Working 9 to 5...and then 5 to 9

Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I am a full-time mom. With a part-time job.

I won't even try to quantify the hours I work as a mom. I take my job very seriously. I work at my job as a mom the same way I would any other job. I'm not going to get into it now, but trust me.

Right now, I get the hours between 7:30pm and 4:30am off to do with as I please. And by as I please, I mean sometimes work, sometimes clean up, sometimes blog and sometimes watch tv, not to mention pay bills, plan our week's meals, and read books. Oh, and I sleep, too.

Anyway, I also work Saturdays and Wednesday evenings, but not all of them. Saturdays are supposed to be 8-5 but I still haven't managed to get out of there by 5:00 because I take my job very seriously and am still new. Wednesdays are 3:15 to...actually, I don't know what time we're supposed to be out of there on Wednesdays, because I've only worked one Wednesday but I know that I was the last to leave and probably will be again tomorrow night.

I work for a program that places highly-qualified applicants in high-needs teaching positions in Denver Public Schools. What's their definition of 'highly-qualified'? I'm glad you asked. I can't tell you. I'm not kidding. But I can say that they look for certain characteristics that are indicators of success - things that, while not specific to being able to teach necessarily, are traits that are common in people who tend to be successful no matter what they pursue. You know the kind of person I'm talking about. The kind of person that takes on a challenge head on, figures out what they need to do to make it work, and then takes it on and shows it who's boss.

That's what we're looking for. And thank goodness we get over a thousand applicants for 30 or so positions because it's not always what we get. (It's usually what we get, but those don't make for good stories.)

For example, this past Saturday, my team-mate and I were doing introductions before beginning our day. We call our days "Events" because we each get assigned 3-5 interviewees and then we spend the day with them, having them teach a lesson, doing a writing sample, participate in a group discussion and then ending the day with personal interviews. So we're doing introductions and I notice one of her candidates nodding off. I'm worried for him because people fly in from all over the states to interview with us and often don't fully comprehend or prepare for the change in altitude. In my years here, I've seen many a pass-outs and decided to keep a close eye on this guy, who we will call Badger Ben. Badger Ben manages to get through the morning without any cause for alarm. He's got a water bottle and seems upright ok. Then we split up into our groups and my partner takes him away. I'd warned her about what I had seen and so she was aware. Ten minutes later, she comes running back. "Oh my goodness, you will never believe what happened," she whispers all excited. Apparently, Badger Ben was standing a'swaying while she was giving instructions for how the rest of the day was going to play out. Then, like a scene out of a Vince Vaughn movie, he put up one finger, turned green, and ran into the bathroom.

"Are you serious?" I asked her. "Did he pass out? Did he puke?"
"I don't know. He hasn't come out."
"Oh, god. I hope he's ok. Do you think he's ok?"
"I don't know!"

Badger Ben comes into the room and my teammate asks him if he's alright.

"Yes. I'm just feeling a little...under the weather."

He looked up at me and I knew right then and there that he was hungover. You don't look sheepish when you've got the flu. Not to mention that he was like 20something years old. I asked him if there was anything we could do or if there was anything he needed. He had signed up for one of the later interview slots and I suggested he go out and get himself a bloody mary something and he admitted that he'd been dropped off by his cousin and had no car.

We were surprised when he showed up to the interview. But I guess without a car he couldn't have really gotten that far, although I suspect that if I'd been in his shoes, I would have mumbled an apology for wasting everyone's time and started walking in one direction with my drunk-ass tail between my legs and called my cousin to pick me up wherever I ended up. But Badger Ben stuck it out. He did, however, address his writing sample to Principal Skinner, indicating that while he was aware that he had squandered an opportunity to be part of an amazing program by underestimating his ability to do car bombs at altitude, he still had a sense of humor. And for that, we say thank you.*

* I love Daniel Tosh.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
If you are the kind of person who is repulsed by shameless bragging, turn away now. Guide your mouse up to that x in the top, right-hand corner of your browser and click. Or maybe meander your way on over to You Tube and watch a cat jump out of a paper bag. Or go watch snow fall. But do not stay here. Because this will not be the post for you.

I'll start with E, not because I love him more (I don't) but because he was born first.

E is in a lovey phase of his little life. He often, albeit randomly, declares his love for me, for his dad and for B. But as much as I'd like to think I'm the love of his life, the other day I was buckling him into his car seat and he was all day-dreamy. He blinked repeatedly and then looked right at me. "I love Miss S*." I just smiled at him and reassured him that Miss S adored him too. "She was the birthday girl," he sighed, his voice full of awe and devotion.

