Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Salon: Can't read, gotta read

Have you ever had times in your life where you feel like there's so much emotionally freighted stuff going on that you can't read but you have to because it's the only thing holding you together? That's how I feel right now. I am overwhelmed daily by the fact that one of my children is failing a core class that he needs to pass if he doesn't want to end up in his sister's grade in school (and no, that's not the most pressing issue with potentially failing but it might be the only thing that motivates him to work harder--or not), another child is being a horrible "mean girl" at dance and has been told in no uncertain terms that if she doesn't straighten up, she will be asked to leave, and the third child is too busy being social Susie to give a rat's hind end about school so he's poised to follow in his older sibling's footsteps. I walk around with a lump in my stomach the size of a watermelon on steroids and every time I pick up a book to read, I start dwelling on where I have failed these children of mine. And yet if I don't pick up a book, I dwell on it even worse.

I am at a complete loss and actually had the thought the other day that if I could just mash the older two together, it would be perfect. It's awful to look at them and think about the first one, "Well, at least he's a lovely, sweet kid," and then look at the second and think, "Well, at least she gets great grades." If we are all being offered a lesson in this, I think I am failing to grasp it just as much as the kids are. And it is no concsolation to hear that my father-in-law didn't buckle down to school until he was a senior in high school and after all he ended up as a college professor. The world is so different today that I can only see that he will be living in my basement forever if it takes him that long to catch a clue (my son, not my father-in-law). And it is no consolation to me that I remember sitting and sobbing in the guidance counselor's office in junior high after my own stab at nasty "mean-girldom" so many years ago. I can hope that my own daughter is through the cutting ugliness after being called on the carpet about it but I am not convinced. And that lazy, socially oriented kid? I have no idea how to intervene now and help him become self-motivated, nor does D. from whom he inherited the social gene (the lazy gene must have come from the pool boy or something).

Given all of this, is it any wonder that I crave an escape in books? Or that I am having trouble finding it? I am irrationally angered by child narrators or characters who seem to have their $#!t together. Ditto parental characters or narrators who have the answers, even if they only discover them on the final page of the book. But I cannot read and wallow at the same time and so I continue to open books and turn pages and live a little somewhere else even if real life often intrudes and insists that I put that book down. I don't have any answers to my situation or to anyone else's. Heck, my brightest idea right now is to sell them cheap on e-Bay or find a mad scientist who can get me back in time for a do-over (although I'm still debating in my head, as if it's a real possibility, whether or not that do-over would mean scrubbing them out of existence entirely or just doing something differently with them). Barring the failure of those two ideas, I'll be the one with her nose in a book pretending the fictional world is real and the real world is pretend.


  1. Ah, the joys of motherhood. I'm sure you and the children will get through this somehow! Chin up. I also love books for their escape value :) Have a better week!

  2. Hope next week is better. I'm not a parent but I'm a teacher and I sometimes feel very guilty when the children in my class misbehave or are mean to each other. Particularly when they are mean to each other, because I start thinking "a better teacher would be able to sort this out no problem" but of course it's not as easy as that.

  3. Hang in there... I have two boys and when one would pull something and I survived it I felt like a hero and ready for the younger one to do something similar because now I was a trained professional.... except the younger one would totally blind side me and pullsomething completely different. GAH!

    Rooting for you!

  4. Glad you had a chance to vent. Is it impossibly trite to say that we're only as happy as our happiest kid? Well, yeah. If I see my son - 15 - and he's sulky, I spend hours wondering what's the hair up his nose and imagining the worst. And, then, it turns out that, like me, he was just having a bad day, or a bad reaction to something that didn't go as planned. Then again, if I see nearly 12-year-old daughter and she's sulky, we both blame hormones.

    Keep fighting the good fight!
    Thelma Adams, author of Playdate

  5. Sounds to me like you could use some time with a good book buddy, roaming your favorite bookstore, having lunch, and talking books, books, books (with some laughter thrown in for seasoning). You may go home feeling refreshed and better equipped to deal with all that's on your plate. *HUGS*

  6. Ugh. I do not look forward to the teen years at all! I've been throwing myself into things lately to avoid worrying about money. I wish we could barter for everything. Lucky for my house, I've chosen cleaning instead of books. I have no idea why, as cleaning is not typically my thing!


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