Thursday, February 17, 2011

The First 100 Days

Today was Jarrah's "100 Days" party at school. That's right, Readers--she's been in kindergarten 100 days already. And not one tardy slip. What?

To celebrate, they made necklaces out of 100 Froot Loops. When Jarrah's friends were surreptitiously eating theirs during the Daisies meeting this afternoon, Jarrah wore a piece of yellow string around her neck. You get one guess why.

Today was also--just under the wire!--the Room 42 Chinese New Year celebration co-hosted by yours truly. Abbie's mom talked about her childhood CNY traditions and passed out slivers of moon cake and red envelopes, and I prepared little plates with peanut sesame noodles and Mandarin Cuties (yeah, that sounds like a Chinese burlesque troupe--I mean the tangerines.) I also read a couple books about dragon dances and CNY rituals. Every time I plan one of these "programs" for Jarrah's classroom I tell myself I'll never do it again because it's such a pain. Then the little darlings eat up all my cooking--and ask for seconds--and they melt my Jewish mother heart into a syrupy little puddle.

There was a moment when I was yammering at the front of the room and Jarrah made eye contact and expressionlessly lifted her fingers to her chin and rubbed. I mimicked the gesture and discovered a crusty little chunk of breakfast lurking there, which I swiped away as casually as I could. She nodded, stone-faced. Something about this little exchange freaked me out--it was just so...grown-up. And totally seemed like something I would do.

Speaking of things I would totally do, I am sore amazed at her new love of reading. I mean, she's taken to it like nothing else I've seen her do (except maybe scale tall buildings.) Recent faves include "The Lorax" (which made me cry--I totally didn't remember it) and "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas." No word is too long to sound out, no vocabulary too complicated to frustrate her. Even at bedtime, she will read to us for half an hour or more without going cross-eyed from exhaustion. Because it's not in my nature to be optimistic, I can't celebrate yet. I can only say, I hope this love affair lasts because it will give us something to bond over during her difficult teen years. Now, if we drag her to parties and she carts a three-inch thick paperback and reads it in the corner all night, growling at anyone who tries to make conversation "I'm reading," then I will be truly spooked.

So, besides all this reading, what else has kindergarten brought? The latest concept is "the BFF." One of her classmates told her about these. I wish they hadn't. Now she is obsessed with the idea of having one true BFF, and doesn't know who s/he is. I said she could have lots and lots of close friends, and that--in fact--she does, but this didn't impress her. She is also feeling the loss of her former (perhaps) BFF Addison--I saw the writing on the wall there. Addison is in a different class, and 100 days in, has friends from her own room. It can't be helped--just the circle of life. But Jarrah misses her. I wasn't sure what to say, so I said "You can't force anyone to play with you. But you can make as many new friends as you want, and you're good at that. Sometimes people move on, they change. We may feel sad about it, and it's okay to feel sad. But we have to move on, too." Too worldly and philosophical for a 6-year-old? I have no idea. I can only think about friends from my own perspective--I can't remember what hers felt like.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Shocking Confession

I just did something that's going to make you lose your good opinion of me. That is, if you have a good opinion of me. If I squandered it long ago and now you just stop by to gawk from a safe distance, you're going to love this.

I took Jarrah to see Justin Bieber Never Say Never this afternoon. And she didn't even ask me to.

Probably that second sentence is making you recoil in horror at the possibility that I am myself a "Belieber," a woman of a certain age who lunges over police gates in Lincoln and Poughkeepsie, screaming for an autograph in my hand-painted "Justin 4 Ever" t-shirt.

But no, I actually only know about such people because I saw the movie. So why did I see the movie? Hmmm. Well, it's getting some oddly good reviews. And Jarrah has spoken of JB admiringly ever since she did a choreographed dance number to "Baby" in her Our Little Stars camp last summer. And it's minimum day. And raining. And I couldn't muster any enthusiasm for Gnomeo and Juliet.

