The Associate is an IB learner.

Over the last couple of years our school system has been transitioning to the International Baccalaureate curriculum. Below is the mission statement.

The International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.

These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

It sounds sophisticated and wonderful, but I was sure that if we allowed our teachers to teach without interference they would come up with a similar plan. I do still believe this, because all the teachers I know are awesome, but I have to say this program appears tailor-made for The Associate.  She is quite dynamic and strives to embody all 10 IB traits. (Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk takers, Balanced, Reflective.)  We are consistently negotiating these ideas.  For example, being a risk taker does not mean hurling yourself over the couch blindly,  and nobody told her she could inquire as to where I put my chocolate, but you get the point.

We were at a park this summer and all of the kids were running around in circles,  The Associate was picking up garbage while running full speed.  I yelled to her “What are you doingggggggg?”  she relied without skipping a beat.  “I am being Pricipallllleeeeddddd!”  That is adorable.

She has an entire school set up for her big eyed fluffy animals and spends hours discussing the IB traits.  I have since rearranged her room to move the classroom out of the stairwell and avoid death by stuffed animal.  IMG_1025

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we got the paperwork for her to sign up as an ambassador,  I was hoping she would want to do it. After much consideration she did and was accepted.  One of her jobs is to welcome new students to our school and make them feel welcome.  When I woke her this morning, she said and I quote “we received word that there would be a new student today, I have to get ready.”  Quite a departure from the normally groggy jerk that I encounter in the morning.

So far so good,

P.S. Thank you teachers!

learn more

 

 

 

Discipline “motivators”

It seems a pivotal, life changing moment when you figure out the “motivation” that will make your kids listen.  The Teenager is mostly well-formed by now, but when she does get snarky or forgets herself I pull out my perfectly formed threat and she tightens up quickly.

“If you don’t (insert offense here) I will call Shaker Dance Academy and sign up for the adult hip hop class.  I will insist on choreographing a dance that you and I will perform together at the end of year recital.”  The behavior is miraculously transformed, as she visualizes the fallout.  Of course there is always the I can take your phone away “motivation”, works like a charm every time.

The Associate is quite different.  She is competitive and a ferocious negotiator.  She plays soccer and does Karate and still finds time to kick me in the shin.  I know she can behave,  her teachers think she is delightful.

The Ah ha moment hit the other day as I observed Karate, and the class began to learn the basic rules of tournament scoring.  The teacher said something like this. “The only time you are allowed to make contact with your opponent during a tournament fight is if you are blocking a punch or kick.”  Wait, WHAT?  The teacher continued “If you cannot control yourself and you hit someone while sparring it is a point for your opponent.”

“Oh this is good!”  I thought to myself.  I pretty much checked out at this point planning my next move.  I practically skipped out of Karate.  The very next time she kicked me, I very calmly said,

“Point for me.”

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nobody is perfect :)

The Teenager wanted to work at the local Ben and Jerry’s and waited patiently until she was 15.  We went over the whole job applying process very thoroughly from start to finish, and when she started was teased because she had never mopped a floor.  She came home a little forlorn, and I said “It’s my fault, I never taught you how.”

It can be argued that I employ a “different” parenting style with The Teenager.  Much to the chagrin of my husband and increasingly myself this focus is not on house cleanliness.  In my mind I am arming her with different information.  Information on how to move about this crazy world with empathy, self-confidence, kindness and fun.  Some of these lessons are impossible for a person of the male persuasion to understand, and I understand his confusion.

Our conversation that mopey mop day continued and the topics ranged from global politics to the difference between baking flours.  Weeks went by as they tend to do and I began to see large gaps in my parenting agenda.  Most of the problem areas are related to cleaning, and we begin to imagine the messes we will make in her future home.  Tea bags in random places, smoothie cups drained dry but not rinsed, blender stuck to the counter. I will most definitely leave my underwear on her bathroom floor tangled up in the soaking wet towel that I took from her hook. I relax thinking about it, my eyes twinkling.

