I seem to be segueing into some kind of early fall hermity thing. I LIKE IT, BY JOVE. It’s keeping me out of trouble and writing, which is always good. Posts here are going to be kind of kid-heavy for the next little while, I think. I hate to be all cats-and-crystals about things, but I am pretty far into my own head…and at the same time nothing is happening. It’s like the Fat Head of John Travolta in an infinity mirror on some kind of film loop. It doesn’t make sense, and at the same time nothing’s happening. I am reading and writing a lot, and the postcard summary is that I’m Happy and Keeping Busy. I will let you know if I am doing something, or, you know, leave the house to go somewhere besides the grocery store.
Franny asked me to dye her hair, like for real, for real Oprah-Winfrey-whole-segment for real. She cleaned bathrooms for a few weeks in a row to earn the moneys. Are you sure, I asked her. She was really pissed when she was 5 and her father took her in to get her hair bleached to be a flower girl at the wedding of a cousin she barely sees. Is it okay to demand that a human prop in your wedding risk scalp blisters? I will let you decide, gentle reader.
Is it okay to do it now? I will let you decide that as well. I told her it would sting. We did it. Now she sort of looks like that adorable child from Lazytown. I need to snap a pic of her today. No scalp trauma, but I kept a close eye on it. It is pretty.
I am kind of bemused with the layers of weird bureaucracy at the girls’ new school. They get stamped when they leave the bus, so they do not forget their bus number. Strudel wears a badge and a wristband with all of her infos on it. They are not allowed to ask for water with their lunches; their choices are cow, chocolate cow, or soy. “What do kids who cannot have those do?” I asked. “Oh, there is a drinking fountain,” Franny told me.
I was told very sternly that they would not be let off the bus unless I was there, because Strudel is five. I was throwing on my shoes yesterday to come out and pick them up at the bus stop when they walked up to me through the yard, several minutes early.
“Whoa, you girls are home early, eh?”
“Yes,” said Franny, who usually acts as spokesdwarf. “And YOU WEREN’T THERE, so we decided to come home.”
“Okay, good call. No one cared? They did not try to hold you?”
“No,” she said. Well, okay.
Strudel had her first homework assignment this weekend. I know some people (Montessauruses) who would begin spontaneously bleeding from the ears if they heard “kindergartner with homework” but we are in lockdown now, yo. Do your time, don’t let your time do you.
“I don’t feel like doing this right now,” Strudel said. It was Sunday, and I had suggested to her for the 48th time that weekend that she might want to sit down and do her homework.
“The weekend is almost over. Just knock it out, baby,” I said. We read the instructions together. The worksheet said that the child should make a poster summarizing her summer in pictures of the activities with simple words or phrases labeling the activities. Her father suggested she make a list of all the things she remembered from this summer.
Strudel’s response was to get irritated. “THIS IS STUPID. WHY DO I HAVE TO DO THIS?” Franny, the occasionally-frustrated but overall lover of homework and all things school-related, looked at her incredulously from across the table, where she was at work on a drawing.
“What’s wrong with homework?” Franny said. “It’s a drawing, you like drawings.”
“I’M JUST GOING TO SCRIBBLE,” Strudel informed us.
“No, you’re not,” I said. “Do a good job. This is your schoolwork. You have to actually try, okay.”
“I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS? WHY DO I HAVE TO DO THIS?”
“It’s a life lesson,” I said. “You do this now, and then you get to do fun things you want to do later. Most of life is figuring out how to follow the rules so you can find joy in other places, where there are no rules, or only your own rules.”
She looked down and started drawing a picture of a large house that dominated most of the picture, possibly to get me to stop talking, since I had gone into Lecture Mode. She informed us it was her Grandpa’s house, where she had stayed for a weekend. The final cut for the poster was the house, a pool, her lost tooth, and roller skates.
The last thing to do was write the title of the poster: Strudel’s Summer.
“I HATE THIS TITLE, I THINK IT NEEDS A DIFFERENT TITLE.”
“It’s in the directions, dude, give it up.” I wrote it down on a separate piece of paper so she could copy it in her careful cursive.
“Do you think there is a high rate of suicide among teachers?” her father asked me in the kitchen a few minutes later, out of earshot.
“Yeah, these are my genes, sorry,” I said. “Chin up, though, little soldier. Only twelve more years of this.”
Later I was flipping through Alice Waters’ bio when Franny sat down next to me and said that someone besides her teacher was coming into the classroom and having “carpet circle time” with them.
“Oh?” I said. “Some kind of reading thing?”
“No, this lady asks us a bunch of questions about what we like and what our families are like, and we all have to say answers.”
“They are trying to see which of you are mental and which of you, if any, are being burned with cigarettes at home,” I told her.
“Oh,” Franny said.
“There’s really no reason a government agency needs to know any of this about you or us. I have already filled out the forms with your vital stats. All they are there for is to present information to you, hopefully educational. I would advise making answers up.”
Franny began frowning at me.
“See the inherent challenge: How quickly can I get the school to call my mother?”
“MooooooOOOM come ON,” Franny said.
“I’m serious, they want to waste your time, you waste theirs right back, okay, poodle?”