Driving Force

When you live in an area like mine with lots of distance between school and home and the stores along with almost no public transport, getting your driver’s license is one of those major milestones for a teenager. Both MC and BG had circumstances that pushed back their ability to take their test on or near their 16th birthdays, but they did finally get them.

Yesterday afternoon, I had to watch as BG drove off on her own for the first time, driving herself to her first assistant class of the year. Even though it was well past when she should have been able to do this (by the end of last winter), I still wasn’t quite ready for it.

I’m relieved that I no longer have to sit for an hour or more in my car in the parking lot while she does her dance classes. At the same time, I’m really going to miss the time we spent together along the way. It is just one more step towards her being grown up and gone.

It has been hard enough with MC off to college, even though he comes home almost every weekend. He is finding his feet there and settling in more comfortably. He’s volunteered to do the intro videos for all the esports teams, something he really loves and is excited about. He even played in an intramural tournament for one of the games over the weekend.

With BG driving now, she isn’t all that far behind him in stretching her own wings of independence.

Even though this is something that does make me sad, I’m still really happy for her. I remember what it was like to finally get to that point and it is something that both Hubby and I have worked really hard to make sure she got there. I was adamant that our kids would be able to drive as soon as possible and we would do whatever needed to be done to make that happen.

A big part of that is because when I needed to learn, I didn’t have that support and teaching. At least, not from my parents.

For me to get my license, I had to have my boyfriend at the time and his best friend taking me out and teaching me. Having someone that wasn’t yet even 18 teaching someone to drive is not really a great idea, but it is all I had.

This is something that I still, to this day, don’t fully understand. My older brother was learning before he was 16 (something that wasn’t even entirely legal at the time) and my dad took time off work and my brother out of school (a huge thing as my parents NEVER took us out of school) on his 16th birthday to take the test. But me? I had to have that boyfriend take me to get my permit so I could even learn, but it was the only test I could take without a parent. The driving test piece I had to wait until one my parents could find a convenient time (pretty sure it was a day off they had already planned) and a day where I wouldn’t miss school.

Now that I’m on the other end of things, I still don’t understand the mindset. I get that my family has a couple of freighters worth of issues, but I have seen and heard similar things in others. Yes, money is always going to be a factor because driving isn’t cheap, but I’m talking outside of that.

Whether it is teaching them to drive, or hobbling them when it comes to going off to college or really anything where kids are learning to follow their path to their future and happiness, I will never understand parents that try to clip their kid’s wings rather than helping them to fly.

Do parents not get that once those kids finally do learn to fly, and there is no stopping it, that they may choose to never come back if the damage is bad enough?

I’ve now got one that isn’t quite gone, but has one foot out the door and the other is standing behind the first waiting for her turn. It makes me sad to see that we are here already, but I won’t do anything to stand in their way.

Cold, Rainy, And Dreary

I could really do without this nasty cold snap. Pretty sure this entire week is breaking records on the low temps. Mother Nature really doesn’t need to take those records as challenges to break them. She definitely doesn’t need to work so hard to break so many at once. It really isn’t helping me stay out of cranky pants mode.

Between the cold, the rain and the general time of year, I’m struggling to find good photo subjects or the motivation to go find them.

Black & White Daylily Stamen

Yesterday was probably the most bizarre first day of school I’ve ever seen. It was weird enough having BG at home, but the weather felt like a cold Halloween night, making everything feel completely out of sync.

We shattered previous records by something like 10 degrees. No, 56 isn’t exactly cold, but for a high temp during the first part of September and the day after hitting near 90, it felt frigid. I threatened to turn the heat on last night (didn’t, but came damn close.) I don’t know that I’ve ever turned the heat on this close to the beginning of September. The very end of the month, maybe, but not anywhere near the beginning.

Today isn’t going to be any warmer and it is rainy and dreary on top of it. That isn’t very conducive to motivating me to do anything other than snuggle down with a book and a pot of coffee.

Bumpy Beginning

I really didn’t expect things to go smoothly when school started this year. It doesn’t normally, so why would I expect this year to be better than normal? The fact that it has not, in fact, started smoothly shouldn’t be a surprise.

Today is the first day of BG’s junior year. She is going to be doing it all online for at least this first semester. As of today, she still has one class that is wrong (both the teacher of the correct class and the counselor are working to correct the issue) and a class that she has gotten zero communication from. All of her other classes, the teachers have sent emails and links to the online classrooms they are using, so we have no clue what is up with the one.

The messed up class is tied to BG’s mentoring program. She has to be in that class to be in the program. This particular piece has been so weird because the program is designed around interacting in person with the Freshman specifically so they are still scrambling to try and figure out what that looks like for their online learners. She still doesn’t know what she is going to be doing with that.

Considering everything going on, I really can’t complain too much. It is going to be really interesting to see how well all of this plays out moving forward. It is going to be a very weird year.

 

Lemon Tree Progress

Remember all those lemon trees I sprouted last year?

