Nothing quite like a screaming fight to start the day.
Last night was Back to School night at the Middle School. I sat in Jake's homeroom class and looked around. Every child had colored a small paper t-shirt to describe 'who' they were. Kids drew little icons all over their shirts showing their love of baseball, biking, swimming, reading, etc. I scanned all of the shirts, studying each one, not sure which one was Jake's. Then I saw the one, not at all like the others, and knew immediately it was his. It was beautiful actually and more of a scene. In the middle of his t-shirt, there was a fire breathing dragon, not fighting anything or anyone but walking on green grass under blue sky.
Next was Science. I wandered the science walls looking for Jake's poster on "What is Science?" Unlike everyone else's poster, though, his was drawn on two sheets, not one. This, after I had asked him if his poster shouldn't be on just one sheet. On his first sheet, he had made a list of 30 things qualifying as science. His second sheet had all of the drawings. It was neat and beautiful, but it was obviously not what the teacher had asked for. And this, unlike the more creative t-shirt poster, disturbed me because it is Science, a subject he really likes and excels at, and a subject I think is so important. He would have to figure out how to meet his teacher's expectations and not just make it all up on his own.
Back in the homeroom we went back to meet the teacher. During that time, I took the opportunity to look in his desk. I was appalled to find it in a horrible state. There was a mess of pencils and pens that fell out as soon as any book was accessed. Each one of his 6 folders were empty except the one marked "OTHER." Every single paper from the first 2 weeks of school was jammed in there, backwards and upside down. Oh my God! As the teacher talked, I organized. Writing utensils in zippered container. Health sheets in Health folder. Math Sheets in Math folder. Writing papers in Writing folder.... Then I found a Science Sheet, upside and buried. It read.
Please create your Science Poster and follow the instructions. As you meet each criteria, cross it off on the list. When you are finished, return your completed poster with this sheet. Then there were about 30 instructions followed by points you'd receive by completing each one. It had to have a certain title, it had to be on ONE sheet only, it had to be in pencil and colored pencil only, and on and on it went. I noticed that there was only one thing crossed off on the list. It was enough for me to know that he knew this list existed....
I spoke with both his homeroom teacher and the Science teacher before I left, last night. I pointed out that Jake is disorganized and really needs our help. I told them that I was happy to be on top of it and even show up at school now and again to help him organize his desk and locker, but whatever they could do to actually help him organize himself day-to-day would be really appreciated.
I later filled my husband in on what I observed. We decided on a plan. We needed a huge 3 ring binder for all of his subjects. None of these 8 folders to keep track of with papers falling out. Instead, ALL of his papers would need to go into this binder under the appropriate tabs. He'd take this binder everywhere with him and it would have to come home EVERYDAY so I could check it for organization. He would need a 3 hole puncher at school.
So let's just say, this morning got off to a stressful start. I swear it was my husband who was stressed out first. Or maybe it was just something in the tone of his voice I didn't like that set me off. Or could it be that I was sleep deprived because even though I did everything I had been doing for the past 4 nights, and whatever else I was doing in the past 6 months, Jake got up anyway at 1:30am with another night terror/nightmare? (I'm going to take him to a doctor.) Maybe I was stressed out first, after all.... It doesn't matter. We both succumbed and had a screaming fight over the organization of Jake's folders. There was a dash around the house looking for a big enough binder. A 3 ring hole puncher that wasn't working easily. I heard myself yelling that I didn't understand what he wanted me to do and that why doesn't he actually do something besides bark from the sidelines?? (Not fair. Even while slaving away, he is very involved.) Jake sat silently at breakfast. I noticed my neighbor walk by our open window, who I'm sure got an interesting earful. Belac kept following me between rooms and I kept ordering him to go back and finish breakfast.
I ran Belac off to school and literally dragged him. He was late for his 7:45am reading class. As I turned around to walk home, I bumped into Jake, who was on his way. Hey you! I poked him and began walking with him.
Hi, Mom. Where are you going? he asked me.
With you, I shrugged, I never walked with you to the middle school before.
Dad made me bring this backpack, he said sullenly after a few steps. It was the only one we could find that was big enough to carry the binder and all of my books.
I looked and laughed. That is my backpack from college!! That's so cool. It's so retro. They don't make them like that anymore!
Great, he replied in a voice that showed it was anything but great. It's from the 90s or something?
Kind of! I laughed, more like the 80s! Maybe I even had it in high school, I can't remember now....
Mom, can I ride my bike to school? Other kids do it....
Your bike? Is there a bike rack?
Yeah, I'll show it to you.
We took a look at the rack. We looked at the different bike locks.
Mom, I have to go, Jake looked at his watch, I'm late.
I watched him go. Jake actually likes school, this year, and the last thing he needs is for my husband and me to have these stressful episodes in front of him over him. We can't do this, my husband told me before I left the house. He was right, but all I could do was roll my eyes.
I waved good-bye and dared not try to hug or kiss Jake in front of all the others, even though all I wanted to do was hug him and tell him we'd figure everything out together. I wanted to say sorry for screaming this morning when I suddenly realized that this all had very little to do with Jake and all to do with husband and wife bickering gone out of control. I have to explain to Jake, later, that we're really not mad at him. We're just worried about him, but even so my husband and I have to do a better job of showing him a united, positive face.
Have a good day! I called after him.