Are you new? Start Blogisode One of this series here.
As I write this I am in Parent Teacher Conferences at PPAS (Professional Performing Arts School). I have been a mother and a student in a conference, but this is my first time in the role of “teacher”. Clearly I am flooded with students because I am blogging. I only teach the seniors, and by that time the parents are a little burned out on conferences, so I don’t have a big crowd. I should have brought cupcakes or something to entice visitors. Like trick or treat. I should have worn a costume. Something. So far I’ve had two customers and both kids have a 100% average, so I haven’t even been all tough and teacher-y. I’m just dying to say, “One more wrong move and that kid is OUT.”
Blogging is fun and serves a purpose. It makes me look busy and important, two things I am not. It’s better than knitting.
Speaking of Parent/Teacher Conferences, On Wednesday, Rob and I went to Beatrix’s. Drink that fact in, she’s three and we had a conference. Here’s what we learned; she likes arts and crafts. Additionally, she likes to hunt for dinosaurs in the trees with binoculars and her bestie, Natalia. Natalia? I’ve never heard of her. She’s cute, she has a big, black pom-pom of hair on the top of her head. No wonder Beaz likes her.
Seriously, every other teacher has a LINE of people waiting. I should have brought some stand ins for a fake conference. This is embarrassing. I shouldn’t put me feet up, right? That would look really bad.
Rob did ask about Beatrix’s “behavior” at school, wondering if she ever had any….ummmm…you know (you don’t want to “out” your own kid if they think she’s fine) any “moments of difficulty”? Seriously, those teachers looked at us like we had three heads. “Beatrix? Difficult?” Then they launched into the most A+ perfect child conference you’ve ever heard. Rob and I described a little of her behavior (we skipped the peeing on the bed story), and they kept saying, “Not OUR Beatrix.” “OUR Beatrix is perfect.”
Implication? You idiots don’t know how to handle her. It was like talking to the horse whisperers.
The real reason I didn’t write yesterday is because I was upset. I allowed Beatrix to stay up a little later than I should have because we were having a Mommy/daughter evening with Charlotte who miraculously didn’t have any homework. We watched a movie, we lit the carve pumpkin and accidentally set it on fire, it was quality time. Pause in story, I have a conference.
Okay, I’m back. After her bath, Beatrix wanted to play a fish game (that kid loves a fishing pole), which I allowed twice with the deal that after two short games, it was bedtime. Long story short, when I went to pick up the game, she started flailing and hitting me on the back as hard as she could. Like, you could hear the slapping sound, it was so hard. The whole time she was saying, “STOP IT. I AM DOING MY HOMEWORK” which–to describe it–was putting the fish in a pan and baking it in her toy oven as a “pizza”.
Okay. I’m a good Mom, but in that moment, I needed the Super Nanny. What are you supposed to do when your kid
hits you? For real. I’m asking. What do you do? I put her in her bed, yelled to STOP HITTING as loud as I humanly could to get her attention (I’m not a yeller), and walked down the hall. Charlotte looked at my back and told me it was all red. I was pretty rattled, I’ve got to tell you, mostly just shocked more than furious. I can’t remember the last time someone hit me, if ever. It’s unnerving. Especially when she’s three and she’s your daughter.
I had to regroup.
I waited a few minutes and then went back into the ring, where she was in her bed, still furious, and she yelled at me that she was DOING HER HOMEWORK and then started hitting again. At that point, I pinned her (gently) by holding her arms and telling her to stop, or I was going to start taking her toys away. When I released her arms, she started swinging again, and after all her Toy Story 3 toys and her fishing game were put in my room, she finally stopped. I walked out of her room, turned off the light and said she had to put herself to sleep tonight because Mommy only sings songs and read books if you are nice.
Let me say, for the record, that the kid crossed her arms and sat in the dark. Furious. Dr. Spock is probably rolling in his grave at how I handled it, but the good news is:
1) I did not hit back
2) I did not sell her on eBay
Finally….finally….she started to cry. When I went in, she climbed up and hugged and kissed me and said she was sorry, and asked if she could have her toys back if she smiled….and I said…no. That she had to earn them. Then I talked about Santa Claus (can you believe it) and his naughty and nice list (oh yes, I really did) and that he was watching (terrible…threats…but she was paying attention) and she seemed kind of into the whole idea of nice girls who don’t hit get presents.
I had horrible nightmares all night and barely slept.
Then today, (I’m writing on Thursday) she was looking out the window all day for Santa (it’s not even Halloween, I’ve confused the kid forever) and she was actively talking about being nice for Santa. And she was good….until…..
We had to leave the apartment to pick up Charlotte from school and she had to get off the computer. Immediately, she started hitting me. I grabbed her tub of Barbies and said, “Okay, that’s it, these are mine now”.
She said that was just fine. “I hit.” she told me.
So this is what happened. I walked over and squatted next to her so we were eye to eye. We had a staring contest. She reached up and she hit me two more times and I didn’t react at all. Nothing. I just kept making eye contact with her. Then she said, “That isn’t right!”
I said, “What? That I’m not getting mad?”