Baby Lemon Trees
Baby Lemon Trees

I’m slowly but surely getting mini-trees out of them.

I am down to only 5 of the original 14 or so that sprouted. I had a couple of pots that the plants just refused to grow in and others that just never got healthy. Of those 5, only two have grown nice and tall and look really healthy. In the other group of three, two have still stayed small and one that has gotten taller, but the leaves look like they are struggling. The fact that I still have any at all is shocking, so I’m just giddy.

Today I transplanted them from the pots they were in (some were sharing a pot) into bigger ones to give them more room and to, hopefully, allow those that don’t look as good to get a little more breathing space.

I also just realized today that lemon trees apparently have thorns. I had no clue that was a thing.

The one that is really thriving the best (top image) is now about 10 inches tall. The other one that is also doing well is only a couple inches shorter. I may still lose the smaller ones, but I’m hoping the transplant today will help their chances. The fact I haven’t killed them yet is amazing!

Mask Up and Dance On: Redbubble Collection

My latest Redbubble addition is sort of a whole collection dedicated to dance called Mask Up and Dance On.

The main goal was mask design, but there are a lot of other product options for each design. I’m planning on adding other colors and maybe even another font or two, but this gave me a good starting point.

I loved doing these and learned that if I’m not careful, I’m going to have massive stack of masks because I really want one of every design!

So Not Helping!

We all know that this whole going off to college thing for the first time is hard enough on a normal basis. For both the student and the parent. Throw a little pandemic into the mix and it is an ugly, stressful mix of WTF.

So why in the hell, with all of that going on would a school, or anyone at a school make that even harder?

I mentioned that MC had an issue with the scanner on his dorm door. This means that he cannot get in without someone letting him in. Over the weekend, it was an RA. Today, since classes have started, he needed campus security to do so.

And they didn’t.

Not right away. Why? Because they apparently couldn’t verify his identity. Even though he called them from his phone, which they have on file connected to his account. Even though he called on this issue several times on Friday when they were trying to sort it all out. Even though this has been ongoing and they supposedly have it on schedule to get the issue fixed today.

That lead to him being late for his first zoom meeting for one of his classes. Do you have any idea how much this stresses him out? He is that straight A, always on time, never missed a day of school kind of student and he is late to his first class because he couldn’t get into his damn room.

MC has already had a really rough weekend being his first there and with all of this stress hanging over his head, making him really not want to leave his dorm, even to go get something to eat, because he didn’t want to have to bother someone every time he needed to get back into his room.

Did I mention that he moved in mid-day on Friday? A work day for most people? But apparently, they didn’t deem the door issue something important enough to get someone out to fix it right away, during working hours. It got pushed off until today.

So, yeah, I’m a little pissed today.

I really don’t want to be forced to be that annoying parent, but I will if I have to. Especially considering we really didn’t choose for him to live on campus. It was required by the school and the conditions of his scholarship. A scholarship that does not pay for that room and board.

I’m so tempted to just tell him to come stay at home until they can get the damn door fixed. I honestly just might if it doesn’t get taken care of today.

Why in the world is this even an issue?!

I get it. Shit happens and you just have to deal with it sometimes, but damn! It kind of feels like it has been non-stop shit going on with him. Most of it has been little, but it all adds up and builds on top of an already stressful situation.

Just as an example of how horrible this is for him: My kid finally asked for something, which he absolutely refused to do before he left (and almost universally NEVER asks for anything. EVER.) I’m talking it was like pulling teeth to get him to take the little bit he took in the first place.

What does he ask for? A fan for his room because the silence is unbearable.

That was the moment when my waterworks wanted to break free. Not because my kid is off in college, but because he is miserable. And because I know that and he knows that and he didn’t ask to come home. He asked for a fan so he could stick it out.

Sadly, I know he is going to be just fine once things calm down and he gets into a routine. I was looking forward to today for him because of that. Hoping that him starting classes would begin to help him settle. But, no. He just has to have it be an even more difficult day than the ones before.

The start of his “college experience” has not made it something he will look back on fondly.

 

Curled Edges

I managed move in day without any tears. A day later and things are still dry. I’m thinking that it will hit when I least expect it.

MC is settled in, but I don’t think he is all that comfortable yet. So far, he can’t get into his room without an RA because there is something wrong with the scanner that allows access to their room, discovered that the fridge wasn’t plugged in hours after we’d moved him in (and put things in there) and has taken a cold shower because there is also an issue with the hot water (potentially).

I can tell he isn’t comfortable, but isn’t willing to just say so by the fact that Hubby, BG and I have all received multiple texts from him and it has been less than 24 hours.

Of all the things I didn’t really think about or consider is how this is going to impact BG. Her and her brother are extremely close, so not having him around all the time is going to be really hard on her (her more than him, though I think). She has been overjoyed that he has already started what we are calling the cat scavenger hunt, sending her off to get pictures of our cats to send to him. It is kind of silly and sweet and totally how the two of them are together.