But are those real reasons? Probably not. In fact, I am rather interested in Justin Bieber, from a remote, somewhat sociological perspective. That sounds so elitist. I don't mean it that way. He's just so ridiculously famous. I am often interested in things that seem age-inappropriate for me. Gossip Girl. Bad movies starring Jim Sturgess. That other Justin: Timberlake. So I was wondering: what is the deal with Justin Bieber? Because my exposure to him thus far--limited though it was--left me completely mystified.

Let's start with the fact that he's 16 but really looks--and sounds--12. That I can't seem to identify a single one of his songs--except for "Baby," and that's Jarrah's fault--and have, even now, forgotten every single song that played in the movie's concert footage. That I think he sounds like Hilary Duff or Taylor Swift or somebody who's not quite as pretty but biologically may boast more estrogen. And let's not forget those sneakers--what is UP with that?

I thought maybe I'd appreciate him more if I saw the movie. And I like to be culturally aware. I also figured that if he has any staying power, there's a strong chance I'll be hearing a lot about him in the next few years, since a member of his fan demographic lives under my roof. I figured it wasn't long until--like the girls in the movie--she's sporting a "Mrs. Jarrah Bieber" t-shirt and crying when he cuts his hair.

(A small aside: I am more than a little afraid of 8-year-old trolls hacking their way through the virgin forests of the internet to my blog and roasting me on a spit now that I've blasphemed their golden idol.)

So, the movie. At first I was downright fascinated. I can see how he attracted the likes of Usher with his unflappable confidence and brilliant white teeth. And I'll grudgingly admit that his voice is nice. It was also funny when he ate donuts out of the garbage--he's just a kid, after all. But the movie felt looooong. And I think it felt that way because it was filled with Justin Bieber being Justin Bieber, singing, doing what passes for hip-hop, goofing around with his entourage, and there's only so much of that I want to see. Which I guess means I'm not a Belieber. I have to admit, I'm a little relieved.

(Another small aside: the damaged 12-year-old girl in me did sob--wetly and lustily--when gobsmacked girls were picked from the audience to be serenaded on stage by the Bieb, clutching their red roses and trying not to lose it completely.)

But I know what you're all really wondering: how did Jarrah find the movie? Is she a Belieber?

You may be relieved, Readers: the answer is no. She watched more or less patiently for the first hour, and then asked me frequently if it was almost over. While that's par for the course for some kids, my little miss is a movie pro and normally riveted until the credits if the movie is good. Her first comment, about 20 minutes in:

"Oh, so this movie has only boys in it." I whispered that Hannah Montana would be showing up later, and she was pleased about that.

Her only other comment: "I just don't see why Justin Bieber is famous." Hush, my angel--this theater is probably full of tiny, brace-mouthed minions who will be happy to report you to Bieber Headquarters for such unenlightened sentiments.

And that was it. Now, I could read into this, and speculate: that she's too young for Bieber Fever, perchance. But instead I'm feeling a bit smug that she's just not a silly, dreamy kind of girl--like her mother.

Or, I can look at the evidence right in front of my face that tells me exactly what kind of girl she is, the kind already established by her extended fascination with vampires, ghosts, zombies, monsters, The Last Airbender and Scooby-Doo, and further supported by the one thing that truly interested her about the movie: the preview. In which a teenage surfer girl's arm is chewed off by a shark and she has to learn to surf again with only one.

"Mommy," she asked as we walked to the car, "why didn't they SHOW the shark chewing off her arm? They should have shown that part."

And then she talked about how and why sharks eat people all the way home. One less lonely girl...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Student Becomes The Teacher

Sam: So I got in an argument with Abbie's mom today.

Jarrah: What happened?

Sam: Well, she said something I didn't like. It was about Valentine's Day and candy. And I said 'You know, you're very blunt, aren't you? You just say whatever you want, don't you?'

Jarrah: Did you use that tone?

Sam: Yeah, I probably did.

Jarrah: And what did she say?

Sam: She said, 'So are you!' Do you know what blunt is?

Jarrah: Yes. It's like, um, when you're very...blunt.

Sam: Right. Direct. I should probably apologize to her, huh? Tell her I shouldn't have used that tone?

