Chronicles of a Single Mom #15 – Dear New Teacher

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A letter to my kid’s new teacher:

Dear New Teacher,

Welcome back to a school year that is destined to be filled with fun, appreciation and an overall awesome time.

Okay. Maybe I’m just describing the first day back to school for me after I dropped my fourth-grader off. I’m not sure.

What I am sure of is that my fourth-grader will talk at times she isn’t supposed to, that the social lives of fourth-graders may derail your lessons plans and that it may get even harder for you to motivate yourself to get to school in the mornings than it is for me to get her there.

With all that in mind, know early on that I appreciate you taking on the not-so-quiet storm that is my child for a few hours.

I appreciate you not taking it out on the kids that you don’t get paid for the many roles you may play during the school year, including mediator, secret keeper, counselor, superhero and, at times, the villain.

I hope that you’re just as invested in my child’s future as I am. I’ve got to tell you; the price is pretty high after all this time. I do hear the future payouts are worth it, though.

It is my goal to help you as much as I can. While I may not be able (or want) to commit to every field trip, I’m sure we can work something out when it comes to snacks, Kleenex and class parties. Maybe a couple dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts in exchange for skipping my name on the chaperone list a time or two. Or a nice Christmas gift for booking the free field trip instead of the $24 option.

Just something to think about.

For what it’s worth, I look forward to picking my kid up in the future and hearing about the awesome day she had and the many new things she learned. I look forward to hanging new art work around the house, posting academic achievement awards and covering up the calorie chart on the refrigerator with exemplary grades from tests and class assignments.

Most of all, I look forward to getting work done without being called every five minutes. Being able to accomplish more than half of my to-do list both effectively and efficiently.

I even look forward to taking some much-needed down time.

Or maybe even a nap.

Either way, I already appreciate all that you’ll do.

Thanks.

I’m Just Saying.

Chronicles of a Single Mom #14: Shhh! She’ll hear us eating!

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I CAN’T EAT!!
Seriously.
I’m sure that I can afford to miss a meal or two but first I have to actually have access to said meals. In order for that to happen my 9-year-old has to stop eating up all of the food.
She has become the human Hoover when it comes to my kitchen. I can go looking for something and it’s already gone.
The other day she ate two plates of breakfast. I mean toast, bacon, and grits. (She’s allergic to eggs.)
Count them. Two.
Did I mention that she doesn’t even weigh 60 pounds? Not at all.
However, she eats like she’s twice that size and it goes nowhere.
Truth moment: I would be jealous but the strain it’s putting on my purse is ridiculous.
She’s so bad that the sound and smell of food being cooked brings her into the kitchen to investigate. I don’t care if she’s sleep, playing with her dolls or watching television.
I literally poured myself a bowl of cereal in the laundry room the other morning in an attempt for her not to hear me.
Only to open the door and find her standing in the kitchen, in her pajamas, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
Yep.
It’s that serious.
So I’ve calculated that in 18 days she will be back at school where she can eat breakfast and lunch there. Which gives my purse and my stove a break from overuse.
If not, she’ll be looking for job applications to feed her growing appetite. Or she’ll be eating me out of house and home. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to the latter.
I’m Just Saying.

Chronicles of a Single Mom #13: Kitchen Wars

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Help!

My child wants to invade my kitchen and I’m not ready.

Long gone are the days where she’d be satisfied to sit on the floor and play with pots and pans.

Long gone are the days where she’d play in her play kitchen and cook an entrée made out of red and yellow Play-Doh.

Long gone are the days where she’d be excited to play with her EZ Bake oven in anticipation of the sweet mini treats that would come out of the opposite end.

With those memories has gone the sense of security I felt allowing her to do these things rather than encroach on my domain.

Anyone who knows a good Southern woman (I say Southern but this could easily be any cook) will tell you that you don’t mess around in her kitchen.

It takes years to get our seasonings and cooking materials in the right place. A place where they’re organized and out of the way yet easily accessible. Easy enough to come in and fix a quick meal or a holiday dinner.