I know this level of communication isn’t going to last. Once he gets into a routine, things will settle down, but it is going to be really odd for a while. For all of us.

I’ll take those little nonsense texts with a photo of his breakfast any day, though.

Do You Ever Wonder?

Do you ever wonder how many bruises and cuts and lacerations, how many serrated slashes and soul deep stabs, how much abuse and trauma a single heart can withstand and still function as it is supposed to?

Or even at all?

Do you ever wonder what it takes to keep moving and functioning? To keep caring?

I wonder how much more I can take before the grief and anger and visceral rage finally diminishes enough to begin to heal in a healthy way rather than turn into something much uglier than what caused those things to begin with.

It was abundantly clear that I do not fit into the mold of what some believe “family” should be and that I do not belong to nearly all that I am blood related to. I really didn’t need the reminder. Again. That this is the general consensus and belief.

I especially didn’t need that reminder when, yet again, for the second time in less than six months, I had to find out about a loved one’s passing through a tripped over obituary.

Apparently, I do not warrant even a simple text from anyone, not even the one “family” member to claim a desire for a continued relationship. Thank you for clarifying for me that your definition of “relationship” is actually “free money tree” or “only when convenient or when I need something.”

These are all things I’ve known and attempted to come to terms with for years, so it really isn’t a surprise. I already know I’m not family. That I do not belong. That I am not enough for them in any way. I’ve accept this. I shouldn’t be hurt, but, sad sack that I am, I am hurt, because my heart has yet to quit functioning, apparently determined to go on no matter the damage it has suffered.

I’m also extremely angry.

And not just for myself. I can see the excuse that because I walked away and chose to no longer speak to anyone (no matter the effort to still try at that supposed desire to maintain a relationship with at least one of them), I didn’t deserve that notification (I do not agree, but I can still see the reasoning).

I’m volcanically angry because this has also made it blindingly clear that three other blood relatives I have are also not considered a worthy part of that “family” and were not notified. Not a single one of them chose where they stand or the attitude they have received over the years. They didn’t deserve to hear this news from a tiny cluster of digital words on an impersonal website rather than communication from a human.

Words that were only tripped over while one of those discarded family members was on a hunt for contact information with the hope of connecting to our lost family member.

Sadly, these three have also dealt with this attitude and feeling their entire lives, for no apparent reason. Two of these I didn’t even know existed until I was an adult myself. People who’s only crime so to speak was to be innocent children when everyone else first deemed them unworthy of that elite membership.

How do you even manage to process the grief of the loss when it is so tangled with all the rest?

I’ve avoided posting here about a lot of things in the last couple of years out of an abundance of caution and an unwillingness to spark a lot of unwanted drama. I have attempted to seek peace instead.

I no longer care.

This is my space and if unwanted eyes manage to invade this space, they are welcome to view the completeness of the disgust I have for the horrible example of humanity and basic decency from those I have genetic ties to.

I lost someone that I grew up admiring. Someone that laid the foundations for my artistic abilities and my love for anything that allowed for expressing creativity. Someone who was willing to actually admit when they did something that hurt, even if it was unintentional, and made a huge effort to correct that hurt. And in doing so helped to teach me that it is okay to be human and make mistakes if you own up to them and try to do better next time.

I’m heartbroken for this loss and the exceptionally complicated relationship I had with her because of the toxic nature of the rest of my family. And for the loss of the opportunity to take her lesson to heart and make my own effort to do better in an attempt to correct the damage created by that toxicity.

A toxicity that I am forever learning how poisonous it was to so many other relationships. Relationships that are now beyond repair. Relationships that aren’t even mine. It breaks my heart to fully understand how much my cousins lost out on because of that toxicity and the damage it has done to them over the years.

How many times can a person not only be told, but shown in 4k HD clarity how much they are not wanted, valued, important, or worthy before they fully accept it from those doing the telling and showing and are no longer harmed by that reality?

All I can do now is grieve and attempt to let go of that rage, to try and seek out my peace again. It is so hard to do when those fires keep getting stoked. No matter how far away I walk or try to distance myself, that poisonous smoke still manages to reach me.

And I wonder how many more times I will have to put those fires out or if they will finally manage to snuff out my peace permanently, leaving nothing but a bitter, ugly lump behind. Because there is only so much damage a heart can sustain, right?

 

Elongation

I spent the majority of my day yesterday going through the 150+ photos I took of MC and making necessary edits. I’m still not quite ready to send them off for prints as I still have to go through them and decide which ones I’m getting for his final “package” of senior photos. I’m hoping to get that done today and crossed off my project list so I can start on getting a few others marked off as well.

I had played around with another project before I did his photo shoot. It’s started, but I still have a whole lot I want to get done, sooner rather than later, so that’s next up on my list.

Sadly, or maybe not, that project list is ever evolving and growing as it is my creative project list more than anything. I think I’ve taken it a bit to the extreme as I’ve set up an MS Excel workbook to keep track of it all. I have a sheet in there for my list and then additional sheets for the bigger, more detailed projects and all the ideas and pieces that go along with it.

