Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Talkin' Turkey

Thanksgiving is upon us. It's that time of year when families once again gather to gobble (pun intended) loads of food, watch hours of parades and football and wind up feeling as overstuffed as the turkey we just cooked.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It has all the togetherness of Christmas without the mad dash to blow money we don't have on gifts and over-decorate just to show up the neighbors. It is simply a time to gather and reflect on all for which we are grateful.

Although retailers would have us believe the Christmas season begins the day after Halloween, I prefer to give Thanksgiving its due. Although many around us are already lighting the plastic Santas, our house is still adorned by pumpkins and cornstalks.

That's not to say I have not begun planning for Christmas. I just prefer not to have a Christmas tree next to my Thanksgiving table.

I applaud Nordstrom's Depatment Store for its decision not to put up Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. Perhaps if more retailers did this, we would feel a little less pressured to jump into the holiday season before the jack o'lanterns have had time to rot on the porch.

So go ahead and put your grazing ornamental reindeer in your front yard and illuminate your house with enough lights to guide a 747 to a safe landing on your roof before the cranberry sauce has enough time to congeal on the tablecloth.

I'll be enjoying my turkey sandwiches without the holly and ivy as side dishes for a little while longer.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Can We Talk?

The time of year is upon us that many parents dread. It's time for parent/teacher conferences.

I would have to say that more parents fear these dreaded teacher meetings than the sugar-filled, present-driven hyperactivity of the Christmas season. At least Christmas is over in one day. The repercussions of these conferences will haunt you for weeks, an entire semester or even a whole school year.

For some lucky people, these are pleasant exchanges. With Shannon, we meet with her teachers and hear what a polite, cooperative young woman and great student she is. Then we head over to the middle school for Sean's conferences.

And we brace ourselves.

It's not that Sean is not an intelligent child. He has unfortunately been cursed with some sort of genetic disease that prevents him from keeping track of things. He received an ipod for his birthday a few weeks ago and has already managed to lose the headphones.

Unfortunately, this defective gene also affects his ability to hand in homework. We know that he does the homework, but we have no idea where it goes once it enters the black void of his backpack.

It is frustrating to go online to check his grades and see that he has A's and B's for all the work he has done, but has a C in the class because of all the Fs he receives for missing work.

I have a feeling many of the papers simply end up on the bottom of his locker. I had to retrieve a book from there a few weeks ago when he missed several days of school with an ear infection. That thing needs to be declared a bio-hazard.

Apparently, everything that has ever disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle has materialized in Sean's locker. The bottom was half full with gym shorts, swearshirts, both of his coats, binders and notebooks with at least 30 pieces of paper randomly stuffed around everything else.

Even worse, Sean had left an insulated lunch sack in the locker for about four weeks with, unfortunately, the lunch still in it. Brown goo had oozed through the lunch sack, which now covers the bottom of his locker with some papers actually stuck in it. I practically had to don a protective suit to get anything out of there.

Also, I have repeatedly warned him not to put papers in the pockets of his pants. Crumpled school papers, however, sometimes appear in the washer and dryer. Since he has a binder for each class, I cannot figure out why he thinks the pocket of his jeans is the best place to store papers.

Despite regular efforts to go through his backpack and a new organizational system we are trying with his class binders, success has eluded us. The problem is he is simply not motivated to keep track of his schoolwork.

Since Sean is motivated by money, we have now instituted a new system where he loses $1 from his monthly allowance for every missing assignment that pops up on Powerschool. We figure he will owe us money by the end of the semester.

We also have a longstanding policy where he loses television, computer or videogame privleges for any grade below a C. That list will now include his ipod. Our hope is that he will become organized out of complete boredom.

So, next week, we will once again arm ourselves with a brave face, gather our courage and enter the realm of middle school to once again prepare for battle with the dragon that is a teenage boy's lack of enthusiasm and motivation.

Seems to me that slaying a real dragon would be a whole lot easier.