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August 23, 2005

Proof that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree

A glass fell off the kitchen table tonight and I just looked at it and I said "I quit.". My son said "You always say that but you know you won't."

I'm glad they don't know how close I have actually come to quitting, how many times, and how often I still think about it with a kind of longing.


I've joked before about the perpetual cloud of gloom my son seems to have hanging over his head and how fastidious my daughter is about being perfect. Tonight, though, I'm not laughing. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty deeply shaken after what just happened. I'm still coming to grips with the 'holy shit' quality of my realization so forgive me, please, if this is rambling or confusing.

Today was system-wide open house day. That meant I had to work all day and then, from 4:30 - 6:30, I had to meet and greet parents and students in the media center. My first two years, not many people came through the media center but, tonight, we had lots of lookie-loos, some of my past students coming back or the younger siblings and lots of kids just coming through to let me know they saw me in the newspaper. (*should probably explain that but I need to get through this first)

This would normally not be a problem and when my kids were both in elementary school, I was able to just walk over to their classrooms before open house and touch base with their teachers. Not so now. My kids are in middle school, rising 7th and 8th graders, and our middle school had their open house today, too.

Unfortunately theirs ran from 5:30 - 7:30 so we had one hour to leave my school, drive over, find a place to park, find 8 different classrooms and meet 8 different teachers, which we could have done pretty smoothly if my daughter hadn't had a meltdown. In the car she was yelling at me to drive faster ... when I saw an old friend and her son and stopped to talk to them, she was pinching my hand as I talked to them to tell me to stop talking to them ... she was alternately throwing me dirty looks and pleading with me to move faster when we were walking across campus.

When we finally found her homeroom, she was told her schedule had changed and she would have to go the her new homeroom to get her new schedule. I tried to make the best of it on the way by saying that she had ended up with the teacher I had hoped she would get but it was too late. She was devastated that something had changed and she didn't know how to handle the change.

We got to her homeroom and began meeting her teachers, all of whom are wonderful, and she was just starting to relax a bit when my son started up, pointing out that we only had 20 minutes to meet all of his teachers. We got to three of his 4 teachers before they kicked us out. I thought the worst of it was over and we would go home and relax finally after a long day.

No sooner did we get home than I hear my daughter freaking out in her room. She came running to me and I swear to God, I thought one of the cats had died, she was so hysterical. She could barely get the words out between sobs ... she couldn't find her new schedule.

I followed her back to her room to find her sheets and blankets torn off her bed, all over the floor and out in the hall and she is shrieking that it is gone, that she is such an idiot for losing it. I had to grab her by the shoulders and yell in her face to get her to breathe, to think ... she was totally short circuiting. I told her to go look out in the car, thinking that she might have taken it out to memorize it. As soon as she went outside, I turned around, opened her purse, and there it was, right where she put it.

She collapsed into tears when she saw it, in the middle of her tornado-struck room. I asked her why she was so freaked out and she said "I'm scared I'll mess up. I can't do this."

and it hit me like a jab to the solar plexus ... she is me. The panic, the anxiety, the feelings of inadequacy, the total freakout at the littlest things.

Then I look at my son, my sullen, angry, reclusive son and I realize that he is me, too.

I joked tonight with my daughter's science teacher (who taught my son last year) that she is about to see the other side of the coin. Jazz has her bookbag packed, her notebooks color coded, her clothes for the first 9 weeks all picked out. She is not the smartest kid in her class but she tries the hardest and she cares the most about how well she does. Joseph, on the other hand, is not ready to go to school. He's probably the smartest kid in his class but he doesn't give a shit because he thinks he can coast. Jazz is going to the local college because she doesn't think she will get accepted to anything better. Joseph wants to go to MIT but he almost failed pre-Algebra last year. Jazz is convinced she will fail everything she tries. Joseph doesn't think he has to try.

That conversation came back to me as I sat here, going over what had happened, how each child is a different side of the same coin ... and I realized that coin is me.

I think what happened tonight was that my daughter had her schedule memorized so when they changed that on her, on top of her anxiety of being late, it sent her over the top. What scared me was the words I heard her using.

"I'm an idiot ... I'm so stupid ... I ruin everything ... I can't do this ..."

Have I done this to her? Is it in her nature via genetics or has she learned this from me? What was I thinking bringing kids into this world? I have one kid that has some of the signs of depression and the other has signs of panic attacks and here I am, having been through both and feeling guilty for doing this to them.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Prosemonkey published on August 23, 2005 12:18 AM.

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