It is kind of a hilarious example of how incredibly organized I can get and how utterly contradictory I can be at the exact same time because so many other things in my life are the antithesis of organized. Organized chaos is really the theme for my life.

Reconciling Choices

It is nearly impossible to be a parent of school age children, even those in college, and not be dealing with all the tough choices and situations facing us right now with back to school looming.

I thought that everything was made easier for me when BG’s school district allowed for an online only option for students. I was relieved. I wasn’t being forced into a position where the only option was to send her to an in person classroom environment or to try and figure out an alternative on my own.

Sadly, it really isn’t that easy.

There is a chance, potentially a big chance, that by going the online only route, some of BG’s higher level classes won’t be available to her and she will be forced to take other classes. I seriously doubt there are going to be many options to work her classes in a way that would meet her high school goals if those aren’t available. It was hard enough to make her schedule work in normal years and this is so far from normal.

Then add in the fact that she was supposed to be a part of the mentoring program this year, something that I don’t know if she can still be a part of if she is going the online route. We still haven’t heard anything on that front yet.

Another stressor, at least for me, is dance. It was such a relief to get past recital and feel like we were finally done with it, but we aren’t. Enrollment starts soon and dance isn’t being offered online at this point. It is in person only. This is not a required activity, but it is BG’s only real social interaction and where her group of friends exist rather than at school.

This is problematic on many levels. I’ve already seen the lax attitude towards some safety guidelines, especially surrounding masks. That gets amplified because the studio isn’t just attended by students from a single school or even district. If I had to count the districts and schools I’m already aware of (and I know I don’t know them all), there are at least 4 different districts and possibly upwards of at least 6 individual schools represented just in BG’s main class alone. That doesn’t even begin to account for all the lower level grade schools for the classes she assists.

Deciding how she is going to move forward with both school and dance is such a struggle for me as a parent. There are so many factors involved and things to consider. Seeing experts saying that the virus is airborne but not seeing practices and policies that fit that reality makes it even harder to make those decisions.

I say all of this as a parent, but I cannot imagine being in the position of a teacher at this point. As a parent, I’m only trying to make decisions that protect my children and in turn the rest of our family to the best of my ability. Teachers are being asked to make so many, even more complex decisions.

Go to work and potentially bring home the virus to your own children and family or even take it to work and spread it to your students. Or just as awful an option, do what you may feel is right to protect your own family from the virus and not work, but then not have the money to protect them in other ways.

I saw something written by a teacher (sorry, I don’t have the link for that one) where they said they were not only expected to take a bullet for their students, but were now being asked to bring that bullet home and aim it at their families.

Our teachers are already tasked with so many roles outside of just being an educator, but we continually ask them to take on more and more roles. It seems that each one is just more difficult, even more dangerous, than the last. This situation just shines a neon spotlight on that fact.

As a parent, you have to think about all of those aspects and filter them down into something you can work with to make the right choices for you children, but there isn’t a lot of consistent information to help you filter it down.

And in the middle of trying to filter all of that, I hear how a friend of MC went to a graduation party where someone had later tested positive. Said friend had also had a test done, but only because their boss required it (they work in a restaurant) and even then this person was still going about their day as if nothing had happened, interacting with people all before they even got the results back from their test.

This is followed shortly after by finding out that a coworker of Hubby’s (they are all still on a work from home mandate, thankfully!!) has been in quarantine for almost 2 weeks because his kids’ daycare was shutdown after an outbreak. Let me repeat that. A place specifically for young children was shut down because of an outbreak.

But we are STILL trying to force in person classes. What are parents and teachers supposed to do with all that information when none of it fits together in any kind of rational manner?!

One of the most driving forces in being a parent is to protect our children to the best of our ability. Right now, it feels like we are being forced to do the exact opposite.

I am grateful that BG will be able to do her classes online, at least for her first semester. I hate that she may not be able to get the classes she really wants because of that, but in the balance of things, I’ll take that little loss. I have a lot of thinking to do about dance because that is a very different beast, one that falls squarely in the mental wellness category for her.

I am also being forced to consider asking MC to not come home from college as he wants in an effort to keep everyone safe. How do you tell your child who is leaving to go to college for the first time to not come home when you live 20 minutes away? All because The Powers That BE demanded he live on campus and attend some in person classes.

To say that there is a whole lot of frustration and anger tied up in this is the understatement of the century.

 

 

Overboard?

What started out as a plan to get some good shots of MC in his cap and gown, especially now that he isn’t going to participate in the actual ceremony, turned into a multi-hour, full blown senior portrait session.

Oops!

Or not.

I now have dozens of some of the best photos of MC ever taken. I’m just absolutely blown away at how stunning these turned out.

