Sunday, September 27, 2009

tough times

This is the view from my living room window.  A year ago, a senior citizen's rec center would have been visible in the upper left quadrant.  I had mixed feelings about the city closing and demolishing the building; I think it made me feel less lonely Monday through Friday during business hours if I happened to be home.  I had gotten to know the people who worked and attended classes there.  But the building was unsightly and its demise improved the scenery.

The big news in bettyworld is that The Child has what presents itself as H1N1; I couldn't get him in to see the doctor because everybody who sneezes now rushes in to be checked, making slots unavailable for those who really do have swine flu. His fever has been 102.6. He has all the flu symptoms- the medical pros say that it's too early in the season for seasonal flu- it's undoubtedly H1N1.

It sucks to be a single parent at a time like this. The stress level is through the roof- I have to decide on a minute to minute basis whether or not to call 911. And sometimes my thinking lacks clarity. What bothered me most, especially during the interminable day yesterday, is that nobody even knows when I'm going through a crisis. (Most of the time, I'm mercifully unaware of this phenomenon since I'm not in crisis.)

I've been around long enough to know that if the chips were really down- if I really needed help from another human being- there would surely be somebody there to help. I don't know this from experience; I know it from logic.

Part of this is timing. If this happened many years ago, I could have called my mother, and she would have taken the next flight to come here. I was always OK when she was alive.

And maybe, if this had happened during the 2 month window between my mother's death and my father's marriage to his mistress, he would have cared, although that's dicey. And maybe if this had happened before my sister's cancer diagnosis, she would have helped, if only via phone from Boston.

But during the years since The Child came into my life, it's been at times lonely. Usually I don't think about it- I don't have time to! The friends from my previous life slipped away, understandably.

Of course, everyone has nagging issues.  I used to be the type who would lay out my problems to anyone who would bid me the time of day.  Maybe that was healthy in a way, but I came to believe that there was a better way to deal with my problems.  So I pretty much stopped talking after The Child entered my life, and it wasn't just because I wanted to.  It was because the people were no longer around.  Now, on the rare occasions when I actually get to spend time with another adult, I don't dare talk about my problems!  I can't risk being branded as one who dumps problems.  Back in the olden days, pre-child, I could get away with it.

Now I cannot.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


It has been a time of change, not just from summer to fall but from elementary school to middle school for The Child and me. He left a wonderful, unusual school where students respected individuality and bullying was nearly nonexistent.

So it's obvious where I'm going with this already, I suppose. The Child has accepted The New School fairly well, but- here goes- I CAN'T STAND IT!

The New School represents everything I balk at! It represents conventional, unexamined thinking. It represents the herd mentality- everybody is the same and should therefore think/act/dress/drive/desire the same. The teachers and administrators are so uptight that I can barely stand to be in the building with them. The students are NOT allowed to speak during lunch!!! WHAT, please explain this to me, WHAT is the POINT of squelching middle school aged students to that extent?

Now normally, I would just figure out a way to accept the new situation. I have a bit more difficulty in this case because I'm the one who brought this about! The Child could have stayed at the Old School, which is a K-8. But noooooooooo. He wanted to go to The New School, even after I explained the differences and took him to see the school during teaching hours.

Bullying. Now we know what bullying is. It happens when The Child gets off his school bus! The foul-intentioned kids sitting at the back of the bus have bullied The Child and me every single time he has gotten off that bus. I automatically shut down when I'm in a situation like that, but it seems to me that they are criticizing The Child's hair. And once, when I followed the bus in my car, a nasty boy in the back gestured in a way that sickened me (largely because he attends the same school as my son).

Yesterday I couldn't take it anymore. As the bus driver pulled away, I ran after the bus to tell him about those kids in the back bullying my son. The driver listened and said he was aware of the problem, and then as I walked away, the bus sat there for a long time. Then it moved a few yards and stopped again, for an even longer time.

I fear that the kids who were obviously being reprimanded will punish The Child at school, where I won't be around to protect him.

There's more. The Child is smart- he's in the Gifted and Talented program and he has skipped a grade in math. There is a course at this God-forsaken school called "College Prep." Well, The Child's grade in College Prep is D-!!!!! He has never had a grade anywhere near that level before, so of course I questioned him about it. He said the teacher, who is intimidating, did not clearly explain what papers he wanted turned in. The Child failed to turn in all the papers he wanted even though he had all of them right there in the room, and that's why he was given a D-. Infuriated, I wrote an email to the teacher, carefully expressing my dismay that such an appalling grade was given as a result of a problem with paper shuffling! The teacher never responded to my email.

My blood boils as I write this, and I cry every time I think of the Old School. This is the price I pay for allowing The Child to make his own choices.