Stuff is creeping in. Today: having lunch with a friend then we are getting tattoos. Tonight I’m having dinner with a lovely friend. Tomorrow is all the massage. The kids also have stuff to get to.
It isn’t that what I’m doing is hard, it is that I’m having to switch gears on what I’m thinking about. I was thinking about that process lately: transitioning. I’ve been staring at the kids all week and thinking about the idea of transitioning from one activity to another and how do we do it?
A friend asked me how I feel about classes that my kids sign up for. Do I insist on attendance? Err… it doesn’t come up much? My kids aren’t very scheduled. Our classes are exciting treats that we are very happy to learn about. There is no dragging. It isn’t hard for us to get out of the house (mostly) because I start getting ready about three hours before we need to leave.
Most days we sit down at breakfast and talk about the structure of the day. What are we doing? Where are we going? I give the kids an idea of what to expect and when I’ll start prompting them to get ready.
Very rarely I run into the room and say, “Oh shoot! I didn’t look at a clock and I forgot _____ and we need to walk out the door RIGHT NOW!!!”
I am shocked that when I do this the kids usually jump up in the air and start rushing to get ready like someone is chasing them with a hot poker. They have bought in to “this is our life and we are obligated to show up when we say we will”.
I talk a lot about respecting teachers because they choose to share what they know with people who want to learn. That’s a gift and an honor. You must respect the efforts of teachers.
Kinda funny given how anti school I am, right? I’m not anti teachers. I’m anti-Industrial-Era-conformity-brainwashing.
That’s not the same thing as learning or education or teachers. In fact I have incredible respect for the process of learning.
Not that every school (public or otherwise) works the same way. I know. But it’s a crapshoot year by year. In “school” you don’t get to pick your teachers, mostly. In life you do. College is a weird hybrid of “school” and life because you have some choice but not that much. You pick your place of education more. (Not that most people research the teaching staff much before picking a university.) You get to drop classes and take a different teacher if you don’t like an approach… sometimes.
I have multiple bad grades (D or F) on my record because of personality conflicts with teachers. Does that mean I know nothing about those subjects? Nope. It means that bitch didn’t like me.
School is about measuring how you jump through the random hoops that someone decides to set for you. You think it is even and fair how those hoops are divvied out? Ha. Ha. Ha.
Standardized tests are flat out abusive to most minority populations. Why? Because they say, “Hey, how quickly can you identify all this random shit from White American Culture? Not fast? Then you’re stupid.”
And school in America in the year 2016 is about, “How fast can you regurgitate facts about this culture to prove you are ‘smart’.”
Yes there are exceptions. Yes there are good teachers in public schools and there are good private schools.
Are those private schools available to people who are very poor? No? Then school in America is about regurgitating facts. I don’t care that your kid might be getting away with having a good experience. The majority of American children are not.
How do I know this? Why am I so god damn confident of what I know? Because I went to 25 schools. Then 7 universities. Then I substituted in about 8 schools. Then I taught in 4 schools.
It’s not a huge sample size. But it’s big enough to let me see a diversity most people get to pretend doesn’t exist. I went to schools in rural areas, in neighborhoods of a predominate ethnic identity other than white, in rich schools, in poor schools, and many levels in between. I’ve seen Silicon Valley, Compton, and rural Oklahoma.
I can’t speak to the east coast from personal experience. But I read a lot of teachers. I’m pretty sure I’m right from coast to coast. Teachers are talking about the problems in the system. All you have to do is go look a little bit and you’ll find criticism. You’ll never run out of it to read.
I don’t think my way is right or mass actionable. I don’t think the solution to our broken schooling system is everyone opting out to home school. But I don’t know how to force the solutions that are necessary. I don’t know how to force a non-abusive mechanism on top of an abusive system and I just can’t be part of that abusive system any more. Not as a student and not as a parent.
Could I be a teacher in that system? Sure. Why? Because I’m subversive as fuck and I think the kids who are there need people like me whenever possible. Will I sacrifice everything in my life on the altar of helping other peoples kids?
No. I made these two people. I’m responsible for them.
Yesterday I cracked. I stopped asking the kids to help and I sent them outside to play. They had a glorious day and I got the house like 75% of the way to clean. Yes, I know people believe that I clean frantically full time and my house is always spotless so it isn’t that much work (or something). Well, actually…. (I find myself using that more often because it is now a banned phrase in many places. I try to only do it when I’m being a snot and refuting ideas about myself that annoy me.) I don’t clean that much. My house turns into a pit just like everyone else’s house. But I host big parties pretty frequently and I usually spend about a week cleaning before hand. So people think my house is always clean.