It was also the first time I’d ever attempted a full on portrait session like this with lighting and backdrop and everything. I caved and got the set up because I found I could get these pieces for relatively cheap in comparison to the cost of a session with a professional photographer. I also figured I’d find ways to make use of it all over the years.

It was worth every single dime I spent on it.

Unfortunately, that means I now have to go through all those amazing photos and narrow it down to the few I want to get printed to put in an album for MC. Talk about trying to accomplish the impossible.

*ETA… While I won’t share a photo of MC, I can share this cropped image of him holding our cat Cleo who decided to investigate what was going on.

Our Cleo Kitty
Our Cleo Kitty

Rainy Day

It’s a rainy, dreary day today making it difficult to get motivated to work on much. At least I’m moving mostly pain free today, so that is definitely a win.

I might just have to take advantage of the overcast day and work on getting the only cap and gown photos I’m going to get from MC. I only have a couple of weeks left to get them before he moves into his dorm.

Yesterday he spent the day cleaning the hell out of his spaces, including the bathroom. I think he is in a college version of nesting mode. Is that even a thing?

With so many things feeling so unreal, the concept that he is actually going to be moving out of the house really hasn’t felt that real. It is starting to hit now, though. Between his impromptu cleaning session and the lists and purchases we’ve been doing to get him ready, there is no way to not have it feel real.

I guess I was still mostly expecting the school to not force him to live in a dorm. At least for this first semester.

It is all so very weird. Having a kid going off to college for the first time is bad enough. To have it happening with everything else, it is incredibly difficult to get my brain to work it all out.

What’s even more odd is knowing that he will only be doing this for one year. He fully intends to move back home after his required year on campus so he can save money. My brain knows this is temporary, so it keeps putting it into a category similar to an overnight stay at a friend’s or something.

Granted, that is still a year away and there is so much that could change his thoughts on that, especially if MCG’s plans for college drift this direction. What she decides to do will have a big impact on what he decides to do and when.

None of that helps my brain to put any of this into any kind of definite, reality based plan.

See, I’ve always had this thing. It’s kind of a little quirk I guess. I tend to visualize how things will potentially play out in future situations. Almost always, if I haven’t been able to visualize something, it never ends up happening. I struggled for the last couple of years being able to visualize MC walking at graduation, but have never had an issue visualizing BG doing the same (and yes, that kind of terrified me) and MC isn’t walking at graduation by choice.

Now, I’m really struggling to visualize this set of future events. I think that is part of why my brain refuses to make this all feel more real. I keep expecting to turn into an emotional mess, but so far I’m good. I can only hope it stays that way. I’m certain it will all hit eventually and I’ll be a sobbing, blubbery disaster when it does.

Pale Pink Rose Of Sharon

This one is not one of the best of the bunch, but still pretty. There may be a few of those for the next several days thanks to my seemingly epic talent of managing to hurt myself while essentially sitting still.

I still don’t know what exactly is off, but I’ve done something that makes pretty much all movement and non-movement painful. Even breathing. Breathing is painful. How did I pull off this miraculous feat?

By sitting at my sewing machine.

That’s it. No weird movement. No falling out of my chair. Just sitting. Bent over my machine working on more masks. It takes some serious skills to pull that off, ya know!

I had a slightly sore back after sitting and making those nearly 60 dance masks over a couple day period, a longer time period than I’ve done the last several days, but that is all it was. Just a little sore and achy. I do 12 for MC, pretty much the exact same thing I did before, and I manage to mess something up so bad that any movement and even just sitting still if I’m not in the exact right position makes me want to cry.

I honestly cannot figure out why or what I did so I’m just going with the fact that I have discovered an amazing new talent. The kind of amazing no one wants any part of, but… hey! It’s AMAZING!

I’d offer to spread that amazing by sharing it with you so you could experience being amazing too, but I’m not that mean. Or would that be selfish if I don’t want to share?

See what happens when I’m running on no sleep? All the stupid starts to just slip out.

But, hey! MC has masks to take to campus when he moves!

Surreal Back To School Mode

Things are starting to enter back to school mode around here even though I’m still not certain what exactly that is going to look like yet.

MC will be moving into a dorm in about a month, barring any changes that are still incredibly likely. Because of his dorm set up, there is actually very little he is going to need. It will be almost like packing for vacation instead of him actually moving out. That is also in part because he will only be 20 minutes from home and it is easy enough for him to run by and grab something if he needs it. It really isn’t anything at all like I expected him going off to college would be like.

We found out that over half of his classes will be online and the other half will be a blend of online and in person with the in person portion being limited. Even with that set up, he is still required to live on campus.

It is hard enough to see your kid off to college for the first time, but dumping that together with the current mess with the pandemic and I know I’m going to be a stressed out mess over the next several weeks. I just started breathing easier after the recital stress, so I’m not a complete mess just yet, but that reprieve isn’t going to last long.

There still isn’t a solid plan yet for BG’s school. The one thing that has been decided is that if they opt for in person or blended online and in person classes, students can opt out of in person and do online only. That was such a massive relief to me to know that she wouldn’t be forced to physically go to school.

