It is late, and quiet here.

I’ve been working too much, except there’s a lot going on, and I like it. I like having that infinitessimal degree more of control that I do have. It’s amazing what a difference it makes. Huh.

And I’ve been thinking about stuff.  Actually, the thinking is occupying a lot of time, too.

I’ve been wondering about friends I’ve lost touch with, and contemplating getting back in touch with them. One has an incredibly common name, though. Like (but not) Ann Smith.

And the house is a mess, but I think I’m going to need to do something else, like go away (even just to the beach, maybe) before I’m going to want to clean it up.

And the kids are studying 24/7. Not even — N has a plan so detailed it tells her when to go to sleep and when to wake up, and it includes enough sleep every night. That is a serious plan.

I think I may crap out on them and go to bed before they do.

But I’m old.

So, goodnight —

More about N

This scintillating post started out as an email to the Lass.

Just to clarify about N, and her refusal, or really inability, to worry too much about grades:

I think a lot of people are like her, in that they don’t do things for grades. Maybe education has changed. But I really think with her it’s not just a desire to do things for higher reasons than grades. She knows she’s smart, and she is smart, but it is really not easy for her to get good grades, even in classes that she likes. It takes an organizational skill that she just doesn’t have. For her, the learning is one thing, and she can do that, but the doing all the homework and remembering to turn it in, and remembering to study for tests, and all that other administrative stuff — all that stuff is actually really hard for her, and separate from the actual learning.

And I really do think there’s a kind of a loop — 1. it’s hard for you to get good grades, even though you’re smart. 2. Therefore it’s in your best interest to think that grades do not reflect intelligence. Which 3, leads you to want to bother even less to get grades because 4 If you think they’re important 5 you’ll have to think there’s something wrong with you. Clearly, there’s nothing wrong with you, so you have to go back to 2, not caring too much, which leads you to the result of not getting good grades, which leads you back again to 2, which leads to further trouble with grades.

But, #5, there is something “wrong” with you, and as usual, if you were to actually look at it and accept it, you’d see that it’s not really “wrong” and it doesn’t mean you’re bad, and if you were to accept it as a fact, you could then think of ways to deal with it. But just getting to the looking part is scary and unpleasant.

But perhaps she will —

She probably will. She’s smart, and also generally fairly brave.

Meanwhile, I am holding my breath that she will keep her GPA up enough to actually go to college. Which I’m sure will present it’s own complications.

But also, there is evidence that as people get older, all this executive functioning stuff actually kicks in. Your brain matures, and it’s not so hard anymore.

In theory.


Not much to say

Just reporting in. It’s a day of meetings and running to and fro.
It’s also senior skip day — N is skipping until 5th period. She seemed fairly happy about it, too.
Now I’ve got stuff I have to do.
I am a little hungry, though.

Lovely, sleepy day

The mock orange, and several roses are blooming. I got up early and finished the vacuuming. N studied in the hammock. M had a piano lesson, then went for a walk. K is at work, but wandered in for lunch. Now N and her friend E are studying for the government test in the hammock. Are they actually studying? Maybe.

It’s warm and breezy — a perfect day to hang around doing nothing.

And now I’m off to fold up a tent.


Important insights

(You know I’m kidding, right?)

This therapy thing is strange. Do I need to come up with topics? Do I need to keep her entertained?

I think the answer is no, and no.

But anyway. I ran this thing about N and college and the behavioral pediatrician by her, and she assured me that it wasn’t me, it was behavioral pediatrician. So that’s good —

But in thinking further about the whole thing, I begin to see things about N that are true, and are N, and may in fact be part of her ADD, but in any case are part of her, and that I can’t really change:

  • She doesn’t do well with too many things going on.
  • She needs sufficient time, whole blocks of time in the morning are good.
  • She has this characteristic of worrying about some things, which she views as important, and not others.

