Thursday, September 27, 2012

School Days

We've been back in school for a little over a month now. It's been slow going, getting up early, homework, early bedtimes... And we may as well kiss spare time goodbye (hence the no blogs).
Chloe is a sworn school lover. She hopped on that bandwagon back in kindergarten and has yet to hop off. She loves her friends. She loves her clothes. She loves her violin lessons. If you asked her, she couldn't think of a single thing about school that she hates.
Ashton, on the other hand, could write you a list. But I think what it boils down to is he hates having an early bed time. That's it. He's been a straight A student since day one. But don't ask him to love being one. No thank you.
One thing my kids' school does that I actually pretty much loathe (although I can see the benefit) is something called the American Heritage Speech Competition. Every student, from kindergarten to junior high, has to choose a "character" from history and give a speech in the first person on that individual's life. In K5, Ashton was Daniel Boone. He won first prize in his division, had to say the speech in front of 300+ people, and got a letter from the mayor along with a medal. By my reaction, you would have thought he'd won more gold than Michael Phelps.

 In first grade he was Orville Wright and placed second.

 Last year I had two speeches to help write, two speeches to help memorize, two costumes to put together. Enter hatred of American Heritage Speech Competition. I figure, I've done my time. I shouldn't have to be researching all this stuff, let alone memorizing it!
Chloe placed 2nd in her little Pocahontas costume, and her sweet little lisp that declared she haled from "Shamestown, Ah-zhin-ee-ah". Ashton was in the top three of his class as Benjamin Franklin, and wore a pair of Atleigh's old glasses, but l can't say he was very invested.

 This year, I can't even remember what day they're supposed to say the speeches on. Oh, they're written. Each on of them has the first paragraph memorized. Chloe declared early on in the year that she wanted to be "the girl who makes the flags", ie: Betsy Ross. So here I am searching all over the World Wide Web for some sort of Betsy Ross-ish costume. That isn't red, white, and blue, and/or covered in stars. I just can't imagine that anyone, George Washington himself included, would have been okay with dear old Betsy parading around town wearing our nation's flag, no matter how much effort she put into its creation. But, we will do as we must.
Ashton had a more difficult time this year choosing a subject. Ashton always has a more difficult time, in everything, because he has to gaze at every option from all angles. This year he narrowed it down to the Civil War. Okay, well, who do you want to be? North or South? Dumb question, considering we are just below the Mason-Dixon Line, and my father in law has traced their lineage back to every infantryman that ever wielded a bayonet for the south. So. Robert E. Lee, or Stonewall Jackson? After much deliberation, we went with Jackson. A man with that much character, who sucked lemons like it was his job, and who punished soldiers for being impolite to ladies, has stories to tell. Well, I'll have you know, there are NO Stonewall Jackson costumes. Anywhere. Even Confederate soldiers are hard to find. Apparently Johnny Reb ain't too mainstream these days. PawPaw to the rescue. He found, at the Fredericksburg battlefield, not only a gray slouch cap with crossed rifle pin, but also a Confederate frock coat, an officer's collar patch (although the coat is collarless. Not really sure yet how we'll work that one out), and an "authentic imitation" Rebel belt buckle. The cap, especially, is Ashton's pride and joy. He wears it every day after coming home from school. Marches around the yard commanding troops to fire the cannons, bring up the rear flank, and whatever else a general would yell to his men. The first time I peeked out the window and saw this, my heart stopped. "Jeremy!", I screamed. "You've got to make him stop!" "Stop what?", he asked. "He's marching around EAST HAMPTON wearing a Confederate Army cap!" "So let him," he replied calmly. And that was the end of that.

Here's another school issue we have: lunches. My kids are picky. It's not something I'm proud of. But as a young mom I just found it easier to give them what they wanted instead of fighting them to eat what I wanted them to. Don't worry, you smug, self-important Baby Talk magazine moms- I have most definitely lived to regret it. So vindication is indeed yours.
Just this morning, the kids wanted to buy lunch from school, instead of bringing it. Well. School lunches are expensive. And, since they're picky, they definitely don't get their money's worth. Pardon me, but I don't see myself paying $4 a kid just so they can have some French toast sticks. My mother in law does that. Today I told them that if they were going to let Grandma buy them lunch, they weren't going to waste her money by only eating one thing off the tray. I told Ashton, "It says on the menu there's sausage. I want you to at least try the sausage." You'd think I had asked him to eat his own fingers off his body. The huffing, the groaning, the flouncing. So I did what any self respecting, resourceful mother would do: I guilt tripped him. Oh, I guilt tripped him so hard he'd have enough guilt frequent flier miles to get him to those poor African kids I told him all about, and personally hand feed them that sausage patty. I told him of Africa's economic crises, about the famine and the children who live off of one spoon of rice a day, if they're lucky. I told him how sometimes people give their parents grain to grow crops and the families are so starving they eat the grain before they can even plant it. I went biblical on his butt, speaking of gratitude and the poor we'll always have with us. And I stooped down and looked him in the eye, saying very seriously, very sincerely (please note: I was very sincere about all of this. I'm in no way making light of any of it) , "Ashton. If you can look at that sausage on your plate, and think of those poor starving babies in Africa, who would give their lives to be able to eat that sausage, and you can still say to yourself 'I will waste this food', then you do just that." On the way to school we prayed for those children. And we prayed that God would show us the blessings we are given, and that whenever we can, we'll pay it forward. All of that from sausage. I did such a thorough job, that I will never have to guilt him again- until I want grandchildren. Or a sandwich.

And guess what?

He ate the sausage.


To follow our school day adventures, check me out on Instagram- @mbsmoot

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