She has some concerns about potentially missing out on important information in her AP or higher level classes if they have in person classes, that a teacher would fail to pass on the same info to the online students as was shared during a physical class. Even with that concern, she is solid in her stance on doing online.

The online option for her means I don’t have to make another dozen or so masks to get her through a school week. I do have to make a bunch for MC as he has left the house maybe 3 or 4 times since March and only has 1.

This is the oddest back to school season. I knew it would be anyway because of MC heading to college and not high school, but… yeah.

It’s doubtful that once we hit the point where they are both in school that my stress levels are going to drop. Having MC going back and forth from school to home could be a problem. Not by increasing his exposure, but by increasing BG’s, Hubby’s, and mine. That and I’m going to be normal-worried-mom times a thousand the second he is dropped off.

I’m not sure how we are going to work all the logistics of this yet. At this point, I’m still certain that something major is going to change between now and then.

The one worry I don’t have at the moment is with Hubby. He is still on an indefinite work from home order that will most likely last until at least the end of this year. I’ll take whatever wins I can get at this point.

 

 

Another Proud Mamma Moment

MC got his test scores for his AP calc class and nailed another 5. Somewhere along the lines he also managed to pull another small scholarship. My kid is nailing college and he hasn’t even started it yet.

This is yet another amazing moment one of my kids have made happen with so very little help from anyone. I’m just going to bask in the awesome for a while.

Reflections In The Aftermath

And we are done! And I’m am so relieved.

I still have so many conflicting emotions and thoughts about this dance recital and I’ve spent a chunk of the day so far trying to decompress and sort them all out, but I don’t know that it is entirely possible. One of the thoughts that keeps cropping to the top is “Am I going to regret this?”

So much about this event bothered me. Once things started being allowed to open up again and “going back to normal” I had my concerns about how this was going to play out. When they announced the mandatory mask rule and social distancing guidelines for our city, a lot of those concerns were relieved and I felt better about letting BG participate, though I still did not feel great.

The time Hubby, BG and I all spent talking about this and deciding that the risk was low because of those changes and our current area’s case counts seems to have been worthless. We were evaluating the risks based on those changes, but I saw most of those rules completely disregarded and ignored over the course of the last two days.

I don’t want to constantly harp on this stuff, but it is impossible not to. This event was HUGE. The exception the city gave to allow no masks on stage made the rule for backstage pointless, not that it was even observed in the first place.

If you were to only look at the surface of this event, it was a wonderful success and many parents along with studio staff are counting it as such. But you cannot look at it without the lens of the current pandemic in place.

I’m really worried that this will be one of those epicenter events in this city because of the lack of actual adherence to the rules and regulations. I wonder if health department officials saw even a handful of the photos being posted on social media by all these proud parents (and I’m included in that number) what their thoughts would be. Not just on this event, which turns out to have been the very first public event in the city since things started shutting down, but on all future events.

Because from a safe practice standpoint in the middle of a pandemic, I seriously doubt you could count this as a huge success.

There were supposedly people on site that were there to enforce the regulations, but I didn’t see any evidence of that. Two days worth of packed dressing rooms and back stage areas, nearly a thousand kids from pre-K all the way up to high school seniors (spread out between those 5 shows) and dozens of staff and faculty, all passing and interacting in those close quarters for hours, all without masks on, all without any kind of social distancing.

Seeing it for a second day in a row, with even less adherence to those rules the second day, I was really bothered by the whole thing. It felt like a whole lot of lip service being paid to get this approved to happen, but that is all it was. There were zero actions to back those rules up. Especially when you see the massive numbers of photos of students together in groups or with staff, smashing their cheeks together to get those memorable shots, because you just can’t have a recital without those sweet moments (insert maximum sarcasm here).

I just simply do not understand the mindset where any of that is okay right now.

It makes how I felt about BG’s mask stance yesterday even more profound. I debated doing my usual posting of photos and tagging the studio at first. Then I realized that I was worried about how other parents and families might react to all these photos of her and her mask and that by hesitating, I was dishonoring her courage and strength. I was the one having my actions intimidated by the pressure to go with the crowd and I wasn’t going to do that after what BG was able to do. I know we are very much in the minority when it comes to feelings about this event, but I refused to do anything other than stand proudly with my daughter on this, so I posted the hell out of those photos.

At the same time, I think we were just part of the problem and I wonder if I should have taken BG’s stance to heart and just asked her not to participate at all. We did give her the choice, but I wonder if maybe she was just hoping we’d tell her she couldn’t. I loved seeing her dance, but I still don’t know that it was worth it. I just don’t know.

The next several weeks are going to be intense while we wait to see what happens. Numbers don’t lie and infection rates would say that there were, at minimum, at least a large handful people infected in that venue at some point in the last two days, if not a whole lot more. With the number of people in attendance, the number of dancers and all the poor safe practices actually being observed, I worry what the outcome will be. We will be watching our own heath very closely and sticking as close to home as possible while we do so.

