Friday, May 27, 2011

Why I have so much gray hair (under this cheap dye-job)

Last night I went to Book Club and we got to talking about our kids.  All of us have two kids, and our older ones are responsible and kind and do what they are supposed to do, and the younger ones are a "challenge." (to say the least)  One woman told us that her younger daughter, who had a Spanish teacher she hated, prank called said Spanish teacher late on a Saturday night and ominously sang songs to her in Spanish which scared the teacher so much she called the police.

This does not bode well for me and my children who seem to be following this pattern to a cartoonish extreme.  Sam is helpful, works hard, sees what needs to be done and does it without being asked, gets good grades, is neat and tidy etc. etc.

He even eats a taco neatly.  We didn't even have to wash his plate that night.
What a good boy!
Kira, however, wants to know towards the end of every school year, "Hypothetically, what if a person, say, in [fifth] grade, didn't pass the [fifth] grade?  What would happen to them?" And she doesn't want to know because she's worried about her academic future, she wants to know how much grief she would get, and how it might affect her summer fun. When I decide to really get on her and be a good parent and make her straighten up and fly right, she manages to get me off track every single time and then does what she wants.  I don't even know how it happens.  She is a master.

In first grade she brought home this paper which totally sums up her life-time motto which I think is "Eh, good enough":

As you can see, it was a problem solving exercise and the poor elephant has a hole in his pocket and is losing his money.  The question for the first graders is, how can the little elephant solve his problem?  Kira drew the little elephant with stick arms and no torso and wrote, "He didn't solve"  So in her world, that's just the way things are going to have to be for the little elephant, because solving problems is not what she's about, and if he can't solve his own problem, or better yet, get someone else to solve it for him, he's just shit-out-of-luck and probably doesn't deserve any money anyway.  

It's not that she isn't smart because she is smart enough to get me to spend an entire day in her shithole of a room, cleaning things out and making things really nice, and even manages somehow to get me to think that spending hours and hours doing that is a good idea and that it's fun.  That's a gift that I wish I had.  What worries me is her total lack of any pride in a job well done.  She has no internal motivation.  She does things because if she doesn't do them, she won't get something she wants.  For example, in our never-ending room-cleaning fight, she won't do it unless I threaten to not let her have something she wants.  Total external motivation.  She doesn't care one bit that sleeping in a bed that has pillows and blankets on it, instead of on the floor, under the bed, and in her toy box, would be more comfortable; or that finding something to wear would be oh-so-much easier if she ever put her clean clothes in her drawers instead of throwing them on the floor intermingled with the dirty clothes and garbage. 

But she's highly motivated by external factors.  Her school is having an awards ceremony today and her teacher told the girls in her class that if they wear a dress he would give them a piece of candy.  She came home and said, "I have to wear a dress tomorrow."  (She didn't own a dress.  She only wears velour track suits.) (She also doesn't care about fashion.  At all.)  I told her I would give her a piece of candy and save us both a trip to Target, but she wanted the special school candy, so she got a dress which involved shopping (which she hates), trying on (which she hates), and wearing a dress for an entire day (which she really hates), all for a tootsie roll in school.  

Her lack of effort in doing things well is exemplified in her art which she loves to do (to a point):

This is a piece she calls "Three Blind Mice."  When I said I didn't get it, she said, "You know, because they have tails but no eyes."  I said, "But there's only two..."  and she said, "Well, you get the idea."  I guess she didn't want to be bothered to crack another pistachio and take half a second to glue a scrap of paper on it.  

Or this one:

She got all the craft materials out but only managed to glue one googly eye onto a shell.  The poor little shell can't even have two eyes, much less a mouth or hair or a nose.  When I asked why she made it like this she said, "It's young."

When I sit and wonder how my kids will turn out and if they will make it as adults, I never worry about Sam.  He'll be fine.  But Kira really makes me wonder and worry.  She will definitely have people working for her in some capacity.  Either she will be a high power boss, making money hand over fist, having people cater to her every need, or she will be living with me and Mitch, and we will be working to keep her in art supplies and velour track suits.


  1. I want that young shell. She could turn out to be Sue Sylvester. She's already got the wardrobe. I'm looking forward to hearing about her jobs. I think she'll be just fine!
    Cynthia W.

  2. i think we might have the same children. seriously.

  3. Sometimes I think we need to worry about the kids that are like Sam rather than the ones that seem to lack motivation but that are clearly very smart.

    Kids like Kira just seem to find a way, you know. It may not be to the liking of teachers (and her mum who just happens to be a teacher) but she definitely has her own style and she's clearly very smart.

  4. I wet my pants I am laughing so hard!!

    I'm telling you she's a genius!!!


I would love your comments.