I am startled out of my reverie when I realize that I also making these same mistakes with The Associate.  I temporarily talk myself up and deny my faults.  “If she knew how to clean up after herself, than we wouldn’t know what the sneak is up to.  We can hear her eat sugar from the bowl because of the clink of the fiesta ware as she puts the spoon back in.  I cannot hear the brown sugar container open or close, but I can always read the telltale signs of a powdered sugar meltdown.  The sprinkle of dust goes all the way down the cabinet, under the burner on the stove and into a little heap on the floor.  There is no good way to justify this behavior in her or me, especially when a steady stream of ants invaded for a couple of days.

What to do now, how do I right this wrong? Now that I am finally seeing the light, The Husband can stop banging his head against the wall (which is good), but The Descendants aren’t thrilled with the change.  The Associate yelps out NO! like she is two and The Teenager smirks and lurks off to work or dance or something else of vague importance.  What to do…..?  I know!  Demerits!  (stay tuned.. he…… hee…..)

Why is this in the fridge?

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Evidence that The Associate has been trespassing in my studio.

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7.5 years apart

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I actually planned to have my children this far apart, and most of the time it works out alright.  The age gap became ever so much larger when The Teenager started to drive.  In the space of 30 minutes I went from indulging The Associate in a game of “I am a kitty take care of me (pictured above)”, to explaining to The Teenager how to drive responsibly.  Surprisingly enough I didn’t cry all over myself and was repeatedly astounded by my calm demeanor.  She chauffeured me all over the winding roads of Lakeview Cemetary, around dead people that she couldn’t kill because, you know, they are already dead. Each turn became a little smoother and her foot more leaden.

stopping for gas on the way home.

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We arrive home to The Associate panting at the back door. “Yes, you are a sweet kitty, here is some milk”  “NO MOM! I need you to take my picture so it looks like I am stopped in mid-air!”

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Switch!

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The manual is read and highlighted.  It is full of useless information, but I don’t tell her that.  There is no driver etiquette, or even common sense, so I begin to point these out quite obsessively when we practice.  I go over what I think a young driver should know, but the DMV has very different ideas.  I am all for it being difficult to get a driver’s license, and the questions to be tricky, but two questions she got wrong are utterly ridiculous. They are so bad I woke up thinking about them.

The first question on THE NEW DRIVER TEST that she gets wrong asks.  “If a driver is over 18, who in the car has to wear seat belts?”   My cautious and thoughtful teenager that I have spent 15 years buckling in, over 16 if you count me buckling my giant pregnant belly, answers: Everyone?  Sounds good, safety first, but to her surprise and my horror, this is incorrect.  The correct answer is: Only the people in the front seat.!  Thanks DMV.

The second question on THE NEW DRIVER TEST that she gets wrong asks.   “If a driver under the age 21 gets pulled over for drunk driving how long do they lose their license?  Again, The Teenager reasons, well the driver is drinking underage which is bad and driving under the influence, that’s really dangerous.  Her answer is 2 years. This however is incorrect, and the correct answer is 60 days.  Soooooooo. Let me get this straight…… A person under the age of 21 and over the age of 18 can drive around with people unbuckled in the back seat (kids included), while under the influence of Alcohol that they aren’t even legally allowed to drink yet, AND it is really not a big deal. 60 days and they can get their privileges back.  SERIOUSLY who do I call? Even if this messed up stuff is the law, is it necessary to put it on the NEW DRIVER TEST?? I have 7.5 years to get it changed, who is with me?

The Associate sums it up nicely and slightly incredulously.

TA- Mom, why are you smiling? (The Associate asks as I beam at my phone)

me- I am happy because the highest court in our land decided that a person can marry the person they love.

TA-  huh?

me- The Supreme Court says it legal for a man to marry a man or woman to marry a woman.  The point is that if you love someone and want to commit to them legally you can.

TA- wait illegal is bad, and legal is good.

me- in this case, yes.

TA- Wait, it was illegal before today?

me- in some states, yes.

TA- well, I am glad they finally figured that out.  Makes sense to me.

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The associate’s bloody tale

She was born smiling, her teeth popped through in all the right places creating a perfect set of teeth, straight and white.  We ignored the gentle warnings of our dentist that this was not going to last, and we snapped a million pics of her beaming smile.

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(That was her cramming raspberries into her face phase)

As they fell out we realized that Dr. Dorothy was in fact correct and our little smiler was quickly starting to look like Sponge bob.  She wasn’t fazed at all and kept flashing her chiclets.