Even after this, the studio’s summer workshop is still scheduled to start 3 weeks from now and fall registration begins around then as well. We are NOT at a business as usual point with all of this, but that is how it seems everyone wants to behave.

To top off my level of bittersweet pride in my amazing kids, I have MC. Now that his high school has presented their final plans for an in person graduation ceremony, he has opted not to participate. He will not walk with his class.

Why? He will be at the start of his prep time for attending his college in the fall and he doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that process. He is content with the only acknowledgement of his hard work and amazing grades in high school being his scholarship to college. He doesn’t feel the need to do the whole ceremony and walk just because it is the thing that is done.

This is what he wants and it is important to him, so we are absolutely going to stand with him and support that. Even if it means he is the second of my kids I don’t get to see walk across the stage since OC didn’t graduate. I’m still proud that he is, like BG, willing to stick by what he feels is important even if it means it isn’t the popular thing.

I have the most amazing kids and I don’t think it is possible to feel more proud of them both.

Please excuse me if I’m an emotional mess for a while. There are only so many directions those can be pulled at the same time before something has to give. I think I’m just going to go bury my head and have a good cry for a while just to relive the pressure.

 

 

Titanium Will

I’m kind of an emotional basket case today.

My daughter has a will and a spine of pure titanium. I cannot express strongly enough how amazed and proud I am of her.

Over a period of 12 hours. Through 5 shows and 75 total performances, 17 of which were hers. She was the ONLY ONE to wear a mask on stage to dance. The only exception to this were the handful of assistants that had to be on stage with the younger girls and were required to wear one.

The. Only. One.

Every single time she stepped on stage with her class and she was the only one wearing a mask, I got so choked up and struggled not to cry. For so many reasons.

I’m proud of her for standing her ground and doing what she felt was right. We allowed her to make this choice since masks weren’t required on stage. She chose to wear her mask. Even though no one else did. She made this choice over and over again. Even though it acted kind of like a spotlight on her and she hates to be the focus of attention like that.

I’m so sad that she was put in the position to stand alone in this. I’m sad that I didn’t get to see all her amazing expressions on her face while she danced. Her beautiful smile and her “Oh, crap!” moments when she made a mistake. It is always one of my favorite things about recital, but I don’t get it this year and I’m so okay with that, no matter how much I miss it.

I can’t even begin to express my frustration with all the surrounding stuff that I saw yesterday. The lack of concern or adherence to rules put in place for safety. And there was so much of it.

I still can’t say that any of this was worth it even though I loved that she got to dance. I have another day to go where I get to watch and feel this dichotomy of emotions. Happy and frustrated and sad and worried. And proud. So damn proud.

I am blown away by my daughter and her dedication and willingness to stick with what she feels is the right thing no matter if she is standing alone in that conviction.

Realization

This is BG’s 10th dance recital and it is the first time that I haven’t been in the audience for every single moment she is on stage. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to know she is up there dancing and I can’t watch her.

I understand the need to keep the audience sizes down and they needed to do it this way to achieve that. It still makes me sad that I’m missing parts. Yes, they are parts she will perform again when it is our turn to be able to watch, but I’ve never missed a chance to see her dance.

It didn’t really hit until the studio started posting snippets of videos and photos on their FB page. It is going to be a long few hours until I get to watch my girl be amazing.

 

Busy Bee

I was perfectly content with the amount of busy I was already dealing with. Really. I was. I absolutely did not want or need any more busy or stuff. That could have waited at least a week, right?

Apparently not.

The day before yesterday, our garage door wouldn’t open. We unhooked the opener and managed to get the door lifted manually, but it was way off and not sitting straight. Got someone out to look at it and somehow the shaft the spring is attached to is splitting, something the guy said he’d never seen before. Also something that couldn’t be fixed that day.

It was something so unusual, the guy was wanting to check with all the other people he works with to see if they’d seen anything like it. Kind of like that rare medical scenario that gets doctors salivating over writing a paper on it.

Being unique is cool and all, but I’m totally fine with just being normal.

Then… yes, more! I’d been sitting in the hot car in nearly 100 degree heat, sweating to death even with the air running, waiting for BG to get out of dance yesterday. I just wanted to come home to the cool house and get my body temp down from surface-of-the-sun levels. I get home and… the house really isn’t all that cool. I go to look at the thermostat and the screen is black. No power. Check the breakers. Check the main switch. Nothing. This is a system that is barely under 2 years old.

Call our guy, he informs me that when the UV bulb in the air scrubber goes out, it tends to blow a low voltage fuse. A bulb that tends to only last about 2 years. Hubby had to make an emergency run last night to get a new fuse so we can at least get the unit back up and running without the air scrubber.

I now have two different repair people coming out today to fix all this stuff. This was my ONE day I didn’t have a ton of stuff going on.

And that is only if they can get a new UV bulb because they are in high demand with the virus right now.