She’s in danger of getting a C in physics because the class is too easy, the labs “are all this fuss and bother, and then you do them, and you prove exactly what you knew all along would be the case,” and he requires you to do and hand in the homework, even when you get A’s on the tests without doing homework. She is not going to bother to go the extra mile to get an A, when in her mind, she knows the material. This naturally drives me crazy, being a person who generally worried about grades. You can look at it in three ways, though. Either 1) she is being a brat, and should just do the goddamn homework. How hard can it be to get an A in a class that’s too easy for you? Or, 2) how clever of you to care only for the essential matter and not the vain appearances of grades. Or, 3) why would a person for whom knowledge doesn’t naturally translate to good grades, who can’t always count on effort and knowledge in a subject yielding good grades, be too worried about grades? Grades don’t correlate to her effort, or how much she knows. In fact, if she were to accept that good grades were a valid indicator of her intelligence, knowledge and preparation, she would be forced to conclude that she wasn’t very smart. Better to just write them off as not valid, or at least not something to be too worried about.

I think it’s number three. The danger, though, [for N, I mean, and what she thinks about herself] is that even though you’re telling yourself it’s number three, you might be thinking it’s number 1, or worse, that you actually aren’t that smart after all.


It’s all kind of interesting.


There are a few things I’m mulling over.

The first is that I’ve read a good book. It’s called Family Life, and it’s by Elisabeth Luard. Someone recommended it somewhere,and I bought and read it some years ago, but I came across it a week or so ago and now I’ve reread it.

It’s a memoir. EL is probably about 18 years older than me, i.e. mid 60s. It was written about 12 years about, so she was, say, about my age or maybe a bit older — let’s say 55. She had four children who were just all off — the last one off to school, or off, anyway, fairly recently.

I’m not sure why I’m trying to place it in time, except that memoirs often do that to a person — you want to know at what point in their life, as compared to yours, did they do X. But I guess that, although I had children significantly later in life than she did, because she had four and I had two, she and I were done about the same time in life. And I guess that by the time I’m 55, my kids will be sprung, too. (I had M when I was 32. I was born in 1959.)

There’s much more to her story, obviously. She grew up in England. She married in the swinging 60s, and shortly thereafter started having children. When there were four, they all moved to Spain, where they lived for some long time until she realized that her children were growing up Spanish. They moved to France for a year, and then back to England. There was never much money, although they sort of came from families which had once had money. Her husband was a writer,and along the way she became a painter and a cookbook writer.

She’s the sort of person who was possibly somewhat terrifying to know in person, but who assembled an interesting life. One of the children died. (Actually, two others died in childbirth.) She’s the kind of person who has not had an easy life, but who has had an interesting life.

Here’s a quote I found relevant:

Within the family I had always been responsible for deciding the minor issues, the button-sewing, one might call it: disposition of income, choice of education, where we lived and what we ate. Nicholas occupied himself with the major problems of existence, the dragons: whether to bomb Colonel Gaddafi, the selection of England’s test team, the consequences of chopping down the rain forests – and earning our living.

Kevin had a great aunt who reminds me somewhat of her — she was from a New England family, but she married an Italian Catholic named Rico. They lived in Philadelphia on not a whole lot of money. He was a graphic designer, I guess, and designed the little cannon you used to see on Cannon bath towels. (Maybe you still do.) K and I went to visit her once, when we hitchhiked out to the cape from college. She disapproved of me wholeheartedly, as I was not Tibetan or something else more exotic. Just a white college girl. Anyway, I think they lead a rather bohemian sort of life, but in a New England sort of way, where no complaining was tolerated, and no matter what, you picked yourself up and kept going.

The book makes me intensely curious about the story behind the story — what do they look like?  What really happened?  Were the kids really okay? N wondered if the kids really felt okay about the whole thing — if they actually fit in in the Andalucian village. I actually think they did, although I get the feeling that the year in France may have been hard.

Luard mentions that London in the 60’s was still in some ways a small town, and that everyone knew everyone. I’m sure that was not true for everyone, but how wonderful if it was true for you. It would make everything much easier growing up — finding a job, finding housing, having connections. It would also mean that moving to Spain, although exotic, was not so completely far away — you still have connections at home, in the center of things. You were still tied in.

To me that sense of coming from a place where you are known seems important. I think it would give you the confidence to try anything —  And it would help that that small place was actually the center of things. You would have friends in publishing, in the art world.