We were at Storytime at a new library last week and unlike the Storytime we're used to, the librarian at Bemis lined up about 25 sweet little angels, led them into the Cloud Room and shut the door...leaving a room full of moms kid-free. It all happened so quickly. I took B back into the corner of the main children's library room where there is a castle built into the wall and we played for about five minutes before E came running out of the kid-sized door, his eyes scanning the room. He spotted us over the lower front bookshelves and came running back "just to say hi." And without any prompting from me, he returned to the Cloud Room and we didn't see him again till 25 minutes later when all the kids came pouring out of the room, buzzing with excitement about the dragons and knights from the puppet show. I was so proud of E. This time last year, he would have melted into a tearful puddle and refused to go into that room without me, but he's grown up so much in just the last few months. And to tell you the truth, I was a little bit proud of D and myself. We've tried to stay true to E and his needs, ignoring conventional wisdom or the pressure we sometimes get from other parents. E has made it clear since he was a wee little baby that he would not do anything a day before he was ready to, and we've honored that. We have respected his own personal timeline and I felt so validated, standing in that library with my brave little boy running off to join a room full of kids he didn't know in a place he was unfamiliar with.

E has been going through a verbal explosion. Using words like "perception" and "distracted" in conversation. And his phonemic awareness is also blowing up. "Books starts with B! Hu, hu, hungry starts with H!" He's been working on writing his letters and I've been working on reminding him that you're not born knowing how to write and that just because you can't draw a perfect letter 'a' on your very first try ever doesn't mean you never will. The kid is a perfectionist and it worries me how quickly he gets frustrated with himself.

He's also been a lot more...I don't know. Mature? I asked him recently if he thought he was ready to go to school (again, we've been following his lead on this one) and instead of the automatic "no" I've grown used to hearing, E paused and said, "Why do you ask?" I'm going to stop to remind you that E is a little over three years old. "Why do you ask?" Seriously? Anyway, I told him that if he thought he was ready, then we could start looking at schools to see if there was one he liked. "Sure." And since we were down by the Montessori school I had on my list of potential schools, I offered to drive by it. So we did. "I love it!" he said, staring up at the front doors. I scheduled a tour for the next day and we all four fell in love with it. We bought a $50 ticket for the enrollment lottery and we have our fingers crossed that we get in. We're still interviewing other schools but we really, really loved MPA.

Now onto the munchkin...BP no longer really fits, especially now that I know that "pterodactyl" is a misnomer. I'd call her my midget but I only have like five loyal readers and since I'm not sure how tall four of them are, I'd hate to offend. I often call her mon petite, but I'd also hate for someone to think I'm French**.

B has also been busy acquiring language. She points to one of her favorite snacks, plantain chips, and says "pits, pits, pits." She also says "pat" as in let me lay my head on you and pat your face, "bas" as in I hope you have enough soap and water in that tub to get the play-doh out of my hair, the yogurt out from under the folds of my chin, the pen marks off of my cheek and the bbq rib sauce from in between my fat little fingers, and "pees" for please give me whatever it is I want right now or I will scream! She also says "bot" for bottle, "poop" when she has a poop, when she wants to sit on the toilet and poop, when someone else has pooped, or when she sees a poop. She also says "pee" as in I thought I had a "poop" but really it was just a pee.

She still has anxiety separation, which apparently is normal at this age (15 months) but the thing with her is that she was born with it and it has never gone away. In fact, she not only has separation anxiety, she's also a jealous little bugger. When D comes home, he always walks in and gives me a kiss hello and if B is in my arms, she screeches at him and waves an arm back and forth, as if she could sweep him away. If she's anywhere else, she starts screaming, drops whatever she's doing and comes waddling over so that I can pick her up.

My most favorite thing B does, however, is when she grabs a book and walks over to you. If you're sitting on the floor, she stops a few feet away from you, turns around, and starts backing up to sit in your lap. It's the cutest thing ever. If you're sitting up somewhere, she literally scales your pant leg and claws her way up into your lap, all the while smiling and saying, "books books books." She sometimes even hugs her books.

And the best part of my day? The thing I love most about being a mom these days? When my two little monsters sit across from each other at the dinner table and do things to make each other laugh. Or when they play downstairs in the kitchen and take turns pretend drinking from each others cup. Or when E gets hurt and cries and B fake-cries along with him in a gesture of solidarity and then lays her head on him and pat pat pats him. Or when E hops out of bed and runs into B's room to give her one of his "softies" so that she can have an extra blanket in her crib. The love that constantly flows from one to the other fills me with an emotion so overwhelming, so all-consuming that I sometimes can't keep my eyes from welling up with tears.

*Remember how the 'S' stand for smart? Yeah. Miss S is not smart. She's super duper freaking brilliant. The girl kicked the CogAT's ass. And not just kind of kicked it's ass. She scored a 93% overall. Woo hoo, Miss S!

**I'm totally kidding. I spent a week in France and loved the country and it's inhabitants. Really. Viva la France and all that.