SO much fun!

On a recital note, BG and I sat down and figured out what time she needs to be getting up so she can get ready and get to the venue in time. She will be up around 6am and not getting home until close to 11pm both days. Guess who gets to do those hours with her? Yay!

Redlining Stress Levels

The last few days leading up to recital are always stressful, but usually tempered with a lot of excitement, both on my part and on BG’s part. This year’s stress has been multiplied exponentially in so many ways and almost none of that is because of excitement, which is so damn sad.

Last night was dedicated to going through every single piece she would need and making sure it was labeled.  Always a pain because you know some things are already labeled, things from the previous year and some that they’d gotten earlier in the year, but you still have to check every single thing. We have to sift through it all and make sure we aren’t missing anything.

Part of this process also requires a last fitting on all costumes and accessories (hair pieces, gloves, whatever) to make sure I don’t have to do any adjustments or modifications to make sure not only does everything fit right, but that it fastens securely. I was forced to do some major last minute alterations to a costume a few years ago, like we are walking out the door last minute, and I swore I’d never do it again.

The whole process is like planning and packing for a 2 week long vacation to another country.

Just to get an idea, she has 5 costumes, 1 T-shirt, a leotard and dance pants, 2 hats, 2 hair pieces, 2 pairs of gloves, a pair of earrings, 3 different types of tights, 2 different pairs of tap shoes, a pair of jazz shoes, ballet shoes, pointe shoes (and all the inserts and toe pads to go with) and a pair of tennis shoes. These are all just the obvious, required parts to what she has to wear on stage. That doesn’t take into account all the extra things she needs to have on hand and all the back ups (tights especially) just to get through all the performances.

Or the masks. Do not get me started on the utter nightmare that makes of an already stressful mess. We had to run through options for shoving it down the front of costumes if she couldn’t make it work to wear on stage (our solution to a pile of them on a table). So fun!

We only went through the costume stuff last night. Even that still needs to be organized in a way that makes it easy for her to get to what costume she needs when she needs it.

Normally, she only has to be prepped for about 4 hours or so of time for each of the two days. This year, because of the need to break down the sizes of the shows, she will be at the venue for nearly 12 hours, so we also have to plan for additional things like food and the fact that I won’t be there but for a few of those hours so she has to figure out things on her own if something comes up. She doesn’t do her own hair so if there is a problem, and having to do things like hair pieces and pinning a mask in place is going to create problems, she is going to have to solve it on her own. That means more stuff to try and pack.

You should see my list of things she has to make sure she doesn’t forget. A whole host of those things are things she has never had to take before.

She is of course stressed more than normal, which is a lot because she is a stresser normally. She wants to wear her mask on stage, but it is not an easy thing at all. The biggest issue is of course the costume I made these to go with because it also has a hat. With the mask and the hat, you see her eyes, if you are lucky. There are so many issues with the logistics of it that it is going to be a problem. I spent probably an hour last night trying to get it to work to her satisfaction and we didn’t really find a solution.

I honestly don’t know how these girls aren’t going to be absolutely dragging by the second day. They are going to be dancing so much through all of this. So much more than normal.

Over the course of two days, she will be performing:

Opening tap, 10 times
Regular tap, 2 times
Ballet – 3 different dances, 2 times each
Pointe, 2 times
Hip hop, 2 times
Jazz, 2 times
Assistants, 10 times

Those can run anywhere from a few minutes to well over 6 minutes (assistants and opening tap are the longer ones) for each performance. Most of those aren’t any different than normal, but the opening tap and the assistants dance get performed in every show and there are SO many this year. It is so much that the kick line they normally do in assistants has been scrapped for the faculty because the owner, who is in her 70s, said that she can’t do the opening tap kick line and the assistants kick line that many times, so all of the faculty opted to not do it if she couldn’t be with them.

When you look at that, the time BG is at the venue, the time she is on stage (and may yet do so without a mask, depending on circumstances), it all has so many potentials to be problematic.

Then combine that with her role as an assistant where she has to not only be an example to the younger kids, but to help them follow the rules, get ready to go on stage and help herd them where they need to go and you are talking about a stress factory of epic proportions.

The studio told the assistants especially that they have to be very careful to wear their masks at all times when they aren’t on stage. If the venue sees this rule not being observed, they will shut it all down. I’ve added that to my list of worries because I know how so many of those girls have treated the mask rule inside the studio. There is a very real chance that someone will be an idiot at one of the first shows and shut the whole thing down for everyone else making all of this work and effort for nothing.

I do want the opportunity to get to see BG perform. I’m exited for that. It is all overshadowed by how stressed out I am about how many things could go really wrong.

I keep thinking that I just need to get through this and I can relax back into my hermit mode for a while, but that isn’t the case. We still have a graduation to get through, one we STILL don’t know the plan for. On the heels of that we have to work on getting MC ready to go to college. I have no clue when my stomach is going to unknot and finally settle down.