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About 6 months ago we began the arduous task of correcting her jaw and she was a trooper.  She would obediently lie down on the couch so I could crank open her palette and crack jokes all the while. The Herbst appliance was next and she became bionic.  You can hear the hydraulics inside of her mouth operating like one C3PO’s limbs.   She soildered on and only slightly complained, always looking forward to her braces, which for some crazy reason she thought was cool.

Then one day I decided to obey her and hang the hammock. I went in the house to grab some water and then heard a blood curdling scream.  I ran out the door to see blood spurting from her mouth and through her fingers, while she yelled “MOMMMMMMM”  I grabbed a towel that was luckily blood-red and dashed over to apply pressure.  Leaving her alone I ran up the stairs to find The Husband trying to get off of the phone face stricken from what he overheard downstairs.  While The Husband dug around in the grass to find the missing tooth I called the dentist, and she cautioned us to put it in a cup of milk.

The Husband- what?

Me (very loudly)- Just put it in a glass of milk!!!!!

Our dentist met us at her office so she could take a look but it was very clear this child needed to be knocked out, so we headed down to the ER.  Somehow I managed not to throw up while holding her, and her cup of milk with tooth while looking up the number for the ER and requesting a pediatric dentist.  The Husband at the wheel got us there in no time flat.  I was half in the bed with her trying to calm her, as people came in and out.  Apparently the new method in the ER is to give very specific directions about what they are going to do to you.  I interrupted knowing that this child or possibly I would not benefit from the nurses’ over sharing.

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We managed to get a movie playing on the TV and were calm for a bit, but by the time Dentist arrived the poor kid was anticipating the needles and moaning.   One nurse sat on the bed with her knees around The Associates head, another was trying to distract her with a huge ball and another with an ipad, all the while the Dentist tried to trick her into opening her mouth.  I came in and out of the room my heart pounding while she screamed at the top of her lungs.  The Father sat solidly by her side and as per usual tried to distill the tension with humor.

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Screaming, crying and definitely over stimulated the The Associate hushed us all up.  We all backed away, hands up and she declared “Let’s get this over with!  The mayor is waiting for me!”  Stifling giggles they got back to work and the tooth was finally wedged back in. The room was quiet and she was instantly better, still excited to see The Mayor.  Sanity partly restored we were freed to go back to home.

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As we drove out of the hospital. The Associate came up behind me and reminded me that The Mayor was waiting in a conspiratorial lowered voice.  I laughed as I braced myself to go to at least 3 pharmacies to get the medicine we would need.  Three weeks later her tooth looks alive, but we shall see, one step at a time.

playground politics.

-I believe the children are our future, and that is why I am officially blocking out all presidential politics.  When the yahoos are weeded out, I may squint at the news for an update.  In the interest of self preservation I will concentrate on 2nd grade playground politics, and hope to help The Associate safely navigate her issues.

She has officially started to sort her feelings about boys. I know it is the first stage so I try to keep it light, because her drawings are a little dark.

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Apparently boys will die if they go in her room, and they have cooties.

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I especially love the sideways glance the cootie ridden boy is getting from the girl.

-There is a little boy in her class.  He is adorable and all the girls “like” him.  We have talked about this off and on for awhile now.  Slipping into the convo a little pep talk about girl code.  I am a proud mama because she instinctively gets that if all the girls like one boy that it is better just to stay away, and think of her friends feelings.  She came home the other day quite upset and we discussed.

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent)

The Associate- Fred told us that he liked Sally so Jane and I decided we would back off.

me- Back off?

TA-  you know, not chase him around the playground.

me- AHHHHH. and?

TA- well, Jane isn’t backing off, and we made a promise.

me- You can only control your own actions honey, now it is between Sally and Jane.

TA- still sullen

me- what is it about Fred that all the girls like?

TA- He has dignity. (clutching her heart)

me- well that is a great quality in a young man.

TA- I KNOWWWWW.

-Now it is my turn to be confused because later that week she drew this picture.

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The girl is represented by a pony-tailed vampire, that wants to suck the blood of her mummy zombie boyfriend.

I am thinking we might want to grab the dictionary and look up dignity.

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