Did You Write Anything?

So, this morning BDH asked me, “Did you write anything recently?”

(Yeah, he reads my ramblings too. You’re not alone in your shame.)

And I hadn’t, so I said so. But it’s not for want of things to write about. It’s just sometimes, there’s A LOT. And most of it is boring, everyday life stuff. (There’s a good reason I have that as one of my categories.)

Basically, there are periods of my life that fit into one of the following two categories:

  1. all about That Girl, and
  2. everything else.

What can I say? I am a stay-at-home mom, and I love my job. But it’s not the most exciting thing to read about, now, is it.

Recently it’s been a lot of dealing with That Girl’s school and activities. Now that we are into October, we’re making sure things are ticking along at school, and we’re getting her going in her many extracurricular activities.

But, for the first time in years, do you know what we’re not doing a lot of? Therapy appointments. And I am always taken aback at how much more we can do now that her therapy stuff is down to a minimum.

She reads like crazy, so no more remedial reading and speech. She’s learning cursive writing, so no more occupational therapy. And we finished up her oral motor therapy in the spring when we started to pursue some orthodontia. But really, both the SLP and the OT are on hold until we see how her visual processing therapy works out for her, and so far, we are pleased with her progress.

So that’s all we’re doing, therapy-wise. But it’s enough, given the homework and the cost. It’s plenty.

But now, all our time is suddenly occupied with activities! Her fall activities are ramping up, beginning with swimming and karate last week. Skating starts this week. And she’ll pick up a little art class in November.

It seems like a lot, but let me tell you about a dream I had the other night.

As I have mentioned, That Girl has been struggling with some Mean Girls at school. Specifically, there’s one named M. who has tormented her since she began kindergarten, and who continues to this day. So we have been working with this year’s teacher to see if we can minimize the torment.

It came to a head last week when That Girl met me after school, euphoric that she had run one more lap in the Terry Fox Run than she did last year.

Now, one of M’s means of torment is to get up in That Girl’s face and “correct” her, diminishing what she is saying and saying that That Girl is lying and so forth, until That Girl is in tears or completely defeated and cowed and acquiescing. She’s done it about That Girl’s age, about the belts she’s earned in karate, you name it.

And, true to form, M got up between myself and That Girl and started “correcting” her and saying she didn’t do what she was telling me she did. She was trying to diminish what That Girl was so proud of accomplishing, to make her feel bad.

She is a hateful little bully, is M. I dreaded them being in the same class this year.

But last week… our girl had an ally, a little boy in her class who stood beside her and said “NO! I saw her! I was there and WE BOTH did three laps!” And I also told M that I was not listening to her because she had pulled this same nonsense countless times before.

So, M went to her little friends and they had a little whispering conference, and then M marched over to That Girl and announced, “You can’t come to my birthday party this weekend. I’M SORRY, but my mom said… ”

(This is another of her tactics, to get in another child’s face and use the WORDS “I’m sorry” or “Please” when she really means neither and just wants to appear to have authority. I’ve witnessed it countless times, her shouting down more vulnerable kids with “I’m sorry” or “Do you understand?” when really, she just wants to bully them into submission.)

And to my surprise, That Girl said, “That’s okay!” very cheerfully, and walked back over to me. I think it’s because she knows that I would never in a million years have let her go to a bully like M’s birthday party and give her presents and reward her for her awfulness. And we walked off.

ANYWAY. Back to my dream.

Much of this bullying angst has been stirred up in recent weeks here, so it was on my mind. I dreamt that I was taking That Girl to her first night of skating, and we were standing in line to get That Girl onto the ice, when suddenly behind us was M. and her mom. And in the dream her mom was saying, “See M? You don’t need to worry! That Girl is here too, and she will be your friend!”

At which point, I turned around (I am much more ballsy and forthright in my dreams than in real life, sadly) and I said, “NO. That Girl may have to put up with your awful child at school because they are in the same class. But she certainly doesn’t have to put up with that bullshit in her free time!”

Ah, if only dreams mirrored real life.

But it got me to realizing — and this is what we have learned from various therapists and teachers and professionals along the way — that extracurricular activities are valuable not just for the skills they learn, but for their social outlets and connections, too. And That Girl works so hard and has such a terrible time with kids at school, it’s no wonder she so looks forward to her activities. These are places she can go and be herself and make friends and not be tormented all the time.

So while it is exhausting and hot and whatever else to ferry That Girl to and from these places, she loves them. And it is so important to her well-being to participate and just be allowed to enjoy herself.

So I am trying to maintain that perspective as we embark on our busy fall schedule. I am trying to let her have that time to be a kid and participate just like any other kid.

So between school, dealing with the bully, therapy, and activities, my “That Girl” column is full.

As for “everything else”… well, that’s been quite good. September was a project month, in that I have been working on project-type things. Like the Apple Jelly Incident, as I have told you about.

But I will have you know, I WON THAT BATTLE.

Oh yes. I may have been defeated in round one, with my not-quite-jelly jelly, but I still have 10 pounds of apples on my basement floor. And as cheap as I am, I was NOT letting those apples go to waste.

So I MADE ANOTHER BATCH. (And it’s a good thing too, because some of those apples were starting to go off and I didn’t want to deal with THAT mess. See also: CHEAP.)

And do you know what? It turned out pretty well! At least, I think it did. It’s certainly very jelly-like jelly. It’s pinker than the previous batch, but then, so were the apples. We have yet to taste it, but we will. Sometime around 2027, I think, because OMG SO MANY JARS OF JELLY IN MY PANTRY.

Plus, I froze all the not-peels-and-cores bits for apple crisps so we’ll be eating quite a few of those over the winter as well.

And I am making lots of apple bread with some apples, and zucchini bread with the zucchini from our garden. And I made pesto with the basil. And all that has gone into the freezer.

Plus, in between times — while things are baking or cooking or whatever — I am trying to fit in time to get That Girl’s homework all prepared in advance. So I am making up a recipe-box centre of activities, that she can go and grab whatever she feels like working on that day. I’m making up cards containing math questions, and problems, and grammar questions, and listening activities… all sorts of stuff, so that she can pick what she wants and have some autonomy and control over what she works on each day.

She has so little control over her life, it seems — so every little bit helps.

And we’re continuing to look at our expenses around shopping, so keeping up our spreadsheet has taken time. Not enough time, because I am way behind, but OMG SO MANY OTHER THINGS.

But you’ve gotten this far, and I know what you are all thinking: YES, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE STAIRS?!? YOU PROMISED PICTURES, YOU BASTARD.

And you are right.

But it is 2:24 pm, and I have to go pack a swimming bag and a skating bag and a snack for tonight’s schedule of activities. And then I have to walk over and pick up That Girl from school.

(Plus I have to figure out where those pictures actually are.)

So… come back and see me again tomorrow. I HAVE JELLY. AND APPLE BREAD.