It’s a ruse.
I can usually flight of the bumblebee and feel presentable for dinner guests. And my kids have to pick up their toys before they get screens so our house doesn’t get that bad. Only mostly they clean by shoving whichever behind whatever and into wherever. So every so often we have to dump ever drawer, every shelf, every everything in order to find things. Because seriously after a while we can’t find anything and then everyone expects me to be a fucking homing beacon and they ask me 9,032 times a day where “x” is.
They ask me to buy them new shoes because they can’t find any to wear. I clean their room and find four pairs. That kinda thing.
So a few times a year we face overwhelming chaos. For the love of toast I don’t know how families with two working parents ever clean at all. When it gets bad (like me being gone two weekends in a row so things kinda pile up extra hard, and we are remodeling, and school level transitioning) it will take a solid 8-10 days of me cleaning for 4-10 hours/day.
(There’s always a day in the middle where I clean for four hours then collapse in a heap and cry for a while.)
This cleaning is extra epic because Youngest child has to be entirely moved out of that bedroom indefinitely for the remodel. They are currently replacing the wall/window and that room is not sealed to the out doors. (They have built the new bathroom walls/front wall in front of it, but it’s not all done and everything.) Lots of construction debris in there. Kiddo can’t use that room.
So they are sharing again for a bit. Which was ridiculous extra cleaning and sorting. Frankly I think they were god damn awesome.
At one point Eldest Child started crying and said, “I’m just not good at cleaning. I’m not smart at this and I never will be.”
I laughed and laughed and laughed. She looked at me and said, “WHAT?!”
“You act like I fell out of my mother’s womb being able to clean. I couldn’t do it when I was seven. Frankly I think you have more skill than I had at that age.”
She blinked for a bit, dried her eyes, and got up and made tremendous progress all in a big burst. At the end she grinned at me and said, “Ok I am getting better.”
Cocky little thing. Yes, you are. Every day. Every year. You are getting better.
So I think about these things because transitioning eats into progress. The more times I have to transition in a day the less progress I make on all tasks. This is a well documented phenomena. You can spend four years taking a Spanish class, or four months of immersion. And after the immersion experience you will be far more fluent.
Some guys I know were bitching at me that I should really stop what I’m doing with my life and learn all about the influential music from 1968.
I told them I don’t have time and they demanded that I justify what is more important than that. I rattled off what I’m doing with my life. They kinda blinked at me and said, “Ok maybe you don’t have time.”
No shit, Sherlock.
Everyone has different stuff going on in their lives. Everyone has a different comfort level of transitions. I don’t need to judge what other people need in order to feel comfortable. That internal Holy Fucking Shit No reaction needs to be turned off. Ain’t nobody trying to tell me that I need to pick it up. Not really.
My inside voice is changing. I do hear you.
Chill. The. Fuck. Out.
Why do I talk to myself? Because over time I am changing how I react to different stimuli. It was said that a lot of what is interesting about me now is that I do fewer global freak outs. When something is upsetting to me I don’t scream about everyone and everything. I can say exactly what I’m upset about and why and I can usually trace it down to the root. That’s letting me pull the weeds. I can tell which tendrils are a problem.
It’s ok that I failed in the school environment. I mean, I was usually an A/B student (except for personality conflicts) and I’m still a failure in the school environment. It isn’t that I’m unintelligent. But I cannot conform in the ways required to go period to period learning in the teeny chunks that can hopefully be absorbed by a large enough percentage of people to not be a complete waste of time to everyone. Woo.
Do you know why I was a good teacher? Because I met before school, during breaks, after school, and on Saturdays with students who could not understand what I was teaching and I helped them catch up on foundational information they missed along the way.
I can’t give that much of myself to people outside my family right now. My kids need that time from me. Why? Because we have some fucked up brain chemistry and DNA from generations of trauma. We need to do what we are doing right now.
We are learning how to adapt to life. We are learning how to learn. We are learning shit loads of stuff that we will be able to use later. We are planning. We are growing.
And we are doing it slowly. We are doing it by concentrating on one thing at a time for a few weeks.
That way we can spend many hours a day on one task and make substantial progress at it instead of spending 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there.
It is hard. It is physically and mentally and emotionally taxing. But I enjoy it. I feel rewarded. I feel like my reward is the conversation I get to have around the table every meal. My kids fucking think.