So now that I know I like my seasonings close to the stove, my little roommate would also like to try her hand at this thing called cooking.

Did I mention she’s 9?

She’s ambitious too. She doesn’t want to start off with making a sandwich or simply fixing a bowl of soup. That would be too easy. She’d prefer to fix four course meals for unauthorized (I haven’t approved any of these events) parties, teas and social gatherings. She even wants to plan the menu for Holiday dinners. One catch, she’s never turned on a stove.

Ever.

Lately, she’s begun asking to fix dinner one day of the week. She means business too because she makes out a grocery list from the recipe that she would like to make.

I’m torn between thinking I’m a great mom setting a great example for my kid and showing her a life skill that will come in handy for the rest of her life, or I’m simply enabling her by not allowing her to experiment in the kitchen and become more independent.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I need to call the insurance company to see how much it costs to cover all accidents that may occur during her learning curve.

Might even invite the agent over for soup and sandwiches.

I’m Just Saying.

Chronicles of a Single Mom #12: Summer Drain or Summer Pain?

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It’s that time of the year again.
Teachers across the nation get a much needed break while parents take on the care of their children or ship them off to some camp filled with fun-packed activities.
For the past few years, school systems have harped on the need to make sure your child(ren) were stimulated over the summer break instead of playing video games or watching cartoons all day to prevent what is called Summer Drain.
Summer Drain is described as the loss of information retained during the previous school year during the summer. The thought behind this is that without academic stimulation, students lose the information that they learned the previous school year putting them at a disadvantage for the upcoming school year.
Now as a child of a mother that’s being in the education profession all my life, I never really had that problem. As a matter of fact, I despised the packets of work that showed up shortly after the last day of school.
However, I find that I’m putting my child through the exact same torture. Ironic right? It’s a mutual torture because I have to check said work. It can be quite a summer pain.
Here’s why it may be pain that you can live with. According to the National Summer Learning Association, low-income youth lose two to three months in reading while their higher-income peers make slight gains. In math, there is an overall loss of two months of math skills during the summer months. Those losses add up. By fifth grade, summer learning loss can leave low-income students 2 ½ to 3 years behind their peers.
So is it something I can live with?
Yep, for now.
I just keep in mind that it’ll be someone else’s job to check them come August. It keeps me sane.
I’m Just Saying.

Chronicles of a Single Mom #11 – The EOG Jitters

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We’ve hit another milestone on this journey called Parenthood.
As a third grader, my daughter took her first End of Grade test this month.
Let me tell you… I wasn’t ready.
I couldn’t handle it.
Yeah I know I didn’t actually take the test but with all the anxiety I felt about her taking it I may as well have been in the seat beside her.
As a parent you wonder if you’ve done everything you could to help your child succeed.
I was that parent attending the Saturday morning information sessions so I could use the resources given to make sure my kid was ready.
I made it my duty to make sure I picked her up early enough for her to have plenty of time to relax when she got home. I cooked dinner in advance so she didn’t have to worry about waiting to eat. She even went to bed an hour earlier, even though she didn’t have to go to sleep.
There were motivational talks, encouraging words, a poster of support, and a homemade breakfast each morning.
She wore comfortable clothing and packed a hoodie in the event she got cold while sitting still for 180 minutes.
Any and everything to make my little scholar confidant and comfortable so she can do her best.
What I forgot to do was take something myself.
I was a ball of nerves the entire time. Before she could close the car door after picking her up, I would ask how the test went. How did she feel about it? Was it hard? What did she think? Trying to get a feel for how she did without adding any pressure.
Yeah I know that the state’s standardized tests don’t define her as a student but of course I’d want her to do her best, whether it’s testing to pass her current grade or coloring in the lines for a prize.
Which is why I lost sleep and drove myself insane worrying about how she’d do on the test.
The great thing about the entire ordeal is that I’ve learned she actually listens to what I say (for now).
While I was in need of a Xanax, she had already made up her mind that she’d do her very best. She was cool, calm and collected. Facing a challenge head on and loving it.
Which is why she will continue to excel when she heads to fourth grade in the fall.
Not me though.
I’m making a bee line to something that will help take the edge off while I remind myself that I’ve already earned my diploma and they can’t take it back.
I’m Just Saying.

