homework doula

Here’s a job I never applied for: Homework Doula! Oh, it’s thankless, uphill-battle kind of work. It involves crying, yelling, throwing one’s body on the bed, denying, lying, resigning oneself to one’s fate. I think also candy and wine are also part of the deal. I’d rather not be involved with the kids’ homework, since I listen to one childhood podcast that recommends to keep school work between the student and the teacher, that it’s important to show mistakes so the teacher can identify areas for improvement. This jibes with like my goal to be more hands-off when it comes to academics, which is the opposite of my mom’s approach.

As much as I like to play the role of an extra in this pandemic, when we discovered Wonder Twin Boy has 39 missing assignments, we have no choice but to get involved, and it’s a two-person-team effort! Husband is creating Boy’s state project on Hawaii and I’m practically ghostwriting a feature article on Minecraft.

It reminds me of my third grade project on South Korea that must have slipped my mind, because over the weekend, my parents got to work. Mom wrote out paragraphs on Korea that I rewrote in my own handwriting and Dad cut out pictures from a South Korea tourism book to glue to my poster board. That pretty much meant they did my homework, and I turned out okay. There’s hope for all of us yet.

shirley temple, in the ultimate kid mary sue

There’s a kid novel called “A Little Princess,” which was made into a film starring Shirley Temple. The plot is basically she’s a kid at a boarding school whose dad is in the military. Everyone thinks he’s dead and there’s no more money, so she basically becomes a live-in orphan servant who suffers epic abuse and never gets enough to eat. She sleeps in a room in a drafty, dusty, cruddy attic. All the little girls are byatches except like one girl. It’s like a fairy tale tragedy that really spoke to me at age eight.

At the end of the movie, she wakes up in morning and the camera pans across the room. It is packed with pastries, cakes, tiers of scones with clotted cream, croissants, cup cakes, petit fours. She blinks and yawns prettily as she wakes up. It’s a moment before she realizes that her room is filled with TREASURE. Once she wakes up, she starts gobbling the food, she invites her friend to come over and help her binge. The tyrannical headmistress storms and yells “what is the meaning of this!” etc. or something. Soon after, the father is revealed. He is alive! He is wheeled in with a bandaged head. He has been MIA because he’s been unconscious! Now that he’s back, tyrant school lady gets her comeuppance, little Shirley Temple hugs her father, cheek to cheek, weeps, her hair styled in perfect ribbons and sausage curls (and it’s pretty much the same hair throughout, ups and downs and all). The end.

Now THAT was a great ending for a kid story. The dessert deus ex machina? The wronged heroine proven wrong in teh end? So satisfying. But as an adult looking back, yes, I can admit, it’s the ultimate Mary Sue.

karem abdul jabar bio project

Last spring, Girl Wonder Twin chose Karem Abdul Jabar as her bio project subject, and although she remained unimpressed even after we read about eight articles together, I think he is so cool! After an extraordinary sports-ball career, where he is like rated the among the top five players of all time, which is wild when you think when he was playing, how short the b-ball shorts were. I’m not even being that facetious. I just mean, athletics have changed like crazy and there seems to be massive improvements in equipment and method and I don’t know, DRUGS.

In any case, after an illustrious sports life, he was friends with Bruce Lee who asked him to come and have a part in “The Last Dragon.” So he got to star in not just any old martial arts film, but an old school classic! He converted is Islam in his twenties, he graduated from UCLA, he’s written books. The dude has had a wide and rich variety of such different life experiences. I’m so dazzled. Girl Wonder Twin was less so and couldn’t wait to wrap up the project.

marc maron/wtf pod cast

I think I am falling in love with Marc Maron.

During Pandemic 2020, I have been getting sucked into Marc Maron’s podcast WTF, a little bit after watching him on the excellent show Glow, but mostly because I began reading articles of how he tragically lost his girlfriend suddenly this year. He has decided to grieve publicly. He weeps on his podcast, he talks about what eats and how he’s up and down. When interview subjects express condolences, he breaks down. It’s very real and raw, and damn, I find it compelling. This what drew me to acting originally — that kind of honesty. It’s a realm where people can express themselves without adornment. And in most places of life, you don’t get that directness. That’s why theater lit me up when I encountered it decades ago. (Of course, as you travel down the road of being an actor, that might change and get more complicated, but still, that’s the original spark for me. Despite this, it’s not as if actors are my people necessarily, but I think they’re better at being vulnerable in person than a lot of writers I meet. But maybe I just have a different barometer. I’m very honest in how I express myself, which is why some acquaintances think we’re best friends. Husband point this trait out to me.)

This guy expresses himself truthfully. It may be the result of his life as a performer and writer, or participant of AA meetings. (Should I go to those meetings for my authenticity fix? I just like hearing how people are really doing.) He did a wonderful interview with President Obama in 2015, and I just so enjoyed it. You can hear how nervous and out of his mind he is to meet Obama, and of course, Obama is like a balm to our collective soul. (Volume 1 of his memoir just got released, which I am going to check out and am not being paid to plug here, ha ha ha.) I know Obama was not a perfect president, but he was decent, brilliant at so many things, and spiritual — and just, please, I don’t need to go on and on about how his presidency has paid dividends for us — or maybe I will just speak for myself since our country is so divided — me. This interview was just a nice happy spot in this endless pandemic.