I know so much intense analysis of My Little Pony characters that it is ridiculous because I don’t think I’ve ever watched an episode. I know their back stories, motivations, and things that are being foreshadowed. Yeah. My kid told me, “They are seriously foreshadowing something about her in this episode….” Then later I heard, “In this episode they broke the fourth wall to…”
I asked her if she knows what breaking the fourth wall actually means. Nope. So I explained. In great detail. With lots of examples. Afterwards she started rattling off examples.
Yup. Like that.
I treat my children like if they don’t know something yet it is because I have not yet done a good enough job of talking about it. So I’d better get on that.
I really like my life.
I like feeling responsible. Resiliency experts say that people are most likely to be successful if they internalize that they must be responsible. In other words: we must find a way or make a way. So we do.
I feel that way about anti-racist stuff. Incest research. Home schooling. Teaching my kids how to take care of their shit.
I believe I must make this work. Period. So I will.
What does that actually fucking mean? It means that I picked this life. Who the fuck knows why. So I’m going to live it to the absolute fullest. With great privilege comes great responsibility. I’m one of the luckiest mother fuckers born in the history of all time.
How did that happen?
Even with all the trauma. So fucking what. Every level of person experiences trauma. That’s universal. Not every being experiences trauma (lucky bastards) but every level of human experience has trauma.
What traumatizes one person is standard, normal, and appropriate to someone else. So check your fucking judgment, wench. (talking to myself…)
I have an idea for the tattoo. I’m not going to write it out in advance. But I’m going to have a wonderful time talking to my artist today. He’s so wonderful.
And I’m having lunch with a friend first. Then dinner with a different friend.
I don’t in any way want to complain about the fullness of my life. I am blessed. I am loved. People seek out my company on my terms. Because they consider the effort to be worth what they get in return.
I can’t judge that. I need to just say thank you.
I’m trying to slow down. Frankly the remodel is driving me batty. They are banging all day long. So every second all day long I have to process hitting sounds and decide they aren’t a threat.
That wears me out.
But I have to be home. For Reasons.
So I’m doing what I can to destress in the house. My anxiety is spiking like a motherfucker. But! I know it is temporary so I can have something I badly want and I’ll get to have it as long as I live here. Sounds worth putting up with.
But it hurts my body. It’ll end soon.
Every time I transition from thinking, “Is that the door?” back to whatever I’m doing… it takes a penalty spoon.
So I’m thinking about transitions like fuck right now. How many activities can I manage to get done in a day? How much work? How many different kinds of tasks? I think it is funny how different stages of cleaning feel different to me. I can’t declutter a room, organize it, then remove filth all in a go. I just can’t transition like that. I have to declutter the house. Then organize it. Then clean. I can’t go back and forth because I experience distress physically and psychiatrically.
Transitions are that hard for me. I will fall to the floor and sob and not be able to do whatever it is you want of me because I just can’t.
That’s something that has been a pattern in my life for a very long time and I’m just kind of recognizing what that means in my head. Oh. Flooding. Oh. That’s…
I like intense connections with a lot of fucking bandwidth. So when I need to spread that bandwidth out between 37 different distractions instead of 2-3…
It isn’t anyone else’s fault. But I’m trying to figure out what managing that means. I need this to get better. I need to stop flooding when I walk near someone else’s life because I feel like I should try to conform and I can’t I can’t I can’t.
No one god damn asked you to. Chill. The. Fuck. Out.
It’s funny to stop and think, “This is actually a huge improvement!”
There are a high number of specific high intensity things I want to get done in this life. I won’t get them done in 15 minutes of prep at a time. That’s ok. I don’t need to schedule my life how other people do. It is working for them. Stop projecting.
We all want different things. Health means something different to every person.
I’m trying to figure out what it means to me. This is proving to be more complicated than expected. Not sure if that is because I was naive to start with or what. Anything is possible.
I’m making a lot of progress with my pain stuff. (The overall refraining from typing is helping. Hey–it’s Friday. I kinda took a few days off… I am trying to moderate…)
I’m making progress on pain stuff. My bowels are… well… I’m told this is progress? I don’t fucking know. But it is weirder than hell. I mostly stopped with the pills for a few days (because obviously my body was freaking out) on the doctors recommendation and the freak out ended right away. This is supposedly a sign that things are working right on schedule. I will resume sloughing the parasites from my liver later today. Oh joy. But! I’m seeing… uhm… something fucking weird that I’m told is results?
We talk about poop while eating all the time.
My kids are very comfortable saying, “I’m going to eat lots of vegetables because your body sucks.”
If you can’t be a good example, be a horrible warning. Do one or the other and then do that motherfucker.