Jarrah: Good idea. Since you are blunt, too.

Sam: You're right. I know. Ugh.

Campus Bells And Whistles

Things I'm Loving About Being Back In College:

1. People asking me "What's your major?" Life, baby. I'm majoring in life. It's been declared. And hearing Jarrah say "How was college today?"

2. Walking across campus with my books, looking hurried and v. important.

3. Fighting the other students for parking. (What is my problem?)

4. Nodding intently when the professor says something, and then jotting it down in my notebook.

5. Learning things. Oh, the joy of learning things.

Things I Am Not Loving About Being Back In College:

1. The cafeteria. Or what passes for one, with hot dogs spinning endlessly and pizza that looks a week old. It's just wrong.

2. Hearing publicly that my soliloquies are "actory" and "filled with bad scansion and dangling participles all over the place." This is good for me, I know.

3. How young everyone is, compared to me. Last time I was in college, this was distinctly not true.

4. Sitting still for two hours. I totally have ADD.

5. Memorizing stuff. I am not good at memorizing stuff. And all the time. Like every week.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Laps and Hoses

This week I used my newish camera from David to document a couple of Jarrah's school events. I told him it was high time I learned how to connect pictures to my words if I want to be a real blogger (kind of like being a real boy, this will make me less wooden.)

The first was the annual Jog-a-Thon fundraiser (shudder.) I can't imagine what kind of sadist dreamed this up, but apparently it's a sadist with connections, because they seem to have them at many schools. The kids get pledges of dollar amounts per lap they complete, or in the case of our clueless little diva, a lump sum donation for the event. The super-cute visors were someone's brilliant (no, really) way to keep track of the laps completed--as the kids whiz by, volunteers check off the numbers on the brims.

The gorgeous lighting in these photos is courtesy of some ridiculous weather we were having that day--clear, sunny and about 45 degrees. Maybe those of you on the east coast scoff, but dahling, 45 degrees with the WIND CHILL FACT-UH was sheer agony. A couple of the moms had gloves and scarves on, and I thought that was a little over the top...for about five minutes. Notice that child protective services will soon be paying me a visit for outfitting my cherub in running shorts and a tank top while her little friends were snug in Diddy-esque warm-up suits. Whaddaya want? I thought she'd get hot with all that running.

And run she did--15 laps. Not short ones. Oh, no. I know this for certain because I ran one with her class, just to be sporting (oh, let's face it--to show how cool I am.) Not very, as it turns out, because after dragging my sorry self across the checkpoint, I felt very distinctly that I had broken my lungs.

I thought Jarrah ran an absurd amount, but there were actually a few kids in her class who ran four or five more laps than she did. I think those were the same kids whose parents got up in their grills after every lap and screamed "What the @#$%&* are you doin' out there? Pathetic! Get your head in the game!" Come to think of it, a disturbing number of children in general crossed the checkpoint each time covered in tears. Not my kid, as you can see. No grass grew under her feet.

The other big event of the week was the Daisy field trip to the San Carlos Fire Station to earn the petal "Respecting Authority." Snicker. I perked up considerably when I heard we were going to be hanging with firefighters on a Thursday afternoon instead of gluing pipe cleaners on stuff. This was the first Daisy event where I wasn't semi-comatose after 10 minutes. I had kinda hoped they'd be shirtless (I mean, where is their sense of civic duty?) but at least they were hot. I was especially diverted by the interlude where Fireman Jason got dressed in slow stages while Fireman Robert narrated his transformation. "Sigh," I told the other moms. "There's just something about a man with an ax." I was a little disappointed that all the girls got to climb into the engine but no one invited me. Harumph. I was pretty impressed with my own questions: "Do any women work here?" (Two.) "Are firefighters in the movies accurately costumed?" (Yes, but fires are ridiculous; there should be much more smoke.) "Is it a myth that all firefighters are excellent cooks?" (It's not a myth. They have to live at the station in 24-hour shifts. They all cook or suffer the consequences.)

In other news, I am loving being back at college, and I've had three awesome rehearsals with my "VM" cast. But more on all that in future posts.