Anyway. The other subject for my mulling is N. It turns out, as you will remember, that N has ADHD, of the inattentive to visual stimuli type. She’s quite bright, so for years it didn’t really matter (and we didn’t notice, although looking back, I can see it even then), but by 11th grade, it was showing up in that it was really hard for her to get her work done. Scheduling was an unknown concept. Actually working was difficult.  We’ve got help now — she’s got some meds, and perhaps more important, she’s getting some help figuring out how to work, how to organize, how to prioritize, how to keep track of things, how to calendar — and that’s all great.

But you can’t pretend it’s not going to affect her forever. When figuring out her schedule for next year, it’s going to be important that she pick her classes carefully. She can’t have too much at once. She needs to have enough time to get her work done, and that’s going to take her longer than it may take other kids.

And of course, I’m terribly worried. But I think acknowledging that there’s stuff to worry about, and stuff we can do to prepare — all that helps. N needs to get stuff under control so that she won’t worry, and I need to know what the issues are, and to see that she’s getting stuff under control, and than I’m less worried. I’d like to avoid a trainwreck if possible. And maybe it’s not possible, but I think we can, by preparing ahead of time, make the trainwreck less widespread. And yes, she’s going to college, but college lasts 4 years — it’s not like I’m sending her off to the moon and I’m not going to hear for her, or be able to contact her, until she gets back.

Anyway, so she’s got this educational therapist she’s working with, and she is great. She works with N, and I’m not really involved, but every couple of weeks she’ll call to let me know what’s going on, or if there’s an issue we need to watch, and it’s good. N is gaining control, and I see that happening, and I know where the snags lie, and that makes it all seem okay. Known. Under control.

But she’s also got this behavioral pediatrician, and I hate her. All she really does is prescribe the drugs. The condition was diagnosed by the therapist (although the pediatrician had to agree before she’d prescribe, etc.) But she’s just so awful. She’s coming from the complete conviction that K and i are insane parents, who don’t want to let N go, and she’s only going to deal with N, and we should just deal with it and get out of the way. N may well crash. Yes, it’s hard to let kids go. But you have to, so just step out of the way, please.

And the thing is, there’s really no way to argue that you’re not an insane parent that doesn’t make you seem like you are an insane parent.

And the other thing is, if I have the smallest bit of knowledge, and understanding, I can actually deal. I can let N go off to college, and not be worried, and be supportive, and help N not to be worried herself.

It’s only the fact that I’m being denied any explanation, reassurance, or if not reassurance something like, “well, these are the things to worry about” that is making me nervous and worried.

I know N is 18. I know she’s going to move on and lead her own life and have to fight her own battles. She’s actually fairly independent already, and has been since she was about 2.  But whether anyone likes it or not, I’m going to be her mother for the rest of our lives, and I would prefer being given enough information to be able to function in that capacity in a reasonable way — getting out of the way, yes, but also aware. She is 18.  She’s not 30, or 25, or 21.

Anyway. Coming to the conclusion that this woman is unreasonable, and that it’s not me, and having tried to get her to play ball, and having had her refuse, I’m just going to deal with the therapist. We don’t really need anything more from the pediatrician. If she wants to deal only with N, that’s okay (poor N.) If it does eventually become a situation where we need more from her, we may look for someone else. But really, the therapist is the vital link anyway, I’m coming to see. And she actually likes me, and thinks I’m a genius for noticing that something was up with “such a high-achieving student” as N, and thinks I know my kids very well.

So there.


Got to run —

Things to consider

Say la vee has an interesting post up about the difference between blogs whose purpose is to entertain their readers, and blogs whose purpose is to entertain the writer. It’s a good point, actually. I think most readers prefer the former, but I’m quite sure that I’m often guilty of writing the latter.

Hmm. Well, I’d meant to expound upon that, but I’ve got to go eat lunch so as to avoid fainting on an applicant for something or other who I have to interview in an hour. Bah.

But I did see a great movie the other night. It’s The Band’s Visit. In my opinion, it ranks right up there with the Norwegian kitchen design movie.

Okay. That is all.


M is upstairs researching for a paper. N is off for her final day of lifeguard training. It’s been hard, actually — it’s tiring, and today she has the final swin test, and is worried about not being able to do it.

I hope she can — She probably can.

And I’m cleaning house, which at this point just means vacuuming up all the dust from the plasterers and painters, and putting the books back in the book case.Really, the books should all be arranged in a more rational manner. But I think today is not the day for that. Just getting them off the kitchen chairs, I think.