And she thought for a long time, and then she said, “No, you have a Lady Bug on you. I’m trying to get it off.” And she swatted (gently) my shoulder again. “You have lots of bugs on you” She started rubbing my back, “I helping you with the bugs. I not hitting.”
It took every single ounce of acting training I have ever had in my life not to laugh. Every one. Even worse than when the boys used to fart during the Little Inn scene in Les Miz when we were all in a pyramid and couldn’t get away from each other and you though you’d die from the smell. I DID. NOT. LAUGH. I consider that success number three, right under the eBay listing.
So there you go! No Super Nanny or Dr. Spock needed, just an exterminator.
That child. I have so much gray hair. I hope she does end up on Santa’s “nice” list,( but I also hope Santa does not
have a bug problem. That could be dicey.)
Time warp…I am now home and I want to watch the Project Runway finale, so let’s put the pedal to the metal.
Oh, but I have to tell you that when Beaz saw Rob she said, “I hit Mommy” and got really sad. When I got home tonight I asked her if she’d hit anyone and she said, “No. I not hit anymore.” and then just because I am a pain in the ass I said
“But I have all these bugs on me!” And she got them off. Thank goodness. And, she earned back one toy (Bulls-eye the horse, for those of you keeping track at home).
Let’s get back to college! We left off with me turning in my Waiting For Lefty paper while dreaming of a keg party. Remember I’d veered off the suggested writing topics and taken on things about the playwriting. I think I even looked up the NYT review and quoted that. Quite possibly not the assignment. And then Broadway called, but it was really Dr. Blumberg saying she wanted to talk about my paper. Remember?
Here’s how it went:
“Sharon, it’s Dr. Blumberg. I wanted to talk to you about your paper.”
Crap, shit, damn. I was going to have to re-write it. So long good GPA. I stayed quiet and she continued.
“It’s actually quite good. I’d like to submit it for presentation at the annual Dyson’s Fellow and Honor Society conference in February. Would you be interested? It’s quite an honor and I think you have an excellent chance.”
She had me at “quite good.”
Honor society? Wha? Me?
Get out of here.
But then the clincher. “It seems a bit short, you seem to have ended abruptly” (Yes I did. I fell asleep trying to pull an all nighter) I’d like to work with you on it before we submit it. Can you stay after class on Monday?”
Somewhere in there I did ask her if it was maybe a little unfair for me to go for an award because I am adult and they are all kids, but she felt strongly. “You are all students.” True. And they didn’t have a Jacob Brent MLA tutorial because they already had learned it, so it wasn’t like I had a leg up going in.
Fast forward three months and numerous re-writes, to the Dyson College of Arts and Fellow and Scholars Society Group-y Conference-y thing (ugh–I can never get the name of that right, it’s in there somewhere. It’s like Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, I know there is a hypen in there somewhere, I have no idea where it goes) where I’d been asked to present my paper. Editor’s Note: It’s called: The Society of Fellows of Dyson College of Arts and Sciences (but I still don’t know where that hyphen goes in CCM’s name.
What does that mean? Present my paper? I figured it meant I would read it. I, in my infinite wisdom, even remembered to print out a copy.
But I wasn’t perfect.
1) I got lost getting there. I went to the wrong campus. Note to anyone presenting at the Fellows thing-a-ma-bob. It’s at the White Plains campus and not the Pleasantville campus. I really suggest reading the e-mail with the details. It’s very helpful.
2) I was not dressed up enough. I was the only adult student, but those kids (the other presenters) all showed up in
suits. And they were there with their parents. I was alone and 43 and in a jeans skirt. Oops.
They sent us off two various classrooms, divided by topic. I was in the arts and media room. Only I could STILL end up in the arts room while reading a HISTORY paper. I swear. I can’t shake theater if I try. Before we started they explained that we would read the papers, and then answer questions from the panel. Dr. Blumberg was there to introduce me and she was beaming.
Immediate flop sweat.
QUESTIONS? Oh dear Lord. I don’t know anything about this play, I couldn’t name another Odets play if you held a gun to my head (Awake and Sing?? Is that Odets??) I was going down in a blaze of un-glory.
First, some little kid, she was like 12, yet somehow in college got up and gave a power point presentation about the impact of social networking as a new media outlet. It was called, “The Fourth Network” (I think. Maybe that’s what I called it). She was GREAT. AWESOME. She was presented by her professor in glowing terms, and then after her amazing power point she answered questions for about ten minutes. She talked about foreign policy. She talked off the cuff about what was going on in Egypt and the Facebook campaign.
Brilliant student after brilliant student and here’s what I am thinking to myself, “Sharon. You should have at LEAST practiced reading through the paper once before coming. Can you even pronounce all the words?”
Seriously so nervous. Four times on Broadway–just FINE, yet having a minor panic attack in the classroom with the Odets paper.
I was called. Dr. Blumberg got up and said so many nice and undeserved things about me, and all I could think was, “I am going to ruin her teaching reputation. One question about this paper and I’m sunk.”
I got up to read and anxiety took over. I took a deep breath, and read.
To read the next blogisode of this series, go here.