Yesterday I screwed up. I put in a load of laundry and I didn’t even think about what I was washing. A new dress up clothes thing was put in the basket. It had never been washed. It was bright fucking red. So all the martial arts uniforms were very pink.
Oooooops. Shit. Like rose colored pink. Dark rose. I was all, “NOOOOOOOO!”
Then I thought about my mama and I breathed a prayer of thanks. “Hey kids? Want to learn how to fix a mistake?” I used oxygen brightener and bleach and I boiled it on the stove top and those fuckers are white as snow once again.
Because my mama taught me what to do.
That’s a good memory. Thank you, mama.
Thank you for teaching me how to do my laundry on the stove because that was what we had and you were going to make sure I had the skills to be presentable no matter what happened to me or how bad my life was. You tried. Thank you.
During this process my friend was over and she asked if I wanted her to do the poking/stirring over the fire. I didn’t want her to. I felt entirely Zen in that moment. I am where I want to be doing what I want to do. I’m showing my kids how I fix a mistake. It takes time and effort. But it’ll be ok.
It was one of the most intensely blissful moments I’ve experienced in a while. That’s flow.
If I cared very much about getting out of my house and not being “stuck” with these experiences as the woman… I wouldn’t get to have that. I’m glad I get to have that. I’m glad I get to see the value in my mother.
I miss you, mama.
I miss all the friends I’m not reaching out to because I’m overwhelmed. I’ll come back. I’ll have spoons some day.
In March we have social stuff planned on the first two days. Then… uhm… I don’t know about the Easter party. Wonder how my bathroom will be? Err… I’ll let people know two weeks before?
I think that I need to not schedule anything else in March. Which is intimidating. I’m not resting. I’m working and socializing because I’m so desperate to catch up on the work. I need to rest and I won’t stop working so socializing needs to be back burnered for a few weeks. Just Do Eeeet.
What work do I feel so pressed to do? Well… we are transitioning from preschool to elementary school. Which is a fuck ton of work for me. (I don’t know how you folks who home school with kids in preschool, elementary, middle, & high school do it. How do you find space?! )
The thing I miss the most about teaching in a school is the prep time plus the right to control what everyone was going to be learning. This is much harder. I have to prepare on the fly for a range of topics. It’s brutal some days in terms of cognitive load. It is fucking hard breaking down every little thing into schemas and concepts and repeatable skill training.
This is why other sane people outsource this shit. But we have some genetic stuff to consider that will make us always on the edge of the bell curve. I’m glad the training exists for people in the center of the bell curve. Yay you!
Hi, I’m Krissy. I’m an outlier.
Name the metric.
I just uhm…. like to be difficult?
IT ISN’T PERSONAL, OK!?!
I should stop now. If I get up and start moving now I’ll have all my morning prep done before Noah finishes breakfast and I will be able to eat at the same time as them instead of sitting down as they finish eating. I’m a pain in the ass to take care of. I struggle to think the effort is really merited.
Know something that I find wacky? Youngest child just fucking loves to stand there and hand me pill after pill after pill. Kid says, “You have to fix the problems. You have to get your poop better so you can digest food. I want you to die when you are very very very old. So here.” It varies somewhat, but this entire experience is just…
validating as fuck.
I’m trying to figure out what I need. My issues are complicated, layered, and difficult to solve. I know you are doing what you need to do to solve your issues and it doesn’t look much like what I’m doing.
I need to figure out how to not feel so fucking bad about that. It’s ok that I need stuff other people don’t need. That doesn’t mean I’m bad. That doesn’t mean I should die so I stop stealing resources from more worthy people. It has to be ok that I need what I need.
It isn’t fair that I have the money to pay for it and other people don’t. There is no fair. There is no deserve. There is no way to have things come out even.
I had to believe there is no deserve when it was really bad. I have to believe it about the good stuff too. Or …. or I just can’t. I can’t do this. I can’t get fucking pompous and shitty and “Oh I have a good life because I deserve it. Because I worked harder than other people.”
Gag. Cough. Puke. Bullshit.
No. I really didn’t work harder than other people. Ok, I worked harder than some people. But not harder than everyone. Some people worked ten times as hard as me. They didn’t get where I am.
It’s not because I’m getting what I deserve.
Nothing is fair.
4,050 words. I should stop anyway. Oh my poor wrists. But I feel better. I feel like I’m finding the words to the parts I need to talk about without talking about what I don’t need to talk about.
That feels better.
How do I get to be me without hurting other people?
That’s the journey.