a cigarette.

He started his sob story: durka durka food kitchen, durka durka praying to God, durka durka can we help? His voice was all trembly and I was all ready to give him one of the shiny golden dollars I have for when Peeta finally loses a tooth, but Bucket said no and we kept walking. I was feeling all guilty, watching him ask another woman for money, until she said no and he came walking past us. And this is what he said to us (loudly):

I don’t give a fuck! For every no, there’s a yes, and I’m already sitting on 300!

I was stunned. Imagine! A manipulative homeless person! Or a potentially not-even-homeless person who is such a sociopath that he begs for money from people, pretending to be homeless! To think I was going to give him one of Peeta’s shiny golden dollars!

We watched him approach a couple of young dudes with a totally different approach than the weepy voice he gave us. Same story, but no trembling. I told Bucket we should have given him some money for being such a good actor. And then I got all pissed. Suckers like me who give money to homeless people all the time do not like to be reminded that many of them are working the system (I’m not talking about the guys with the signs that say, “I won’t lie. It’s for beer.” I love those dudes).

So I was sitting at dinner, all pissy with the world, when it hit me. I could do that! That guy made $300 by 7:30pm and he didn’t even have kids?! People, I have found my calling. I already dress like a ragamuffin, so all I have to do is get Bucket to dress the kids in too small, seasonably inappropriate clothing and we’re heading down to Harvard Square. Peeta can bring his tap shoes and dance, and Noodle can accost people by giving them the stinkeye and saying, “Give me forty dollars,” the way she does to me. We’ll be millionaires! Peeta is very cute and Noodle is very scary, so I think it’s a winning combination. Failing that, Noodle is already a very good pickpocket.

If you see us in Harvard Square and you don’t give us money, know that I don’t give a fuck. For every no, there’s a yes, and I’m probably already sitting on 300.

My baby is a terrorist

Some of you may remember that on our last trip to Africa, we discovered that Noodle has been flagged as a terrorist. While we feel that she terrorizes us at home, it seemed a little extreme to put an eight-month-old on an international watch list. So I wrote to our good friends at Homeland Security to see if we could appeal and get her off the list so that we could get on a plane without having to stand around like criminals at the gate while they desperately run our toddler’s name through the computer to try to get us on the flight.

I just heard back from them. They can neither confirm nor deny any information about her. It was most likely caused by the similarity of her name to a known terrorist (which, unless there is a two-year-old terrorist with a Welsh-English-Irish-English name combination, seems unlikely), or as a result of random screening. They regret the inconvenience and may have made updates to her file that might assist us in future misidentifications.

Oh, and they gave us a redress control number that they want us to carry with us whenever we leave the country, and to add to her flight information every time we book her on a flight. Apparently, FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE.

Thanks, guys. That was super helpful. I’m so glad you guys are out there, watching out for toddler terrorists everywhere. Now I can sleep at night.

And this is why I shop online

Dear woman from the Macy’s dressing room (you know who you are),

Maybe you remember me: I was the mother with the toddler at Macy’s today, who came there in an attempt to try on bras. I had to go to a store to figure out what size I was because I haven’t bought bras since before my daughter was born, and well, you know how everything changes shape after they rip those little suckers out of your body. I brought the stroller because my daughter was tired, and though we almost never use the stroller, we did today, which is why we decided to use that handicapped dressing room with no lock on the door. I did consider the fact that there was no lock on the door and that for most of the time I would be in the room, I would be topless, but I figured, hey! What kind of asshole is going to just bust into a dressing room that opens out on to the store floor without knocking?

Turns out you were that asshole! Hi! So nice to meet you as you busted right into the room while I was standing there naked from the waist up! So nice of you to apologize! So nice of you to knock! At least you had the good sense to shriek and close the door quickly. I’m not going to take that as an insult, really.

The good news is that now I know what size to order online, so I will never have to return to a dressing room with a stroller and my daughter again. I can order from the safety of my own home, where I don’t have to worry about some dumbass with no manners busting in while I am in the already bizarre and humiliating position of trying on bras while my daughter yells, Ha! Mama naked! and Ooh, that one fit! repeatedly.

Here’s some advice: next time, try knocking. The naked people in the dressing rooms will appreciate it. And maybe, you might too.



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.


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.