But maybe you need to “earn” it. You can’t start with the pinnacle episode. You have to go through the ups and downs in order to be genuinely invested in this performer’s happiness and excitement. I’m relishing this experience after listening to a bundle of these episodes, some of which are dull, some fascinating, depending on the subject matter. (Cate Blanchette, utterly boring. Stacey Abrams, incredible. Did you know she has a law degree, has several romance books published, and adores physics? I adore her.) This podcast has been around at least ten years, during which I was blissfully unaware of its existence. But now, that we are cooking and washing dishes ad nauseum, and we are all together all the time, it’s really helped make pandemic life more pleasant.

Warning: there is a liberal use of the F word. My children have now heard every curse word under the sun when they walk through the kitchen, but they have assured me they have already heard all these words before.

who even are you

Right now, First Son’s favorite school is math and least favorite is art. He drags his body around the apartment when an art assignment is due as if he’s completely forgotten how to walk. He slithers with despair and says “oh my god I hate this. Why do I have to do art? How long do I have take art? It’s literally the worst.”

Say what now? Art was my favorite class, I love drawing and painting and filled so many hours just drawing weird life stories of made-up characters. When I hear him discuss math with the same adoration I use to describe art, I’m am taken aback and I find it totally wild we are related and yet have such different brains.

packrat wins

I have two friends who are pretty strict about decluttering — at least when it comes to my stuff. Sonya came over to my old apartment and every time I asked about an item, she said “nope, throw it out.” She wouldn’t even let me drop things off at good will. She just bullied me into tossing three giant garbage bags. She was right though because I cannot remember what was in those bags. When I asked her if I should throw out my old collection of acrylic paints from my undergrad days, she said no. Say what now? Doesn’t keeping them mean I’m clinging to my old artist identity or something? She didn’t explain. Then I asked Nancy as backup, and she typically says TOSS IT, and inexplicably, this time, she said to keep the paints. I was totally bewildered. Where was their typical ruthless spirit?

Anyway, I’m happy to report, deacdes after I initially purchased my paints, Wonder Twins requested acrylic paints in order to create Fortnite Halloween costumes. I have handed the entire collection over. My hoarding ways have paid off! And gee whiz, it only took thirty years.

school

You know what’s great about remote school? It’s like I get to go to third and fifth grade all over again — while looking for a job. Yay!

how i show and receive love

* I agree to listen to “Welcome to the Jungle” on the piano for the fortieth time. (First Son is obsessed with figuring out how to play classic rock and pop songs on the piano and ukelele. It’s great, but…”Welcome to the Jungle” is legit 15 minutes long and he feels neglected the moment you space out.)
* I lost my job and I am not telling my mom. (This the kindest way.)
* As soon as I see Husband is in physical pain, I tap him out and corral the kids to leave him alone.
* My friends, upon hearing of my lay off, offer to annihilate my employers, and in the next breath, remind me it’s a giant blessing. (That’s pretty cool).
* Although we are all pretty sick of each other, I still get hugs from the kids in the middle of the day, and that is admittedly pretty nice.
* I have bought the children ice cream, slushies, icies, popsicles, candy, doritos, and other Forbidden Foods more this season than any other time in their life. I’m not trying to make them disgusting, but jees, it’s a rough time. Why not have a little treat?

pandemic parenting highlights

1) We caught Boy Wonder Twin snacking in bed from a bag of sugar. (He was settling for some self-care time with a book, lying down, with a bag of…sugar. Not even chips, or candy, but white, granulated sugar. I was afraid to ask Husband if he was just grabbing it with his hands or at least had a spoon. Nope.

2) I pulled my back. Yay! I’m mortal!

3) I am being furloughed. Hooray!

4) The apartment is a colossal mess. Woo hoo! I feel like I’m in an anti-gravity chamber when I walk through, priorities flit from my mind.

5) First Son has taught himself ukelele. He started with simple Beatles tunes and now plays Guns n’ Roses and Metallica. I have not picked up any new skills. I eat a great deal more of ice cream though. Initially, a child playing a fey instrument was utterly charming. Now, if I hear him pluck out “Sweet Child of Mine” any more, i may murder myself.

6) I go into the office once a week. It is empty, and yet, every week, a fly hovers over my face the entire time. Am I disgusting? Am I Pig Pen? Or is it so lonely, he needs to fly up into my grill like that?

7) Girl Wonder Twin seems okay. She has perfected her withering look, complete with a slow blink and lifting her wrist as if she wears a watch, implying I am behind.

8) Boy Wonder Twins is losing his mind. He hates remote schooling, seeing his sister all the time, and the pandemic with a fiery passion (see number 1).I do think everything is going a bit smoother this fall than last spring. It’s early though. I could be wrong.

parenting in the time of quarantine (continued from previous)

I think it’s cute that in my previous post on parenting during quarantine, I outlined tricks and rules. Ha ha, that innocent version of me knew nothing, because with everything, everything changes over time. Part of our challenge is when will this actually end? When you have a sense of time or deadline, you can pace yourself properly. When the deadline is infinite, undetermined, amorphous, well, my friends, we are having to completely re-learning how to parent. All our old tricks are out. This is a completely different skill set.

Homeschooling has never been my bag, so working virtually for my own job has been more of my priority. We do not monitor First Son at all, but Wonder Twins definitely need a closer eye. Husband is naturally and professionally a teacher, so he was the home school guy! We found a rhythm in the first month of quarantine of daily soccer, art, yoga, along time, school/work. But it was too good to last. Slowly, everyone has begun to rebel. Soccer/art/yoga has led to battle of wills, storming off-tantrums, long, stony silences. After one particular home school battle, Wonder Twin Boy and Husband did not speak to each other for two days.