Chronicles of a Single Mom: Post #7 – Heli-parents

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As parents, we often second guess ourselves when it comes to our children. We want to make sure they get the best, emotionally, socially and educationally. Lately, I started to wonder if I was taking too much of an interest in my child’s life.
We can pretty much surmise that I don’t have much of a life outside of my work schedule or events related to said schedule. Most of the super fun, carefree events are on the calendar because it’s part of her social schedule. (Mom’s a bit of a complicated extroverted introvert.) However, this school year I feel like I have to know every single detail of what’s going on, what’s she’s learning and how it’s taught.
I don’t know if it’s the transition from S, N, and I (Satisfactory, Needs Improvement, Improving) to letter grades on the report card or if it’s because she’s now in a testing grade but I’ve been hypervigilant when it comes to school.
From her coming home and saying someone’s bothering her to getting weekly reports about her grades through the school-wide Parent Portal. From sending emails on the weekends to popping up for an impromptu conference before school.
(To all my teacher friends- I know I should do none of the above but that didn’t stop me.)
So you can see why I was starting to question whether or not I was becoming a helicopter parent. However, in the evaluation I thought about the other things I do during the school year like attend PTA meetings, make sure I can attend award ceremonies, buy treats for the class and parties, lunch visits, Christmas presents for teachers, field trip chaperone, etc.
And I don’t like kids like that.
So after heavily weighing the bad against the good I’ve come to this conclusion.
I’m just a good parent.
Here’s the thing, I want to make sure my child succeeds in school but I also want to make sure that she’s given the proper tools and guidance to do so. That’s not a bad thing, is it? I LOVE the school my child attends and try to help out in any capacity I can. I want her teachers to know that they can call me just as much or more as I call/email them. I want her to see us a united front.
I also want my child to know that our expectations are the same and we expect her to give nothing but her best, at school or at home. While I know that I can’t fight every battle for her, I want her to be prepared to fight her own battles and to know when she should ask for help, whether it’s from home or school. I want her to understand that her independence begins with her and a lot of it’s rooted in her education.
In order for her to know and understand these things, I have to show her I have a committed interest in educational process as well.
Not just when she’s in trouble for talking or brings home a bad grade.
But when the school calls for volunteers, supplies or an encouraging word from an adult that doesn’t have a teaching certification.
If that makes me a helicopter parent, we can start spinning the blades now.
But we’re going to need some oil because she hasn’t even finished third grade yet.
I’m just saying.

Chronicles of a Single Mom: Blog #3

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Apparently times are changing.
Change is good. I like change. It’s necessary for our good as humans.
But the change in this area is just getting on my nerves. Not just as a single mom and I’m sure there are plenty of parents that would agree with me.
What change is this?
Common Core.
I never thought that homework could be so hard for no apparent reason.
It takes so long to find the simplest of answers. There are so many tool, manipulatives, steps, etc. to get the same answer you would if you simply put one number on top of the other and performed the necessary operation. Which is mostly what I do to help my child get the answer. Only for her to tell me that I don’t have it the right way.
It’s the right answer, yes. But she refuses to accept the method that I know to get the answer. Frustrating, and slightly ironic, don’t you think? I think Comedian Gerald Kelly said it best:

I don’t know whether I should go to work or go to school so I can help her with her homework. I feel like I need to do the lesson in order to check the lesson that she has for homework and I have two degrees. Throw in the fact that some of the information needed is completely unnecessary and I see how some of these kids get confused.
Poor children. I, who has never liked math and am addicted to words, can understand how making something that is already complicated more complicated can create frustration.
Is there any way this process can be streamlined? Can’t we just keep the good parts of the curriculum and leave the rest on the cutting room floor?
Besides, most of the men and women that have approved this new curriculum didn’t have to take the classes, do the homework or take the test, did they?
I would think they would say that they turned out and make decisions just fine without it.
I’m just saying.