TANGENT ALERT: Our school system implemented an "ALERT NOW" system a couple of years ago, which was originally supposed to inform parents if there was a weather delay or gas leak or rabid beavers had invaded the school. It was an Emergency System. Now the ALERT NOW system calls us about every two nights with news from the three schools my children attend. We sit down for dinner, and the phone rings, and it's one of the schools, saying "Don't forget the school sleepover!" or "Don't forget the fundraising drive where your child was promised an XBox but they won't really win one!" or "Don't forget they are having Ballpark Hot Dogs on Wednesday!" When my child's school is invaded by rabid beavers, AND IT WILL BE, instead of listening to the message with the school secretary yelling, "For the love of God, get your children, these paddle-tailed bastards are chewing everything with those huge white teeth and foaming mouths!" I will just hang up, saying "I already signed up for two nail painting shifts." If you are going to telemarket me, school, know I will miss the important information. Like the beaver alert.
ANYWAY, the school e-mailed CH and told him that The Son had won an award that three boys and three girls in a class of 300 win each semester. The award is for citizenship and kindness and such, and we were invited to attend but asked not to tell him. CH and I showed up for the awards ceremony, because COME. ON. If he is winning an award, isn't that some kind of "You're An Awesome Parent" award? This reflects on me, right? So those times I pumped gas and locked the car and ran in to pay while he slept in the back seat, or the times I gave him juice instead of milk, or when I let him watch Food Network until midnight during summer break, maybe it made him BETTER. Take that, Haters!
UNABASHED BRAGGING MOMENT: So then he surprises US and gets the two semester 4.0 grade point award, and then he wins the Student Choice award, where his classmates pick the kid most likely to make a difference. And this is when I start worrying that the school just put a big "PLEASE KICK MY ASS" sign on on his back. Is he okay? He's in basketball too! I took him to a Coldplay concert! He can be a cool kid! Don't touch my baby, you big bullies! I share my concerns with CH. He tells me I'm insane. I say, "Whose genes got the Student Choice Award? Not yours, buddy!" CH rolls his eyes and we depart to return to our jobs.
We're so proud.
I'm feeling good about all of this for about an hour. It's a Sally Field moment - "They like me, they really like me!" I'm thinking, "Okay, maybe I get this whole parenting thing." Then 3:00 p.m. hits and my phone blows up. Texts are pouring in.
OLDEST DAUGHTER: "I told him congrats on his award and he got all mad and said "I hate how mom tells you everything"
SON: "She is being SO MEAN"
OD: "I'm serious, he's being a total jerk to me."
SON: "She's up in her room and won't talk to us."
OD: "My feelings are seriously hurt, I mean what did I do? I said congrats. BTW I was nominated for that award too. And Youngest Daughter is being a total brat."
SON: "She was totally sarcastic when she talked to me. And Youngest Daughter is being a total brat."
CH: (In his basement office) "What the hell is going on? The kids are yelling at each other!"
ME: TO OD: Just be nice. He's disappointed he didn't get to tell you himself. Be happy.
TO SON: Just be nice. She might be a little jealous you won it. Be humble.
TO CH: I don't know but it had better be done by the time I get home.
I'm buying a handgun and a six pack of Hard Mike's.
OD: I'm not going to be nice to him if he isn't nice to me. I'm seriously crying!
ME: TO SON: Be nice to OD, she is crying.
SON: No she's NOT! She's playing piano and smiling.
ME: TO OD: You're fine.
OD: No, and now he's out here yelling at me for texting you!
ME: TO BOTH: That's it. You've both taken something happy and turned it into crap. I give up. Go at each other and get it over with. Use clubs. (ACTUAL TEXT I SENT)
OD: What? Are you serious?
ME: Yes. I'm done. Get it over with and be done when I get home. I've had it.
ME TO CH: I'm so over this crap I can't believe these kids and how ungrateful and mean they are to each other, we just try to do the right thing and they just bicker and pick at each other and I'm DONE. I'm going to make it all about me now, forget trying to make things nice for them, they don't even appreciate it and I don't even want to come home!
CH: WHAT DID I DO? WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME?
ME: Why are you yelling at me? I didn't use all caps, YOU did!
And I get home and OD is crying and The Son is upset and CH is mad because I'm yelling at him and the kids are yelling at each other and YD is watching Wizards of Waverly Place and is oblivious to everyone's pain, because that's how she rolls.
And this is how my family took a moment of awesomeness and turned our "Winning!" time into our own personal theater of dysfunction. The "You're An Awesome Parent" committee called, and they are taking their award back. Leaving him in the car when I pumped gas made him bitter. Sally Field spit on me at the grocery store, and then I found out she taped a "PLEASE KICK MY ASS" sign on my back.
I do NOT get this whole parenting thing. But tomorrow is another day.